Monday, July 07, 2003

With the success of Howard Dean's internet fundraising many people are strting to look to the next logical step. Will the internet become the Liberal tool of choice to get it's message out unfiltered:
Until recently, the question might have seemed absurd. For about 15 years, a nationwide constellation of right-leaning talk-radio hosts has provided conservatives a powerful means of mobilizing their grass-roots supporters to enlist in causes and campaigns. The left has never been able to establish a competing galaxy of liberal gabbers — or to find an alternative mechanism that can persuade and activate as many voters as talk radio.

That alternative may have arrived last week. History may record former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's unprecedented success at raising money online for his Democratic presidential campaign as the moment when the Internet emerged as a political tool comparable in strength to talk radio.

Over the last three months, Dean raised $3.6 million on the Internet from nearly 45,000 donors; last Monday alone, in a kind of electronic telethon, Dean collected a breathtaking $820,000 as supporters rushed to pad his total on the final day of the second-quarter fund-raising reporting period.

Well, that's a question that has already been answered, to some degree by the rise of us Bloggers:
It's Thursday evening, in a stuffy conference room at the Harvard law school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and weblogging champion Dave Winer is holding court.

This is a corner of America famous for the Boston tea party, which ignited America's war of independence. And this little group of students and weblogging enthusiasts is talking about sparking what they claim will be another revolution - this time in politics and journalism, delivered by the power of the web.

The claim might sound far-fetched, but Winer is not one to mask his ambitions. "We will all live to see the day a weblogger becomes president," he tells the group, as he updates a weblog being projected on to a large screen. With a brisk "Let's talk about New Hampshire," they start discussing how to evangelise word of the blog to one of the 2004 presidential race's most vital states.


These days, he takes a back-seat role with the company. Instead, from his position as a Berkman fellow at Harvard, he is spreading the blogging gospel: about how easy the pages are to set up, about how blogging is revealing the unedited voices of millions around the world.

The project this summer is to "seed" political weblogging in New Hampshire, urging voters to start online diaries to record the campaign. His aim? To force candidates to address issues in a more consistent and honest way.

Winer proclaims no party political agenda. He simply wants rid of the opinion pollled "slicing and dicing" that has candidates saying whatever they think the particular demographic listening wants to hear.

It's easy to see that Dr. Dean has become the Democratic frontrunner for the nomination by the number of negative reports and outright lies being told by the media. Drudge Report has the most outlandish:
Presidential contender Howard Dean has confided to associates how he desires a fresh course for the Democratic National Committee, including a dramatic change in its leadership, specifically chairman Terry McAuliffe, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

Sources close to the early-Democratic frontrunner reveal how Dean has bitterly complained about McAuliffe and the lackluster job he has done as chairmain and architect of the disastrous off-year elections.

Consider the source of this obviously planted story. Josh Marshall has:
Am I overly suspicious? Or is Matt Drudge taking his, shall we say, talking points directly from Karl Rove? Or maybe from Karl Rove, via Ed Gillespie, long-time GOP operative, money-shoveler and incoming chairman of the RNC? Drudge has an over-the-fold headline this evening which claims that there's some sort of super smackdown brewing between Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean and DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe.

For all I know the two may hate each other, I have no idea. Dean has pissed a bunch of people off in DC.


This 'quotation' suggests a pretty short list of possibilities. Either people in the Dean campaign are incredible morons or this is a bogus quote.


How exactly is Dean going to clean house after -- presumably -- winning the New Hampshire primary? Even though a presidential nominee controls the party apparatus after he gets the nomination, there are a number of reasons why they seldom install their own chairman at the DNC before even winning the presidency. But they certainly don't -- or rather can't -- fire the chairman of the party during the middle of the primary campaign.

Also at Talking Points Memo, Josh starts a three part interview with Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institute about the search for WMD in Iraq. Read and be fascinated.

While the mainstream media goes ga-ga over the amount of money Dubya raises everytime he goes fundraising, it's worth remembering that it's you and me who pay for his ride:
If Clinton's diplomatic and trade missions became ugly metaphors for his foul personal flaws, Bush's actual abuse of Air Force One has become a symbol of... apparently just a guy flying on an airplane, in the eyes of the media.

All that barnstorming in the last few months received plenty of attention, as did the astonishing fact that Bush has now bypassed Clinton as champion fundraiser. Bush appeared at 67 rallies or rubber-chicken dinners for the GOP and its candidates, pulling in $145 million. About half of that money was raised during his roadtrips. And here's the punchline: You, dear taxpayer, coughed up about $16 million for Bush to raise $66 millions for the Repubs.

Wanna keep an eye on what the members of our government are up to? Try the GIA. This is a very new site and it's not totally up and running yet, but this could be an invaluable tool:

To empower citizens by providing a single, comprehensive, easy-to-use repository of information on individuals, organizations, and corporations related to the government of the United States of America.

To allow citizens to submit intelligence about government-related issues, while maintaining their anonymity. To allow members of the government a chance to participate in the process.

Maureen Dowd points out what we already suspected:
The New Republic recently dubbed this "historical attention deficit disorder," when a country gets distracted from focusing on any one place for very long. Our scattered consciousness is the reason we're so bad at empire, too impatient to hang around hot climes trying to force cold natives to like us.

Let's apply the A.A.D.D. quiz to our fidgety president and his foreign policy team:

"I find my mind wandering from tasks that are uninteresting or difficult." (Like nation building, which we said we'd never do but are muddling through now, with no coherent strategy, in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, and soon in Liberia.)

"I say things without thinking and later regret having said them." (Such as declaring we have "prevailed" in Iraq two months before the commander there admits, "We're still at war." Or bubbling about the statue of Saddam falling and then months later posting a $25 million bounty on the real Saddam's head. Or saying Saddam had W.M.D.'s that posed an imminent threat to us and then failing to find a single warhead. Or saying we'd already found the weapons when all we'd found was some trashed trailer. Or saying we'd get Osama "dead or alive" and Al Qaeda was "on the run.")

"I make quick decisions without thinking enough about their possible bad results." (Such as how our troops will be targets in hostile, dangerous territory, stuck there for years sorting out tribal and sectarian warfare.)

"I have a quick temper, a short fuse." (Like the president, taunting the Iraqi militants, saying, "Bring 'em on." Shouldn't that sort of trash talking be reserved for football and Schwarzenegger sequels?

"I have trouble planning in what order to do a series of tasks or activities." (Such as threatening to rumble with North Korea and Iran while we're still prone to stumble in Afghanistan and Iraq.)

"In group activities it is hard for me to wait my turn." (Why wait for the pansy allies, even if you'll need their help after?)

"I usually work on more than one project at a time, and fail to finish many of them." (Yes. Al Qaeda is recrudescing. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is coming back, warlords rule and the vice and virtue police are at it again. Iran and North Korea are defying us. Saddam is still lurking, even as we struggle in Iraq to get the lights on, the oil industry up and the violence down. We say everything is O.K. while the senators who went to Iraq last week say we're stretched thin in the face of more and more attacks by Saddam loyalists.

Yep. These guys definitely have E.A.D.D. — Empire Attention Deficit Disorder.

The War might not have been about oil for the US ~cough cough~ but it most certainly was for our ally, Poland:
Poland, which has sent troops to support the US-led forces in Iraq, has acknowledged its "ultimate objective" is to acquire supplies of Iraqi oil.

The Polish Foreign Minister, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, said his country had never disguised the fact that it sought direct access to the oilfields.

He was speaking as a group of Polish firms signed a deal with a subsidiary of US Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton.

The US firm, Kellogg, Brown and Root, has already won million-dollar contracts to carry out reconstruction work in Iraq.

"We have never hidden our desire for Polish oil companies to finally have access to sources of commodities," Mr Cimoszewicz told the Polish PAP news agency.

Access to the oilfields "is our ultimate objective," he added.

Hmmmmm is some of that oil in Iraq being stolen by Kuwait or Haliburton to pay for the War?:
On May 25, while scanning the Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program images pipelined into his desktop from 450 miles in orbit, Hank Brandli skidded at a nighttime photo of Iraq. It looked familiar. But not exactly.

Brandli retrieved another DMSP image he'd archived from May 3. He compared the two. The most recent photo showed a blazing corridor of light running the length of Kuwait, south to north, all the way to the Iraqi border. The image wasn't there on May 3.

"It's going right up to Iraq's oil fields," says the retired Air Force colonel from his home in Palm Bay. "Maybe I'm full of s---. Maybe all they're doing is building a highway to put in McDonald's and sell hamburgers. But why go that way? I think we're in bed with Kuwait. I think we're pumping oil out of Iraq to pay for this war."

That's an audacious observation. Especially considering those labyrinthine lines of exasperated motorists waiting to gas up at the fuel pumps in Baghdad. Not to mention the fact that Iraq's infrastructure officially won't be capable of exporting oil for another week or so.


Oh and's a guerrilla war, stupid:
Recent Iraqi attacks on U.S. troops have demonstrated a new tactical sophistication and coordination that raise the specter of the U.S. occupation force becoming enmeshed in a full-blown guerrilla war, military experts said yesterday. The new approaches employed in the Iraqi attacks last week are provoking concern among some that what once was seen as a mopping-up operation against the dying remnants of a deposed government is instead becoming a widening battle against a growing and organized force that could keep tens of thousands of U.S. troops busy for months.

Pentagon officials continue to insist that the U.S. military is not caught in an anti-guerrilla campaign in Iraq, that the fighting still is limited mainly to the Sunni heartland northwest of Baghdad and that progress is being made elsewhere in the country. "There's been an awful lot of work done," Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told "Fox News Sunday" in an interview taped last week. "A lot of the country is relatively stable."

But a growing number of military specialists, and some lawmakers, are voicing concern about trends in Iraq. There is even some quiet worry at the Pentagon, where some officers contend privately that the size of the U.S. deployment in Iraq -- now about 150,000 troops -- is inadequate for force protection, much less for peacekeeping. The Army staff is reexamining force requirements and looking again at the numbers generated in the months before the war, said a senior officer who asked not to be named.

"If you talk to the guys in Iraq, they will tell you that it's urban combat over there," the officer said. "They all are saying, 'What we have is not enough to keep the peace.' "