some of the stuff worth buzzzing about
some of the stuff buzzzing around in my brain
some stuff that just buzzzes hither and yon ... and other musings from the deep dark scary south.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
Amerika The Fascist Police State: How I learned to stop resenting the Patriot Act and started learning to love kissing the ass of the fascist in chief
First, the prophecy of Ben Franklin (paraphrased):
After reading the anonymous editorial/column below, a streaming of consciousness emerged starting with a famous, controversial (naive) Beatles song, but the similarities end there:
One of the scariest editorials I have ever read. The implications are enormous.
Back in the USSR — Amerika.
Big Brother is here and
His names are George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales, Robert Mueller, Tom Delay, the FBI, law enforcement, credit card companies, corporate america, republican wingnuts, dittoheads, moral majority, evangelical christian, theocratic fervor, the health care system, insurance companies ....
and you Amerikkkan Lemmings stand by
sucking your thumbs and
Voting for your Amerikkkan Idols and
Praying to your imaginary fairy tale fathers
with flowing beards sitting on clouds.
If this does not scare the bejesus out of you and
how far down the fascist rabbit hole we have fallen ... then
you do not deserve democracy Amerika the lemmingful.
America that used to care about ideals and democracy and justice --
now Amerika the pathetic joke rapidly becoming a third world dictatorship.
Can you say AMERIKA the FASCIST POLICE STATE?
My National Security Letter Gag Order
I resent being conscripted as a secret informer for the government.
Friday, March 23, 2007
The Justice Department's inspector general revealed on March 9 that the FBI has been systematically abusing one of the most controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act: the expanded power to issue "national security letters." It no doubt surprised most Americans to learn that between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands under this provision -- demands issued without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval -- to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. citizens and residents. It did not, however, come as any surprise to me.
Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand -- a context that the FBI still won't let me discuss publicly -- I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled.
Rather than turn over the information, I contacted lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, and in April 2004 I filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the NSL power. I never released the information the FBI sought, and last November the FBI decided that it no longer needs the information anyway. But the FBI still hasn't abandoned the gag order that prevents me from disclosing my experience and concerns with the law or the national security letter that was served on my company. In fact, the government will return to court in the next few weeks to defend the gag orders that are imposed on recipients of these letters.
Living under the gag order has been stressful and surreal. Under the threat of criminal prosecution, I must hide all aspects of my involvement in the case -- including the mere fact that I received an NSL -- from my colleagues, my family and my friends. When I meet with my attorneys I cannot tell my girlfriend where I am going or where I have been. I hide any papers related to the case in a place where she will not look. When clients and friends ask me whether I am the one challenging the constitutionality of the NSL statute, I have no choice but to look them in the eye and lie.
I resent being conscripted as a secret informer for the government and being made to mislead those who are close to me, especially because I have doubts about the legitimacy of the underlying investigation.
The inspector general's report makes clear that NSL gag orders have had even more pernicious effects. Without the gag orders issued on recipients of the letters, it is doubtful that the FBI would have been able to abuse the NSL power the way that it did. Some recipients would have spoken out about perceived abuses, and the FBI's actions would have been subject to some degree of public scrutiny. To be sure, not all recipients would have spoken out; the inspector general's report suggests that large telecom companies have been all too willing to share sensitive data with the agency -- in at least one case, a telecom company gave the FBI even more information than it asked for. But some recipients would have called attention to abuses, and some abuse would have been deterred.
I found it particularly difficult to be silent about my concerns while Congress was debating the reauthorization of the Patriot Act in 2005 and early 2006. If I hadn't been under a gag order, I would have contacted members of Congress to discuss my experiences and to advocate changes in the law. The inspector general's report confirms that Congress lacked a complete picture of the problem during a critical time: Even though the NSL statute requires the director of the FBI to fully inform members of the House and Senate about all requests issued under the statute, the FBI significantly underrepresented the number of NSL requests in 2003, 2004 and 2005, according to the report.
I recognize that there may sometimes be a need for secrecy in certain national security investigations. But I've now been under a broad gag order for three years, and other NSL recipients have been silenced for even longer. At some point -- a point we passed long ago -- the secrecy itself becomes a threat to our democracy. In the wake of the recent revelations, I believe more strongly than ever that the secrecy surrounding the government's use of the national security letters power is unwarranted and dangerous. I hope that Congress will at last recognize the same thing.
Footnote by the WP:
It is the policy of The Washington Post not to publish anonymous pieces. In this case, an exception has been made because the author -- who would have preferred to be named -- is legally prohibited from disclosing his or her identity in connection with receipt of a national security letter. The Post confirmed the legitimacy of this submission by verifying it with the author's attorney and by reviewing publicly available court documents.
From the WashingtonPost.com
PS: Doesn't the guy on the left side of the movie poster eerily remind you of someone who currently occupies an ENORMOUSLY influential position in the white house -- in fact, maybe it looks like two of them, one elected, one not. Both dangerous.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
If the President has the Power to Hire and Fire the US Attorneys....
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Letter from Larry Kramer: Why do straights hate gays?
Why do straights hate gays?
An aging 72-year-old gay man isn't hopeful about the future.
By Larry Kramer
March 20, 2007, Los Angeles Times
DEAR STRAIGHT PEOPLE,
Why do you hate gay people so much?
Gays are hated. Prove me wrong. Your top general just called us immoral. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is in charge of an estimated 65,000 gay and lesbian troops, some fighting for our country in Iraq. A right-wing political commentator, Ann Coulter, gets away with calling a straight presidential candidate a faggot. Even Garrison Keillor, of all people, is making really tacky jokes about gay parents in his column. This, I guess, does not qualify as hate except that it is so distasteful and dumb, often a first step on the way to hate. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama tried to duck the questions that Pace's bigotry raised, confirming what gay people know: that there is not one candidate running for public office anywhere who dares to come right out, unequivocally, and say decent, supportive things about us.
Gays should not vote for any of them. There is not a candidate or major public figure who would not sell gays down the river. We have seen this time after time, even from supposedly progressive politicians such as President Clinton with his "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military and his support of the hideous Defense of Marriage Act. Of course, it's possible that being shunned by gays will make politicians more popular, but at least we will have our self-respect. To vote for them is to collude with them in their utter disdain for us.
Don't any of you wonder why heterosexuals treat gays so brutally year after year after year, as your people take away our manhood, our womanhood, our personhood? Why, even as we die you don't leave us alone. What we can leave our surviving lovers is taxed far more punitively than what you leave your (legal) surviving spouses. Why do you do this? My lover will be unable to afford to live in the house we have made for each other over our lifetime together. This does not happen to you. Taxation without representation is what led to the Revolutionary War. Gay people have paid all the taxes you have. But you have equality, and we don't.
And there's no sign that this situation will change anytime soon. President Bush will leave a legacy of hate for us that will take many decades to cleanse. He has packed virtually every court and every civil service position in the land with people who don't like us. So, even with the most tolerant of new presidents, gays will be unable to break free from this yoke of hate. Courts rule against gays with hateful regularity. And of course the Supreme Court is not going to give us our equality, and in the end, it is from the Supreme Court that such equality must come. If all of this is not hate, I do not know what hate is.
Our feeble gay movement confines most of its demands to marriage. But political candidates are not talking about — and we are not demanding that they talk about — equality. My lover and I don't want to get married just yet, but we sure want to be equal.
You must know that gays get beaten up all the time, all over the world. If someone beats you up because of who you are — your race or ethnic origin — that is considered a hate crime. But in most states, gays are not included in hate crime measures, and Congress has refused to include us in a federal act.
Homosexuality is a punishable crime in a zillion countries, as is any activism on behalf of it. Punishable means prison. Punishable means death. The U.S. government refused our requests that it protest after gay teenagers were hanged in Iran, but it protests many other foreign cruelties. Who cares if a faggot dies? Parts of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. are joining with the Nigerian archbishop, who believes gays should be put in prison. Episcopalians! Whoever thought we'd have to worry about Episcopalians?
Well, whoever thought we'd have to worry about Florida? A young gay man was just killed in Florida because of his sexual orientation. I get reports of gays slain in our country every week. Few of them make news. Fewer are prosecuted. Do you consider it acceptable that 20,000 Christian youths make an annual pilgrimage to San Francisco to pray for gay souls? This is not free speech. This is another version of hate. It is all one world of gay-hate. It always was.
Gays do not realize that the more we become visible, the more we come out of the closet, the more we are hated. Don't those of you straights who claim not to hate us have a responsibility to denounce the hate? Why is it socially acceptable to joke about "girlie men" or to discriminate against us legally with "constitutional" amendments banning gay marriage? Because we cannot marry, we can pass on only a fraction of our estates, we do not have equal parenting rights and we cannot live with a foreigner we love who does not have government permission to stay in this country. These are the equal protections that the Bill of Rights proclaims for all?
Why do you hate us so much that you will not permit us to legally love? I am almost 72, and I have been hated all my life, and I don't see much change coming.
I think your hate is evil.
What do we do to you that is so awful? Why do you feel compelled to come after us with such frightful energy? Does this somehow make you feel safer and legitimate? What possible harm comes to you if we marry, or are taxed just like you, or are protected from assault by laws that say it is morally wrong to assault people out of hatred? The reasons always offered are religious ones, but certainly they are not based on the love all religions proclaim.
And even if your objections to gays are religious, why do you have to legislate them so hatefully? Make no mistake: Forbidding gay people to love or marry is based on hate, pure and simple.
You may say you don't hate us, but the people you vote for do, so what's the difference? Our own country's democratic process declares us to be unequal. Which means, in a democracy, that our enemy is you. You treat us like crumbs. You hate us. And sadly, we let you.
LARRY KRAMER is the founder of the protest group ACT UP and the author of "The Tragedy of Today's Gays."
original column at LATimes
Day 4: Still being censored by Google! Meanwhile if this blog ever reappears, Urge the networks to make their Sunday shows more balanced
Special Media Report: How the Right Continues to Dominate the Sunday Talk ShowsSign the online petition: Urge the networks to make their Sunday shows more balanced.
Read the report online or download the pdf.
Monday, March 19, 2007
While Google Continues to CENSOR this Blog ... Bush Family Makes ZERO Sacrifices for the War
Why aren't the Bush daughters in Iraq?
The president's family has set an appallingly bad example for wartime sacrifice.
By Kitty Kelley
March 19, 2007 from the LATimes
WHEN I WAS a little girl in a convent school, the nuns impressed on me the power of setting a good example. These beloved teachers are no longer around to instruct the president and his family, so I recommend that the Bushes learn from Mark Twain, who said: "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."
My suggestion comes after the White House announcement earlier this month that Jenna Bush, one of the president's twin daughters, is writing a book on her all-expenses-paid trip to Panama, where she worked for a few weeks as an intern for UNICEF. Jenna Bush is quoted as saying she will donate her earnings from her book to UNICEF, a commendable gesture, considering her father's net worth of $20 million. But while the 25-year-old makes the rounds of TV talk shows this fall in a White House limousine, dozens of her contemporaries will be arriving home from Iraq in wooden boxes. In Britain, Prince Harry is insisting on going off to Iraq — even as his country is reducing its troop commitment.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt showed how the power of good example could also be powerfully good politics. When he led the country to sacrifice in World War II, his children enlisted and his wife traveled to military bases to counsel and comfort the families of soldiers. Newsreels showed the president's four sons fighting with the Marines in the Pacific, flying with the Army Air Forces in North Africa and landing with the Navy at Normandy. Soon other public figures followed suit — movie stars (James Stewart and Clark Gable) enlisted and sports heroes (Joe DiMaggio and Hank Greenberg) went off to war.
The contrast between FDR's good example during wartime and that of George W. Bush is stark and sad. The Bush family rallies to the political campaigns of its scions and spends months on the road raising money and shaking hands to put their men into public office. In fact, the public image of their cohesive family — the pearl-choked matriarch surrounded by progeny and springer spaniels — helped cinch more than one presidency for the Bushes. Yet now, when its legacy is most in peril, the family seems to be squandering its good will on a mess of celebridreck.
The president tells us Iraq is a "noble" war, but his wife, his children and his nieces and nephews are not listening. None has enlisted in the armed services, and none seems to be paying attention to the sacrifices of military families. Until Jenna's trip to Panama, the presidential daughters performed community service only when mandated by a court after they were cited for underage drinking. Since then they have surfaced in public during lavish presidential trips with their parents, bar-hopping outings in Georgetown and champagne-popping art openings in New York.
The first lady, so often lauded for her love of literacy, has not been seen in the reading rooms of veterans' hospitals. The president's sister, Doro, publicly picketed Al Gore's last days in the vice president's mansion as he awaited the Supreme Court's decision on the Florida recount of 2000. Yet she has been strangely absent from publicly supporting her brother's war.
The presidential nieces and nephews also have missed the memo on setting a good public example. Ashley Bush — the youngest daughter of the president's brother, Neil, and Neil's ex-wife, Sharon — was presented to Manhattan society at the 52nd Annual International Debutantes Ball at the Waldorf Astoria. Her older sister, Lauren, a runway model, told London's Evening Standard that she is a student ambassador for the United Nations World Food Program, but she would not lobby her uncle for U.S. funds. Her cousin, Billy Bush, chronicles the lives of celebrities on "Access Hollywood."
"Uncle Bucky," as William H.T. Bush is known within the family, is one presidential relative who has profited from the Iraq war. He recently sold all of his shares in Engineered Support Systems Inc. (ESSI), a St. Louis-based company that has flourished under the president's no-bid policy for military contractors. Uncle Bucky told the Los Angeles Times that he would have preferred that ESSI, on whose board he sits, was not involved in Iraq, "but, unfortunately, we live in a troubled world."
The only member of the Bush family to show the strains of our "troubled world" is former President George H.W. Bush, who shed tears recently while addressing the Florida Legislature. The elder Bush was talking about son Jeb's gubernatorial loss in 1994. Jeb, who was later elected, tried to console him. But the sobs of Bush 41 seemed to be more about his older son's "noble" war.
Perhaps the father's sadness sprang from his own experience fighting in what his parents called "Mr. Roosevelt's war" — the good war — the war that saved the world from tyranny. He enlisted at 18 to fly torpedo bombers. He flew 58 missions in two years and returned home a war hero. Since then, no one in his large family has seen fit to follow his sterling example of service and patriotism.
KITTY KELLEY, who wrote "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty," is working on a biography of Oprah Winfrey.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Pessimism 'growing among Iraqis'
I guess 4 hours of electricity per day (if you're lucky) and no running water, no sewers will do that to you. Not to mention bombings, mangled children, assaults, rapes, murders, assassinations, kidnappings and all-around civil war.
Slate has a recent article discussing Bush's insistent annoyance at the Iraqi people for not being grateful enough about the fact that We have destroyed their country in order to LIBERATE them from their OIL.
Meanwhile, Bush Cheney Happy Talking Points About the Excellence of this War continue unabated, promoted by such stellar GOP role models as Tom under-federal-investigation resigned-in-shame under-threat-of-indictment bug-killer Delay on shameless still-shilling for the corrupt right-wingers and his right-wing bosses (GE) who are making billions off the unjust Iraq War, Tim no-backbone Russert despite the fact that:
Iraqis have become LESS optimistic about their future, the poll suggests
A new survey paints a pessimistic picture of Iraqis' confidence in their own government and in coalition forces.
Only 18% of Iraqis have confidence in US and coalition troops, while opinion is almost evenly split on whether to have confidence in Iraq's government.
About 86% of those questioned expressed concern about someone in their household being a victim of violence.
......Asked whether they thought reconstruction efforts in Iraq had been effective, some 67% said they felt they had not.
Read entire article here.
The BBC has much so much better fact-based actual news coverage of this unjust Iraq War debacle than any so-called news/media entity in the US has even dreamed about, much less had the courage to actually broadcast or print.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Google Censors on behalf of Government! Who Me Paranoid? This blog was LOCKED immediately after I posted the most recent ANTI-Bush-Cheney posts!
BEWARE: Apparently any wing-nut who disagrees with your right to free speech in the form of opinionated or political blogs on the blogger.com/blogspot.com server — specifically Repugnacon-Bush-Cheney criticism — can click the FLAG-Blog bug on your blog and google will happily begin censoring and blocking any new posts, labeling your blog as a spamblog. You'll have to wait several days (or more) before your blog gets visited by a real google human who will then email you to say:
Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and cleared for regular use so that
it will no longer appear as potential spam. If you sign out of Blogger and
sign back in again, you should be able to post as normal. Thanks for your
patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.
The Blogger Team
BEWARE the growing FASCIST MONOLITH that is GOOGLE.
Wow. Somehow google's so-fucking-brilliant highly touted algorithm identified this as a spam blog? I don't think so. What a pile of horse-shit and another example of their corporate fascism. How convenient — all in lock-step with their ongoing acts as agents of the US Corporate Government through various censorship efforts and failure to promote free speech anywhere that their profits are potentially diminished — places like China for instance. But to be denied free speech here in the land of Bush Cheney Gonzales and the Patriot Act. Gee what a shock! Amerika the formerly free.
I can't wait to hear — if I ever do hear an explanation for this. All I can say for sure is F*CK YOU GOOGLE. F*CK YOUR FASCIST TAKEOVER OF THE INTERNET. AND GOOGLE CAN GO F*CK THEMSELVES YOU F*CK ING FASCIST CORPORATE SH*TEATING F*CK HEADS. CENSOR THIS YOU CENSORING F*CK WAD D*CKHEADS!
My Experience of Google's Censorship
By Zhang Lin
Translated from the Chinese edition
Oct 02, 2004
In the past, I always thought Google, the biggest search engine in the world, was also the fairest. So no matter what messages I needed to search, I always went first to the UltraReach Company’s UltraReach.Net [Editor’s note: UltrarReach.net is a web server designed to enable the user in mainland China to defeat the P.R.C.’s attempt to censor internet content], and then used Google. But a few months ago, I found there was something strange about Google.
For example, when I searched my own name “Zhang Lin” (the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] blocked my name long ago), to my surprise I found the first entry was a football player named Zhang Linbao. It is impossible for the compiler in Google’s Chinese Department not to have found such an obvious mistake a long time ago. Moreover, Google listed the entries related to “Zhang Lin” at 29,400 altogether. But when I checked the entries from the beginning to the end with patience, I found only 73 pages with 9 entries per page for a total of 657 entries.
When I searched to the last page, I suddenly found there was a link called “repeat the search with the omitted results included.” When I clicked to open it, I suddenly discovered that I was in a new world. The omitted entries included 100 pages, which were even more than the entries really listed. Moreover, nearly all of the omitted content was related to me. Apparently I was considered to be a main “deleted” person (whoever is interested can check this for him or herself). At that moment, the only thing I could think is that Google has been penetrated by an agent of the CCP.
So several months ago, I planed to write an article to expose that Google had been penetrated by an agent of the CCP. What I could not believe was that Google had openly cooperated with the autocratic regime of the CCP and destroyed the freedom of the network.
But recently I saw the series of articles that explained how Google really had started to cooperate with the CCP. At the request of the CCP, Google largely deleted the terms that the CCP intended to block.
This action has violated the basic principles of the network – free access and fair treatment. The Chinese people have been deceived and persecuted and their sources of information have been blockaded, by the CCP for a long time. Google is obviously suspected of helping a tyranny to do evil. Though Google remains the best Chinese search engine, we have the right to require that Google act justly, which is also good for Google’s own healthy development.
A company that compromises with or even flatters an autocratic regime may obtain a few benefits. Eventually, though, actions taken to help a tyranny will be condemned by the public and a cost will be paid. Generally speaking, such a company loses more than it gains. Swiss Banks cooperated with the Nazis, granted loans to make munitions, and swallowed up the Jews’ accounts. But eventually justice was served.
This should be a cautionary tale for Google. Unless Google’s current leaders just want to reap some money and walk away, Google should consider its long-term policy. Please, at the first sight of profits, don’t forget what is right and don’t abandon basic principles.
Editor’s Note: The filtering that Zhang Lin reports in this first person account is of a different kind than what Google News China, a service just begun on September 9, admitted to practicing in a statement the week before last. Google News China does not allow the client to see the “omitted results.” Zhang Lin was [not] able to see those results.
Results 1 - 100 of about 3,210,000 for GOOGLE CENSORSHIP
GAAAGLE the blog dedicated to exposing Google's censorship and anti-freedom, anti-free speech history.
The Big Question Remains: Where Did Cheney Find Out that Valerie Plame was a CIA Agent?
One of the Remaining Mysteries: Who Told Dick "Head-Guy, Oil-Can" Cheney that Valerie Plame Wilson was a Covert CIA Agent?
We know WHY Cheney wanted the info and how he intended to use it (via his right-hand loyalist, convicted felon Scooter Libby) — to smear Joe Wilson since Wilson had exposed that Bush-shrub, Cheney, Rummy & Co. were lying about WMD in Iraq. But we still don't know who the traitor was who gave up Plame in the first place to Cheney, who then set things in motion.
Sure Richard Armitage found out too — most likely also an intentional simultaneous leak instigated by the White House within the State Dept. by someone who knew of his famously derided penchant and inability to keep his gossipy mouth shut — (men are far worse than women according to research) — and forthwith Armitage started gossiping as was expected of him.
That was simultaneous and parallel to Cheney's intentional plan to out Plame and smear Wilson. Just because the two things happened simultaneously does not let Cheney, Libby, Rove, Bush et al off the hook for an intentional campaign designed to breach National Security and silence a critic who had exposed their lies — intentional lies designed to lead a reeling, cowered, scared nation into war against former allies who had nothing to do with September 11, 2001.
VALERIE PLAME TESTIMONY: Who Told Cheney, Rove She Was CIA?
We can't wait for that mystery to be solved once and for all to see and understand.
Why Democrats are raising a stink finally about something that matters
White House & Justice Department Indecisive: Reasons for / Genesis of Prosecutor Dismissals Keep Shifting
Accounts of Prosecutors' Dismissals Keep Shifting
By Dan Eggen, Washington Post
More than two weeks after a New Mexico U.S. attorney alleged he was fired for not prosecuting Democrats, the White House and the Justice Department are still struggling to explain the roles of President Bush, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and other key officials in the dismissals of eight federal prosecutors last year.
Yesterday, the White House retreated from its four-day-old claim that former counsel Harriet E. Miers started the process two years ago by proposing the firing of all 93 U.S. attorneys.
"It has been described as her idea . . . but I don't want to vouch for origination," press secretary Tony Snow said. "At this juncture, people have hazy memories."
In addition, D. Kyle Sampson, who resigned as Gonzales's chief of staff Monday, disputed the reasons given for his departure in a statement issued through his attorney last night.
"The fact that the White House and Justice Department had been discussing the subject for several years was well-known to a number of other senior officials at the department, including others who were involved in preparing the department's testimony to Congress," according to the statement by Sampson's lawyer, Bradford A. Berenson.
Snow's comments mark the latest revision of the administration's account of the firings, which has shifted repeatedly over the past week as new e-mails and other evidence have come to light in response to congressional demands for information. The precise roles of Gonzales, presidential adviser Karl Rove and the president himself remain unclear, even as calls for Gonzales's resignation continue to mount.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) yesterday became the third GOP lawmaker to call for Gonzales's ouster, saying that "it would benefit this administration if the attorney general was replaced with someone with a more professional focus rather than personal loyalty" to Bush.
The White House rebuffed demands yesterday from the House and Senate Judiciary committees for more information on the firings, saying the administration needs more time before turning over additional documents or deciding whether to allow key White House officials to testify. The Justice Department announced that it will provide new documents to the committees Monday.
The developments capped a tumultuous and difficult week for Gonzales and White House officials, who have attempted to play down the importance of more than 140 pages of documents and e-mails released so far that show the White House was closely involved in an effort to remove a group of federal prosecutors based, in part, on their loyalty to Bush. Officials had previously described the dismissals as "performance related" and handled within the Justice Department.
Seven U.S. attorneys were fired Dec. 7, and another was let go months earlier, with little explanation from Justice Department officials, who later told Congress that the dismissals were related to the attorneys' performance in office. Several former prosecutors have since alleged intimidation, including improper telephone calls from GOP lawmakers or their aides, and have alleged threats of retaliation by a Justice Department official.
While the firings themselves initially prompted questions from Congress, a major issue for lawmakers has since become whether they were misled in testimony by Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, and subsequently in public explanations by Justice and the White House.
Administration officials have acknowledged in recent days that, in Gonzales's words, "mistakes were made," but have defended the dismissals as justified by the prosecutors' performance and management issues. They have denied partisan motives in any of the firings.
The e-mails released this week show that the Justice Department had advocated ousting up to 20 percent of the U.S. attorneys in early 2005 and that Gonzales had discussed the idea of the firings even before he became attorney general. Rove also expressed an interest in the status of the effort in January 2005.
One January 2006 memo written by Sampson attributed the initial idea to Miers. "Harriet, you have asked whether President Bush should remove and replace U.S. attorneys . . . " he wrote.
Many of the documents released over the past week were sent or received by Sampson, whose resignation, Gonzales and other Justice officials said, was prompted by his failure to tell others in the department about his contacts with the White House, leading to testimony by McNulty and others that may have been misleading.
Sampson disputed that version of events in his statement last night, saying he "felt he had let the attorney general down in failing to . . . organize a more effective political response to the unfounded accusations of impropriety in the replacement process."
Sampson's statement also suggested that his contacts with the White House were well known within Justice. If the contacts were not brought to the attention of McNulty and others, the statement said, it was "because no one focused on it or deemed it important at the time."
The Justice Department had no immediate comment last night.
The department announced earlier that Sampson would be replaced by Chuck Rosenberg, the U.S. attorney in Alexandria, who previously served in similar roles for former attorney general John D. Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Snow and other administration officials previously said that Miers first suggested firing all U.S. attorneys after the 2004 elections, citing e-mails from Sampson and Rove's recollection of events.
Officials have said that Gonzales and Rove opposed that idea and that Justice embarked on a more limited effort that led to the firings of the eight U.S. attorneys.
Snow was asked yesterday whether Bush might have suggested the firings.
"Anything's possible . . . but I don't think so," he said, adding that Bush "certainly has no recollection of any such thing. . . . I want you to be clear here: Don't be dropping it at the president's door."
Democrats pounced on the latest shift in events.
"The story keeps changing, which neither does them or the public any good," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). "They ought to gather all the facts and tell the public the truth."
Democrats also criticized the White House for saying it needed more time to turn over records and decide whether senior aides, including Rove, should be allowed to submit to interviews with congressional investigators.
"The White House is playing a dangerous game of chicken," said Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), chairman of a Judiciary subcommittee leading an investigation into the firings.
Washington Post staff writers Michael Abramowitz and Jerry Markon and staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.
From the LA Times
Why Democrats are raising a stink
Congressional investigations into the firing of U.S. attorneys are about checks and balances, not politics, says Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
By Dianne Feinstein
DIANNE FEINSTEIN is California's senior U.S. senator.
March 17, 2007
A FIRESTORM has been ignited over the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, with new revelations about the Bush administration's abuses exposed on a daily basis. We now know that this isn't about some partisan "conspiracy theory" concocted by administration critics, as a Times editorial claimed on Jan. 26.
The record shows that this was a premeditated plan to remove U.S. attorneys and replace them indefinitely with others — who might not be qualified — without Senate confirmation. The means to accomplish this was a provision slipped into the 2006 reauthorization of the Patriot Act with no notice. The end result is a clear abuse of power that reaches into the highest offices of the Department of Justice and the White House, touching Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales, former White House Counsel Harriet E. Miers and presidential advisor Karl Rove.
The way to curb this abuse is to return to our nation's basic principle that checks and balances on power are necessary and desirable.
That's why I have proposed legislation to restore the process that was in place before 2006, which would require Senate approval of every U.S. attorney. This legislation would allow the attorney general to appoint an interim U.S. attorney for 120 days when vacancies occur. If, after that time, the president has not sent a nominee to the Senate and had that nominee confirmed, the authority to appoint an interim U.S. attorney would fall to a local district court. This was the process put in place under the Reagan administration.
This legislation was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month with bipartisan support and will be debated in the Senate next week. Times editorials have called this legislation "misguided," but had it been in place, it would have prevented the abuses.
Let's review the facts:
• In early 2005, Miers, then the White House counsel, and Rove asked about the desirability of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys . They were told by Gonzales' staff that this would result in an unacceptable shock to the system.
• Nonetheless, top officials at the White House and the Justice Department hatched a plan to remove a smaller number of U.S. attorneys. One of the keys in the evaluation was whether the prosecutor showed loyalty to the administration.
• Gonzales' chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, advocated using the new Patriot Act powers and argued that the legislation would allow the Justice Department to bypass the checks inherent in the Senate confirmation process. He wrote that by avoiding the Senate, "we can give far less deference to home-state senators and thereby get (1) our preferred person appointed and (2) do it far faster and more efficiently, at less political cost to the White House."
• In June 2006, the first firing that we know of occurred, though it received little national notice. H.E. "Bud" Cummins III of Arkansas was forced to resign and was replaced with Timothy Griffin, special assistant to Rove.
• Finally, on Dec. 7, 2006, seven other U.S. attorneys were forced to resign by January. Five were involved in ongoing corruption probes. These prosecutors had received strong performance reviews by independent evaluators and some were originally judged — by the Justice Department's own subjective standards — to be among the top prosecutors who were loyal to the president and the attorney general.
Making a bad situation worse, the attorney general's justification for the firings has shifted over time.
At first, Gonzales flatly denied charges of wrongdoing when asked by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I would never, ever make a change in the United States attorney position for political reasons," he said. It was later revealed that Cummins' removal was political.
Later, the administration's justification became "performance-related" issues, and finally, a "loss of confidence" in these U.S. attorneys.
It is absolutely critical for Congress to restore the approval process in place before 2006. This is the only way to ensure that another administration doesn't travel down the same path.
We also must determine the role played by key White House officials and Gonzales, who has "taken responsibility" for the matter but also said that he did not know what was going on. Five out of eight of the fired U.S. attorneys were involved in investigations into public corruption. What signal does it send to other U.S. attorneys about investigating matters of corruption involving public officials, particularly if those officials are of your own party? It creates a chilling effect.
I recognize that U.S. attorneys are political appointments, but their appointments should require Senate confirmation. And once these prosecutors take the oath of office, they are responsible to the people of the United States — not just the president — and they must be independent and objective.
Bill Maher Gets It: In previous wars, we sacrificed our underwear. Now it's just our civil rights.
Us to George — sure, whatever
In previous wars, we sacrificed our underwear. Now it's just our civil rights.
By Bill Maher
March 16, 2007
STOP SAYING President Bush hasn't asked us to sacrifice anything for the war. He's asked us to sacrifice something enormous: our civil rights. To which the American people have responded: "Sure, whatever."
He's asked us to sacrifice the pride and joy that comes from knowing people all over the world look up to you. Yeah, what can you do? And he's asked us to sacrifice our future, because that's where all the real bombs he's planted — economic, environmental and security-related — are going to go off. Have a great weekend, everybody!
In previous wars, Americans on the home front were willing to give up a lot. During World War II, people even pretended Bob Hope was funny.
Women donated their silk undergarments to be made into parachutes — can you imagine nowadays Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan doing without underwear?
OK, bad example.
But the point is, we have sacrificed — we just sacrifice different things.
Bush took from us the things he knew we didn't care about: our privacy and our morality. He let us keep the money.
And it is morality when the chief law enforcement officer in this country tells Congress he doesn't believe in habeas corpus and is cool with torture and the practice of "disappearing" people. Alberto Gonzales even admitted to abusing the Patriot Act — is it even possible to abuse the Patriot Act?
When I heard that Bush was reading my e-mails, I'm sure I had the same reaction you did: "George Bush can read?"
This administration has gone through our phone records, credit card statements, our mail and our Internet logs — I feel like I'm on "Cheaters."
I mail myself a copy of the U.S. Constitution every morning just in the hope they'll open it and see what it says.
We have sacrificed a lot; it's just that we don't care that the NSA is listening to our phone calls. And that's especially tough for me, because I'm dating a girl named Jihadi Madrasa.
Six-tenths of the Bill of Rights, that's not something? Search and seizure, warrants, self-incrimination, trial by jury, cruel and unusual punishment.Here's what we have left: guns, religion and they can't make you quarter a British soldier. If Prince Harry invades Plattsburg, he has to bring a tent
A couple of months ago, Jim Lehrer questioned Bush about sacrifice. He asked if he'd ever institute a draft or raise taxes to pay for our national dream of making Iraq a Shiite theocracy. The president said this was World War III and a fight for our very survival, so a bunch of fresh troops and cash would probably just get in the way.
The president also said that Americans were already sacrificing. He said they "sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night."
Yeah, if there's one thing Americans will not tolerate on their television screens, it's images of violence. I sure hope they don't start to show up in movies and video games.
Why isn't anyone asking the tough questions, like: "Is torture necessary?" "Who will watch the watchers?" and "When does Jack Bauer go to the bathroom?" Seriously, it's been five years. Is he wearing one of those astronaut diapers?
The great thing Ronald Reagan did was, he made us feel good about America again. Well, now we're a country that's tortured a lot of random people.
Do you feel good about America now? I'll give you my answer, and to get it out of me, you don't even have to hood me, hold my head underwater and have a snarling guard dog rip my face off. No, I don't feel very good about that.
It's been said that evil happens when good men do nothing. And as the Democrats prove, it also happens when mediocre people do nothing.
BILL MAHER is host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher." Originally appeared in the LATimes
Friday, March 16, 2007
Valerie Plame Wilson Testifies Before Congress
American Hero: CIA Agent Deliberately Outed by Bush Cheney Rove Libby Republican White House Valerie Plame Wilson a former covert CIA agent working on intelligence about weapons of mass destruction was the target of a systematic outing by — not a foreign terrorist jihadist entity or Al Qaeda or a hostile foreign government — but by our very own United States Government, specificially the Bush-Cheney White House in collaboration with right-wing pundit and apologist Bob Novak. Why? Because the republican administration did not like being criticized by Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson for faking intelligence and lying about the reasons they misled the nation into the illegal Iraq War and invasion.
Proudly doing the devil's work:
Tom Davis of Virginia -- another republican right wing member of Congress working extremely hard to continue the White House and repugnacon smear of Valerie Plame -- protecting and covering for Rove, Bush, Cheney, Libby, Bob Novak and all those republicans and their hacks who outed covert, classified, undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. Davis and the other republican members continue to distort the facts of this troubling crime despite the facts and reality.
"Administration of Bullies"
"Arrogance of Power run amok"
"Petulant behavior on their part"
"Orchestrated effort" to out a covert CIA agent
"Did Bob Novak or Karl Rove or Mr. Cheney or President Bush or anyone from the administration call and apologize to you for the damage done to your career and the danger to you and your family?
Valerie Plame Wilson:
"No, Mr. Chairman"
With a mostly straight face Brown-nose declared today's hearings in the House to not serve much purpose in scoring political points/advantage. He was concerned with crass political posturing versus history being corrected, facts being found and truth being told.
Thumbs Down, Jeers and Hall of Shame Award goes to Ron Brownstein; you can pretty much write him off and check the Right-wing Republican publicist column (in great cowardly company with Robert Novak) — he'll have to do something massively important to redeem himself if this is his new hack, no P.R, er wait .... writing/reporting path.
On the other hand, Matt Cooper, one of the journalists to whom Rove and the White House Traitors leaked Plame's identity/name seemed to understand the serious historical value of these hearings and to confirm the public's right to know about the smear tactics and mendacious antics of this Shrub-Loyalty-Above-the-Constitution White House/administration.
Labels: Brownstein, bush, cheney, cia leak, congress, David Gregory, hardball, Hearings, iraq war, joe wilson, journalists, LA Times, libby, nbc, news, novak, rove, sarbanes, Valerie Plame Wilson, waxman
Monday, March 12, 2007
Nature's visual poetry. Backyard menagerie the occasional series, cont'd
Oh beautious nature! Oh charming backyard critters!
Darn mediocre digital kodak camera. Gotta get a battery for my good ole 35MM pentax.
(Bonus Above: there's a little chickadee in the grass
visible under the squirrel and the bottom left corner of the wooden feeder.)
and then, Frozen pose.
Caught in the act!
Nothing like being watched by indoor cats and the photographer from a nearby window.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
MAUREEN DOWD: My Very Own Juror
MAUREEN DOWD: My Very Own Juror
The press gave short shrift to poor Scooter, whose downfall came from doing Dick Cheney’s bidding with “canine loyalty,” as Chris Matthews told Don Imus yesterday morning. Scooter’s facing hard time, even though others in the administration also spread the word about Valerie Plame.
But let’s get back to the media decrying the media, and the incestuous Beltway relationship between journalists and sources. Listening to all the lamentations, I excitedly realized I had a potentially incestuous relationship with a source inside the Beltway.
I went to Nativity grade school in D.C. with Juror No. 9, Denis Collins. I had an unrequited crush on his brother when I was in seventh grade. His dad was my dad’s lawyer, and both were Irish immigrants. My brother Kevin coached his brother Kevin in touch football. Our moms were in the Sodality together. His mom once chastised me for chatting up a little boy in church. We started in journalism together, Denis at The Washington Post as a sportswriter and Metro reporter, and me at The Washington Star as a sportswriter and Metro reporter.
This was a sure thing. I could get him to come over to my house and spill all the secrets of the jury that had convicted the highest-ranking White House official to be found guilty on a felony since Iran-contra days.
Unfortunately, Denis spilled them on the way over. By the time he got to my house, he was already so overexposed he announced, “I’m sick of hearing myself talk.”
From the moment he stepped out of the courthouse and into the press mob in his green Eddie Bauer jacket, Denis became the unofficial jury spokesman, bouncing from Larry King to Anderson Cooper and “Good Morning America.” I thought there still might be enough jury dish for me until I heard him say “Huffington Post blog.”
“Blogs are the future, right?” he said, explaining that he’d already posted his diary of adventures in federal court — right down to our incestuous Catholic past, which came up in the voir dire, when he also mentioned living across the alley from Tim Russert and working at The Post for Bob Woodward, and his nonfiction book about spying and the C.I.A.
“I was the perfect storm,” he said. Instead of me milking him for information, he tried to milk me for information. He asked about the pitfalls of being in a media maelstrom.
“Somebody called me up today and said: ‘Turn on Rush Limbaugh. He’s saying terrible things about you.’ ”
I empathized. One of my brothers always used to call Mom and tell her: “Turn on Rush Limbaugh. He’s saying terrible things about Maureen.”
Also, Denis’s wife, Pam, told him gleefully that someone on TV was making fun of his jacket. “Somebody said, ‘What’s with the green coat? It looks like something he got in high school.’ ” I asked him if he’d used any lessons from the nuns. “Accountability,” he said. “Do the right thing or get whacked over your head with the bell by Sister Mary Karen.”
Was Scooter’s fall Shakespearean? “He’s too many steps away from the king,” he said. “One of the jurors said, ‘He was too busy looking out for No. 1; he should have been looking out for No. 2 and then he wouldn’t have gotten in trouble.’ One of the witnesses told us that Libby spent more time with Cheney than he did with his own wife and kids.”
What did the jurors think of Scooter’s wife? “Well, the alleged wife,” Denis corrected me. This was a very skeptical jury, then?
“We didn’t know anything about her,” he said, adding: “I said, ‘So, that’s Scooter Libby’s wife?’ and another juror jokingly said, ‘Do you have any evidence?’ ” So the jurors began calling her “the alleged wife.”
Like a good Catholic boy, he noted that the people who put “the longest nails in Libby’s hands were not reporters — they were people who worked for the government.”
I asked him how he would feel if W. pardoned Scooter.
“I would really not care,” he replied. “I feel like the damage has been done in terms of his reputation and the administration’s reputation.”
And what about the calls for Dick Cheney to resign or get the boot?
“Here’s the thing: Libby followed Cheney’s instructions to go talk to reporters, but there’s no evidence at all that Cheney told him to lie about it. So the question is, was Libby just kind of inept at getting this story out?”
Denis had to leave. He said he felt as if he were “coming out of a tunnel.” I just felt happy to have a hot source — even if I had to share him with the whole Beltway.
FRANK RICH: Why Libby’s Pardon Is a Slam Dunk
FRANK RICH: Why Libby’s Pardon Is a Slam Dunk
A president who tries to void laws he doesn’t like by encumbering them with “signing statements” and who regards the Geneva Conventions as a nonbinding technicality isn’t going to start playing by the rules now. His assertion last week that he is “pretty much going to stay out of” the Libby case is as credible as his pre-election vote of confidence in Donald Rumsfeld. The only real question about the pardon is whether Mr. Bush cares enough about his fellow Republicans’ political fortunes to delay it until after Election Day 2008.
Either way, the pardon is a must for Mr. Bush. He needs Mr. Libby to keep his mouth shut. Cheney’s Cheney knows too much about covert administration schemes far darker than the smearing of Joseph Wilson. Though Mr. Libby wrote a novel that sank without a trace a decade ago, he now has the makings of an explosive Washington tell-all that could be stranger than most fiction and far more salable.
Mr. Libby’s novel was called “The Apprentice.” His memoir could be titled “The Accomplice.” Its first chapter would open in August 2002, when he and a small cadre of administration officials including Karl Rove formed the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a secret task force to sell the Iraq war to the American people. The climactic chapter of the Libby saga unfolded last week when the guilty verdict in his trial coincided, all too fittingly, with the Congressional appearance of two Iraq veterans, one without an ear and one without an eye, to recount their subhuman treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
It was WHIG’s secret machinations more than four years ago that led directly to those shredded lives. WHIG had been tasked, as The Washington Post would later uncover, to portray Iraq’s supposedly imminent threat to America with “gripping images and stories not available in the hedged and austere language of intelligence.” In other words, WHIG was to cook up the sexiest recipe for promoting the war, facts be damned. So it did, by hyping the scariest possible scenario: nuclear apocalypse. As Michael Isikoff and David Corn report in “Hubris,” it was WHIG (equipped with the slick phrase-making of the White House speechwriter Michael Gerson) that gave the administration its Orwellian bumper sticker, the constantly reiterated warning that Saddam’s “smoking gun” could be “a mushroom cloud.”
Ever since all the W.M.D. claims proved false, the administration has pleaded that it was duped by the same bad intelligence everyone else saw. But the nuclear card, the most persistent and gripping weapon in the prewar propaganda arsenal, was this White House’s own special contrivance. Mr. Libby was present at its creation. He knows what Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney knew about the manufacture of this fiction and when they knew it.
Clearly they knew it early on. The administration’s guilt (or at least embarrassment) about its lies in fomenting the war quickly drove it to hide the human price being paid for those lies. (It also tried to hide the financial cost of the war by keeping it out of the regular defense budget, but that’s another, if related, story.) The steps the White House took to keep casualties out of view were extraordinary, even as it deployed troops to decorate every presidential victory rally and gave the Pentagon free rein to exploit the sacrifices of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman in mendacious P.R. stunts.
The administration’s enforcement of a prohibition on photographs of coffins returning from Iraq was the first policy manifestation of the hide-the-carnage strategy. It was complemented by the president’s decision to break with precedent, set by Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter among others, and refuse to attend military funerals, lest he lend them a media spotlight. But Mark Benjamin, who has chronicled the mistreatment of Iraq war veterans since 2003, discovered an equally concerted effort to keep injured troops off camera. Mr. Benjamin wrote in Salon in 2005 that “flights carrying the wounded arrive in the United States only at night” and that both Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda barred the press “from seeing or photographing incoming patients.”
A particularly vivid example of the extreme measures taken by the White House to cover up the war’s devastation turned up in The Washington Post’s Walter Reed exposé. Sgt. David Thomas, a Tennessee National Guard gunner with a Purple Heart and an amputated leg, found himself left off the guest list for a summer presidential ceremony honoring a fellow amputee after he said he would be wearing shorts, not pants, when occupying a front-row seat in camera range. Now we can fully appreciate that bizarre incident on C-Span in October 2003, when an anguished Cher, of all unlikely callers, phoned in to ask why administration officials, from the president down, were not being photographed with patients like those she had visited at Walter Reed. “I don’t understand why these guys are so hidden,” she said.
The answer is simple: Out of sight, out of mind was the game plan, and it has been enforced down to the tiniest instances. When HBO produced an acclaimed (and apolitical) documentary last year about military medics’ remarkable efforts to save lives in Iraq, “Baghdad ER,” Army brass at the last minute boycotted planned promotional screenings in Washington and at Fort Campbell, Ky. In a memo, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley warned that the film, though made with Army cooperation, could endanger veterans’ health by provoking symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The General Kiley who was so busy policing an HBO movie for its potential health hazards is the same one who did not correct the horrific real-life conditions on his watch at Walter Reed. After the Post exposé was published, he tried to spin it by boasting that most of the medical center’s rooms “were actually perfectly O.K.” and scapegoating “soldiers leaving food in their rooms” for the mice and cockroach infestations. That this guy is still surgeon general of the Army — or was as of Friday — makes you wonder what he, like Mr. Libby, has on his superiors.
Now that the country has seen the Congressional testimony of Specialist Jeremy Duncan, who has melted flesh where his ear once was, or watched the ABC newsman Bob Woodruff’s report on other neglected patients in military medical facilities far beyond Walter Reed, the White House cover-up of veterans’ care has collapsed, like so many other cover-ups necessitated by its conduct of this war. But the administration and its surrogates still won’t face up to their moral culpability.
Mary Matalin, the former Cheney flack who served with Mr. Libby on WHIG and is now on the board of his legal defense fund (its full list of donors is unknown), has been especially vocal. “Scooter didn’t do anything,” she said. “And his personal record and service are impeccable.” What Mr. Libby did — fabricating nuclear threats at WHIG and then lying under oath when he feared that sordid Pandora’s box might be pried open by the Wilson case — was despicable. Had there been no WHIG or other White House operation for drumming up fictional rationales for war, there would have been no bogus uranium from Africa in a presidential speech, no leak to commit perjury about, no amputees to shut away in filthy rooms at Walter Reed.
Listening to Ms. Matalin and her fellow apparatchiks emote publicly about the punishment being inflicted on poor Mr. Libby and his family, you wonder what world they live in. They seem clueless about how ugly their sympathy for a conniving courtier sounds against the testimony of those wounded troops and their families who bear the most searing burdens of the unnecessary war WHIG sped to market.
As is often noted, any parallels between Iraq and Vietnam do not extend to America’s treatment of its troops. No one spits at those serving in Iraq. But our “support” for the troops has often been as hypocritical as that of an administration that still fails to provide them with sufficient armor. Health care indignities, among other betrayals of returning veterans, have been reported by countless news organizations since the war began, not just this year. Many in Congress did nothing, and we as a people have often looked the other way, supporting the troops with car decals and donated phone cards while the same history repeats itself again and again.
Now the “surge” that was supposed to show results by summer is creeping inexorably into an open-ended escalation, even as Moktada al-Sadr’s militia ominously melts away, just as Iraq’s army did after the invasion in 2003, lying in wait to spring a Tet-like surprise. And still, despite Thursday’s breakthrough announcement of a credible Iraq exit blueprint by the House leadership, Congress threatens to dither. While Mr. Bush will no doubt pardon Scooter Libby without so much as a second thought, anyone else in Washington who continues to further this debacle may find it less easy to escape scot-free.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Bears Repeating: Shrub & Dickhead Using Smiling Soldiers as their (faux patriotic) Backdrops
THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN: Don’t Ask, Don’t Know, Don’t Help
The squalid living conditions and red tape that have been inflicted on some recovering Iraq war veterans at Walter Reed hospital and elsewhere — which have been spotlighted by The Washington Post — are shocking in their detail, but not surprising. They are one more manifestation — like insufficient troops, postwar planning and armor — of a war that was really important to get right but really hard, which the Bush team thought was really important and would be really easy.
Mr. Bush summoned the country to D-Day and prepared the Army, the military health system, military industries and the American people for the invasion of Grenada.
From the start, the Bush team has tried to keep the Iraq war “off the books” both financially and emotionally. As Larry Diamond of Stanford’s Hoover Institution said to me: “America is not at war. The U.S. Army is at war.” The rest of us are just watching, or just ignoring, while the whole fight is carried on by 150,000 soldiers and their families.
In an interview last Jan. 16, Jim Lehrer asked President Bush why, if the war on terrorism was so overwhelmingly important, he had never asked more Americans “to sacrifice something.” Mr. Bush gave the most unbelievable answer: “Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night.”
Sacrifice peace of mind watching TV? What kind of crazy thing is that to say? Leadership is about enabling and inspiring people to contribute in time of war so the enemy has to fight all of us — not insulating the public so the enemy has to fight only a few of us.
If you want to compare President Bush in this regard with Presidents Roosevelt or Wilson, pick up a copy of Robert Hormats’s soon-to-be-published book: “The Price of Liberty: Paying for America’s Wars.”
“In every major war that we have fought, with the exception of Vietnam, there was an effort prior to the war or just after the inception to re-evaluate tax and spending policies and to shift resources from less vital national pursuits to the strategic objective of fighting and winning the war,” said Mr. Hormats, a vice chairman of Goldman Sachs (International). He quotes Roosevelt’s 1942 State of the Union address, when F.D.R. looked Americans in the eye and said: “War costs money. ... That means taxes and bonds and bonds and taxes. It means cutting luxuries and other nonessentials. In a word, it means an ‘all-out’ war by individual effort and family effort in a united country.”
Ever heard Mr. Bush talk that way? After Pearl Harbor, Mr. Hormats noted, Roosevelt vowed to mobilize U.S. industry to produce enough weapons so we would have a “crushing superiority” in arms over our enemies. Four years after the start of the Iraq war, this administration has still not equipped all our soldiers with the armor they need.
As retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton pointed out, last year, because of spending in Iraq, the Army had a $530 million budget shortfall for posts, so facilities got squeezed. If Americans had been asked to pay a small tax to fill that gap, they would have overwhelmingly checked that box. They would have also paid a “Patriot Tax” of 50 cents a gallon to raise the money and diminish our dependence on oil. But no one asked them to do anything other than “sacrifice peace of mind.”
If you want to help and don’t want to wait for the White House bugle, here are some places to start:
- (1) Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes (www.saluteheroes.org),
- (2) the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (www.fallenheroesfund.org),
- (3) the Fisher Houses (www.fisherhouse.org) and (4) the Walter Reed Society (www.walterreedsociety.org). And
- (4) one I know personally from my hometown, Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund (www.thankmntroops.org).
We can get just about everything wrong in Iraq, and pretty much have, but we’ve got to take first-class care of those who’ve carried the burden of this war. It’s that simple.
Friday, March 09, 2007
One time in 2003 Bob (CIA-outing traitor) Novak was actually quasi-HONEST!!!!
Aired January 18, 2003 - 19:00 ET
"...the last thing that the hawks inside the administration, and their friends outside the administration, want is a coup d'etat that would replace Saddam Hussein. They want a war as a manifestation of U.S. power in the world and as a sign that the United States is capable of changing the balance of power and the political map of the Middle East.
There's no question that the last thing they want is Saddam Hussein put on a plane and taken away ...
Talking to a senior official, and he said to me, he said, Well, if we don't hit in Iraq, where are we going to hit? And they - it's a desire that the United States, the superpower, is going to manifest its authority to the rest of the world.
Listen, I just feel that this potential - this war, I just trust it comes off easily. But I have trepidation that it won't be easy, and there's going to be a terrible consequences from it."
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
Headline! Breaking News! Chris Matthews Pronounces Barack Obama 'Sufficiently Black' for African Americans!
Well Bless my southern biscuit soul! One of the whitest most privileged entitled elite know-it-all honky commentators (we'll get to two-faced hypocrite in due time) says as of today that presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Barack Obama is now black enough after being in Selma and talking like a black southern baptist preacher. I'm so very sure Whitey Matthews has heard (much less actually knows) lots of black preachers of any denomination. They're probably his 'best friends'!
Aren't you glad Chris "Spitball" Matthews is so informed about what it means to be Black in America these days that he can tell the rest of us -- especially African American citizens and voters?
And he can do this -- apparently with no sense of his overweening ego -- because after all he is just so very informed and aware of blackness and identity -- he's such a culturally informed fellow that he is now THE all-knowing arbiter and definer (and decider) of such nuanced, complex and political subjects such as black cultural identity in Amerikkka. We'll have to wait, but we can presume he knows everything about Latino and Asian culture (among others) as well.
Yes Spitball is the same guy who fell in love with GW Shrub Bush and pronounced him the kind of potent leader America needed! A real man's man! A decisive decider! Oh, but that was just after 9-11 (and the seven-minute goat story), just after they created fake intelligence stories in order to bomb the hell out of Iraq, and right around the time Shrub announced "Mission Accomplished."
Chris was squealingly orgasmic when Shrub appeared with his flight-suit man-codpiece all hitched up. Here's what Spitball gushed after the Mission Accomplished photo-op:
President Bush looked good in that flight suit. Damn good. Very masculine, if you know what I mean. I mean, is there a Democratic candidate who would look that manly?White-ball just slurps up that manly stuff -- well only if they're white men of course. And what is his obsession with Hillary Clinton? A racial-, sexual- and gender- identity obsessed privileged elite white man? -- gee what a shock. Can you say INSECURE and FEELING a bit THREATENED? Maybe it's simply that Classic white patriarchal knee-jerk response when women and people of color begin to shake things up even a little bit. White-ball probably has a really really teeny little one.
Here's the truth: Barack Obama can out-president and out-lead Shrub's six-plus years in one single day. And he doesn't need Chris Spitball wingnut Misinformer to pronounce him as sufficiently anything. Barack Obama has more manliness, leadership qualities and inner security as a strong black/biracial/American man in his little finger than Spitball has in his entire pathetic flaccid corporeal history.
In case you haven't noticed, Whitey Spitball is full of SH*T but that doesn't stop him from deciding who is of worth and value even when he has no clue about ... much of anything; he just likes to hear himself spout off -- Murphy's Law on full display. Whitey-ball is one of those people who 'know the cost of everything and the value of nothing' -- unlike the brilliant Senator Obama.
In fact, Matthews was named Media Matters MisInformer of the Year for 2005. He's on the path to repeat for 2007 I'd venture to guess.
Haw! That corporate-media-flack know-it-all white guy -- isn't he just the ever-lovin' limit? He just takes himself too seriously. Seriously.
Hat-tip to Boiling Mad
Labels: 2008, analysis, barack obama, chris matthews, decider, elections, hardball, media matters, minsinformation, msnbc, news, obama, politicians, politics, presidential candidates, pundits, selma, spitball