by John Tully
The New York Herald Sun
July 26, 2009
Whether it was Michael Wolff’s “piece” in Vanity Fair on Politico or the Paris tap water that produced the explosive diarrhea on a hot sweaty July night in the City of Lights, we’ll never know…
Time moves both slow and fast in these Dog Days of Summer and the memory hole of the past eight bloody years is fading and digging deeper.
I take you back to the city of D.C.
A few years ago…
A quaint city, soon to written about like Rome, gilded on their own lily and pathetic to boot.
Sucked in to television, watching the camera moves, editing, and heavy music to a story about a mom and a dad and a wife who lose their little/big man to a fiery explosion in Iraq. The soldier leaves a “just in case” final video for his bride, tells her of his deep love, and urges her to go on with life: “get married, have kids” It’s a noble gesture from a brave young man and the camera cuts to the weeping widow watching the tape.
The evening news comes on and the 80 year-old man who marched against Iraq in a February freeze watches a report on two dead Marines and 17 Iraqi dead civilians . Remember seeing that look on the face of the Marines’ mother or the site of yet another widow with two babies that finally punches the gut.
At this point in the war, President Bush hadn’t been to one funeral service for them.
Remember banned television cameras at the arrival of the bodies from Germany, at the base in Delaware .
The cowering, obedient press corpse giving the President a free pass after 9/11 and the Administration using it to make the United States less safe, less secure, and spoil environmental and geopolitical progress for years to come.
Remembering Television and Freedom Fries and Terror Alerts here in Paris 6 years later, the mind once again boggles and crunches the serious, sad, mistaken war of choice that ignored all plans and warnings of consequences.
Powered by arrogance and breathtaking hubris and television’s Meet The Press and This Week With Will for the latest talking points of the day.
MR. RUSSERT: All right, this way: Should the blogs, talk radio, cable TV—should people lower their voices, and, and, and control their rhetoric?
Remember that very same week when the Vice-President poked a fat finger in the eye of Russia while the Bush Administration reflexively rejected the first written communication from Iran in seventeen years. Neither Vice President Cheney’s speech or the letter was ever mentioned on either program.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had blown the cover of longtime C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame who it turns out was working on nuclear proliferation. Her contacts through front company Brewster Jennings were actively working the underground nukes world. That intel might have been helpful that very same week in dealing with Iran.
Instead, the latest Cool-Kids Media Club Memes emerged: “Anger on the Blogs”
That’s right. Three different allusions to blogs and anger on both Meet The Press and This Week complete with an obligatory question from Tim Russert to new/old ham Newt Gingrich.
Schmuck David Brooks, perpetual mealy-mouthed defender of the Bush administration throwing out his shoulder shrugging off the incident at Haditha in front of two shocked Marines: Mark Shields and Jim Lehrer.
Remember when columnist Tony Blankley said the war protests were organized by the communist party and the Press corps labeled Al Gore as Crazy for his pre-war criticism about invading Iraq.
How about when war hero Max Cleland was derisively compared to both Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in a television advertisement by his republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss during their Senate race? Mr. Cleland lost his legs and an arm during Vietnam but the republican claimed the democrat was soft on National Security. Mr. Chambliss sat out the war with a bad knee.
Go back in time and recall when Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had no idea how many Americans had been killed in Iraq and called the idea of two hundred thousand troops needed in Iraq as “wildly off the mark”
It’s apparent that there Was Not a massive intelligence failure and the administration indeed was warned about the vagueness of the information about Iraq.
Remember that classic “Everybody thought-even-France and Germany” song about W.M.D.’s.
The Memory-Hole pieces together the events of the past six years but can never illuminate fully how one of the most brilliant countries in history could now be cowardly defending war atrocities and blaming, as Mr. Blankley said that very same week about the incident at Haditha: “Over reporting by a gleeful media is more damaging than any single fact”
Come to think of it-maybe that gleeful, fluffy, Politico piece that completely failed to mention the publication’s Reagan connection was responsible for that gut bomb the other night.
Either way, I’m still sick as a dog.
Peabody award-winning/not really
BY JOHN TULLY
THE LOS ANGELES SUN
FEB 23 2005
A weekend journalism-school reporter, using a fake name, was given access to the President of the United States at White House press briefings before he even worked for any news organization.
He claims that he has seen a confidential, so-called C.I.A. document which reveals the name of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife and shows her recommending him for the trip to Niger to investigate yellowcake uranium sales to the Iraqis.
It turns out that Secret Service has been waving James Guckert by the guardhouse for two and a half years and once inside, he became Jeff Gannon. He wrote for a fake website, Talon News, run by Republican strategist Bobby Eberle and the organization GOPUSA.
To understand how something like this could Not be a story, that this could happen to begin with, is to understand how The District of Columbia really runs. However, one can only watch and wait as the laws of physics begin to rear their ugly head. Try as they might and for whatever reason, The Mainstream Media (as good of a description as any) just can’t keep this monster down.
Howard Kurtz, the longtime and wise sage media critic with The Washington Post, trusted by little old Quaker ladies in Cleveland Park D.C. and lobbyists alike, just could not figure out what the big fuss was all about and immediately chalked it up to over-eager WWW types and their preoccupation with the salacious part of the story.
The Great Diversion and the reason why non-political junkies in America are apparently not talking about this story is that this fella’ publicly advertised his services as a male prostitute on numerous sites on the Internet and registered and launched numerous gay male pornographic websites.
CNN’s Aaron Brown, so brilliant in his earlier years on the old ABC overnight news program, pooh-poohed the scandal as a bit of “so what”. On Wolf Blitzer’s “Hard News” program, Mr. Guckert/Gannon was treated almost softly, as if not to upset.
The New York Times finally ran the story, deep in the back pages on Friday, Feb 11th, more than a week after website journalists began to fully reveal this fake journalist’s deceptions.The shockjock mentality came out instantly in the groupthink mainstream media with a curious mix of apathy and frat-boy jokes.
There was no outrage to be outraged over. Meanwhile, writers on web sites like The Daily Kos, David Brock’s Media Matters and John Aravosis’s America Blog, among others, had been doing their own journalism and found out that Mr. Guckert was not who or what he appeared to be. They started their dig after witnessing a press briefing by the President back in late January. A strange reporter asked a clearly partisan question / pronouncement that, among other things, stated that the Democrats were “divorced from reality”.
They got dirt all right.
Columnists Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd finally had to write cute pieces about the mess nearing the end of last week. Katie, Matt, and The Today Show eventually did a quick three- minute story in the first hour last Wednesday. Radio man Don Imus couldn’t get anyone to bite and wondered aloud about the titillating aspect of the thing.
This was now more than ten days since the story had broken, or hadn’t broken. No one was even discussing, outside of the Web, the nasty business of the C.I.A. memo that Mr.Guckert had claimed to have seen or knew about right there on Mr. Blitzer’s show.
Links to web sites where Mr. Guckert solicited clients for sex were widely available at the very same time Mr. Blitzer was tripping all over himself to give Mr. Guckert an Easypass.
Ultimate Washington insider Mary Matalin, Vice President Cheney’s sometimes consultant, told Imus that she just wished Ms. Dowd would just come in from the cold and get with the program.
Why did President Bush and Scott McClellan, the President’s spokesman, call on Mr. Guckert/Gannon so often in those two and a half years and how could other reporters not write about Talon News and GOPUSA ‘s illegitimacy? Veterans of the White House beat sometimes don’t see a question for years. Was he a plant?
But just like the high school sophomores that they are, the Washington press corps have hemmed and hawed and giggled their way for weeks now through a real-live genuine scandal unfurling at the White House. Waving their collective finger, they dismissed the whole affair in full. It was simply The Bloggers and their liberal retribution for the Rather/CBS assassination and a lurid fascination with the X-rated angle thrown in for good measure.
Now the simply idiotic Bush-Tapes story, along with a long weekend and a brilliant fake-outrage campaign over a congressman’s comments about Karl Rove, is threatening to bury forever a story that the entire profession of journalism would like to pretend was never born to begin with.
Everyone seems to be looking around at each other and tsk-tsking the lack of outrage on each other’s part, as if to say “This is terrible. Someone do some real reporting.
“Someone did – as Mr. Bush would say, on the “Internets”.
© 2005 THE LOS ANGELES SUN
BY JOHN S.TULLY
THE LOS ANGELES SUN
John Kerry is really making a mess of this war in Iraq.
He brought this on himself after all, by completely screwing up the entire month of August. The Senator accused his fellow soldiers in Vietnam of torture and heinous acts while he bragged and boasted about his own alleged service.
Then he went windsurfing!
Wasn’t he a snowboarder just this past winter?
Make up your mind Mr. Kerry.
The liberal elite media won’t inform the people, as the president gladly did this week, that the “right track/wrong track” polling numbers are actually better in Iraq than here in America. Those people are dealing with kidnappings, hostage-taking, beheadings and car-bombings yet they are optimistic for the future and answer pollster’s questions.
It’s going to take the long lens of time to understand what really happened on the ground during the liberation of Iraq. History will be the final judge, so it’s best to continue on this path of unexamined patriotism, at least until the war on terrorism is over. If you want to take umbrage with President Bush, wait for about thirty years. After all, these people started it.
As usual, the Democrats are best at criticizing themselves, so they’re keeping Kerry on his feet and scared. After Zell Miller (and Karl Rove) eviscerated the Senator for being a weakling on security and defense, the talking heads, pundits, and subpar speculators in the lazy press started writing his obituary.
Even Cokie Roberts and Howard Fineman were plain old baffled at how poor a candidate Kerry was, and they know things. It seems that the candidate just doesn’t “get” the voters. Deep thoughts from the ?Cool Kids Media Club: “Who is John Kerry?”.
An English person named Katty Kay from the BBC said on a television program called “The Chris Matthews Show” that the Kerry and Edwards speeches at the Democratic convention were the only ones of any note. Clarence Page looked stunned. The British are very smart you know.
During August, the bloodiest month yet for the soldiers and Marines in Iraq, with combat injuries reaching 1100, CNN spent about fifteen minutes an hour on the Swift Boat Veterans. This month it’s as bloody as ever and they’ve got fifteen minutes an hour on IBM Selectric typewriters.
Robert Novak, the syndicated columnist, wants Dan Rather and CBS to reveal their document sources. The Dems just can’t win for trying.
The intellectuals stammered something faint about ill-prepared troops, lack of exit strategy, and a 25,000 page Army War College /CIA/ State Department plan for the war. More left-wing nuanced goo-gah; freedom, liberty and democracy aren’t always a walk in the park folks, and this is a messy business.
Should we have guarded the ammunition dumps? Youbetcha!
Was there a complete lack of intelligence and a credible plan for war?Sure!Were we forced to funnel resources and troops out of Afghanistan to mount the war in Iraq thereby leaving Osama Bin Laden uncontested at Tora Bora?
The oxygen-loving lefties claim the president has used 9/11 as a pretext to get his legislation through Congress and point to rollbacks of various EPA regulations, corporate tax breaks, and drug company profits during his term. Protest, dissent, and hand wringing don’t make us safer.
Tell that to the Cassandras at the CIA, whose National Intelligence Estimate about the long-term outlook for Iraq was leaked this week. The best-case scenario for the country was described as “tenuous stability”. These naysayers and naer-do-wells squawk about “civil war” yet they got the 9/11 attack and Iraq’s weapons capability completely wrong. Why should we believe them now? The President rightly called it just “a guess”.
Republican doomsday-er Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said this week that Iraq was “beyond pitiful, beyond embarrassing, now in the zone of dangerous”. What did he think would happen, that we’d be greeted as liberators, with flowers thrown at us?
Perhaps General Jay Garner was correct so very long ago when he advocated quick elections and a hasty withdrawal. But this is George Bush’s war and once you take your hands off the bible you’re the Commander-in-Chief, boss.
If we’ve squandered our credibility and destroyed relationships with other countries when we need their help with the global war on religious fundamentalism, too bad, so sad. France and Germany were making money over there the whole time and besides, aren’t we all safer with Saddam in a jailcell?
It’s Fallujah or Cleveland buddy, so fire up Ebay and pass the Freedom Fries. It’s a fabulous disaster and a catastrophic success.
©2004 THE LOS ANGELES SUN
A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
An Open Letter to:
People who thought this war was a good idea.
Subtitle: You know who you are.
JUNE 19 2004
You don’t get to sneer about how the evidence was there.
You don’t get to scoff about how even Bill Clinton, Germany and France thought there were WMD’s.
You don’t get to shriek about media-elite liberals just Bush-hating, conspiracy theorists whining about Halliburton, and Saddam gassing his own people:
…Not when our leaders were so fully unprepared for this war that there was no legitimate flank or rear security support for the thousands of vehicles, many endlessly breaking down, in that convoy that stretched across the Iraqi desert at the beginning of the war.
…Not when they couldn’t even bribe Turkey into letting us enter Iraq from the north.
…Not when there weren’t enough MRE’s, tanks that would work in the sand and flack-jackets for our troops .
…Not when our Marines suddenly became gendarmes on the streets of Baghdad while we completely disbanded both the Iraqi army and police and the country was being destroyed from the bottom up as the looters demolished everything that the precision guided bombs did not.
…Not when Republican Senators Richard Shelby, Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar had been screaming about the need for a plan post-war Iraq and what to do about the Shiites/Sunnis/Kurds on The News Hour and Charlie Rose virtually every night for the twelve months leading up to the start of the attack.
…Not when there was no budget for the war, funding was asked for on the eve of the initial strike and there have been no plans to pay for the ever-increasing cost.
…Not when Deputy Secretary Of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is asked to give the number of Americans killed in Iraq during a congressional commitee on April 29 2004 and he’s off by over two hundred soldiers.
…Not when they won’t let us see the bodies at Dover and undercount casualties received in combat by the thousands.
Now bugger off and prepare for the trials.
©2004 THE LOS ANGELES SUN
BY JOHN TULLY
THE LOS ANGELES SUN
JUNE 1 2004
The Today Show, America’s number one source for morning infotainment seemed almost obsessed by two stories in the Fall of Two-Thousand Two. Elizabeth Smart, a young girl from Utah had been abducted from her home by a man at gunpoint that summer and it continued to be a big story. In October, seemingly random citizens of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area were being gunned down by a mysterious shooter.
Katie and Matt stoically opened the show almost every morning with these two stories.
At the same time, a war in Iraq was looming and the shadow of a vote in Congress giving the President authorization to use military force was creeping forward. The vote was even more crucial because the midterm elections were just ahead in November and the GOP was playing the Patriot card like the pros they are.
The Bush administration had strolled into power promising anyone within earshot that they would be exactly the opposite of everything the Clinton administration was and added that the “W” missing from some computer keyboards was not funny.
They vowed to be different from President Clinton: different on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and a plan of disengagement was put in place as a way to “back off” and let the two sides work it out for a while.
Mr. Clinton had “coddled” North Korea they said, and now the Bush White House was going to get tough. Moscow and Beijing would know who the new boss was with the plan going forward to build a missile defense shield.
Throw out Kyoto because it’s bad for business and bad for America, and by the way, tell the domestic bad guys that John Ashcroft was putting law and order back into the Justice Department where it belonged.
Presidential transition teams notwithstanding, the grownups were now in charge, and in the first nine months of this new administration they made that fact perfectly clear.
Then the whole world watched in horror as airplanes struck New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
This was truly a call to leadership for Mr. Bush.
But perhaps as a sign of things to come, his initial statements thereafter and his address in the pit at Ground Zero on a bullhorn was almost universally praised by the mainstream media though neither speech had much substance or style. Various pundits declared that simply “everything had changed.”
The rest is history.
Two wars, three tax cuts, and the whole world is watching in horror. Sixty miles outside of Kabul, Afghanistan the Taliban have taken over again. Opium production has tripled by some accounts, sure to sweep obscene amounts of heroin into Europe this year. The same conditions that led the country to harbor Al-Qaeda before that war are present once again and we have too few troops there to do the job.
Iraq and Afghanistan have taken close to a thousand lives and wounded at least five-thousand troops. There have been over thirteen-thousand medi-vacs or medical evacuations-mostly American forces. The Bush administration, while publically trying to form a coalition of countries willing to put boots on the ground in Iraq for violations of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1441, had privately trashed that very same U.N. as “irrelevant” at every opportunity.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld scoffed and sneered his way through press conferences, dismissively declaring that he knew where the Weapons of Mass Destruction were, and did we mention that the U.N. is irrelevant? And FRANCE.
The CIA, DIA, FBI, independent intelligence, Congressman Jim McDermott, The Dixie Chicks and The Pope all expressed concern about the attack on Iraq but the administration pooh-poohed all dissent. While Prime Minister Tony Blair was getting absolutely grilled by the House of Commons, the U.S. Congress was eerily silent and on the first day of the War on Iraq Kent Conrad seemed to be all alone on the Senate floor as he lamented the lack of even a basic budget for the conflict and it’s aftermath.
There was a complete breakdown of even basic diplomacy shown by President Bush, failing to privately convince skeptical nations to join him in the fight as his father had done in the first Gulf War and using words like “crusade” “bring ’em on” and “axis of evil” to further alienate the Muslim world.
The mealy-mouthed-chicken-hawk-think tankers in Northwest D.C. kept the pot stirring as well with talks of regime change, disarmament and virtual screaming about resolution 1441. Despite the evidence of dissipating mustard and sarin gas over the last ten years in Iraq, continued flyovers, sanctions and inspections, we were told there may be nuclear program-related activities; the ultimate McGuffin of the war debate. While the term imminent threat was never officially used, the talk of a nuke mushroom cloud not being our smoking gun got the point across stoutly. Throw in chatter about forty-five minute deployment and unmanned aerial vehicles and the cake was baked.
The military and diplomatic tracks never intersected. Spring came around, and the U.S. demanded that Saddam destroy his conventional Al -Samoud missiles even while almost 100,000 troops were amassed on Iraq’s border and CNN was reporting that the first attack was only days away. “Might as well go in now that we’ve gone in” was all the noise that week.
President Bush of course had the complete support of Congress to go right ahead in, and everyone north of MacArthur Boulevard knew he didn’t really have to go back for more approval. That crucial vote in Congress, that blank check, is now brought up whenever there is criticism of the war and rightly so. Because not one of these Senators or Congressmen were really pressed by the Press on this vote, they showed no guts in standing up to the march to Baghdad. Perhaps if the morning shows and popular media had pumped up the voting issue and specific plans for post-war Iraq like the Laci Peterson/MichaelJackson/Elizabeth Smart/Sniper stories with full saturation coverage a real debate would have resulted.
We’ll never know.
In the middle of a War on Terrorism The United States Of America invaded a sovereign Muslim nation of twenty-five million people. Because there were no real plans for the occupation, and no substantive debate about it, we’ve got eighteen year-olds from Cedar Rapids, Iowa negotiating foreign policy on the streets of Fallujah.
This arrogant smug administration has made our country less safe. We’ve lost credibility and our moral standing in the world. Most importantly there can be no doubt that this invasion has created more terrorists that hate America.
MR. ROVE’S WILD RIDE
By JOHN S. TULLY
October 8 2002
Los Angeles — Politics is not a pretty thing. Look no further than this week in Washington D. C. Former Vice-president Albert Gore Jr. finally brought up the huge marsupial in the room. Criminy! folks, that’s gonna’ wake the whole herd up mate!
Senate Leader Tom Daschle, who seemed to have stashed his opinions in a lock box this summer finally blew his top on the Senate floor denouncing President Bush’s comment at a recent fundraiser that the “Senate” is more interested in “special interests” than in the Security Of Americans. That very same fundraiser pushed the President past Bill Clinton’s record of $126 million raised in one year and it’s only the last week of September.
Stepping right up to the plate this week was a small group of Senators who have been all too quiet this summer with any dissent of this administration’s dual War On Terrorism and Iraq. In fact the debate on war had bipassed “if” and went straight through to “when” and “who’s with us” by the time Mr. Gore finally cleared his throat Monday in San Francisco.
Actual questions were raised about our effectiveness in toppling Saddam and how to proceed post-war in Iraq among others. Sen. Robert Byrd paced and shook with disdain as he read Bush’s remarks from the newspaper on the senate floor. Sen. Daschle’s voice broke as he defended his colleagues, spoke of members who have served in the military and demanded an apology from the President. He also spoke of not politicizing the nation’s debate. It was a classic case of “too little,too late” Back in June an internal G.O.P. playbook, authored by White House political strategist Karl Rove got into the hands of the opposition. The Powerpoint presentation suggested Republican candidates play up the “War” to keep the political dialogue on their side of the fence.
The relative silence of the Democrats this summer only strengthened the resolve of the true hawks in the administration and a bipartisan resolution for war will almost definitely be passed by both houses. For GOP candidates however, the strategy might not pay off. A new poll released this week shows that while the majority of Americans are for action against Iraq, three out of five want our allies to sign on. Colin Powell would like to go back to the Security Council soon with a joint resolution from the United States Congress and it looks as if he will have it.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, this momentary truce focuses the debate back onto the domestic front where, as usual, it is the Economy…stupid. Crikey! The bugger just ate his own heed!
Politics is not a pretty creature.
©2002 The New York Herald Sun