Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Oh, so NOW they trust CNN

More on Iraq/al Qaeda from B4B. The post is short enough to quote the whole thing, but I dislike doing that. So here we go. "Captain Ed" quotes two articles, both pulled from Instapundit. One of them is from CNN:

February 13, 1999 Web posted at: 10:55 a.m. EST (1547 GMT)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Osama bin Laden, the Saudi millionaire accused by the United States of plotting bomb attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa, has left Afghanistan, Afghan sources said Saturday.

Bin Laden's whereabouts were not known, said the sources who declined to be identified. ...

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against the Western powers. [emph. mine -- C.E.]

Then another one from The Guardian:

By Julian Borger in Washington Saturday February 6, 1999 The Guardian

Saddam Hussein's regime has opened talks with Osama bin Laden, bringing closer the threat of a terrorist attack using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to US intelligence sources and Iraqi opposition officials.
The key meeting took place in the Afghan mountains near Kandahar in late December. The Iraqi delegation was led by Farouk Hijazi, Baghdad's ambassador in Turkey and one of Saddam's most powerful secret policemen, who is thought to have offered Bin Laden asylum in Iraq.

First off, as CNN reported three days later, bin Laden likely didn't leave Afghanistan. Next, these articles don't really prove that much. There's still no real evidence of any collaboration (or even bin Laden actually going to Iraq, though there is this) and the 9/11 commission made this statement:

There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occured after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship.

Ed says:

So the geniuses on the 9/11 Commission have all the power of the federal government at their disposal and can't even do a Lexis-Nexis search? And if the commissioners are idiots, what does that say for CNN and the Guardian, who have acted incredulous at the notion of Iraqi-AQ collaboration?

I'm not entirely sure why Ed feels that a CNN article supercedes the intelligence reports the 9/11 commission has access to.

Friday, June 18, 2004
I report, you decide

Well, no points for originality on that headline.

On B4B they've been complaining about the recent relevations from the 9/11 commission regarding Iraq and al Qaeda. Bill Hobbs writes:

A front-page headline in the New York Times read: "Panel finds no Qaeda-Iraq Tie." The Washington Post headline said: "Al Qaeda-Hussein Link is Dismissed." The CBS Evening News reported that the 9/11 Commission's report "directly contradicted one of President Bush's justifications for going to war against Iraq." ABC News said the report "unequivocally" disputed the administration's claims of links between Saddam and al Qaeda, while NBC said the Commission's report was "sharply at odds with what leading members of the administration continue to claim."

Lies. All lies.


For example, you don't have to believe what CBSCNNABCNBCMSNBC and the big papers like the NYT, WaPo and LA Times tall you about the 9/11 Commission's report. You can go on the Internet to the Commission's website and read the report for yourself. People who did know the major media lied. One more reason to trust the major media less, and your own eyes more.

First off, with a little thought he could have come up with ABCNNBCBSMSNBC, which is much shorter and has more of the effect he's looking for.

Enough of that. You know, I actually did go to the Commission's website. Here's what I found:

Bin Ladin also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein's secular regime. Bin Ladin had in fact at one time support anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Ladin to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three vists to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Ladin in 1994. Bin Ladin is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occured after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.

There's also this statement:

There is no convincing evidence that any government finacially supported al Qaeda before 9/11

So, how far off is the media?

UPDATE: Spinsanity:

In fact, the 9/11 Commission looked at whether Al Qaeda and Iraq had worked together as far back as the mid-1990s, as the White House implicitly acknowledged when it noted in the email that "The Commission's investigation does not dispute that contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda occurred." For instance, some of the contacts cited in the 15th staff statement occurred in Sudan in 1994 (84K PDF), seven years before the September 11 attacks. And commission spokesman Al Felzenber told the Washington Post that "We found no evidence of joint operations or joint work or common operations between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government, and that's beyond 9/11."

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Bush Supporters Continue Attempt to Quash Moore's Film

Not strictly a rebuttal of a post on B4B, but you can be assured that the folks that publish there, support this group's aims.

A right-wingnut site called Move America Forward is asking its readers to call on the movie chains that plan to show Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 and complain. They have posted a page with contact information for executives for the major movie houses for that purpose.

I propose that we subvert their own resources: Please go to this page and pick one, two or all of the contacts listed there and e-mail them with support for their decision to screen this film.

Mention the First Amendment. Mention a couple of groups known for wanting to suppress dissenting views; Communists, Fascists, Dictators of all stripes. Throw in a few of your own. Then mention the fact that you can influence a group of people not to patronize their businesses; how many people read your blog? how many people do you speak to daily? Let them know there are consequences for backing down from these fascist tactics. Be polite, don't use any profanity. But be firm in your conviction.

Go. And please, pass this around - post it on your blog.

Cross posted from The Fulcrum.

Saturday, June 12, 2004
Grasping at Straws

UNMOVIC made it's quarterly report on Iraq at the end of May, and on June 9th acting executive chairman Demetrius Perricos made a report to the Security Council, as far as I can tell. Global Security has a copy of the report from the 28th. Mark Noonan of B4B says:

In our national event of yesterday, this news item probably didn't create as much as stir as it normally would have, but it seems that even the UN is acknowledging (a) the existence of WMD in Saddam's Iraq just before the liberation and (b) that Saddam dismantled and/or moved the WMD in Iraq before and during the liberation, and it appears that more of it has been moved since Saddam's regime was toppled.

He then quotes this passage from World Tribune:

The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam's missile and WMD program.

The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. Council members were shown photographs of a ballistic missile site outside Baghdad in May 2003, and then saw a satellite image of the same location in February 2004, in which facilities had disappeared.

Now, we don't have a transcript of the meeting, which would give us a better idea of what Perricos actually said, but we have the quarterly report and his briefing should not be markedly different. Plus, much of the article's claims are found in the report. Here's the UN report:

In addition, the Commission is aware from comparative analysis of recent satellite imagery that a number of sites previously known to have contained equipment and materials subject to monitoring have been either cleaned out or destroyed. An example of such imagery is provided in the appendix to the present report. It is not known whether such equipment and materials were still present at the sites during the time of coalition action in March and April of 2003. However, it is possible that some of the materials may have been removed from Iraq by looters of sites and sold as scrap.

So, in contrast to WT claim, they don't know, unless they figured it out in under two weeks, which is very unlikely. And this is monitored material, stuff we knew about. The rest of the WT article is pretty benign, mostly reporting the removal of dual-use material from sites in Iraq. There's this passage:

UN inspectors have assessed that the SA-2 and the short-range Al Samoud surface-to-surface missile were shipped abroad by agents of the Saddam regime. Buchanan said UNMOVIC plans to inspect other sites, including in Turkey.

The report makes no such claims and they've found only SA-2 engines, not actual missiles.

The report also deals with UNMOVIC's progress in determining what Saddam procured from 1999 to 2002, when inspectors were absent. The report makes this statement:

In general, from 1999 to 2002 Iraq procured a variety of dual-use biological and chemical items and materials, including chemicals, equipment and spare parts. To date, UNMOVIC has found no evidence that these were used for proscribed chemical or biological weapon purposes. Although some of the goods may have been acquired by Iraq outside the framework of mechanisms established under Security Council resolutions, most of them were later declared by Iraq to UNMOVIC in its semi-annual monitoring declarations.

The investigation is still underway, obviously, and evidence may yet be discovered, but Noonan's claims are obviously inaccurate.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
You Call This Nation Building?

In a post early this morning at B4B, Jettison states that liberal claims that Bush flip-flopped on Nation Building are false. He uses a quote, taken from a Bush campaign speech in Tennessee, quoted on the DNC site:

In a campaign rally in Tennessee, then-Presidential candidate Bush criticized the Clinton administration for using the military in nation-building missions. Bush said, "I'm worried about an opponent who uses nation-building and the military in the same sentence. See, our view of the military is for our military to be properly prepared to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place."
Jettison then uses another Bush quote from Tim Russert's show that basically re-states the above with emphasis on the military being prepared as a deterrent to war.

I'm not sure exactly how showing that Bush twice rejected the notion that the military should or even could be used effectively in nation building and then starts two wars in the Middle East with the logical result being the need to conduct nation building shows anything other than a flip-flop. However, I'm not really interested in the "flip-flop" question; I actually believe that a well considered position on a subject can change with new information. If someone on either side of the political spectrum wants to call that "flip-flopping" then they are fools.

No, what amazes me is the incredible irony in the following statement by Jettison:

What Bush is saying is that he isn't opposed to the idea of nation-building, he just thinks when we do it, we should it do it right.
Do you mean to tell me that Jettison believes that what is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq right now is nation building done right?


And don't even get me started on this, from Bush:

"See, our view of the military is for our military to be properly prepared to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place."

Sunday, June 06, 2004
comments, we got comments!

in the comments "the black republican" (i love that definite article!) posted two responses to my post ticking down the wish list. i started writing a response, but it got too long for haloscan so i'll put it up here.

TBR's first comment was this:

Okay folks, time to pay the piper. You set this site up to "present facts" and "engage in a discussion of the issues" as opposed to "rhetoric".

So, why are you continuing to deny there's a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq, without even acknowledging the facts?


the link cited is from the weekly standard, a publication which, periodically over the past year or so has claimed to reveal a slam-dunk saddam-al-qaeda. each time, however, the evidence turns out to be old, unreliable, or already rebutted. the last big TWS thing to blow up in their face was the "feith memo", which, was claimed to be a memo written by undersecretary of defense feith and listed the links between al-qaeda and saddam. shortly after it "leaked" people in the pentagon and intelligence community tried to distance themselves from the allegations in the memo. by the end, the leak was dismissed as a desperate ploy by the administration to manufacture a saddam- al qaeda link (for more information on the feith memo controversy see this and this and this)

but just because the weekly standard has been so wrong before on this same issue does not necessarily mean that they are wrong now, so let's look at this new "revelation" on its merits.

the article, from the current issue of the weekly standard essentially claims that an officer of the iraqi feyadeen named ahmed hikmat shakir has the same name as someone who attended the al-qaeda "summit" in january 2000 where the 9-11 attacks were allegedly planned. the shakir who attended the summit spells his name differently. although it is common to have multiple spellings for arab names, it is also common for different people to have the same name in the arab world. so right from the beginning there is a serious question whether the iraqi shakir is the same guy at the summit.

a shakir (it's not clear which one because the article assumes assumes at this point that they are the same people) was later detained in doha with documents mentioning the names of people involved in the first world trade center bombing. that's right, the 1993 attack, not the 2001 attack. the 1993 attack, by the way, was not an al-qaeda operation; bin laden had not formed the group at that time. nevertheless, while the article notes that the documents carried by shakir were all from 1993 bombing suspects, it still refers to the people in the documents as "al qaeda members"

the rest of the article after telling the shakir story is criticizing the media for not playing up the iraq-al qaeda connection as much as the weekly standard wants and contains no new allegations of any such connection.

what's interesting about the article, by it's own terms, it does not establish a slam dunk connection between saddam and al qaeda. all it says is that a guy with the same name as an iraqi officer was at an al qaeda meeting and then later a guy with that name was detained while holding documents of terrorist suspects who, while not al-qaeda themselves, did an attack that later inspired al-qaeda. indeed, the weekly standard itself seems to be aware of the weakness of its own case in this paragraph:
The Shakir story is perhaps the government's strongest indication that Saddam and al Qaeda may have worked together on September 11. It is far from conclusive; conceivably there were two Ahmed Hikmat Shakirs. And in itself, the evidence does not show that Saddam Hussein personally had foreknowledge of the attacks. Still--like the long, on-again-off-again relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda--it cannot be dismissed.

if this tenuous connection is the "strongest indication" that the government has, it's only a testimony to the weakness of their case. and nothing in the article leads me to believe that an al qaeda-iraq relationship "cannot be dismissed." while the article raises questions about this shakir guy: is he the same guy who went to the al qaeda summit? was he authorized by the iraqi government? given that al-qaeda has repeatedly called for saddam's overthrow, it certainly is possible that shakir was at the summit as an iraqi agent to spy on al-qaeda, or alternatively that he was an al-qaeda member who infiltrated the iraqi military.

TBR's second comment was as follows:
Many apologies for not addressing your points in my comment. I wanted to get to the heart of the matter without delay. That said, you deserve honest rebuttal.

I won't deny that Al Qeada and Ba'athists are separate groups. I won't deny that Bush pulled out of Saudi Arabia. But don't be so simpleminded as to think that all actions are as two-dimensional as you make them appear.

Our position in Saudi Arabia was untenable without the support of the government there and the other arabs in our actions in Iraq. Unfortunately, the royal family is about as pro-American and pro-Western as you could get in Saudi Arabia right now, so to not support them and hope they can eventually steer the nation toward liberalism (that's Classical Liberalism folks, the kind all Americans share regardless of their position on the fine spectrum) would be disastrous. And if the royal family eventually falls to the mullahs, we can now use Iraq as a base from which to return there.

In short, we didn't give in to Al Qeada so much as - as we used to say in the Army - we "tactically redeployed".

i simply disagree that the saudi royal family are "about as pro-American and pro-Western as you could get... right now." all you have to do is look at the gulf states like kuwait, qatar and bahrain to see arabian culture with a more pro-western tilt.

"And if the royal family eventually falls to the mullahs, we can now use Iraq as a base from which to return there." saudi arabia is already in control of the mullahs. the saudi revolution in the early 20th century was about political islam. the mullahs in saudi arabia are all paid their salaries by the saudi royal family. the country is governed by strict shariah, probably a stricter version than is applied anywhere in the world (they cut off the hands of thieves in saudi arabia). a morals police patrols the streets of the cities making sure that women do not show too much of their hair. saudi arabia was one of only 3 countries in the world that recognized the taliban as legitimate rulers in afghanistan (the other two were pakistan and the united arab emerates, both close allies of the u.s. as well). it's unclear to me how the country would look any differently if it "fell to the mullahs"

and call it a "tactical redeployment" if you want. i was not saying in my below post that bush is intentionally doing whatever bin laden wants. rather that since 9-11 several of bush's actions have helped al qaeda meet their goals. he may not be doing it purposely to help al qaeda, but the effect of his actions is fulfilling the group's wish list. remember, the below post was a rebuttal to the argument that al qaeda wants kerry to win. in essence my response back is: (1) we don't know what al qaeda is thinking, and (2) bush's actions seems to be achieving al qaeda's goals. the fact that bush may have had his own reasons for the "redeployment" does not change my original point.

Saturday, June 05, 2004
Terrorists for Bush?

Following up on upyernoz's post, B4B doesn't seem to be aware of a statement made by an al Qaeda faction not long ago, noted at Orcinus, among others:

The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom." In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization."

"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."

That they're telling the truth here is questionable (as is the importance of the faction), but do they really care enough to lie about it? And we also have a passage from Steve Coll's Ghost Wars, pg. 383:
Like bin Laden, al-Zawahiri believed that it was time for jihadists to carry the war to "the distant enemy" because, once provoked, the Americans would probably reply with revenge attacks and "personally wage the battle against the Muslims," which would make them ripe for a "clear-cut jihad against infidels."

So, who would do a better job of creating a "clear-cut jihad against infidels?" The Right would have to answer 'Bush' seeing as Kerry is weakling who won't do what's necessary to defend our country. Right?

Now, look at those two pieces of evidence, both in favor of terrorists wanting Bush to win. Have we seen that become a meme on the Left? Do we see this on Left-wing blogs? Not to my knowledge. I certainly don't think it's true or relevent. Yet, we get statements like this from places like B4B:
We have to make sure the American people understand that this is the case. Al Qaeda, the Ba'ath Party, Islamic jihad, the PLO and every other terror group is wearing a Kerry 04 lapel pin.

Combine that with the banning of several of our members and B4B is certainly doing their part to drag our political discourse through the mud.

ticking down the wish list

blogs for bush's recent post "Terrorists for Kerry" is another example of the fine level of logic and discourse one can find at that site.

the post links to an opinion column by dick morris. the morris article, from the start, conflates al-qaeda and the secular ba'athist party. indeed, the entire morris piece is littered with the phrase "al Qaeda/Ba'ath Party strategy" and seems to be premised almost entirely on the idea that al-qaeda and the ba'ath party (presumably of iraq, not the rival one in syria) are the same.

in fact they're political opposites. the ba'ath party's main ideological objectives are:

secularism, socialism, and pan-Arab unionism, expressed by the party motto; "Wahdah, Hurriyah, Ishtirrakiyah" (Unity, Freedom, Socialism). By 'Unity,' pan-Arab unity is understood, and by 'Freedom,' freedom from Western interests.

al-qaeda, however, has quite different goals:
The principal stated aims of al-Qaeda are to drive Americans and American influence out of all Muslim nations, especially Saudi Arabia; destroy Israel; and topple pro-Western dictatorships around the Middle East. Bin Laden has also said that he wishes to unite all Muslims and establish, by force if necessary, an Islamic nation adhering to the rule of the first Caliphs.

so while the ba'athist party is secular, al-qaeda is islamists. while the ba'ath party seeks to unit all arabs (regardless of religion), al-qaeda seeks to unit all muslims (regardless of ethnicity). while the ba-ath party seeks to establish a secular socialist government, al-qaeda seeks to create a government that recreates the rule of the first caliph.

in short, morris does not know what he is talking about. while morris repeatedly refers to what al-qaeda/the ba'ath party wants, he never cites a source. it looks to me, like he doesn't have one. if he looked at the sources that are out there, we actually have a pretty good idea of what osama bin laden wants. he's issued fatwas which are available to anyone who cares to look (like this one, for example) which state rather clearly what bin laden's goals are. in short, bin laden has called for:

1. the removal of u.s. forces from saudi arabia

2. the overthrow of secular governments in dar al-islaam (the lands where muslims live)

3. the restoration of the original muslim caliphate that ruled immediately after mohammed's death

4. the destruction of the state of israel (and presumably its lands incorporated into the caliphate)

president bush has already complied with #1 when he ordered u.s. forces to pull out of saudi arabia last year. he's also overthrown one secular government in the muslim world (iraq). and the next government will almost certainly be more islamist than the first, thus helping out with bin laden's second goal. (mission accomplished indeed!). and with the bush administration occasionally threatening to take further action against syria (which isn't just ba'athist but is also ruled by a leader who isn't considered to be a real muslim by wahabbis like bin laden), the bush administration shows some promise of even further advancing al-qaeda's goals.

unlike mr. morris, i admit that i have no idea what bin laden is thinking about the american election, or even if he's paying much attention. but if he is, he surely has noticed that bush is ticking off the items on his wish list rather nicely. that's the only "obvious fact" i am seeing on this issue.

Friday, June 04, 2004
Voter Registration Fraud

I just glanced over at this post from B4B, titled 'Liberals Trying to Steal Ohio'.

I don't think the title is quite accurate. The post references an article from Newsday which states that two voter registration workers for ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) were fired after submitting fraudulent voter registration forms. The B4B poster (Paul Lewis) concludes that 'left wing Democrats are already doing their best to steal the election with voter fraud'.

No, Paul. If they were doing their best, they wouldn't have fired the workers who were attempting vote fraud. The fact that the workers were fired indicates that ACORN is in fact 'doing its best' to win the election by legitimate means.

It's understandable that Paul might feel a little defensive about this; after all, if the fraudulent registration forms had been submitted, it might have added a few illicit votes to Kerry's column come November. But I'm puzzled by the fact that neither Paul nor any of the commenter made an effort to emphasize how really bad vote fraud is by bringing up our nation's most notorious example of it: Florida in 2000.

For one thing, the state of Florida purged at least 50,000 eligible voters from its rolls because they had been convicted of felonies in other states. If you are convicted of a felony in Florida, then Florida revokes your voting rights permanently. However, if you are convicted of a felony in a state which restores your voting rights after you've served your time, Florida can't then take those rights away from you. Nevertheless, in 2000, that's exactly what happened.

As if that wasn't enough, they also purged voters whose names were similar to a felon's name. And this was all sanctioned and done under state law by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Can you imagine what kind of havoc that would have caused if the 2000 election in Florida had been close?

Thank goodness ACORN was wise enough to fire these two 'rogue agents' for their perfidy, lest Ohio in 2004 should become another Florida of 2000.


UPDATE: I tried to make this argument in comments over at B4B, and I also tried to ping them with this post via trackback: no luck. But don't worry! I'll send them a nice email informing them that something is wrong with their site!

Thursday, June 03, 2004
Also Banned

It's painfully obvious that Blogs For Bush is not at all interested in hearing any opposing opinions. I have been painfully (for me) polite and stuck rigidly to the topic of the posts and comments. I have used no profanity or even any inflammatory words or phrases.

But I've been banned from the comments.

My latest was in response to a post on why Jewish-Americans should vote Republican. The post was rather innocuous and lacking in hard facts; but then what blog couldn't at times be said to be all of that? The comments were rather more pointed but many made a classic mistake of confusing dissenting opinions about the actions of the state of Israel and its politicians with anti-semitism.

Here is the comment I attempted to post:

Again and again, the right - and a few on the left - confuse condemnation of actions by the state of Israel with de-facto anti-semitism. There is no necessary connection; actions by the state are the result - in Israel's case - of the state being nearly hijacked by Sharon and his far-right wing supporters. But saying that does not mean that I'm anti-semitic; a word that has a very precise meaning, that meaning having nothing to do with feelings about the action of any state.

And, Mark, I find that your statement that "terrorists" can only be killed and not negotiated with to be disgusting in its broadness and indiscriminateness.
Five exceptionally polite comments got me banned from B4B. It is truly an echo chamber. I hope that our attempts here to get participants from that blog to come here to get a true open discussion are working...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I've been banned from commenting at Blogs for Bush. According to their Frequently Asked Questions, they will ban posters for:

Anonymous comments, and/or comments posted without a valid e-mail address.
Demeaning comments towards a member of the Blogs For Bush Team or another person leaving a comment.
Deliberately off-topic or nonsensical comments.
Multiple postings of the same comment in various comment threads.
Comments with a gratuitous amount of objectionable words or that constitute flaming.
Comments containing links to objectionable material.
Comments made questioning the comment policy or the moderators for enforcing the policy. All questions on the comment policy should be sent to the Moderator.
Comments reported to a member of Blogs for Bush as being inappropriate or offensive.
Unnecessary contiguous comments in the same thread will either be edited or deleted.
Comments considered libelous or offensive.
Any comments considered to be troll activity.
...and other comments we deem inappropriate for the site.
My comments did not violate any of their rules. My posts were on-topic, obscenity-free, not anonymous, not demeaning, and not offensive.
Remember, varying opinions are welcome, and no comment will be deleted solely for presenting an opposing view.
I wish that were true. Fortunately that statement is true here at Blogs for Bush Rebutted.

More Reader Question Responses...

I'd like to answer some of the initial reader questions that Diogenes didn't get a chance to cover.

iopian and Democrat for Bush both seem concerned about our tone and lack of original ideas.

You are reactionary. You generate no thoughts of your own but only respond to the conservative viewpoint.

I see that you have 5 "contributors" to this site. Since you're not blogging, what exactly are the 5 of you actually doing? Sitting around in your Birkenstocks rolling bones, waiting for John Kerry to actually say or do something newsworthy?"
I beg to differ my friends. Many Americans have two jobs in order to make their financial ends meet. We have second blogs to make our ideological ends meet. All 5 contributors to this blog have blogs of our own. On those blogs, original and non-reactionary ideas flow faster than we can type. Feel free to visit our individual pages.

Tony Wright - It's Craptastic!
charles2 - The Fulcrum
speedkill - Speedkill
upyernoz - Rubber Hose
I'll allow Diogenes to reveal his blog if he chooses.

I can't speak for my colleagues, but Birkenstocks have never touched my feet. I don't smoke pot or take any other drug. I never have to wait for John Kerry to say something because he spreads his vision and positive ideas for a strong America on a daily basis. I can't sit around blogging all day because I am employed in the private sector.

Thanks for the comments. Enjoy your stay.

a fool and his money

b4b has a weekly feature "wickory wednesday" which doesn't always lend itself to rebuttal--it's mostly a plea to get people to contribute to the bush campaign. but to get people to contribute, Polipundit writes the following introduction:

Every economic indicator is pointing up. Jobs are being created by the hundreds of thousands every month. GDP is growing at the fastest rate in 20 years. Inflation is at historic lows.

You can thank President Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress for this. If they hadn't passed the Bush tax cuts, who knows how badly our economy would be doing?

But if Democrats have their way, most of the Bush tax cuts would be repealed or phased out. John Kerry has voted for 350 tax increases and there's no reason to think he'd change his ways if he were actually elected to the presidency. He'll raise your taxes and kill the Bush boom.

let's review these claims:

(1) Every economic indicator is pointing up.

the most recent available index of leading economic indicators is the one for april 2004 (the may index won't be calculated until later this month). the may 2004 index increased by 0.1%. that is an increase (albeit a rather small one). but remember, the index is a composite of 10 different leading economic indicators, essentially an average. as the article notes:
Four of the 10 indicators that the New York-based Conference Board uses to derive the index contributed to the rise. Six were a drag on the index.


A decrease in weekly manufacturing hours, manufacturers' new orders for consumer goods, vendor performance, consumer expectations, and orders for non-defense capital goods restrained the rise. Unemployment insurance claims also held back the rise in the total index.

thus, while when averaged together the 10 leading economic indicators are slightly positive, it's wrong to say that all are pointing up. in fact, 6 out of 10 are pointing down.

(2) Jobs are being created by the hundreds of thousands every month.

that's true. in april 2004, for example, nonfarm payroll increased by 288,000. remember, however that it takes jobs to be created at a rate of 137,000 per month just to keep up with population growth. furthermore, job creation was actually better before the bush tax cuts occurred. in march 2000, for example, during a period that the bush administration now claims we were in a recession, nonfarm payroll increased by 416,000. in that light, these job creation jobs are simply fair. not great, just "okay." not much to crow about after all.

(3) GDP is growing at the fastest rate in 20 years.

this claim is simply false. in the first quarter of 2004, g.d.p. grow at a rate of 4.4%. that's pretty good, but not the fastest in 20 years. in the first quarter of 1998, for example, g.d.p. grew at a rate of 5.5%.

(4) Inflation is at historic lows

this is a hard one, because it's so vague. what do they mean by a historic low? the current inflation rate is 2.29%. in 1997 and 1998, for example, it was lower (it also gets a little complicated because there are multiple ways to measure inflation). needless to say, the low inflation is not expected to last if oil prices remain this high.

(5) John Kerry has voted for 350 tax increases

this one has been thoroughly rebutted, but these guys just can't let go. as has noted in the post below, kerry did not "vote for 350 tax increases." as the washington post reported the 350 figure "includes any vote in which Kerry voted to leave taxes unchanged or supported a smaller tax cut than some favored."

a "smaller tax cut" is not an increase. nor is "leav[ing] taxes unchanged." by that same logic, the bush administration has also been in favor of tax increases. we all are. even if i proposed a $100 trillion cut, you could always say i was for a tax increase because i didn't propose one dollar more. by any normal sense of the words "voted for 350 tax increases" this claim is simply a lie.

on the basis of the above, b4b asks people to donate to bush's campaign. if you buy Polipundit's post, go right ahead.

The Bush campaign and the Washington Post

Blogs for Bush posted a link to the Bush campaign's "rebuttal" of a Washington Post article entitled "From Bush, Unprecedented Negativity." They attempt to rebut all the charges of the Washington Post, but in this post I'm just looking at the PATRIOT Act, the gas tax, and the 350 tax increases.

Let's start with the PATRIOT Act. The Bush campaign claims (from the WaPo article)

Kerry was 'pressured by fellow liberals' to oppose wiretaps, subpoena powers and surveillance in the USA Patriot Act. 'Kerry would now repeal the Patriot Act's use of these tools against terrorists.'

The Bush campaign offers nothing in the way of actual evidence for the "pressured" statement. And of course, Kerry has never called for the repeal of "wiretaps, suboena powers and surveillance." The only piece of evidence they cite for this claim is this quote from Kerry:
So it is time to end the era of John Ashcroft. That starts with replacing the PATRIOT Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time.

FactCheck.org state:
It's true that last December, during the Democratic nomination fight, Kerry did call for "replacing the Patriot Act with a new law." But Kerry is not calling for repealing the law-enforcement powers alluded to in the ad. He's calling for modification -- specifically tighter control by judges. There's a big difference between "repeal" and adding judicial oversight.


On sneak-and-peak searches, Kerry says he would change the law to require "more oversight" but would still allow secret searches with no notice to the subject for as long as a week, or indefinitely so long as a judge approves the continuing need for secrecy:


Similarly, Kerry wouldn't end roving wiretaps of suspected terrorists, but calls for adding "adequate checks (and) safeguards" against eavesdropping on persons other than the authorized target.

(quotes from Kerry's website at FactCheck link)

None of which conflict with the quotes from Kerry in the Bush response. FactCheck also note:
Craig is lead Senate sponsor of bill S.1709 , the "Security and Freedom Ensured Act" (SAFE Act), which would amend the Patriot Act to add precisely the changes Kerry is calling for regarding roving wiretaps and sneak-and-peak searches. It has four Republican co-sponsors: Michael Crapo of Idaho, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and John Sununu of New Hampshire.

Among the 14 Democratic co-sponsors is, of course, John Kerry.

The gas tax is fairly simple. WaPo states "Kerry...has not endorsed a 50-cent gasoline tax increase in 10 years..." And the Bush campaign can't counter it. They list a multitude of bills where Kerry voted for some kind of gas tax. Here are the dates:

None of those matter, seeing as they're over 10 years old and they aren't for a 50 cent tax. And the next ones:

But all of those are no votes on repealing the 1993 4.3 cent gas tax. And then, from a quote on the Bush site:
Kerry conceded that a 50-cent gas-tax hike 'appeared to be a good idea at the time' when it was proposed in 1992 to help reduce the federal deficit. 'But when you looked at how it was going to impact drivers in the Midwest, truck drivers across the country, and perhaps have a negative drag on the economy, we decided it was not a smart idea,' said Kerry, adding that he doesn't favor the increase today and never voted for it.

So, he supported it for a while, then changed his mind. That works for their flip-flop propaganda, but not here.

The 350 tax increases rebuttal isn't really a rebuttal at all, they basically just stand by what they said, which is technically correct. Here's what the Post said:
For example, Cheney's claim in almost every speech that Kerry 'has voted some 350 times for higher taxes' includes any vote in which Kerry voted to leave taxes unchanged or supported a smaller tax cut than some favored.

Also correct, as they admit:
Sen. Kerry's 350 Votes For Higher Taxes Can Be Broken Down Into Five Categories:

Votes for raising taxes/outright tax increases;
Votes against tax cuts;
Votes to reduce the size of a proposed tax cut;
Votes against repealing previously enacted tax increases (i.e. votes against repealing certain provisions of the 1993 Clinton tax increase);
Votes for Democrat "tax cut" substitutes, which would have provided billions less in tax relief to American families.

So where's the Post's misstatement?

UPDATE: A post I missed from Diogenes about this subject, on his Bush Campaign Lies blog is here.

Reader Questions

Well, it seems that our friends over at B4B have discovered our little lemonade stand here, as you can tell from the comments thread on the previous post (hi, guys!). And it seems they have a whole bunch of questions for us.

Well, we're happy to oblige. We're all about information here at Blogs for Bush Rebutted.

To start with, there's this question from someone who goes by the handle 'Democrat for Bush', who was raised to believe that 'if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all'. S/he wants to know:

Are ALL of the women who support Kerry pigs?
No. No, they are not. Thanks for asking!

Next comes a question from someone called 'iopian', who asks:

How does a president have the worst job creation record since Hoover yet more people are currently employed than in any period of our history?
First, I want to salute iopian for his/her willingness to admit that Bush has the worst job creation record since Hoover. I hope we on the left can be as forthright about our candidate's shortcomings.

The answer to the question is simple: there are two measures for employment. One is the so-called 'household survey', which polls households about how many members are employed, and the other is the 'payroll survey', which asks businesses how many workers they have employed. By the household survey, there has been a net creation of about 700,000 jobs; by the payroll survey, a net loss of more than 2 million jobs since Bush took office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

We can argue all day about which measure is the correct one. I'll just leave this topic by pointing out that Alan Greenspan believes the payroll survey is the most accurate.

Great question, iopian! You made it extra-challenging by not providing a link for the 'more people currently employed' statement, though!

Iopian also has a question about why I said Iraq is 'falling into the hands of armed militias' in my previous post:

What enlightened piece of intel are you privy to that the rest of us aren't?
Actually, I'm not privy to any kind of special intelligence data. Why, I just pick up a newspaper and read that Moqtada Sadr's militias control two cities (Najaf and Kufa) and part of Baghdad now, even though they didn't control them, say, six months ago.

It looks like I was the one who forgot to supply a link on that one. Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

Finally, Democrat for Bush chimes in again with one last question:

Since you're not blogging, what exactly are the 5 of you actually doing?
Well, I can't speak for the other contributors; I've been at work since 8 AM. But you're wrong in your assumption that I haven't been blogging! I was up really late last night working on another blog of mine. Please check it out, if you haven't already, and tell them Diogenes sent you!

This is great. I hope Democrat for Bush, iopian and the rest of the B4B gang will come and visit often. We'll keep the red carpet rolled out for you!

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Hello, and welcome to Blogs for Bush Rebutted! We hope you'll enjoy your stay.

My nom de blog is Diogenes, and I got together with some other folks I know at the Liberal Coalition to start this here blog.

Our raison d'etre (that makes two French phrases in as many paragraphs: Republicans we ain't) is to respond to the nuts at Blogs for Bush, and present facts to counter their rhetoric.

We will, on occasion, fight them on their home court, but that's proven to be problematic. You see, one day, not too long ago, I chose to respond to this post over at B4B, written by a guy named Mark Noonan. Basically, it contains a lot of wishful thinking about what a glorious success our glorious leader will be able to celebrate someday very, very soon, even though Iraq is falling into the hands of armed militias, we don't have enough troops over there, and the folks in charge (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) haven't got a clue.

The post concludes with: 'I intend to remind [Democrats] at every turn that they were opposed to the liberation of people and the establishement [sic] of liberty and justice.'

So I raised a challenge to Mr. Mark Noonan in the comments. I said something like:

On October 1, if there are no significant attacks by insurgents, if the prime minister has effective control of the entire country, and if he enjoys the support of the majority of Iraqis, then I will write a letter congratulating George Bush which you can post on your blog. However, if the prime minister is effectively the 'mayor of Baghdad' a la Hamid Karzai, or has already been ousted, then you must write a letter acknowledging that you were wrong which I can post on my site.
Actually, this was probably a bet where neither of us would have had to pay. The current situation in Iraq is neither as sunny as Mark wants to believe nor as gloomy as 'mayor of Baghdad', and it's not likely to get to either extreme by October 1. Still, I wanted to see whether Mark was ready to back up his words by putting even a little bit of personal pride on the line.

When I went back to see whether Mark had taken up my offer, the offer had been deleted and replaced with the line: 'Deleted - Trolling'.

I fired back: Why was this deleted as trolling? And our compassionate conservative host replied: 'Lots of things qualify as trolling. Be careful.'

Take from this story what you will. For my part, I learned two lessons from this exchange. First, in order to effectively counter their right-wing nonsense, we need control of the forum. If Mark had behaved like a more reasonable person, we might not have created Blogs for Bush Rebutted. So all of you who wish we didn't exist can thank Mark that we're here. Second, as liberals, we actually believe in the free exchange of ideas. That is why no comment will ever be deleted at this site, no matter how much we may disagree with the author, as long as it's clear the author is sincerely attempting to engage in a discussion of the issues. The only comments we will ever delete are those which are profane, abusive, clearly irrelevant, or all three.

So give us you best shot. We'll certainly be giving B4B our best shots. We're not afraid of those on the other side because unlike Mark Noonan (apparently), we are confident that when both sides present their best arguments, we win.