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Okay a little more

Okay, a little more on Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's meeting with Neil Bush, the president's brother, during a brief visit to New York City recently.

Opposition leader James Soong, formerly of the Kuomintang (KMT) and now Chairman of the People First Party, has accused President Chen of paying $1 million to have a meeting with Mr. Bush.

(A little background is necessary here: because the US has no official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, meetings with US political leaders are highly coveted by members of the Taiwanese government.)

It's not clear from the news reports what direct evidence Soong had for his charges. But part of the evidence he put forward was an overture allegedly made to the head of the KMT Lien Chan. "A broker for the [Bush] family member told Lien he could meet with the US president's brother if he was willing to pay US$1 million. I believe Chen was well received by the US because he paid the money," Soong said.

Representatives of President Chen have roundly denied the charges and refuse even to discuss whether he met with Bush under any circumstances. And a spokesman for the president has said the the airing of the charge is an affront to the Bush family.

Now this update from Taiwan News ...

Meanwhile, DPP Legislator Parris Chang, who along with Chien accompanied President Chen for his U.S. and Panama trip, confirmed that the president had indeed met Neil Bush, but the summit had nothing to do with Neil Bush's older brother George Bush.

"The opposition party is simply too desperate (for the presidential election). The accusation is extremely ridiculous," Chang said.

He explained that a Taiwanese businessman based in Houston arranged the summit for President Chen, and revealed that no deal was made behind the meeting.

"I don't think the summit has anything to do with his brother. President Bush would probably send government officials from the State Department, if he really wants to deliver a message to President Chen," Chang said.

In addition, DPP Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung held a press conference yesterday morning to criticize the PFP accusation as inaccurate and potentially damaging to bilateral ties between the U.S. and Taiwan.


Who's the 'Taiwanese businessman based in Houston'?

Whats the deal with

What's the deal with this? <$NoAd$>I've heard hints of this from my Taiwan sources over the last 24 hours and now it's all over the Taiwan press. This from the English-language Taipei Times ...

President Chen Shui-bian yesterday defended himself against accusations by People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong that he paid US$1 million to meet with a family member of US President George W. Bush during his visit to the US earlier this month.

Although Soong did not say who the family member was, PFP and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) officials later identified the person as Bush's brother Neil Bush.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 500 people in Yunlin County on Sunday, Soong said the US' high-profile reception for Chen was a result of the US$1 million that Chen gave to the Bush family.

A broker representing the Bush family had contacted KMT Chairman Lien Chan before Lien went to the US last month, Soong said.

"A broker for the family member told Lien he could meet with the US president's brother if he was willing to pay US$1 million. I believe Chen was well received by the US because he paid the money," Soong said.


I'll be on the phone with my sources trying to find out more.

An email from a

An email from a <$NoAd$>friend about the Dean post below ...

From: "John B. Judis"
To: "Joshua Micah Marshall"
X-Mailer: Poco3 Beta (1700) - Licensed Version
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 08:42:41 -0500
Subject: Dean



I share your sentiments completely. The only thing I'm semi-certain about is Dean's lack of electability in November. I think it is because I lived through the McGovern campaign, as did some of those ex-Clinton people who have tried to pump up Clark. The similarities grow with every day. Not just the insurgent voter enthusiasm, the new ways of fundraising, and the bevy of flummoxed opponents, but also the economy (artificially stimulated by Nixon through the Fed and by Bush through the dollar just in time for election year) and the war (raging, but bound to quiet some by election time, and to raise prospects of peace). The economy deprives the Democrat of the issue that would allow him to attract working class votes; the war splits the Democrats, but not the Republicans. True, there are more "Starbucks" voters now than in 1972, but on the other side Bush is far more popular than Nixon was. Nixon was actually trailing Muskie in polls, which is why he thought he needed all the dirty tricks. I fear a cataclysm in the fall if the Democrats nominate Dean. Unfortunately, the alternatives are only slightly better.

John B. Judis Senior Editor, The New Republic Visiting Scholar, Carnegie Endowment



We'll see. As I said in the post below, I think this race is far from over.

Okay have to say

Okay, have to say it. I’m still not convinced. Everyone I know seems to think that Howard Dean is close to having the Democratic nomination all wrapped up. AFSCME’s apparent endorsement, for instance, seems premised almost entirely on the perception that Dean’s going to be the winner.

But I just don’t see it.

I’m not saying there’s another candidate who I’d say is more likely to win. I just think Dean’s strength is overstated.

A few points and then we’ll follow up with other posts later.

First: Every primary and caucus this year distributes delegates proportionally. You get 30% of the vote and you get 30% of the delegates. So winning a primary by a couple points in a big field isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.

Second: I continue to think that Dean’s style of candidacy only has a real purchase on a portion of the Democratic primary electorate. And I think he has most of those people already. Yes, this is a standard criticism of Dean: he’s the candidate of the Starbucks crowd (not that that’s a criticism: I write about half of my posts from the neighborhood Starbucks) and so forth. And the endorsements of SEIU and AFSCME are supposed to change that --- giving his candidacy a broader demographic sweep.

But I remain unconvinced. I’m not sure Dean can break out of the very energized and mobilized constituency he already has. And that’s what strong showings out of Iowa and New Hampshire are supposed to accomplish.

Third: Our models for primary campaigns are based on frontrunners who are supported, by and large, by the party establishment. That’s not the case here. And that makes a difference. So there's an asterisk by his frontrunnerdom.

Fourth: Dean clearly now has the biggest constituency. It’s activated, mobilized and it’s big. But he’s in a large field. I think there’s a much larger slice of the Democratic primary electorate that doesn’t want him than the one that does. And as the field narrows, that will become the salient fact. (Isn't #4 kind of like #2? Okay, maybe a bit.)

Fifth: Electability, another salient fact.

Now, many things I write on TPM, I write with great confidence. This isn’t one of those cases. For a host of reasons I find this primary campaign very hard to get a handle on. And it’s quite apparent to me that I could have this all wrong. What I'm telling you is just what my gut tells me.

Live by the word

Live by the word game, die by the <$NoAd$>word game.

Andrew Sullivan arguing that no one said the threat was imminent (emphasis added) ...

We can fight over words in this way, but the fundamental reality also undermines Marshall's case. The point about 9/11 is that it showed that we were in a new world where we could be attacked by shadowy groups with little warning. The point about Saddam is that he was a sworn enemy of the U.S., had been known to develop an arsenal of WMDs, was in a position to arm terrorists in a devastating way, and any president had to weigh the risk of him staying in power in that new climate. The actual threat hangs over us all the time. It is unlike previous threats from foreign powers. It is accountable to no rules and no ethics. We know it will give us no formal warning. But we cannot know it is "imminent".


Webster’s, well-known dictionary manufacturer, defining ‘imminent’ …

Main Entry: im•mi•nent
Pronunciation: 'i-m&-n&nt
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin imminent-, imminens, present participle of imminEre to project, threaten, from in- + -minEre (akin to Latin mont-, mons mountain) -- more at MOUNT
Date: 1528
: ready to take place; especially : hanging threateningly over one's head (was in imminent danger of being run over)
- im•mi•nent•ly adverb


Some curveballs hang too temptingly over the plate.

Who you gonna believe

Who you gonna believe? Me, or <$NoAd$>your lyin' eyes?

Check out this gem, from an article from Hearst Newspapers' Eric Rosenberg, which I found through Atrios ...

For example, on Feb. 20, a month before the invasion, Rumsfeld fielded a question about whether Americans would be greeted as liberators if they invaded Iraq.

"Do you expect the invasion, if it comes, to be welcomed by the majority of the civilian population of Iraq?" Jim Lehrer asked the defense secretary on PBS' "The News Hour."

"There is no question but that they would be welcomed," Rumsfeld replied, referring to American forces. "Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and the al-Qaeda would not let them do."

The Americans-as-liberators theme was repeated by other senior administration officials in the weeks preceding the war, including Rumsfeld's No. 2 - Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz - and Vice President Cheney.

But on Sept. 25, - a particularly bloody day in which one U.S. soldier was killed in an ambush, eight Iraqi civilians died in a mortar strike and a member of the U.S-appointed governing council died after an assassination attempt five days earlier - Rumsfeld was asked about the surging resistance.

"Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said . . . they would welcome us with open arms," Sinclair Broadcasting anchor Morris Jones said to Rumsfeld as the prelude to a question.

The defense chief quickly cut him off. "Never said that," he said. "Never did. You may remember it well, but you're thinking of somebody else. You can't find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said."


Let me guess, we're gonna get hung up on "open arms"?

(Just between you and me, what's really pitiful about this exchange is that the Sec Def could have easily and correctly said that being welcomed by the majority of the population as liberators is not necessarily inconsistent with follow-on paramilitary or guerilla resistance -- even on a substantial scale. But Rumsfeld just can't help himself.)

I almost missed this

I almost missed this brief, crisp critique of the administration's Iraq policy by Jacob Weisberg. Glad I didn't.

It all reminds me of what one of my best military sources for my first Iraq article kept coming back to, a phrase drilled into all Army officers: Hope is not a plan.

Department of revealing projection

Department of revealing <$NoAd$>projection ...

The United States [i.e., the Bush administration] is deeply frustrated with its hand-picked council members because they have spent more time on their own political or economic interests than in planning for Iraq's political future.


From today's Washington Post on the US rethinking the Interim Governing Council.

Of course, one can project but also be on to something.

See this clip from Tom Friedman's column on Thursday ...

The reason this happened is that the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, which is supposed to come up with a plan for forming the constitution-writing committee, is becoming dysfunctional. Several key G.C. members, particularly the Pentagon's favorite son, Ahmad Chalabi, have been absent from Iraq for weeks. Only seven or eight of the 24 G.C. members show up at meetings anymore.


Where's Ahmed? My neocon friend and I came up with a short list of Washington, London or Tehran. But who knows?

The meme at last

The meme at last seems to <$Ad$>be taking flight.

For more than a year I've argued that the Office of the Vice President operates in the Bush White House as a sort of rogue operation, free from the bureaucratic and organizational constraints and responsibilities imposed on the normal agencies and departments of the executive branch.

(Also, almost everything Cheney touches goes bad.)

This from the new 'how Cheney sold us the Iraq war' piece in Newsweek ...

Cheney has long been regarded as a Washington wise man. He has a dry, deliberate manner; a penetrating, if somewhat wintry, wit, and a historian’s long-view sensibility. He is far to the right politically, but in no way wild-eyed; in private conversation he seems moderate, thoughtful, cautious. Yet when it comes to terrorist plots, he seems to have given credence to the views of some fairly flaky ideologues and charlatans.


And this ...

Nonetheless, it appears that Cheney has been susceptible to “cherry-picking,” embracing those snippets of intelligence that support his dark prognosis while discarding others that don’t. He is widely regarded in the intelligence community as an outlier, as a man who always goes for the worst-case —scenario and sometimes overlooks less alarming or at least ambiguous signs. Top intelligence officials reject the suggestion that Cheney has somehow bullied lower-level CIA or Defense Intelligence Agency analysts into telling him what he wants to hear. But they do describe the Office of the Vice President, with its large and assertive staff, as a kind of free-floating power base that at times brushes aside the normal policymaking machinery under national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice. On the road to war, Cheney in effect created a parallel government that became the real power center.


Compare this name-brand product to the lower-cost generic versions from September 2002 and January 2003.

One other thing: It's become conventional wisdom that the Pentagon, or rather the civilians at the Pentagon, muscled out the State Department on key issues of planning for Iraq. My recent reporting tells me it's much more a matter of Cheney and the Office of the Vice President. Much more.

Sullivanus Laughibalis. Id heard

Sullivanus Laughibalis. I’d heard that Andrew Sullivan was preparing a “counterblast” to my recent writings on the ‘imminent threat’ ridiculousness. Well, now it’s up. And you can see it here: "Marshall Comes Up Empty".

Most revealing nugget: Sullivan found the direct quotations chosen by TPM readers so weak, skewerable, and unconvincing that he fails to quote, mention or even make reference to any of them.

Imagine that.

(Also note the funny-business with the Rumsfeld quote.)

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