Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 30, 2007

All they were saying is give war a chance

I still have a vivid memory of George W. Bush, hours before the missiles started flying, explaining to the world how Saddam Hussein had "missed his chance to step down and disarm." There was always something a bit fishy about how the specifics, of what Saddam could do to prevent an attack on Iraq, were never spelled out. Now, a new revelation from Spain suggests that there was absolutely nothing Saddam could have done, including self-imposed exile, to have stopped the war that the Cheney/Bush administration was determined to fight.

Saddam asked Bush for $1bn to go into exile
David Gardner, UK Daily Mail
September 26, 2007

Saddam Hussein offered to step down and go into exile one month before the invasion of Iraq, it was claimed last night. Fearing defeat, Saddam was prepared to go peacefully in return for £500million ($1billion).

The extraordinary offer was revealed yesterday in a transcript of talks in February 2003 between George Bush and the then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the President's Texas ranch. The White House refused to comment on the report last night. But, if verified, it is certain to raise questions in Washington and London over whether the costly four-year war could have been averted. Only yesterday, the Bush administration asked Congress for another £100billion to finance the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The total war bill for British taxpayers is expected to reach £7billion by next year. More than 3,800 American service personnel have lost their lives in Iraq, along with 170 Britons and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. However, according to the tapes, one month before he launched the invasion Mr Bush appeared convinced that Saddam was serious about going into exile.

"The Eqyptians are speaking to Saddam Hussein," said Mr Bush.
"It seems he's indicated he would be prepared to go into exile if he's allowed to take $1billion and all the information he wants about weapons of mass destruction." Asked by the Spanish premier whether Saddam - who was executed in December last year - could really leave, the President replied: "Yes, that possibility exists. Or he might even be assassinated." But he added that whatever happened: "We'll be in Baghdad by the end of March." Mr. Bush went on to refer optimistically to the rebuilding or Iraq.

The transcript - which was published yesterday in the Spanish newspaper El Pais - was said to have been recorded by a diplomat at the meeting in Crawford, Texas, on February 22, 2003.
Mr Bush was dismissive of the then French President Jacques Chirac, saying he "thinks he's Mr Arab". Referring to his relationship with Downing Street, he said: "I don't mind being the bad cop if Blair is the good cop." The President added: "Saddam won't change and he'll keep on playing games. "The time has come to get rid of him. That's the way it is."

Days before the invasion began on March 22, 2003, the United Arab Emirates proposed to a summit of Arab leaders that Saddam and his henchmen should go into exile. It was the first time the plan had been officially voiced but it was drowned out in the drumbeat of war.

A spokesman for Mr Aznar's foundation had no comment on its authenticity.

The Baathist regime led by Saddam Hussein in Iraq was monstrous and dangerous. Yet it is obvious that there were many other options-- that the warmongers in Washington, D.C. rejected out of hand in their eagerness to rush into war. The Bushies had no right to lie and pressure our nation into this disastrous misadventure. What's even worse, they lied to themselves about the potential problems they would face after the Baathists were removed from power. Like a thief who carefully arranges the heist, but then sloppily improvises the getaway and gets caught, Bush and his cronies are trapped in a prison of their own making.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The People in D.C.

Well, we're making some noise... I hope some folks on Capitol Hill are really listening! I'll be eager to find out what the national news has on this today and tomorrow.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A national disgrace

It's official. Unrepentant segregationists like Trent Lott, and the overt racists in the GOP are now setting the "minority outreach" or "get out of reach of minorities" agenda for the apartheid party in U.S. politics. Here's what happened:

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The four top Republican presidential candidates came under fire from their rivals for skipping a debate last night that focused on minority issues.
The absence of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Senator John McCain of Arizona and former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee gave the second-tier candidates a rare opportunity to command the spotlight, and they wasted little time criticizing the no-shows.
``I'm embarrassed for our party and I'm embarrassed for those who did not come because there's long been a divide in this country, and it doesn't get better when we don't show up,'' said former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas said it was a ``disgrace'' that the frontrunners failed to show up. ``I think it's bad for our country and it's bad for our party, and I don't think it's good for our future.''
The debate, carried on PBS, took place at Morgan State University, a historically black school in Baltimore.

I'm so mad right now I could spit nickels. Bush set a new low in snubbing the NAACP, yet his consistent arrogance, in dealing with so many kinds of people, made his insulting behavior stand out less clearly. In practice, most of us have known for years that the real interest of most Republicans in minority voters has been to keep their votes from being counted, or even cast. However, there were at least half-hearted attempts to make room for some Conservative Christians of Color in the Republican party. And, to their credit, at least Huckabee and Brownback showed some respect for an important component of their evangelical base. Yet, all of the Republican candidates with seriously well-financed, solid national campaigns blew off the debate at Morgan State.

What's going on here? Apparently the mental midgets who run the party feel there's a better percentage in going after 100% of the Klan/Aryan Nation/American Nazi vote, than in trying to improve on their recent 11% showing among African Americans. The American people has learned to ignore most of what politicians say and do. What these four scumbags didn't do was to step away from the most repellent attitudes that define bigotry in our country today. I hope and pray that a whole lot of people find this as much of an outrage as I do.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Move on is Mainstream!!

I was proud of Bill Clinton last night, on CNN, giving the Rethugs no quarter over their hypocritical "condemnation" of MoveOn.org. Yet I'm even prouder of the statement put together by some MoveOn members in the Rochester, New York area:

Recently much media attention has focused on MoveOn.org, and some misinformation has been conveyed as fact. To set the record straight, members in the Rochester area would like to introduce ourselves to the community at large. Consistently and falsely portrayed by some media sources as "far left," we represent a broad cross-section of average Americans.
Nationally, we are over 3.3 million strong. Operationally, we have harnessed the Internet as a forum to debate, select, vote on and prioritize member-driven issues and strategies...
Locally, we are teachers, engineers, law enforcement officers, carpenters, doctors, graphic designers and retirees. We are your friends, neighbors and relatives. We live in the suburbs, city and country. And we care deeply about the same issues most Americans do, and are proud to use the organizational power of MoveOn.org to carry out our responsibilities as citizens.
We care that this administration ignored pleas from the world community and invaded Iraq without moral or legal basis. The result has been devastation and quagmire in Iraq, an increase in global terrorist violence and a more dangerous world. We are dedicated to bringing our troops safely home and rebuilding the international alliances necessary to address the real terrorist threat. And as the media have amply reported, this is the view of the great majority of Americans.

Every Capitol Hill "Democrat," who jumped on the condemn MoveOn bandwagon, should be forced to put on sackcloth and ashes... can anyone say "spineless?"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Big Brother is a Big Bully

David Cole and Jules Lobel offer an interesting account of how the Cheney/Bush regime's "preventive paradigm" in their so-called "war on terror" lead to the trampling of our constitutional rights:

The Bush strategy turns the law's traditional approach to state coercion on its head. With narrow exceptions, the rule of law reserves invasions of privacy, detention, punishment and use of military force for those who have been shown--on the basis of sound evidence and fair procedures--to have committed or to be plotting some wrong. The police can tap phones or search homes, but only when there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the search is likely to find evidence of the crime. People can be preventively detained pending trial, but only when there is both probable cause of past wrongdoing and concrete evidence that they pose a danger to the community or are likely to abscond if left at large. And under international law, nations may use military force unilaterally only in response to an objectively verifiable attack or threat of imminent attack.
These bedrock legal requirements are a hindrance to "going on offense." Accordingly, the Administration has asserted sweeping executive discretion, eschewed questions of guilt or innocence and substituted secrecy and speculation for accountability and verifiable fact. Where the rule of law demands fair and open procedures, the preventive paradigm employs truncated processes often conducted in secret, denying the accused a meaningful opportunity to respond. The need for pre-emptive action is said to justify secrecy and shortcuts, whatever the cost to innocents. Where the rule of law demands that people be held liable only for their own actions, the Administration has frequently employed guilt by association and ethnic profiling to target suspected future wrongdoers. And where the rule of law absolutely prohibits torture and disappearances, the preventive paradigm views these tactics as lesser evils to defuse the proverbial ticking time bomb.

Rather than defuse any bombs, Bush and Company's reckless, unfocussed aggression against the Muslim world has led to the needless deaths of many thousands of Americans and Iraqis by roadside bombing. While the Muslim world's initial revulsion, at the murderous attack of Osama bin Laden, opened a narrow window six years ago to make real progress against the terrorists, the unprovoked attack on Iraq instantly turned symapathy into hate. We in America are less safe today than we were on September 10, 2001. Why? The answer is simple: our government has done many things in those six years to convert possible allies into implacable enemies.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Let them eat cake

Well our Commuter and Thief has again repeated his intention to veto an expansion of the S CHIP program that helps to provide medical insurance to American kids. He seems exceptionally proud of himself for ensuring that this money, desperately needed to prolong a disastrous war that brings pain and devastation to kids every day, not be diverted to helping kids stay healthy. I guess that's how a compassionate conservative promotes a "culture that values life."

Yet Dubya is not alone in caring for nothing about kids (at least after they're born). We as a society allow families to struggle without decent housing, food, or medical care. More and more American parents are working at jobs that don't provide benefits, yet give them an income just high enough to disqualify them for subsidized health care, food stamps, or public housing. As a teacher I saw what the response of most kids over the age of 15 was to their family's financial difficulties. They start working more than 5 hours a day after school, and pick up more hours on the weekend. They don't have much energy or time left for their studies, let alone any chance to enjoy developing other talents or interests.

Meanwhile, wealthy Americans can afford to unwind in their vacation homes while their kids go to expensive camps. These privileged folk live far away from the working people who bag their groceries or sell them an espresso maker at Target. The affluent just don't understand what it means to choose between a child having braces on their teeth or a new muffler for the car. Not knowing or caring how the other half lives is one thing. What is really disturbing is to hear affluent journalists portray those few wealthy folks, like John Edwards, who are actively working to improve the lot of working Americans as "hypocrites." They smugly condemn someone for calling attention to the problems faced by many millions of people in this country. If it is only morally pure to help those like yourself, then Jack Abramoff and John Gotti must be saints!

Perhaps something good may emerge from the ashes of the Cheney/Bush nightmare. The vast majority of Americans don't benefit from the growing redistribution of wealth, from the middle classes to the super-rich, promoted by Republicans. For the first time in decades the abysmal performance of Republicans in managing our foreign and domestic affairs has united people often divided by racial, religious, or other cultural differences. People who've voted against their own best interests to make a statement in support of "traditional values," are beginning to recognize they can't afford any more of the disastrous leadership offered by politicians lacking the traditional values of honesty, decency, and respect for the rule of law.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Deeper into the Abyss

Sidney Blumenthal reaches into the realm of abnormal psychology to understand where our Commander and Thief is coming from:

Bush grasps at the straws of his own disinformation as he casts himself deeper into the abyss. The more profound and compounded his blunders, and the more he redoubles his certainty in ultimate victory, the greater his indifference to failure. He has entered a phase of decadent perversity, where he accelerates his errors to vindicate his folly. As the sands of time run down, he has decided that no matter what he does, history will finally judge him as heroic.
The greater the chaos, the more he reinforces and rigidifies his views. The more havoc he wreaks, the more he insists he is succeeding. His intensified struggle for self-control is matched by his increased denial of responsibility. Hence Petraeus.

Having been pushed into a quagmire by master manipulators like Cheney and Rumsfeld, the Decider Guy has pretty much gone off the deep end. His latest lashing out at Move On.org is indeed pathetic. Here is a man so deeply insecure that an ill-advised attempt to use a rhyming scheme, to grab reader's attention for an ad that was 100% factual in content, sends him into a towering rage. Hardly befitting the leader of a democracy with a cherished tradition of free speech, Bush's petulant response reminds me of the sort of tirades indulged in by absolute monarchs, like Louis XIV of France, if some wine-soaked courtier foolishly tried to poke fun at the King's favorite wig.

So what can we do? It is tempting to recall the language our founding fathers wisely included in article II, section 1 of our Constitution, providing for the "Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office." Yet while Bush's mental incompetence is now obvious to a majority of American citizens, there are sadly still too many Republicans on Capitol Hill in denial on this issue. Therefore we must turn to Article II, Section 4, which provides that "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Let the Republicans on Capitol Hill defend the innocence of Bush and Cheney all they want, the people know they're guilty, and the people want them gone. If any Republicans are truly concerned to spare the country the trauma, or embarrassment, that an impeachment trial-- not centred around an incident of extra-marital fellatio-- might cause, they should call on Cheney and Bush to resign immediately.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

John Edwards issued a statement yesterday on the Mukasey nomination:

The Justice Department's reputation has been terribly tarnished by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and the Bush administration's disregard for the law and its partisan influence over law enforcement. Now more than ever, all Americans would agree that it's time for new leadership at the Justice Department.
It may be that the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey turns a new page, but many questions still need to be asked and answered. I am hopeful that Judge Mukasey will commit to ensuring that the Justice Department remains independent of any further attempts at political manipulation by the Bush administration. Either way, as the confirmation hearings move forward, we need to hear more about how Judge Mukasey will repair the serious damage caused by his predecessors.

(Chapel Hill, NC 9/17/2007)

Repairing this damage will take more than simply installing an Attorney General who, by most accounts, at least is unlikely to completely disregard the U.S. Constitution. It will require an Attorney General committed to investigating the recent criminal misconduct of DOJ officials, and bringing to justice those responsible for this misconduct. Senators must not accept reassuring platitudes from the Judge during his confirmation hearings. Rather, they must insist that the nominee go on record as firmly opposing the baseless assertion of executive privilege, the absurdity of a fourth Cheney branch of government, and any type of improper political interference with the judicial branch from the RNC or the White House. Mukasey should be asked to answer this simple question: "Given the choice between a potential failure to successfully protect against all hypotetical terrorist threats, and the certainty of violating someone's constitutionally guaranteed rights, will you always decide in favor of defending our civil liberties?" I don't care if Sen. Chuck Schumer thinks this guy is the best thing since sliced bread, if he can't give a clear answer to this question he shouldn't serve as Attorney General.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Land of Lincoln no more

Here in New England the "moderate Republican," once a fairly common creature, is now perilously close to extinction. From today's Providence Journal:

PROVIDENCE — Lincoln D. Chafee, who lost his Senate seat in the wave of anti-Republican sentiment in last November’s election, said yesterday that he has left the party.

Chafee said he disaffiliated with the party he had helped lead, and his father had led before him, because the national Republican Party has gone too far away from his stance on too many critical issues, from war to economics to the environment.

“It’s not my party any more,” he said.

Chafee’s departure is another step in the waning of the strain of moderate Republicanism that was once a winning political philosophy from Rhode Island and Connecticut to the Canadian border. For the first time since the Civil War, the six New England states combined now have only one Republican U.S. House member, Connecticut’s Christopher Shays.

When some friends of Lincoln Chafee suggested to him, in 2006, that he might improve his slim chances of holding on to his U.S. Senate seat if he left the Republican party, he replied: "But my first name is Lincoln!" Chafee inherited his Republican identity along with his blueblood pedigree. He was, like his father John, a decent man dutifully struggling within a deeply flawed institution to make it better. Misguided as that course may have been, Lincoln Chafee had the respect of a deeply democratic state for honoring his heritage. He was the only Republican in the U.S. Senate to vote against authorizing military action in the Senate. Our new junior Democratic Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, another privileged patrician, looks as if he might continue in this valuable role of putting principle first.

Friday, September 14, 2007



All of us here in Rhode Island are very proud of our senior Senator, Jack Reed. He's not very flashy, but he's a real stand-up, honest guy who does a fantastic job representing our interests in D.C. His sober, reasonable style is the perfect antidote to the hyperventilated insanity of the Republican warmongers.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ten Commandments

A couple of months ago I was holding a sign and chanting slogans in the pouring rain of Manchester, NH on behalf of the Edwards campaign. A passerby sweetly informed me that she thought Edwards "seemed like a good man." However, she continued, "we can't support him because we're Catholics and we're pro-life." Of course I didn't argue with her at the time, but the comment left me deeply frustrated. What kind of sick ideology would put concern for "the rights of the unborn" so far above every other consideration that it would preclude them voting for someone so clearly committed to the rights and welfare of everyone already born?

Well the hypocrisy of the "pro-life, but also pro-slaughter of innocent civilians in Iraq" crowd of Republicans in Washington D.C. may finally be proving too much for many U.S. Catholics:

A friend forwarded this press release to me from the Catholic News Service:

July 13, 2007 - Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In light of evidence that shows Catholics consider the Iraq War a top political issue, a social justice organization began a campaign to help Catholic voters voice their opposition to the war.
Catholics United, a nonpartisan organization, launched Catholics for an End to the War in Iraq July 12 to encourage Catholics to advocate for diplomacy, redevelopment and a "responsible withdrawal" of U.S. troops from Iraq, according to a release.
Participants will ask political leaders to "bring together Iraq's warring factions in a multiparty conference that involves neighboring countries in the peace process" and to "provide funding and other support for reconstruction to be done by Iraqis in ways that benefit Iraqis," according to the campaign's Web site, www.catholicsforanend.org.
The campaign also seeks the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq and asks the U.S. not to have a long-term presence in the country.
Catholics can participate in the campaign by going online to the campaign's Web site and signing a petition to ask the nation's leaders to commit to the campaign's goals.
The campaign also provides opportunities for Catholics to join media campaigns and local events to pressure leaders to seek peace and troop withdrawals.
The Iraq War is an important issue for many Catholics, according to a poll cited by Catholics United in a release.
A 2006 postelection poll showed that 47 percent of Catholics thought the war was the most important issue for them in the election.
Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, said in a statement that his organization's campaign provides an opportunity for Catholics to take part in the broader movement to end the war and to tell leaders that "our faith community demands immediate action on this issue, and will no longer tolerate an open-ended commitment in Iraq."
Pax Christi USA, a national Catholic peace movement, and Network, a national Catholic social justice lobby, also support the campaign initiative to get Catholics involved in asking for an end to the war.
"It's critical that Catholics work together to change the course of the U.S. occupation of Iraq," said Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service who is executive director of Network."Pope John Paul II spoke out against the invasion. Pope Benedict XVI has met with President (George W.) Bush expressing his concern," she said. "The U.S. bishops have issued statements of concern. Now it's time for the Catholic people and all people of good will to demand a responsible end to this military occupation."

This can only be a good sign for those of us in the trenches of the anti-war movement. We can agree to disagree, on a woman's right to choose, and gay marriage, with these folks if they're truly committed to ending the war soon. We aren't considering them for a position on the Supreme Court, after all. The good consequences of welcoming practicing Catholics into our anti-war ranks far outweigh any awkwardness we might feel about some of the views they hold on other issues of importance to us.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The dog and pony show

A new AP-ipsos opinion poll was released yesterday afternoon:

AP Poll: Most Say Iraq War Is Failure Associated Press 09.10.07, 3:45 PM ET

Most Americans see the Iraq war as a failure, despite a U.S. troop buildup of 30,000 troops that a majority says is not working, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Monday.
The survey was released as Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, told Congress that the surge of 30,000 troops had largely met its military goals and that he can see that by next summer, they would be gone. That would leave a force of about 130,000.
Just 36 percent in the AP poll said the troop increase has helped stabilize Iraq, only slightly more than the 32 percent who said they thought it would in February as the buildup began. Voicing that view were nearly two-thirds of Republicans, about one in seven Democrats and about a third of independents.
In addition, 59 percent said they believe history will judge the Iraq war as a failure, including 28 percent who said it would be viewed as a complete failure.
Asked if the U.S. made a mistake going to war in Iraq in 2003, 57 percent said yes, about the same number who said so in April.
Most Democrats and independents agreed with those assessments, along with about three in 10 Republicans.
The poll involved telephone interviews with 1,000 adults conducted Sept. 6 to 9. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

And yet the pundits and talking heads are busy spouting nonsense, about how Petraeus and Crocker's "performance" will probably succeed in buying the Bush administration "more time" from the American people-- to continue their tragic misadventures in Iraq. No!! To say this is to completely misunderstand the message of the 2006 elections. The American people have already lost patience with this war. Now they are beginning to lose patience with Democratic politicians, who, they believe, should have done far more to disengage our military from Iraq than they have already.

Petraeus and Crocker have, in fact, conceded to "surge" opponents that the surge has not worked to enable any sort of political progress in Baghdad. This was the entire justification for the "surge" in the first place. What they are telling us this week is that some limited military successes, combined with new relationships with Sunni opponents of Al Quaeda in Iraq, might, if a lot of other things go better than expected, be seen some day as having partly contributed to at least a temporary stabilization of Iraq. Any of my American readers, who have suffered the shame of seeing their high school football team take a home-field drubbing, knows this kind of announcer happy-talk all too well. "Down by 27 points midway through the third quarter, our Cardinals have recovered a fumble on their own 18 yard line... could this be the momentum shifter that leads us to victory?" Don't bet on it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Throwing good money after bad

Lisa Myers and Aram Roston had this report on Friday,9/7/2007:

U.S. officials say the battle to clean up Iraq's government has suffered a "serious blow" with the resignation of the nation's top corruption fighter. The former watchdog, Judge Radhi Al Radhi, tells NBC News that Iraq's current government, headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is riddled with so much corruption that the U.S. must stop supporting it. Rahdi is now in the United States, and his departure from the Iraqi government comes just as the U.S. prepares for a key report from Gen. David Petraeus about the military "surge" in Iraq.
Until last week, Rahdi headed the Iraqi government department responsible for rooting out graft and fraud in Iraq's young government. It is called the Commission on Public Integrity, or CPI. It refers its investigations into corrupt officials to Iraqi courts for prosecution.
But Rahdi recently resigned, and he says that was because of numerous threats on his life by corrupt Iraqi officials. "They have militias," he says, "and they attacked my neighborhood with missiles and these missiles fell very close to my house." If he returns to Iraq under current circumstances he believes he'll be killed….

Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, has worked with Judge Radhi and says he thinks highly of him. "Judge Radhi by my judgment was an honorable man and an effective crime fighter in Iraq, and it’s a loss for Iraq that he is no longer there," Bowen told NBC in an interview.
"This is a very serious blow to the corruption-fighting effort in Iraq," Bowen said. Bowen's office monitors how U.S. funds are spent in Iraq and investigates crimes involving U.S. projects in Iraq.
Rahdi clearly despairs for his country and says there is no longer any hope of progress under the current Iraqi government. He says of America, "When they realize that that they're paying money and lives without results, they will stop the support." Asked if the U.S. should drop support of the al-Maliki administration because of corruption, he answers "yes."
U.S. officials say they expect Rahdi to seek political asylum here, escaping threats from the very government America is supporting.
The al-Maliki government already has named his replacement at the Commission on Public Integrity, a man U.S. officials say was previously accused of corruption.

The content of this story is, sadly, not surprising to most of us here in the reality-based community. Yet there is something about the timing of the piece that really does surprise me. Some elements in the mainstream media seems prepared to do at least a little more than simply regurgitate the Cheney/Bush administration talking points of the day. While the "surge is working" propaganda blitz of the Bushies will flood massively into our homes over the next few days, there may at least be a few nuggets of real information from Iraq thrown into the mix. We can only hope...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Once again Tom Tomorrow hits the nail squarely on the head:

Contempt for the Country

Glenn Greenwald highlights some of the interesting revelations to come out of Jack Goldsmith's new book. Goldsmith, a right-wing fan of the "unitary executive," who still firmly believes that "9/11 changed everything," found Dick Cheney and his minions too extreme in their contempt for law, for even an anti-Geneva Convention guy like himself.

In October of 2003, Jack Goldsmith -- a right-wing lawyer with radical views of executive power and long-time friend of John Yoo -- was named by the Bush administration to head the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, one of the most influential legal positions in the executive branch. During his tenure, he discovered numerous legal positions which the administration had adopted (many created by Yoo) that he found baseless and even unconscionable -- from torture to detention powers to illegal surveillance -- and he repudiated many of them….

Goldsmith, now a Harvard Law Professor, has just written
a book, to be released this month, criticizing and, in some cases, exposing for the first time, many of Bush's executive power abuses…. it was Goldsmith who first argued that the administration's secret, warrantless surveillance programs were illegal, and it was that conclusion which sparked the now famous refusal of Ashcroft/Comey in early 2004 to certify the program's legality….

Contrary to the claims made by Bush and his followers ever since the NSA scandal arose, their real objective in secretly creating "The Terrorist Surveillance Program" was never to find a narrow means to circumvent FISA when, in those few cases, it impeded necessary eavesdropping. Rather, the goal was to get rid of FISA altogether and return the country to the days when our government could spy on us in total secrecy, with no oversight. Of course, until they could "get rid of" that law altogether -- through the only tactic they know: exploitation of Terrorism -- they simply decided to violate it at will.

In his book, Goldsmith claims that Addington and other top officials treated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act the same way they handled other laws they objected to: "They blew through them in secret based on flimsy legal opinions that they guarded closely so no one could question the legal basis for the operations," he writes.

This stunning admission by Goldsmith, in his own right distressingly dismissive of civil liberties, reveals just how extreme and deranged the hard-core Cheney faction is in this administration. It's as if Michael Vick were to denounce someone for cruelty to animals-- it makes you wonder what kind of monstrous insanity lies behind the already ugly public face of this lawless regime.

We as concerned citizens need to increase our vigilance-- these thugs will stop at nothing!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Groundhog Day?

Haven't we heard Bush say this crap before?!?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Whistling in the Dark

Chart Source: http://www.robertsilvey.com/notes/impeachment/index.html

Eric Boehlert reports to us what's not being reported:

News consumers remained starved for reports from Iraq
The media's dramatic news withdrawal from Iraq might be justified, on some level, if evidence showed that Americans had grown bored of the war in Iraq. Journalism is a public service but it's also a business and editors and producers are always trying to find the right mix of news that consumers need and news they want to have. If Americans were zoning out on Iraq, then why should news outlets try to force-feed updates to news consumers?
But the truth is Americans are borderline obsessed with news from Iraq. And it's the

mainstream media that's abdicated their news gathering responsibility.

That stunning disconnect becomes obvious when comparing the PEJ's weekly News Coverage Index with the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press' weekly News Interest Index, a survey "aimed at gauging the public's interest in and reaction to major news events." Pew asks 1,000 adults which story in the news they are following "very closely" that week. The two weekly surveys simultaneously gage which stories news consumers are paying very close attention to and which stories news editors and producers are paying close attention to (i.e. which stories they're covering).

As I mentioned, the disconnect is absolutely shocking when it comes to the situation in Iraq, which as a news story consistently ranked near the top of the News Interest Index this summer, while simultaneously ranking near the bottom of the News Coverage Index.
For instance, at the outset of the summer for the work week of
June 24-29, 32 percent of adults were following the situation in Iraq "very closely," but the story represented only 4 percent of that week's news hole -- a 28-point gap. That same trend played out all summer, with that gap often ballooning:

% following situation in Iraq "very closely"
% of national news hole devoted to Iraq war
% Gap
July 1-6
July 8-13
July 15-20
July 22-27
July 29-August 3
August 5-10
August 12-17
August 19-24
On average during the summer, 31 percent paid very close attention to the situation in Iraq, making it far and away the hottest news topic throughout the season. Yet on average, the situation in Iraq represented just 4.5 percent of the overall news coverage. No other story, as tracked by the News Interest Index and the News Coverage Index, produced such a consistently wide disparity between June and September.
In other words, week after week a clear plurality of Americans said the situation in Iraq was a story they followed very closely. Yet week after the week much of the mainstream press responded with a so-what shoulder shrug.

And nobody was shrugging their shoulders more often than television news producers, who all but gave up covering the war in Iraq this summer. For the week of August 5-10, for instance, when news consumer interest in Iraq peaked at 36 percent, the story didn't even represent 3 percent of cable television's news hole.

So what's the deal here? I think actually its both less political and more shameful than many media observers imagine. A strong argument can certainly be made that the MSM is doing the Bushies' bidding by trying desperately to minimize the bad news from Iraq. Certainly, some in the media are merely serving as bullhorns for administration cheerleaders like Ari Fleischer.

Yet the problem is far larger than the familiar tale of partisan hacks like O'Reilly twisting the facts. It appears the MSM's corporate ownership is mostly concerned with protecting their future chances of sucking up to the powerful. Thus, by barely covering Iraq they won't give unforgivable offense to a future Democratic government through manufacturing loads of misinformation to bolster the war's proponents. On the other hand, should the Republicans hang on to power against all odds, the media won't be "guilty" of disheartening the American people by fully revealing the unvarnished truth. The whole thing reeks of "cop-out," as we used to say back in the day.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Out of Touch

More than 230 years ago, the great American patriot, Thomas Paine, pointed out something in his pamphlet, Common Sense, that has been amply proven over the last seven years. Paine said: "Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions."

George W. Bush is by no means the only contemporary U.S. politician raised in a rarefied world of great wealth and privilege. Nor is he the only person in Washington D.C. woefully ignorant of the needs and interests of the vast nation that lies beyond the Beltway. He suffers from all of the same drawbacks that Paine pointed out, with one additional, fatal flaw. He has let himself be persuaded that he's a regular guy, chosen by God to lead the world's only superpower.

While this seems absurd to the rest of us, there is a strange sort of internal logic at work here. Even through the fog of alcohol and drugs, young George W. Bush must have come to the realization that he was not a particularly gifted politician or a competent, let alone shrewd, man of business. His election to the governorship of Texas must have come as something of a shock, intelligible to him only in terms of a divine second chance given to the newly sober, "born again"
George W. Bush. The success of his father's cronies (like James Baker) in converting his narrow defeat at the hands of Al Gore, into installation in power by the Supreme Court, may well have been interpreted by Dubya as "the Big Guy Upstairs" fixing the people's mistake.

Tragically, in order to establish his independence from the Eastern Establishment milieu from which he had sprung, Dubya allowed a handful of opportunistic neocon nutjobs to hijack the government. Before long, even James Baker's advice counted for nothing, as did Colin Powell's, or anyone else's beyond the limited circle of Cheney-approved water carriers. To the pure, all things are pure, and Cheney, Rove, and the others surrounding Dubya became masters of constructing their own reality. No need to listen to all that confusing criticism from around the world, across the street, or at your Daddy's dinner table-- you're the Decider Guy! Limiting access to the President serves two purposes: 1)hiding the administration's misdeeds from the public, and 2) hiding the public's outrage from the President.

Thus, when Bush's handlers see the possibility that he might be faced with the reality that their "vision" is not shared by anyone else, they seek to sharply limit his exposure to the outside world. Talk to the NAACP? Why bother? Listen to diplomats, career military, senior republicans with misgivings about the war? No time, the President is too busy speaking before an audience of young officers-in-training, under strict orders to applaud his remarks.

It may be too late for any of us to pierce the bubble and get George W. Bush's attention. This makes it all the more crucial to step up the activism. It's great that more than seven out of ten Americans now realize that Dubya doesn't live in our world. Let's make enough noise that the whole world understands that the U.S. public rejects the Cheney/Bush agenda.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Working the e-mails

My latest call to action can be answered with ease. The good folks at ActForChange have set up a nice action page for us to quickly communicate our concerns over Iran to Congress. Please visit their page here, and let your voice be heard!

Saturday, September 1, 2007


The blogospere is abuzz with rumors of an impending U.S. attack on Iran. The Times of London reports:

Pentagon ‘three-day blitz’ plan for Iran
Sarah Baxter, Washington
THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.
Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.
Debat was speaking at a meeting organised by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus”.
President George Bush intensified the rhetoric against Iran last week, accusing Tehran of putting the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust”. He warned that the US and its allies would confront Iran “before it is too late”.
One Washington source said the “temperature was rising” inside the administration. Bush was “sending a message to a number of audiences”, he said , to the Iranians and to members of the United Nations security council who are trying to weaken a tough third resolution on sanctions against Iran for flouting a UN ban on uranium enrichment.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week reported “significant” cooperation with Iran over its nuclear programme and said that uranium enrichment had slowed. Tehran has promised to answer most questions from the agency by November, but Washington fears it is stalling to prevent further sanctions. Iran continues to maintain it is merely developing civilian nuclear power.
Bush is committed for now to the diplomatic route but thinks Iran is moving towards acquiring a nuclear weapon. According to one well placed source, Washington believes it would be prudent to use rapid, overwhelming force, should military action become necessary.

We in the reality-based community may have a small window of opportunity to try and stop this madness. Phrases like "the temperature is rising," and "Bush is committed for now to the diplomatic route," suggest that the crazies in the White House are floating a trial balloon. Anything less than immediate, massive, forcefully articulated public rejection of any Iranian adventure will be taken as a green light by the bomb-happy bozos under Dick Cheney's influence.

The danger is real. The time is now for pre-emptive protest!!