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friday, march 26, 2004

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Proof that Richard Clarke is right (via Eschaton) ... This is from a CNN Transcript of April 30, 2001 (emphasis added).
WOODRUFF: We will have more of the day's political news coming up. But now a look at some other top stories.

The Navy is ready for more demonstrations on the Puerto Rican island, Vieques. After a break on Sunday, Navy warships are firing at the island's practice range again. Over the weekend, roughly 70 demonstrators were arrested and charged with trespassing. They included a U.S. congressman, Democrat Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.

The State Department officially released its annual terrorism report just a little more than an hour ago, but unlike last year, there's no extensive mention of alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. A senior State Department official tells CNN the U.S. government made a mistake in focusing so much energy on bin Laden and "personalizing terrorism."

still, Secretary of State Colin Powell says efforts to fight global terrorism will remain consistent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: The results are clear: state sponsors of terrorism are increasingly isolated; terrorist groups on under growing pressure. Terrorists are being brought to justice, we will not let up. But we must also be aware of the nature of the threat before us. Terrorism is a persistent disease.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The secretary of state did go on to say that South Asia, particularly Afghanistan, continues to be the focal point for terrorism that is directed against the United States.
Aren't you glad the Bush Administration didn't make the mistake of focusing so much attention on Osama bin Laden in 2001 ... until September 11?

2:56 pm | link

Shhhh ...
 
Get this ...

PIERRE, S.D. Republicans have accused Democratic U.S. House candidate Stephanie Herseth of maintaining a secret Web page to receive campaign donations raised from ads on liberal groups' Internet sites.

But a Herseth campaign official scoffed at the charge, saying the Web page is not secret and can be found easily with a standard search of the Internet.

Herseth faces Republican Larry Diedrich in a June 1 special election to fill the vacancy left when Bill Janklow resigned as South Dakota's lone member of the U.S. House.

Jason Glodt, executive director of the South Dakota Republican Party, said the Herseth campaign arranged the special Internet donation site to prevent most South Dakotans from knowing about Herseth's relationship with such liberal groups.

The Herseth Web page takes campaign donations from people directed there from Internet sites called "blogs," which are online bulletin boards that feature journals, opinionated articles and messages.

There's a reason she's got that secret site. She doesn't want to advertise the fact she's doing this," Glodt said Thursday.

I think the real point is you judge a person by the friends they keep, and look where she's focusing her fund-raising efforts," Glodt said. "Anybody can look at these blogs and the content, and realize the values they are promoting are completely contradictory to the South Dakota values she purports to represent." [Chet Brokaw, Associated Press, March 25, 2004]

Here's an insider tip: if you want to find the secret site, google for "Herseth." The Herseth for Congress site is the first hit. Obviously, this site is a super-secret nefarious liberal plot designed to keep secrets from the people of South Dakota, who apparently don't have access to Google.

Remember, you read it on The Mahablog. 

According to Herseth's furtive, clandestine and utterly secret web page, these are the covert liberal sites the people of South Dakota must not find out about:

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you ...

1:41 pm | link

Hot Links
 
Late yesterday the White House agreed to allow Condi Rice to speak with the 9/11 Commission again, but not publicly and not under oath. In other news, the fact that the Supreme Court is hearing the "Under God" case is, miraculously, getting less attention than the 9/11 Commission. And Congress takes another step toward making pregnant women wards of government.
 
All of these matters cry out for thorough blogging, and alas I'm not able to just stay home and blog today. But soon I'll be back to regular blogging, which cheers me up, at least.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
6:13 am | link

thursday, march 25, 2004

Hot Links, End of (Bush) History Edition 6:41 am | link

wednesday, march 24, 2004

A Few Good Links
 
Lots of good stuff to read today except in the New York Times. The only remotely interesting thing I found in the Times today was the first paragraph of Bill Safire's column:
As a very little boy, I thought the opening words to the recitation required at school every morning were "I led the pigeons to the flag." Seemed odd, but I figured the teacher knew best.
Could be the best thing Safire's written so far this year. Don't bother about the rest of the column, though.
 
Lots of other publications are outdoing themselves, however, possibly because the political landscape is enjoying a plate shift. So here are more hot links:
 
Gail Sheehy's "Four 9/11 Moms Watch Rumsfeld and Grumble" is a must read. The Moms are four 9/11 widows who are driving investigations into September 11. And they don't like Donald Rumsfeld.

It is still incredible to the moms that their Secretary of Defense continued to sit in his private dining room at the Pentagon while their husbands were being incinerated in the towers of the World Trade Center. They know this from an account posted on Sept. 11 on the Web site of Christopher Cox, a Republican Congressman from Orange County who is chairman of the House Policy Committee.

Ironically," Mr. Cox wrote, "just moments before the Department of Defense was hit by a suicide hijacker, Secretary Rumsfeld was describing to me why … Congress has got to give the President the tools he needs to move forward with a defense of America against ballistic missiles."

At that point, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, the Secret Service, the F.A.A., NORAD (our North American air-defense system), American Airlines and United Airlines, among others, knew that at least three planes had been violently hijacked, their transponders turned off, and that thousands of American citizens had been annihilated in the World Trade Center by Middle Eastern terrorists, some of whom had been under surveillance by the F.B.I. Yet the nation’s defense chief didn’t think it significant enough to interrupt his political pitch to a key Republican in Congress to reactivate the Star Wars initiative of the Bush I years.

Read the article and note in particular Rummy's responses to Jamie Gorelick's questions on NORAD.
 
In "Bush's War Against Wonks" in the Washington Monthly, Bruce Reed reveals the true depravity of the Bush Regime in a single sentence. Here it is, in context:

Suskind's new book about former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, The Price of Loyalty, is one long lament on the same theme: the administration's complete disregard for evidence. O'Neill becomes so desperate for an honest broker that he pleads with, of all people, Vice President Cheney: "[We] need to be better about keeping politics out of the policy process. We need firewalls. The political people are there for presentation and execution, not for creation." By the time he left, O'Neill actually pined for the less political days of the Nixon White House: "The biggest difference between then and now is that our group was mostly about evidence and analysis, and Karl, Dick, Karen, and the gang seemed to be mostly about politics."

If you remember the Nixon years and that sentence doesn't send a chill down your spine, nothing will. The rest of the article is good, too.
 
There more great commentary today from Billmon. He discusses an interim report on diplomacy issues by the September 11 commission; you can read the report in PDF format here. Note in particular Billmon's postscript:

P.S. Speaking of crediblity, the staff statement does a very nice job of filleting that of Mansoor Ijaz, a former Democratic Party donor and Al Gore schmoozer turned Fox News foreign policy consultant. Lately, Ijaz has been jazzing up the true believers with tall tales of an alleged 1996 offer from the government of Sudan to "render" (kidnap) Bin Ladin and turn him over the United States.

The staff statement disposes of that canard quite tersely:

Former Sudanese officials claim that Sudan offered to expel Bin Ladin to the United States. Clinton administration officials deny ever receiving such an offer. We have not found any reliable evidence to support the Sudanese claim. (emphasis added.)

I'm not able to watch Richard Clarke's testimony today, but I understand his opening statement was awesome. C-SPAN will have a video up that I can watch later, I hope.

2:58 pm | link

Hot Links
 
What is the White House hiding? Surely the refusal to allow Condi to testify before the 9/11 commission doesn't look good. What might she say that could be worse? 
 
The White House argues that testimony from Rice, who works for the president, would set a dangerous precedent of giving Congress the power to haul executive branch staffers to Capitol Hill to grill them.
 
And that's bad because ... ?
 
In any event, it's been done before. Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, testified before Congress on more than one occasion.
 
Matthew Yglesias discusses the many ways Condi was unprepared to face al Qaeda in TAP.  
 
Kulture Korner. Next month "Monty Python's Life of Brian" will be re-released to U.S. theaters. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

5:52 am | link

tuesday, march 23, 2004

The Face of Resistance
 
If I were home I'd be watching the televised 9/11 testimony of Colin Powell. Alas, I will have to wait for the reviews.
 
In the meantime, I want to comment on a column in today's New York Times by Clyde Haberman and relate it to a BOP News blog by Allyson Giard.
 
Allyson attended the antiwar rally in New York this past weekend, and was disappointed in the turnout.
Looking at the numbers alone (and the numbers fluctuate greatly by source, but I’m going with the primary organizers, United for Peace and Justice, the attendance was only one-third of that garnered just a year ago. We were gathering to protest the Iraq war on its first anniversary, at a time of disgust and dismay, but the last year has desensitized us—or me, at least—to the injustices of this war.
Maybe that's it, or maybe some of us have abandoned Iraq as a lost cause. Or maybe, now that the invasion is a fait accompli, some of us think we owe it to Iraqis to help put their country back on its feet. Last year we just said no; this year our thoughts on Iraq are too complex to fit on our T-shirts.
 
But reading on, I was really glad I didn't go.
I found the most common sentiment, in fact, to be anti-Bush, rather than decidedly pro-peace: signs read “Bush Lies Who Dies,” “More Trees Less Bush,” etc, and there were the racy hats (“Lick Bush in ’04”) and chants (“Bush, pull out, just like your father should have”), and the clever graphics (a goofy Bush head on a bull’s body, defecating a globe).
This wasn't a protest; it was The Children's Hour. I'd rather stay home with a nice bowl of thin gruel than cavort around in the streets with emotional adolescents.
 
But the Haberman column really worried me. Granted I wasn't there and perhaps his account is not accurate, but I suspect it's at least mostly right. Haberman points out that, once again, the Left is abandoning the American flag to the Right.
When flags were waved on Saturday, however infrequently, they were often smeared with slogans or flown upside down, as in a distress signal. Some people carried flags with the field of stars replaced by a peace symbol or a skull and crossbones.

IF any flag dominated, it was the green, red, white and black banner of the embryonic Palestinian state. As demonstrators headed up Avenue of the Americas, prominent New Yorkers in the front rank, including City Councilmen Bill Perkins and Charles Barron, were framed against a backdrop of Palestinian flags - and those flags only.

Indeed, listening to the speeches at rallies held both before and after the march, one could be forgiven an occasional impression that the afternoon was more about embracing Palestinian nationalism than opposing United States actions in Iraq.

Some in the crowd acknowledged later that they were uneasy with speeches that, in their view, veered far from the day's main agenda: letting the White House know what they think of this war.

Even a few protest organizers from a coalition called United for Peace and Justice rolled their eyes over the America-bashing language from speakers aligned with a group known as Answer, short for Action Now to Stop War and End Racism. (During Answer's part of the program, someone taped to the speakers' platform a photo of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who peddled nuclear materials to North Korea and Libya, those noted democracies.)

I am sick with fear that this same garbage will fill the streets of New York City during the Republican National Convention. If so, get ready for four more years of George W. Bush in the White House.
 
Get this straight: If you care about the future of the United States, International A.N.S.W.E.R. is not your friend. I wrote about them before, here and here. These people are Maoists. They are opposed to democracy and private property. They support the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Their objective is to use the war in Iraq to gain a toehold in the American political landscape and promote a much larger agenda, most of which is flaming nuts. They absolutely must not be allowed to become the face of opposition to Bush during the Republican National Convention.
 
A pack of juvenile pottymouths is not going to do us much credit, either. I also fear that hotheads will try to force a violent confrontation with NYPD or National Guard. And there will be National Guard. There are National Guard patrolling Penn Station now, and Penn Station is directly beneath Madison Square Garden. The Guard will not be sent away for the Convention. The question is, will there be additional Guard, or will order be kept by NYPD? Guardsmen will not put up with nonsense, and New York City cops have a history of being a bit quick on the trigger, so either way, somebody could be killed.
 
(And if you show up wanting to cause trouble -- if the NYPD doesn't get you, I will. Watch out for a little old lady swinging a big handbag.)
 
I'm not opposed to protests, but mass protests can easily backfire on the protesters. This happened often in the 1960s and 1970s. Whatever you've been told about the antiwar movement during the Vietnam years, know this: The antiwar movement accomplished two things. One was the election of Richard Nixon. The other was the re-election of Richard Nixon.
 
What should be the face of opposition to Bush during the GOP convention? That face should be patriotic, it should be adult, it should be serious. If you can't contribute to the patriotism, maturity, and seriousness of that face, please stay home.
 
Fat Lot of Good It Will Do

The 9-11 Family Steering Committee and 9-11 Citizens Watch, two separate groups, are demanding the resignation of Philip Zelikow, executive director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, after information surfaced over the weekend that he participated in Bush administration briefings prior to Sept. 11 on the threat al Qaeda posed to the country. ...

Critics have previously called for Zelikow to resign because they believed he had at least an appearance of a conflict of interest. He co-wrote a book in 1995 with Condoleezza Rice, who is now Bush's national security adviser. Additionally, only Zelikow and commission member Jamie Gorelick are permitted to read classified intelligence reports known as the presidential daily briefs in their entirety. [Chris Strohm, GovExec.com]

Unbelievable
 
No More Mr. Nice Blog has some intelligent commentary on what "swing" voters might be thinking of Bush right now.
 
The Headline Is Better Than the Story
 
"Zombies Drive Jesus from Top of Box Office." Somebody alert Pat Robertson! Oh, wait ... is he one of the zombies?

12:20 pm | link

Hot Links
 
During his "Sixty Minutes" interview, Richard Clarke said that the Bush White House never went to battle stations before 9/11 over the impending threat of terrorism.
 
Well, they're at battle stations now.
 
MSNBC reports that "A senior White House aide told NBC News on condition of anonymity Monday that Bush personally ordered his aides to launch the counterattack against Clarke’s book, which the aide said Bush saw as a political assault."
 
The White House issued a point-by-point rebuttal of Clarke's allegations, and dispatched several officials to make the talk news rounds and smear Clarke. Dick Cheney's talk with Rush Limbaugh is a classic; the two lied their heads off, but dittoheads no doubt ate it up.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I wasn't directly involved in that decision. He was moved out of the counterterrorism business over to the cyber security side of things, that is he was given a new assignment at some point here. I don't recall the exact time frame.

Q Cyber security, meaning Internet security?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, worried about attacks on the computer systems and the sophisticated information technology systems we have these days that an adversary would use or try to the system against us.

Q Well, now that explains a lot, that answer right there explains -- (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, he wasn't -- he wasn't in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff. And I saw part of his interview last night, and he wasn't --

Q He was demoted.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It was as though he clearly missed a lot of what was going on. For example, just three weeks after the -- after we got here, there was communication, for example, with the President of Pakistan, laying out our concerns about Afghanistan and al Qaeda, and the importance of going after the Taliban and getting them to end their support for the al Qaeda. This was, say, within three weeks of our arrival here.
Dick doesn't mention that Richard Clarke wasn't moved to cyberterrorism until after 9/11. And it seems more accurate to say that Clarke was the loop; it was the White House chuckleheads who were out of it.
 
But Now We Know that the way to get Bush's attention is to threaten him politically. Before 9/11 Clarke's warnings of impending doom fell on deaf ears. Clearly, Bush wasn't interested in the possibility of terrorist attacks on American soil. If Clarke had only said that al Qaeda had called Bush naughty names and threatened to donate large amounts of money to the Democratic National Committee, would 9/11 have been prevented? We'll never know.
 
Read more about the Bush counteroffensive on Josh Marshall's blog, here and here. And Billmon of Whiskey Bar has been brilliant all week.
 
Paul Krugman nails it, as usual, in his New York Times article today. On the other hand, the Times has Elisabeth Bumiller and Judith Miller (oh, please ...) covering the counteroffensive against Richard Clarke. I haven't read this yet, but here it is.
 
In other news. Did someone kidnap Mickey Kaus and take his blog hostage? Today Kausfiles admits that al Qaeda wants George W. Bush to remain in the White House four more years. Ah, but then, after a brief flicker of honesty, Kaus resumes his bashing John Kerry. So never mind.

Marie Cocco: Bush's 9/11 Myths Enganger U.S.

Thomas Oliphant: The Army of the Ambivalent

E.J. Dionne: Why Scalia Should Duck Out

Richard Cohen: Bush v. Clarke

Kerry's Surprising Defenders

6:07 am | link

monday, march 22, 2004

Even More on Clarke
 
As expected, right-wing bloggers are tripping all over themselves discrediting Richard Clarke.
 
Glenn Reynolds admits he didn't see "Sixty Minutes," but helpfully links to a number of bloggers who smear Richard Clarke.
 
Power Line, in "Richard Clarke, Fraud," says that Bill Clinton is really to blame and was much worse than Bush. And "Sixty Minutes" only hyped Clarke's book because Viacom owns both CBS and Clarke's publisher, Simon & Schuster. And Richard Clarke is a friend of Rand Beers, who works for John Kerry.
 
Well, let's shoot him now. He must be guilty.
 
Drudge is pushing the CBS - Simon & Schuster link, also. I don't link to Drudge, ever. so you'll have to google for that.
 
Roger Simon dismisses Clarke's expertise --
They say authors are like hookers and will go anywhere and do anything to sell their books. (Who me? Look right!) The latest to shake his booty is Richard Clarke, the "terrorism expert" [What does that mean?--ed. He reads more than one newspaper a day.]
Stephen Hayes of The Daily Standard and blogger Hugh Hewitt say September 11 was Bill Clinton's fault. Hewitt goes on to say,
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice body slams the Clinton spinners trying to escape the blame for 9/11 unpreparedness The Bush Administration has never yielded to the partisan temptation to place the responsibility for 9/11 on the backs of Bill Clinton and his team where it belongs,
Sit down. Take a deep breath. Inhale ... exhale ... and tell yourself, these people live in a alternate universe.  The sky is orange, there are three moons, pasta grows on trees, and George W. Bush is a war president.
but neither will the Bush Administration allow the election season to obscure the critical fact --Al Qaeda took root in Afghanistan and metastasized during the Clinton party. 
As I told someone else this week -- could Clinton have done more to stop terrorism? Sure. But the right wingers continually ignore what he did do, including stopping an al Qaeda operative from bombing the Los Angeles airport. And as Clarke reported, Clinton did that by staying on top of the situation and demanding action, two things Bush never did.
 
Click here for the Wall Street Journal news stories that actually asks some righteous questions about September 11.

2:20 pm | link

More on Clarke
 
I knew I could count on the Wall Street Journal to publish something outrageously partisan on the Richard Clarke interview, and I was not disappointed. If ever something called out for a good fisking, it's this. I regret I don't have time to do it full justice.
 
In a nutshell: Clarke is just trying to make money from his book. His claims are all about the presidential campaign, not what really happened on September 11. And the 9/11 commission exists just to appease hotheaded victim's families who want to blame somebody. Yeah, that's it.
 
Here's a sample:
The 9/11 Commission has instead been driven from the start by meaner political calculations: To appease the demands of those (few) victims' families looking for someone to blame, and to provide a vehicle to embarrass the Bush Administration. That's the real reason Henry Kissinger and George Mitchell--two men who have acted in the past as statesmen--were hounded out as the original commission leaders on trivial conflict-of-interest grounds.

Yeah, why in the world did anyone object to good ol' Henry Kissinger?

WSJ complains that the commission's report will come out during the presidential campaign, but whose fault is that?  If the Bush Administration hadn't stonewalled so long, they report might have come out last year.

Here's another gem:

As for Iraq, he and other Bush critics want to claim that the U.S. invasion has only created more terrorists--as if there weren't any before March 2003.

Jeez, talk about a straw man. Nobody claimed there weren't any terrorists before March 2003. The charge is that there are more terrorists as a result of Bush's War. And there is evidence to back up this charge.

See, for example, "Why the Qaeda Threat Is Growing" by Tony Karon in Time, March 17.

Last week, CIA director George Tenet told the Senate that al-Qaeda has morphed into a loose and expanding association of regional terror cells linked less by chains of command and communication than by a common vision of jihad against the U.S. The growing embrace of the movement's goals and tactics by terror cells with no direct operational connection to bin Laden's network, said Tenet, means that "a serious threat will remain for the foreseeable future, with or without al-Qaeda in the picture."

This is what Richard Clarke said on Sixty Minutes last night:

Osama bin Laden had been saying for years, 'America wants to invade an Arab country and occupy it, an oil-rich Arab country. He had been saying this. This is part of his propaganda ... we stepped right into bin Laden's propaganda," adds Clarke. "And the result of that is that al Qaeda and organizations like it, offshoots of it, second-generation al Qaeda have been greatly strengthened."

See also "The Secret War" from the March 21 Guardian.

My daddy used to tell me that quail hunting caused an increase in quail populations, because the birds would scatter and begin new flocks. (For the record, he scattered a lot more quail than he ever brought home; every bobwhite in Missouri should thank him.) Similarly, Bush's thrashing about in the Middle East has done more to scatter al Qaeda than kill it. Now where there was an organization there are countless deadly cells, mostl working independently of each other. And as the recent tragedy in Madirid revealed, these cells are capable of carrying out deadly, coordinated attacks.

But the Wall Street Journal pundits won't admit this is happening, because it doesn't fit their ideology. Some people never learn.

Update: See also Billmon, "Aftershock."

Iraq War Hindered Battle Against Terrorism

Al Qaeda's True Nature Eludes the West

8:45 am | link

Hot Links
 
Condi Rice wrote a column for today's Washington Post that talks about how hard the Bush Team worked before 9/11 to counter the threat of al Qaeda. You remember Condi. She's the lying b***h who told CNN viewers in September 2002 that aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq "are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs." At that time U.S. intelligence had already determined that the aluminum tubes were not suitable for nuclear weapons programs. She also said, "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons, but we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." And she also claimed "There clearly are contacts between al-Qaeda and Iraq. ...There clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there's a relationship there."
 
Don't take what Condi says with a grain of salt. You'll want the whole bleeping salt mine. See also "When Rupert Murdoch Calls, Condi Rice Answers."
 
In other news: Today's New York Times story on Richard Clarke was written by Judith Miller. Whoop-di-doo. And Bob Novak claims al Qaeda will be targeting the U.S. in order to defeat George W. Bush.
 
Not a chance. Bush is their boy. He's the best weapon against the U.S. they have.
 
Predictably, right-wing news sites are attacking Richard Clarke as a fraud and a liar. And the Right's favorite Democrat, Joe Lieberman, says Clarke's testimony has no basis in fact. I hope they all enjoyed the Kool-Aid.
 
 
 
 

7:07 am | link

sunday, march 21, 2004

What's It Going to Take?
 
Millions of Americans just watched the Sixty Minutes interview of Richard Clarke. No thinking person who saw it could fail to be queasy, if not alarmed, if not angry, at the sham and fraud and incompetence of the Bush Administration. 
 
Having said that, we all know that a big percentage of those millions of Americans will dismiss everything Clarke said.
 
The Bush Administration's mishandling of terrorism is THE issue that got me inflamed enough to start blogging. And nothing Clarke said on Sixty Minutes is news. Stories about the White House's blundering on the terrorism issue began to emerge just weeks after September 11. For example, Greg Palast and Greg Pallister wrote this for The Guardian:

FBI and military intelligence officials in Washington say they were prevented for political reasons from carrying out full investigations into members of the Bin Laden family in the US before the terrorist attacks of September 11.

US intelligence agencies have come under criticism for their wholesale failure to predict the catastrophe at the World Trade Centre. But some are complaining that their hands were tied.

FBI documents shown on BBC Newsnight last night and obtained by the Guardian show that they had earlier sought to investigate two of Osama bin Laden's relatives in Washington and a Muslim organisation, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), with which they were linked. ["FBI Claims Bin Laden Inquiry Was Frustrated," November 7, 2001]

Remember John O'Neill? And in the spring of 2002 both Time and Newsweek published several stories about the failures of the Bush Administration to pay attention to the terrorist threat. See, for example, Michael Elliott, "How the U.S. Missed the Clues," Time, May 27, 2002. 
 
More recently, one by one, escapees from the Bush White House have spoken out about the incompetence within. These include former domestic policy adviser John DiIulio, who called the Bush Administration "the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis"; counterterroism chief Rand Beers,  who quit in disgust last year and is now working for John Kerry; Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill; and now Clarke. And the picture they paint of the chuckleheads running our country is all too consistent.
 
And you know what else is going to be consistent? Right-wingers will find an excuse to disregard everything Clarke says. They'll call him a kook or a Bush-hater or ascribe some ignoble motivation to Clarke's testimony. They are so desperate to believe that George W. Bush is a great leader that no amount of evidence will dissuade them.
 
We can only hope that enough independent voters see the truth to defeat Bush in November. Assuming the votes in most states are actually counted.
 
 
 
 

Stirling Newberry: The Watergate Syndrome

8:29 pm | link

Punks for Bush
 
An article in today's New York Times magazine expresses surprise that there is a movement of punks for Bush.
 
The only part of the article that surprised me was its unsupported statement that punks are mostly left-wingers. In Europe, maybe. Granted I'm no expert, being firmly stuck in the late sixties-early seventies where pop culture is concerned. But American punks strike me as being either apolitical or dribbled about the right-wing libertarian/skinhead/neofascist extreme of the political spectrum.
 
On the surface it might seem strange that punk, associated with adolescent rebellion and alienation from mainstream culture, would be right-wing. But if you consider the deeper mystery of why so many people continue to support Bush in the face of his obvious incompetence, consider the punk model.
 
With or without tatooes and nose rings, Bushies are people alienated from modernity. They don't like globalism, multiculturalism, tolerance. The modern world intimidates them, and they resent it.
 
Consider, for example, this remarkable passage from a right-wing blog, A Small Victory:

Have they [anti-war protesters] talked to real Iraqi people? Not the ones who have been in America for years and seem to have forgotten their fears with their newfound freedoms, not the Iraqis who want Saddam back in power, but the Iraqis who are still there, striving to make their homeland a place to be proud of? Do they know there are real, existing Iraqis who actually like George Bush, like America and are grateful for what the coalition forces are doing for them? Of course not. If they did, this is what they would hear:

It’s very cozy and comfortable to drink the tea in the morning, getting out of your first-class houses, driving your fancy cars, speaking loudly against your governments, criticizing your prime ministers and presidents, saying “ I want this thing”, “ I don’t agree on this decision”, “ I hate Blair and Bush”…..etc.

Look you coddled pampered people… why don’t you want us to do what you’re doing now ? why don’t you want us to live like you ? Are you idiots? Selfish? Or what ?

You ‘protestors’ I’m sure you didn’t use your mind when you got out of your houses.. just let me tell you something: Otherwise, when you don’t know ANYTHING about Iraq and Iraqis do you know what to do? JUST SHUT UP and stay at home.

I don't know anything about the author, but I suspect his/her expertise on Iraq and Iraqis is no greater than mine, and I make no claims. But what's really interesting to me are some of the underlying assumptions in this passage:
 
First, the author sees those opposed to Bush as being pampered and prosperous, with "fancy houses," and maybe a bit effeminate -- "drinking tea," an act that in America has a whiff of sissyness.
 
Underneath the derision is more than a little resentment. Why? For that matter, why do those on the right so often call liberals "elitists"? This is something I've been struggling with for a while, because liberals generally don't think of themselves as "elitists." If anything, liberals like to celebrate working-class origins and identify with the poor and oppressed. Yet liberals are perceived by the right as being elitist, pampered, soft, spoiled, overprivileged.
 
Behind this perception, this resentment, there must be fear. Why? Is it because American conservatives feel increasingly uncomfortable in the modern world, a world in which cultures and races blend, a world that demands tolerance for the beliefs and values of all? Is it because American conservatives fear modernity, while liberals embrace it?
 
The author of the passage imagines an Iraqi asking anti-war protesters, "why don't you want us to live like you?" Never mind that through much of the 1990s leftists opposed the economic sanctions against Iraq, while the right wing supported it. And never mind that Bush's shocking lack of planning meant that much of Iraq's infrastructure, not to mention hospitals and museums and schools and office buildings -- were destroyed in the aftermath of the war. Is that why we invaded and destroyed and killed tens of thousands of Iraqis? So they could be like us?
 
Right wingers want to destroy whatever frightens them, including cultures that are different. Are we going to wage war on the planet to make the world safe for WalMart and McDonald's?
 
And what if, as seems likely, the free people of Iraq eventually choose to live in an Islamic government? Then they won't be much "like us" at all, will they? Will we have to bomb them some more?
 
Here's a fascinating bit:
 
when you want to refuse something or say that’s wrong, first of all you should study the whole case and discuss it thoroughly before saying it’s wrong, and when you say it’s wrong, GIVE A PROPOSAL to solve the case, now when you said “ No war….” What is the right thing to do to get rid of Saddam and build democratic countries in the region? Tell me …

Wasn't the objective to protect America from terrorists? If so, given that al Qaeda is clearly not defeated (ask Spaniards about that), then what was the point of "getting rid of Saddam" except that he was considered to be a threat to the United States?

Do you think the American people would have supported the war if, a year ago, the Bush Administration had told us, "Look, this guy Saddam has no connection to al Qaeda or September 11, and we're not sure if he still has weapons of mass destruction, but let's invade right now so that Iraq can be prosperous and democratic"?  I doubt it.

Or original objective in Iraq could have been accomplished without war. The inspectors were already back in Iraq; in a few more months, it would have been clear that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was not a threat to anyone. With the country swarming with UN personnel, Saddam wouldn't have been able to gas any villages. And means could have been found to help the people of Iraq economically without killing them. Indeed, without the postwar looting and without the current political instability, it would have been easier and cheaper to do so without the war. 

But we didn't have that dialogue a year ago, not because "liberals" weren't intersted in the welfare of Iraqis, but because the prosperity of Iraqis was not a stated objective for the war at the time.

But that's not really the author's point, is it? Because right after he demands those against the war explain themselves, he tells them to SHUT UP. This brings into question the author's interest in what others have to say.

But back to punks. Punkness is adolscent rebellion writ large. Young people lash out against the culture around them when it frightens them. They don't understand the rules of the world out there, so they create their own culture with their own rules.

And this rebellion against the larger world is at the heart of Bush support. The difference is that, instead of creating a subculture, Bush supporters want to control the world so that whatever frightens them can be controlled, if not eliminated.

They will, of course, fail. But they're going to do a lot more damage before that happens.

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Ben Merens, "Conversations with Ben Merens,"
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September 15, 2004, 90.1 FM.

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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

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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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