The Daily Brew
Friday, December 13, 2002:
Well, I'm up late, so I'll give you a few more thoughts.
I usually try not to engage in the circular firing squad instinct that seems to compel many liberals to attack their ideological allies. Which isn't to say I don't find myself disagreeing with other Democrats. But if I have a fight to pick, I usually try do it with a private email, rather than a public post. But I am going to make an exception.
The problem with Tapped, if you ask me, is that for all their advocacy of progressive policy, they are singularly beholden to conventional wisdom. The consequence of this mentality is that they are, at their core, followers. Deep in the middle of the herd. Destined never to be brilliant, or original, or even interesting.
This, in my not so humble opinion, is precisely what is wrong with the Democratic Party today. We have become a party of followers, not leaders. The party of the American Prospect, instead of the American Dream. When Democrats like Kennedy, Roosevelt, and Clinton embraced big, bold ideas, they stirred the public's imagination and passion. When Democrats cling to the status quo, like the congressional campaign of 2002, they are simply low fat conservatives. Not inconsequentially, when Democrats are bold and brash, they win. When they blather the conventional wisdom, like Tapped's daily muddle, they lose. The hard fact is, Tapped is written by followers. Liberal followers, to be sure. But followers nevertheless. They are the head cheerleader for losers.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in their vitreol for Cynthia McKinney. (Before you call Cynthia a loser, remember, she lost to a Democrat, not a Republican). Yesterday, Tapped took a typical conventional-wisdom-cheap-shot with this line:
Tapped is as willing as the next blogger to raise questions about conspiracy-mongering (and outgoing) Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney
This is exacly the kind of herd thinking that gets Tapped in trouble. Because in spouting this bit of popular mythology, they reveal themselves as intellectual lightweights, beholden not to reality, but to catering to (or worse believing) popular misconceptions. It is as if they told us Al Gore said he invented the internet. For anyone who knows the facts, Tapped shows themselves to be idiots.
The fact is, Cynthia McKinney simply told the truth. She called for an investigation into 9/11. She said that "We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11th. ... What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11th? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered? ... What do they have to hide?" The next day she issued a written statement that read "I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of 9-11. A complete investigation might reveal that to be the case."
Well guess what, Tapped? In the months that followed, it turned out that McKinney was right. The FBI and the CIA did know the attacks were coming. And that investigation McKinney wanted? It is going to happen. Here are McKinney's comments a few weeks later, when the facts turned up that vindicated her:
Several weeks ago, I called for a congressional investigation into what warnings the Bush Administration received before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I was derided by the White House, right wing talk radio, and spokespersons for the military-industrial complex as a conspiracy theorist. Even my patriotism was questioned because I dared to suggest that Congress should conduct a full and complete investigation into the most disastrous intelligence failure in American history. Georgia Senator Zell Miller even went so far as to characterize my call for hearings as "dangerous, loony and irresponsible."
Today's revelations that the administration, and President Bush, were given months of notice that a terrorist attack was a distinct possibility points out the critical need for a full and complete congressional investigation.
It now becomes clear why the Bush Administration has been vigorously opposing congressional hearings. The Bush Administration has been engaged in a conspiracy of silence. If committed and patriotic people had not been pushing for disclosure today's revelations would have been hidden by the White House.
Because I love my country, because I am a patriot, and because the American people deserve the truth, I believe it would be dangerous, loony and irresponsible not to hold full congressional hearings on any warnings the Bush Administration had before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Ever since I came to Congress in 1992, there are those who have been trying to silence my voice. I've been told to "sit down and shut up" over and over again. Well, I won't sit down and I won't shut up until the full and unvarnished truth is placed before the American people."
So guess what, Tapped. It turned out McKinney was right. And the Bush administration is STILL doing everything in their power to thwart a full investigation. I mean, Henry Kissinger? C'mon! So where do you get off kicking Cynthia McKinney around, you pathetic sheep?
Common Sense // 2:47 AM
Thursday, December 12, 2002:
Daddyo wanted me to blog, so blog I shall.
While it is certainly heartening (and fun) to watch Atrios and Josh Marshall push the big media into trashing Trent Lott, I still don't think it feeds the bulldog.
At the end of the day, southern whites vote for racists because they themselves are racist. While it undoubtedly hurts Bush in the Northern industrial states he hopes to win in 2004, as made obvious by his belated reaction, it really doesn't hurt Lott, or any other southern Republican. In fact, a tinge of racism probably helps them. What other explanation is there for the annual pilgrimages to Bob Jones University?
So I don't think the media highlighting the racism of southern Republican politicians is going to cause a massive shift in voting patterns in this country. What would cause such a shift is a scandal on the order of Watergate. Remeber what happened after Watergate? It was the Democratic equivalent of the 1994 Republican takeover. Even Republicans calling for Nixon's head lost their seats. Fortunately, there is a scandal in the Bush Administration that makes Watergate look like, well, the White House travel office. I am talking, of course, about 9/11.
Anyone remotely paying attention knows that the Bush Administration has spent every single day since the planes hit the towers pulling out all the stops to make sure no one ever finds out what really happened either before or after the attacks. Based on what we already know, it seems pretty clear that Bush & Co. were at a minimum grossly negligent in allowing al Qaeda to operate freely. It really isn't controverted that Bush removed the pressure the Clinton administration had been putting on Osama bin Laden. Speculating about the reasons for Bush's actions, a partisan such as myself can reach the darkest of conclusions. Indeed, if my worst suspicions are ever confirmed, Bush wouldn't just get impeached; he would be tried for treason. If found guilty, he would be punished with death. What a spectacle that would be. W begging for his life like Karla Fay Tucker.
Putting my fantasies aside, as regular readers will note, I have been braying that the 9/11 investigation is the game for well over a year. So while I am amused that liberal bloggers have pushed Trent Lott's racism into the spot light, I am at the same time frustrated, because if the media is focusing on Trent Lott's racism, they aren't focusing on Bush's efforts to hide his negligence, and potentially criminal acts, in the events surrounding 9/11. For example, yesterday, the Chicago Sun Times ran a story about George Mitchell's abrupt resignation from the commission investigating 9/11. Virtually no one else has picked up on it. C'mon, bloggers. Let's keep our eye on the ball and turn up the echoplex. Since they make you register, for your convenience, I'll just give you the whole story below.
Sept. 11 families criticize panel
Mitchell quits job; Bush accused of hindering probe
By Bob Kemper, Washington Bureau. Jill Zuckman of the Tribune's Washington Bureau contributed to this report
December 12, 2002
WASHINGTON -- The top Democrat on a government commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks resigned Wednesday, while families of the attack victims charged that the White House is trying to undermine the commission's independent investigation.
Former Sen. George Mitchell of Maine, whom some saw as a potential counterweight to commission chairman Henry Kissinger, said in a brief statement that he needed more time for his law practice. Democratic leaders immediately replaced him with former Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, who has headed the House intelligence and foreign affairs committees.
Mitchell's abrupt resignation, just days after accepting the commission post, along with other controversies surrounding the panel, was a setback to the commission and raised questions about its credibility.
In a letter to congressional Democrats, Mitchell raised concerns about suggestions he sever his ties to his law firm, Piper Rudnick, noting that the need to support his family precluded him from leaving the job.
In another potential blow to the panel, family members who lobbied for months for the commission's creation now say they may withdraw their support and declare it a sham if President Bush and incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) refuse to appoint former Sen. Warren Rudman to the panel.
The Sept. 11 families also want Kissinger, who was appointed by Bush, to provide a list of clients for whom he has consulted since leaving public life. They want to determine if Kissinger, a former secretary of state with a wide-ranging consulting business, has a conflict of interest as he spearheads the investigation of the lapses leading up to Sept. 11.
Family members will meet with Kissinger on Thursday in New York to press him on the issue.
But the Sept. 11 families, as well as some lawmakers, are even more concerned over what they see as Lott's all but certain decision to block Rudman at the urging of the White House.
Rudman is viewed by the families as someone who would not shy away from taking on the intelligence, diplomatic and military establishments. He also might join up with the commission's five Democrats to create a majority for authorizing subpoenas and taking other aggressive investigative actions.
Lott has until Sunday to appoint commission members. A Republican familiar with Lott's plans said it is unlikely Rudman will be picked. Lott's aides have told family members that Rudman is on their list of candidates for the job, but that they are looking for someone more qualified.
Without Rudman, "we will oppose this commission as a whitewash," said Stephen Push, whose wife, Lisa Raines, was aboard the jetliner that hit the Pentagon.
"This is essentially a double-cross if they are going to block Warren Rudman on the commission," Push said. "We are not going to put our support behind a commission that is intended, as far as we can tell, to protect the president."
The White House denied that it has been anything but supportive of the commission and also denied pressuring Lott to block Rudman.
"The president strongly supported this bipartisan commission," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. "That's why he signed it into law." And as for Rudman's appointment, McClellan said, "That's Sen. Lott's decision to make."
But the families argue Lott would not be making his choices without consulting the White House. Critics note that Bush steadfastly opposed the commission until its creation became inevitable, and they say he has sought to weaken it at every turn.
When Bush signed legislation creating the panel on Nov. 27, Bush said it should "uncover every detail and learn every lesson of Sept. 11" and "follow all the facts, wherever they lead."
But the president also urged the commission to show "responsible concern for sensitive information" and said he hoped the commission would complete its work in less than 18 months, the period set by law.
The White House also demanded and won the right to appoint the panel's sole chairman. Some lawmakers had wanted two co-chairmen, one appointed by the White House and one by Congress.
The White House also won a change that would bar the 10-member panel, divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats, from issuing subpoenas unless six members agreed. Lawmakers would have preferred to allow subpoenas to be issued with five votes, but administration officials said that would have allowed Democrats to go on politically motivated "fishing expeditions."
Congressional staff members involved in the negotiations and family members said that, in exchange for their concessions to the White House, they were promised by Lott that one of the Republicans appointed to the panel would be chosen by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). It was an informal agreement; nothing was put in writing.
McCain and Shelby have been staunch advocates of an independent and aggressive investigation into Sept. 11, and family members believed that as long as the two lawmakers could influence the Republican side of the panel, it would be harder for the White House to control and limit the investigation.
McCain and Shelby picked Rudman, the former senator from New Hampshire who, with former Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.), spent two years investigating potential new security threats. They issued a report shortly before Sept. 11, concluding that a large-scale terrorist attack was imminent.
"Rudman is a no-brainer for this commission. He has the knowledge, he has the expertise," said Kirsten Breitweiser, whose husband, Ron, was killed in the World Trade Center attack. "I'm amazed that they would be opposed to Rudman."
Lott's office says there was no promise to allow McCain and Shelby to pick a candidate, and that Lott promised only to work with the two senators in choosing a panel member. They did not comment directly on what role the White House is playing in the current dispute.
The administration is also at odds with the 9/11 families over whether Kissinger should be required to reveal clients for whom he has worked in the private sector to determine if he has a conflict of interest in heading the commission.
Kissinger's refusal to reveal his client list is exacerbating existing concerns among lawmakers and family members that as a longtime part of the Washington power structure, Kissinger may feel protective of the intelligence and political establishment.
The White House has contended that Kissinger does not have to meet federal conflict of interest disclosure laws because the chairman's job is a part-time, unpaid position. But a legal opinion produced at the request of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), one of those pushing to create the commission, disputes the White House's claim.
Lott has so far named Slade Gorton, a former senator from Washington state.
Democratic leaders Wednesday announced their other appointees to the 10-member panel Wednesday. In addition to Hamilton, they include outgoing Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), outgoing Rep. Tim Roemer (D-Ind.), attorney Richard Ben-Veniste and Jamie Gorelick, a deputy attorney general under former President Bill Clinton.
Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune
Common Sense // 11:22 PM