The Mahablog: Truth and the Bush Administration

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America -- What Went Wrong?
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Remember September 11
Homeland Insecurity
Peaceniks of the Past
Is It Too Late?
Abe Lincoln, Peace Activist
What Are We Fighting For?
Better Than Teapot Dome!
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The Killer Mothers
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Bush Barf-O-Rama!
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August 29
Partial Transcript, Abrams Report, April 5, 2005

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saturday, june 25, 2005

Clip & Save
To have the sober conversation about the war in Iraq that America badly needs, it is vital to acknowledge three facts:

The war has nothing to do with Sept. 11. Saddam Hussein was a sworn enemy of Washington, but there was no Iraq-Qaeda axis, no connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks on the United States. Yet the president and his supporters continue to duck behind 9/11 whenever they feel pressure about what is happening in Iraq. The most cynical recent example was Karl Rove's absurd and offensive declaration this week that conservatives and liberals had different reactions to 9/11. Let's be clear: Americans of every political stripe were united in their outrage and grief, united in their determination to punish those who plotted the mass murder and united behind the war in Afghanistan, which was an assault on terrorists. Trying to pretend otherwise is the surest recipe for turning political dialogue into meaningless squabbling.

The war has not made the world, or this nation, safer from terrorism. The breeding grounds for terrorists used to be Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia; now Iraq has become one. Of all the justifications for invading Iraq that the administration juggled in the beginning, the only one that has held up over time is the desire to create a democratic nation that could help stabilize the Middle East. Any sensible discussion of what to do next has to begin by acknowledging that. The surest way to make sure that conversation does not happen is for the administration to continue pasting the "soft on terror" label on those who want to talk about the war.

If the war is going according to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan. Progress has been measurable on the political front. But even staunch supporters of the war, like the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a hearing this week that President Bush was losing public support because the military effort was not keeping pace. A top general said this week that the insurgency was growing. The frequency of attacks is steady, or rising a bit, while the repulsive tactic of suicide bombings has made them more deadly.

If things are going to be turned around, there has to be an honest discussion about what is happening. But Mr. Rumsfeld was not interested. Sneering at his Democratic questioners, he insisted everything was on track and claimed "dozens of trained battalions are capable of conducting anti-insurgent operations" with American support. That would be great news if it were true. Gen. George Casey, the commander in Iraq, was more honest, saying he hoped there would be "a good number of units" capable of doing that "before the end of this year."

Americans cannot judge for themselves because the administration has decided to make the information secret. Senator John McCain spoke for us when he expressed his disbelief at this news. "I think the American people need to know," he said. "They are the ones who are paying for this conflict."

I'm stepping over copyright and using the whole editorial because I really, really want to keep it. (But please click to the New York Times web site and read some of their ads!)
Also via Stirling, Max and Angry Bear discuss some of the many ways we are vulnerable to China. See also this New York Times editorial.
Via Steve M, Dan Mitchell writes in the New York Times about all the wonderful technological progress we've made under our MBA president:
President Bill Clinton and Al Gore, his vice president, did much to encourage development of the country's technology infrastructure, writes Thomas Bleha in an article accessible on the Foreign Affairs magazine Web site (

From the 1960's until the day President Bush took office, he writes, "The United States led the world in Internet development."

No longer. The Bush administration's policies, or lack thereof, have since allowed Asia - Japan in particular - to not only catch up in the development and expansion of broadband and mobile phone technology, but to roundly pound us into the dirt....
And speaking of incompetence, Jeanne d'Arc has a follow-up to the Italian arrest warrant story that I know you will want to read.
10:05 pm | link

friday, june 24, 2005

Righties Revise Rove Remarks
The White House and the rest of the VRWC are trying to soften Karl Rove's remarks of Wednesday night by suggesting he was only talking about, or about and Michael Moore, or about MoveOn, Michael Moore and Howard Dean.
Here's what Karl said:

...There is much merit in what Mr. Starr writes - though he and I fundamentally disagree as to why liberalism is edging toward irrelevance. I believe the reason can be seen when comparing conservatism with liberalism.

Conservatives believe in lower taxes; liberals believe in higher taxes. We want few regulations; they want more. Conservatives measure the effectiveness of government programs by results; liberals measure the effectiveness of government programs by inputs. We believe in curbing the size of government; they believe in expanding the size of government. Conservatives believe in making America a less litigious society; liberals believe in making America a more litigious society. We believe in accountability and parental choice in education; they don't. Conservatives believe in advancing what Pope John Paul II called a "culture of life"; liberals believe there is an absolute unlimited right to abortion.

But perhaps the most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. In the wake of 9/11, conservatives believed it was time to unleash the might and power of the United States military against the Taliban; in the wake of 9/11, liberals believed it was time to… submit a petition. I am not joking. Submitting a petition is precisely what did. It was a petition imploring the powers that be" to "use moderation and restraint in responding to the… terrorist attacks against the United States."

He said liberals. He didn't say, " saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." He said liberals. The context of the remarks is clear: Conservatives are this, but liberals are that. Then he offered MoveOn as an example of liberal wussiness.

He said liberals.

Andrew Sullivan:

The rubric Rove used was the "conservative-liberal" rubric, in which the entire polity is bifurcated into one type or the other. All non-liberals are, in Rove's rubric, conservatives; and all non-conservatives are liberals. This is in keeping with the very familiar electoral tactic of describing even moderate or centrist Democrats as "liberals" with as broad a brush as possible. Rove, in other words, cannot have it both ways. He cannot both use the word liberal to describe everyone who is not a Republican and then, in other contexts, say he means it only for the hard left. Rove is a smart guy. He picked his words carefully. A simple addition of the word "some" would have rendered his comments completely inoffensive. But he left that qualifier out. For a reason. I see no difference between his generalizations and Howard Dean's unhinged rants about Republicans. Except that Rove is running an administration that is running a vital war. With that kind of power should come a tiny bit more responsibility.

It's true that there were some liberals opposed to a military response to 9/11. I believe these were a small minority, but some. I believe Michael Moore was one; Howard Dean, however, was not. In any event, I have never felt a need to "repudiate" people just for holding an opinion different from mine. On the whole, liberals put less stock in ideological purity than conservatives do. And, on the whole, liberals were behind a hard and fast response to the 9/11 attacks.    

Regarding MoveOn, it appears to me the righties are trying to conflate positions taken by individuals associated with MoveOn and the positions of the organization itself. Or not. So far they haven't shown me anything that proves MoveOn opposed military action in Afghanistan.

And Karl Rove said liberals

Go read what New Yorker Steve Gilliard wrote. Here's just a part:

 As a New York, I find this the equvilient of blood libel. (You know, the lie that the Jews used Christian babies blood for matzoh). No one asked what party 343 firemen belonged to when they died, or the 34 policemen. No one asked what party nine members of the 69th Regiment, New York City's own infantry regiment with a lineage going back to WW I, were when they were killed in Iraq, two of whom were immigrants, one a Pakistani muslim. No one asked and no one cared.

To say that New Yorkers, who are 5-1 Democrats, are shirking from the service of their country is an insult to them and their service. No one asked for party enrollment when they took their oath and it is wrong to suggest that it matters now. Many New Yorkers, and Califonians as well, have died in the service of their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But, to you. birdman, I think it makes you feel all big and manly to say that. After all, you're not going to Iraq. You're not burying anyone killed there. So why should care if they're defamed by the President's aide? It doesn't effect anyone you know. right?

Let me explain something birdman: I smelled the dead in my windows for a week after 9/11. While you sat back and worried about some Sikh blowing up your mall, every time I took a breath, burning flesh and paper filled my nose. Every day, for a year, I opened the paper to read about yet another funeral. On nice, sunny days, I get reminded of 9/11.

Then, I get to read about how Congress wants to pull $125m in aid for Ground Zero workers.

So don't fucking lecture me about defending the people who protect my city. You don't drive by the firehouse memorials on every goddamn firehouse in the city. You don't see the stories about fucked up families left behind. You live in a fantasy world where big strong men kill the brown people and make you feel like a man. We know what they did for us far better than you ever will, no matter how much you pretend to understand. You don't. And you never will and you never want to.


yellophant.gifThere's nothing that enrages me more than the smug assumption of a lot of righties that they own 9/11. Invariably these people were hundreds of miles away at the time. Yet they think they can dictate to New Yorkers what's going to be built on Ground Zero; they think they can lecture New Yorkers about the dangers of terrorism.

I say it's time for the righties to think again.

But now the righties are trying to stand by Karl's remarks while fudging what he actually said. Don't let them get away with this.

He said liberals.

9:05 pm | link

America's founders knew all too well how war appeals to the vanity of rulers and their thirst for glory. That's why they took care to deny presidents the kingly privilege of making war at their own discretion.
But after 9/11 President Bush, with obvious relish, declared himself a "war president." And he kept the nation focused on martial matters by morphing the pursuit of Al Qaeda into a war against Saddam Hussein.

In November 2002, Helen Thomas, the veteran White House correspondent, told an audience, "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war" - but she made it clear that Mr. Bush was the exception. And she was right.

And we've learned from Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill and the Downing Street Memos that the Bushies were so eager to go to war with Iraq that they manufactured the casus belli out of thin air.

No, not reluctant at all.

And here, friends, is exactly where we are now: 

The United States will soon have to start reducing force levels in Iraq, or risk seeing the volunteer Army collapse. Yet the administration and its supporters have effectively prevented any adult discussion of the need to get out.

On one side, the people who sold this war, unable to face up to the fact that their fantasies of a splendid little war have led to disaster, are still peddling illusions: the insurgency is in its "last throes," says Dick Cheney. On the other, they still have moderates and even liberals intimidated: anyone who suggests that the United States will have to settle for something that falls far short of victory is accused of being unpatriotic.

We need to deprive these people of their ability to mislead and intimidate. And the best way to do that is to make it clear that the people who led us to war on false pretenses have no credibility, and no right to lecture the rest of us about patriotism.

Yep, that's it. That's exactly it.

3:50 pm | link

Torture News Update!
Via The Heretik: An Italian judge ordered the arrest of 13 CIA agents for kidnapping an imam and "rendering" him to Egypt.
Prosecutors believe the officers seized Omar as part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, according to reports Friday in newspapers Corriere della Sera and Il Giorno.

The statement said Omar was attacked by two people while walking from home to a local mosque and hustled into a white van. He was taken to Aviano, a joint U.S.-Italian base north of Venice; another American air base in Ramstein, Germany; and then Cairo.

Investigators confirmed the abduction through an eyewitness account and other, unidentified witnesses, the statement said. .

The statement said Omar was abused by interrogators in Egypt, according to phone calls made by Omar from Egypt to his wife and another unnamed Egyptian citizen in April-May, 2004.

Italian papers have reported that Omar, 42, said in the calls he was tortured with electric shocks.

On Friday, Corriere della Sera cited another Milan-based imam as telling Italian authorities that Omar had been tortured in Egypt after refusing to work in Italy as an informer.

According to the testimony, Omar was hung upside down and subjected to extreme temperatures and loud noise that damaged his hearing, Corriere reported.

The judge also issued an arrest warrant for Omar on terrorism charges.  "In that warrant, Judge Guido Salvini claimed the seizure of Omar represented a violation of Italian sovereignty, according to Italian news agency Apcom. "

I've been wondering how the CIA was getting away with snatching so many people on foreign soil. I guess maybe now they won't always get away with it.

3:05 pm | link

Today's Torture News!
Some blabbermouth in the UN revealed that the US has admitted to acts of torture in the Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq "detention facilities." I was excited until I read further into this article--  
"They haven't avoided anything in their answers, whether concerning prisoners in Iraq, in Afghanistan or Guantanamo, and other accusations of mistreatment and of torture," the Committee member said.

"They said it was a question of isolated cases, that there was nothing systematic and that the guilty were in the process of being punished."

The US report said that those involved were low-ranking members of the military and that their acts were not approved by their superiors, the member added.

Yeah, right.

We may be looking at a new variation on plausible deniability. I don't for a minute think the White House is out of the loop. However, I do suspect that great care has been taken not to leave a documentation trail to upper management. It's also possible the Bushies are making small admissions now to innocuate the White House from the political impact of bigger revelations to come.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Jeanne d'Arc has the Annotated Quote of the Day:

"There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people. They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want." -- Dick Cheney

Kinda makes you want to send Dick the Dick to Gitmo so he can enjoy the facilities himself, huh?

Via Diane Greenhalgh at TAPPED, be sure to check out Torture and Tribunals


Must read: Stirling Newberry, "Reality Rains Down on the Republicans"

1:39 pm | link

Stealing Home
Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that local governments may seize peoples' homes and businesses, even against their will, for private development. This is an appalling decision, IMO. But what puzzles me is why the righties are appalled also.
Don't the righties know that seizures such as those challenged by Kelo v. the City of New London made it possible for George W. Bush to be in the White House today?
Robert Bryce wrote in the May, 1997 issue of Texas Observer that, as a co-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, Bush took part in an eminent domain scam that made him a wealthy man. Bryce wrote of Governor Bush in 1997:
Bush, who owns 1.8 percent of the Rangers, has been personally  enriched by using the "governing elite" and the "central bureaucracy" not only to confiscate land for private  purposes, but to get a huge public subsidy for a stadium that generates profits for himself and the Texas  Rangers. Though Bush's present ownership percentage in the team is relatively small, the asset represents  a large part of his personal wealth; moreover, Bush's deal with the team includes a provision that will  almost certainly multiply his future ownership interest to 11 percent.

Briefly, here's what happened on the Ballpark deal. Bush and his partners in the Rangers convinced  Arlington officials to:

pass a half cent sales tax to pay for 70 percent of the stadium;   use the government's powers of eminent domain to condemn land the Rangers couldn't or didn't  want to buy on the open market;   give the Rangers control over what happens in and around the stadium;  allow the Rangers to buy the stadium (which cost $191 million to construct) for just $60 million;   finally, after twelve years as the sole occupant and primary beneficiary of the stadium project, the Rangers, a privately owned business, can take title to the most expensive stadium ever built in Texas for the $60 million worth of rent and upkeep they will have already paid the city.

Through the Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority, a quasi-governmental entity endowed with the power of eminent domain, Bush and the other owners condemned several acres of land near the stadium site, "compensating" the landowners much, much less than what the land was actually worth.
For example, the ASFDA offered one family (heirs of Canadian television manufacturer Curtis Mathes) $817,220 for three parcels of land valued by the ASFDA's own appraiser at $1.5 million. A court eventually awarded the Mathes clan $4.98 million, plus accumulated interest. Court judgments for other wronged landowners raised the total to $11 million.
The ASFDA refused to pay the. The city of Arlington made the payment and fought to get the ASFDA to reimburse the city. Eventually, in 1999, the team owners paid the city.
But even after paying the $11 million, the stadium deal remained sweet for the Rangers owners.

Between the sales tax revenue, state tax exemptions, and other financial incentives, Texas taxpayers handed the privately owned Rangers more than $200 million in public subsidies. Taxpayers didn't get a return from the stadium's surging new revenues, either. The profits went almost exclusively to the team's already wealthy owners.

Another former landowner was a fella named Bucky Fanning. The New York Daily News published this in 2002: 

Two hours southwest of Arlington, in the grimy office of his Whitney, Tex., used-car lot, Bucky Fanning puffs on a cigarette and talks about how his family got the short end of the stadium stick, how the city of Arlington seized his family's horse ranch in 1991 and gave it to the Texas Rangers. There were winners in the deal, he says - among them George W. Bush and his partners, and Tom Hicks, the wealthy real estate developer they sold the team to - and there were losers.

He was one of the losers.

"Anybody who was in their way, they just ran them over," says Fanning, a soft-spoken man whose anger rises as he talks about the ballpark. "I used to be a Rangers fan, but then they stole my property."

Fanning's grandparents bought the 10-acre spread in 1942 to raise Thoroughbreds. Now it is a little-used parking lot on the east side of the stadium. "Bush didn't need our land for a ballpark," Fanning says. "He wanted it for his own personal gain."

According to court documents from lawsuits filed by Fanning and other Arlington landowners, the Bush partnership wasn't just interested in baseball: The group hoped to profit by developing property around the new park.

The city of Arlington gave in to the demands of the team owners because it figured the promised development would be good for the city. The kicker is that the land was never developed.

A decade later, the land remains undeveloped. The riverwalk is a sidewalk next to a muddy creek in an empty park named after Greene. The amphitheater is a slab of concrete. The silt-choked lake is too shallow for sailing, and the gondolas were never built.

"They lied through their teeth," says Arlington businessman Bill Eastland, a ballpark critic.

This is from the Buying of the President 2000 by the Center for Public Integrity :

...Bush and his partners weren't satisfied lining their pockets with average Texans' hard-earned cash. They wanted land around the stadium to further boost its value. To that end, they orchestrated a land grab that shortchanged local landowners by several million dollars. ...

...When confronted with the seamy details of the land grab, Bush professed ignorance. But Tom Schieffer, the team's president, has testified that he kept Bush aware of the land transfers. In October 1990, Bush also let slip to a reporter for the Fort Worth Star- Telegram, "The idea of making a land play, absolutely, to plunk the field down in the middle of a big piece of land, that's kind of always been the strategy."

Those paying attention to the Bush saga understand that it was Bush's association with the Rangers, plus the money and connections he acquired as a team owner, that made Bush a viable candidate for Governor of Texas in 1994. And the rest is history. Very sordid, very dirty, history.
The righties should be careful about opposing the Kelo decision. Without corruption, usurpation, and greed, where will be next generation of conservative leaders come from?
7:58 am | link

thursday, june 23, 2005

Public Enemy
I'm watching David Gergen on MSNBC Countdown--Gergen is "very surprised" at Karl Rove's recent remarks. Gergen thinks Karl "should take care of this himself" and apologize, but that Karl Rove should not be fired. Gergen is, of course, famous for his genteel and thoughtful mushiness. 
Strategy--what appears to be happening, Gergen said, is that the Republicans have been racheting up their rhetoric as the publc mood has soured toward Iraq. There's been an obvious decision in the White Wouse to step up the rhetorical attacks against Democrats. Remember, the President recently called the Dems obstructionists. Now, said Gergen, Karl "tars them with this terrible brush." Rove's remarks "historically inaccurate." Karl Rove has gone over the line. Nor, says Gergen, do the remarks appear to be off-the-cuff. Americans are tired of the BS, Gergen said.
More bloggers shout out--see John in DC at AMERICAblog for more evidence that Karl's insult of a majority of Americans is just part of a White House propaganda campaign.
1. The White House released the TEXT of Rove's speech today. According to my sources who know about such things, that NEVER happens. This is prima facie evidence that the White House coordinated this thing from the beginning.

The RNC put out talking points today about how the Democrats "blamed America" for September 11. Those detailed talking points were clearly prepared well in advance of this noon today when this thing blew up. WE BLAMED AMERICA?

3. The RNC today reportedly released a new attack web ad going after Durbin for his comments about Guantanamo Bay. Isn't that convenient that something that took at least a few days to prepare was suddenly ready today at the same time that Karl Rove made his comments that anyone who recognizes that Bush has no idea what's going on Iraq is a traitor who loves Osama.
The big question is whether we are seeing miscues by the administration or whether they are simply trying to rile up the base to change the conversation. Some signs point to a tactical decision. Bush himself recently gave quite a petulant little speech recently in which he blamed all his troubles on the Democrats (I guess having a majority in both houses just isn't what it used to be) --- although he didn't stoop to puerile Ann Coulter level snottiness as Rove did.

Karl Rove's un-American attacks on those who disagree with him deserve the condemnation they're receiving. I've known him for 20 years, and I'm not surprised he said them. He's a socially inept but patient thug whose willingness to haunt the nation's dark political alleys for years, waiting for the right time and the right victims, is too often taken for unparalleled political intelligence. ...

... Rove's a hack. His strength comes from his immorality. There are no barriers. If power didn't corrupt, Rove would have corrupted it.

I've been on the road in America for much of the last two years. I'm asked all the time about the need for Democrats to find their own Karl Rove. If we ever find such a monster in our midst, we should exile him.

I like the black hat Rove wears, but it troubles me that so many people believe he really is a political genius. He's just pathological.

For years I've suspected that Rove is stuck in an adolescent rage, taking revenge upon the Civil Rights marchers (whose courage he couldn't match), the anti-war organizers (who beat him), and those who believe in and struggle for democracy (who drove off Nixon).

I don't recommend therapy for Bin Laden. But Rove might give Dr. Laura a call.

As a veteran of eight years in therapy, and a fascinated student of the process, it should be noted that people who publicly deride it tend to actually be those who know they need it most. Latent On-the-Couch-iality or something. Somewhere from deep inside Mr. Rove is screaming "get me a shrink."
I wrote awhile back that Bush may be a one-trick pony. Maybe Karl is, also. He wins by sheer meanness. by demonizing the opposition. So now he's trying to build up Junior by smearing a whole lot of American citizens. That's his trick. That's his one and only trick.
8:20 pm | link

You Weren't There, Karl. I Was.
Words cannot express the contempt I feel for Karl Rove and for the chorus of brainless little yappers applauding his recent remarks on liberal reactions to 9/11.
I'd like to ask Karl and his puppies to stand anywhere in the vincinity of Ground Zero and repeat Karl's fatuous, lying remarks to a crowd of New Yorkers.
Whole lotta liberals in New York. Whole lotta those liberal New Yorkers lost someone in the towers. Whole lotta liberal New Yorkers who lost someone in the towers might want to break Karl's jaw today. Karl would be well advised to keep his sorry ass out of New York from now on.
Junior got less than a quarter of the New York City vote last November, as I recall. Yeah, the people most closely affected by 9/11, who are most intimate with it, are less than impressed with Junior and his war on terra. 
You have to go away from New York City, to places where people barely remember watching the towers collapse on television, to find people still willing to listen to the crap that spews out of Karl's mouth. All 9/11 means to them is an excuse to advance their  hard right agenda and pound the stuffing out of Muslims. And any Muslims will do.
Justice for the dead of 9/11 went on the back burner as soon as Bush decided to invade Iraq. (9/12?)
I want Karl to apologize. Hell, I want him to apologize to me. Personally. Sincerely. And I want the yappy little puppies to look me in the eyes and say, Sorry, I guess we don't know you very well. We misjudged you. We take back what we said.
That karma wheel keeps turnin' children. Take care.
Update update: I want to thank Peter Daou for highlighting the Karl Rove outrage today. See also what David Corn wrote.
Moveon PAC issued this statement (that I received by email):

MoveOn PAC


Statement by Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn PAC,

in Response to Karl Rove’s Attempt to Distract Attention from

President’s Failed Iraq Policy:


Karl Rove is trying to change the subject on the President’s failed Iraq policy. Even members of his own party, like Senator Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, has criticized the Administration as “...completely disconnected from reality. It’s like they’re making it up as they go along....” Recent polls show growing majorities want an exit strategy. Lying about MoveOn won't solve Rove’s problem. MoveOn did not oppose the U.S. military action in Afghanistan.


I want to see mighty fists of fury, people. Verbal ones, anyway. Rove must be crushed.  
Update update update: Via Oliver Willis: Families of September 11 slam Rove and demand that he shut the bleep up.
1:59 pm | link

Clear and Present
Michael Smith, the London Times reporter who introducted the world to the Downing Street Memos, writes in today's Los Angeles Times that the press and public are missing the real news in the memos.
The real news, he says, is not that intelligence was "fixed" to justify war. The real news is the way Bush and Blair conspired to create a facade of legality for their little escapade in Iraq.

My main article focused on the separate briefing paper for those taking part, prepared beforehand by Cabinet Office experts.

It said that Blair agreed at Crawford that "the UK would support military action to bring about regime change." Because this was illegal, the officials noted, it was "necessary to create the conditions in which we could legally support military action." 

For whatever reason--oil, IMO, is just a small part of the reason--Bush really wanted to invade Iraq. And I'm sure Cheney really wanted to invade Iraq. And spoiled boys are used to getting what they want. So here's plan A:
Although Blair and Bush still insist the decision to go to the U.N. was about averting war, one memo states that it was, in fact, about "wrong-footing" Hussein into giving them a legal justification for war.

British officials hoped the [UN] ultimatum could be framed in words that would be so unacceptable to Hussein that he would reject it outright. But they were far from certain this would work, so there was also a Plan B.

Plan B appears in the July 23 memo, which

...quotes British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying that "the U.S. had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime." This we now realize was Plan B.

Put simply, U.S. aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone were dropping a lot more bombs in the hope of provoking a reaction that would give the allies an excuse to carry out a full-scale bombing campaign, an air war, the first stage of the conflict.

British government figures for the number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq in 2002 show that although virtually none were used in March and April, an average of 10 tons a month were dropped between May and August.

And let us not forget that in the summer of 2002, the Bushies siphoned $700 million from money appropriated for Afghanistan and used it for pre-Iraq War "prep."

But these initial "spikes of activity" didn't have the desired effect. The Iraqis didn't retaliate. They didn't provide the excuse Bush and Blair needed. So at the end of August, the allies dramatically intensified the bombing into what was effectively the initial air war.

The number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq by allied aircraft shot up to 54.6 tons in September alone, with the increased rates continuing into 2003.

In other words, Bush and Blair began their war not in March 2003, as everyone believed, but at the end of August 2002, six weeks before Congress approved military action against Iraq.

Michael Smith is right; this is the real news that the media and politicians have not yet addressed. 

The real news is the shady April 2002 deal to go to war, the cynical use of the U.N. to provide an excuse, and the secret, illegal air war without the backing of Congress.

When you throw in the facts that Bush exceeded the authority given him by the 2002 Senate resolution and violated the War Powers Act, the words "impeachable offense" do spring to mind.

See also: Molly Ivins, "Dismissing Downing Street"

6:56 am | link

wednesday, june 22, 2005

That Girl
Michelle Malkin is so cute. Just look at her new excuse for Guantanamo: 

The "maverick" Sen. John McCain echoed one of the Left's most oft-cited and erroneous complaints about Gitmo on NBC's "Meet The Press" this weekend -- that detainees have been denied trials:

 "The weight of evidence has got to be that we've got to adjudicate these people's cases, and . . . if it means releasing some of them, you'll have to release them. Look, even Adolf Eichmann got a trial." (Can we put a lid on the Nazi analogies already? Crikey. A Knight-Ridder reporter was too smitten to be bothered by his Eichmann-invoking hyperbole: "McCain is emerging as a voice of conscience and nuance on the stay-or-go Guantanamo issue." Nuance?)

[And, like, what would McCain know about military detention, anyway? Vietnam is so over.]

 GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham, another newly christened "maverick" who appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball" last week, lodged similar allegations about the absence of trials for Gitmo detainees:

  "We need a procedure and process that will allow us to determine who an enemy combatant is, interrogate them to make us safer in a humane way, and set up trials for the worst offenders and repatriate those who -- who don't meet the category of a -- of a threat. That, to me, would look good to the world. It would make us safer."

 My friend, Judge Andrew Napolitano, made a similar assertion on Fox News's "O'Reilly Factor" last week: "The government is not giving them those trials."

 And now, the facts:

 Every single detainee currently being held at Guantanamo Bay has received a hearing before a military tribunal. Every one.

Oh, that dear, sweet, innocent girl. She really thinks that a military tribunal held out of sight of the rest of the world is just as good as a trial. How cute!
(Of course, a few detainees have been released, as Lulu says, but we don't want to look real hard at how long those innocent people were detained, and what was done to them before the military tribunal decided they were innocent.)
I swear, Little Lulu should star in her own sitcom. Any ideas for a name for the show? I was thinking "Stupid Twit," but maybe that's not cute enough.
4:39 pm | link

Following up my declaration of yesterday that Dick the Dick is always wrong-- today Dan Froomkin writes that Dick the Dick is getting his way on a couple of issues. Yesterday Scott McClellan (after being squeezed) admitted to White House support for Dick the Dick's "the insurgency is in its last throes" theory. And last night, on Hardball, Karl Rove said he believed Dick the Dick is correct.
Froomkin also points to this Jim VandeHei WaPo article, which says,
Two administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Vice President Cheney has made Bolton's nomination a personal priority and lobbied Bush to keep fighting for an up-or-down vote.
Even Republicans are starting to say that the fight over Bolton isn't worth it. Bush is putting his second-term agenda, whatever it is, in jeopardy. Is Dick the Dick driving this fiasco? Remember, "At the start of each of Bush's bad ideas is Dick Cheney." See also "Confidence Men," in which Josh Marshall argues that the Bushies might run a tight ship, but they have no clue where to steer it.
An update on Blame Bush for North Korea's Nukes: "North Korean leader Kim Jong-il attempted to engage President Bush directly on the nuclear weapons issue three years ago but the administration spurned the overture," according to Asian experts interviewed by Reuters.
Big mistake. Durbin was right, and giving in to the thugs just encourages them.
2:26 pm | link

Day by Day
Reason #87 to watch The Daily Show: You get to see clips of stuff like this:

Q Mr. President, we were told that you planned to sharpen your focus on Iraq. Why did this become necessary? And given the recent surge in violence, do you agree with Vice President Dick Cheney's assessment that the insurgency is in its last throes?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Adam, I think about Iraq every day -- every single day ... And so, you know, I think about this every day, every single day, and will continue thinking about it...

Yes, he thinks about the war he started every day. And he will continue thinking about it until the "mission" is accomplished. What a guy.

Of course, sooner or later the Bushies will reveal that the mission, the real mission, was to utterly f--- up the Middle East. And this has been the mission all along; the true and original and only mission. Anyone who says the original mission was to find weapons of mass destruction or to bring democracy to Iraq will be relentlessly vilified by the entire Right Blogosphere, and Peggy Noonan will marvel at how brilliant, how noble, how bold it was for Bush to utterly f--- up the Middle East. No wimpy little Democrat could have done that. 

And anyone who disagrees will be rendered to a thought correction camp until he apologizes for his error.


In light of growing disfavor with the war, a few Democrats are "sharpening their criticisms," according to Charles Babington and Dan Balz of the Washington Post. Sen. Joe Biden, who has been making noises about seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, said "disaster in Iraq is 'a real possibility.'"

A possibility? Maybe Biden should continue to think about it.

The White House continues to insist that progress is being made in Iraq. Maybe it is, but not necessarily by our side. Douglas Jehl writes in today's New York Times that Iraq is proving to be an invaluable training tool for Islamic militants.

A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.

The assessment, completed last month and circulated among government agencies, was described in recent days by several Congressional and intelligence officials. The officials said it made clear that the war was likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispersing to other countries Iraqi and foreign combatants more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict.

Thanks loads, George. Maybe you should have thought about that.

Meanwhile, families of dead soldiers are demanding more than half-assed rhetoric. They want the truth. Unfortunately, the truth may be more than we can bear.

7:33 am | link

tuesday, june 21, 2005

Do the Duck
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released yesterday says that nearly six in ten Americans oppose the war in Iraq. Steve Soto points out that opposition to the war is up 12 points since March. Support for the war fell 11 points in the same period.
Jim VandeHei writes in today's Washington Post that Bush is fightin' back.  
President Bush said yesterday that "cold-blooded" killers will fail in their attempt to drive the United States out of Iraq prematurely, as he defended the administration's war strategy and its policies for secretly detaining hundreds of alleged terrorists around the world.

After meeting with two leaders of the European Union at the White House, Bush told reporters he regrets the mounting loss of life in Iraq but has no plans to change the U.S. policy for securing Iraq, training a new Iraqi military and staying as long as necessary to prevail. A growing number of lawmakers and military experts are predicting it will be at least two years before Bush can significantly reduce the number of U.S. troops, currently about 140,000. Some lawmakers, including Republicans who supported the war, have proposed setting a timetable to begin pulling out by this fall.

And how will Bush defend his policies?  "The president's short-term solution to ease the public anxiety is to spend more time talking about the mission and his vision for victory, aides say," writes VandeHei. Whoop-di-doo.
Just what is the mission, btw? It changes so often I lose track. Speaking of which, Democracy for America has a new video clip of the Downing Street Memos that needs to be spread around. 
E.J. Dionne has a must-read column in today's Washington Post. 
Because the White House failed to prepare Americans for what was to come, the administration now faces a backlash. Over the weekend Bush said that the terrorists in Iraq were seeking to "weaken our nation's resolve." But the rising impatience about which Bush complains is a direct result of the administration's blithe dismissal of those who warned just how tough the going could get.
The basic question, bluntly put, is this: Are the Bushies liars, or just stupid? Dionne writes,
The assertion of the "Downing Street Memo" that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" of invasion has understandably become a rallying point for the war's opponents. But in some ways more devastating are other recently disclosed documents in which British officials warned that "there was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action." The British worried at the time that "U.S. military plans are virtually silent" on the fact that "a postwar occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise."

The most damaging document supporting this claim is not secret, and remains one of the most important artifacts of the prewar debate. It is the transcript of "Meet the Press" from March 16, 2003, in which Vice President Cheney gave voice to the administration's optimistic assumptions that have now been laid low by reality.

Host Tim Russert asked whether "we would have to have several hundred thousand troops there" in Iraq "for several years in order to maintain stability." Cheney replied: "I disagree." He wouldn't say how many troops were needed, but he added that "to suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the conflict ends, I don't think is accurate. I think that's an overstatement."

Russert asked: "If your analysis is not correct, and we're not treated as liberators but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?"

Cheney would have none of it. "Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I've talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. . . . The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want [is to] get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that."

Russert: "And you are convinced the Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shiites will come together in a democracy?"

Cheney: "They have so far." And the vice president concluded: "I think the prospects of being able to achieve this kind of success, if you will, from a political standpoint, are probably better than they would be for virtually any other country and under similar circumstances in that part of the world."

I'm going to say it plain: Dick the Dick Cheney is always wrong. He was wrong about the invasion. He was wrong about Saddam Hussein's weapons capabilities. He was wrong about the bleeping aluminum tubes and the famous yellowcake uranium from Niger. He's been wrong about energy policy and securities reform. He was head of an anti-terrorism task force before 9/11, and we know how that turned out.
If that man ever says the sun's going to come up in the morning, brace for a massive planetary catastrophe.
Billmon wrote a thoughtful post on what these numbers might mean, particularly in light of the fact that Bush's overall approval ratings are higher.  "Bush seems to have hit bottom (in roughly the 45-48% approval range) while support for the war is still looking for one." Is the 45-48% really a solid base that won't budge? Billmon says,
It may mean Bush has fallen to, and held, his natural conservative base. Or, it may just show the stubborn persistence of Shrub's post 9/11 cult of personality -- and not just among the GOP true believers -- which has allowed many loyal Bush fans to detach their opinion of him from their feelings about the war he started.
I don't know if Bush's approval rating will ever fall below 45 percent. I think it would be extraordinary if he can get above 50 percent again. He'd have to do something right first.
3:56 pm | link

More Egalitarian Than Thou
Howard Kurtz celebrates Slacker Tuesday with a column that's mostly cut-and-paste from blogs. First, he pastes from this Chris Bowers MyDD post, in which Mr. Bowers argues that lefties are more egalitarian than righties.
The left-wing blogosphere is beginning to decidedly pull away from the right wing blogosphere in terms of traffic. This is largely a result of the open embrace of community blogging on the left and the stagnant, anti-meritorious nature of the right-wing blogosphere that pushes new, emerging voices to the margins . . .
Of the twenty-four liberal blogs in the top quintile, Dailykos, TPM Café, Smirking Chimp, Metafilter, BooMan Tribune, MyDD, and Dembloggers are full-fledged community sites where members cannot only comment, but they can also post diaries / articles / polls. By comparison, there are no community sites among the top twenty-four conservative blogs. None, zip, zero, nada. This is particularly stunning when one considers the importance of the Free Republic community to the conservative netroots.
While it would appear that there are hordes of Glenn Reynolds wannabe's among conservatives in the netroots, sticks out as the only success story for a community oriented blog within the conservative blogosphere. In fact, of the five most trafficked conservative blogs (over 200,000 page views per week), only one, Little Green Footballs, even allows comments, much less the ability to actually write a diary or a new article.
Then, Kurtz quotes Patrick Ruffini, a former Bush-Cheney campaign aide:
Conservative blogs may be smaller, but they are more densely interconnected. Conversation on conservative blogs is just as likely to happen between blogs as within them. In fact, I've noticed a unique phenomenon emerging right here: quite often, my number of trackbacks rivals, and sometimes exceeds, the number of comments. In terms of solid, valuable interaction, trackbacks are pure gold: they tell you that someone thought enough of your post not just to respond to it on a seldom-read comments page or diary, but to give it prime real estate in their personal space, all the while sending visitors your way....
...We have quite a paradox here: liberal blogging is thoroughly centralized and highly stratified, with Kos at the very top of the pyramid. The conservative blogosphere is more cooperative and egalitarian, with plenty of Kumbaya-singing, beer-swilling, and link-swapping around the campfire. In the conservative blogopshere, it's leave no blog behind.
What I think: I believe Chris Bowers has a legitimate point about the big community blogs. In fact, seems to me group and community blogs are becoming more common on the Left than us single-blogger dinosaurs. There seem to be new group blogs forming all the time, such as Big Brass Blog, launched in February and already successful. I don't see the same thing happening on the Right.
Mr. Ruffini's comments on trackbacks are interesting, because I've noticed trackbacks don't work across blogging platforms and do not really provide a measure of who is linking to whom. For example, my trackback function works only when the linked site also uses holoscan, and then only sporadically. Most of the links to my posts don't show up in trackback. When I link to other posts, I hardly ever see a trackback to Mahablog. Are rightie blogs all using Blogger, or some other common blog tool?
Further, recently I've noticed some rightie bloggers using trackback to drive traffic to their sites. Desperation?
This takes me to something else Chris Bowers said, which is that rightie blogs have better message discipline. You can see this on memeorandum. The righties are better at driving "their" news items to the top of the page, because they'll all link to the same stories. Once in a while a "leftie" news item gets to the top, but not as often.
By the same token, seems to me much of the Right Blogosphere amounts to posts linking to Glennie or Hugh Hooey or somebody at NRO, and saying, "yeah, what he said." On the other hand, I think the Left values a fresh perspective or new information more than "me too" posts.
Regarding Kos: I don't condisder Daily Kos to be anything special. I check in with it once or twice a day, but I check in with a lot of other blogs once or twice a day. Kos has more content that changes more frequently, meaning you can click on it once every ten minutes and always see something new, and this drives traffic. No question Kos gets more traffic than any other leftie blog. I've spoken to other rightie bloggers who seem to assume that Kos holds some special leadership position and we all follow him.
Not that I've noticed. I've linked to a lot of Kos posts, but I've probably linked to Digby, Billmon, and BOP News a lot more.
10:15 am | link

monday, june 20, 2005

Bolton Blocked
The Senate Dems are puttin' up a fight.
Senate Democrats on Monday once again blocked the nomination of John Bolton to be America's ambassador to the United Nations, setting the stage for President Bush to consider bypassing Senate confirmation by appointing Bolton while Congress is on a weeklong July Fourth recess.
Hmmm, if anybody hears about anti-Bolton demonstrations in DC around the 4th of July weekend, let me know.

Democrats complained that the White House has refused to turn over information about Bolton's activities while he was an official at the State Department, which they say is crucial to determining his fitness for the U.N. post.

Only three Democrats sided with Republicans in an attempt to end debate and bring up the nomination for a final vote. Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, a Republican who opposes Bolton's nomination, voted with the Democrats. Under Senate rules, Republicans needed 60 of the senators' 100 votes to end debate, but they mustered only 54.

The three Vichycrats are Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

On Monday, White House officials told one key Democrat that they were willing to provide some but not all of the material Democrats had requested. Democrats refused the offer and cast their challenge to Bolton as a defense of the Senate's institutional rights rather than the merits of his nomination.

Good move. As Steve Soto says, "Whatever is in those NSA intercepts must be pretty good stuff."
Meanwhile, President Bush vows to fight back.
"We'll, put him in. If they're interested in reforming the United Nations, they ought to approve John Bolton," Bush said at a news conference with European leaders....
..."It is critical that we get him in place," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
Why is it critical to get this screwup anyplace? And how rich is it that Bush, whose administration is a cesspool of corruption, is interested in "reforming" the UN?
BTW, dumbest Bolton commentary I've seen is by Mickey Kaus.

The Bolton nomination is already paying dividends, WaPo notes.  ...Moving him from State to the U.N. seems part of a shift that's highly favorable from a Democratic foreign policy perspective. Too bad that the need to posture prevents Dems from admitting this (and the need to pretend that Bolton's being elevated prevents Republicans from admitting it).. ...Maybe Newsweek should start a Kabuki Watch to go with its existing CW Watch:

Surface story:  Bolton promoted to powerful U.N. post where he'll destroy U.S. relations with allies!

Real Story: Bolton moved out of powerful State job to U.N. post where he can do much less damage!

Oh, please. How about Bolton getting a job in the private sector? Where does it say this clown is owed a salary paid by taxpayers? 
9:22 pm | link

Bush Backfires
You'll enjoy today's Dan Froomkin web column..."Is Bush Backfiring?" The rats are beginning to desert.
I was most interested in what Froomkin says about Bush's bold new PR strategy to win back public support for the war in Iraq.

Agence France Presse reports: "President George W. Bush, wounded by slumping approval ratings and growing worries about Iraq, has launched a public relations offensive to defend the war amid mounting calls for calling US troops home. . . .

"Bush began his pitch Saturday during his weekly national radio address, telling the US public the country went to war because the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001."

This is just pathetic. I thought they'd abandoned that howler sometime in 2003. All they can do is recycle old talking points?

Here's the text of his radio address: "We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens," Bush said. "Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror. . . .

"Our troops are fighting these terrorists in Iraq so you will not have to face them here at home."

Return of the flypaper.

So, at least judging from the radio address, it sounds like Bush will not be making concessions such as those suggested by McCain and Hagel. For instance, he won't be acknowledging that there could be some legitimate reasons for people to be concerned about his policies. He won't be acknowledging the need for a long, hard slog in Iraq.

Rather, it sounds like his main strategy will be to try to once again link the Iraq war with the Sept. 11 attacks.

But will it work? Or will it backfire?

I can't see how this would work, althugh I've been surprised before. But you know the Bushies are in trouble when they trot out Condi Rice to do the Sunday squawk shows. (One nice thing about Condi being secretary of state is that she hasn't been home all that much.) Via Think Progress--Rice actually said this--

For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course.

I bet she said that with a straight face, too. That takes skill. I'm wondering, though, if part of the problem is that George and Condi and Dick the Dick and the rest of the crew don't know what democracy is. They seem to be confusing it with something else.  
You can see this same refusal to face reality over on the Right Blogosphere. I just did a browse-through, and the righties are flogging the following issues for all they're worth:
  • Dick Durbin said gulag!
  • Hillary Clinton is ambitious!
  • Dick Durbin said gulag!
  • Tom DeLay is being persecuted!
  • Dick Durbin said gulag!
  • Downing Street Memos are a hoax!
  • Dick Durbin said gulag!
Does anyone but hard core righties get worked up about this stuff? Normal citizens are out there worried about gas prices and jobs and health insurance. The righties are looking more and more frantic--and pathetic--every day.
Case in point--the attempt to "rathergate" the Downing Street Memos. Jesse at Pandagon and Kevin Drum, among others, set the record straight.
Natasha at Pacific Views presents an overview of current issues that makes me think our whole country needs to be sent to a padded room.
4:18 pm | link

From Google cache
Don't mind me; I'm just trying to save as much of the last ten days' worth of posts (eaten by web host server gremlins) as I can find in Google cache. I got this much--

Friday, June 17, 2005

Today's Corruption News!
Now we know why Dick Cheney doesn't want to close Gitmo.

Halliburton to build new $30 mln Guantanamo jail

A Halliburton Co. unit will build a new $30 million detention facility and security fence at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States is holding about 520 foreign terrorism suspects, the Defense Department announced on Thursday.

 The announcement comes the same week that Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the jail after U.S. lawmakers said it had created an image problem for the United States.

The new facility is supposed to be air conditioned, but still ...

Under the deal with the Norfolk, Virginia-based U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, the work is to be wrapped up by July 2006. It is part of a larger contract that could be worth up to $500 million if all options are exercised, the Defense Department said.

With so much cronyism in plain sight, makes you wonder what they're hiding.

Today's Paul Krugman column:

Now, politicians and businessmen are always in a position to do each other lucrative favors. Government is relatively clean when politicians are sufficiently afraid of scandal to resist temptation. But when a political machine controls all branches of government, and those officials charged with oversight are also reliably partisan, politicians feel safe from investigation. Their inhibitions dissolve, and they take full advantage of their position, until the scandals become too big to hide....

...Since their 1994 takeover of Congress, and even more so since the 2000 election, Republican leaders have sought to make their political dominance permanent. They redistricted Texas to lock in their control of the House. Through the "K Street Project" they have put lobbying firms under partisan control, starving the Democrats of campaign funds. And they are, of course, trying to pack the courts with partisan loyalists.

In effect, they're trying to turn America into a giant version of the elder Richard Daley's Chicago.

These efforts have already created an environment in which politicians from the right party and businessmen with the right connections believe, with good reason, that they have immunity.

And politicians who feel that they can exploit their position tend to do just that. It's a likely bet that the scandals we already know about, from Coingate to Tom DeLay's dealings with the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Editorial in today's New York Times:

It was no surprise to learn that Philip Cooney, who resigned last week as chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, will soon take a job at Exxon Mobil. His yeoman work in fighting against limits on greenhouse gas emissions, first as a lawyer for the oil industry's main lobbying group and then at the White House, where he sanitized reports to play down the link between emissions and global warming, clearly earned the reward of a cushy job with Exxon, a leading opponent of curbs on emissions.

Yet it is surely a cause for dismay that the Bush administration has seen fit to embed so many former lobbyists in key policy or regulatory jobs where they can carry out their industry's agenda from within. Whereas the word lobbyist once connoted those who hung around in lobbies to buttonhole powerful politicians when they emerged from the inner sanctums, these modern-day lobbyists occupy the inner sanctums.  ...

The "revolving door" in which people shuttle back and forth between jobs in government and industry is a sad fixture of Washington life. There are rules, albeit weak ones, that seek to limit what government officials can do when they first return to the private sector. But the public has little protection against the machinations of lobbyists who are invited into government and given the levers of power. In an administration that saw fit to put Vice President Dick Cheney, a former oil industry executive, in charge of drafting its closed-door energy policy, there is little prospect for reining in the special interests. The public will be the loser.

Theodore Roosevelt said in 1910:

...our government, National and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics. That is one of our tasks today. Every special interest is entitled to justice-full, fair, and complete-and, now, mind you, if there were any attempt by mob-violence to plunder and work harm to the special interest, whatever it may be, that I most dislike, and the wealthy man, whomsoever he may be, for whom I have the greatest contempt, I would fight for him, and you would if you were worth your salt. He should have justice. For every special interest is entitled to justice, but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office. The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation.

The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man's making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being.

There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done.

Sometime in the past century or so, somebody dropped the ball.

The righties find our indignation over Bushie cronyism amusing, of course. The fact that it gives the appearance of corruption on a massive and unprecedented scale bothers them not at all. Republicans can do no wrong. Actions that would have been wrong had a Democrat done them are washed clean of all taint once enacted by the virtuous hands of a Republican.

In TR's day, the most heinous financial wrongdoing in American history was the Crédit Mobilier scandal, which had made headlines in 1872. And what was Crédit Mobilier? According to this reference:

Major stockholders in the Union Pacific Railroad formed a company, the Crédit Mobilier of America, and gave it contracts to build the railroad. They sold or gave shares in this construction to influential congressmen. It was a lucrative deal for the congressmen, because they helped themselves by approving federal subsidies for the cost of railroad construction without paying much attention to expenses, enabling railroad builders to make huge profits.

Crédit Mobilier is a major reason the Ulysses S. Grant administration is remembered as corrupt, although Grant himself did not take part in the affair. Nor did Warren Harding take part in Teapot Dome, the next major scandal that gets written up in all the history books.

About Teapot Dome: In 1922, the Secretary of the Interior took bribes from oil tycoons to lease to them oil fields that were supposed to be in reserve for use by the U.S. Navy. The reserve was called "Teapot Dome" because of some geographical feature in the area.

The public didn't know about Teapot Dome until Harding was dead. Harding--who was busy with other matters, such as stashing mistresses in White House closets--may not have known about it, either. Or, he may have learned something about it shortly before he died of food poisoning in 1923, leaving some to suspect he didn't really die of food poisoning, if you catch my drift.

The appearance of corruption in the Bush Administration--the stuff that's out in the open and within the letter of the law--makes one suspect that they're engaged in the equivalent of dozens of Crédit Mobiliers and Teapot Domes. And it may be years before the truth all trickles out, if ever. Yes, very amusing.

Comments (27) | Trackback (0) bar.jpg

10:25 am | link

Today's Gulag News!
David Niewert at Orcinus has a must-read post on torture, the right-wing mob, and Dick Durbin.
Spin and distortion are, as always, playing a critical role in the brouhaha. The key is that conservatives are deliberately misrepresenting what Durbin said, and twisting his words into a campaign to paint liberals as treasonous vermin worthy of extermination....

.. It's quite clear, especially in full context, what Durbin was saying: That torturers who violate basic human rights and standards of decency are the antithesis of everything this country, at its best, is supposed to stand for; it is the domain of history's most horrid monsters.

But that's not how the right is describing it. According to them, Durbin was claiming that all our soldiers are Nazis. ...

...This characterization of the Gitmo stories and concern about what's been occurring there is similar to the right-wing tactic with the story surrounding Bush's military records: Create a media "scandal" over an apparent journalistic failure that kills the underlying story, and thereafter treat any discussion of that underlying story as having been dismissed along with the "scandal."

It's illustrative of something that the one rightie who commented on my last post--in which I compared rightie defense of torture to defense of lynching and Wounded Knee and other massacres--objected only to the word gulag. This guy traded in his brain for a VRWC microchip a long time ago. 
I especially liked this part of David N.'s post:

Dick Durbin was right. The practices at Gitmo, as well as everywhere else in the American "war on terror" detention system, as Amnesty International is insisting, need to be shut down and investigated, precisely because the torture techniques that Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin are so quick to defend are practiced only by inhuman monsters: Nazis, Stalinists, tinpot dictators. In defending them, they only reveal their own inhumanity, and the depths to which they have fallen.

They constantly refer to the events of Sept. 11, or the horrors of Saddam Hussein's regime, as justification. But the comparative standard for our behavior is not Saddam. Monstrous acts do not justify further monstrousness. And it is no victory for America if, along the way, we lose our soul -- as does any person, let alone nation, who condones torture.

This is why their attacks on Durbin are so vicious. They are so intent on taking America with them over the cliff and into this moral abyss that they will destroy anyone who dares remind them of their own moral vacuousness. Not only do they intend to silence dissenters, they intend to eliminate them.

Kos says,

Really, what is the Right trying to accomplish here? Inflict so much pain on Durbin that others will think twice before they levy legitimate criticisms of the war? Are they so hell-bent on their political correctness that any criticisms of the war effort is considered treasonous?

Well, yes. Exactly.

... And let's not forget, "torture" was used as a rationale for this war -- as in, we'll invade and end the torture.

But, y'see, when we do these things it's not torture, because we're Americans.

Last time I checked, the American people were giving up on  Bush's folly. Last time I checked, most people still think torture is wrong, worthy of condemnation. Last time I checked, the War Pundits, War Politicians, War Preachers, and 101st Fighting Keyboarders still refused to personally sacrifice for the war effort. Last time I checked, that sad lot still refused to call their own supporters to sacrifice for the war effort.

At a time when REAL support for the troops means providing them with the equipment and manpower necessary to fight the war effectively, they agitate for neither.

Instead, they try to shut down a US senator reading from an FBI report. From Bush's FBI. Because the truth hurts. So we must supress it. And we'll do it by shedding crocodile tears for the troops. Because who gives a shit about them, so long as our heroic, do-no-wrong President looks good on the evening news.

Well, I stand with Durbin. Proudly. Because opposing torture is the Right Thing, despite violating the wingnut manual of political correct speech. And the rest of the Senate Democratic caucus better be standing with him as well.

You are either for torture, or against it. Let the chips fall where they may.

Via Kos, John Aravosis:

Apparently, the Republicans who dominate the party today, on the radio, online, and in the halls of Congress, think that the only good American is a Stalinist, a Nazi, a fascist, or any other brand of totalitarian thug who beats the crap out of innocents because he can, because we're Amurrikans, God damn it, and if we want to throw you in jail for an eternity, with no lawyer and no charges, and torture you until your head explodes and you go absolutely insane, that's our right because, well, because FUCK YOU.

That's the thinking and the mantra of today's brand of Republicans who run the party and run the right-wing noise machine. The law is irrelevant, the norms of humanity are irrelevant. With God on our side - well, the Baptist fundamentalist God on our side, thank you - they can do no wrong.

The righties' "we can do no wrong" attitude reminds me of what happened to Ignaz Semmelweis. Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician who, in 1848, suggested that physicians wash their hands in chlorinated lime before delivering babies in order to reduce puerperal fever, or postpartum infection, in obstetric patients. He didn't know about germs, but he had observed that hands or tools used to perform autopsies appeared to be introducting something into the mothers that caused infection, which was often fatal. But, even though Semmelweiss's hand-washing practice significantly reduced maternal deaths in his own clinic, the European medical establishment of the day rejected his ideas. Why? Partly because the practice seemed like a lot of bother, and partly because his finding contradicted scientific theory of the time.
But physicians also took offense at the suggestion they were unclean. They were physicians, dammit. How could they have dirty hands?
I'm sure you see the parallel.
At Corrente, Riggsveda writes,
"In perpetuity". "As long as the conflict endures." Without charges.

Forget that many of these people were handed over to US troops because we paid the locals money to bring in warm bodies, and some of their only crimes were that they had gotten on the bad side of one of the warlords or their buddies.

Forget that the lack of parameters around the concept of "war on terror" is an expedient method of initiating and extending conflicts all over the world against whomever we may find convenient, without ever having to be made accountable for our actions, a new permutation of the cold war as the paranoia that never ends.

Forget that all Bushco's squirming under the charge of running a "gulag" hides the fact that this is how gulags begin, and that once this kind of power is exercised against a foe, it becomes that much more inevitable that it will one day be exercised against those identified as foes internally.

How does the concept of clapping a human being into a cell without charges, with no recourse to communication with the outside world and no one to speak for him, and no hope of ever being free again, how does this square with your concept of right and wrong, and what you may have been taught by the decent people in your life?

The Liberal Avenger writes,

This is the antithesis of what we should stand for as a country. This is something that we must fight against. The suggestion by so many on the right that it is un-American to speak out against this is asinine. The America-haters are the ones who remind us every day that "at least we're not lopping heads or blowing up children." Shame.

Steve M of No More Mister Nice Blog has a suggestion. He noted that Rush Limbaugh belittles stories of torture at Gitmo by comparing the prisoners to schoolchildren stuck in a hot classroom.

Let's review what the FBI says about the "hot classroom"

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water.  Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more.  On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees....

Here is the Steve M challenge:

Know what? I got a thousand bucks here for Rush. I can't afford to part with it -- I probably make in a year about what Rush makes in a minute -- but it's his, or it goes to the organization of his choice, even if that organization is ideologically repulsive to me. All he has to do is spend one hour -- not eighteen or twenty-four -- in the position described above in a room with a temperature of 100 degrees.

We won't won't even hold him without trial in indefinite detention that could last the rest of his life.

Steve M asks for contributions; I just suggested he post a PayPal button.

Update: Lies and propaganda alert-- I see the righties are linking to this LA Times op ed, in which David Gelenter writes,

Ignorance of history destroys our judgment. Consider Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), who just compared the Guantanamo Bay detention center to Stalin's gulag and to the death camps of Hitler and Pol Pot — an astonishing, obscene piece of ignorance.

Ignorance of facts doesn't help your judgment, either, as the recent Terri Schiavo flap should have taught some people. The real "obscene ignorance" here is twofold: one, that the righties continue to misrepresent Senator Durbin's remarks; and two, willfull denial of what we are doing in  Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo.

For the first obscenity, Gelenter complains that Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot tortured and killed enormous numbers of people, far more than we've managed to get around to so far. This is true. But Senator Durbin wasn't talking about numbers. Here is what he said.

When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

"On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor."

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

That is entirely valid. It is right. It is the truth. Don't hold your breath waiting for the rightie mob (some links here) to admit their own ignorance, of course. Hell will freeze over first.

In recent posts I have referred to several episodes in American history to provide a context for current events; see here and here. This is the history of which the righties are ignorant.

As for the second obscenity, their willful denial--unfortunately you can't give anyone a conscience, or eyes for that matter. If they refuse to look at the truth, there isn't much we can do about it. We can, however, continue to speak the truth, so that those who still have ears may hear ...

Update update: Fafnir.

Update update update: More remedial history for righties: This happened in America.

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8:08 am | link

Thursday, June 16, 2005

How Many Times?
In today's Charlotte Observer, an editorial on the Senate apology for lynchings:

Historians have documented 4,743 lynchings between 1882 and 1968, most of them in the South. Some historians think there were many more. It's disheartening but not surprising that in less than 1 percent of those lynchings was there a serious attempt to find the perpetrators.

More than 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress in the first half of the 20th century. A federal law could have gone a long way in deterring lynching and saving lives. The House passed bills three times, but each time the Senate balked. With this apology, the Senate takes rightful responsibility for its predecessors' failure to act against this locally sanctioned homicide....

... If the senators are serious, this apology must be more than mere words of regret. It must be a public vow to protect the defenseless from injustice. It must be a vow to never have to make such an apology again.

It's too late for that, Charlotte Observer.
Today we may imagine that lynchings were furtive acts carried out in the dead of night, but the reality was far worse. They were highly public, even popular, affairs, often announced in advance and attended by large crowds. Here is an account of a Texas lynching in 1893, published in the since dead and resurrected New York Sun:
 This morning he was brought through Texarkana, where 5,000 people awaited the train. . . . At that place speeches were made by prominent Paris citizens, who asked that the prisoner be not molested by Texarkana people, but that the guard be allowed to deliver him up to the outraged and indignant citizens of Paris. Along the road the train gathered strength from the various towns, the people crowded upon the platforms and tops of coaches anxious to see the lynching and the negro who was soon to be delivered to an infuriated mob.
Arriving here at 12 o’clock the train was met by a surging mass of humanity 10,000 strong. The negro was placed upon a carnival float in mockery of a king upon his throne, and, followed by an immense crowd, was escorted through the city so that all might see the most inhuman monster known in current history. The line of march was up Main street to the square, around the square down Clarksville street to Church street, thence to the open prairies about 300 yards from the Texas & Pacific depot. Here Smith was placed upon a scaffold, six feet square and ten feet high, securely bound, within the view of all beholders. Here the victim was tortured for fifty minutes by red-hot iron brands thrust against his quivering body. Commencing at the feet the brands were placed against him inch by inch until they were thrust against the face. Then, being apparently dead, kerosene was poured upon him, cottonseed hulls placed beneath him and set on fire. In less time than it takes to relate it, the tortured man was wafted beyond the grave to another fire, hotter and more terrible than the one just experienced.
The tortured man's name was Henry Smith. He was accused of "ravishing" a four-year-old white girl. He was killed by the mob without benefit of a trial.
A great many whites of the time sincerely believed lynchings were justified.
 In 1897 Rebecca Lattimer Felton, a writer for The Atlanta Journal, gave a speech to a Georgia agricultural society in which she said that “if it takes lynching to protect women's dearest possession from drunken, ravening human beasts, then I say lynch a thousand a week if it becomes necessary.” Charles E. Smith, a journalist for The Atlanta Constitution who used the nom de plume Bill Arp, wrote in a 1902 column: “As for lynching, I repeat what I have said before, let the good work go on.  Lynch 'em!  Shoot 'em! Hang 'em! Burn 'em!”  And in 1903 the editor of a Crawfordville newspaper, responding to courageous Southern critics of lynching, asked sarcastically: “What's the use of forever apologizing for doing something that is necessary and proper?” Comments such as these received wide support in Georgia and contributed to the continued occurrence of lynchings in this state.
 In their analysis of Southern lynchings, A Festival of Violence (1995), Beck and another sociologist, Stewart E. Tolnay, write that: “Lynchings were more likely to occur where, and when, southern whites felt threatened in some way by their African-American neighbors.  This perceived threat could arise from concerns for popular justice over offending black behavior or from the more subtle threats of black competition for greater access to economic, political, or status resources.”
It's easy, of course, from the distance of many years to shake our heads at man's inhumanity to man. But given the passion of the times, it would have taken extraordinary courage for a white person to stand up to that mob and say, this is wrong. Most of us, when put to the test, will slink away and hide and tell ourselves there's nothing I can do about this. Or, we'll be one of the mob. 
We see this time and time again, in America and elsewhere. A century ago, Americans who spoke out against atrocities committed by American soldiers in the Philippines were vilified and called traitors by a majority of their fellow citizens. Among these "traitors" were Jane Addams, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, William James, and Samuel Gompers. There's a nice account of the opposition to American acts in the Philippines here.

While politicians and editorialists at home spoke of benevolent intentions, the reality in the Philippines was often brutal. A U.S. soldier writing home in early 1899 declared: "Our fighting blood was up and we all wanted to kill 'niggers.' This shooting human beings is a 'hot game,' and beats rabbit hunting all to pieces." Another wrote that "the boys go for the enemy as if they were chasing jack-rabbits. . . . I, for one, hope that Uncle Sam will apply the chastening rod, good, hard, and plenty, and lay it on until they come into the reservation and promise to be good 'Injuns.'"

Twain highlighted such racist sentiments and the atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers to argue that the Filipinos were more civilized than the Americans who sought to rule them. "We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them, destroyed their fields, burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out of doors," he wrote. After two years of such devastating warfare, he remarked: "The White Man's Burden has been sung. Who will sing the Brown Man's?" With speeches and essays, and by signing the Anti-Imperialist League's petitions, Twain protested the forced relocation of Filipinos into "concentration camps"--a precursor of the "strategic hamlets" of Vietnam. This policy of forcing the local population into heavily garrisoned towns was intended to isolate the Filipino army from its civilian base of support. In March of 1906, Twain condemned the massacre of 900 Muslim Filipinos who were trapped in the volcanic basin of Mount Dajo and fired upon by U.S. troops for four days until all were killed--men, women, and children. General Leonard Wood -- who commanded this massacre, our first My Lai -- was later made Philippine governor general.

I don't believe we have apologized for this massacre, or for Wounded Knee, or for a lot of other things. But this is not an American phenomenon. Surely some Germans knew what was going on in the concentration camps and did nothing to stop it, possibly reasoning (with some justification) that speaking out could cost their lives. Throught human history there have been many dark episodes in which people of conscience were intimidated into silence, leaving those without conscience the freedom to do those terrible things for which subsequent generations feel ashamed.

It's happening again. The righties are shocked that Senator Dick Durbin compared Gitmo to a gulag. You can read some of their comments via memeorandum. I found this guy through the Daou Report:

Senator Durbin,

The word traitorous does not begin to capture your heinous remarks in the Senate regarding our treatment of war prisoners. You, Sir, are a political abomination and if I had my way senator you would be impeached and arrested for sedition.

For you to compare the treatment these Islamic dogs have received as our prisoners to Nazi concentration camps, to the Soviet gulags or to murderous regime of Pol Pot is not only a disservice to the victims of those horrible crimes, it is nothing less than siding with our enemy and emboldening them to continue their terrorist assault on our country.

You, sir, have demonstrated clearly where your loyalties lie and they lie squarely with our nation’s enemies. You have inexcusably indicted our men and woman in uniform, you have dragged our good name through the mud and you have enraged a huge segment of this nation’s citizenry in ways you can not begin to fully grasp.

Do you forget senator the vermin we are holding in places like Guantanamo are of the same ilk as those who killed close to 3,000 Americans on 911 and who ruthlessly and cowardly beheaded Americans like Nick Burg in a crazed blood bath? You traitorous slime you!

You are not worthy to be called an American senator you are barely worthy to be called an American at all. You, Sir, are a quisling, not to mention a real and present danger to this country’s safety and well being.

Etc. etc. Never mind that the Gitmo prisoners are being held without trial. Never mind that at least some of those prisoners have no connection to terrorism whatsoever. Never mind that it's highly unlikely any of them had anything to do with either 9/11 or Nick Berg. They're Islamic dogs, not men.

We can quibble that, maybe, the Soviet gulags were worse. That doesn't justify holding persons in perpetuity without trial. That doesn't excuse physical or psychological torture. Someone else's brutality doesn't excuse ours.

The righties' indignation toward Senator Durbin is just the same old howl of the mob that killed the Sioux and the 900 Philippinos and Henry Smith. And someday, when the whole truth of what is being done in our name at Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo is finally revealed, maybe we'll apologize.

Don't let the goons shut you up, Senator Durbin. Don't back down an inch.

Update: The White House and Senate Republicans are doing their best to whip up the mob against Senator Durbin and deflect guilt from themselves. As Billmon says, far as I can tell, Durbin had absolutely nothing to gain from this, other than the predictable smears from the GOP propaganda machine and the cave dwellers of the Neanderthal right. (Actually, in Limbaugh's case, I think even homo erectus would be ashamed to have to claim such an ape as a distant cousin.)

I have no idea what motivated Durbin to let it all hang out, except perhaps personal moral outrage and a clear understanding of the practical risks raised by the Bush regime's debasement of the American military.

The point in boldface cannot be emphasized enough.

The quote former Vietnam POW Pete Peterson that Durban included in his floor speech said just about everything that needs to be said about the latter:

"From my 6 1/2 years of captivity in Vietnam, I know what life in a foreign prison is like. To a large degree, I credit the Geneva Conventions for my survival . . . This is one reason the United States has led the world in upholding treaties governing the status and care of enemy prisoners: because these standards also protect us . . . We need absolute clarity that America will continue to set the gold standard in the treatment of prisoners in wartime."

As for morality . . . Well, if you can't see the evil in locking prisoners of war -- some of them held by mistake, others only foot soldiers in the Taliban's army -- in 100 plus degree rooms for 24 hours without food or water, until they shit or piss all over themselves -- then you're truly beyond redemption. Once you've reached that point, you can probably justify anything, up to and including murder.

Yes, the gulags and the concentration camps were worse. So are we supposed to wait until our atrocities measure up before we're allowed to speak out? I don't think so.

George W. Bush is taking us down a very dark road.

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12:05 pm | link

Republicans Seek Exit Strategy!
Yep, GOP leaders in Washington finally realized they were stuck in a quagmire ... on Social Security.
With the Senate Finance Committee at an impasse on Social Security and House leaders anxious about moving forward, Republican congressional leaders have told the White House in recent days that it is time to look for an escape route.

Senate GOP leaders, in discussions with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and political officials, have made it clear they are stuck in a deep rut and suggested it is time for an exit strategy, according to a senior Senate Republican official and Finance Committee aides.

Democrats are united in their opposition, and the Finance Committee does not have the Republican votes to approve a Social Security plan that would divert some payroll taxes to private investment accounts. But the committee, which has jurisdiction over the issue, also does not have the votes to pass a plan that would preserve Social Security's solvency without the personal accounts because too many GOP conservatives want them.

Impasse, quagmire, checkmate. Whatever you want to call it, they're stuck.
President Bush has responded by dispensing his cautious calls for bipartisanship in favor of far tougher rhetoric that blames the Democrats for the stalemate. "On issue after issue, they stand for nothing except obstruction," Bush said at a GOP fundraiser Tuesday night. "And this is not leadership. It is the philosophy of the stop sign, the agenda of the roadblock."
"Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling Social Security?"
Approve: 34 %
Disapprove: 62 %
Not sure: 4 %
Lotsa obstructionists out there, huh?
House Republican leaders believe House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) could put together broad retirement legislation that could clear his committee with pri
[cache ends]
Also, a couple of recent posts were re-published at Scoop. These are:
3:21 pm | link

Losing My Web Content
All: I'm not entirely sure what happened technically, but as near as I can figure out the hamsters who power my web site pooped on about ten days' worth of content and lost it. But I seem to have gotten the posting function back again, which has been missing since Friday.
This morning I put a post up on American Street, so you can go there and read that. I'll post something here later as soon as I'm sure the techies have cleaned the hamster cage.
2:28 pm | link

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The blog link should work as long as your blog reader can read xml."

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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."

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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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