I didn't want to write about food again, with the scrapple and cheese fries in one week, but I ran across this site Brunch.org which is dedicated to the perfect restaurant Eggs Benedict. It was so charming I had to share it.
As I have said, this is not my favorite breakfast, but it is my best friend's Dave's. When he eats out, this is what he orders. Not all the time, like zombie, he appreciates Waffle House, and all, but you know those diner mornings when you stare at the menu? Well, for Jen, who will eat anything, she'll choose an Irish Breakfast, me, I go for sausage and eggs over easy, but Dave, he'll go for the Eggs Benedict. None of us are food monomaniacs, I had a ham, sausage, bacon omlet I can't wait to have again from a local diner. But we all have our preferences.
Now, I like and make Eggs Benedict, because I think it's pretty easy. I never use Canadian Bacon because I have no guests and no other uses for it. I usually use honey turkey or sausage, but I'm lazy. It is an upscale meal which any idiot can fix.
Ok, let's get to the Hollandaise sauce. Fresh lemon (NEVER bottled), pepper, butter (ALWAYS) and a couple of egg yolks. You dump in the lemon, heat up the butter, and stir in the egg. In less than a minute, you have a tart, creamy sauce. If you have any inventiveness, add sugar and use it over poundcake or something, but not at the same time. Today, I added mushrooms because I wanted the mushroom flavor, but usually herbs like tarragon or parsley are the limit.
Sure, salmonella is a worry, if you leave your eggs out and don't heat the mixture through. But it a simple sauce if you do it right.
Why add it? Because otherwise you have an Egg McMuffin. It has a sublime flavor, a richness.
Poached eggs are easy. I like them in a frying pan with water for a simple reason. You can keep the yolks runny easier that way. When the whites congeal, just spoon some water over the yellow yolks and the albumen will turn white, and you have your runny eggs. I dumped the water in the pan I used to make spice rub in, so the eggs cooked in the leftover spices. It cleaned the pan and added a little flavor to the eggs. Poached eggs are underrated. Some days, you want a fried egg and toast, but the delicacy of poached eggs should be whipped out by cooks far more often, to eliminate fat and to have an egg which is perfect for a sandwich or a late meal.
I usually fix poached eggs when I get sick of oil. Same flavor and no fat.
The meat is usually whatever is around, except for American bacon. The more I think about it, the more I love cheesesteak steak. It would be perfect for this dish, thin slices of beef and mushroom on an English Muffin. American bacon is best alone slathered in yolk or in an omlette. Not in this. Leftover ham is OK, if you cut it thin enough. Proscuitto might be OK, if you use pesto, because Hollandaise is too strong. You want mild flavored meats here, not strong ones. Salamis, pastramis, Italian sausage, all work better with cheeses over the delicate flavor of Hollandaise. Prosciutto is usually so thin and salty, it's flavor cannot overwhelm. But when you move up there are other things to do with eggs and cured meat.
English muffins are supposed to be thick, but a lifetime of Thomas's has left me addicted to them. It's not right, technically, but life cannot be constrained by every rule in the book.
This is simple dish, anyone who can cook, can make it and look like a pro with freaking cold cuts, butter, eggs and English muffins. Hell, for the cooking impared, buy two Egg McMuffins with hash browns, replace their overcooked egg, splash on a Hollandaise sauce and you're a genius.
If you have minimal skill in the kitchen, I mean boiling eggs kind, this is boiled egg without the shell. Just don't overcook the yolk. If you're afraid of sauce, this is as simple as it gets, butter, lemon and egg yolk. Make it in the blender, for God's sake.
There are some dishes which are sublime (my new favorite word) because they are both elegant and simple. This is one of them. I wouldn't eat it every day, but I can make it and will eat it on occasion.
That's the title of John Dean's new book, but it reminds me of what Dean's collegues tried to do. Richard Clarke isn't lying, at least bgy any legaldefinition. Tim Russert had him on for an entire hour and his statements are remarkably consistant over time.
The desperation of the Bush Administration over this week was not only shameful, but a waste of our tax dollars. How ridiculous is their assault on Dick Clarke?
He was the chief expert on counterterrorism in FOUR White Houses. Four presidents vetted him and hired him. He's been doing this since most of the aides of the President were in school. If he was a pathological liar, it would have been exposed. The White House wants to make him out to nbe some clerk, instead of the policy expert he was. If the public understood how important his role was, Bush would resign in disgrace.
The Bush Administration, led by Rove, don't care. All they care about is reelection. Not that Clarke may be right, that we may have made mistakes. Bush cannot admit mistakes.
Bill Frist should change his name to Bob Dole, with his shameful defense ofg Bush on the Senate floor. Richard Clarke had every right to apologize because he didn't do his job and admits it. Which means he has more character than in the entire Bush White House. Just like Dole did for Nixon, Frist is defending the indefensable.
George Bush is not even as subtle as Nixon. The attempt to smear Daniel Ellsberg was a black bag job, It was secret. Bush admits to wanting to ruin Dick Clarke, something that isn't going to happen. But it makes Bush look small and evil. In a week of allegations, they never denied the substance of his charges, which is that the Bush Administration neglected to take terrorism as seriously as the last two administrations did. They tried to turn Clarke's words around on him, but do they think the MIT-trained, 30 year bureaucrat, is stupid enough to write a book at variance with previous sworn testimony?
Now, the lifelong security official is a partisan liar trying to elect John Kerry after spending half his career in Republican White Houses? If he wanted to do that, he could have joined the Kerry campaign, like his successor and friend, Rand Beers.
I find that part of the story is missing from the tale of Richard Clarke. The guy who took his job was so frustrated that he didn't just quit and write a book, he went to work for the opposition. It didn't make a big splash at the time, but that is remarkable.
These guys thought their problems came from Baghdad and the whole world knows that. The Bushies thought Saddam was some kind of mastermind, when in reality he could barely control his army, much less the local tribes. Terrorism was far too risky for him. After the Clarke-inspired attack on the secret police headquarters, Saddam got out of the terrorism business.
It is amazing how the neo-cons are still spinning how their hopeless war in Iraq has something to do with Al Qaeda? Richard Perle is lying right now on CNN. I hope he's consciously lying, because if he believes Saddam and AQ were linked, he's insane.
What is even more revolting is that Clarke knows all these people personally. He's socialized with them, gone to their homes and on a dime, they turn on him. The only one who wouldn't join in was Colin Powell. Why? Maybe he's covering his ass, or leaving Condi to hang out in the wind or as is more likely, Clarke did him a favor which Powell can't pretend didn't happen. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz are ideologues, they care not for favors. But maybe Clarke's office saved some State people overseas. Or maybe Powell wants to retain some of his soul. Who knows?
Watergate was about Nixon's paranoia. But it didn't kill 600 soldiers and wound 3000. It was an insult to our democracy. But this, this is vile beyond belief. If Bush had character, the American people would have forgiven an admission of mistakes. Instead, he must run a zero defect government. He never does anything wrong and anyone who does, doesn't work for him.
If anyone is surprised by the press coverage of this, which I actually think is fair, because Clarke was a source for many of the reporters and they know him as an honest guy, they shouldn't be. When Watergate was discovered, it was by two junior reporters, one on his way out of the door, loitering around the courts and cop house.
Their reporting was challenged by both the political and national staffs inside the Post. Outside, they were ignored for months. When Nixon came hard at Katherine Graham, threatening her TV stations which kept the paper alive, there was deafening silence. There have always been Heathers in Washington and New York. David Halberstam and Peter Arnett were no heroes to their editors when they reported on Vietnam.
A lot of people will turn their back on the truth for various reasons, some selfish, some ideological, some just from disbelief. But if Dick Clarke is a pathological liar, as some claim, or a dangerous partisan distoring the truth, it means both Congress and four Presidents misplaced their trust in a man ensuring this country's security. Which is a far more serious indictment of this government than anything Clarke writes in his book. If his critics feel that way, he should be indicted and brought before a judge. Somehow, I doubt that is going to happen.
Kos is having a lively discussion about Nader taking money from Ben Stein and other GOP givers. Only the naive can confuse this as actual support for Nader. Instead, it is an attempt to undermine the Kerry campaign. Arguing the point is useless. These folks aren't giving money to Nader because they support him and his ideas, Withdrawal from Iraq and then NATO? Nope, sorry. It's an inderect way to support Bush.
The recent polling shows Kerry losing his lead to Nader. That 2-5 percent is cutting into his vote and to let it fester for months is stupid. As Jimmy Carter made the point so clearly, Nader needs to go home.
All those people looking to cut a deal or rationalize with the Nader folks are missing the point by a mile. It is essential for Kerry's campaign to cripple Nader as quickly possible. It's not about winning voters anymore, but making it impossible for Nader to influence the election, They may have to move from the Fredo approach, talking nice, to the Carlo approach, which is dealing him out of the picture. Nader is an obsticle to John Kerry within his base. All the arguments about policy don't mean anything any more.
The fact is that people tied to Nader will be leaned on to cut off the money, his petitions will be challenged, stories about his work practices and record, especially his milions and playing of the market, will come back.
Nader has had a free ride for a long, long time, The fact that people, even his longtime allies, didn't want him to run, will now expose him to the kind of scruitiny other politicians get. Nader gets the gullible because they're like the same people who take Pat Buchanan seriously. They want some radical reformation of government to reflect their viewpoint of the world.
American politics doesn't work like that. Bush runs the country controling all three branches and people still object to his ideas. Naderdoesn't want to be president, he wants to be a combination scold/dictator and oimpose policies no Congress would pass. His ideasd are as supremely anti-democratic as the worst rantings on the right. Nader's constant attacks on corporations is short sighted for a simple reason he doesn't consdider: people need them to provide jobs. They are not a uniform evil.
It's like the argunemt that it's OK for Nader to take GOP money because companies contribute to both Kerry and Bush. Well, no. Companies don't, people do. Individuals contribute and their companies are noted. It isn't OK to tske GOP money, knowing it's only given to harm Kerry. If he
actually lived by the ethics he espouses, he'd turn the money back.
I can assurre you that no one in the Kerry camp or DNC think's Nader is an ally.
Freelance Journalist Nir Rosen's adventures in Baghdad reflect a city in turmoil and extremely dangerous.
Rubaei street in Baghdad's Zayuna district is one of the city's unknown oases of normality, far away from the more famous Kindi street of Harthiya or 14 Ramadan street of Mansour in the center of the city. On either side of the wide and brightly lit boulevard good restaurants are open well into the night, the sidewalks are crowded with families and even young couples; expensive cars slowly cruise the street, young men gazing at the crowds of girls in tight clothes. I was sitting outside at dusk (staring at them too) with my Iraqi friend Rana in a fresh fruit juice and ice cream restaurant called Sandra. Rana ate imported ice cream, explaining that she did not eat the local ice cream for fear of nuclear contamination in the milk. She noted that the scene before us reminded her of the days before the war, when she would go out at night with her sisters, unafraid of the dangers that keep women sequestered in their homes today.
As she was waxing nostalgic about the good old days under Saddam, a refrain I am by now accustomed to hearing, and I was trying not to roll my eyes, two sharp gunshots cut her words short and returned her to reality. By now the sound of gun shots rarely distracts me, but this time it was too close, and too incongruent with the bustling nightlife. I saw two men walking hurriedly across the street in between the traffic, arms raised and pistols in the air. "They killed a man!" someone shouted. I got up and saw a man in a suit collapsed on the curb, blood spreading from beneath his head. The two men had walked up to him, shot him in the head, taken his pistol, then walked away laughing into a dark street.
The crowd grew and cars slowed down as their drivers gazed at the corpse. Soon about fifty men stood around silently, looking at the body then looking away guiltily. Someone tried calling the police but the call did not go through. Two men ran a few hundred meters away to the nearest police checkpoint, but were told by the policemen there that it was somebody else's jurisdiction. Two armed security guards from a building across the street returned panting, having failed to find the killers. They said they provided security for "an official" nearby. People told me the official was a judge. Someone from a nearby shop covered the body with a rug that failed to conceal the growing pool of blood. Half an hour after the shooting, Iraqi police began arriving, just as the several men in the crowd had turned over the body and were looking through his pockets for identification or a phone. When I returned to my hotel I told a photographer about what I had seen. He asked me if I had heard about the explosion in Fallujah. I asked him if he had heard about the deputy chief of police in Mosul getting assassinated.
"It's all small news, so you never hear of it," he said. "It's all small news but its all bad news."
And elections are supposed to be held in this environment?
In a large pot bring the water to a boil. Add beef liver and boil 10 minutes. Remove the liver and either run through a chopper or grab a knife and cut it in as small pieces as you can. Return chopped liver to the pot. Add the ground pork, a little at a time, and stir. Simmer for 20 minutes.
In a large bowl mix the buckwheat flour, corn meal, salt, and spices; add to meat and broth slowly, stirring constantly. Simmer gently for one hour, stirring frequently. Use lowest possible heat, as mixture scorches easily.
Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bounce the pans a couple of times so that the Scrapple settles, and let cool. Let the Scrapple set in the refrigerator overnight.
When you arise in the morning, remove the scrapple from the refrigerator and cut into to 3/8 inch slices.
To freeze, lay a sheet of waxed paper between slices, place in freezer bags.
To serve: Thaw slices and dust with flour. Fry in either bacon grease or lard until golden brown. Do not use a cooking spray. It will not taste right and ruin the scrapple.
Now, for me, scrapple was this thing to avoid while in an Atlantic City diner, but obviously, she's developed an affection for it. Don't ask me, I've never eaten scrapple in my life. Besides, it's Philly food, not New York.
If you want to order scrapple, you can do so here:
Now, the scrapple belt ranges from South Jersey to Maryland, so if you walk into a diner there, they'll have it.
I never got people who didn't like breakfast. It's the easiest thing to fix and the most sublime meal of the day. Now, commerical breakfasts, like Sonic and McDonald's rely on fat and poorly cooked eggs to get them to be something like a meal. Eggs should be handled with care, gently and soft.
Once upon a time, breakfast was not a bagel and a cup of coffee. It was steak and chops and fish, served elegantly. Fish, especially salmon, is a wonderful breakfast with eggs. It was a multi-course meal which balanced bread and protein, sweet and savory, simple and complex. Now, you might see steak and eggs on a diner menu, where you may pay a premium for a steak not fit fot a sandwich. The best steak and eggs is a steak you had for dinner, cooked for dinner and didn't finish. Warmed up in a microwave or in a waterproof bag, served with eggs, and still keeping the pink, it doesn't get much better.
Otherwise, adding eggs to a cheese steak would work. Steak for breakfast should be tender.
My favorite breakfast is a low-country speciality, rice and eggs. It's bone simple. Heat up leftover rice in a skillet, add in onions and seasonings (pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder) and cook. If you want a matzohbrie-like crispy dish, let it cook until almost hard, if not, cook until onions are translucent. Then add two eggs per person, mixed in a bowl, unless you want seperate yolk and eggs, then crack them into the pan.
Add a little salt, not much, a pinch and only if you don't add anything.
You can do this with fried rice or add anything from canned salmon to peas. I'd recommend some sliced pork sausage, crumbled bacon, fried turkey slices, ham, shrimp.
It's a simple meal, and quick. You can also serve 6-8 people with enough rice. It's perfect for those Sunday mornings when you have relatives or friends over.
I love it because it has a wonderful flavor and is perfect for lazy mornings. It also doesn't punish you if the eggs slightly overcook or you have to rumish through the fridge. It also stretches the additives you have if you only have a few slices of ham or bacon.
My niece and nephew loved it when I served it to them and they thought the turkey was bacon. Which is great, since it limited their complaints. The one provisio is that you need to use white rice. Brown won't do.
Having been given two breakfast cookbooks by generous readers, I can say there is a world beyond Mcdonald's.
George Bush must live in a bubble. How could he think searching for WMD's in the White House could be a joke. People got killed looking for the non-exsistant WMD. Maybe a sociopath might find it funny, but I think there are 580 families who would find Bush's attempt at humor lame to say the least and offensive to say the most.
Bush shows an amazing indifference to others as a rule, but his little show at the Correspondent's dinner got overshawed by Dick Clarke's testimony. Clarke wasn't joking, he was apologizing, The Kerry campaign was quick to place Bush's awful judgment in context.
"How Out of Touch Can This President Be?
"George Bush insulted me as a veteran and as a friend to many still serving in Iraq. This act lowers the dialogue about weapons of mass destruction. War is the single most serious event that a President or government can carry its people into. No weapons of mass destruction have been found and that is no joke - this is for real. This cheapens the sacrifice that American soldiers and their families are dealing with every single day." -- Brad Owens (Iraqi War Veteran, US Army Reserves)
Speaking at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner in Washington last night, President George W. Bush showed a stunningly cavalier attitude toward the failed search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the Administration's rush to war.
"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere," Bush mimicked, as a slide of the President looking under furniture in the Oval Office appeared on the screen.
That's supposed to be funny?
If George Bush thinks his deceptive rationale for going to war is a laughing matter, then he's even more out of touch than we thought. Unfortunately for the President, this is not a joke.
585 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq in the last year, 3,354 have been wounded, and there's no end in sight. Bush Turned White House Credibility into a Joke George Bush sold us on going to war with Iraq based on the threat of weapons of mass destruction. But we still haven't found them, and now he thinks that's funny?
"George Bush didn't tell us the truth about the economy, about job loss, about the true cost of his deceptive prescription drug plan, or about the existence of weapons of mass destruction. There's nothing funny about that."
Meanwhile, the Army has just released a study detailing the high rate of suicides for soldiers serving in Iraq. Soldiers who would have probably been alive if they hadn't been sent off to search for Bush's little joke.
What kind of White House would allow the president to joke about the reason for a war which is killing Americans every day. I wonder why he didn't try those jokes out at Walter Reed's Ward 57, where the Iraq war amputees try to get their lives back.
It may be funny inside the Beltway, where their kids aren't being sent to Iraq, but to average Americans, who's familiy members wait on pins and needles for their loved ones to return in one piece, I think the humor is lost on them.
This is what Dick Clarke said before the 9/11 Commission today
Because I have submitted a written statement today, and I've previously testified before this commission for 15 hours, and before the Senate-House Joint Inquiry Committee for six hours, I have only a very brief opening statement.
I welcome these hearings because of the opportunity that they provide to the American people to better understand why the tragedy of 9/11 happened and what we must do to prevent a reoccurance.
I also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11.
To them who are here in the room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed.
And for that failure, I would ask -- once all the facts are out -- for your understanding and for your forgiveness.
This is the only apology from a former or present Bush Administration official for the gross failures which let 9/11 happen. Despite the unseemly and desperate lies now emitting from the White House, Dick Clarke was the senior WH official handling terrorism, since 1990. All the backbiting and sleazy attempts at discrediting Clarke should be compared to his simple and eloquent statement accepting responsibility for his inability to stop Al Qaeda. Something the president has never deigned to do.
One of our trolls, AM, suggested that I eat cheese fries with gravy. Now, at a svelte 233, down from 300, I'm not going to eat that if you paid me. But even if I wanted cheese fries, I would never, ever add gravy to them, Why? You want cheese, eat cheese. You want gravy, have gravy, but mix the two? Never.
There's a lot of crap people eat that they don't realize simply sucks. Now fries, when done properly, are sublime, they can and simple toppings like mayo, russian dressing, mustard and the like. Melted cheese is also a good thing, although you really need a cheese dip to coat the fries properly.
It's the same thing with hot dogs. People add so much crap on them, they miss the point. Mustard, chili, that is about it. I know it's herecy to the Chicagoans here, but dill pickles? Give me a break. Deep dish pizza, yes, dill pickles and celery salt, no. A good hot dog should need no more than brown mustard and a spoonful or two of chili.
Now, hamburgers are a different thing. The quality of meat is usually so crappy that you need extras. Even when it isn't, most people want more on their hamburger than a bun and a little ketchup. I have to admit that my favorite cheese is Kraft's. It melts perfectly on beef. If you want to add more, well that's you.
The one thing I hate with burgers is the way some people add onions and peppers in the meat. If I wanted a meatloaf sandwich, I'd make a meatloaf. A burger is a pure thing, not to be trifled with, cooked well done. I like my steak medium rare, but my burgers need to be cooked. I don't want any red in my ground meat.
One can make a perfect set of fries and burger, if they take the time, and buy the right ingredients. I don't know how you make a perfect cheese fries with gravy, but I guess they discuss it at the cardiologist's waiting room.
The trick with burgers is meat. Get good meat, have the butcher grind it and you'll get good burgers. Fries need to be cooked twice and drained.
With hot dogs, you have to buy the commercial kind to get good ones, the supermarket ones suck. Personally, I rather make kielbasa and Italian sausages than hot dogs.
But, even at my heaviest, which was 375, I never ate cheese fries with gravy. Ever. I just don't see that as a decent meal. And I still like cheese fries and wings. I can't eat a ton of them, but I'd still have them in small proportions. And gravy fries aren't bad, but mix the two? Never.
However, with the new cookbooks I got, I'd rather eat real food, like making my own sausages and poached eggs in sauce. I mean, if you're eating cheese fries and gravy, the rest of your diet can't be much better. Besides, fresh food beats that crap for most meals anyway. Learning that before a heart attack is a good thing.
By Anthony Shadid
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, March 22, 2004; 3:27 PM
BAGHDAD, March 22 -- Iraq's most powerful Shiite Muslim cleric intensified his opposition to the country's interim constitution in a letter released Monday, threatening to boycott meetings with U.N. envoys who are expected to help chart the transition from American occupation if the constitution is endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.
The threat by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani marked another dramatic assertion of the reclusive, 73-year-old cleric's authority in the attempts to fashion a political arrangement after the U.S. administration of Iraq ends on June 30. While Sistani has already made clear his objections to the interim constitution, the letter was forceful in questioning its legitimacy, demanding that it be amended and warning of the consequences of not revising a document praised by its supporters as the most liberal in the Arab world.
The letter, which was dated Friday and bore the stamp of Sistani's office in the sacred Shiite city of Najaf, said flaws in the constitution "will lead to a dead end and bring the country into an unstable situation and perhaps lead to its partition and division."
The interim constitution, known as the Transitional Administrative Law, was signed March 8 in what Iraqi and U.S. leaders praised as a landmark in Iraq's progress toward a democratic state. But the signing followed days of wrangling prompted by Sistani's objections, and within hours, Shiite members of Iraq's Governing Council insisted that parts of the document had to be revised.
The document calls for nationwide elections to be held by the end of January 2005 to choose a 275-member transitional assembly. That body will serve as a legislature, draft a permanent constitution and choose a president and two deputy presidents. By unanimous decision, the three-member executive will then choose a prime minister and cabinet to run the government.
At the time, Shiite members of the Governing Council said Sistani objected to two key provisions in the constitution: a clause that gave Kurds effective veto power over a permanent constitution and another that allows either of the deputy presidents -- likely a Kurd and a Sunni Arab -- to reject decisions of a Shiite president. While most groups in Iraq contest the precise figures, Shiites are believed to number about 60 percent of the population, with Sunni Arabs and Kurds the largest minorities.
In the letter released Monday, Sistani specifically mentioned only his objection to the three-member executive. He said it "lays the foundation for sectarianism in a future political system." Supporters of the arrangement have contended that the veto power of the deputy presidents was the most decisive way to protect the interests of minority Sunnis and Kurds. But it clearly curbs the authority of a Shiite president, and Sistani said he believed it would create deadlock that could only be broken by foreign intervention.
He who must not be displeased.
The US is making it clear that his road to power is pretty much being granted in terms of short-term expediency. No one can stand up to his demands for fear of launching a civil war, yet his demands will lead to a civil war. The Kurds are ready to blow the country for their own ideas of nationhood and the Shia and Sunni disagree on that one point, to the point of accusing the Kurds of treason.
Former Senator and New School President Bob Kerrey asked why the US didn't declare war against Al Qaeda in 1998.
Simple answer: Congress was too busy impeaching Bill Clinton to worry about AQ.
There was scant GOP suport for Clinton, who they mistakenly thought they had him on the ropes. They constantly called him a liar, even after Osama went on ABC to tell John Miller he wanted to kill Americans. Osama, or his translator, didn't stutter and if you needed help, he issued a translation of his fatwa in English. I saw the interview and was freaked. Here is this guy who telling the US he plans to kill Americans and this is a good thing. Yet, the reaction among the public and the US Congress was silence.
When Clinton acted, and Kerrey seems to forget the climate of the times, the GOP accused him of using the military for political purposes. This accusation didn't happen in the light of day, but as the B-52's were 30 minutes out from their target.
When the Sudan asprin plant turned up empty, darling of the right Christopher Hitchens accused Clinton of war crimes. At the time he was the darling of the left, but with someone possessing his morals, politics are just a label. No one got the point that AQ was a multinational organization which made the Arab terrorist groups of the '70's seem old fashioned.
There would have been zero support for invading Afghanistan. The GOP was running their lynch mob, they wouldn't have agreed to let Clinton go to war. And Kerrey forgets that Clinton didn't have the political support to go without asking Congress. The fact is that he didn't have enough of a cause to hunt Osama the way we do now. No Congress was going to send American boys into Afghanistan, lacking NATO support, for Bill Clinton.
Also, let's not forget Congress was in upheaval when presumptive speaker Bob Livingston was outted as some kind of pervert. Only at the last minute did Larry Flint withhold the details. The GOP's leadership's dirt was spilling out all over the papers. There was no climate for waging war against AQ or anyone else, as the papers discussed blow jobs and Clinton's moral character.
So Osama had three years to plan to kill three thousand Americans, because the GOP and the media were more interested in Clinton's lying than someone saying he planned to murder Americans for the greater good.
Dick Cheney ran to slander Dick Clarke on the pigboy racist junkie Limbaugh's show yesterday. Not that he had any choice, given the seriousness of the charges.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, he wasn't -- he wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff. And I saw part of his interview last night, and he wasn't --
Does Cheney realize the implications of ths? That the head of counterterrorism had no idea of our post-9/11 counterterrorism strategy? That's an amazing statement pigboy missed. How could he not be in the loop? As someone said "he was the loop". What was the White House doing? Going behind his back?
Q He was demoted.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It was as though he clearly missed a lot of what was going on. For example, just three weeks after the -- after we got here, there was communication, for example, with the President of Pakistan, laying out our concerns about Afghanistan and al Qaeda, and the importance of going after the Taliban and getting them to end their support for the al Qaeda. This was, say, within three weeks of our arrival here.
But what was done? Nothing.
So I guess, the other thing I would say about Dick Clarke is that he was here throughout those eight years, going back to 1993, and the first attack on the World Trade Center; and '98, when the embassies were hit in East Africa; in 2000, when the USS Cole was hit. And the question that ought to be asked is, what were they doing in those days when he was in charge of counterterrorism efforts?
Arresting terrorists and planning strikes against Al Qaeda. Or did he miss all those trials in Manhattan? Did he forget 1998?
Q Well, the media finally has what it wants -- I'm talking about the partisan media has what it wants. It's got an independent contractor, a man whose worked for both administrations, now launching full barrels at the President. And one of the claims that Clarke is making is that -- and you just countered it -- he said the President didn't treat al Qaeda as a serious threat before September 11th. He keeps harping on the fact that even before your administration assumed office, you guys wanted to go in and level Iraq.
Because they published the PNAC manifesto in 1996 while working for Likud and Dick Cheney was a charter member.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, that's -- again, that's just not the case. The fact is, what the President did not want to do is to have an ineffective response with respect to al Qaeda. And we felt that up until that point that much of what had been done vis-a-vis al Qaeda had been totally ineffective: some cruise missiles fired at some training camps in Afghanistan that basically didn't hit anything. And it made the U.S. look weak and ineffective. And he wanted a far more effective policy for trying to deal with that. And that process was in motion throughout the spring.
Didn't the GOP accuse Clinton of wagging the dog while the bombers were in the air? Didn't they claim it was a distraction? So do you think they would have supported more robust action, like a special ops raid?
Q Why do you think -- and he's not the first, Clarke is not the first -- why do you think so many opponents of the President -- and what do they hope to achieve by continually attacking Condoleezza Rice?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well -- (laughter) -- it's short-sighted. Condi, is well able to defend herself. She's done a superb job for us, and is extremely knowledgeable National Security Advisor.
Because she's amazingly incompetant at her job? That's my answer. It certainly isn't because she's a black woman like pigboy is hinting at.
Q Well, I guess what I'm getting at --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I've worked with a lot of them over the years. I suppose he may have a grudge to bear there since he probably wanted a more prominent position than she was prepared to give him.
Oh yeah, after 30 years of highly praised government service and a position teaching at Harvard, Dick Clarke has every reason to be bitter
Q Well, I guess what I'm getting at is that whenever it comes to the counterterrorism efforts, foreign policy in general, it seems that elements of the Democratic Party today and their allies attack Condoleezza Rice, which is a matter of real curiosity to me. And, of course, she can defend herself -- as she did today in The Washington Post. But it's just part of the -- what to me appears now to be an obvious attack machine at full throttle. You have this book coming out while John Kerry is on vacation so he doesn't have to say this stuff. The author of this book is associated with Kerry's foreign policy advisor, up at the Kennedy School. You have a Bob Woodward book that's coming in a few weeks from the same publisher. Despite all of these attacks, and by the way, I actually think, Mr. Vice President, if you'll permit me an editorial comment here, you have the Clinton administration -- if they had defended the country as eagerly and with as much fervor as they are attempting to defend themselves in all this, we might have -- and I don't expect you comment, I just -- we might have escaped some of the attacks that we've had.
Pigboy racist junkie lies again. The GOP ran Congress during the latter years of Clinton, they objected to action against Osama to undermine Clinton. Clarke is a registered Republican and an intelligence official who served Reagan, Bush 41 and Clinton in important jobs. Now he's Paul Begala? I don't think so. He's not stumping for Kerry, he's not running for office. He's just saying something pigboy doesn't want to hear
But with this frontal assault, the President's poll numbers remain up. The administration remains focused. They haven't taken you off your game. What effect -- both in a governing sense and in a political sense -- is this full frontal assault having on all of you in the White House?
His poll numbers are what? Please. For an incumbent president, his ass is in trouble.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we've got to get on with our business. There's plenty of work to be done. The terrorist threat is very real. It continues out there every day. The President and I and Condi Rice, Andy Card begin our day six days a week meeting with the Director of the CIA and the Director of the FBI and reviewing intelligence, and working these problems. And you've got to be able to continue to do that, even if there is a campaign underway out there.
And I think we've done that fairly well. We can't let our guard down. We've got to remain vigilant. We've still got major issues, obviously, in the sense that terrorists have launched many attacks around the world since 9/11 in places like Madrid, most recently -- but Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, Jakarta, Mombasa. It's a worldwide global problem, and it's got to be dealt with, I think, very aggressively -- just the way the President's dealt with it.
As Dick Clarke said, terrorism is worse now than before 9/11. Iraq is a terrorist paradise. Who created that mess? Yeah, aggresively. Eight months to capture Saddam, two years to ineffectively hunt Osama. Yeah, color me impressed.
The murder of Sheik Yassin, a sick old man in a wheelchair, didn't go down well in most of the world outside of the US Congress. There, Israel can do anything without question. But most people saw it for the tragic mistake it was.
The Sharon government has tried to kill it's way to peace for years and the result is a state of fear in Israel. Killing all of ones enemies is no solution and it remains to see what kind of revenge Hamas takes. A dead Israeli cabinet official should come as a shock to no one, now that Israel vows to kill all the Hamas leadership.
Once you ply assassination as your trade, both sides become vunerable to the murder of leaders.
Yassin was no saint. The man was evil as evil can be, but blowing him away solves nothing. Others will take his place, with even less need for restraint.
Israel is trying to have it both ways, steal Palestinian land and occupy the West Bank. Something has to give and it has to be Israel. The Palestinians are going to kill to protect their land and Israeli political discomfort at leaving the West Bank is not enough of an excuse to keep this pointless war going on. The settlements are killing Palestinian and Israeli alike, they are a literal death sentence for hundreds of people on both sides of the line.
A fence won't help, cooked up agreements won't help. Only jobs and a viable state for the Palestinians will make Israel safe. Palestinian kids have no future now, except martyrdom or poverty. Remove poverty, and a life in the hearafter won't be so appealing.
Israel is the democracy, it cannot resort to murder as a state solution. It cannot kill all its enemies. A state which resorts to murder can expect murder to be used against it. And having suffered one assasination, does Israel want to make that a habit?
Unless you live in a cave or live outside North America, surely you know the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament took place this weekend and will continue for the next two, as 65 basketball teams become 1 and national champion.
Unlike the Super Bowl, America's national holiday of sport, the Tourney is unpredicatble. Already, two number one seeds are gone, proving the adage that any team can beat any other team on any given day. Now, we have schools like UAB and Xavier in the Sweet 16 and I just sit back after my four days of basketball immersion, and marvel at it all. Fair? Not really, considering the quality spread of the teams, but it fun.
Of course, with any sporting event, there comes gambling. In this case, the office pool. The pool requires you to predict how the tournament will come out, and if you get close enough, you win a few hundred dollars. If you're insane, you bet the individual games, but most people stick with pools and hope for the best.
There is a lot of gambling on the tourney, but it's the friendly, friction free kind that even novices can get involved in. What's $10 in an office pool?
However, it's a very different thing for students and alumni. I may not care if Wisconsin wins, but I don't go there. It must be hellish for people who care about the teams on a personal level, because no matter how good your school's team is, they have to win six games in a row against the best teams in the country, amped up to play you.
But for the rest of us, it's an orgy of sport, on most of the day, making you pick underdogs and winners on the spot. You get to enjoy the beauty of the game and your ability to pick winners. But sometimes you forget the pool and just enjoy the underdog winning. These small schools go out there with nothing to lose, and just beat a major program. And the best part about the tourney is that it always happens. You may not know who, but you know it will.
Unlike the Super Bowl, this isn 't a food/party thing. It doesn't matter what you eat, wings, whatever, it's about the basketball.
There are few things in life as fulfilling as seeing the unexpected. The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament provides the unexpected as a matter of course.
Scott McClellan got grilled today in the gaggle. It was highly amusing to see him slander Richard Clarke and get tripped up by his words and the facts. Kind of like seeing Ron Ziegler in the Watergate days.
Q Scott, a question about the Richard Clarke book. Why shouldn't his account of the war on terror in this administration and past administration's be believed?
MR. McCLELLAN: David, I think one, if you -- you can only look to some of the Senate Democratic leaders who were on some of the Sunday shows yesterday -- Senator Lieberman, Senator Biden -- and they certainly discounted some of his comments about Iraq. They said that -- and Senator Lieberman, I believe, said something to the effect that there was no basis in fact for that. I think that his assertions that there was something -- or his assertion that there was something we could have done to prevent the September 11th attacks from happening is deeply irresponsible, it's offensive, and it's flat-out false.
This administration made going after al Qaeda a top priority from very early on. It was something that was discussed during the transition. And very early on in this administration, Dr. Rice asked for -- requested from Dick Clarke that some of his ideas be presented. And I would remind you that the very first major policy directive of this administration was to develop a comprehensive strategy to eliminate al Qaeda -- not role it back, as some had previously called for, but to eliminate al Qaeda.
See how Lieberman is being used as a tool by the White House. What an idiot.
Q What would motivate him to engage in, as you say, offensive behavior -- what you call offensive, his charges here?
MR. McCLELLAN: It appears from what I've seen that he's been more focused on the process than the substance. It appears to be more about Dick Clarke than about the substance. For the President, it's more about the actions that we are taking to protect the American people. Mr. Clarke has been out there talking about what title he had; he's been out there talking about whether or not he was participating in certain meetings. So it appears to be more about the process than the actual actions we have taken.
You mean like invade Iraq and call it part of the war on terra?
Q That seems a little simple, doesn't it, Scott? I mean, the process matters when you work in the White House and have to get the attention of superiors who ultimately have the President's ear to make a decision. So isn't that a little disingenuous to dismiss it as a process complaint?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, wait a second here. This is a gentleman that left the administration one-and-a-half years ago. Certainly let's go to the facts. These threats did not happen overnight. These threats have been building for quite some time. Go back to the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Go back to the 1998 attacks on United States embassies. Go back to the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. These threats had been building for quite some time. Dick Clarke was here for some eight years. This administration was here for some 230 days before the attacks of September 11th.
Q Condi Rice made a similar point. Should we take from that that the President's view is that Dick Clarke was part of the problem, not part of the solution, since all of these things happened on his watch, when his primary job was counterterrorism?
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I think Dr. Rice pointed out earlier today that she requested that some of his ideas be presented to the administration. He presented some of the ideas. There were some that we took into account that were useful, and then there were others that we didn't find as useful. But this was talking about --
He doesn't have the balls to call him a failure. Interesting.
Q That doesn't answer my question.
MR. McCLELLAN: This was talking about rolling back al Qaeda. We were focused on eliminating al Qaeda.
Q Scott, you didn't answer my question, which is, by listing all those things that he was here for, is it the President's view that, in fact, he was part of the problem, not part of the solution?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he was this administration's counterterrorism expert up until -- well, the time that the job was separated into a cyber security position and counterterrorism position, which was something that he had suggested happen.
Q But you still didn't answer the question, it doesn't seem to me, does it?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Does that answer the question?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think it does. He was part of our efforts to go after al Qaeda. He was a member of this team for some two years, and we appreciate the service that he provided. But --
Uh, yeah. He sucks because he attacked the dear leader, but he's not some loser we should have fired.
Q Why do you think he's doing this?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now, all of a sudden, he's raising these grave concerns that he claims he had. And I think you have to look at some of the facts. One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign. He has written a book and he certainly wants to go out there and promote that book. Certainly let's look at the politics of it. His best buddy is Rand Beers, who is the principal foreign policy advisor to Senator Kerry's campaign. The Kerry campaign went out and immediately put these comments up on their website that Mr. Clarke made.
Q Of course, he says he did raise those concerns --
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Mike. Go ahead, Mike.
Q He says he raised those concerns --
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Mike.
Q -- in the administration.
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Mike.
Q Scott, the whole point of his book is he says that he did raise these concerns and he was not listened to by his superiors.
Isn't this the same administration which slanders all opponents and threatened to fire an analyst for telling the truth?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and that's just flat-out wrong. Go back and look at what we said. It was very early on when Dr. Rice -- the first week of the administration, Dr. Rice asked for the ideas that Dick Clarke had in mind, or the previous policies of the previous administration. But we wanted to go beyond that. We didn't feel it was sufficient to simply roll back al Qaeda; we pursued a policy to eliminate al Qaeda. And that's what the NSC worked on from very early in this administration. We took the threats posed by al Qaeda very seriously. And we acted on those threats. Certainly, during that spring and summertime, there was a spike in the terrorist threat, and -- go ahead.
Q Some Democratic senators are asking today if, based on the revelations of this book, based on the proactive response you guys have had over the weekend, if Dr. Rice will reexamine her position on testifying before the 9/11 Commission.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think she's stated her position. Again, it's not something that's a matter of personal preference. It' a matter of separation of powers. It's a matter of principle. There are some issues involved here about White House staffers testifying before Congress, and they relate to separation of powers issues. However, she was more than happy to sit down with the 9/11 Commission and visit with them for more than four hours and answer all the questions that they had.
Q And what the Democrats say is that because this is an independent commission, that there are not separation of powers issues.
MR. McCLELLAN: This is a legislatively created commission. It is a legislative commission.
Q Scott, this morning, you said the President didn't recall the conversation in the Situation Room on September 12th that Mr. Clarke said he had, where the President asked Dick Clarke three times to pursue links between 9/11 and Iraq. And you said he doesn't -- I had two questions. So did the President tell you or somebody in the White House over the weekend, he doesn't recall?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I talked to him. He doesn't recall that conversation or meeting.
Was he sober when you asked him?
Q And that was -- he said it this morning, or this weekend? When did he say that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this weekend and this morning, yes.
Q Okay. And secondly, Clarke now says that he has three eyewitnesses, and he repeated it again this morning, and he named them -- to the conversation.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let's just step backwards -- regardless, regardless, put that aside. There's no record of the President being in the Situation Room on that day that it was alleged to have happened, on the day of September the 12th. When the President is in the Situation Room, we keep track of that. But put all that aside, let's go to the heart of the matter. This was supposedly the day after the September 11th attacks. And, of course, you want to look at all possibilities of who might be responsible. It would be irresponsible not to consider all responsibilities.
And, in fact, I would point out that Mr. Clarke himself said in a "Frontline" interview, he emphasized the importance of officials having a very open mind. On the -- quote: "On the day of September 11th, then the day or two following, we had a very open mind." Those are words from Dick Clarke. He went on to say: "The CIA and FBI were asked, see if it's Hezbollah, see if it's Hamas, don't assume it's al Qaeda. Don't just assume it's al Qaeda." So I think that --
Q Well, so are you saying that while the President doesn't recall that conversation, are you leaving open the possibility that there's these three eyewitnesses that Clarke says, therefore it may have happened?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but let's go even beyond that. One, in the immediate aftermath of an attack like that, you want to explore all possibilities. And that's what this administration did. Of course, you want to do that. But just days later, the President met with his National Security Council; the Director of Central Intelligence informed him that there was no link between the September 11th attacks and Iraq. And at the National Security Council meeting, what happened? There was a map that was unrolled on the table, and it was a map of Afghanistan. And what did the President do? The President directed that we go into Afghanistan, and we go after al Qaeda, and we go after and remove the Taliban from power so that al Qaeda would no longer have a safe harbor from which to plan and plot their attacks on the American people.
Let's ignore his proof and talk about my hastily constructed defense
Q Okay, Clarke is now saying that the -- your response this morning was an example of how the Bush administration just goes after -- just uses ad hominem attacks and tries to suppress the truth.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, when someone uses such charged rhetoric that is just not matched by the facts, it's important that we set the record straight. And that's what we're doing. If you look back at his past comments and his past actions, they contradict his current rhetoric. I talked to you all a little bit about that earlier today. Go back and look at exactly what he has said in the past and compare that with what he is saying today. And ask yourself why, one-and-a-half years later, after he left the administration, he's, all of a sudden, coming forward with these grave concerns? If he had had such grave concerns, why didn't he come out with them sooner?
What facts? We invaded Iraq, right?
Q Scott, two questions. So you're saying, because the President doesn't recall the conversation -- you're not saying he denies that that conversation happened?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm saying let's look at the heart of the matter, regardless of whether or not that took place. The President doesn't recollect it. But let's look at the heart of the matter. And that is, in the aftermath of an attack like that, the immediate aftermath, is it responsible to explore all possibilities? Of course, it is. And Dick Clarke said so, himself.
Q He's not denying that that conversation could have taken place?
MR. McCLELLAN: He doesn't have any recollection of it, and, again, it purportedly took place in the Situation Room. There's no record to indicate that happened.
Except for the two witnesses
Q And second, why do you feel it's a fair criticism to say that this is partisan politics that he's trying to promote a book? This is man who served 30 years in the government under Reagan; under Bush, Senior; Clinton; as well as this President. He was a registered Republican in 2000. Why do you believe that that is a fair way to judge him, that it's simply politics?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's look at the facts. Let's look at the timing. It's important to look at all those aspects. Let's look at his history there. This was someone who is now saying he was against the Department of Homeland Security, but we know that he actually sought to be the number two person at the Department of Homeland Security. He wanted to be the deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department after it was created. The fact of the matter is just a few months after that, he left the administration. He did not get that position, someone else was appointed to it. And now, all of a sudden, he's saying he's against the Department of Homeland Security.
And if someone is going to make these kind of serious allegations, it's important to look back at his past comments and his past actions, and compare that with what his current rhetoric is. It's also important to keep in mind -- I think Newsweek pointed this out this week -- who his best friend is. His best friend is Rand Beers, who is the principal advisor to the Kerry campaign. It's also important to keep in context -- we're in the heat of a presidential campaign right now and, all of a sudden, he comes out with a book that he is seeking to promote. He is actively going out there and putting himself on prime-time news shows and morning shows to promote this book. And he is making charges that simply did not happen.
Look back at the facts. To suggest that Iraq was the immediate priority in the aftermath of September 11th, that's just not the case. This President was focused on reassuring the American people; on making sure that there wasn't a follow-on attack that was coming; on making sure that we got our airlines back up and running in a secure fashion. There were a lot of immediate focuses -- focus that this administration had in the aftermath of September 11th.
The President also was focused on going in and taking the fight to the terrorists, going on the offensive, because September 11th taught us a lot of important lessons. And this President learned those lessons by the actions that we took, by implementing the Patriot Act to provide law enforcement with new tools to combat terrorism at home; by working on all fronts to go after the terrorists -- the military front, the diplomatic front, the financial front, the law enforcement and the intelligence fronts.
But his friend also worked for you and left in disgust. And then he went to work for Kerry. Why did he do that?
Q But, Scott, Dr. Rice said this morning the reason he was kept on was because he was so valuable in his counterterrorism expertise. Why is it that this administration and previous Republican administrations would keep him on if he didn't have any credibility, if he was just a partisan player?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think Dr. Rice said earlier that, obviously, he had been around for quite some time. Like I said, he had been around for some eight years before the September 11th attacks. This administration had been in place for some 230 days. Again, these threats did not develop overnight. They had been building for quite some time. And I think that's important to keep in perspective when we're having this discussion. But certainly al Qaeda was a top priority. We made that determination during the transition and immediately began acting on that priority when we came into office. And it was important to continue some of those policies until we were able to develop a new, comprehensive strategy to eliminate al Qaeda -- not roll it back, like was the previous policy.
Q You're really suggesting he's looking for a scapegoat now.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me keep going. I'll come back to you. Go ahead, Jim.
Q But you're suggesting that he's a scapegoat and that he missed it for eight years, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Jim.
Q Would you go over the facts in this? I mean, he's clearly suggesting that he could not get the administration -- the President and his top national security aides -- to pay sufficient attention to the threat from al Qaeda. You just said that the determination was made during the transition that al Qaeda was the top threat. What set of facts would you point to from the transition on that would --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we were briefed on it during the transition. And then the very first week Dr. Rice requested information from some of the ideas that Mr. Clarke had, and requested that those be presented to her. And we began, very early on in this administration, to develop a new, comprehensive strategy to go after and eliminate al Qaeda, so that we could get rid of this threat.
Q When --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it was actually presented to the President -- or, actually, it was completed on September 4th, this new comprehensive strategy. That was the timing of it. Certainly there were -- there was a terrorist spike during the summer, as well. And all the focus was on threats overseas. And it's important to point out that Mr. Clarke is the one who made some assertions about the millennium plot on Los Angeles. And the question that should be asked of him is, what was done after that? Well, there wasn't any effort really to focus on the sleeper cells in the United States. The attention was still focused overseas.
Q Let me just clarify one thing. When did the administration begin its work on the comprehensive strategy to eliminate al Qaeda?
MR. McCLELLAN: We began very early on. I think it was actually the NSC deputies had met -- they met frequently between March and September of 2001 to decide and talk about many of the complex issues that were involved in the development of that strategy. And contrary to his assertion that he wasn't able to brief senior officials until late April, the first deputy level's meeting on al Qaeda was held on March 7th. And that's -- and Dick Clarke was the one who conducted the briefing. And the deputies agreed that the national security policy directive should be prepared at that point. And it was just less than six months later when the strategy was ready to go, on September 4th.
Q Scott, you, earlier, said that Clarke had refused orders to attend a certain number of meetings. You said that in the gaggle this morning. Can you tell me, what do you mean by that? Were there meetings he was supposed to attend that he didn't attend? Did he have to be ordered --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, Dr. Rice --
Q -- and the timetable for --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Dr. Rice, early on in the administration, started holding daily briefings with the senior directors of the National Security Council, of which he was one. But he refused to attend those meetings, and he was later asked to attend those meetings and he continued to refuse to attend those meetings. You would have to ask --
MR. McCLELLAN: You'd have to ask him why. But those, obviously, are important meetings, and meetings that are held on a daily basis by the National Security Advisor.
Q Didn't someone confront him and say, you work for the government, you have orders, and you're refusing to obey them?
MR. McCLELLAN: I just said that he was asked to attend those meetings, but he continued to refuse to do so.
Digging up anything they can find, aren't they.
This pathetic display of avoiding answers did entertain, but they better have more convincing answers after the 9/11 report comes out. The neo-cons, scared their power will wane, will attack Dick Clarke as everything short of a Russian spy in the next few days. Which is what happens when you tell the truth about Bush. I wonder how they finally did that intervention with him when he "stopped" drinking. The slanders must have been flying back then. These guys never admit error, no matter what, just like drunks and codependents.
Clarke's disputes with the White House are notable in part because his muscular national security views allied him often over the years with most of the leading figures advising Bush on terrorism and Iraq. As an assistant secretary of state in 1991, Clarke worked closely with Wolfowitz and then-Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney to marshal the 32-nation coalition that expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Clarke sided with Wolfowitz -- against Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- in a losing argument to extend that war long enough to destroy Iraq's Republican Guard. Later, Clarke was principal author of the hawkish U.S. plan to rid Iraq of its nonconventional weapons under threat of further military force.
In his experience, Clarke writes, Bush's description by critics as "a dumb, lazy rich kid" is "somewhat off the mark." Bush has "a results-oriented mind, but he looked for the simple solution, the bumper sticker description of the problem."
"Any leader whom one can imagine as president on September 11 would have declared a 'war on terrorism' and would have ended the Afghan sanctuary [for al Qaeda] by invading," Clarke writes. "What was unique about George Bush's reaction" was the additional choice to invade "not a country that had been engaging in anti-U.S. terrorism but one that had not been, Iraq." In so doing, he estranged allies, enraged potential friends in the Arab and Islamic worlds, and produced "more terrorists than we jail or shoot."
"It was as if Osama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting 'invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq,' " Clarke writes.
If played right, and given the dunderhead Lierberman's response that is no guarantee, this should hurt Bush. Clarke is no low-level staffer, but someone who didn't drink the kool-aid, but was close to the issue. But a lot of people will have problems winding their mind around the idea Bush used 9/11 to further his own agenda, despite ample evidence.
Josh Marshall was fretting about the Kerry campaign and his skiing vacation, like it matters. As long as Kerry keeps young boys out of his bed, and the ex-girlfriends quiet, he'll be dragging a drunk Bush out to his inaugural.
Because of all the fretting about foreign leaders wishing Kerry well, and his common sense response about not saying who, athough a casual guess is most people in Europe, reminds me of a drunk's vengeful desire to find out who was talking 'bout his drinkin'. You know Bushco would go on a vengeful spree against these leaders. They don't mention the most important leader who wants Bush defeated. Riverbend complains about the fate of Iraq being determined by an aging Iranian leader. Shit, she should be an American, because we're gonna let him pick the next president.
If Ayatollah Aii Al-Sistani decides Americans have to leave Iraq, Bush is gonna have a lot of time to work on his Crawford pig farm. And while he wields his power carefully, he is no mood to help Bush. Sadr is already calling for the Americans to leave, and when, not if, Sistani joins him, Iraq will officially slide into major debacle.
Our plan for MACV by the Tigris, a "super embassy", better come with a massive, Vulcan protected, landing pad. Because we'll be leaving by helicopter as the Shia mobs come for us.
There is only one foreign leader who matters and he isn't in the EU. Bush and Viceroy Jerry have ignored it whenever possible, but that day is ending. Sistani, if he lives, Sadr, if he doesn't, is the only leader who's endorsement of John Kerry matters. And they don 't seem partial to Bush right about now.
If Richard Clarke is right, and there is every reason to think he is, the US was days, if not hours, away from letting Osama Bin Laden get away with murder.
It seems Rumsfeld wanted to bomb Iraq for 9/11, despite ample evidence Al Qaeda was responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans. To a rational person, this would have been a war crime. Bombing the innocent for something we knew they didn't do.
Perle and Wolfwowitz, despite all available evidence, would have let Osama sit in Afghanistan untouched just to get Saddam. The fact that no state would have ever launched a 9/11 attack and not expect a B-2 response was beyond them.
Let's keep this in mind, and it's really simple: the Bush response to 9/11 would have let Osama get away with murder, killing thousands of innocent people. Only the professionals of the CIA and FBI prevented this insanity. When Bush was told that "you'll lose the whole world", was he prevented from attacking Iraq.
Their obsession with Iraq is frightning, just as their incompetence in dealing with Iraq is striking. And of course, the White House is trying to smear Clarke as just another Democrat. Of course, anyone who attacks this White House gets smeared. It's all they can do. They accuse him of making of meetings, being too close to Kerry, all manner of nonsense.
The excuses from this White House sounds like a drunk excusing away his failures. If Clarke is telling the truth, Rumsfeld, who claimed Iraq had "better targets" should resign immiedately. Because he was willing to place ideology above the national security of this country. I seriously doubt Clarke, a lifelong intelligence official, is lying aboutn this. The image of Bush demanding information on Iraq should define him far sharper than any lie they conjure up about Kerry.
Americans are burning alive, falling from the Twin Towers, and Bush is more concerned about his vendetta with Iraq than hunting down the people who murdered them in cold blood. If that's good on terrorism, excellent on terrorism has Osama running for Congress.
Thursday, the FCC changed their rules on indecency and tightened them up with little guidence or warning.
In a series of broad decisions yesterday involving the issue of indecency over the airwaves, the Federal Communications Commission put broadcasters on notice that it would have little tolerance for further, even accidental, transgressions and would be much more determined to impose fines.
The F.C.C. gave a $27,500 fine to an Infinity Broadcasting station in Detroit that carries the talk show host Howard Stern. It also fined a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications $55, 000 over an incident that occurred five years ago on one of its radio stations.
And in the decision on the case that has received most recent attention, the commission reversed a ruling that had absolved NBC regarding the use of a vulgarity by the singer Bono in a live telecast of the Golden Globe Awards a year ago. Originally the commission said his use of the word was not a violation because it was a "fleeting" use, and not used in a sexual context.
Yesterday the five-member commission unanimously declared that, fleeting or not, and in whatever context, the word was a vulgarity and as a result a violation. NBC was not fined, however, because three of the F.C.C. commissioners, including the chairman, Michael K. Powell, ruled that NBC had not been put on notice that such an incident would merit a fine.
This position was opposed by two commissioners, most vociferously by Michael J. Copps, who argued that the commission never needed to give notice. "This may not be a case where a revocation of license is in order," Mr. Copps wrote in a statement. "But neither is it a case that warrants no penalty at all. I believe the commission would be fully within its rights to impose a fine for this particular instance of profanity and indecency. We send entirely the wrong signal by failing to do so."
OK, so will ABC be fined for showing the unedited Saving Private Ryan? Will NBC be fined for Schindler's List? Howard Stern or any radio jock is not really the issue, because they know they can't say fuck on the air, and it's a common sense rule. It's the exceptions where a movie like Saving Private Ryan come up. Editing for language makes the film unwatchable and it-well at least the first and last half hour-should be watched by wide audiences.
The FCC has changed the rules in such a way that gives no leeway to broadcasters. Any utterance of the word fuck could result in a fine, even during a live sporting event. Here is a pretty good analysis of the FCC's legal decision.
What is amazing is that broadcasters still try to negotiate with the FCC. This ruling, which has plenty of legal questions, limits their ability to make money. Most Americans pay for their TV for a reason. The Sopranos hovers like a ghost over TV and most Americans have never seen it. Any show which approaches it' like FX's The Shield can never air on broadcast TV. The FCC represents a vocal minority and broadcasters seem unable to understand the threat the FCC poses to their profits.
If Howard Stern is driven from the radio, the medium will not last five years. Why? Sattelite and internet radio is free from FCC interference. You can play Metallica and hip-hop without edits. Why not listen to an unedited Stern via your laptop, desktop or a tuner? For $100 a year, what you spend on hamburgers, you can have adult radio which is free from FCC control.
It may turn out that the most important court ruling of the last decade was the one which places the Internet under the First Amendment. It may allow broadcasters a medium where they can show what they want to an audience while the government spins their heels. Which is as it should be.
Jen sent me this link to Fundrace.org, a site which tracks contributions by city and address. Looking over Manhattan, I found out that the GOP collects most of it's money from business addresses, while the Dems collects theirs from exclusive Apartment buildings.
Democratic givers live in some of the most exclusive addresses in America, surrounding the lower end of Central Park,where apartments go for seven figures to start. So there are rich, well insanely rich, people who support the Dems in New York. One building kicked in $50K to the Dems while another kicked in $29K to the GOP.
You can get names as well, which is even more amusing. I think the idea of the site is to find which neighbor gives up cash to which party.
Juan Cole pointed out this charming story in the WaPo today.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters yesterday that the U.S. military is trying to reduce the number of troops inside Baghdad and station them in six bases on the city's perimeter. "That will reduce much but not all of the coalition presence here inside the city of Baghdad, because we certainly will be continuing the presence of American and coalition forces inside to provide a safe and secure environment," said Kimmitt, who did not address plans for hiring additional civilian forces to take over in the Green Zone.
The threats that the private security force will be asked to meet provide a summary of the dangers facing U.S. and coalition personnel 10 months after President Bush declared the main fighting over. The contractor, according to the bid proposal, must be prepared to deal with vehicles containing explosive devices, the improvised explosives planted on roads, "direct fire and ground assaults by upwards of 12 personnel with military rifles, machine guns and RPG [rocket-propelled grenade], indirect fire by mortars and rockets, individual suicide bombers, and employment of other weapons of mass destruction . . . in an unconventional warfare setting."
To meet that challenge, the bidders' personnel must have prior military experience, and those involved directly in force protection must have "operated in U.S., North Atlantic Treaty Organization or other military organizations compatible with NATO standards."
If Iraqis are hired by either the prime contractor or subcontractors, they cannot be former senior members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party or affiliated with any organization the Iraqi Governing Council labeled as prohibited. No contractor or subcontractor can "display the image or likeness of Saddam Hussein or other readily identifiable members of the former regime or symbols of the Baath Party or the former regime in government buildings or public spaces," the solicitation said.
Contractors will also be expected to provide dogs and handlers experienced in detecting explosives to provide 24-hour per day, seven-day-a-week coverage for all entry control points and all other locations, the proposal states.
The "mercinaries" are not Soldiers of Fortune rejects, but carefully vetted soldiers, usually Special Ops types. Many of these folks are as tied to the USG as they were when they were in uniform. This is an employment program to prevent these guys from working for unsavory types and governments. Most of these companies are careful to get "informal" USG approval before they take on a client. Iraq has seen a great boost for these companies, as everyone from TV networks to NGO's hire them. Now, the CPA wants to put a private face on their gunmen.
This may well become a problem for a future Iraqi government, since these men will have the same powers of life and death as US soldiers. Needless to say, private soldiers are wildly unpopular in most of the world, as 70 mercinaries found in Zimbabwe, where they're facing a show trial and death penalty.
With the latest bombblasts in Iraq, it's clear that there is only one issue which matters-security.
Al Qaeda's camapign has been wildly successful in demonstrating that the Coalition cannot protect Iraqis from anything, terrorist blasts, kidnappings, extortion. The AQ campaign has been dedicated to creating secterian violence, why is a mystery, but the concerted murders of key Shia leaders and attacks at events has to be seen as a pattern.
However, there is another campaign, a guerilla campaign targeted at the US and it's collaborators. The reality is that Iraq is sliding into civil war, where anyone working with the CPA is going to face intimidation and even death.
The US created this mess by disbanding the Army and police instead of changingb their leadership. This was the grand scheme of Chalabi so he wouldn't have a bunch of generals to deal with in his quest for power. But the problem with this is that it created a power vacuum in the streets and enough time for criminal gangs to form. When the army was disbanded, it took a bad unemployment rate and exploded it, creating a pool of disaffected, trained, young men desperate to feed their families.
While some like to talk about a liberated Iraq, and clearly, the onus of the police state and Saddam's greed is gone, much of the terror has been subcontracted to private groups. So, it's far more random and dangerous for the average Iraqi to live their lives. There are now thousands of Udays and Qusays creating terror when and where they want.
The US doesn't have and will not get the 150,000 troops it needs to impose some kind of order in additon to the 110,000 there now. Only large contingents of Egyptian, Nigerian,Indian and Pakistani troops and there is zero support for sending them to police Iraq. While the debate has centered on Europe, the real infantry work is done by those countries, with support from Western Europe. You could not hope to police Iraq with NATO alone.
The real secret of US interventions is that we subcontracted the heavy, patrolling, presence to these third-world militaries and saved our soldiers for raids and support missions. Without that support, and honestly, shielding, US forces have to bear the burden of combat and death. The small, Coalition forces are shielded by being stationed in the Shia south.
This security arrangement has failed. The guerillas can operate not only with impunity, but at times of their choosing. Iraqis feel less safe as the coaltion fails to protect them from both terrorism and crime.
The Iraqi police is underfunded and mistrusted. The loyalties of the police is at best questionable and at worst non-existant. Expecting them to fill the gap of US soldiers, especially when the plan is to leave them hundreds of thousands short of Saddam's numbers is to expect folly. Things are so bad that the police have to pay for their own medical care. Which puts a damper on recruiting. Unless they have their own motives for joining up, which doesn't include supporting the US.
Iraqis keep demanding we improve security and we can't. UN intervention is also dependent on security issues.
How bad is security? The latest car bomb had artillery shells. Now, a year after the war, how in God's name are there artillery shells availble for bombmaking? There aren't enough troops to secure the old Iraqi Army dumps and blow them. God knows how many people have died because of this.
People will talk about being liberated from Saddam, but what good is liberation when you have to fear both US troops taking away your relatives on an informant's word and gangsters storming your house. That sounds like a different kind of hell, since Saddam wasn't random. This way, you have no idea when hell will break loose and you have to sit around with an AK or a pistol to make sure you can protect yourself from the criminals.
We're also totally blind to the antics of US troops in Iraq. Limited reports of hookers and missing cash surface, but given the language gap and hostility between US troops, who largely resent the burden of Iraq duty, and Iraqis, there has to be fairly high levels of tension. None of this makes for a good security situation, much less any hope of Iraq assuming the security burden on June 30.
Aristide said he was obliged to board the plane, and was followed by a number of U.S. troops in full combat gear, who changed into civilian clothes and baseball caps once they were aboard the plane. Also on board with him and his wife were 19 members of a private security company contracted by the United States to protect Aristide.
Aristide's account was supported by two witnesses present on the evening of Feb. 28 and the morning of Feb. 29. One was Franz Gabriel, a pilot and aide to Aristide; the other was an American security guard.
"I was at the house at 5 a.m. when Moreno came in to tell the president they were going to organize a press conference and be ready to accompany them," said Gabriel, who accompanied Aristide and his wife to Africa and to Jamaica. "We boarded to go to the embassy and we ended up at the airport. That's what Mr. Moreno wanted him to do."
The American security guard, speaking on condition he not be identified, described the U.S. security warning as a subterfuge to lure Aristide away. "That was just bogus. It's a story they fabricated," he said.
Some members of Congress, including Waters, have called for an investigation of the U.S. role in Aristide's ouster. Waters, interviewed during the flight to pick up Aristide, rejected Bush administration assertions that Aristide, a former slum priest, had caused recent strife in Haiti through questionable elections and a turn away from democracy.
You get the feeling Bush is more comfortable with drug dealers and death squad thugs?
(I miswrote some of this and am going to correct it. This is still a crazy story, but not living in Chicago, I confused some things)
Kos has a takeout on the Illinois Senate race, where a black candidate, Barack Obama, has won the Democratic primary and his opponent, a downstate Republican, Jack Ryan, has a sex scandal over his head. It seems the divorce his ex-wife filed had some interesting allegations. Although it was sealed, the allegations wound up in one of his opponent hands.
According to one website,, Ryan's ex-wife claims in her sealed divorce filing, that he was screwing his executive secretary and then forced his wife to go to sex clubs in New York, New Orleans and Paris, where he would bang her in front of other people. There is no public proof of this, but no denials either, just rumors of papers around.
Now, if you're curious, and I've seen public sex so I'm not, you can pick up Catherine Millett's memoir to get a description of a Paris sex club in full swing. But considering every woman I know under 40 has read her book, just borrow it from your girlfriend or wife.
If Ryan was this stupid, and for someone in public life, it would be braindead, the GOP is going to lose the state. The right will stay home, and the left will vote in large numbers. But what is amusing, at least to me, is that this guy not only dragged his mistress around, but banged his wife in public, then decided to run for public office. I don't think people admit to being in sex clubs, but if you are a politician, you might want to restrict your public sex to people who know you and can't talk. Angry ex-wives being among those people you want to keep happy.
Of course, there are PI's trying to dig this up. One blogger was wondering why his wife wasn't standing up for him. Here's a hint: he fucked his mistress, then fucked her in Paris in a way she didn't feel comfortable with. Maybe she ddin't like being screwed in public. Maybe it's me, but I think she's gonna let him hang by his rather active pecker.
I mean, if he was playing these games with his wife and she didn't complain, no one would care. Well the right would care, but compared to losing $8m in slots, what's a little public sex with the missus? But these charges make him seem like some kind of pervert, forcing his wife into seemy public sex to satisfy his needs and then taking a mistress. I mean, if your wife will screw you in a sex club, you need extra help? I mean, she'd be what most men would need.
In this post-Clinton era, there is more tolerance for infidelity, but this is straight out of a sex blog and I doubt the good people of Illinois want to elect a pervert to office. Repeated public sex with a coerced partner is perverted to a degree I care not to imagine. Wedding vows doesn't make it any better.
My question is not what he did with his dick, but why he ran for Senate? Did he this his long-suffering wife and her lawyer would forget to leak the files to the media? Did he think the mistress would keep silent? What kind of arrogance is he working under?
So, either the GOP dumps this guy or loses a key battleground state for Bush. But if they dump him, after a primary, they have to explain why, embarassing them anyway. You have to wonder what these people were thinking: why the downstate farmers and surburbanites outside Chicago would rather vote for a sex freak over a black guy? If that's the case, they may well find the old adage: he's going to win unless they find a dead girl or live boy in his bed, amended to: or he's attended a Paris sex club.
Now, as a point of information, you can't just find a sex club, you have to research to find them. This is evidence that this was this guy's major kink and it prevent him from being discrete. You have to wonder if he wasn't swinging as well. I mean once this comes up, it opens a big ass, bass-fishing can o' worms. This guy can deny all he wants, but as long as he does it alone, he should change his name to Albatross McElephant.
David Brooks, in yesterday's Times, proved why he's a laughing stock. The great repeater of the "democrats are the mommy party" phrase, forgetting it's potency in a country of single moms, said the Spanish were "crazy" to have elections after the bombings.
Well, I guess that staff position on Hugo Chavez's staff is still open, because the point of democracy IS elections. We don't have people cancel elections because some cultist fanatics set off a few bombs. We can never cede that kind of power to anyone. Brooks, who freely calls the Spanish vote appeasment, is calling for a deeper, more dangerous kind of appeasement, one which calls for the abrogation of democracy.
If you believe in democracy, you don 't think that people votes can be postponed to your liking. The Spanish proved that AQ didn't win, didn 't succeed, because they went to the polls. I'm sorry that it didn't turn out the way that the right wanted, but that's what happens in a democracy.
After 9/11, there was talk of extending Rudy Giuliani's mayorality by three months. While some fear-struck people wanted to do that, most New Yorkers were outraged. They said we had elections, and this is not what democracies do. They are bigger than any one man. Now, the local papers were all for it, the governor was for it, but the Times, Brooks employer, was not. They wrote a short, brutal editorial which said if FDR could stand for election in 1944, Rudy Giuliani needed to leave on New Year's day. So, that's what happened.
Brooks misses the point. The only not-crazy thing to happen in Spain was that they endorsed their democracy after an unimaginaable tragedy. The Spanish government lied and paid for it. Which is what happens. What kind of surrender would it have been if they had cancled their elections for a week? The cultish radicals of AQ would have a bigger laugh.
The British endorsed their democracy in 1945 by tossing Winston Churchill out of office. They loved him for saving Britain , but they didn't trust him to run the post-war. Which was their right as a free people. They wanted a different, labour future, one he couldn't provide. One with health care and free education.
Why is David Brooks afraid of real democracy, which can withstand the ideas of bombs and madmen. It is he who wants to surrender to them and not the Spanish people.
No democracy can withstand lies from its public officials about matters of national security. The Spanish understood that and were outraged that their government would take the greatest tragedy in Western Europe since WW II and exploit for political gain.
Their reaction ws hardly appeasement, since they didn't support the war to being with, but a rational outrage to being decieved about something which affected them personally.
Aznar was nailed for what Bush hd done without pause since 9/12, exploit a national tragedy for political gain. The war in Iraq is a failure, with only half of the Iraqi people supporting the occupation. Which means the guerillas killing American men and women have ample support. This courtesy of Iraq's first poll.
What the chickenhawks and their Team B allies forget is that people don't have to join every half-baked crusade in the "war on terra". Ignoring Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is like curing back pain without dealing with the spinal tumor in your neck. Osama Bin Laden came from somewhere and ran somewhere and it wasn't Baghdad.
The Spanish people reacted rationally to a crisis, not cowardly. After all, they've been dealing with their home-grown terrorism for decades and there is no independent Basque region, is there? So cowardice is not the issue. But since the right is so ignorant of history, why should anyone be surprised by this new slander. The Spanish have been energetic in dealing with terrorism in the past and arrested several Al Qaeda members after 9/11.
Instead of a real war on terrorism, Bush hs given us a sand-blown Vietnam and an underfunded Laos. Osama Bin Laden and his newly-expanded Al Qaeda is this nation's number one threat, not Iraq. Howard Stern, of all people, made this argument to a woman who was going to vote for Bush because of this illusion. Anyone with brains would want to know why it took two years to strongarm Pakistan into dealing with the tribes on the Northwest Frontier. Or why the Saudis have refused to let us talk to AQ suspects before they tortured them.
Bush has run this war like King Leopold ran the Congo, as his private preserve, not a national priority. They have used 9/11 like duct tape, for everything under the sun. Yet, there has been no call for national sacrifice, and no effort at any. Tax cuts, FCC witch hunts, gay marriage, all trivialities compared to the task of securing the US.
The Spanish have opted out of the Bush War and called for a real war, one of multi-lateral action and international cooperation. A war not run from Dick Cheney's office and his friends at the American Enterprise Institute. They have tired of the lies and deception and we should join them
OK, I ordered Crucial Memory from New Egg to make my machine run smoother. I also ordered a burner.
I installed the memory, got it to load up once and then went to install the burner.
Every time since then, I get a long beep. Upgrading and repairing PC's suggests that I fried my memory. The only problem is that the old memory (generic) beeps and the new memory doesn't cause the machine to make any sound.
This is on a Asus Athlon mobo, and that's still working. It's just the memory acting weird. And I'm working on the Mac for a couple of days while I solve this.:)
Why did I do this? Because DSL was sucking up memory. Anyone have any ideas on what is going on.