Wow, what’s happened at the Times? Hadley’s high has rarely been so harshed.
It is the kind of task — a little bit of internal diplomacy and a lot of head-knocking, fortified by direct access to the president — that would ordinarily fall to Mr. Hadley himself. After all, he oversaw the review that produced Mr. Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq. But his responsibilities encompass issues around the globe, and he has concluded that he needs someone “up close to the president” to work “full time, 24/7” to put the policy into effect. He hopes to fill the job soon.
“What we need,” he said in a recent interview, “is someone with a lot of stature within the government who can make things happen.”
Yeah. We used to call that the National Security Advisor.
If you’re trying to pass off the responsibility for what’s at best an enormous collective blunder, this is probably not the best time to be looking for candidates. Ain’t too many generals lining up to run an occupation at this stage. It’s really too bad we’re wasting Petraeus on this essentially hopeless mission; if George Packer’s reporting on Petraeus is accurate, he’s exactly the sort of commander who could have made a big difference if they’d used him at the right time. Now, he’s just one more object to be thrown under the onrushing bus by an administration trying to postpone another accountability moment.
So anyway, what’s the idea of the war czar?
…the war czar proposal has left some in Washington scratching their heads. At a recent press conference, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates described it this way: “This is what Steve Hadley would do if Steve Hadley had the time.”
But Mr. [Ivo] Daalder, who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, was mystified. “If Hadley doesn’t have time for this,” he asked, “what does he have time for? Our policy toward Nicaragua?”
Freedom may, as the White House continually suggests, be on the march; but my guess is that maglev trains will arrive at a useful destination far more rapidly.
Too depressed by what you hear from Bill Moyers, Jon Stewart, and Josh Marshall to face the future? If so, you’re probably not reading this blog; but just in case, please consider the possibility that there are alternatives to our crazed war-machine culture that are not pie in the sky or rose-colored glasses.
Certainly we’ve screwed things up pretty badly in a variety of ways, from the war to climate change to politicization of the justice system to thoroughly corrupt goverment that’s often indistinguishable from the corporations whose greed it should be restraining. And so on.
But there alternatives. Consider what Japan has decided to do with an estimated $76.3 billion: make the legendary shinkansen obsolete.
Magnetic trains zooming at a landscape-blurring 500 kilometers (310 miles) an hour will connect Tokyo and Nagoya by 2025, one of Japan’s biggest railway operators said Friday.
The new magnetically levitated, or “maglev,” trains would slash the 100-minute travel time down the country’s busiest transportation corridor and are envisioned as a successor for Japan’s iconic bullet trains, or shinkansen, first introduced to the world in 1964.
Right off, damn, that’s embarrassing. We haven’t even got bullet trains yet. Here in the Bay Area, CalTrain runs what it calls Baby Bullets, which are normal trains in express mode. They probably top out in practice around 50 mph, and since they don’t stop every mile or so and have no lights or traffic to deal with, they make far better time than the standard trains. But they’re not bullet trains, not like Japan and France have.
But noooo, we prefer the glory, honor, and sacrifice of war. One commenter calculated that for the $420 billion we’ve spent so far in Iraq we could build a maglev train system approximately equivalent to half the existing interstate system, perhaps five east-west and seven north-south routes.
Problem is, we’d need less oil, steel, rubber, cars, insurance, health care…
In a letter to the novelist Owen Wister, Theodore Roosevelt once wrote, “Nothing is more sickening than the continual praise of [President] Wilson’s English, of Wilson’s style; he is a true logothete, a real sophist…”
This raises two questions, maybe even more. What the hell is a logothete anyway? And has any president since Wilson even heard the word, let alone been one? We will start and end our examination with the 43rd president.
George Walker Bush is a logorrheic, true. Logorrhea runs in the family, and Bush has engaged professional logographers to control the symptoms. For a time their treatments were successful, but have lately become less so.
And so the White House began releasing lists of books full of complicated words, some of them French, which Bush was said to have read between brush-clearing sessions at the old family ranch he bought while running for president.
Still, the president’s efforts at logomachy continued to falter, and so lately he has been positioning himself subtly in front of a bookshelf when the television cameras are running. In some polls, his numbers then dropped into the twenties.
Apparently this latest ploy hadn’t made the president stink of the lamp, but merely of flop-sweat. Books in the background didn’t make Bush a logothete any more than being born in Connecticut made him a Texan.
The downfall of doctors or lawyers who never went to medical or law school only to be unmasked after years of practice is standard fare in the news. This time it’s an official at M.I.T.
Marilee Jones, the dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, became well known for urging stressed-out students competing for elite colleges to calm down and stop trying to be perfect. Yesterday she admitted that she had fabricated her own educational credentials, and resigned after nearly three decades at M.I.T. Officials of the institute said she did not have even an undergraduate degree.
And once again nobody asks the right question, which is not how such a frightful thing could possibly happen in a properly-regulated world.
The right question is why time-consuming and enormously expensive academic degrees should be required for jobs which, on the clear evidence of these recurring stories, can be done perfectly well without benefit of credentials.
A staple of these stories is that the professional colleagues of the impostor never suspected a thing. Discovery is usually accidental, and seldom results from incompetence. Dean Jones, in fact, is a leader in her field.
Once I asked my students at Harvard if they could imagine any way other than medical school by which competent doctors could be produced. They couldn’t, and the very idea struck them as preposterous.
Yet competent doctors and lawyers — and deans of admission, as it turns out — seem to be produced pretty regularly without benefit of formal training. For every “impostor” caught, after all, many more must have escaped detection.
Virtually every résumé and every job application in America is to some extent — often to a very great extent — a work of fiction. Ask Dean Jones, or any personnel manager. And so what. If the game is crooked, why not game it?
Only the very naïve would think that lying is a firing offense in Bush’s America, or indeed anywhere else. Dean Jones wasn’t fired for lack of integrity. She was fired to protect the very lucrative credentialing racket run by our universities
I hadn’t heard about the Cheryl Kuehn case until reading the column (below) that Judy sent from Canada. Here it is. Who knew that a minor traffic stop could land you in a Georgia jail if you happened to be guilty of DWC — Driving While Canadian. Just another minor atrocity from the late days (633 left) of Benito Bush’s America.
Trying as always to locate the silver lining in every cloud, I note that at least the Georgia authorities are equal opportunity over-reactors: Ms. Kuehn is white and blonde.
Judy from Canada writes, “You might be interested in this accurate take on our pathetic gov’t. Am working to see it defeated ASAP.”
The article she sends along is from Lawrence Martin, writing in The Globe and Mail. It concludes as follows:
In the past, there was a greater tendency to speak out when America was in tumult. Today, we are in passive mode. Some of us stubbornly hold to the old and wonderful assumptions about the United States, even though evidence is everywhere that the country has vitally and mightily changed. Others see the folly but subscribe to the colonial mentality wherein the cash register of trade takes higher priority than speaking out for what’s just.
As well, there are many who say that to criticize the Bush administration is to be anti-American. Given what is transpiring in the United States, given what is happening to its freedoms, its great traditions, it is those who sit in silence who are the anti-Americans.
But read the full article, to get a sense of how Bush’s America looks from across our longest border.
Listen closely and you’ll barely hear a sound. What nice, placid neighbours we are. All that upheaval next door and we respond with a hush. No matter how adversely we are affected, or will be affected, the silence from the Great North prevails.
The surging calamity in Iraq? Our government won’t dare say a word -- even though it is the tragic U.S. diversion there that has led to us being bogged down in a war ourselves. If Washington had committed more of its military mass to Kabul instead of Baghdad, the situation in Afghanistan would likely be far more stable today.
Paul Wolfowitz was a leading architect of the Iraq war. He was rewarded with the presidency of the World Bank. He has plunged the bank into scandal and disrepute, just as he did his country in the war. As a World Bank member, Canada was in a position to issue a firm rebuke. But we gave him a pass.
At Guantanamo Bay, we have a Canadian, Omar Khadr, who is being denied even primitive legal rights. The Australians went to bat in Washington for one of their prisoners held in Guantanamo; so did the British. We haven’t done the same.
Six of our former foreign ministers, including Joe Clark and John Manley, issued an open letter urging our Conservative government to speak out. It turned the other way. It doesn’t want to offend President George W. Bush. Or Halliburton’s Dick Cheney.
Yes, the Vice-President. Remember back in the early days of the Iraq war, when all those ne’er-do-wells were saying the Veep’s a creep and that we should watch what happens to Iraq’s oil. Well, look now and see what companies are moving into control of the oil fields. Check it out and check how the news media has all but ignored the story.
The great Canadian silence prevails on matters more local as well. This month, a 23-year-old university student from Ottawa was pulled over for a traffic violation in the state of Georgia. She was fingerprinted, forced to strip, shower, and stuffed in a cell with two other jeering inmates. Georgia officials explained that they have to check foreigners to make sure they are in the country legally. They did that and the girl, Cheryl Kuehn, was clear.
But, just for good measure, the police kept her in the slammer all night anyway. The outrage in Georgia produced no outrage from Ottawa.
Americans in their own country, in what was once known as the beacon of liberty, are having their telephone calls tapped and their mail intercepted under anti-terrorist laws. We are mum on that and we are totally in the dark on what covert activities they are conducting up here. Initially, Prime Minister Stephen Harper put forward some opposition to the new U.S. law requiring passports at the border. But we’ve pleasantly succumbed.
We’ve watched over the years as the Bush administration spurned America’s multilateralist tradition. Among the international agreements it scorned: the Geneva Conventions, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, NAFTA, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the International Criminal Court, the accord on land mines. What, in most instances, has been the Canadian response? Get the hands out. Sit on them.
We’ve watched in silence as Washington has run up colossal debts and deficits that will, with time, likely reverberate up here, sending our economy into a tailspin. We watch other things, like the ongoing vulgarization of American culture with its spillover effect, without saying much. Post-Virginia Tech, don’t look for us to join in any international chorus condemning America’s 18th-century gun laws. Our government has trouble countenancing a gun registry.
Neighbours needn’t meddle in the other’s internal affairs. But many of the aforementioned instances hit Canada hard.
In the past, there was a greater tendency to speak out when America was in tumult. Today, we are in passive mode. Some of us stubbornly hold to the old and wonderful assumptions about the United States, even though evidence is everywhere that the country has vitally and mightily changed. Others see the folly but subscribe to the colonial mentality wherein the cash register of trade takes higher priority than speaking out for what’s just.
As well, there are many who say that to criticize the Bush administration is to be anti-American. Given what is transpiring in the United States, given what is happening to its freedoms, its great traditions, it is those who sit in silence who are the anti-Americans.
This week’s production of the long running television show 60 Minutes ran a story on the “Stop Snitching” movement among entertainers of the hip hop music genre. Predictably, the story only covered the bit players in the “Stop Snitching” movement.
60 Minutes didn’t delve deeply enough into the subject to point out that the movement has its roots in the highest levels of our government. We must therefore turn to a less biased source to understand how deeply the “Stop Snitching” movement has permeated our culture. Here, to further elucidate the thinking on this subject is a word from those at ThugLifeArmy:
...[W]e didn’t hear about the No Snitching ethos that seems to be practiced by our very secretive Vice President Dick Cheney and Presidential aid Karl Rove. We can talk about the lack of snitching around important issues like the War in Iraq, the firing of Federal Judges. Hell let’s look at 9-11. Also we shouldn’t forget how Cheney went into Stop Snitching mode after he shot his homeboy in the face. The Cheney bunch are the epitome of ‘Stop Snitching’ . They hold that position much harder then Cam’ron or any other rapper.
Hat tip to MrDaveyD.
The facts in the account that follows come from a column in today’s New York Times by Jim Dwyer, hidden behind that paper’s pay-per-view wall. (As a personal note, I marched in the same demonstration as the Curleys — one of my pictures is below — and can testify that the event was remarkably peaceful.)
On August 31, 2004, Bob Curley of Philadelphia and his 17-year-old son, Neal, were arrested while marching to protest the Republican National Convention in New York City.
They were arrested by Mayor Michael Bloomberg — proximately by his police of course, but the officers were following his orders and he continues to support the grotesque civil rights violations committed by his agents on that day.
The Curleys were held overnight and fingerprinted, like more than a thousand other peaceful marchers illegally jailed by the “peace” officers. Bob Curley was allowed one phone call, which he made to his home.
The number was secretly registered on a log that police spies had set up for that purpose.Then the Curleys, like almost all of their equally innocent fellow detainees, were released. The charges against the detainees were later dropped or thrown out of court.
Dwyer’s column ends as follows and if you can read it without the bejesus being scared out of you, why then you belong in some different country entirely. Putin’s Russia should do.
In September 2005, Neal Curley began studies at the University of Chicago. Soon afterward, the City of New York served a subpoena on the school demanding “a complete copy of the application and all related materials, including essays and short answers submitted by Neal Curley.”
April 28. If you’ve just been watching the network news, this date will mean nothing to you. However, April 28 is the date that marks the beginning of Impeachment Summer. Our friend Monique sends a link to her page on A28.org. Go take a look at A28.org, and psst, HEY YOU, pass it on.
David Halberstam did some good work. The right people disliked him, which says a lot. He was filing negative reports from Vietnam for years before most Americans even began to catch on to the disaster we’d created.
From today’s Froomkin:
“William Prochnau, who wrote a book on the reporting of that period [the US-Vietnam war], ‘Once Upon a Distant War,’ said last night that Mr. Halberstam and other American journalists then in Vietnam were incorrectly regarded by many as antiwar.
…‘They were shut out and they were lied to,’ Mr. Prochnau said. And Mr. Halberstam ‘didn’t say, “You’re not telling me the truth.” He said, “You’re lying.” He didn’t mince words.’
As Glenn Greenwald says, what made Halberstam a great reporter is exactly what journalism now lacks: dogged pursuit of the truth regardless of the toes you’re stepping on, and a willingness to go against the conventional wisdom if that’s where the facts lead. (I particularly recommend the extensive quotes from Halberstam Glenn has included; they’re often stunning.)
From John Nichols at The Nation:
Weich: In The Next Century, you wrote: “As the network news format trivializes political debate, the political system adapts to it. Serious discussion of serious issues is too complicated.” That statement could be applied any number of recent events, including the most recent presidential election.
Halberstam: And very much to our political system now. It’s really very trivialized.
Weich: Where does that leave us?
Halberstam: We’re an entertainment society. We want to be entertained more than we want to think. It’s a serious problem. We’re the most powerful nation in the world, but our network broadcast is increasingly about celebrity, sex, and scandal. It’s less about substance than it used to be. It’s not as good as it should be. And it makes us a more volatile society.
We pay very little attention to the rest of the world, then when the rest of the world doesn’t act in concert with us and salute us, we’re very angry. We think, How could this happen? Why don’t they like us more? We’re not paying very much attention.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and so the states are rushing to fill the one where the United States Department of Justice used to be:
State attorneys general around the country are stepping up their scrutiny of college lending practices in the absence of federal enforcement action, following a pattern that experts say has prevailed in some other major consumer investigations in recent years …
In addition to the attorneys general in New York, Missouri and Illinois, those in California, Connecticut, Minnesota and Ohio have announced in recent days that they are investigating student lending practices. Last week 40 attorneys general, or their aides, participated in a conference call with Mr. Cuomo, arranged by the National Association of Attorneys General to discuss the student lending issue, said Angelita Plemmer, a spokeswoman for the association.
Here’s an old classic, updated.
By now everyone has heard about Bush’s move to create a “War Czar” to oversee operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The War Czar would have “authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies,” prompting many wags to point out that we already have such a position — the President of the United States.
But something has been overlooked in all the dark chortling: Creating the post of “War Czar” is of a piece with the rest of Bush’s adult life. Consider that Bush made a royal hash of everything he laid his hand to before he became president. And each and every time, somebody turned up to bail his butt out. Whether it was his daddy’s friends, or people who wanted to be a friend of his daddy, someone was always there to pull little George’s nuts out of the fire.
But now he’s president and he spurned the help of his daddy’s friends. Yet, he still wants to be rescued from his own catastrophic mishandling of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus the search for some white knight to ride in and save the day. Or take the blame.
George Herbert Walker Bush may have begun the process, but William Jefferson Clinton is the man most responsible for saddling both the United States and its neighbors with the human and economic catastrophe called NAFTA.
This is from “You Are What You Eat,” an article in the New York Times magazine by Michael Pollan, who puts his money where his mouth is. I know, because when he lived in Cornwall he bought his raw, unpasteurized milk from the same organic dairy I do, Debra Tyler’s Local Farms.
To speak of the farm bill’s influence on the American food system does not begin to describe its full impact — on the environment, on global poverty, even on immigration. By making it possible for American farmers to sell their crops abroad for considerably less than it costs to grow them, the farm bill helps determine the price of corn in Mexico and the price of cotton in Nigeria and therefore whether farmers in those places will survive or be forced off the land, to migrate to the cities — or to the United States.
The flow of immigrants north from Mexico since Nafta is inextricably linked to the flow of American corn in the opposite direction, a flood of subsidized grain that the Mexican government estimates has thrown two million Mexican farmers and other agricultural workers off the land since the mid-90s. (More recently, the ethanol boom has led to a spike in corn prices that has left that country reeling from soaring tortilla prices; linking its corn economy to ours has been an unalloyed disaster for Mexico’s eaters as well as its farmers.) You can’t fully comprehend the pressures driving immigration without comprehending what U.S. agricultural policy is doing to rural agriculture in Mexico.
Paul Krugman cuts to the shameful heart of the matter:
There are two ways to describe the confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration over funding for the Iraq surge. You can pretend that it’s a normal political dispute. Or you can see it for what it really is: a hostage situation, in which a beleaguered President Bush, barricaded in the White House, is threatening dire consequences for innocent bystanders — the troops — if his demands aren’t met …
But this isn’t a normal political dispute. Mr. Bush isn’t really trying to win the argument on the merits. He’s just betting that the people outside the barricade care more than he does about the fate of those innocent bystanders.
Not yet completely Gonzoed out? I came across a couple of new points this weekend.
At Truthout, Elizabeth de la Vega talks about “The Problem With Alberto”. (The title recalls the tagline of my favorite website for a long time, Suck.com, now defunct and despite its name not a porn site. Their satire was bald enough to deserve the tag “A fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun”.) In particular, Ms. de la Vega, who was an assistant US attorney for twenty years, knows more than most about how things really work in such an office. Thus she can shred Alberto’s argument
…that, no, the work in the US attorneys’ offices is done by the career prosecutors, who will keep doing their cases no matter who the US attorney is. Indeed, Gonzales offered plaintively, the Office of the Attorney General didn’t really even know “that much” about what was going on in the US attorneys’ offices.
As one who worked as an assistant US attorney from 1983 through 2004 — in two districts, under four presidents and roughly ten different US attorneys — I can say that virtually every clause, and certainly the overall implication, of Gonzales’s claim is false.
To begin with, the already enormous reporting requirements for a US attorney’s office were tripled by the Bush administration. The list of reports the DoJ gets about every case, from the initial opening of a file to every activity, even simply procedural, that occurs on the case makes it clear that the Attorney General controls the US attorneys at every level of detail.
It was precisely such an Urgent Report that former San Diego US Attorney Carol Lam used to notify the Attorney General’s Office on May 10, 2006 that search warrants were going to be conducted in the Randy “Duke” Cunningham case. The next day, of course, was when Alberto Gonzales’s top aide wrote an email talking about the “very real problem we have right now” with Carol Lam.
Which is probably why those reporting requirements are there: so the AG can decide which cases to proceed with, what terms can be offered in plea agreements, and which accusations can be dropped.
And who does the AG ask for advice? My guess is Karl Rove.
(When I say I’d never vote for Hillary, I often add that I’d jump at the chance to vote for Elizabeth de la Vega. She’s exactly the sort of person we need in politics, yet have driven away.)
At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick suggests that Gonzales’s testimony might not have been the abject failure most pundits have called it.
In fact he might have taken a high inside pitch for the team. As she says, nobody wants to look like a dolt on national television. (Of course, the possibility exists that, as a dolt, the Attorney General can hardly fail to look like one, regardless of location.)
Big Ungay Al’s performance at the big table (described by Dana Milbank as chosen and placed to emphasize the witness’s short physical stature), though uninformative as usual, was of a piece with the general approach of this administration’s unitary-executive mindset. He basically let the Senate know he didn’t give a damn about their investigation because they can’t do anything to him.
…consider this telling colloquy with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham:I tried to have dialogue with the Congress, to try to be as forthcoming as I can be, to reassure the Congress. I’ve tried to inform the Congress that I don’t have anything to hide. … I didn’t say no to the document request. I didn’t say, “No, you can’t interview” to my internal staff. … I’ve done — everything I’ve done has been consistent with the principle of pursuing truth and accountability.
This man was doing the Senate a favor by showing up at all. Turning over documents? He deserves a medal!
I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him get one.
Clearly Bush is not going to fire Gonzales right now, because that would make him look weak. The fact that everyone knows he is weak doesn’t seem to affect his judgements, as long as he’s doing what he thinks will make him look strong. As a result, he’d rather wait until after the Republicans lose the election to dump Rumsfeld, thus further alienating his own party, than admit that he’s going to have to dump Rumsfeld at some point, and take the hit up front.
This is what my mother would call diagnostic. If everyone knows you’re weak, how can you possibly imagine that you’d look strong? Or perhaps he’s just incurious enough to believe that what things look like is what they are.
But it’s just as obvious that Rove will convince Bush that his legacy is at stake, and he has to jettison Gonzo. The AG will announce, no doubt late on a Friday evening, that he wants to spend more time with his family, take a needed vacation, and play some golf. They might even find a medal lying around somewhere.
My guess is that Bush, Cheney, Rove, and Rice are looking at a bus headed right for them. This is all about their lies over the war, and everyone knows it. Same with Wolfowitz: it’s not mainly about corruption at the World Bank, it’s mainly about warmongering. Corruption is what we catch them for, like jailing mobsters for tax evasion.
Their only remaining strategy seems to have two prongs. First, they’ll throw one person at a time under the Congressional investigation bus, each time slowing it slightly. Perhaps that will be sufficient to keep the inner circle out of jail. Second, they’ll continue the lost war, killing thousands more in their quest to avoid another accountability moment. Perhaps that will allow them to hand the war over to the next President.
These war criminals have killed nearly a million people. They should be sent to The Hague for trial.
The lyrics at the end sure seem to be current.
Dick Ahles is a longtime Connecticut newsman, both in print and on television. His first post, of what I hope will be many on Bad Attitudes, is below.
Here is the president, rubbing our noses in reality at East Grand Rapids High School earlier today. It must be lonely, being the last person alive who still believes that the problem in Iraq is al Qaeda. Well, not the very last person. Step up here out of the shadows, Dick, so the folks can see you.
We must also expect the terrorists and insurgents to continue mounting terrible attacks. Here is a photo of the destruction caused by a car bomb at a bus stop in Baghdad on Wednesday. The victims of this attack were innocent men and women, who were simply coming home from work.
Yet this was hardly a random act of murder. It has all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda attack. The terrorists bombed the buses at rush hour, with the specific intent to kill as many people as possible. This has been long a pattern of al Qaeda in Iraq; this is what they do…
Al Qaeda believes that its best chance to achieve its objectives — which is to drive the United States out of Iraq and prevent the emergence of a free society in the Middle East, is to defeat the security operation by conducting spectacular attacks that provoke Iraqis into taking violence into their own hands — and lead Americans to conclude that the sectarian killing will never be contained.
This strategy is merciless, but it is not without logic. It’s important for all Iraqis — Sunnis and Shia alike — to understand that al Qaeda is the greatest threat to peace in their country. And the question is whether we and the Iraqis will give in, and to respond the way al Qaeda wants. Because of the lessons of September the 11th, the answer is the United States government will not give in to what al Qaeda wants — and the Iraqis must not give in to al Qaeda if they want to have a peaceful society.
During the whole speech, Bush mentioned al Qaeda 32 times. He mentioned Osama zero times. It is as if the president’s idol, Winston Churchill, were to have given a wartime speech in which he mentioned the National Socialist German Workers’ Party 32 times and Hitler not at all.
Cuba and Venezuela want to get their hands on Luis Posada Carriles, a murderous thug and one-time terrorist for the CIA who blew up a Cuban airliner in 1976. However—
An immigration judge has blocked Mr. Posada’s extradition to Cuba or Venezuela, ruling that he could be subject to torture in those countries. Efforts to deport him to another country have failed because so far no other country has been willing to take him.
Has Torture Boy Gonzales heard about this rogue jurist who openly flouts the administration’s core moral value? Why hasn’t Torture Boy charged him with decent exposure and fired his whiny ass? If it’s good enough for all those U.S. Attorneys, it’s good enough for some two-bit “judge.”
[Murphy] described the White House meeting as “a pinch yourself moment,” and he also left the confab more impressed with the man who occupies the Oval Office.
“I really believe the president is much more intelligent than many people make him out to be,” he said.
So there’s your bumper sticker for the next 640 long, long days: George W. Bush — Not as Dumb as You Thought!
The Savior who wants to turn men into angels is as much a hater of human nature as the totalitarian despot who wants to turn them into puppets.
There are similarities between absolute power and absolute faith: a demand for absolute obedience; a readiness to attempt the impossible; a bias for simple solutions — to cut the knot rather than unravel it; the viewing of compromise as surrender; the tendency to manipulate people and “experiment with blood.”
Both absolute power and absolute faith are instruments of dehumanization. Hence absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.
Reflections on the Human Condition
Time for some light entertainment again. Enjoy!
From The Architect, by James Moore and Wayne Slater. Karl Rove is lobbying for the appointment of one of Bush’s office wives, Harriet Miers, to the United States Supreme Court:
On Monday morning, [Karl Rove] called his reliable ally Richard Land of the Southern Baptists, offering reassurance that if [Harriet] Miers were ever to rule against Bush’s political wishes, “it will be seen as an act of gross personal betrayal both by her and by him. And there is nothing lower than somebody who betrays their friends.”
If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.
It may be, though, that the freedom-loving Forster and the neofascist Rove are not sisters under the skin after all. For Forster, in the same essay, also wrote:
Tolerance, good temper and sympathy are no longer enough in a world which is rent by religious and racial persecution, in a world where ignorance rules, and Science, who ought to have ruled, plays the subservient pimp.
Interesting perspective from a lieutenant colonel Gian P. Gentile, who commanded an armored reconnaissance squadron in the 4th Infantry Division.
He opens with this evaluation:
From my foxhole-view as a tactical battalion commander in western Baghdad in 2006, the American press, although not perfect, has reported the reality of the Iraq war.
Daily Show watchers can already see Stewart rubbing his eyes in disbelief. “Wha…?”
It is my opinion that the American military’s ongoing condemnation of the American press’s reporting of the Iraq war has more to do with its own mistaken belief that the American media lost the Vietnam War and has less to do with the current reporting on Iraq. I also believe that because the American military fears so deeply the loss of support of the American people over Iraq as an outgrowth of Vietnam it tends, wrongly, to allay these fears by blaming the American press for not reporting enough of its successes in Iraq.
But as I looked around Baghdad from my foxhole in 2006, I saw, by and large, fair and balanced reporting. This is a minority view within the American military, but it was and still is my foxhole view.
Story via Cursor, as usual.
Democratic Presidential candidates campaigning in South Carolina might be wise to take a look at the suggested plan for the Confederate flag offered by Democratic Mayor Joseph P. Riley of Charleston. Mayor Riley’s suggestion seems to me to be quite unique and from my perspective, as a former Charlestonian, unassailable.
I thought how wonderful it would have been to look at an American flag honoring his life of service and all those who have fought and died in Iraq, as well as in all the other wars in which American soldiers have given their last full measure of devotion. By my count, if there was a flag representing the government for each war that South Carolinians have fought in, there would be 11 in addition to the Confederate flag.
What a beautiful sight this new monument would be in front of our state Capitol. Even more important, what a wonderful unifying and hallowed place this would become, a place where every South Carolinian who fought and died for our state and our country would be remembered forever.
These 12 flags could easily fit inside this grassy rectangle with space on either side of the walkway for future wars. While we hope and pray that these wars will not occur, history tells us that they will.
Let’s just hope that history is wrong and they won’t.
Since there’s no date on the sites linked above I called one of the lawyers in the case to make sure that it’s still current. It is, and just today Doctors Opposing Circumcision received permission to file an amicus brief before the Washington Supreme Court.
It’s no news that the law is an ass, but this case is a beaut even for America’s legal system. Suppose the boy’s father wanted his son’s ears surgically pinned back or his nose bobbed, against the boy’s will. Would the judge have slapped that father silly, or what?
Or suppose the mother were a Baptist from Tennessee and the father a Moroccan Muslim, just to pick a circumcising faith at total random. Young Mohammed’s foreskin wouldn’t be any safer in Fort Knox than it would be in the courts of Washingon State.
Paul M runs a website devoted to the deconversion stories of former Christians: Exchristian.Org He made the following comment on a recent post of mine, which I had cross-posted to The Smirking Chimp. Paul’s comment makes sense to me, and so I pass it on with his permission:
To leave without attaining the aims of the war (a pacified, “democratic” Iraq) would expose an important truth: war just doesn’t work anymore. War, in and of itself, is an anachronism.
Blame it on democratic ideas, or on nationalism. Blame it on the firearm and on TNT. It is no longer the case that if a state conquers another state, it acquires the people and wealth of that state. The peasants no longer consider themselves items to be bartered between owners.
A state can defeat a state, but it cannot defeat a people.
From Talking Points Memo:
Roll Call: FBI raids Rep. Doolittle's (R-CA) home in Northern Va. More soon.
No, not the Doolittle with the Bad Attitude, the Bad Doolittle.
It is often said that Americans cannot learn from the past because we cannot remember.
In truth, though, we are not amnesiacs. Our national memory functions very well, even remembering things that never happened. Remember how America rose up in a fine rage once the horrors of Vietnam had been exposed by a courageous press, promptly marching on the Pentagon and bringing the war to an end?
No, no, and no. The truth is that for many years the press and a large majority of the public supported the war. When doubts finally did begin to appear in the papers, they were in the form of constructive criticism: everybody knows the job is worth doing but we’re bungling it.
The truth also is that domestic opposition to Bush’s present murderous venture on the other side of the world arose much earlier than it did over Vietnam, and is having a much greater effect. For fuller discussion of this, read Amy Goodman’s interview with Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. In this brief excerpt, Chomsky is speaking:
In 1962, Kennedy sent the U.S. Air Force to start bombing South Vietnam, under South Vietnamese markings — but nobody was deluded by that — initiated chemical warfare to destroy crops and ground cover, and started programs which rounded openly millions of people into what amounted to concentration camps, called strategic hamlets, where they were surrounded by barbed wire to protect them as it was said from the guerrillas, who everyone knew they were voluntarily supporting, an indigenous South Vietnamese resistance. That was 1962.
You couldn’t get two people in a living room to talk about it in October 1965, right here in Boston, maybe the most liberal city in the country. There were then already a couple hundred thousand troops, bombing North Vietnam had started.
We tried to have our first major public demonstration against the war on the Boston Common, the usual place for meetings. I was supposed to be one of the speakers, but nobody could hear a word. The meeting was totally broken up by students marching over from universities, by others, and hundreds of state police, which kept people from being murdered.
The next day’s newspaper, the Boston Globe, the world newspaper was full of denunciations of the people who dared make mild statements about bombing the North.
…Opposition to aggression is far higher [today] than it was in the ’60s.
OTTAWA, April 18— An unidentified technical problem has left BlackBerry users without wireless e-mail since Tuesday evening.
No one at Research in Motion could be reached for comment. A recorded message on the company’s customer support line confirms the shutdown but offers no information about its cause or suggestions on when service will be restored.
All messages traveling to and from BlackBerry handheld devices pass through special e-mail servers that are operated by Research in Motion. During a recent patent trial, the company said that those servers are based near its headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario.
Ah, the sights and scents and sneezing of spring! Here in the Bay Area, the first wave of flowers has come and gone, and we’re well into the second one. Normally there aren’t many more waves on the way, because there’s no water; but the weather’s gotten weird over the last few years. Wonder why…
Anyway, everyone knows the Bird of Spring is the Chicken, which has come home to roost with a vengeance. Apparently this time it’s personal. Hubris, meet Nemesis.
One of the chickens has Alberto Gonzales’s name on it. If he were bright, he’d use the two-day reprieve he got from the Virginia shootings to consider his position, and resign tomorrow. Kyle Sampson’s testimony has directly contradicted his, and John Conyers wants to offer limited immunity to Monica Goodling, the star of Messiah and Regent. On Thursday, assuming no new shootings or terror alerts, Gonzales will be raked over the coals, humiliated, and most likely caught lying or dissembling in a manner clear enough for his remaining Congressional support to collapse. Then he’ll resign.
And become, in the process, another in the series of underlings who’ve gone under the bus for the Bush machine. From a human point of view, you gotta hope their families are somehow compensated for the public embarrassment and historical disdain generated by their most visible member.
I must be the millionth blogger to suggest that, for the few remaining days of his service, we call the Attorney General “AGAG”. It is, of course, the simple-minded acronym for his office and his name, plus it includes a passing reference to his most famous memo justifying, or at least preparing legal defenses for, torture. Finally, it helps us remember what to spoon him with.
Gonzales is another example of two trends: Bush’s obvious skill, no doubt something he’s honed over a lifetime, at diverting some of the responsibility for his own misdeeds; and his willingness to throw loyal supporters into the breach to buy Rove time to escape.
Bush, like his father, is willing to dump anyone he doesn’t depend on. It appears that list is limited to Cheney, Rove, and his Father, not the earthly sort. You know, the voice in his head or wherever.
Every day brings further proof of the accuracy of Jerry Doolittle’s diagnosis of Shrub’s behavior as father-figure issues. He’s transferred parental trust to Cheney, at least in part because Cheney and his pal Rumsfeld were part of a group Bush 41 despised. And he knows he’s not sharp or strong enough to make it without his Svengali. If he were forced by circumstance to choose between the two, Cheney and Rove, it would certainly be must-see TV.
Another chicken’s name is Karl Rove. The Rovian ears must be burning a lot these days, what with all the talk about his email and the cartoons about him, Oops!, losing entire years of archives. His plot to turn the US attorneys into an extension of the White House political machine looks like it’s about to backfire, Big Time.
The US attorneys who felt political pressure and resolved the situation (by coöperation or negotiation or whatever) so they could remain in office might now feel a need to demonstrate their adherence to the old and widely felt tradition of political neutrality in their offices. One good way of doing that would be to prosecute cases they believed in, and skip those they don’t, and let the chips fall. You and I, beloveds, know that this would lead to a lot of Republican corruption convictions. If, for example, Carol Lam were to be reinstated, Rep. Jerry Lewis would need to hire an expensive attorney that afternoon.
All in all, if you’re engaged in vote suppression, you need some cover. Prosecutions of people who fill out forms incorrectly is transparently ridiculous, or should I say Republican. The people we should be prosecuting are those who make sure that certain areas have plenty of voting machines while other areas are woefully undersupplied.
And if you’re engaged in such activities, it doesn’t seem like US attorneys are folks you wanna piss off. They’ve got serious power to mess with you; it’s probably better you don’t make them look bad.
You’ve probably heard about George Tenet’s new book coming out at the end of this month. As of this writing, it’s 132nd on Amazon. David Ignatius of the Washington Post and Chris Matthews of MSNBC appear to have seen advance copies. Chris starts:
“Tenet takes on vice president Dick Cheney. Cheney has maintained that Tenet told President Bush in December of 2002, two weeks before Bush decided to invade Iraq, that there was a ‘slam dunk’ case to be made that Saddam Hussein possessed those banned weapons. But now Tenet denies ever making that claim. David, this is a big fight. It’s pushback time. How tough is this book gonna be?”
Ignatius replied: “It’s going be very tough. George Tenet has been doing a slow burn ever since he left the CIA. He’s been angrier and angrier as he saw himself being essentially made the fall guy on WMD in Iraq. And he’s gonna come back saying he and his agency, the CIA, were pushed, again and again, by Cheney and Cheney’s people to give him the answers that they wanted. And he’s got chapter and verse on that.”
He added: “He will tell a story that I think will make people’s hair curl. But he’s been waiting a long time to tell this… And he’ll also say — this is a very important part of this — that, on the question of what would happen in Iraq after the invasion, the CIA pretty consistently warned, ‘You have trouble ahead. You will not be able to unite this country. Sunnis and Shiites are gonna be ‘at daggers.’”
Apparently NBC’s Andrea Mitchell knows something, too, because she kicked: “He’ll also attack and criticize Condoleezza Rice, who has denied a critical briefing before 9/11…a July briefing. They actually have the slide show that they showed her, where they were telling her that al Qaeda was threatening…You’re gonna be re-fighting both sides of who lost Iraq, who lost the WMD struggle. It might get pretty brutal.”
I suspect that the story Tenet tells will correspond to a great extent with Guillaume Dasquié’s article in Le Monde, “September 11, 2001: The French Knew Much About It”, as translated by Truthout. He obtained some secret documents created by the French CIA, the DGSE, and was able to get high-level French intelligence folks to verify the validity of the documents, while deploring their emergence.
The documents tell us what we already know: that bin Laden and his al Qaeda associates were planning to highjack planes in the US.
…these secret services chronicles about al-Qaeda, with their various revelations, raise many questions. And at first, a surprise: The high number of notes devoted exclusively to al-Qaeda’s threats against the United States, months before the suicide attacks in New York and Washington. Nine whole reports on that subject between September 2000 and August 2001, including a five-page summary entitled, “Airplane Hijacking Plans by Radical Islamists,” and dated … January 5, 2001! Eight months before September 11, the DGSE reports therein tactical discussions conducted between Osama bin Laden and his Taliban allies from the beginning of 2000 on the subject of hijacking American commercial airliners.
Who can hear “Airplane Hijacking Plans by Radical Islamists” without recalling “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”? Apparently the warning signals were flashing so clearly that both the CIA and the DGSE saw them. What kind of White House operation could possibly misunderstand that?
As of January 2001, the al-Qaeda leadership nonetheless showed itself to be transparent to the eyes — and ears — of French spies. The redactors even detailed disagreements among the terrorists over the practical modalities of the planned hijacking. They never questioned their intention. Provisionally, the jihadists favored capturing an airplane between Frankfurt and the United States. They established a list of seven possible companies. Two would finally be chosen by the September 11 pirates: American Airlines and United Airlines. In his introduction, the author of the memo notes, “According to the Uzbek intelligence services, the airplane hijacking plan seems to have been discussed at the beginning of 2000 during a Kabul meeting of representatives from Osama bin Laden’s organization…”
Apparently the French documents have a good deal of detail about bin Laden and the planning of 9/11. Clearly these documents would have been passed by the DGSE to the CIA; but the Paris bureau chief at the time, now back in the US, refused to confirm receipt to the French reporter.
If Tenet talks about flashing signals like those from the French, people running around with their hair on fire, and his emergency meeting with Condi in July of 2001, which she’s denied, in the same month that Gonzales is caught lying, and the genesis of the political chicanery about US attorneys is proven to be Rove, Big Time and Shrub might start to feel the heat. Laugh at Kucinich’s attempt to bring impeachment charges against Cheney if you will; everyone agrees the charges are true, we’re just disagreeing about what to do about it.
The question is, do Bush and Cheney have enough cannon fodder and under-the-bus volunteers to keep the war going and the bus at bay for the remainder of the term? My bet’s on the daily double: Leahy and Conyers.
[ cross-posted from my virtual cottage… ]
From The Architect, by James Moore and Wayne Slater, Crown Publishers, 2006:
If court dockets in the United States are crowded, it is not the result of “frivolous” law suits in personal-injury cases. More than 80 percent of all litigation in America involves businesses suing businesses, a situation the Republican Party and Karl Rove have not sought to control.
“It’s ridiculous,” suggests ATLA’s Lipton. “Can you imagine telling Coca-Cola that they are going to be limited if they think their patent has been violated?”
Anyone remember when Usenet was all there was?
Digby has a long post about the new coach of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks football team, Steve Spurrier, who has just come out and endorsed removing the Confederate Flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House.
While the Republican Presidential candidates get ready to hem and haw on this issue while politicking in South Carolina, let us take time to honor a man who deserves recognition for spurning the conventional wisdom of his party to do the right thing.
David Beasley was an honorable man. Keep an eye out for who isn’t.
In November 1996, less than two years into his first term as governor of South Carolina, David Beasley, a conservative Republican, went on statewide television and asked the legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state house dome, where it had flown beneath the American flag and the state flag since 1962.
Although Beasley had begun his term promising not to move the Confederate flag from atop the dome, a spate of racially motivated violence compelled him to reconsider the politics and symbolism of the Confederate flag, and he concluded it should be moved. Contending that the flag had become a means to stir up hateful politics, Beasley suggested that it be moved to a place of honor at a Civil War memorial on state house grounds.
His reversal on the flag stunned fellow Republicans and generated an angry backlash among his conservative political base. Bumper stickers soon sprouted around the state, blaring, “Keep the flag, dump Beasley!” The South Carolina legislature rejected his proposal.
Political observers believe bitterness over the Confederate flag was one factor that shrank turnout, particularly among the conservative Republicans who had been the mainstay of Beasley’s political base, when he ran unsuccessfully for re-election in 1998.
In 2000, the South Carolina legislature agreed to move the Confederate flag from the dome to the Confederate Soldier Memorial on state house grounds, just as Beasley had proposed four years earlier. But although it no longer flies above the dome, the flag’s place on state grounds today remains a subject of debate.
Did you see that the Dallas Morning News, hardly a bastion of liberal thought, has called in an editorial for Texas to ban the death penalty because of all the errors and fraud that have been uncovered?
First the Chicago Tribune, and now this. Apparently the Republicans are right about the collapse of American civilization.
In case you missed it, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has an article on the editorial page at the Washington Post today which the editors at the Post kindly titled “Nothing Improper.” In case you want to get a sense of what people think about Gonzales, or at least of what those who read the Washington Post online do, go read the comments.
The Shitstorm hasn’t even begun yet.
An astonishing story from the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON — Students who took part in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, according to a study ordered by Congress.
Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes that were reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes. And they first had sex at about the same age as other students — 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.
The federal government now spends about $176 million annually on abstinence-until-marriage education. Critics have repeatedly said they don’t believe the programs are working, and the study will give them reinforcement …
A touching moment you may have missed if you went to church this morning instead of watching “Face the Nation:”
WASHINGTON — In the nearly six weeks since his close friend and former chief of staff was convicted of lying and obstructing an investigation, Vice President Dick Cheney has not once spoken to I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
“Well, there hasn’t been occasion to do so,” Cheney said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Walter Pincus reports today that the administration wants some revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Why? They’ve been ignoring it anyway.
Naturally the lead request is for the authority to spy on more people. (Are there more?) But we quickly get to the heart of the matter: the revisions would
There are a lot of signs in recent days that the administration knows it’s been caught, and is desperately trying to cover up as much of the proof as possible before the adults arrive, a lá Weird Science.
Or in another laugher, anyone remember Fawn Hall of The Iran-Contra Scandal? Her “Sometimes you have to go above the law” was a classic, which her intellectual heirs are still banging out. And her paper-shredding was effective enough to muddy the waters as to exactly what felonies had been committed, and how many times, thus avoiding what would likely have been serious time for several of the main perpetrators. At least one of whom now works in the White House.
Emails were found, of course, and Bush administration veterans from the Iran-Contra operation like Elliott Abrams apparently recently met to discuss how to get away with it the next time. (According to The New Yorker, they agreed on these axioms: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the CIA has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office.”)
My guess is a lot of those five million emails the administration and the RNC think they “lost” will turn up in a true above-board inspection of all the relevant servers and backups. That would spell deep-dish sheep-dip cherry-stone pie for email@example.com. (Or would it? Certainly he must have a getaway plan…)
The Democrats smell blood on the issue of politicizing the US attorney positions and its connection to the whole corruption theme they’ve ridden recently. It seems nearly certain that there’ve been violations of the Presidential Records Act, probably intentional; and that in itself is enough to provoke suspicion from a Congress that sees its popularity rise as it asserts itself more.
The White House, as even Novak says, is hunkered down and in denial. For those of us who grew up with Nixon in the Oval Office, it’s just like old times. Except that now a much larger percentage of the population is pissed off, and the President is a big-oil Republican instead of a big-oil Democrat.
Iraq, health care, and climate change are bound to be three of the top handful of issues in 2008. That’s not a list many Republicans will enjoy addressing. At some point in the fairly near future most Republicans will have to jump ship if they expect to survive the next election.
Words matter. When we say a man “earned” $100 million last years, the implication is that he performed some immensely valuable service for the stockholders by whom he is theoretically employed. Say that the CEO “made” all that money, and the subtext is that he created it. Say that he “took” it or “got his hands on it” and we move closer to the truth.
Bush uses “war” in the same deceptive way. His Iraq war, in the sense that most of us understand the word, ended in a few weeks. Our “enemy” didn’t fight, it is true, but our victory was beyond question.
The next step in many wars — as in this one — is an occupation. Virtually all of our casualties in Iraq have thus been the result not of a war, but of an occupation. Our enemies are not soldiers fighting on behalf of a state, but what we called, after Hitler’s victories in Europe, maquisards or resistance fighters or guerrillas or partisans.
Failure to call the occupation of Iraq by its proper name has been a powerful part of why Bush has been able to continue occupying that unhappy nation. If we can be deceived into believing that it is still a “war,” then we can be made to feel that pulling out would somehow “lose” it.
But the war is long since over, and we won it even on Bush’s terms. His stated aims were quickly achieved. The regime was changed. The WMDs, had they existed, would no longer have been a threat. Democracy, as the president never tires of telling us, has been established.
Now we occupy that “democracy,” and it is impossible to “lose” an occupation. The ball is in the victor’s court. We can stay, or we can go. National honor, even in its most primitive and mindless forms, need not be involved in that decision. We came, we saw, we conquered.
It is true that our soldiers are still dying, but they are not casualties of war. They are casualties of an occupation which is opposed not merely by most Americans but by most Iraqis as well. Our troops are being killed not by an opposing army but secondarily by civilian resistance fighters and primarily by George W. Bush.
[It] would lead to a rise of popular confidence in the government of Hamid Karzai and give many Afghanis a sense of hope that their country is moving in the right direction. Since the Taliban gains recruits and supporters by feeding off of feelings of discontent towards the national government, this could be a critical step in undermining the organization's rising influence.
How Blair expects to convince Bush of this new policy, however, is beyond me.
Since you’re unlikely to run across it on the network news, let me point you to this speech delivered in Iowa Wednesday by the anti-Lieberman, Connecticut’s Chris Dodd.
Read it all, not just these excerpts. Now see if you share Senator Dodd’s feelings about the mess we’ve been plunged into by Bush and the gang of Reagan retreads he returned to positions of power.
And now, since polls show conclusively that your positions and Senator Dodd’s are shared by a clear and sometimes overwhelming majority of Democratic voters (and even by a growing minority of Republican ones), you may well ask yourself—
Why the hell is this guy being written off as a second-tier candidate by the self-appointed gatekeepers of the MSM when the race has barely gotten under way?
We don’t need a surge of troops in Iraq — we need a surge of diplomacy … That is why, tonight, I am calling on all the candidates in this race to join me in clearly standing up to the President once and for all by stating their support for the Feingold-Reid legislation that sets a firm timetable to end this war by March 31st, 2008 …
Instead of uniting the world against global terrorism, the Bush Administration divided our allies, preemptively taking America to war with Iraq …
From the UN and NATO to the Geneva Conventions and the Kyoto Protocol, no agreement, no framework was too significant to belittle, to weaken, to discredit — regardless of how important they were to America’s security …
Where a generation ago, you could enter almost any home from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego and see a picture of John F. Kennedy, today, our president can barely be seen in public there.
It is stunning and illustrative of how much has been lost in less than six years that we are losing a public relations battle to Hugo Chávez.
In so many ways, this picture — of an isolated America, of emerging rogue states, and weakened international alliances to contain them — bears an unsettling resemblance to the world in the years leading up to World War Two …
What America needs is a President who will insist the House of Saud stop sending money to terrorists to take up residence elsewhere and start using their resources and efforts to bring stability and peace to the Middle East.
What America needs is a President who will look into Vladimir Putin’s eyes not to get a sense of his soul — but to tell him America wants to work together with Russia, not against her, but cannot in the face of his blatant disregard for a free press and suppression of political dissent.
What America needs is a President who understands that the choice between coddling tyrannical leaders or going to war with them is a false choice when America is no longer acting alone …
From Lee Iacocca’s new book, Where Have All The Leaders Gone?
The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it).
The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions.
That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?
“No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious and charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.”
Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor most hated and mistrusted by New York’s blacks in modern memory, goes with his heart, not with his head:
MONTGOMERY, Ala., April 10 — Answering a question that has become a litmus test of sorts for Republicans campaigning in the South, Rudolph W. Giuliani said Tuesday that he would leave the decision about whether to fly the Confederate battle flag over the State Capitol here to the people of Alabama.
Brigham Young University! This is not a straw in the wind. This is 2,000 board feet of kiln-dried lumber whirling around in a tornado headed for the White House.
“The problem is [Cheney] is a morally dubious man,” said Andrew Christensen, a 22-year-old Republican from Salt Lake City. “It’s challenging the morality and integrity of this institution.”
Just in case you missed this:
“I was so upset,” said Zahi Hawass, the chief of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. “How the hair of the mummy — of the greatest king of Egypt — can be sold on the Internet!”
It’s always seemed to me that jailing hardcore lawandorder Republicans served more of a social purpose than prison usually does, since it tends to turn control freaks into advocates for prison reform. Charles Colson comes to mind.
But I may have to rethink the whole matter. I’ve just been reading The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk by Susan McDougal, perhaps the only person to come out of the attempted lynching called Whitewater with her honor intact:
The atmosphere at Carswell [Medical Prison] was completely different than at Faulkner County Detention Center, and I found it very hard to integrate. Part of this was because of the floor I was on, and part of it was because the long-termers were so hardened. And part of it came from a very unexpected source: the evangelical Christian movement in the prison.
Started by ex-Watergate felon Charles Colson, the ‘born again’ movement had metamorphosed from a very worthy project to a kind of gang — the Christian Crips of prison. Led by a few strong, outspoken women, the Christian converts habitually told other prisoners when they could eat, when they should pray, and with whom they should socialize.
They were unabashedly intolerant of anyone who disagreed even slightly with their view, and they seem to reserve special contempt for the Jewish women on the floor. Routinely harassed, the Jewish women tended to keep their mouths shut and kept themselves separate from everyone else.
Having been raised a Christian, I was angered by this perversion of Christian principles. I never could stand the hypocrisy of those who claimed to be religious yet acted in profoundly unGodly ways. It was one of the things that I had grown to despise about Kenneth Starr.
Another great MLK speech.
Let us now turn the pages on our internets to the comforting and consoling words of Eric Hoffer, from whom the following paragraphs appear in his seminal work, The True Believer. (Well, actually, I had to type ‘em out, as the scribes of the right have not yet seen fit to place much of the work of Hoffer onto the internet, the reason for which becomes more and more obvious as I read Hoffer closely.)
Whence comes the impulse to proselytize?
Intensity of conviction is not the main factor which compels a movement to spread its faith to the four corners of the earth: “Religions of great intensity often confine themselves to contemning, destroying, or at best pitying what they see in themselves.”Nor is the impulse to proselytize an expression of an overabundance of power which as Bacon has it “is like a great flood, that will be sure to overflow.”
The missionary zeal seems rather an expression of some deep misgiving, some pressing feeling of insufficiency at the center. Proselytizing is more a passionate search for something not yet found than a desire to bestow upon the world something we already have. It is a search for a final and irrefutable demonstration that our absolute truth is indeed the one and only truth.
The proselytizing fanatic strengthens his own faith by converting others. The creed whose legitimacy is most easily challenged is likely to develop the strongest proselytizing impulse. It is doubtful whether a movement which does not profess some preposterous and patently irrational dogma can be possessed of that zealous drive which “must either win men or destroy the world.”
It is also plausible that those movements with the greatest inner contradiction between profession and practice — that is to say with a strong feeling of guilt — are likely to be the most fervent in imposing their faith on others. The more unworkable communism proves in Russia, and the more its leaders are compelled to compromise and adulterate the original creed, the more brazen and arrogant will be their attack on a non-believing world.
The slaveholders of the South became the more aggressive in spreading their way of life the more it became patent that their position was untenable in a modern world. If free enterprise becomes a proselytizing holy cause, it will be a sign that its workability and advantages have ceased to be self evident.
The passion for proselytizing and the passion for world dominion are both perhaps symptoms of some serious deficiency at the center. It is probably as true as a band of apostles or conquistadors as it is of a band of fugitives setting out for a distant land that they escape from an untenable situation at home. And how often indeed do the three meet, mingle and exchange their parts.
The more important question underlying Bush’s firing of the eight U.S. attorneys has not been what they did to lose their jobs, but what the hundred-odd other U.S. attorneys did to keep theirs.
For a frightening part of the answer see this editorial in today’s New York Times. And bear in mind that Bush has been spreading his poison throughout the government — not just the relatively visible Justice Department.
How many thousands or tens of thousands of dedicated, competent public servants have been replaced by ideological and often corrupt hacks in the Park Service, the Government Printing Office, the Social Security Administration, the National Insitutes of Health, , the General Accounting Office, the Federal Highway Administration, OSHA, the Departments of Labor, Agriculture, Energy? On and on.
Most of our government is largely uncovered by the press and unknown to the electorate at large. This is where Bush has done the greater part of his damage to our nation, and it will take generations to undo.
Since most of our readers probably weren’t able to see Joe Bageant speak in Philadelphia, he's kindly transcribed the text of his unusually cogent speech onto his webpage. Rest assured, Bageant fans — judging from the picture currently posted at the top of his webpage, it looks like Joe quickly reverted to the Joe Bageant we all know and love, the one whose taste for libations and raucous rhetoric appears to remain intact and unabated. A portion of Joe’s upbeat talk on the state of the nation follows. By all means go read the rest:
Here’s a fact that is so absurd you don't know whether to laugh or cry: Nearly 40% of households surveyed making less than $30,000 a year believe they are in the top 10% of Americans when it comes to income! In a similar, though more extreme national delusion, millions of North Koreans eating wild grass soup during the winter under Kim Jong-Il, believe they live in the richest nation on earth, and that America wants to attack them out of jealousy. Such are the results of successful propaganda.
This new Imperialism is not just withdrawal and neglect on our part. It involves an active side of imposing responsibility on the local peoples. It is what they clamour for, but an unpopular gift when given… We can only teach them how by forcing them to try, while we stand by and give advice. This is not for us less honourable than administration; indeed, it is more exacting for it is simple to give orders, but difficult to persuade another to take advice, and is the more difficult which is the most pleasant doing. We must be prepared to see them doing things by methods quite unlike our own, and less well: but on principle it is better that they half-do it than that we do it perfectly for them. In pursuing such course, we will find our best helpers not in our former most obedient subjects, but among those now most active in agitating against us, for it will be the intellectual leaders of the people who will serve the purpose, and these are not the philosophers nor the rich, but the demagogues and the politicians… Egypt, Persia and Mesopotamia, if assured of eventual dominion status, and presented internal autonomy, would be delighted to affiliate with us, and would then cost us no more in men and money than Canada or Australia.The alternative is to hold on to them with ever-lessening force, till the anarchy is too expensive, and we let it go.
By now you have determined that the words above were not written by any American politician and were not even written in this century, even though some of the rhetoric may seem strangely familiar. These words in fact appeared in John Mack’s book, A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T.E. Lawrence in which they are attributed to an anonymous article by Lawrence published in a political monthly, the Round Table in September, 1920.
Let me launch another hopeless attack on our national amnesia, focusing this time on the Republican Party’s holiest saint and George W. Bush’s spiritual father, Ronald Reagan.
It is from a series of Doonesbury strips published in 1986, well before the flood of indictments, plea bargains, sentencing and presidential pardons that were to grow out of the Iran-contra revelations. The talk show host is NPR’s (at least Gary Trudeau’s NPR) Mark Slackmeyer:
Yes, it’s time for “Sleaze on Parade!” Let’s start with Reagan appointees who resigned or were fired following charges of legal or ethical misconduct!
Here we go … “Rita Lavell, Joseph Canzeri, Louis Cordia, Michael Cardenas, Wesley A. Plummer, Mary Ann Gilleece, Fred J. Villella, Louis O. Giuffrida, James Watt, Michael Connolly, Robert Nimmo, Thomas C. Reed! Armand Reiser! Emanuel Savas! Carlos Campbell! Peter Bibko! Whoa, better pace myself…
…And continuing with Reagan officials who left office amidst charges of unethical behavior or criminal wrongdoing…Raymond P. Donovan, Anne Burford, James M. Beggs, John McElderry, Donald I. Hovde, Michael Karem, John P. Horton…
…John Hernandez, Shelby Brewer, Guy W. Fiske, John Fedders, Matthew N. Novick, Richard Mulberry, and Robert M. Perry!
And from our sleaze grab bag, Michael Deaver, William J. Casey, Michael Frost, Gerald P. Carmen, Robert Burford, Edgar Callahan, and Charles Z. Wick.
Is it fair to simply read a list of names cold? Are you getting the whole story here? Well, in all candor, probably not. So remember, these are just the guys who got caught…
…Donald Ellison, embezzled bank funds, imprisoned. Lee S. Varner, defrauded federal government of $53,500, convicted, Richard V. Allen, accepted money and watches, resigned. Ed Meese, aided financially by six persons later given federal jobs, promoted.
Good news, boys and girls. Here on the line with an opposing viewpoint is White House spokesman Larry Speakes. Speak to us, Speakes!
“NPR’s so-called ‘Sleaze on Parade’ is an outrage. The 103 appointees named are all victims of vicious smear campaigns by the liberal press. The president has total confidence in the innocence and integrity of every individual listed, with the possible exception of those behind bars.”
Now that spring is here and the bunnies are hopping, our sweet Mabel brought home her first rabbit of the season. Our non-existent garden remains protected. Unfortunately, I was not able to see Mabel in action since I was attending Joe Bageant’s superb performance in Philadelphia (of which I will have more to say later on; if you get the chance to see Bageant in action, don’t miss it-or at least preorder the book ).
To prove that our kitty is a proper steward of the environment, I’ve taken a photo of what Mabel left. As you can see, the rabbit’s feet, the head, everything but the non-edible portions of the animal were turned into energy that will later be used to protect the gardens and grain bins of America.
Damn that cat! I could have used a rabbit’s foot about now.
Noam Chomsky has, as usual, a radical idea: democracy promotion.
After noting the obvious conflict between Bush administration policy and the popular will, as expressed in the last election, he joins the chorus in pointing out that bullying from the US is likely to stiffen Iranian resistance, given our history.
Doubtless Iran’s government merits harsh condemnation, including for its recent actions that have inflamed the crisis. It is, however, useful to ask how we would act if Iran had invaded and occupied Canada and Mexico and was arresting US government representatives there on the grounds that they were resisting the Iranian occupation (called “liberation,” of course). Imagine as well that Iran was deploying massive naval forces in the Caribbean and issuing credible threats to launch a wave of attacks against a vast range of sites — nuclear and otherwise — in the United States, if the US government did not immediately terminate all its nuclear energy programs (and, naturally, dismantle all its nuclear weapons). Suppose that all of this happened after Iran had overthrown the government of the U.S. and installed a vicious tyrant (as the US did to Iran in 1953), then later supported a Russian invasion of the US that killed millions of people (just as the US supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in 1980, killing hundreds of thousands of Iranians, a figure comparable to millions of Americans). Would we watch quietly?
Of course we wouldn’t. But that would be different; that would be us.
The real pisser is that neither the Americans nor the Iranians appear to favor the confrontational approach their governments are taking.
Surely no sane person wants Iran (or any nation) to develop nuclear weapons. A reasonable resolution of the present crisis would permit Iran to develop nuclear energy, in accord with its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but not nuclear weapons. Is that outcome feasible? It would be, given one condition: that the US and Iran were functioning democratic societies in which public opinion had a significant impact on public policy.
As it happens, this solution has overwhelming support among Iranians and Americans, who generally are in agreement on nuclear issues. The Iranian-American consensus includes the complete elimination of nuclear weapons everywhere (82 percent of Americans); if that cannot yet be achieved because of elite opposition, then at least a “nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East that would include both Islamic countries and Israel” (71 percent of Americans).
Seventy-five percent of Americans prefer building better relations with Iran to threats of force. In brief, if public opinion were to have a significant influence on state policy in the US and Iran, resolution of the crisis might be at hand, along with much more far-reaching solutions to the global nuclear conundrum.
To me it seems clear that the solution begins with the US living up to its own commitments in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and starting to reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons rather than producing a new generation of them.
No doubt such a solution will be dismissed out of hand by Clinton, Richardson, Biden, Dodd, and all the Responsible Democrats. But it would work, I betcha.
Buck brought up the question of whether corporations are inherently evil, and a fascinating discussion ensued. As of this writing, most commenters took a neutral view, comparing, for example, corporations to guns, a comparison I considered particularly apt.
To me, associations of folks who get together to accomplish something they couldn’t do alone are great. I’m for democratic associations of people who can decide among themselves what ought to be done, and how to do it. That seems to me both libertarian and socialist. The ease and frequency with which we formed associations was one of the things that impressed Tocqueville the most about the young United States.
Whether corporations are evil or not depends on definitions. I contend that the corporate structure is inherently destructive to the social fabric, in that it implements and reinforces privilege and inequality. That doesn’t mean all corporations are evil; in fact I’m shopping a book proposal partly focused on a corporation I worked for that was a joy for employees and a boon to neighbors, and generated an immensely loyal customer base. Must have been a family-run thing, you think? No, 85,000 employees on at least four continents. Truth be told, it was the only great job I had in the software industry; and every subsequent experience was a disappointment, so it could be argued that the job made me unhappy. But it also proved that it was possible to succeed, and make lots of money, honestly and directly. The only company I was ever proud to work for…
In theory, capitalism rewards initiative and ideas. In my experience in the software business, theory was rarely in evidence. Mostly, the ideas came from engineers, while the vast majority of the rewards went to the officers and the sales force, who were therefore generally hoping for short-term gains, after which they were out the door. Anecdotal data indicates that equivalent patterns have been spotted in other industries.
Current corporate structure, as Chomsky often says, is inherently fascist. Top-down control structures conflict with democratic societies. What we need is something more like the factory management Republican Spain used. If memory serves (Martha??), the coalition of the willing against the Anarchists (the legitimately elected government) drew in Catholics, Fascists, and Communists. What they had in common was their interest in control, and their fear of the appeal of the alternative. The Anarchists were more interested in freedom and distribution of the proceeds; and as a result their worker-run factories produced about a third more per worker. That even put the fear of God into the Communists.
Of course individuals and small groups who incorporate or set up partnerships are not included in this fascist-structure critique. As Mrs. Batard says, that’s a tax-and-liability thing. She’s right that it doesn’t constitute evil in itself, certainly not according to the rules of the capitalist game. But what ethical or moral structure would call such behavior positive or constructive? Capitalism encourages amoral decision-making, which frequently provokes immoral action.
In the end, I’m against all control structures. The worst offenders right now are clearly corporations, who are eternal and unaccountable. They also control the old media. But the new media, viz. us, is killing ’em.
I agree with Chomsky, surprise, about government: the eventual goal is to get rid of it, but right now it’s the best weapon we’ve got against the old top-down control structures, which have morphed from monarchies into CEOships. We’d better use what’s at hand.
The battle to control corporations is the defining issue of the next generation or two; it seems to me it’s now or never. Hopefully I’m wrong, and we have more time than that. But the data on shrinking ice caps, and the escaping methane in the Siberian tundra, and the warmest winter on record are not good signs.
Does anyone have an idea how often this type of thing happens? Seems to me it would be pretty rare…
Carter — a reliable Bush critic long before yesterday’s remarks — hinted at a personal element to the dispute. Recounting his plan to visit Syria, he noted that, “for the only time in my life as a former president, I was ordered by the White House not to go.”
Accepting some awards, Carter was not employing the circumlocutions Presidents normally stick to when speaking of each other.
On the firing of federal prosecutors: “Congress should issue subpoenas and require the people that gave President Bush advice — or didn’t inform him, either one, I don’t know which — about the firing of these prosecutors ought to be completely revealed.”
On Bush’s threat to veto a bill calling for a withdrawal from Iraq: “I think there have been infinitely more mistakes made … by this administration, so that’s a minor mistake on the gamut of totality.”
On Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s Middle East peace efforts: “Uncertain and wavering, but appreciated.”
On Latin American policy: “You couldn’t be appointed to major diplomatic posts unless you had a fervent and public animosity toward Castro.”
On Hurricane Katrina: Bush “grossly violated” the principles Carter used to create FEMA. “Katrina was a disaster as far as FEMA was concerned, because it did not have a competent person in charge, it was not adequately financed … and it was under the still-struggling homeland security agency searching for its own role and its own identity.”
It must tweak Shrub something fierce to see Carter’s 69 percent approval rating. He was once that popular too, but his future looks a lot less pleasant than Carter’s.
I say Egypt could be the next Venezuela — it would be more accurate to say that it would be far, far more significant than what is happening in Venezuela, much as one admires the popular movements and the political leadership shown thus far in that country.
The reasons are obvious: the overthrow of a pro-imperialist dictator subsidised by $2bn dollar donations from the Washington treasury each year, on the back of a massive wave of labour strikes and uprisings, would lay the grounds for a revolutionary transformation of the Middle East that no neoconservative would appreciate.
If Lenin’s predictions are on target, Bush actually could wind up in the history books as the man who brought democracy to the Middle East — although not at all in the way he imagined.
The thing that Bush and his neocon enablers can’t get their heads around is that free elections don’t necessarily lead to pro-western and pro-business capitalist regimes. Look at Hamas. Look at Venezuela. Look at Algeria. On and on.
In one of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee novels the hero is warned by his friend and mentor Meyer Meyer not to make the mistake of thinking that other people are basically pretty much like McGee, only with different faces.
This sounds too obvious to be worth saying, but in fact it’s a mistake that most of us make, most of the time. It explains why Bush thought Americans wanted him to gut Social Security; it explains why I thought Americans would gut Bush in the 2004 election.
“The thing I like about Bush is I think he hates liberals.” Ann Coulter
In the last fifteen years, the word liberal has been made a dirty word by evil conservatives bent on spreading their True Believer propaganda. However, even the sainted Ronald Reagan promised “liberalization” to the Soviet Union:
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
If the right wing propaganda machine truly believes that Ronald Reagan was a saint, they would deliver the goods. Otherwise, Ronald Reagan was a liar and a hypocrite — or the right wingers have gone off into a wilderness far beyond what Reagan envisioned.
A well-known Georgia segregationist of the time once called Jimmy Carter a liar. His press aide, Jody Powell, counterattacked with, “Being called a liar by Lester Maddox is like being called ugly by a frog.”
This is not the frog Jody had in mind.
Excerpted from a piece by Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen on Alternet:
It’s become a TV ritual: Every year on April 4, as Americans commemorate Martin Luther King’s death, we get perfunctory network news reports about “the slain civil rights leader.”
The remarkable thing about these reviews of King’s life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole…
An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn’t take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.
Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they’re not shown today on TV. Why?
I knew all this, of course, having been a sentient human being and a newspaper reader during those years. But for some reason it never registered with me just how successfully we have, you should pardon the phrase, whitewashed Martin Luther King in our national memory.
Now we can safely pat the Rev on his cute little head and name streets after him and feel very, very good about ourselves as we go about our customary business of keeping blacks out of the voting booths and in the jails where they belong, and resegregating our schools, and plunging with mindless enthusiasm into our never-ending succession of needless wars.
Dr. King would have fought every one of these evils with every bit of his strength and so it became necessary to turn him into Bill Cosby with a divinity degree. Martin, we hardly knew ye.
Let’s get controversial again.
Mrs. Batard and I were having a discussion this morning based on a previous post on this board. I argued that corporations are simply voluntary associations designed to achieve a common goal and that they are no more inherently evil than the game of chess. It is only when people are allowed to cheat or the rule makers decide to allow cheating, and that becomes endemic to the game, that the game itself becomes evil. There was a time in this country when workers prided themselves on working for large corporate entities and not only that, if they stayed long enough, they managed to earn a quaint thing called a pension. Mrs. Batard had remarked that one of the reasons corporations were inherently evil was because the Supreme Court declared them to be perpetually eternal; “they should die at a certain age, like everyone else” she noted. My response was that may well be true, but upon the death of the corporation, who is left to pay the worker’s pensions?
Let’s get even more controversial. Let’s look at a recent article about the Apple corporation posted at corpwatch.org:
Why would a member of the board of directors of Apple oppose shareholder resolutions that ask the computer maker to become more green?
That’s what Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Consumers Union, the National Environmental Trust and the Computer TakeBack Campaign want to know.
They are among about 70 groups that signed a letter to the board member asking the member to use his clout to get Apple to become responsible for its environmental impact. They charge that Apple lags behind rivals Dell and Hewlett Packard when it comes to recycling computers and eliminating toxic chemicals from its laptops, desktops and other electronic devices.
They say Apple also lags Dell and HP in reporting on environmental and social issues — and that the company is a lot less willing to talk about these issues with activist groups.
Barbara Kyle, the national coordinator of the Computer TakeBack Campaign, who has worked for years with HP and Dell, says: “Apple just won’t deal with stakeholders, period. They have a completely different attitude from even Wal-Mart at this point. They don’t want anyone to tell them anything, and they won’t agree to benchmarking of what they are doing.’
It seems to me that the argument that corporations are inherently evil is similar to what we hear constantly from the Republican right wing propaganda machines: Government is inherently evil and must be eliminated. I would argue that we just need to get rid of the cheaters and the rule makers who set up systems that allow it, from both government and corporations. If we could manage to pull that off, maybe we could all live happily ever after.
But be careful what you wish for. You might get your wish.
This is from The Guardian of April 4, 2007:
[Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] also presented medals to three members of the Revolutionary Guard naval patrol that seized the Britons as they searched an Indian-registered merchant ship just outside the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which divides Iran and Iraq.
This is from the New York Times of July 4, 1998:
July 3, 1988, heading from Bandar Abbas to Dubai, across the Persian Gulf, an Iran Air widebody on a regularly scheduled flight was shot down by the naval cruiser Vincennes with the loss of 290 lives, 57 of them children.
An Iranian official, speaking on the tenth anniversary, said, “This was not an accident. If it had been an accident they would have treated the commanders differently. They wouldn’t have given medals to people who had caused such an accident.”
In 1990, Lieutenant Commander Scott Lustig, the Vincennes’s anti-air warfare officer, was awarded two Navy commendation medals for his service on the Vincennes. The ship’s commander, Will C. Rogers III, was given the Legion of Merit for ‘exceptionally meritorious conduct’ during the period of his command.”
Ed. note: Richard Cheney was secretary of defense at the time. Earlier his boss, George Herbert Walker Bush, had said, “I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don’t care what the facts are.” Despite this admirable show of patriotism, United States taxpayers wound up paying $300,000 for each wage earner Captain Rogers had killed, and $150,000 for non-wage-earners. The Iranians got $40 million for the loss of the plane.
Just wanted to share this with you:
In comments published yesterday in the British music magazine NME, Mr. Richards, 63, said: “The strangest thing I’ve tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn’t resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow…”
Have you seen the list at TPM Café of Iraq-related votes by Clinton and Obama?
It’s an interesting exercise. As of now they show 69 bills of varying degrees of importance that relate to the conflict in Iraq. On 68 of those, Senators Clinton and Obama voted together. They disagreed last month over whether to confirm Gen. Casey as Army Chief of Staff, Obama supporting the General and Clinton opposing.
The posters spend some effort assuring readers that they were not, repeat not, belittling Obama’s all-important stance against the war from the start. Obviously that will be critical for many voters. For example, me: I might be able to hold my nose and vote for Obama, but I wouldn’t vote for Clinton under any circumstances.
At this point I’m most interested in Edwards. In particular, he has a health-care plan, as opposed to generic unobjectionable goals. This makes me think he might actually be trying to get something done, while the other candidates seem, on this issue at least, to be keeping their options open.
Despite his vote for the war, he’s also got Clinton and Obama beat hands down on Iraq now, in my opinion. Clinton has triangulated until she’s dizzy, and Obama hasn’t freed his mind from the quagmire. Edwards, on the other hand, was asked for a one-sentence summary of his position, and replied, “Let’s start getting out now.” He argues for the symbolic withdrawal of 40,000 to 50,000 troops immediately, and the rest over the next 12 to 18 months.
The argument is often made that even if the war was wrong, we still have an obligation to help get Iraq back on its feet. I agree that we owe the Iraqis something for having destroyed their country, caused a civil war, and provoked ethnic cleansing. But what we owe them cannot be paid in military scrip.
An approach that seems clearly better was widely discussed after its publication last October in Harper’s. George McGovern, for whom I proudly cast my first vote, combined with William Polk to list the damages done to Iraq, and to consider what might be done to alleviate them. They begin by acknowledging the obvious.
As many retired American military officers now admit, Iraq has become, since the invasion, the primary recruiting and training ground for terrorists. The longer American troops remain in Iraq, the more recruits will flood the ranks of those who oppose America not only in Iraq but elsewhere.
So we have to leave. But won’t there be a bloodbath? Well, of course; there’s one now. There isn’t much reason to expect that will change.
Let us be clear: there will be some damage. This is inevitable no matter what we do. At the end of every insurgency we have studied, there was a certain amount of chaos as the participants sought to establish a new civic order. This predictable turmoil has given rise to the argument, still being put forward by die-hard hawks, that Americans must, in President Bush’s phrase, “stay the course.” The argument is false. When a driver is on the wrong road and headed for an abyss, it is a bad idea to “stay the course.”
Of course, we were never “stay the course”.
For those who are allergic to dramatic tension, here’s what the article proposes we do to fix things: give Iraq money. There are some excellent suggestions on how to distribute the money so that it benefits Iraqis rather than carpetbaggers, and to guide it toward intended ends. Sure, some graft will take place; but we’re not really in a position to preach on that issue. At least the beneficiaries would tend to reside in country.
The projects the article proposes to fund are clearly worthwhile; actually funding them would go a long way toward restoring the world’s view of the US as an honorable country. In addition, the plan would save us a lot of money.
Even if the estimated cost of building and equipping hospitals turned out to be five times too low, even if the American government had to cover the bulk of salaries and operating costs for the next four years, and even if additional hospitals had to be built to care for Iraqis wounded or made ill by the invasion and occupation, the total cost would still be under $5 billion. It is sobering to think that the maximum cost of rebuilding Iraq’s public-health system would amount to less than what we spend on the occupation every twenty days.
It seems to me that the top issues in 2008 are likely to be:
At least, that’s what I think the top issues should be. It’s only foolish optimism, but I like it.
Among the Democratic candidates, Edwards seems to be well to the left of everyone other than Kucinich. He might even be trying to reassemble something like a modern New Deal coalition, courting labor, environmentalists, seniors, minorities, anti-poverty campaigners, and Hubbert Peak worrywarts alike. Special interests? Yes. As Chomsky likes to say, special interests means senior citizens, minorities, women, gays, labor, the poor, in fact nearly everyone. The national interest means corporations and the super-rich.
Obama starts from the moral high ground on Iraq, no doubt. But his votes since, and his stance on what to do now, are hardly better than Clinton’s. As Jerry pointed out, Edwards is extremely well positioned on the health-care issue; he’s pledged a carbon-neutral campaign, a worthwhile slogan even if it fails; and this is the Two Americas guy, who’s got poverty like Gore has environment. “Poverty is the great moral issue of our century.” That’s assuming, of course, that we survive that long.
Edwards/Obama, Edwards/Richardson? Anyone?
Here’s the situation:
You’re John Edwards, the Democratic nominee for president in 2008. Your one and only wife is Elizabeth Edwards, battling on with cancer.
Your Republican opponent is Rudy Giuliani. His third wife, Judi, has a medical history, too. She used to cut open live dogs and staple their wounds shut to demonstrate the machine she was selling.
“A dead dog doesn’t bleed,” [her former boss] said in a 1988 issue of Time magazine. “You need to have real blood-flow conditions, or you get a false sense of security.”
Actually, it was Jerry who sent me the link to Hellblazer to put this up for you folks. I suspect that his snake hunting expedition might have been just as fruitful had he been on location at this shot; surely they were handling the snakes later in the day. I’m pulling out my HL Mencken Monkey Trial transcripts to get my bearings. I lived in the South almost all my life and have seen my share of weird and scary, but this tops it all.
Here is Bush’s would-be heir, Senator John McCain, after discovering last week how safe the streets of Baghdad are:
The presidential hopeful says he feels certain that it is the right thing to have the main surge of troops in Baghdad.
“I study warfare. I’m a student of history. If you control the capital city of a nation you have a significant advantage,” McCain said.
On May 7, 1954, France surrendered in Indochina following nine bloody years of warfare. On that date, French troops still occupied Hanoi, the capital city of North Vietnam.
Dr. Bucephalus Fager, director of the FDA’s Pet Food Division today announced that a FULL RECALL has been announced for all PET FOODS manufactured or sold in the United States since January 20, 2001. Dr. Fager, a graduate of the Hooterville School of Animal Husbandry was quoted in the Washington Picayune; “studies of the effects of contaminants on pet food never has been a priority of the Administration. We are approaching this situation in the same manner and with the same concern that President Bush has shown for Hurricane Katrina victims.”
At press time it was reported that Cargill is lobbying hard for a government contract to ensure that pet owners’ applications for steak rations would be put on the fast track for government approval. Officials from Cargill cite the success of the administration’s Medicare prescription drug bill as a model for ensuring the timely passage of a bill necessary to ensure that pet owners are able to obtain the finest and most expensive cuts of beef for their pets in an efficient and orderly fashion, in keeping with the needs of industry profits.