ON TO SYRIA; Talking Points; Dems kick ass in polls; post-mortem on blogs & Kerry



Worth the huge type:

Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Ambassador to Iraq, made the off the record prediction that the US will go into Syria to combat insurgents that have been using the country as a staging ground for terrorist activity in Iraq.

Ambassador Khalilzad’s comments were made at businessman Teddy Forstmann's annual off the record gathering in Aspen, Colorado this weekend.

In attendance at the conference, among others were: Harvey Weinstein, Brad Grey, Michael Eisner, Les Moonves, Tom Freston, Tom Friedman, Bob Novak, Barry Diller, Martha Stewart, Margaret Carlson, Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchell, Norman Pearlstein and Walter Isaacson.

Zakaria is real pissed off:

Today's Republicans believe in pork, but they don't believe in government. So we have the largest government in history but one that is weak and dysfunctional. Public spending is a cynical game of buying votes or campaign contributions, an utterly corrupt process run by lobbyists and special interests with no concern for the national interest.

Arch-conspiracy theorist Wayne Madsen has a really entertaining one up at his website: "The Demise of Global Communications Security: The Neo-Cons' Unfettered Access to America's Secrets." There is some interesting stuff about the National Security Agency, backdoors in Swiss Crypto AG machines, Jonathan Pollard, billionaire fugitive Marc Rich and his lawyer Scooter Libby, Canadian peacekeepers in the Golan Heights, Larry Franklin, Martin Indyk, John Bolton, the suspicious Israeli moving company (Urban Moving Systems) that some have alleged was linked to 9/11, and late FBI agent John O'Neill. And also the True reason Daniel Pearl was killed in Pakistan.

Not that I believe such a story. However, I would love to write a movie script that sounded like this. And I did agree with the statement at the end: "U.S. intelligence sources report that the one Israeli who is considered an extreme threat to U.S. national security is former Prime Minister and current Prime Minister hopeful Binyamin Netanyahu." A fine work, Madsen, can we get you into screenwriting?

Raimondo kicks around a little with the old Anthrax Attacks of 2001. They sure were helpful in driving the country into a frenzy of fear... A frame up? etc etc... WaPo says little progress in FBI work.

Reuters: "Psychopaths could be best financial traders." Who makes the most cash? Sure they're all sane.

Apparently White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card may end up secretary of the Treasury. Weird. As Kevin Drum says:

Has it really gotten to the point where it's impossible for Bush to find solid, conservative appointees for these positions who have actual experience in the relevant fields? Aren't there any left who are still willing to work for him? Or does he feel so besieged by life that he literally feels he can't trust anyone with a big job unless they've spent a couple of years working within a few feet of him?

Check out the AliveInTruth New Orleans oral history project. Best blog title I've heard lately: "Clusterfuck Nation" by Jim Kunstler. There's trouble a brewing... and he thinks life is on the edge in this Long Emergency of ours:

The new assumption will be that when shit happens you are on your own. In this remarkable three weeks since New Orleans was shredded, no Democrat has stepped into the vacuum of leadership, either, with a different vision of what we might do now, and who we might become. This is the kind of medium that political maniacs spawn in. Something is out there right now, feeding on the astonishment and grievance of a whipsawed middle class, and it will have a lot more nourishment in the months ahead.

As always, bagNewsNotes is excellent.

BAD TIMES: They are charging for me to read my Krugman and Dowd. No good. So we will have to turn to places like this for Krugman. Dammit!!

Polls Baby: Bush's speech didn't do anything good for his poll numbers. Speaking of poll numbers, Hot Damn, the Democrats are polling really damn well these days! w0000!!! Independents favor Donkeys right now 55 to 27!!! MyDD also says that "the progressive blogosphere is a larger source of news for younger Americans than all of the cable news networks combined". So Good news. Peter Daou reflects on "limits of blog power" in Salon. He was basically the Kerry Campaign-blog connection, which must have been dicey. Interesting. Much wisdom, but this nails it:

"Rightwing bloggers will do everything in their power to prevent another Katrina triangle, where the confluence of blogs, media, and Democratic leadership exposes the real Bush and shatters the conventional wisdom about his ability to lead. .... For the progressive netroots, the past half-decade has been a Sisyphean loop of scandal after scandal melting away as the media and party establishment remain disengaged."

There's some kind of video blog interview thing going on at something called EvolveTV. Apparently Kos will interview Juan Cole. Sounds good to me. (more on it)

How are Talking Points drilled into the heads of the pundits?

When John G. Roberts is approved as chief justice of the United States, as expected, he can thank President Bush 's "Friends & Allies" program, which went to work on him immediately after he was nominated. The project, started by the Republican National Committee in the 2004 re-election campaign, is simple and effective: Give opinion makers, media friends, and even cocktail party hosts insider info on the topic of the day. How? Through E-mailed talking points, called D.C. Talkers, and conference calls. For Roberts, it worked this way: A daily conference call to about 80 pundits, GOP-leaning radio and TV hosts, and newsmakers was made around 9 a.m. On the other end were the main Roberts gunslingers like Steve Schmidt at the White House and Ken Mehlman and Brian Jones at the RNC. D.C. Talkers would then be distributed to an even larger list filled with positive info about Roberts and lines of attack on his critics. "The idea," said one of those involved, "is to feed them information and have them invested in us." It has even created addicts, he added. "Now they come to us before going on TV."

Not really that clever. But interesting.

IRAQification: The Score. What happened to that $1 billion? Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad is on it. The part about 28-year old Soviet helicopters and phony Egyptian-made MP5 knockoffs is kind of funny. TIME has "The Secret History of How the US Misjudged the Enemy in Iraq (condensed)." (also this full article) And the WMD hunt fucked up early efforts that might have reduced the strength of the insurgency. The article indicates that once Tommy Franks moved his HQ to Florida from Qatar, the force in Iraq was basically run by colonels, with less than 30 intelligence officers left in Iraq. Amazing. And then they dissolved the Iraqi army and civil service. A great moment. Needs to be read. It ends:

"We have never taken this operation seriously enough," says a retired senior military official with experience in Iraq. "We have never provided enough troops. We have never provided enough equipment, or the right kind of equipment. We have never worked the intelligence part of the war in a serious, sustained fashion. We have failed the Iraqi people, and we have failed our troops."

On the other hand, Condi says it's about coffee. So what would an actual Civil War look like? Meanwhile in Central Asia, the Great Game Reloaded.

Juan Cole had a fine look at the Egyptian elections: "A people who figured out how to get rid of Napoleon Bonaparte within a year is hardly flummoxed by a mere Texas poseur." "Church of England offers to meet Muslim leaders to apologize for Iraq war." I was talking earlier about the Zarqawi-Goldstein symbolic connection. Well also, someone named Ritt Goldstein had a good story about anomalies in the Berg video last year from Asia Times Online.

Right Wing Echo Chamber invents missiles: Apparently for some reason the right wing blogosphere is inventing stories about missiles getting shot at a flight last Thursday. I have no special insight here, except that it shows a fertile fantasy life... Speaking of fantasies, Pandagon mocks PowerLine's PowerLies. But the more I think about people like that, the less free time I have. A funny interview about Creationism and Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, the Faith of Our Times. Haven't you heard that the leftists are trying to destroy America? That's new!

Someone is still keeping score on the Valerie Plame affair. Hopefully that will come roaring back again. Arianna had a bit on it.

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