Archive for June 5th, 2008

Pat Roberts Accidentally Sabotages McCain

Hey, remember this?

The [Senate] Intelligence Committee began a comprehensive investigation nearly five years ago. Initially, the committee was prepared to release one authoritative document on the Iraq intelligence, what it said, and how it was handled. With the 2004 presidential election looming, then-Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) split the report in two — one on how wrong the intelligence community and agencies were (released before the ‘04 election) and another on how the White House used/misused/abused the available information (to be released after the ‘04 election).

Roberts played fast and loose for years. First he said publicly that he’d “try” to have Phase II available to the public before the 2004 election. He didn’t. Roberts then gave his word, in writing, that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee would have a draft report on controversial “public statements” from administration officials by April 2006. That didn’t happen, either. Then he indicated that he wanted to give up on the second part of the investigation altogether. (In January, we learned that the investigation was impeded by the Vice President.)

Well, it finally came out, and it pretty much confirmed what most reality-based people already believed:

[Y]ou’ll never guess what investigators found.

A long-awaited Senate Select Intelligence Committee report made public Thursday concludes that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made public statements to promote an invasion of Iraq that they knew at the time were not supported by available intelligence.

In a statement, Intelligence Committee Chairman John Rockefeller (D- W. Va.) said, “There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate.”

Key points from the report, by way of Rockefeller’s office:

* Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

* Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

* Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

* Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.

* The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.

* The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.

To this day, Still-President Bush will talk about his obviously false pre-war claims in the context of mistaken intelligence, which “everybody” believed at the time. But this long-overdue report is a reminder of just how wrong the Bush defense is — he (and his team) weren’t fooled by errors, they fooled others with arguments they knew had no foundation in fact.

Now here’s the beauty part:

And then, of course, there’s John McCain, who’s running on his national security expertise and judgment on military matters, who bought every line Bush told him, then parroted it to the nation. Worse, McCain has assured voters that “every [intelligence] assessment” justified the 2003 invasion. Today reminds us how wrong this is.

Or as Joe at Americablog puts it:

Republican Senators fought very hard to prevent the release of this intel report back in 2004 to insure Bush’s re-election. And, they wouldn’t release this report back in 2006 to protect their own re-elections. All that delay has resulted in the release of this report in 2008 — leaving John McCain to defend the Bush Iraq war agenda. In some ways, it was worth the wait.

This report makes the illegitimacy of the Iraq invasion even more mainstream and “official” (as opposed to being something that can be dismissed as a dirty hippie conspiracy theory), and makes McCain’s claim that “every assessment” justified it even more untenable.  I wonder if he’ll keep saying that – I hope he does.

2 comments June 5th, 2008 at 06:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,Iraq,McCain,Politics,Republicans,War

The Obama Treatment?


“The Johnson Treatment,” by George Tames

I do so hope this is true…

In a move that could further imperil his already weakened status in the Democratic Caucus and fuel talk about his split loyalties, Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) Wednesday took center stage in the GOP’s mounting attacks on the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.).

Lieberman participated in a media conference call Wednesday morning organized by House Minority Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) criticizing Obama’s stance on the Middle East.

Lieberman’s criticisms came in response to Obama’s speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which was his first major address after claiming his party’s nomination late Tuesday night.

(…)

[D]uring a Senate vote Wednesday, Obama dragged Lieberman by the hand to a far corner of the Senate chamber and engaged in what appeared to reporters in the gallery as an intense, three-minute conversation.

While it was unclear what the two were discussing, the body language suggested that Obama was trying to convince Lieberman of something and his stance appeared slightly intimidating.

Using forceful, but not angry, hand gestures, Obama literally backed up Lieberman against the wall, leaned in very close at times, and appeared to be trying to dominate the conversation, as the two talked over each other in a few instances.

Still, Obama and Lieberman seemed to be trying to keep the back-and-forth congenial as they both patted each other on the back during and after the exchange.

(…)

While Lieberman Wednesday declined to say whether he would continue acting as a surrogate for McCain in attacking Obama, he stated that he would not put his work in Congress in jeopardy by participating in the McCain campaign.

“Obviously I support Sen. McCain … but I can only do so much as long as it doesn’t interfere with what I’m doing here,” Lieberman said.

When asked whether his activities should bring his role as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee into question, Lieberman said he would leave that decision up to the Democratic Caucus. “That’s up to my colleagues,” he said.

Nobody puts Lieby in the corner!

I am very, very happy to see Obama finally taking on the Democrats’ sacred monster, Senator With-Us-On-Everything-But-The-War (and the judiciary, and torture, and choice, and who the next president should be, and…).  As Kagro notes, Short Ride may finally be realizing that he won’t get a free ride as a McCain campaign surrogate.

1 comment June 5th, 2008 at 11:27am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Lieberman,McCain,Obama,Politics,Republicans

Strengths & Weaknesses

Looks like creationism is getting more & more subtle.  From creationism to “creation science” (coughcoughoxymoroncoughcoughcough) to “intelligent design,” and now… “strengths & weaknesses”:

Starting this summer, the [Texas] state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution should be taught. The benign-sounding phrase, some argue, is a reasonable effort at balance. But critics say it is a new strategy taking shape across the nation to undermine the teaching of evolution, a way for students to hear religious objections under the heading of scientific discourse.

Already, legislators in a half-dozen states — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina — have tried to require that classrooms be open to “views about the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory,” according to a petition from the Discovery Institute, the Seattle-based strategic center of the intelligent design movement.

“Very often over the last 10 years, we’ve seen antievolution policies in sheep’s clothing,” said Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education, a group based in Oakland, Calif., that is against teaching creationism.

The “strengths and weaknesses” language was slipped into the curriculum standards in Texas to appease creationists when the State Board of Education first mandated the teaching of evolution in the late 1980s. It has had little effect because evolution skeptics have not had enough power on the education board to win the argument that textbooks do not adequately cover the weaknesses of evolution.

Yet even as courts steadily prohibited the outright teaching of creationism and intelligent design, creationists on the Texas board grew to a near majority. Seven of 15 members subscribe to the notion of intelligent design, and they have the blessings of Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican.

What happens in Texas does not stay in Texas: the state is one of the country’s biggest buyers of textbooks, and publishers are loath to produce different versions of the same material. The ideas that work their way into education here will surface in classrooms throughout the country.

“ ‘Strengths and weaknesses’ are regular words that have now been drafted into the rhetorical arsenal of creationists,” said Kathy Miller, director of the Texas Freedom Network, a group that promotes religious freedom.

The chairman of the state education board, Dr. Don McLeroy, a dentist in Central Texas, denies that the phrase “is subterfuge for bringing in creationism.”

“Why in the world would anybody not want to include weaknesses?” Dr. McLeroy said.

The word itself is open to broad interpretation. If the teaching of weaknesses is mandated, a textbook might be forced to say that evolution has an “inability to explain the Cambrian Explosion,” according to the group Texans for Better Science Education, which questions evolution.

(…)

[P]laying to the American sense of fairness, lawmakers across the country have tried to require that classrooms be open to all views. The Discovery Institute has provided a template for legislators to file “academic freedom” bills, and they have been popping up with increasing frequency in statehouses across the country. In Florida, the session ended last month before legislators could take action, while in Louisiana, an academic-freedom bill was sent to the House of Representatives after passing the House education committee and the State Senate.

In Texas, evolution foes do not have to win over the entire Legislature, only a majority of the education board; they are one vote away.

Dr. McLeroy, the board chairman, sees the debate as being between “two systems of science.”

“You’ve got a creationist system and a naturalist system,” he said.

Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. “I believe a lot of incredible things,” he said, “The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the god that created the universe.”

But Dr. McLeroy says his rejection of evolution — “I just don’t think it’s true or it’s ever happened” — is not based on religious grounds. Courts have clearly ruled that teachings of faith are not allowed in a science classroom, but when he considers the case for evolution, Dr. McLeroy said, “it’s just not there.”

(…)

Views like these not only make biology teachers nervous, they also alarm those who have a stake in the state’s reputation for scientific exploration. “Serious students will not come to study in our universities if Texas is labeled scientifically backward,” said Dr. Dan Foster, former chairman of the department of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

“I’m an orthodox Christian,” Dr. Foster said, “and I don’t want to say that Christianity is crazy.” But science, not scripture, belongs in a classroom, he said. To allow views that undermine evolution, he said, “puts belief on the same level as scientific evidence.”

(…)

“When you consider evolution, there are certainly questions that have yet to be answered,” said Mr. Fisher, science coordinator for the Lewisville Independent School District in North Texas.

But, he added, “a question that has yet to be answered is certainly different from an alleged weakness.”

Mr. Fisher points to the flaws in Darwinian theory that are listed on an anti-evolution Web site, strengthsandweaknesses.org, which is run by Texans for Better Science Education.

“Many of them are decades old,” Mr. Fisher said of the flaws listed. “They’ve all been thoroughly refuted.”

A case based on zombie lies that won’t die?  Sounds like the Republican approach to pretty much everything.  I love McElroy’s desperate efforts to make it sound like his stance is based solely on reasonable, non-religious commonsense grounds, not religious fanaticism at all.  Riiiight.  But the thought that this anti-science wanker is just one seat away from controlling Texas’s board of education is absolutely terrifying.

2 comments June 5th, 2008 at 07:27am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Religion,Republicans,Science


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