June 02, 2004

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars?

They really do lie about everything. And rely on the press being too stupid to notice. Don't they?

From Atrios:

Eschaton: Flopped

Reader r writes in:

George W. Bush last Feburary, on Meet The Press (emphasis added):

Russert: If the Iraqis choose, however, an Islamic extremist regime, would you accept that, and would that be better for the United States than Saddam Hussein?

President Bush: They're not going to develop that. And the reason I can say that is because I'm very aware of this basic law they're writing. They're not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al-Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.

George W. Bush yesterday , Rose Garden press conference:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. Chalabi is an Iraqi leader that's fallen out of favor within your administration. I'm wondering if you feel that he provided any false information, or are you particularly --


Q Yes, with Chalabi.

THE PRESIDENT: My meetings with him were very brief. I mean, I think I met with him at the State of the Union and just kind of working through the rope line, and he might have come with a group of leaders. But I haven't had any extensive conversations with him.

Q I guess I'm asking, do you feel like he misled your administration, in terms of what the expectations were going to be going into Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't remember anybody walking into my office saying, Chalabi says this is the way it's going to be in Iraq.

...here's Bush with Chalabi on Turkee Day:

Story: President Bush says he had a "good talk" for about 30 minutes November 27 with four members of Iraq's Governing Council at Baghdad International Airport, following his surprise meeting with U.S. troops there.

Briefing the White House press pool accompanying him on Air Force One as he returned to the United States after the two-and-one-half-hour stop in Baghdad, Bush said he and L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, met with Jalal Talibani, the current president of the council, Raja Habib Khuzaii, Ahmed Chalabi, and Mowaffak Rubaie.

Posted by DeLong at June 2, 2004 08:22 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

LOL I hope those guys who work the Memory Hole are getting overtime pay...

Posted by: Brad Reed on June 2, 2004 08:49 PM


Iran tricked us into the whole thing! (They really wanted the U.S. military at their borders!) They sent Chalabi to lie to the neocons about mass weapons! They figured we broke their code, so now we can’t follow ‘em around Iraq! Whatever happens in Iraq, the answer is the Iranians did it!

Seventy or eighty percent of the people in the U.S. are against elective or preventative war without imminent danger, and will pull the lever for the other guy if they are reminded of it in November... Bush, shortsighted and dishonest, knew the U.N. weapons inspectors were telling the truth, but was assured by Tenant that it was a slam-dunk they’d still find some old cans of poison out behind a barbershop or something...

The absence of WMD’s is Bush’s most pressing poll issue, and he needs a fall guy. Trumping up Chalabi as an informer to Iran, however preposterous, makes our lil' Ahmad seem even more villainous. He was well-paid for his services, so don’t bother crying. But the amount of people buying into this story is astonishing.

Next up, the Administration needs to invent answers: (1) Which bonehead’s goin’ down for supposedly passing Chalabi the intelligence he supposedly passed to Iraq? And even more important: (2) Bush deserves to be re-elected, even though the phony story concludes that he and his advisors can be taken in by a hustler?

Posted by: Lee A. on June 2, 2004 10:02 PM


Sorry: I meant to write, the intelligence Chalabi suposedly passed to the Iranian in Iraq. Because apparently, we are allowing Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security to operate a station in Baghdad! But then, I'm just confused...

Posted by: Lee A. on June 2, 2004 10:09 PM


Oh no wait, the Americans would ALLOW the Iranians to have a station in Baghdad, to spy on them. But then, the Iranians would already know this, so that when Chalabi walked in the door, they would know the Americans would be watching him, and watching their subsequent communication to Tehran. But then, Chalabi would know this, so he’d be passing information to the Iranians knowing he’d be found out by the Americans, and knowing that the Iranians would also know this...

Uh, I have to go back and study “Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy” in MAD MAGAZINE...

Posted by: Lee A. on June 2, 2004 10:33 PM


"Uh, I have to go back and study “Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy” in MAD MAGAZINE..."

Actually I understood it until you started explaining it.

Posted by: dispassionate on June 3, 2004 03:05 AM


Every new day brings its load of lies. I'd like to hear the noecons that read this board how they explain M. Bush almost denying ever having met Chalabi, in the light of all the other information (and pictures, my god).

I'm not even an American, and my soul sinks a little more every fucking day this twit is in power.

Posted by: Mario on June 3, 2004 05:40 AM


Juan Cole says no way that our Iraq war was an Iranian plot. He thinks Chalabi scammed the Iranians as well. I agree.

"Some observers have speculated that the entire Iraq war may have been an Iranian plot, with the Iranians using Chalabi to feed false information about Iraq's weapons programs to the US. They would then have used one enemy, the US, to get rid of another, Saddam, and would as a result have liberated the Iraqi Shiite community. I want to intervene on this meme. It is impossible. Chalabi and the other Iraqi expatriates certainly gamed the Bush administration. But it is not credible to me that Iranian intelligence actively sought a US invasion of Iraq.

Indeed, the likelihood is that the Iranians were also victims of Chalabi's lie factory. The INC peddled the story to the US that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program. It must have peddled the same story to the Iranians. In fact, what if the lies of Chalabi & Associates about the non-existent nuclear program so alarmed Iran that it redoubled its efforts to get a nuclear weapon, conducting an arms race against a phantom? If so, Chalabi and his group have single-handedly destabilized the entire Persian Gulf region. And for what? So that Ahmad could be president for life. And now that will not even happen."


Posted by: bakho on June 3, 2004 06:03 AM



Let me help you (and the White House apologists) out. Humpty Dumpty explained to Alice that "words mean what I want them to mean, nothing more, nothing less." Thus "very brief" meetings means whatever length meeting Bush had with Chalabi. The point is that "he might have come with a group of leaders" covers any meeting the two may have had, unless it was a one-one-one - a one-one-one that can be demostrated to have occurred. Let's say, for the sake of example, that Chalabi and Bremer showed up together, just them and Bush. Well, Bremer is a leader, isn't he, so that makes the notion that Bush only met Chalabi as part of a "group of leaders" true. A "group" means what Bush wants it to mean, nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by: kharris on June 3, 2004 06:13 AM


Mr. Bush abandons his friends really fast if they can hurt him. He dropped Ken Lay like a hot potato. Now Chalabi. Since the scandal broke I have seen the Chalabi at the SOTU with Laura Bush photo on TV a half dozen times. I don't even watch that much TV. Fortunately, Mr. Bush cannot hide from the photos.

Chalabi will not do nearly as much damage as the Enron traders tape about stealing Grandma Millie's money followed by a clip of Mr. Bush saying no to energy price caps in CA. If Americans conclude they have been scammed by this administration, the election will turn ugly. If Americans conclude that the administration was scammed, Bush will get zero sympathy and lose big. Their only hope is a repeat of 2002 when the corporate corruption scandals blew off into the fog of war by election day.

Posted by: bakho on June 3, 2004 06:13 AM


Don't you guys understand that Bush brought integrity back to the White House. He has the courage of his convinctions, and Jeebus in his heart.

Posted by: moron on June 3, 2004 06:54 AM


"He has the courage of his convictions"

Nah, they probably won't be able to actually convict him of anything . . .

Posted by: rea on June 3, 2004 07:30 AM


Jesus, it's the same playbook, if not exactly the same script, as after the Enron debacle, when Shrub suddenly couldn't remember Kenny Boy's name ...

What a f*cking weasel.

Posted by: Michael on June 3, 2004 07:48 AM


When is the media going to ask our Christian-in- chief: "President Bush, is it a sin to tell a lie?"

Posted by: paulo on June 3, 2004 08:00 AM




You should rename your blog "WIHTBA" or "Why I hate the Bush Administration". I hope you put as much time into thinking about how to improve America's global competitive economic position as you do spouting off about the Bushies. A discussion of structural economic imbalances and their remdiation would I think be a far more substantive endeavor.

Posted by: dropshot on June 3, 2004 08:14 AM



Bush just fired Tenet, so there goes one more "friend." Same day as the press notes that Bush may have to answer questions about Plame, so the timing is really wierd. Now Condi can have a new jobs - I just can't imagine giving her the Pentagon. She has never served in uniform - it would be an affront to the uniformed brass and enlisted, and highlight the chickenhawk story.


There is something more important (substantive) than figuring out whether the President of the United States lies routinely and casually about matters of national importance? Didn't we impeach the last guy for lying about something as trivial (from a public policy point of view) as his personal indiscretions?

Posted by: kharris on June 3, 2004 08:33 AM


"...and he [Chalabi] might have come with a group of leaders"

"here's Bush with Chalabi [and other Iraqi leaders] on Turkee Day"

=> Bush is a liar.

Am I missing something here?

Posted by: Victor on June 3, 2004 08:41 AM



Keep your eye on the ball. Focus on the substance. The US faces enormous structural disadvantages globally not the least of which include a low savings rate, high consumer debt, high pension and health care costs, high wages, and a rapidly declining education system. To my mind that's the substance that a DeLong website should be discussing. The he said/she said banter offers little value.

Posted by: dropshot on June 3, 2004 08:48 AM


"To my mind that's the substance that a DeLong website should be discussing."

dropshot - ISTM that since it's DeLong's website, he's the one who decides what it should be discussing.

Posted by: RT on June 3, 2004 09:16 AM



There is more than one ball. Our ability to influence events outside our own border is eroding. Fiscal imbalances, which are part and parcel of the problem with the savings rate, global imbalances and the like, grow out of political decisions. This administration has routinely underestimated the impact of its fiscal policies, and subsequently laid blame on the slowdown and geopolitical events, and away from tax cuts, in ways that are wildly at odds with the results of mainstream analysis. Everybody has their view of the world, and of what is important, but each of us ought to be able to recognize that our own view (ball) is not the only legitimate one. Yours, for instance, made no mention of education, environmental quality, distribution of income, or non-economic international relations. I cannot accept that macroeconomic balances are the only "ball" worth watching. Perhaps it will make my position a little clearer to explain that I cannot find any direct connection between macroeconomic imbalances and the cloud of dust from two imploded buildings that I had to walk through a very few years ago. I see no direct connection between such imbalances and the fact that my children will have to grow up in a world where a number of malignant groups fervently wish for the destruction of their culture. The nice, abstract world of balance of payments and household wealth and savings ledgers cannot be all that matters, but it makes a convenient distraction from ugly headlines.

So I repeat, there is something to be worried about when the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, the nation in which I and my offspring live, doesn't seem to care that his assertions about his own public behavior and his policies are transparently false.

Posted by: kharris on June 3, 2004 09:42 AM



Oop, gotta give your credit for education. The rest still stands.

Posted by: kharris on June 3, 2004 10:15 AM


it's not "he said, she said."

It's he said, and then he lied later about it, hoping we had forgotten what he said earlier.

I suspect anyone who has no hate for what Bush has done to this country, to be a fake American. So go on with your facile "Bush hating" distractions. No real economic problem will be tackled unless this miserable criminal failure of an Administration is extirpated from its unearned seat of power.

Posted by: ch2 on June 3, 2004 10:38 AM



I think it is very important to take care of one's own house first. My point is our house is not in order. Structural imbalances persist and they are hurting the US dramatically. These imbalances again include low savings rate, globally uncompetitive wage, pension, and health care costs, disasterous education system, aging population etc... That these issues are unresolved is one of the driving forces behind our declining influence in the world. How can we have influence when we are a debtor nation of enormous proportions? How can we have influence when our kids can't add and we graduate the fewest number of engineers on a relative basis in the modern world? (We don't need more lawyers) How can we have influence when manufacturing and key service jobs are moving offshore because we have HUGELY uncompetitive labor and benefits structures?

The bush administartion did not cause these things. To think otherwise would be naive. To be sure the Bush administration has not been the most fiscally responsible. But you may not be in a position to judge how dangerously close we were to a Japanese style deflation requiring massive fiscal and monetary stimulus to resolve. Let's give some credit to those on the playing field. (FYI "mainstream economics" don't address a deflationary world of considerable excess capacity in which we now find ourselves.)

So to me there is nothing ethereal about these structural imbalances at all. They are at the very heart of our ability to lead and to provide influence in this otherwise chaotic world.

That there are millions of young unemployed arab men who are hell bent on destroying western culture is not a problem of Bush's making either. I would urge you to consult any book by noted Princeton Professor Bernard Lewis which will explain the sources of their hatred. Suffice to say when nearly half the population of the mid east is under 30 and has little or no prospect for jobs - that's a solid pool future jihadis to be sure. I am not a Bush apologist but he didn't create the pool of these folks. You may want to direct your disgust to the governments of the middle east and their propensity to train fundamentalists through extremist madrassas.

Last as for the cloud of dust I am unfortunately too familar with it. Suffice to say, if your looking to blame someone for that mess I would suggest you take the number 4 train to 125th street and ask Bill Clinton why he didn't feel a need to blow Bin Laden and Al qaeda off the face of the earth when he had the chance. I witnessed the first WTC bombing first hand. What more information did we need to act decisively? The US embassy bombings in Africa? The Cole bombings? It was all there. The number 4 train is running today.

Posted by: dropshot on June 3, 2004 10:53 AM



OK, so let me be clear. Your first post here boiled down to a claim that you know better than our host what real “substance” is. Your first reply to me, suggesting that I keep my eye on the ball, likewise boiled down to the notion that you know what is important, while I have somehow missed it. More recently, you warn that I “may not be in a position to judge” how close the US was to deflation. As far as I can tell, all of these come down to not-so-sly suggestions that you know better what is important and how the world works than those who don’t share your views. That isn’t much of an argument. Would it help to point out that a pretty high fraction of those who drop in a Brad’s site actually do have a passing familiarity with economics and world events?

Is there a reasonable explanation for disaffection among the youth of the Mideast? Sure there is. That explanation is not the end of the story (nor would it be unfamiliar to most of the denizens of Brad’s web log). It’s a starting point. It is a fundamental condition that must be taken into account when making decisions about policy in the region, but hardly means that our policies have no impact on how we are perceived, on who will ally themselves with us, attack us, or stand aside. And by the way, “millions of young unemployed arab men who are hell bent on destroying western culture” – are we overstating our case a bit? Most of the young men I’ve met from the Mideast, here and in their home countries, are nothing like that. That doesn’t mean there aren’t lots who feel antipathy towards us, but “millions” hell bent on destroying western culture? No, that’s the situation we face if we adopt the view that they are already bent on ending our way of life and that our own arrogance won’t make their numbers grow. And the notion that blowing bin Laden and al Qaeda off the face of the earth will somehow change things is hard to square with the assertion that there are “millions” to take their place.

Somehow, you seem to want us to believe that going clumsily to war in Mideast is beside the point, but the fact that Clinton failed to kill bin Laden is blameworthy. As I recall, Clinton tried to do away with bin Laden, and took a good bit of wag-the-dog flack in the process. Bin Laden’s crimes were still on the record when Bush took office, but Bush didn’t make any effort to deal with him till bin Laden sponsored a deadly attack on Bush’s watch. But you are, of course, not an apologist for Bush.

Posted by: kharris on June 3, 2004 12:13 PM


I can see your point up to a point.
Like Krugman, Delong would be much more valuable to everyone if he could concentrate on more involved economic issues that your average political blogger can't begin to explain.

Unfortunately with the Republican Noise Machine going at full blast, Delong must of felt an urgent moral compulsion to address these GOP lies and inaccuracies in his blog.

It's a bit like using a Picasso masterpiece to plug a hole in the wall. But when the house is being destoyed ALL hands are needed to rectify the situation.

Don't worry. After Kerry is inaugurated I think things will ge more technical. Assuming Kerry isn't a psychopath in desguise.

And if you crave that hard analysis that talks about all your issues, why not go to Steven Roach at the Morgan Stanley site?

Posted by: Scott McArthur on June 3, 2004 12:41 PM



My original point related to the senseless bashing of Bush. Seems to me that there are other things to focus on when there are so many problems in the US that need serious attention fast. That's all. Nothing more, nothing less.

Second, economically I suspect we get to the same place in many regards. My point was that there is a senseless Bush bashing on the economy. I don't think it's compeletely justified. Somewhat but not completely. Post 9/11, post the biggest financial bubble in history I suspect that there was (and remains) considerable considerable global production and labor slack. The threat of Japanese style deflation probably justified (in my opinion) serious, serious stimulus (I don't like it - but I suspect it was reality). The US has no savings and our perceived wealth unlike that of previous generations is derived the perceived value of our assets (401k and real property). Thus the importance of pumping up the asset values so as to avoid the possibility of the economy collapsing under a weight of negativity.

The tax cuts were over the top driving excess consumption as well as greater financial asset and real property inflation. Fuel on the already smoldering fire of liquidity.

On the mid east, our policies and performance are at best clumsy. You're right. If there were no WMD in Iraq, no 9/11 connection with Iraq, and we aren't going to take the oil why go there at all? I miss the part that's in our national interest. So like you it appears I have real issues with our presence in Iraq. In other words I don't know why it was in our national interest to take out Saddam? Perhaps there is a good reason I don't know what it is. And by the way, I doubt we are in any position to act like an empire given the huge national debt and structural imbalances described above.

The reading of Bernard Lewis is recommened. He is very smart and experienced. My comments on the youth of the mid east were not meant to inflame. My point is that it is a problem of enormous magnitude. The numbers are daunting. Validation of the numbers can be seen through an analysis of mid eastern immigration patterns to western europe. Europe has no birth rate and a similar but worse aging population. Young arabs are taking the unfilled jobs or those that the europeans feel are beneath them. By some estimates the population of Europe over the next 30+ years could be 35% arab. Quite a change.

The perception of the US in the Arab world particularly among the disaffected youth is at an all time low. This is largely driven by our tied at the hip geopolitical relationships.

Posted by: dropshot on June 3, 2004 01:10 PM


I sympathize with the questions Dropshot suggests. Somehow I see a relation with the reading by Scott Martens of A fistful of Euros (http://fistfulofeuros.net/archives/000684.php) of Kevin Drums 'Democracy in Iraq' (http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2004_05/004018.php) . According to Martens "..the more general question is the more interesting one. How do you respond to a world where actually fixing problems is beyond the resources available?"

But a little bit more on topic.
I am struggling with this dilemma too, in my own way. When I put up my blog I was set on devoting myself mainly to political-economical questions but I find myself wondering and commenting on Iraq (in the broadest sense).
I agree with Harris too where he asks: "Is there something more important (substantive) than figuring out whether the President of the United States lies routinely and casually about matters of national importance?" but then again: this has to do with strategy as well.
I would not be surprised if at some time proof was going to turn out of G.W.Bush indeed being the most stupid and/or untruthful president the USA has ever had but in itself that is if little importance. The fact that Bush refused to testify for the 9/11 commission without Cheney to me suggests that in fact we deal with a Cheney administration. Still: we have to judge that administration on it’s acts and the consequences thereof.
To get rid of the wrongs of the Bush administration, -on both geo-political and global-economical terrain-, I wonder if it is strategically wise to focus on Bush stupidity and or unfairness. No, I don't. I think it's wiser to concentrate on the alternatives.
To prepare for the time after the regime change (...).

To discuss a suggestion like Paul Berman's "Will the opposition lead" ( http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/15/opinion/15BERM.html)
"The Democrats ought to thank and congratulate the countries that have sent troops, and ought to remind the economically powerful Switzerlands of this world that they, too, have responsibilities. The Democrats ought to assure everyone that support for a successful outcome in Iraq does not have to mean support for George W. Bush. And how should the Democrats make these several arguments? They should speak about something more than the United Nations and stability in Iraq. They should talk about fascism. About death cults. About the experiences of the 20th century. About the need for democratic solidarity.” (my comments http://www.fransgroenendijk.nl/comments.php?id=310_0_1_0_C )

Or discuss the proposition by Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay "An alliance of democracies" (as an alternative to a strategy expecting to much from the UN)

and of course
discuss the need and possibility of rethinking the challenges we face worldwide concerning economical policies.
To emphasize I just quote Stephen Roach (like Camille Roy did before in this columns): "One of the pillars of trade theory is that wealthy industrial economies like America’s can be broken down into two basic segments of activity — tradables and nontradables. International competition has long been confined to the tradable goods, or manufacturing sector. By contrast, the nontradables sector was largely shielded from tough competitive pressures, thereby providing shelter to the 80% of America’s private sector workforce that toil in services. Consequently, as competitive pressures drove down prices in tradable goods, the bulk of the economy and its workforce benefited from the resulting expansion of purchasing power. Advanced, knowledge-based economies thrive on this distinction between tradables and nontradables — manufacturing and services. …That critical distinction has now been blurred.”
Together with the inestimable importance of the Chinese (and Indian) growth, the huge difference between the discussions on deficits in the USA versus the discussions on the Growth and Stability Pact in Europe, the threat of Japanese style deflation (is it gone?), the economical impact of the oil-prices in relation to the conflicts in the middle-east, John Connolly's famous maxim that the dollar is "our currency, but your problem" ….there is enough to fill a new Bretton-woods.
A new Bretton Woods not dominated by one country, with an important role for the IBSA-countries and above everything: with a fair balance between politics and economical science.

Posted by: Frans Groenendijk on June 4, 2004 05:19 PM


Have you ever noticed the eery resemblance between Chalabi and The Penguin of Batman fame? I tell you, as a fellow penguin, I know my penguins when I see them, especially the bad penguins, and if that ain't The Penguin then I hate herring!

- Badtux the okay-not-so-bad Penguin

Posted by: BadTux on June 8, 2004 10:49 PM


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