This post is for someone I know who would prefer to go nameless. Sunday's NYT has an article describing the return of a scourge long thought to be vanquished.
In a piece, aptly entitled Just Try to Sleep Tight. The Bedbugs Are Back, the article reveals that "bedbugs, stealthy and fast-moving nocturnal creatures that were all but eradicated by DDT after World War II, have recently been found in hospital maternity wards, private schools and even a plastic surgeon's waiting room. Bedbugs are back and spreading through New York City like a swarm of locusts on a lush field of wheat."
As my friend will attest, Philly too. And as the article notes, she has also become an expert on those little critters. All I can add is sleep tight and hope those damn bedbugs don't come back.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
This post is for someone I know who would prefer to go nameless. Sunday's NYT has an article describing the return of a scourge long thought to be vanquished.
The Daily Kos reports on an interview carried today on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (blech), with Sy Hersh on his upcoming New Yorker article "Up in the Air".
I believe the phrase "Scared Silly" sufficiently describes my reaction. The interview describes Hersh's view of the next phase in the Iraq War, which according to Daily Kos "provides a little more details about the Bush administration's withdrawal proposal. During the interview, Mr. Hersh said that the Bush administration will probably withdraw US troops from the ground next year, but that won't mean that will be the beginning of the end of the war . . . ." Rather, Hersh thinks that the departing troops will be replaced by airpower, which raises a number of legitimate concerns for Air Force commanders. Hersh goes into some detail in the interview, which you should not miss.
Hersh also discusses the mental state of our "fearless" leader, which is literally the case, according to Hersh.
Hersh explains: Suffice to say this, that this president in private, at Camp David with his friends, the people that I'm sure call him George, is very serene about the war. He's upbeat. . . . He believes that he's doing the right thing, and he's not going to stop until he gets -- either until he's out of office, or he falls apart, or he wins.
Hersh continues: He's a utopian, you could say, in a world where maybe he doesn't have all the facts and all the information he needs and isn't able to change.
"I'll tell you, the people that talk to me now are essentially frightened because they're not sure how you get to this guy."
"We have generals that do not like -- anymore -- they're worried about speaking truth to power."
* * * *
BLITZER: Here's what you write. You write, "Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the president remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding."
Those are incredibly strong words, that the president basically doesn't want to hear alternative analysis of what is going on.
HERSH: You know, Wolf, there is people I've been talking to -- I've been a critic of the war very early in the New Yorker, and there were people talking to me in the last few months that have talked to me for four years that are suddenly saying something much more alarming.
They're beginning to talk about some of the things the president said to him about his feelings about manifest destiny, about a higher calling that he was talking about three, four years ago.
I don't want to sound like I'm off the wall here. But the issue is, is this president going to be capable of responding to reality? Is he going to be able -- is he going to be capable if he going to get a bad assessment, is he going to accept it as a bad assessment or is he simply going to see it as something else that is just a little bit in the way as he marches on in his crusade that may not be judged for 10 or 20 years. . . . How do you get to a guy to convince him that perhaps he's not going the right way?
Maybe scared silly isn't strong enough. How about terrified?
UPDATE: Seymour Hersh's article, Up In The Air, is now available on-line at The New Yorker.
What you see isn't always what you get. As a follow up to this recent post, The Company You Keep, this month's Nation has an article on John McCain, aptly titled The Real McCain.
Speaking of the misimpression McCain has promoted on both the right and the left, author Ari Berman says that "the senator they saw projected a far more conciliatory image than the trash-talking maverick portrayed in the national media. Before the event he had endorsed teaching "intelligent design" alongside evolution in public schools, and he had expressed support for a rigid state ban on gay marriage that denies government benefits to any unmarried couple. . . . McCain [addressed a conservative right wing group], referring to Reagan as "my hero," invoking the support of other conservatives on issues such as stem-cell research and immigration, and strenuously defending President Bush's Iraq policy."
* * * *
"In fact, McCain has always been far more conservative than either his supporters or detractors acknowledge. In 2004 he earned a perfect 100 percent rating from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum and a 0 percent from NARAL. Citizens Against Government Waste dubs him a "taxpayer hero." He has opposed extension of the assault-weapons ban, federal hate crimes legislation and the International Criminal Court. He has supported school vouchers, a missile defense shield and private accounts for Social Security. Well before 9/11 McCain advocated a new Reagan Doctrine of "rogue-state rollback."
""He's a foreign policy hawk, a social conservative and a fiscal conservative who believes in tax cuts but not at the expense of the deficit,' says Marshall Wittmann, a former McCain staffer and conservative activist who now works at the Democratic Leadership Council. McCain's ideology resembles an exotic cocktail of Teddy Roosevelt, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan--a conservative before conservatism was bankrupted by fundamentalism and corporatism. His centrist reputation simply proves how far right the center has shifted in Republican politics. 'The median stance for Senate Republicans in the early 1970s was significantly to the left of current GOP maverick John McCain,' write political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson in their book Off-Center. 'By the early 2000s, however, the median Senate Republican was essentially twice as conservative--just shy of the ultraconservative position of Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.'"
It is truly breathtaking when you think of how far the Republican Party has shifted things in this county. Issues affected range from things such as how policy has become politics, dissent has been silenced and the media has become propaganda. The Republican Party has become entrenched in many areas of many states through extreme gerrymandering in various political districts. And the center has moved to the right in a significant way.
Even if the current crew in the White House and Congress gets indicted (and convicted) from one of the many criminal investigations currently underway or voted out due to voter backlash from an assortment of reasons, from the war, the economy, the lies and misrepresentations, the replacements aren't necessarily going to be a substantial improvement.
As Nathan Newman observed in a post on TPMCafe, The John McCain Scam, "One of the danger signs for Democrats that a Bush collapse doesn't necessarily mean much for progressive gains in policy are the polls showing that John McCain could step up and poll almost twenty points more than either Hillary Clinton or John Kerry in 2008."
And whenever you think McCain's not so bad, just remember that the Center for Republicans is not that far removed from Rick Santorum.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Friday, November 25, 2005
Michael Kinsley writes a compelling editorial in the Washington Post, The Phony War Against the Critics. As he notes:
"'One might also argue,' Vice President Cheney said in a speech on Monday, 'that untruthful charges against the commander in chief have an insidious effect on the war effort.' That would certainly be an ugly and demagogic argument, were one to make it. After all, if untruthful charges against the president hurt the war effort (by undermining public support and soldiers' morale), then those charges will hurt the war effort even more if they happen to be true. So one would be saying in effect that any criticism of the president is essentially treason."
"Lest one fear that he might be saying that, Cheney immediately added, 'I'm unwilling to say that' -- "that" being what he had just said. He generously granted critics the right to criticize (as did the president this week). Then he resumed hurling adjectives like an ape hurling coconuts at unwanted visitors. "Dishonest." "Reprehensible." "Corrupt." "Shameless." President Bush and others joined in, all morally outraged that anyone would accuse the administration of misleading us into war by faking a belief that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear and/or chemical and biological weapons."
* * * *
"Until last week, the antiwar position in the debate over Iraq closely resembled the pro-war position in the ancient debate over Vietnam. That is: It was a mistake to get in, but now that we're in we can't just cut and run. That was the logic on which Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger took over the Vietnam War four years after major American involvement began and kept it going for another four. American "credibility" depended on our keeping our word, however foolish that word might have been. In the end, all the United States wanted was a "decent interval" between our departure and the North Vietnamese triumph -- and we didn't even get that. Thousands of Americans died in Vietnam after America's citizens and government were in general agreement that the war was a mistake."
"We are now very close to that point of general agreement in the Iraq war. . . . And now, thanks to Rep. John Murtha, it is permissible to say, or at least to ask, 'Why not just get out now? Or at least soon, on a fixed schedule?' There are arguments against this -- some good, some bad -- but the worst is the one delivered by Cheney and others with their most withering scorn. It is the argument that it is wrong to tell American soldiers risking their lives in a foreign desert that they are fighting for a mistake."
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Sidney Blumental has a piece in Salon (subscription or day pass required), The long march of Dick Cheney, that is worth reading in full. A few enticing excerpts:
"The hallmark of the Dick Cheney administration is its illegitimacy. Its essential method is bypassing established lines of authority; its goal is the concentration of unaccountable presidential power. When it matters, the regular operations of the CIA, Defense Department and State Department have been sidelined.
"Richard Nixon is the model, but with modifications. In the Nixon administration, the president was the prime mover, present at the creation of his own options, attentive to detail, and conscious of their consequences. In the Cheney administration, the president is volatile but passive, firm but malleable, presiding but absent. Once his complicity has been arranged, a closely held "cabal" -- as Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, calls it -- wields control.
"Within the White House, the office of the vice president is the strategic center. The National Security Council has been demoted to enabler and implementer. Systems of off-line operations have been laid to evade professional analysis and a responsible chain of command. Those who attempt to fulfill their duties in the old ways have been humiliated when necessary, fired, retired early or shunted aside. In their place, acolytes and careerists indistinguishable from true believers in their eagerness have been elevated.
"The collapse of sections of the facade shielding Cheney from public view has not inhibited him. His former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, indicted on five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, appears to be withholding information about the vice president's actions in the Plame affair from the special prosecutor. While Bush has declaimed, "We do not torture," Cheney lobbied the Senate to stop it from prohibiting torture.
"At the same time, Cheney has taken the lead in defending the administration from charges that it twisted intelligence to justify the Iraq war and misled the Congress even as new stories underscore the legitimacy of the charges."
* * * *
"Cheney is a master bureaucrat, proficient in the White House, the agencies and departments, and Congress. The many offices Cheney has held add up to an extraordinary resume. His competence and measured manner are often mistaken for moderation. Among those who have misjudged Cheney are military men -- Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft and Wilkerson, who lacked a sense of him as a political man in full. As a result, they expressed surprise at their discovery of the ideological hard man. Scowcroft told the New Yorker recently that Cheney was not the Cheney he once knew. But Scowcroft and the other military men rose by working through regular channels; they were trained to respect established authority. They are at a disadvantage in internal political battles with those operating by different rules of warfare. Their realism does not account for radicalism within the U.S. government.
Nixon's resignation in the Watergate scandal thwarted his designs for an unchecked imperial presidency."
* * * *
"The making of the Iraq war, torture policy and an industry-friendly energy plan has required secrecy, deception and subordination of government as it previously existed. But these, too, are means to an end. Even projecting a "war on terror" as total war, trying to envelop the whole American society within its fog, is a device to invest absolute power in the executive."
Of course, many have misjudged Cheney, including the American people, who cannot believe that those entrusted to lead our country would rule as imperialists. The concept is so anathema to our country's principles that people cannot accept that that is what is occurring. Disbelief and denial is aided by the masterful manipulations and propaganda promulgated by the Administration. Again, the public cannot countenance the fact that our leaders would so deceive the public. Cheney epitomizes the query: Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
As the family starts gathering for the annual Thanksgiving Dinner, with the usual dysfunctional interactions and scenes, another holiday gathering is depicted in the San Francisco Gate, Scenes From A Bush Thanksgiving, by Mark Morford.
"Ah yes, it is that time again. The smell of roasting turkey and cigar smoke and Polo cologne, perfume like florid gasoline. Copious forced laughter that sounds like geese mating in a broom closet. It is Thanksgiving dinner at the Bush White House, where the guests mingle as though their genitals were being squeezed by manic elves, as if they were all coated in vanilla pudding being licked off by Pat Robertson. Which, truth be told, some of them seem to enjoy. A lot."
* * * *
"George Sr. . . . sips his gin fizz and chuckles softly at the scene, thinkin' about golf, thinkin' about how long ago it all seems since his reign of tepid ineptitude, but thinkin', also, about how history will be much kinder to him now that his son has run the country into a blood-drenched wall. He-he-he. He'll drink to that."
"It's the thing no one mentions, but which hangs over the room like a pall. Junior's current miserable poll numbers now mean that he and his father share the honor of being two of the four most unpopular presidents in modern history, right alongside Carter and Nixon."
* * * *
"George Jr. is perturbed. He is sulky and pouty and has to force a smirky grin at the guests as they enter the banquet room, pretending as if he really wanted them all there, all these betrayers and backstabbers and people he thought he knew but who turn out, instead, to be involved in whole big bunches of illegal and traitorous stuff he has no clue about. They are all a bunch of goddamn boogerheads, he thinks."
* * * *
"The banquet room reeks and coils and sighs. It is full of bleak energy and missed opportunities, spiritual paranoia and repressed desire and dishonest laughter. The turkey comes out dry. There is not enough pie for Dubya. Rumsfeld slurps his scotch, drunkenly. Dick eyes the dark thigh meat. Condi has to pee. There is little to be thankful for, inside this room."
Outside, however, among the nation's awakening throngs, gratitude and hope are beginning to swell and grow anew. Only three years left. It's long but not that long. . . . It is not, the world realizes, too early to be thankful for that."
The whole article is priceless. After contemplating that scene, you too will be thankful and your family dinner will seem divine.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Philly's own Will Bunch, of the Daily News, has penned an article in this month's Mother Jones, about Pennsylvania favorite Senator that I love to hate, Sanctus Santorum. As Bunch describes in this blog, Attytood, the article's "undercurrent is that all the hype about the Republican's social views on gays and abortion masks what essentially is a corporatist agenda."
It's a good article that should be passed around before the next election. He's only 14 points behind his democratic opponent, state Treasurer Bob Casey. Much too close for comfort for me.
I'm with Eschaton on this one. I don't understand why so many people think John McCain is OK. After he sold his soul to the Bush devil during the last election, he's off my Christmas list (and voter list too).
In this article, Mccain To Visit Alabama To Endorse Wallace, it is noted that "Arizona Senator John McCain will visit three Alabama cities on Monday to endorse Republican George Wallace Jr. for lieutenant governor." The Wallace referred to here is son of the infamous George Wallace.
"Calling Wallace a 'committed conservative reformer,' McCain plans fund-raising appearances with Wallace."
I realize that the sins of the father do not necessarily belong to the son, but in this case the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the "younger Wallace, whose official resumé boasts of an NAACP Freedom Award, opened up the first day of the annual national convention of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a group whose Web site has referred to blacks as 'a retrograde species of humanity.'"
"The CCC was created from the mailing lists of the old White Citizens Councils, which were set up in the 1950s and 1960s to resist efforts to desegregate Southern schools, and which Thurgood Marshall once described as "the uptown Klan." Recently, it has embraced Holocaust deniers and published anti-Semitic articles on its Web site."
Can't help thinking, Oh Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Jon Stewart provides his own Report Card on the Congressional requirements for quarterly reports on the War in Iraq.
You have to hear Jon say: "War. What is it good for. Absolutely nothing." He also covers a few other timely topics, such as the "art of deception" vs. Simple lying, and Cheney on "Re-writing history."
It's priceless, as usual.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
This NYT Editorial, Decoding Mr. Bush's Denials, does an excellent job refuting Bush's latest attempt to rewrite history, in which he accuses the Democrats of rewriting history. The Times concisely clarifies the facts:
"Mr. Bush says everyone had the same intelligence he had - Mr. Clinton and his advisers, foreign governments, and members of Congress - and that all of them reached the same conclusions. The only part that is true is that Mr. Bush was working off the same intelligence Mr. Clinton had. But that is scary, not reassuring. The reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons were old, some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years, except reports that later proved to be fanciful."
"Foreign intelligence services did not have full access to American intelligence. But some had dissenting opinions that were ignored or not shown to top American officials. Congress had nothing close to the president's access to intelligence. The National Intelligence Estimate presented to Congress a few days before the vote on war was sanitized to remove dissent and make conjecture seem like fact."
"It's hard to imagine what Mr. Bush means when he says everyone reached the same conclusion. There was indeed a widespread belief that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. But Mr. Clinton looked at the data and concluded that inspections and pressure were working - a view we now know was accurate. France, Russia and Germany said war was not justified. Even Britain admitted later that there had been no new evidence about Iraq, just new politics."
* * *
"The president and his top advisers may very well have sincerely believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But they did not allow the American people, or even Congress, to have the information necessary to make reasoned judgments of their own. It's obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections. We need to know how that happened and why."
"Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that 'it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.' We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history."
As I posted the other day in Deceitful, duplicitous, deceptive . . ., the Washington Post had a similar view of Bush's latest attack on those who dare to expose the untruths and manipulations that precipitated the war in Iraq, which are now being revealed (and reviled) in a variety of ways.
Further, based upon the furious response by the White House to the Post article, as noted in Talking Points Memo, the truth must really have hurt. That's OK, it really hurt us too.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Reading an article about historical tours in the Inquirer, 'Press passes' to earlier times, I recognized one of the guides as a friend of ours (no online picture). The article described "History Hunters Youth Reporter Program, which brings area schoolchildren on tours of four historic Germantown houses: Stenton, Cliveden, Wyck and the Johnson House. Stenton, the first stop on this tour, was once the home of James Logan, William Penn's secretary and agent. Built in the 1720s, it was home to three generations of Logans." The article continued:
"Armed with "press passes" and notebooks, the history hunters follow guides throughout the houses, take notes, then write articles about life back in the day, from the colonial era to the Civil War."
* * *
"You never know what they're going to ask," said another guide, Loree Schuster, who was wearing a bonnet and layered servant's costume similar to LaBletta's. "Some of them have asked me if I live here."
* * *
[O]ut in the yard, Schuster was trying to give a second group of students a sense of slave and servant labor. They dressed up in servant garb and scampered about the yard, raking leaves and dipping cloths in cold water to simulate washing clothes.
"Did that seem like a lot of work?" asked Schuster.
"No," the five students responded in unison. They were having fun.
"What if you had to do it on a hot day? For 12 hours?" Schuster asked, hoping the tasks had imparted some understanding of the lives of slaves in colonial America. The students made notes in their reporter's notebooks.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
First there was Wag the Dog, now we have Wag the Bush. Capitol Hill Blue reports that a GOP memo, which touts a new terror attack as way to reverse party's decline.
"A confidential memo circulating among senior Republican leaders suggests that a new attack by terrorists on U.S. soil could reverse the sagging fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the GOP and 'restore his image as a leader of the American people.'"
"The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could 'validate' the President’s war on terror and allow Bush to 'unite the country' in a 'time of national shock and sorrow.'”
Maybe they could enlist Pat Robertson to attack Dover, Pennsylvania, for being so Godless. Thankfully, however, some Republicans are worried about using this method. Not because of the attack itself, but it's impact on the party:
"Other Republicans, however, worry that such a scenario carries high risk, pointing out that an attack might suggest the President has not done enough to protect the country."
Why would they even contemplate such a calamity? How about:
"The memo circulates as Tuesday’s disastrous election defeats have left an already dysfunctional White House in chaos, West Wing insiders say, with shouting matches commonplace and the blame game escalating into open warfare. "
“"This place is like a high-school football locker room after the team lost the big game,' grumbles one Bush administration aide. 'Everybody’s pissed and pointing the finger at blame at everybody else.'”
Not being a sports fan, my analogy as to the behavior being exhibited by the Republicans was that they were like a bunch of kids playing grown up, with the inevitable temper tantrums when they don't get their own way (See: What a Difference a Day Makes).
Unfortunately, I also reminded that boys do like to play war, and with these Big Boys in charge, be afraid. It is extremely sad to say, but I can't honestly say that I would put anything past this gang. So, be very afraid.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
My cousin emailed this article to me, Vatican: Faithful Should Listen to Science, which reported that Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture, said that "the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into 'fundamentalism' if it ignores scientific reason."
The Catholic Church espousing rational thought towards science? No more dark ages for the Vatican? With this pontiff? Wow. I didn't know what to say. Could it be, said I? No, it wasn't.
According to this article, Pope Weighs in on Evolution Controversy, "Pope Benedict XVI has waded into the evolution debate in the United States, saying the universe was made by an "intelligent project'' and criticizing those who in the name of science say its creation was without direction or order."
"Intelligent design," yes. Evolution, no. Intelligence, no.
All is right with the Church. Or not.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo eulogizes: "What a sorry, sorry, unfortunate president -- caught in his lies, his half-truths, his reckless disregard ... caught with, well ... caught with time. Time has finally caught up to him -- a sad, pathetic man."
"Chronicling the full measure of the Bush administration's mendacity with regards to the war is a difficult task -- not because of a dearth of evidence for it but because of its so many layers, all its multidimensionality. It's almost like one of those Russian egg novelties in which each layer opened reveals another layer beneath it. Hard as it may be, in the interests of getting Mr. Bush past the phases of denial and anger, let's just hit on some of the main themes."
After this scathing intro, Marshall, who was originally a proponent of the Iraqi war, delineates the major messages of mendacity put forth by the White House. It is well worth the read.
Speaking of the subject of fabrication, the Washington Post also points out examples of dishonesty by the Administration. In Asterisks Dot White House's Iraq Argument, the Post describes history re-written by the scriveners who have made it an art form:
"President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence."
"Neither assertion is wholly accurate."
"The administration's overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements."
"But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions."
How many words can you think of for the word "liar"?
An Editor & Publisher article, White House Stands by 'Not Accurate' Quote in Dispute, reports that the White House has raised questions of "rewriting history" with its request to outside news agencies, Congressional Quarterly and Federal News Service, to change transcripts of a recent press briefing by Scott McClellan. Think Progress also discusses the incident.
As Editor & Publisher notes:
"Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan's short answer to a question at his daily press briefing last week has prompted a dispute between the White House press office and two news organizations that offer transcripts of the events."
"A spokeswoman for McClellan's office told E&P late Wednesday that the White House is standing by its version of what he said."
"At the Oct. 31 briefing, David Gregory of NBC News stated the following question to McClellan about White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby: 'Whether there's a question of legality, we know for a fact that there was involvement. We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations.'"
"The official White House transcript states that McClellan's response was 'I don't think that's accurate.'"
They are correct. The transcript is not accurate.
In a news clip amazingly reminiscent of the Daily Show, MSNBC reports on the controversy over those 5 little words. If you watch this video, A Moment of Truth, there is no doubt that McClellan said "That's accurate." MSNBC also interviews Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher, who smilingly said, after watching the video, that McClellan accidentally "Committed Truth." That is, he explained, "He had an open moment. He actually said something that was not filtered through the spin . . .something blundered out."
Now I'd say "That's accurate."
Friday, November 11, 2005
Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post, in Bush's Tortured Logic, provides an excellent analysis of Bush's recent statement about torture. He inquired "Just what did President Bush mean yesterday when he said: 'We don't torture?'"
In answering that question, he quotes Bob Cesca from Huffingtonpost.com: "He's either outright lying or the administration has a very different definition of torture than the rest of the world. I would argue that it's both."
Also included in the article is the view of Andrew Sullivan: "If that's the case, why threaten to veto a law that would simply codify what Bush alleges is already the current policy? If 'we do not torture,' how to account for the hundreds and hundreds of cases of abuse and torture by U.S. troops, documented by the government itself? If 'we do not torture,' why the memos that expanded exponentially the lee-way given to the military to abuse detainees in order to get intelligence? The president's only defense against being a liar is that he is defining 'torture' in such a way that no other reasonable person on the planet, apart from Bush's own torture apologists (and they are now down to one who will say so publicly), would agree. The press must now ask the president: does he regard the repeated, forcible near-drowning of detainees to be torture? Does he believe that tying naked detainees up and leaving them outside all night to die of hypothermia is 'torture'? Does he believe that beating the legs of a detainee until they are pulp and he dies is torture? Does he believe that beating detainees till they die is torture? Does he believe that using someone's religious faith against them in interrogations is 'cruel, inhumane and degrading' treatment and thereby illegal? What is his definition of torture?"
In another Dan Froomkin column, Cheney's 'Dark Side' Is Showing, he adds this terrifying prospect:
Jane Mayer writes in the New Yorker that administration policies may preclude the prosecution of CIA agents who commit abuses or even kill detainees.
Mayer writes: "The Bush Administration has resisted disclosing the contents of two Justice Department memos that established a detailed interrogation policy for the Pentagon and the C.I.A. A March, 2003, classified memo was 'breathtaking,' the same source said. The document dismissed virtually all national and international laws regulating the treatment of prisoners, including war-crimes and assault statutes, and it was radical in its view that in wartime the President can fight enemies by whatever means he sees fit. According to the memo, Congress has no constitutional right to interfere with the President in his role as Commander-in-Chief, including making laws that limit the ways in which prisoners may be interrogated. Another classified Justice Department memo, issued in August, 2002, is said to authorize numerous 'enhanced' interrogation techniques for the C.I.A. These two memos sanction such extreme measures that, even if the agency wanted to discipline or prosecute agents who stray beyond its own comfort level, the legal tools to do so may no longer exist. . . .
Finally, in another article, a former CIA and counter terrorism agent, Larry Johnson, writes at TPM Cafe, Man on Fire--Not!, and discusses torture on a more philosophical level.
As he says, "We should never use our own fear of being attacked as justification to dehumanize ourselves and another human being in our pursuit of so-called truth. . . .Perhaps now we can begin to understand how Adolf Hitler could rally German Christians to do the unthinkable to Jews and Gypsyies in concentration camps. If you convince people that they are at risk unless they move to destroy those who represent a perceived threat, regardless of the methods and means, then you are on your way to atrocities."
As Trent Lott reminded the other day (in another context), "We have met the enemy, and it is us."
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Everybody wants to be a Comedian. Either that, or write a book and do the Book Beat on the Daily Show. These two Senators do a little of each.
You can see the videos here: Watch Jon Stewart ask
Senator John McCain Is Cheney insane? and
Senator Barack Obama Who's the worst Senator?
(Via One Good Move)
In response to the Washington Post article, CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons, which exposed secret torture prisons, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) wrote a letter to intelligence committee chairmen about the recent leak of information to the Washington Post about secret CIA detention centers in Europe.
Methinks they spoke a bit too soon. Trent Lott later revealed that he thinks it was a GOP Senator who leaked the info to the Washington Post last week. He says the details had been discussed at a GOP Senators-only meeting last week, and that many of those details made it into the WaPo story.
Apparently, as CNN reports "Trent Lott stunned reporters by declaring that this subject was actually discussed at a Senate Republican luncheon, Republican senators only, last Tuesday the day before the story ran in the Washington Post. Lott noted that Vice President Cheney was also in the room for that discussion and Lott said point blank 'a lot of it came out of that room last Tuesday, pointing to the room where the lunch was held in the capitol.' He added of senators 'we can't keep our mouths shut.' He added about the vice president, 'He was up here last week and talked up here in that room right there in a roomful of nothing but senators and every word that was said in there went right to the newspaper.' He said he believes when all is said and done it may wind up as an ethics investigation of a Republican senator, maybe a Republican staffer as well. Senator Frist's office not commenting on this development. The Washington Post not commenting either." (Video available here: Crooks and Liars)
Best quote on this incident comes from Lott: "We can not remain silent. We have met the enemy, and it is us." (Via Eschaton)
The LA Times reports that the IRS is challenging the tax-exempt status of a liberal Episcopal Church because it delivered an anti-war sermon prior to last year's election, Antiwar Sermon Brings IRS Warning.
As the paper noted, "Regas' 2004 sermon imagined how Jesus would admonish Bush and Kerry if he debated them. Regas never urged parishioners to vote for one candidate over the other, but he did say that he believes Jesus would oppose the war in Iraq, and that Jesus would be saddened by Bush's positions on the use and testing of nuclear weapons."
Then travel down memory lane to other pre-election Church activities promoted by the Bush/Cheney campaign, which sent talking points to explain how to encourage Church members to vote for the "right" party. See: The Mahablog and The Washington Note.
As Amy Sullivan of the The Washington Monthly said, "If a Democratic administration went after a conservative church and threatened its tax-exempt status over statements made during a sermon, it's safe to assume all hell would break loose."
I suppose that there is a reasonable explanation for the difference in treatment. Such as, God hates those who hate war, and the IRS is his disciple.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
This article from Harpers, Revision Thing, was originally published in October 2003. It was reposted this week, with the notation: All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. The subtitle, "A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies," says everything that needs to be said. (Via Attytood: Want lies with that?)
For the video version of the faces behind the lies, Chris Matthews of Hardball provides a compendium of favorite Administration quotes on the justification for the war. You can watch it here: Crooks and Liars.
Last month (god, has it been that long that I've been doing this!), I cited a post by Philadelphia Daily News Blogger Attytood which said that Bush/Cheney relationship might be on the rocks, see: Could It Be?
The story is now moving into the news media (sort of, it is the NY Daily News after all), with this article, "Dubya-Cheney ties frayed by scandal", reporting "'The relationship is not what it was,' a presidential counselor said."
Is a divorce in the offing? Or is this a little leaking by the White House in advance of an expected indictment, so as to distance the President from the anticipated fallout?
Today is Election Day.
Just in case anyone (from Philly) happens by this site, be sure to vote for a friend of mine, Lisette Shirdan-Harris, who is running for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.
Not a hotly contested race. If interested, you can find a ballot list from the Inquirer: Philadelphia race and here: PoliticsPhilly.com.
Monday, November 07, 2005
This article from the Washington Post, The FBI's Secret Scrutiny, should send shivers up everyone's spine. This is the real terror alert, not the fake Orange, Red, or Rainbow colored pre-election terror warnings that come our way to head off bad news or slumping poll results.
According to the article, "The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year . . . a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans."
"Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot."
"The burgeoning use of national security letters coincides with an unannounced decision to deposit all the information they yield into government data banks -- and to share those private records widely, in the federal government and beyond. In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed. Late last month, President Bush signed Executive Order 13388, expanding access to those files for 'state, local and tribal" governments and for "appropriate private sector entities,' which are not defined."
The concept of this Act is anathema to what this country is supposed to stand for, yet it's called the "Patriot Act." This is the USA we are referring to, not Russia. The agency is the FBI, not the KGB. You have to be reminded of that, because otherwise it is hard to tell.
This piece regarding the Patriot Act and the expanded powers of the FBI makes Big Brother look like Little Women. It's a must read. And once you read it, you will want to take to the streets in protest until the non-Patriot Act is repealed.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Tom Gilroy says in The Huffington Post, 'White House in Chaos' & Other Utter Horseshit, that Democrats would be more than foolish to think that the White House is on the brink of disaster. He scoffs that the thought of "slumping polls and plummeting approval ratings would worry a gang of fanatics who stole two elections in a row, invaded a country they knew couldn’t defend itself, and gave a male hustler White House security clearance."
In his view, the belief that the Bush Administration will react to the recent litany of scandals and blunders only demonstrates how far removed from reality the Democrats are. Sad to say, his scathing attack his probably true. Think about it:
"They’re so humbled they just last week passed landmark changes gutting Florida’s Medicaid and Medicare programs, to be used as a model for other red states so their Republican governors can appear fiscally responsible. So you crippled grandmother better not exceed her spending cap next year, or she’s shit out of luck; her dog food rations will have to go up to 3 meals a week just to pay for her meds. Boy, thank God the GOP’s been humbled by the ethical quagmire.
"They’re so humiliated by their treasonous lies and media intimidation in the lead-up to the illegal war, they just nominated a raving puritan lunatic to the Supreme Court, a brown-shirted lemming so in thrall of corporate power and totalitarian government control he makes Maggie Thatcher look like a feminazi. Running scared!
"Dick Cheney’s act of contrition for the public discovering he’d sacrifice a CIA agent ‘s head on a silver platter so an illegal war could funnel money to Halliburton was to replace his indicted chief of staff with David Addington, a stealth gorgon who’s hatred of democracy reaches back to Iran/contra and co-authoring Gonzales’s Torture Memo.
"Dick’s so horribly ashamed he’s even bucking the entire Congress to force a torture loophole into a bill that would otherwise compel America to abide by The Geneva Conventions. You remember The Geneva Conventions, those rules of ethics drafted by all of humanity in response to the Nazis gassing 6 million Jews? Clearly, our VP is so demoralized he must be triple popping Prozac just face his morning coffee.
"W is so decimated by the embarrassment of his (and his mother’s) classism, racism and venal cronyism in the wake of Katrina, he could barely muster the courage to eliminate minimum wages and environmental protections in the great domestic funneling of cash to Halliburton , otherwise known as the rebuilding of New Orleans. Just look at the chickenshit run! We got ‘im now!"
In the end, Gilroy warns, "they don’t care about your moral indignation, your ethical judgment, or what the public thinks. They don’t care what’s popular, legal, or good for the country. They want your money."
That's the ultimate "family value."
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Wednesday, October 26 -- 2,000 killed in Iraq;
Thursday, October 27 -- Miers withdraws her Supreme Court nomination;
Friday, October 28 -- Scooter Libby Indicted;
Monday, October 31 -- Alito nominated to Supreme Court; and
Tuesday, November 1 -- Standing Rule 21 invoked by Senate Democrats to impose a Closed Session to discuss probe of pre War intelligence by White House.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post best described the reaction to the last item in Mad About You: "In the genteel club that is the United States Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) had a screaming temper tantrum yesterday."
"'About 10 minutes ago or so, the United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership!' he announced. Never, he said, have 'I been slapped in the face with such an affront to the leadership of this grand institution.' Epithets flew from his mouth: "They have no conviction. They have no principles. They have no ideas. This is a pure stunt.'"
"Frist was now sputtering. 'This is an affront to me personally. It's an affront to our leadership. It's an affront to the United States of America!'"
I realize that baseball metaphors are the rage (as Fitzgerald noted during his Friday news conference announcing the Libby Indictment), but alas, I am not such a sports fan. As I have observed the recent events noted above (along with several other Republican mishaps of late, such as the Delay and Frist legal troubles, Katrina and Wilma disasters) the analogy that comes to mind is that the Republicans are just a big group of kids (male, of course) playing grown up. Despite playing pretend, they are still kids. So there's lots of yelling things like "It's mine, mine, mine," or the meltdowns, with the inevitable tantrums when they don't get their way.
The fact that Bush timed Miers' withdrawal and Alito's announcement to deflect from the news of hitting the magic 2,000 and the indictments by Fitzgerald is business as usual for Bush. Presidential propaganda as an art form. Without these distractions to try to distract us, we otherwise would have had to have another terror alert.
In fact, the intensity of the reaction to the fact that the Democrats managed to manipulate the news back to the war, the pre-war intelligence failures and the White House's role (as well as the hysteria of the right to the Miers nomination) suggests that, as things evolve, the tantrums are getting worse. The scary things is that kids also like to play war. I only hope that another war isn't the ultimate "gotcha" by Republicans exercising macho muscle.
Somewhat off the subject, I have to end with my favorite Frist quote from the Closed Senate Session outburst:
'Mr. Leader,' one stunned journalist observed, 'I don't remember you being so exercised over something before.'"
"'You've never seen me in heart surgery,' the senator, a transplant specialist, replied."
What?? A heart surgeon with a temper (no doubt with a matching ego)? Can it be?
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
As reported by the NY Times, Methodist Court Removes Openly Lesbian Minister, "In a pair of decisions that bolstered conservatives, the highest court of the United Methodist Church defrocked an openly lesbian minister yesterday and reinstated a pastor who had been suspended for refusing to allow a gay man to become a member of his congregation."
Not surprisingly, the "Church's Judicial Council reinstated a lower court's controversial defrocking of the Germantown minister for violating the denomination's ban on noncelibate gay clergy," Church judiciary upholds defrocking, but the other decision was a surprise to many.
"Although United Methodism prohibits openly gay people in the pulpit, it welcomes all to worship. Mr. Johnson did not forbid the gay man to attend his church but said he would not allow him to become a member," noted the Times. This view is eerily reminiscent of the Mormons when they considered blacks to be "second class citizens." (See: Blacks and the Mormon Church). In fact, the Inquirer quoted a Church official who "suggested that gay-rights Methodists might consider finding 'a community that is more compatible and accepting of that lifestyle,' such as the United Church of Christ."
Obviously, a gay Rosa Parks is needed. Echoing that sentiment, "Rev. Michele Bartlow, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Germantown, where Ms. Stroud served as an associate pastor. . .said the council's decisions sent an 'unambiguous' message that the church would not tolerate openly gay people in its clergy. 'But I, like many people, will stay and fight,' she said. 'I think these decisions are another step in a journey, and one day the church will receive gay and lesbian people into ministry.'"