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March 23, 2006

Cognitive dissonance: Bush in Cleveland
Posted by Teresa at 02:50 PM *

Just so you know, in a speech the other day in Cleveland, Bush denied that he’d ever linked the events of 9/11/2001 with Saddam Hussein.

No, really—he actually said it:

“First, just if I may correct a misperception. I don’t think we ever said—at least I know I didn’t say—that there was a direct connection between Sept. 11 and Saddam Hussein.”

Which is simply breathtaking. (Though not so breathtaking that USA Today couldn’t uncritically report Bush’s denial. Let the organ harvesting begin.)

As written up in the San Francisco Chronicle, Bush made this statement in response to a question from:

…an elderly gentleman who cited what he said were the three main reasons for going to war in Iraq—WMD, Iraq’s ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists, and the alleged purchase of nuclear material from Niger—and then noted dryly that all three of these rationales turned out to be false.

“How do we restore confidence that Americans may have in their leaders and to be sure that the information they are getting now is correct?” he asked the president.

Please don’t tell me that Bush was ambushed, or that his words were taken out of context. It was a clear, straightforward statement that happened to be obviously and risibly false. The question itself was the very definition of “foreseeable,” and it came out of a heavily screened, hand-picked audience. It had to; Bush won’t talk to any other sort.

Bush also explained his complete failure to turn up Iraq’s supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction, thus:

“The truth of the matter is that the whole world thought that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

No, they didn’t. The whole world doubted there was any such thing, and only let us get away with starting the war because Bush & Co. swore the WMDs existed.

As of 2001, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice were dead certain that Iraq had no WMDs. And have a gander at the story that ran in the Globe and Mail in July 2003:

U.S. ignored WMD message, analyst says

Toronto—A conference of top-level military analysts was told that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks—a message that later fell on deaf ears in the U.S. capital, analysts say. …

The rest of the story’s behind the Globe & Mail’s firewall, but you can also read it here.

There are ever so many other reputable sources I could have linked to on that point. But we all know that.

I keep thinking about all the times, during the runup to and early stages of the war, in correspondence and online, when Macdonald said that Iraq obviously didn’t have WMDs. Why? Because none of their neighbors were acting like they were worried about it. That’s as simple and straightforward a test as Richard Feynman dunking a NASA O-ring in ice water during hearings on the Challenger explosion.

I also liked Claude Muncey’s remark in chat today, when I mentioned that I was contemplating Bush’s performance with no small degree of amazement:
Claude: “Is this the speech where he admitted being kidnapped by Greys and therefore missed his make-up time for the National Guard?”

Me: “That’d be the one.”

Comments on Cognitive dissonance: Bush in Cleveland:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 05:43 PM:

If the Turks thought Saddam had WMD, they wouldn't have said, "No overflights, guys," or whatever it was. And if the Saudis had thought there were WMD, they wouldn't have said "Pack your crap out of Prince Sultan Air Base, dudes." Because when Saddam did have WMD in '91, and missiles to deliver 'em, too, the Saudis said "Come on in!" and the Turks said, "Gee, can we help?"

#2 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 06:13 PM:

Anybody know off-hand how much it costs to run a 30 second tv ad? I'm thinking along the lines of a clip of this conference, followed by a montage of clips contradicting it, and ending with the conference clip again.

Why the hell isn't this exploding across the news, and how might we make it do so?

#3 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 06:17 PM:

Anyone ele see that Iraqi Air Force Gneral on the Daily Show the night befor elast who claimed Saddam moved his WMDs to Syria? Jon Stewart played nice but you could see it in his eyes he wanted to laugh te guy off the stage.

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 06:40 PM:

Keith:

Yeah, that was strange.

There are other "hidden WMD" myths going around the right-blogosphere. These started appearing before the war. One, which started circulating when inspectors were finding empty warehouse after empty warehouse, is that the WMD were all moved onto cargo ships bound for (Yemen, North Korea, etc.).

This makes me wonder if the misAdministration ands its friends kinda suspected all along that they were likely not to find anything, and engaged in some blackwhite* mythweaving to explain their absence.

* * *

If you look carefully, you can pick up that the administration and friends are simultaneously denying and implying a 9/11 / Saddam link. They tailor the message for the audiance.

Ask a deep-fried righty -- someone not in the reality based community -- and they're darn sure there's a link. Point out that the president at one point dismissed the idea, and they'll hum and plug their ears repeat some factoid from four years back.

Heck, the same holds for Global Warming. Bush is on record as accepting the notion and being concerned about it. But ask around the right, and it's debateable, junk science, scare-mongering, & etc.

Maybe what Bush says is the least reliable indication of what the administration believes. He's there to provide plausible deniability come the day of reckoning.

What they really want people to believe is seen in what the do, not what they say. Bush's campaign-time promise to do something about global warming means nothing; what really matters is his appointing 24 year old college dropouts to vet NASA press releases.

* * *

* That is: "We know there's nothing there, but if we convince the peanut gallery that there is, and that if nothing turns up there's a plausible explanation, then for all intents and purposes we're right." Reality control at its must shameless.

#5 ::: Samantha Joy ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Wait a minute, I'm confused . . .

Have we always been at war with Oceana or with Eurasia?

#6 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 07:13 PM:

Serendipity dictates that just now I have read this entry in Boing Boing. It makes for utterly fascinating reading:

Why everyone wants to invest in Neil Bush's software company
It turns out that Barbara Bush's donation to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund is going straight to Ignite!, an educational software company owned by Neil Bush, the current administration's very own "Billy Carter/Roger Clinton" type character. (You may remember Neil as the fellow who headed Silverado Savings & Loan in the 80s. When the bank failed under his watch, he walked away with a mere sanction while taxpayers were forced to clean up his mess by forking over a $1 billion bailout.)
In his Talking Points Memo, Joshua Micah Marshall says Ignite! makes its money by jetting Neil to exotic locales, where he visits "international statesmen, bigwigs and criminals who want to 'invest' in Ignite! as a way to curry favor with the brother in the White House."

The wikipedia entry about Marvin is pretty entertaining too.

#7 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 07:44 PM:

Stefan - Clearly the WMD are buried in the Antarctic, which is why we need to melt that Islamofascict ice with Global Warming. Now get out there and support the troops by driving your Hummer around at high speeds with sudden stops and starts! Don't you love America? Or are you with the terrorists?

#8 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 07:51 PM:

And he's still saying it. Yesterday, down in Wheeling (the Capitol Music Hall is just down the street from me, the street being WV Route 2, and "down" means south about 30 miles):

Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America. He was defying the world. You might remember, he was firing weapons at American pilots who were enforcing the world's sanctions. He had used weapons of mass destruction. He harbored terrorists. He invaded his neighbors. He subsidized the families of suicide bombers. He and his henchmen murdered tens of thousands of his own people. He was a great source of instability in the world's most volatile region. He was a threat.

As if what Saddam was doing had anything at all one way or the other to do with 9/11.

#9 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 08:00 PM:

...and it came out of a heavily screened, hand-picked audience. It had to; Bush won't talk to any other sort.

I thought I heard someplace, NPR or somewhere, that things had come to such a desperate pass for the Administration that they'd decided to actually let monkey boy face a real audience. Same with the news conference wherein he actually called on Helen Thomas.

Not that they thought he should actually give a real answer or anything. Just that, you know, it would look good if they let people ask him real questions. After which he could pull the same old smoke out of his ass because, after all, who the hell listens to the answers anymore anyway? (Their thinking, not mine.)

It's the effect that counts, you know.

But I dunno maybe I heard wrong. I was surprised about the news conference, though. Laughed at his responses, but was intrigued it was happening.

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 09:07 PM:

Samantha Joy: We are Oceania. We have always been at war with Eastasia/Eurasia.

#11 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 09:08 PM:

TNH: In this case, what's the difference between 'cognitive dissonance' and 'terminological inexactitude'?

#12 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 09:11 PM:
I got fired by my boss (Pepsi)
I nailed Jesus to the cross (Pepsi)

I thought of that Negativland {standard advertising procedure}-hack whenever I heard an administration locutus make sure to say "9-11" as close to "Iraq" or "Saddam" as they could.

Oh, for Heinlein's real-time semantic analyser (endorsed by Mary Risling), or Shirley's.

As for the canard that 'foreign intelligence services believed that Saddam had WMD', they were very uncertain as to the number, to the extent that 'zero' was a possibility...I spent three or four years explaining to freshmen that a measurement was useless without an error estimate .

#13 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 10:14 PM:

“First, just if I may correct a misperception. I don't think we ever said—at least I know I didn't say—that there was a direct connection between Sept. 11 and Saddam Hussein.”

This is actually true. However, the Administration was very clever in *implying* that there was a connection. Similarly, nobody in the Admin ever gave a timetable or budget estimate for the Iraq war that contained real numbers, but they said a lot of things that sure sounded like it.

And the news media, who are supposed to notice this kind of thing, said nothing.

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 10:51 PM:

I heard that the wingding with the senior citizens Silver Springs had a different kind of joker present. Shrub brought up the Nukular Proliferation Treety and misdescribed it in some way that I don't recall. One guy in the audience told him exactly where he was wrong - seems he'd helped write it.

Unscreened audiences are just full of little surprises.

#15 ::: Carl Dershem ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 11:04 PM:

I find it interesting to note the recent Zogby poll that showed some ridiculously large percentage (in the 70's?) of our troops in Iraq believe we are there "to get even for what Saddam did to us on 9/11".

I'd dearly love to see them get clear evidence from a source they would believe that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11.

#16 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2006, 11:30 PM:

Just get a clip of bush from way-back saying "Iraq and Saddam was part of 9-11". THen splice in bush's recent copout saying "we never said they were connected". Put it on infinite loop. then put it on a website, with advertising to pay for the bandwidth. Then broadcast the URL. and watch the fur fly.

Hell, if someone can point me to some clips, I'll host them on my site.

#17 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 01:00 AM:

Ah, there's a video clip here from MSNBC news.

It needs some trimming down to get it to loop nicely, but it's good material.

I do like the clip ends with teh reporting stating: "Who does the president think he is F-ing kidding?"

#18 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 02:00 AM:

I am a bit reminded of Saruman speaking to the leaders of the captors of Orthanc, telling each one a different story while the rest looked on and cried foul.

#19 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 09:33 AM:

What I still haven't figured out is how Bush continues to get away with this. I remember three years ago Bush talking about how we had to go to war because Saddam wouldn't let weapon inspectors go inside Iraq... while the weapons inspectors were finding pots of jam inside refrigerators... inside Iraq.

Doonesbury had noted it in their "Say What?" section. But the media as a whole at the time seemed to have ignored it.

Bush says all sorts things that I want the press to challenge but they don't. Another one of late is him saying that the Democrats should just stand up and say that they do not want the surveillence of terrorists if they are against the unwarranted domestic spying program. This neatly sidesteps the core question of violating the Bill of Rights and puts the Democrats in a bad light. However, it's also an extremely misleading statement that the press should have called him on. It presumes that we can not protect Americans without violating civil rights.

Having said that, I think lightning has a very good point. The Administration did a very good job of implying a connection by saying stuff like "We have to attack Ireq because of 9/11." When directly questioned, even Cheney admitted there was no actual connection. However, I don't think there was any actual direct questioning about this until a year or two into the war and after much of the country had formed the conclusion that the Iraqis must have been involved in 9/11 despite the utter lack of evidence pointing anywhere near that direction.

This doesn't make Bush's current statements any less breathtaking. Having spent so long trying to convince the country who the bad guys are, he's now trying to pretend he never did any of that. (I suspect that his friends in Dubai are pissed off at him.) If past history is any indication, he may get away with it. I hope I'm wrong.

#20 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 10:29 AM:

JC: If past history is any indication, he may get away with it.

This reminds me of an observation a friend of mine made the other day having to do with this whole "Oh, he was engaging in illegal domestic spying" thing. One would have thought the Congressional response would have been to, you know, make him stop doing the illegal thing. Instead, what we get is the bright idea of making it legal.

My friend observes: "You know, that's probably just exactly the sort of treatment he's gotten all his life. He does something wrong? Don't make him pay for it. Just have somebody pick up the phone and make the wrong thing into a right thing."

And then we were all full of envy and resentment, forever after. The End.

#21 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 10:43 AM:

My friend observes: "You know, that's probably just exactly the sort of treatment he's gotten all his life. He does something wrong? Don't make him pay for it. Just have somebody pick up the phone and make the wrong thing into a right thing."

I was thinking (just last night) along the line of 'this guy has gotten into trouble and made messes of just about everything he's ever done, in the belief that someone else will come along and fix it or clean it up.' And he's still getting away with it. I'd like to see him put on the kitchen cleanup crew someplace, but it won't happen.

#22 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 11:36 AM:

I was thinking (just last night) along the line of 'this guy has gotten into trouble and made messes of just about everything he's ever done, in the belief that someone else will come along and fix it or clean it up.' And he's still getting away with it. I'd like to see him put on the kitchen cleanup crew someplace, but it won't happen.

Carrying this to the logical extreme, Bush now tells us the decision to get out of Iraq will have to be made by whoeever follows him into office.

#23 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 02:28 PM:

I'd like to see him put on the kitchen cleanup crew someplace

For values of 'someplace' equal to 'prison', I agree.

#24 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 02:39 PM:

No Xopher, it should be work-release from prison to clean bedpans in a VA hospital.

#25 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 03:14 PM:

As for misperception: "I was careful never to say that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack on America," he said. Iocaste comments, "In legal parlance, I'd call this an admission of 'scienter'."

#26 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 03:23 PM:

No Xopher, it should be work-release from prison to clean bedpans in a VA hospital.

Cube-mate says: bedpan detail in the orthopedics ward at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

#27 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 05:09 PM:

Anybody know off-hand how much it costs to run a 30 second tv ad? I'm thinking along the lines of a clip of this conference, followed by a montage of clips contradicting it, and ending with the conference clip again.

Anywhere from a couple of bucks to thousands of dollars depending on where, when, and how often you run it. Local, regional, or national? Broadcast or cable? What networks? Running once or a thousand times? 24-hour slots - which often translates to "runs at 3am" - or something tighter?

#28 ::: Xopher Finds Comment Spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 10:29 PM:

I think. Identical vacuous comments on two different threads?

#29 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2006, 10:37 PM:

Wow. As someone living in a Westminster system, where every week, the Prime Minister has to answer questions in Prliament, under quite strict rules, it seems bizarre that Bush doesn't have to answer questions, at all.

Just different ways of doing things, I suppose.

David Cameron writing in the Guardian (`Bloody 'ell, whatever next?'), was quite keen on Quetion Time. He seemed to think that it kept out incompetents and idiots.

I must admit that I'd love to see Bush having to sit through President's Question Time. Comedy gold.

#30 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2006, 02:13 AM:

Well, it can be, Keir. It depends on the Parliamentary culture, to some degree. Ours, for example, is infamous as a bearpit, and few front-benchers bother to answer questions with anything actually substantive - but it has been known to trap one of the Ministry with something damaging. One of the rules appears to be that a Minister who "misleads Parliament" (ie lies) and is caught at it, must resign. But that's just a common-law thing. A government that didn't give a hoot could just sit tight, provided the party room was prepared to acquiesce and the country stopped short of actual revolt.

#31 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2006, 02:55 AM:

Dave: We have that rule too. The politicians almost always turn out to have some excuse. Forgetfulness seems to be a popular one.

Although, in NZ at least, you don't actually have to answer the question, you just have to address it.

And that seems to me to be judged, basically, on the whim of the Speaker.

So, it can all be a bit of a charade.

#32 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2006, 04:18 AM:

Cognitive dissonance plus looking at Slacktivist led me to an unwholesome bit of speculation.

We've got this crowd of folks convinced of pre-tribulation rapture, at which point they get to face God.

By their own standards, a lot of them are scum: they're liars and cheats, braggarts and neglectful of the poor, adulterers and fornicators, all kinds of sins that they refuse to confess or repent of.

Speculation: They're pushing for Armageddon conditions to reaffirm to themselves that they're not as afraid of judgment day as they actually are. it's bully behavior in the face of a threat, basically.

#33 ::: Norsewoods ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2006, 07:41 PM:

Just so you know, in a speech the other day in Cleveland, Bush denied that he'd ever linked the events of 9/11/2001 with Saddam Hussein. No, really—he actually said it:

“First, just if I may correct a misperception. I don't think we ever said—at least I know I didn't say—that there was a direct connection between Sept. 11 and Saddam Hussein.” Which is simply breathtaking.

I must be behind the curve. I don't see why this is breathtaking at all. I've never come across a speech in which Bush ever did say that there is a DIRECT connection between Sept. 11 and Hussein. What Bush HAS said on numerous occasions is that his view towards Iraq was colored by the lessons learned on Sept. 11 -- i.e., that ignoring a terrorist problem doesn't make it go away, that it is better to be proactive.

Personally, I think that as the Iraq war has played out, that view can be dangerous. Nonetheless, it is quite different from saying that Iraq was directly responsible for Sept. 11.

Bush didn't ever say that, did he? If not, why is it breathtaking that he would deny saying it?


#34 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2006, 10:40 PM:

Norsewoods - The tone of his denials - that he never claimed a direct connection, or I was careful not to say - indicates a consciousness of guilt. In other words, it seems pretty clear they knew this was BS all along and made sure to keep on one side of the line with Bush's speeches.

Bush did say that you couldn't distinguish between the two, because the danger was they would work in concert. Cheney and Condi were less careful, and Bush is careful to avoid responsibility for anything his subordinates and spokespeople have said.

There is also the evidence of the trout in the milk - in 2004, 20% of Bush supporters believed that Iraq was directly involved in 9/11, compared to only 8% of Kerry supporters.

#35 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2006, 07:08 AM:

Norsewoods, if Georgie didn't actually say that Iraq and 9/11 were directly linked, he sure worked hard to give the impression that that was what he meant.

What would it take to institute something like Prime Minister's question time in Congress or the Senate? (Besides a sea-change in the American public's attitude from treating the President like a god-appointed king to treating him like a particularly ambitious civil servant, I mean.) If the president was a bit less insulated from all criticism, you'd at least have a better class of liar in the Oval Office.

#36 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2006, 09:47 AM:

I also like Georgie claiming that we needed to start this war because Saddam wouldn't allow UN weapons inspectors into Iraq ... while UN weapons inspectors were physically inside Iraq.

The plain fact is, George started this war because he wanted to. He didn't need a reason, even though he threw a dozen in the air, ranging from "Saddam ignored UN resolutions," to "He tried to kill my daddy." The real reason George wanted this war (and his desire for it predates 9/11 -- it predates his election) was to prove that his dick is bigger than his dad's. Whether starting his war properly impressed his mom is something that we just can't tell (though I can imagine Barbara saying "Georgie, dear, it's still tiny.")

#37 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2006, 10:00 AM:

Here's Iraq, 9/11 Still Linked By Cheney :

In making the case for war against Iraq, Vice President Cheney has continued to suggest that an Iraqi intelligence agent met with a Sept. 11, 2001, hijacker five months before the attacks, even as the story was falling apart under scrutiny by the FBI, CIA and the foreign government that first made the allegation.

Or how about this? Al Qaeda, Iraq partners in terror -- Powell

The regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for years has consorted with the al Qaeda terrorist network, often using as a go-between a shadowy figure who set up a training camp in northeast Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday.

Bush's denial isn't plausible.

#38 ::: Norsewoods ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2006, 10:28 AM:

Fair enough: Bush did mention 9/11 and Iraq often enough in the same breath that the average uneducated person might get the wrong impression.

The Atta-Czech story hasn't been disproven, however. Edward Jay Epstein has written a lot on the weirdness surrounding that story. (Here and here, for example.) For what reason I don't know, but there seems to be a lot of misinformation out there on all sides when it comes to the Atta-Czech incident. Very odd.

#39 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Cheney is still throwing around the line that Iraq had WMD when Bush started this war, even though none have ever been found.

#40 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2006, 02:42 PM:

Norsewoods concedes:
Fair enough: Bush did mention 9/11 and Iraq often enough in the same breath that the average uneducated person might get the wrong impression.

I guess I'm willing to give Bush a little more credit for guile than you are. (Indeed, I think his most masterful act is to convince people that he's just this regular guy who couldn't possibly pull one over anyone.)

I quote from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11,_2001_attacks)

Two years after the attacks, the Program on International Policy Attitudes reported on an opinion poll it conducted of the American public from January through September 2003. The poll asked, "How likely it is that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11th Terrorist attacks?" The response was 32% very likely, 37% somewhat likely, 12% not very likely and 3% not at all likely

Given that 2 years after 9/11, 69% of those polled thought it was at least somewhat likely that Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 9/11, either Bush must have been more effective than you had suspected, or if you continue to maintain your position, you must have more contempt for the American public than I had expected.

#41 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2006, 03:05 PM:

Norsewoods' style of debate looks familiar. "Yeah, you might be right on this. However, in totally unrelated stuff, I am shocked and appalled that you don't agree with my view of the world. You really must be stupid".

#42 ::: Norsewoods ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2006, 03:24 PM:

Giacomo -- what'd I ever do to you? I was 1) agreeing that Bush had mentioned 9/11 and Iraq too often in the same breath; and 2) responding to James D. Macdonald's post immediately above mine, which mentioned the Atta-Czech connection. Nothing about my post is "totally unrelated," nor did I even remotely suggest that anyone is "stupid." (I'll do so, however, the next time that you so grotesquely misread a post of mine.)

#43 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2006, 04:20 PM:

Norsewoods - what evidence have you seen that the Atta/Prague connection actually happened? I thought that had been pretty clearly refuted; the last reference I'd seen involved Atta's non-existent discovery by Abel Danger.

What would you consider "disproof" of the Atta meeting, given that the "proof" seems to be a statement by a single informant?

The FBI stated that Atta was in Virginia and Florida during the time of the meeting, which would seem to qualify as disproof. I have seen allegations that those records didn't exist, but I haven't seen any statement from the FBI admitting that or explaining what happened if so.

#44 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2006, 05:50 PM:

Speculation: They're pushing for Armageddon conditions to reaffirm to themselves that they're not as afraid of judgment day as they actually are. it's bully behavior in the face of a threat, basically.

I have the impression that pushing for Armageddon conditions puts them on the wrong side.
But then I think that Cheney and Rumsfeld said 'ooh sparkly' when they were shown all the countries of the world from that mountaintop.

#45 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 12:29 AM:

What would it take to institute something like Prime Minister's question time in Congress or the Senate? (Besides a sea-change in the American public's attitude from treating the President like a god-appointed king to treating him like a particularly ambitious civil servant, I mean.) If the president was a bit less insulated from all criticism, you'd at least have a better class of liar in the Oval Office.

Well, all you really need is for a Congress to refuse to pass a Budget unless the President fronts up.

That's where Parliament gets its authority from; they hold the purse strings. There is more to it than that, but, basically, Parliament can tax. The government needs money, the government needs Parliament.

In the Westminster system, the Government is guaranteed a majority in Parliament (by definition), so it doesn't seem that important. However, in the US system, then it could occur that the executive and the legislature are in opposition to each other.

So, if an opposition Congress had a really incompetent (and unpopular) President, and were prepared to tough out the inevitable Budgetary crisis, then they could do it. Just make it a condition of passing a Budget.

This would rely on having a highly disciplined caucus, a lot of support from the public, and a really despised President.

This would be a bit of a hack though, and would only work while there was an opposition Congress. To do it properly you'd need to have some sort of Constitutional amendment. I don't know anything about US Constitutional law, so beyond that it'd be hard, I don't know.

#46 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 12:32 AM:

Kier - Same thing here. Congress, specifically the House, holds the purse strings. Last time a confrontation happened was Newt Gingrich leading the GOP against Clinton. It was a disaster.

Right now, we have a Congress that is of the president's party, so they won't even investigate the most blatant demonstrations of corruption.

#47 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 01:16 AM:

Well, we have a touch of that investigation problem here, but the latest corruption scandal is interesting.

For one thing, the government has been dismantling the traditional elements of the House of Lords, out upper house, said House still being a barrier to controversial legislation, and now they're being accused of taking bribes to give people life peerages.

Fortunately, this is illegal, and the Police, generally, are getting a bit fed up of this government's attempts to take over control of Police Services. Plus we have more than two parties in Parliament, and the smaller outfits like the SNP can afford to rock the boat.

Also, while it's not quite Pirates of Penzance level, the House of Lords, even those old-fashioned hereditary peers who have been chucked out, have a lot of respect. And the granting of honours, which Blair & Co are accused of selling, is still thought of being something to do with the Queen (God bless 'er).

None of that, on its own, is enough, and our press, more critical of government, matters too. But we do have all sorts of ways of distinguishing government from state.

#48 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 03:17 AM:

If you consider the real powers of the Lords, and free your mind of the idea that they are hereditary peers - nearly all of them are not - and consider also the conventions further limiting the prerogatives of those few hereditary peers who remain, then what you have here is a bunch of interlocking review committees, unelected but selected - mostly - for distinguished contributions to a specific field of the arts, sciences, industry, commerce, economics or law.

All they can really do is review legislation, point out its effects in a public forum, and send it back for further consideration if they consider it seriously flawed. They can't in practice reject a direct money bill. Anything else will pass anyway if the Commons wills it, and there is no chance of a government falling or a "constitutional crisis", unless the government's majority in the Commons jumps ship, in which case there's a fresh election.

Personally, I think it's not a bad idea. Typically British, the result of convention, not constitution, and relying on everybody being reasonable, but it has worked pretty well.

#49 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 04:24 AM:

Personally, I think it's not a bad idea. Typically British, the result of convention, not constitution, and relying on everybody being reasonable, but it has worked pretty well.

(From memory) `The British value their institutions, which are atrocious, and ignore their national character, which is splendid, and are at risk of losing the character and being left with the institutions.' --- A British judge, I believe.

The British seem to run a country on an honour system. It works in the main, too.

#50 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 06:21 AM:

"No Englishmen unmoved that statement hears;/ Because, with all our faults, we love our House of Peers."

#51 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 07:01 AM:

"When Wellington thrashed Bonaparte,
As every child can tell,
The House of Peers, throughout the war,
Did nothing in particular -
And did it very well.
But Britain set the world ablaze
In good king George's glorious days -
Yes, Britain set the world ablaze
In good king George's glorious days."

#52 ::: Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 07:15 AM:

Historical trivia: there is nothing in the text of the Constitution which bars the President from answering questions from either house of Congress directly. That we never have "question time" is a result of our own unwritten traditions --- this one stemming from the time Washington did in fact appear before the Senate to seek their "advice and consent" on a treaty directly once, in 1789, and was so incensed at seeing the matter referred to a committee that he vowed never to do so in person again. (ref).

#53 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 08:28 AM:

Today's Doonesbury is scarily on topic.

It makes reference to a February 2006 Zogby poll that showed that 90% of the troops in Iraq think that the war is "retaliation for Saddam's role in 9/11."

#54 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 03:04 PM:

Susan,

Well, obviously with a grass-roots movement a SuperBowl ad would be out of the question, but I'm thinking at least a 4 week run, 6pm-8pm, 2-3 times every hour (every other commercial break), broadcast nationally on the Major 5 ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and WB. Actually, UPN might be a better choice than WB considering the demographic skew in their programming.

I suspect the price would be rather steep, but would at least give a ballpark target for any fundraising efforts.

#55 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 06:25 PM:

dolloch, WB and UPN are going away this summer. They're going to combine to be CW (CBS Warner). No guarantee which shows they'll keep.

#56 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 07:05 PM:

Marilee,

Thanks for the info. I hadn't heard about that.

#57 ::: E-duh-ward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2006, 11:46 PM:

Norsewoods:Giacomo -- what'd I ever do to you? I was 1) agreeing that Bush had mentioned 9/11 and Iraq too often in the same breath; and 2) responding to James D. Macdonald's post immediately above mine, which mentioned the Atta-Czech connection. Nothing about my post is "totally unrelated," nor did I even remotely suggest that anyone is "stupid." (I'll do so, however, the next time that you so grotesquely misread a post of mine.)

You owe Giacomo an apology. Your style of arguement reminds me of someone who thinks he could have gone to law school. You used the word "uneducated" which definately implies that anyone who believes Bush is guilty of trying to associate 9/11 and Iraq must be, at the very least, ignorant/uninformed, and quite possibly of substandard cognative ability. My guess is that, by your standards, most of the people on this board are uneducated. Gee, and I thought it was only some village in Texas that was missing an idiot...

#58 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 12:53 AM:

Mr Oleander, I believe your interpretation of Norsewood is incorrect, though understandable from his form of words. I believe he was saying that Bush and the administration, while not directly stating that Saddam had a connection with 9/11, linked them in such a way that the average uneducated person would leap to the conclusion that they were saying he had such a connection. Thus, he is saying that this belief - that Saddam was connected with 9/11 - is that of an uneducated person, not the converse.

With respect, this is a perfectly reasonable view.

#59 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 01:30 AM:

Dave, I took him to mean (and still do after re-reading) that only an uneducated person would believe Bush did in fact try to link Saddam to the 9/11 attacks. Norsewoods seemed to be defending Bush's assertion that he never tried to directly link Iraq with 9/11. That Bush did so indirectly and through his cronies makes him no less guilty. Any defense of plausible deniability is merely splitting hairs.

If Norsewoods instead confirms your conclusion, which would indeed be a more reasonable view, I would of course humbly withdraw my criticism...

#60 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 09:21 AM:

Norsewoods: I've never come across a speech in which Bush ever did say that there is a DIRECT connection between Sept. 11 and Hussein.

Sure, and the fact that 90% of the troops in Iraq think that they are there because Iraq had something to do with 9-11, well, that's just a convenient misunderstanding that just happens to point foreign policy in exactly the direction Bush wants it to go.

Leadership would mean making it clear to people why we ARE invading Iraq, not letting the majority of people sit with misunderstandings and misinformation. And while George W. Bush may be President, he is certainly no Leader of a people or a nation. He is a mis-leader with power.

#61 ::: army brat ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 11:45 AM:

I'm not sure the whole world really cared whether or not Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps we just disliked him so much that we wanted him out of there for whatever reason the government could find.

#62 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 01:39 PM:

What do you mean "we," army brat?

Disliking Saddam "so much" might have been the Bush administration's actual reason, but the stated reason, the one used to sell the war to the public and to justify it to the U.N. was the presence of WMDs and the prospect for their imminent use.

Even the most-cited bit of evidence that Saddam was a bastard involved WMDs. ("He gassed his own people!")

#63 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2006, 02:57 PM:

army brat,

I can give you a list as long as your arm of people we don't like. Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, even (for certain values of "we"), Jaques Chirac. And there are stacks of people who don't like Bush, or Blair, or anyone at all in Israel. I can name you a few who don't like me, and the odds are that there may be people out there somewhere who don't like you.

Unfortunately, the usual terms for people who go to war based solely on dislike are nasty words like "extremist", "terrorist", "agressor" and "threat to world peace". Not wanting to be labeled any of those things, (or be any of those things), we as Americans do rather hope our government had some more concrete justification for going in there and killing all those people we don't like.

In other news, I am saddened that WB will go away, since the WSD probably will go with them.

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2006, 05:21 PM:

Bush did mention 9/11 and Iraq often enough in the same breath that the average uneducated person might get the wrong impression.

This seems to me to pretty clearly mean that the uneducated person might believe there was a connection--or at least that BUSH thought there was one.

The educated person, on the other hand, would listen carefully and notice how carefully the slimy wriggler avoided actually SAYING it. Us edumacated types being better at listening for deceitful circumlocutions.

The MORAL difference between a deceitful circumlocution and an outright lie is, of course, nil.

#65 ::: Xopher suspects comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 05:48 PM:

The last three all have suspicious emails, and all are brief lines pointing to Faux News stories.

#66 ::: Bll sc ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2006, 12:37 PM:

Dmcrts r gy, nd ll gys nd t g scrw Jhn Krry n th btt

#67 ::: Xopher finds drive-by troll who needs to be blocked by IP address ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2006, 12:45 PM:

Anyone disagree?

#68 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2006, 02:54 PM:

Spam, no doubt -- when the poster sinks to that level of vulgarity, well!

It can't spell either, it must think it's being oh so very clever...sigh.

#69 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 09:02 AM:

Our little troll posted from 216.100.95.240 --
user95x240.ocde.k12.ca.us (Orange County Department of Education).

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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