The Mahablog: Truth and the Bush Administration

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saturday, december 20, 2003

Please Stand By
I've been trying to log in to my site to update since last night, and now that I've finally done it I don't have time to write much. At least I can let you know I haven't evaporated.
Here are some must-reads  --

The surprise is that the people most hurt by Bush's policies are his strongest supporters. We know that there have been 2.5 million jobs lost in his presidency. He's kind of got a "bleed 'em dry" approach to the non-Pentagon part of government spending. He's not doing anything to help blue-collar workers learn new trades, or get a house, or help their kids go to college. He's loosening the Occupation Health and Safety regulations. The plants the guys work at are less safe. His agricultural policies are putting small farmers out of business. So we have to ask: why would they vote Republican?

Why, indeed? Read the article for a good explanation. And next read "Tough Time for Democrats" by Tina Brown, from Thursday's Washington Post.

Republicans have co-opted masculinity just when the media keep thinking such images are obsolete. The Fab 5 (of "Queer Eye" fame) exist only to change the straight guy's act, not his core. In California the Democrats still think Arnold won because of his celebrity, but as Berkeley professor George Lakoff, author of "Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think," pointed out to me last week in Los Angeles, Jay Leno is a celebrity, too, and he wouldn't have had a chance. Lakoff is a bearded, articulate progressive who has done a lot of work on the framing of winning issues. He stresses that Arnold was sponsored by Republican kingmakers because he's a fantasy figure who very clearly represents the strict, punishing father people turn to in times of fear.

American myths of masculinity draw on the strong, silent archetype -- John Wayne and Gary Cooper, later Charles Bronson and Charlton Heston, and more recently the subarticulate comic book action heroes like Sylvester Stallone and, yes, Ahnuld. American portraits of maleness have always favored instinct over intellect, action over reason. Rhett over Ashley. Patton over Marshall. Kirk over Spock. In this context, Bush's frat-boy past and Arnold's "playful" girl groping (never mind that it looks like creepy power-mongering when you really examine it) qualify as youthful expressions of the same testosterone that makes for grown-up action heroes. By comparison, Howard Dean's choleric outbursts look like Elmer Fudd spluttering, and the aristocratic let-us-reason-together authority of John Kerry comes across as lack of muscle tone.

"Good riddance" may not be a particularly eloquent thing for Bush to say about Saddam -- but comic-strip heroes don't have to be eloquent. In his interview with Diane Sawyer, Bush was like a guy in a sports bar, not much inclined to big-think. Dirty Harry doesn't talk much, and always in words of one syllable, but while the police commissioner is still fretting about getting a proper search warrant Harry has already offed the bad guy with his great big pistol.

Pretty much the same thing I said here.


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friday, december 19, 2003

Hot Links 6:17 am | link

thursday, december 18, 2003

Hot Links 6:09 am | link

wednesday, december 17, 2003

W Is Osama's Dupe
If you don't read anything else today, check out "Saddam Is Ours. Does Al Qaeda Care?" by Bruce Hoffman in today's New York Times. Hoffman makes a compelling argument that Bush's War in Iraq has played right into the hands of Osama bin Laden. To bin Laden, Iraq is more than just a recruiting tool for jihad. Hoffman believes bin Laden is using a small number of espendable troops -- "cannon fodder" -- to keep America tied down in Iraq so that al Qaeda can concentrate its resources elsewhere.
In fact, the idea that Al Qaeda wanted to make Iraq the central battlefield of jihad was first suggested by Al Qaeda itself. Last February, before the coalition invasion of Iraq, the group's information department produced a series of articles titled "In the Shadow of the Lances" that gave practical advice to Iraqis and foreign jihadists on how guerrilla warfare could be used against the American and British troops. ...

While America has been tied down in Iraq, the international terrorist network has been busy elsewhere. The various attacks undertaken by Qaeda and its affiliates since the occupation began have taken place in countries that are longstanding sources of Osama bin Laden's enmity (like Saudi Arabia) or where an opportunity has presented itself (the suicide bombings in Morocco in May, Indonesia in August and Turkey in November).

In fact, Saif al-Adel, the senior Qaeda operational commander who was credited with writing the "Shadow of the Lances" articles, is widely believed to have been behind the May attacks that rocked Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but he has yet to be linked to any incidents in Iraq.

And even if Osama bin Laden has now decided to commit some new funds and Qaeda forces to Iraq, it is unlikely to be a significant drain on his wallet or the vast reservoir of operatives trained in Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen and elsewhere. According to a Congressional report on the 9/11 attacks, an estimated 70,000 to 120,000 jihadists passed through those training camps. So even if a few thousand are sent to Iraq, Osama bin Laden will retain a healthy reserve capable of sustaining his global jihad.

If Hoffman is correct, we can extrapolate why there have been no more attacks on American soil since September 11. Such an attack would be a clue even to the Bushies -- well, maybe not the Bushies, but everybody else in America -- that the concentration of resources in Iraq is not smart.

Bin Laden's chief aim, remember, is to cleanse Muslim countries of what he considers to be impurities and corruption, not to take over America.  He's not interested in attacking us because of our "freedoms," as the witless twit in the White House keeps saying. He dislikes America because he sees us as a corrupting influence in the Muslim World.

Safire almost gets a clue. If you've got time to read two things, check out "Behind Closed Doors" by William Safire, also in today's New York Times. Safire does not understand why Dick Cheney is fighting disclosure of his energy task force members, taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

This week the justices, who apparently have nothing better to do next year, agreed to hear the Cheney appeal. The administration's eagerness to slam the door in the snoopy public's face will now be argued before the high court during political primaries and probably decided in July, right before the issue-hungry Democratic political convention.

Are Republicans out of their collective mind? Why the hots to hide? A decade ago, Hillary Clinton tried to pull the same kind of wool over the people's eyes about her health care task force, but the D.C. appeals court ruled that her consultants were "de facto members" of the official group and stripped away the secrecy.

Remember how we raised the roof about all those phony executive privilege claims as Clinton lawyers tried to jam a cone of silence on top of Secret Service agents? Remember how we fought for the right of Paula Jones to subject the high and mighty to discovery? What is sauce for the Clintons is sauce for the Bushies.

Safire seems to think that Cheney is fighting for secrecy on principle and not to save his and W's political butts. You'd think a man who worked in the Nixon White House would not be so naive. Of course Cheney and W can't afford to let the world know who was on that task force, because it would reveal how corrupt they all are. Not that it's all that well hidden.

Dems should be better than this. I also want to add something to the Times's editorial on "The Face of Scare Politics." A television ad running in New Hampshire and South Carolina uses Osama bin Laden's face as part of a smear on Howard Dean.

That ad's message — that Dr. Dean, the former Vermont governor, lacks foreign policy experience — is fair enough. But it is delivered with low-blow stealth as the ad's graphics dwell entirely on the sociopathic bin Laden stare. The screen shows floating scraps of scare phrases, "Dangerous World . . . Destroy Us . . .," and finally the tag-line bodkin alleging that Dr. Dean "just cannot compete with George Bush on foreign policy."

Allegedly, this ad is not sponsored by Republicans but by  "labor figures and politicians who have supported Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and Representative Richard Gephardt of Missouri, Dr. Dean's primary rivals, who disown any connection."

Four years ago I was disgusted when Republicans smeared John McCain to help give the nomination to Bush. In New York, Bush cronies paid for ads (created by an ad firm with connections to Governor Pataki) alleging that McCain was opposed to federal funds for breast cancer research, an outright lie. I am certain these ads cost McCain the New York primary. And in South Carolina a telephone campaign told voters that McCain had fathered a black love child (turns out the love child was Strom Thurmond's).

This is just wrong, and I sincerely hope it backfires on Kerry and Gephardt, big time.

1:11 pm | link

Hot Links 6:12 am | link

tuesday, december 16, 2003

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monday, december 15, 2003

Never Forget: Bush Knew
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush broke his own rule against being drawn into early political exchanges on Monday when he took his first direct poke at anti-war Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.

A presidential news conference, hastily arranged to celebrate the capture of Saddam Hussein, allowed Bush to use the White House bully pulpit to send Americans the message that he is in charge and wanting to keep his job next year. ...

Bush broke his own gag rule on campaign 2004 issues only briefly at the news conference, which was held less than two hours before Dean attacked Bush's Iraq policy in a national security speech in California.

Dean has riled Republicans in recent weeks by tossing out a theory that Bush had advance warning from Saudi Arabia of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, suggesting Bush knew what was going to happen and did nothing to stop it.

When asked about the theory, Bush at first stuck to his formulation that "there's time for politics" later and that he has a job to do first. But then he could not resist rejecting the theory.

"It's an absurd insinuation," said Bush, his eyes narrowing. [Steve Holland, "Bush Takes a Poke at Howard Dean," Reuters, December 15, 2003]

September 11 may have faded in national memory, but not for those of us who were eyewitnesses. And even as Ground Zero was being cleared of debris and bodies, there came more explosions -- a series of news stories, beginning with reports in May issues of Time and Newsweek -- that revealed Bush had been given considerable intelligence about an impending terrorist attack.

I was so disturbed by these several reports that I created my first web site, the Timeline of Terror, in May and June 2002 in order to straighten out exactly what Bush knew, and when he did, with as much documentation as possible. Here is a condensed version of what I put together then:

What Did We Know? When Did We Know It?

March 2001: Moscow's Permanent Mission at the United Nations submits a report to the UN Security Council with very specific information about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. This information is given to the Bush Administration, which took no action.

According to Alex Standish, the editor of the [Jane's Intelligence] Review, the attacks of September 11 were less of an American intelligence failure and more the result of US inaction based on a political decision not to act against Bin Laden.  (Rashmee Z. Ahmed, "U.S. Had Specific Information on Laden," The Times of India, October 6, 2001)

May 2001: Bush kills the Hart-Rudman report that warned of terrorist attacks on U.S.soil.

May 30: Four men are convicted in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, 1998. Witnesses testified at the trial that Osama bin Laden was sending al Qaeda agents to the United States for flight-school training.

June 26: Espionage sources report a spike in intelligence traffic about possible terrorist strikes on July 4. The White House is informed. (Time, May 27, 2002, "What They Knew, and When They Did")

June 28: In a written briefing, CIA director George Tenet warns Condoleeza Rice that it is highly likely that a significant Qaeda attack will take place in the near future. (Newsweek, May 27, page 32)

July: John O'Neill (FBI agent investigating the U.S.S. Cole bombing) is barred by bureaucrats in the U.S. Justice Department from returning to Yemen to continue his investigation of the Cole disaster. According to some accounts, he complained that his investigation into Al-Qaeda was shut down due to pressure from the Saudi government and oil interests. O'Neill decides to retire from the FBI. He accepts a position as chief of security at the World Trade Center in New York (he would be killed on September 11).

Meanwhile, intelligence had been streaming in concerning a likely Al Qaeda attack. It all came together in the third week in June, [Richard] Clarke* said. The C.I.A.'s view was that a major terrorist attack was coming in the next several weeks. On July 5th, Clarke summoned all the domestic security agenciesthe Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard, Customs, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the F.B.I.and told them to increase their security in light of an impending attack. (Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, January 14, 2002)

(*Richard Clarke was national coordinator for counter-terrorism in the White House from the first Bush Administration until 2001.)

Convicted in the spring of 2001 for planning to bomb the Los Angeles Airport, Ahmed Ressam gives investigators detailed information on Al Qaeda's plans for terrorism in the United States.

He left no doubt that U.S. airports were a prime target because an airport is sensitive politically and economically, as Ressam said in court on July 3. At least two of the FAA's summer warnings came from Ressam's information, which should have given pause to Bush administration officials who remained convinced that the threat was abroad. (Michael Hirsh and Michael Isikoff, "What Went Wrong," Newsweek, May 27, 2002)

July 1: Senator Diane Feinstein of California, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tells CNN, "Intelligence staff tell me that there is a major probability of a terrorist incident within the next three months." She says that more money is needed for intelligence and counter-terrorism measures. (Time, May 27, 2002, "What They Knew, and When They Did")

July 2: FBI warns law enforcement agencies and the White House of possible al Qaeda attacks overseas, and also says domestic strikes cannot be ruled out. (Time, May 27, 2002, "What They Knew, and When They Did")

July 5: July 4 passed with no terrorist attacks, but the CIA tells President Bush that attacks are still possible. (Time, May 27, 2002, "What They Knew, and When They Did") According to Newsweek (May 27), Bush directs National Security Adviser Rice to find out what might be going on regarding domestic terrorism.

July 6: A National Security Council group led by Richard Clarke, national coordinator for counter-terrorism, meets to discuss intelligence and terrorist threats overseas. Nonessential travel by counter-terrorism staff is suspended. (Time, May 27, 2002, "What They Knew, and When They Did")

July 5: In a White House meeting, counter-terrorism officials warn the FBI, CIA, INS, and others that a major attack on the United States is coming soon (Newsweek, May 27, page 32)

July 10: Kenneth Williams, a counter terrorism agent in the FBI's Phoenix office, notices that a number of suspected terrorists were learning to fly airplanes and asking questions about airport security. Williams's superior, William Kurtz, writes a memo urging all U.S. flight schools be checked. However, the warnings from the Kurtz team are ignored in Washington. (Romesh Ratnesar, Michael Weisskopf,  "How the FBI Blew the Case," Time, June 3, 2002)

July 18: The FBI warns law enforcement of threats made in connection to the conviction of Ahmed Ressam. The White House is also informed. (Time, May 27, 2002, "What They Knew, and When They Did")

July 21: Violence marks a summit of the Group of Eight held in Genoa, Italy. CNN reports that "metal detectors, sniffer dogs and agents will stand guard at the luxury cruiser housing the leaders." However, "U.S. President George W. Bush will not stay with other world leaders because of fear of terrorist attack." ("G8 Summit Death Shocks Leaders," CNN, July 21, 2001)

WASHINGTON U.S. and Italian officials were warned in July that Islamic terrorists might attempt to kill President Bush and other leaders by crashing an airliner into the Genoa summit of industrialized nations, officials said Wednesday.

Italian officials took the reports seriously enough to prompt extraordinary precautions during the July summit of the Group of 8 nations, including closing the airspace over Genoa and stationing antiaircraft guns at the city's airport. (Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2001)

July 26: CBS News reports that Attorney General Ashcroft is traveling by private jet because of a threat assessment. (CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart, "Ashcroft Flying High.")

August:  Mossad officials travel to Washington to warn the CIA and the FBI that a cell of up to 200 terrorists was planning a major operation. The Israelis specifically warn their counterparts in Washington that large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland were imminent.  (Douglas Davis, "Mossad Warned CIA of Attacks," Jerusalem Post, September 17, 2001)

August 6: A daily briefing of the vacationing President Bush presented the possibility of an airplane hijacking as a terrorist threat.  According to National Security Adviser Rice (Newsweek, May 27, 2002), the briefing was "an analytic report that talked about [bin Laden's] methods of operation, talked about what he had done historically."

August 15: A flight school in Minneapolis reports Zacarias Moussaoui to the FBI. (Time, May 27, 2002, "What They Knew, and When They Did")

August 17: Zacarias Moussaoui is arrested in Minnesota. (Newsweek, May 27, page 33)

August 27: French authorities notify the FBI that Zacarias Moussaoui is a suspected Islamic extremist. (Time, May 27, 2002, "What They Knew, and When They Did")

September: In a memo on the Moussaoui case, a Minnesota FBI agent suggested that the suspect could fly a plane into the World Trade Center. (Time, May 27, 2002, "What They Knew, and When They Did")

September 10: Senator Feinstein asks for a meeting with Vice President Cheney to discuss terrorism. (Cheney had been directed to create a national counter-terrorism plan). Cheney's chief of staff tells the senator they need six months to prepare for this meeting. (Time, May 27, 2002, "What They Knew, and When They Did"; the Vice Presidents chief of staff disputes this account.)

Yet the Bush Administration swore it had no idea anything like the September 11 attacks were about to happen. Right.

In a press conference on May 16, 2002, Condoleeza Rice flapped about nervously and claimed  "I don't think anybody could have predicted these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center. ... that they would use an airplane as a missile." As pointed out in the May 27, 2002, Newsweek (page 33), "Intelligence agencies abroad had foiled two earlier terrorist plots to hijack commercial airliners and crash them into the Eiffel Tower and the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va."

Further, in July at the G8 Summit in Genoa, the President had taken special security precautions because of intelligence that Islamic terrorists might attempt to kill President Bush and other leaders by crashing an airliner into the Genoa summit of industrialized nations. (See above, July 21.)

In fact, before September 11, the threat of Osama bin Laden was so well known, some "pundits" felt free to joke about it. Here's one of my favorite examples from June, 2001 (remarkably, still available on the Web):

That It Boy of international terror, Osama Bin Laden, is back in the news. Headlines from just the past week: "Russians Reveal Bin Laden Plot to Kill Bush at G8 Meeting." "Bin Laden Video Claims Responsibility for Cole Bombing." "Yemen Foils Bin Laden Plot to Kill U.S. Investigators." "Bin Laden Group Planned to Blow Up U.S. Embassy in India…" And finally, at week's end, U.S. forces all over the Gulf confined to barracks and ships put to sea because of a "non-specific but credible threat" from Bin Laden's group. Vile acts and wretched conspiracies reported from all over the world, all carrying the imprimatur of the Saudi terror tycoon skulking in the hills of Afghanistan, his name now the globally recognizable shorthand for Islamist terror in the same way that "Xerox" has become for "photocopy." [Tony Karon, "Bin Laden Rides Again: Myth Versus Reality,", June 20, 2001]

What I've outlined above is old news, and just the tip of the iceberg.

In spite of the clear warnings of terrorist attacks involving aircraft, the Bush Administration had made no preparations whatsoever. According to the BBC, on September 11 the U.S. had just four fighter pilots on alert to cover the entire northeastern United States.

And don't get me started on Bush's continued obstruction of any investigation into September 11.

I don't know exactly what Howard Dean said about pre-September 11 intelligence. I googled for it, but all I found was "commentary" hooting about what madman or a fool Howard Dean must be. I suspect that he didn't say anything that many others of us, including me, haven't been saying for a year and a half already.

The goons who work for the GOP and staff national news media are out to discredit Dean. They are the real madmen. And we're the fools if we don't speak up.

I sincerely believe that if the American public ever found out the truth about Bush and September 11, they'd march on the White House with hot tar and feathers. But will they ever find out?

8:17 pm | link

Hot Links 6:11 am | link

sunday, december 14, 2003

The Capture

Here's a good analysis of how The Capture might impact American presidential politics.

...from a political point of view, Saddam's capture, vastly welcome though it is, came 10 or 11 months too early for Bush. By the time the election comes around it may be ancient history compared with the crises he will be facing and the issues he will be debating. A week, as late British Prime Minister Harold Wilson liked to say, is a long time in politics.[Martin Sieff, "Analysis: Saddam's Capture Boosts Bush," UPI, December 12, 2003]

Sieff is bright enough to understand that Saddam's capture may have no impact on the Iraqi resistance, in which case it will be quickly forgotten. The Capture might even backlash on Bush. If the resistance settles down, however, and Iraq is pacified, the political landscape gets bumper for Dems.

Already, Conventional Wisdom is stating that Saddam's capture is likely to validate and strengthen those Democrats who voted for the crucial war resolution in Congress: Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, John Edwards of North Carolina and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri. But in practice, the opposite is likely to be the case.

For sentiment against the war and against Bush's policies are now so intensely and generally felt among the Democratic grassroots that a single event like the capture of Saddam, dramatic though it is, will not change it. ...

Lieberman Sunday lost no time in jumping on the issue in a last-ditch effort to jump-start his collapsing campaign before it implodes in New Hampshire, where polls show him trailing badly in the Jan. 27 primary. "If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power today, not in prison and the world would be a more dangerous place," he said.

But, ironically, ... such comments may make Lieberman come across as a disloyal figure in party terms, repeating a classic Bush and GOP line. In that case his attempt to capitalize on Saddam's capture may just rebound and dig him even deeper in his hole.

Of course, this is exactly what is happening. It will take most of the "pundits" a couple of weeks to figure this out, though.

Therefore, even if the capture of Saddam revives sentiments among pro-war Democrats, they are far more likely to throw their support to former Gen. Wesley Clark, who, while losing ground to the surging Dean, has been presenting himself precisely as the one Dem candidate most capable of blasting Bush on national security and defense issues.

And Clark's central premise, which he hammers home repeatedly, has not been invalidated or discredited to the slightest degree by the capture of Saddam. That is his contention that in their Iraq obsession, the Bush team have disastrously neglected the primary goals of U.S. domestic homeland security and the war against al-Qaida and its associated groups.

The so-called "pundits" in general are the last ones to figure anything out. In the past year they've gone from seeing Howard Dean as being a hopeless outsider to Howard Dean being the sure-fire nominee. But the race isn't over, and the pundits and politicians rushing to crown Dean need to chill out until the February primaries. By then we'll know how The Capture is playing out, and we'll have some indication how Dean plays in the South and Midwest.

Next steps. The Iraqi Governing Council is announcing plans to try Saddam in an open tribunal.

Last week, the Bush administration trumpeted the new tribunal plan as a measure of Iraqi independence and progress. As proposed, the tribunal would be operated by Iraqi judges and lawyers, with broad powers to try suspects for everything from mass executions to wasting the nation's resources. [Tom Hundley, "Iraqis call for domestic Saddam trial but U.S. unclear on venue," The Chicago Tribune, December 14, 2003]

I can't believe the Bush Regime won't try to keep the Saddam act under tight control. We'll see.

What They're Blogging

No More Mister Nice Blog

Body and Soul

Whiskey Bar


See also -- What Is the Point?

9:15 pm | link

So What?
So I wake up this morning and learn Saddam Hussein is captured. Lots of high fives in the Pentagon today, I suspect.
But will it make any difference? Will the Iraqi resistance suddenly stop resisting? It was never clear that Saddam was the major driver behind the resistance, so why would it matter if he's captured? And what about a trial? The Bushies aren't about to turn the guy over to an international court, because that would mean giving up control. Do the Bushies plan to stage a show trial?
Rittenhouse Review predicts a secret trial with lots of gag orders. I agree. Ahmad Chalabi is calling for a public trial of crimes committed from 1968 until this year. Fat chance; too much could come out that would be embarassing to previous Republicans administrations and the weasels public servants who worked in them, an astonishing number of which are working for the Bush Regime today.
"We are not fighting for Saddam." An article in today's Los Angeles Times predicts that violence in Iraq is likely to worsen, and no one knows who is actually behind the insurgency.
The systematic advance of the insurgent strategy has stunned many U.S. planners, who remain bewildered by the guerrillas' command structure. The walls of Army tactical centers are inevitably filled with charts trying to trace cell members and their links to financiers, known affiliates of Hussein's Baath Party, Fedayeen Saddam paramilitary fighters, hostile sheiks and other suspected subversives.

"The thing that is frustrating still is we're not able to connect what's happening," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, who heads Task Force Iron Horse, operating out of Tikrit, Hussein's home base. [Patrick J. McDonnell and John Hendren, "U.S. Officials and Iraqis Agree That Conflict Will Get Worse," The Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2003]

Most significantly, McDonnell and Hendren write that pro-insurgent Iraqis "dismissed the notion that their fight will diminish once Hussein is killed or captured, as U.S. officials hope. 'We are not fighting for Saddam,' one said."

The Bush Regime faces a political danger, and one wonders if they are too stupid to see it. Right now they and their lapdogs in the news media are celebrating the capture of the Butcher of Baghdad, raising expectations that the Iraqi resistance will evaporate and that no more U.S. soldiers will die. What will they say if that does not happen? How will they rationalize Iraqi resistance to U.S. occupation if they can't blame it on Saddam?

On the other hand, the Baghdad Blogger believes the capture will let the air out of the resistance. We'll see.

Of Special Note
I recommend an article in the December 29 issue of The Nation called "The Character Myth" by Renana Brooks. Unfortunately this article is not available online. But if you can get your hands on it, please read it. It reinforces a lot of what I wrote in my recent series for Open Source Politics on the psychological underpinnings of American presidential politics.
Of Special Personal Note
I'm going to be gainfully employed again, at least for the next several months. I'll be working for a major book publisher at an undisclosed location in Midtown Manhattan.  This means I'll have less time for the blog, but I don't intend to give up and I hope you will not stop dropping by.
I also want to thank Indigo Ocean for letting me know that the Tagboard was causing a lot of popups. I block popups, so I had no idea. But I took the tagboard off the front page, and I hope that helps.

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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." --Theodore Roosevelt, 1918


The War Prayer

I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!... He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant it if such shall be your desire after I His messenger shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause & think.

"God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused & taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken & the unspoken....

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is completed into those pregnant words.

"Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! -- the messenger of the Most High waits."

·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·

It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

[Mark Twain, 1905]

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My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Numchuku of Reasoned Discussion.

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Copyright 2003, 2004 by Barbara O'Brien

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