It is with regret that I imagine you, whoever you are, reading the account I must put down here

There’s two things about this report, one is that its encouraging that Snowe and Hagel have not completely surrendered their conscience to Whitehouse pressure. That the Whitehouse is using such arm twisting tactics is even predictable. What’s bothering me is that I’m not shocked. Shouldn’t I be shocked that Bush, the POTUS is acting like the Godfather using its formidable powers to not just block some legislation it doesn’t like, but to stop one branch of government from excercising its constitutional mandates, White House Working to Avoid Wiretap Probe

The second White House flurry occurred last Thursday, as the Senate intelligence committee readied for a showdown over a motion by top Democrat John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.) to start a broad inquiry into the surveillance program. White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. — who had visited the Capitol two days earlier with Vice President Cheney to lobby Republicans on the program — spoke by phone with Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), according to Senate sources briefed on the call.

Snowe earlier had expressed concerns about the program’s legality and civil liberties safeguards, but Card was adamant about restricting congressional oversight and control, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing office policies. Snowe seemed taken aback by Card’s intransigence, and the call amounted to “a net step backward” for the White House, said a source outside Snowe’s office.

Snowe contacted fellow committee Republican Chuck Hagel (Neb.), who also had voiced concerns about the program. They arranged a three-way phone conversation with Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

Until then, Roberts apparently thought he had the votes to defeat Rockefeller’s motion in the committee, which Republicans control nine to seven, the sources said. But Snowe and Hagel told the chairman that if he called up the motion, they would support it, assuring its passage, the sources said.

When the closed meeting began, Roberts averted a vote on Rockefeller’s motion by arranging for a party-line vote to adjourn until March 7. The move infuriated Rockefeller, who told reporters, “The White House has applied heavy pressure in recent weeks to prevent the committee from doing its job.”

Hagel and Snowe declined interview requests after the meeting, but sources close to them say they bridle at suggestions that they buckled under administration heat. The White House must engage “in good-faith negotiations” with Congress, Snowe said in a statement.

Certainly this would suggest that the Senate enquiry into Bush’s domestic surveillance without FISA warrants is not over. Those conservatives that have some ideological sympathies with the Whitehouse in pursuit of expanding executive power may want to ask themselves, if in setting this precedent they are willing to give up legislative authority and oversight that might take generations to regain. Its easy to kick over a sandcastle, but much more difficult to rebuild.

Quotes of Note, Advise and assent

Bush won’t accept any curbs on his power whatsoever, but he’d be happy to see a bill legalizing his wiretaps.

Bush is going to continue to break the law, but it would just be way tubular if you guys would like , you know, make it retroactively cool.

There was one piece of good news last week. In a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a federal judge on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to respond to a request for documents on the NSA program within 20 days. Meanwhile, a Kentucky man is preparing a civil-rights suit over the wiretapping. If Congress continues to dither, the courts will be Americans’ last hope for an honest appraisal of the spy program — and for at least a slight brake on the White House’s relentless pursuit of excessive executive branch power.

Sen. Bill Frist and why he’ll soon be assigned to the dust bin of political hackery.

I figured out a way to make this a good article, just do a quick visual edit, like where he equates ” ambitious social engineering” to Bush’s neconservatism. Conservatives just can’t seem to master the art of contrition without the, but they were wrong about this- fill in the blank. As it is the far right has one of its ideological architects admitting that things got a little out of hand and since Fukuyama will undoubtedly take some heat from the right I guess he deserves some slack, After Neoconservatism

This overoptimism about postwar transitions to democracy helps explain the Bush administration’s incomprehensible failure to plan adequately for the insurgency that subsequently emerged in Iraq. The war’s supporters seemed to think that democracy was a kind of default condition to which societies reverted once the heavy lifting of coercive regime change occurred, rather than a long-term process of institution-building and reform. While they now assert that they knew all along that the democratic transformation of Iraq would be long and hard, they were clearly taken by surprise. According to George Packer’s recent book on Iraq, “The Assassins’ Gate,” the Pentagon planned a drawdown of American forces to some 25,000 troops by the end of the summer following the invasion.

Gotta love the part where neoconservatives get divided into two camps, pure Marxists versus Leninists. legal fiction has more.

Time for the last post

The problem is that few blogs do even that much traffic. According to the monitoring done by thetruthlaidbear.com, only two blogs get more than 1 million visitors a day and the numbers drop quickly after that: the 10th ranked blog for traffic gets around 120,000 visits; the 50th around 28,000; the 100th around 9,700; the 500th only 1,400 and the 1000th under 600. By contrast, the online edition of The New York Times had an average of 1.7 million visitors per weekday last November, according to the Nielsen ratings, and the physical paper a reach of 5 million people per weekday, according to Scarborough research.

Not even sure why I post something that sites truthlaidbear as authority since they can’t even get their own site coded correctly – php errors are common and their link stats are terrible. Well anyway, the author of the article is making the case that if you’re starting a blog in some area that’s already well covered by an A-list group of blogs, the odds of becoming a blog star are slim. Though a large readership is far from the only reason to blog.

I can’t say even now what made me pull them down. But the image I saw at the center of the book, the smell of age that rose from it, and my discovery that the papers were personal letters all caught my attention forcibly. I knew I shouldn’t examine my father’s private papers, or anyone’s, and I was also afraid that Mrs Clay might suddenly come in to dust the dustless desk — that must have been what made me look over my shoulder at the door. But I couldn’t help reading the first paragraph of the topmost letter, holding it for a couple of minutes as I stood near the shelves.

December 12, 1930
Trinity College, Oxford

My dear and unfortunate successor:
It is with regret that I imagine you, whoever you are, reading the account I must put down here. The regret is partly for myself — because I will surely be at least in trouble, maybe dead, or perhaps worse, if this is in your hands. But my regret is also for you, my yet-unknown friend, because only by someone who needs such vile information will this letter someday be read. If you are not my successor in some other sense, you will soon be my heir — and I feel sorrow at bequeathing to another human being my own, perhaps unbelievable, experience of evil. Why I myself inherited it I don’t know, but I hope to discover that fact, eventually—perhaps in the course of writing to you or perhaps in the course of further events.

At this point, my sense of guilt — and something else, too — made me put the letter hastily back in its envelope, but I thought about it all that day and all the next. When my father returned from his latest trip, I looked for an opportunity to ask him about the letters and the strange book. I waited for him to be free, for us to be alone, but he was very busy in those days, and something about what I had found made me hesitate to approach him. Finally I asked him to take me on his next trip. It was the first time I had kept a secret from him and the first time I had ever insisted on anything.

from the novel The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I discovered it to be a collar of iron, padlocked at the side

Connoisseur of the ordinary This year marks the 400th anniversary of the birth of Rembrandt.

….there are artists whose work is not like this. They are the ones who acknowledge human imperfection and mortality. And not only acknowledge it, but in some sense glory in it, making it the prime subject of their art. For if men and women were perfect, mentally, physically, morally, spiritually, why would they need art at all?

Certainly Rembrandt van Rijn did not feel an obligation to make his human subjects noble, let alone perfect. That is why, though not always a realist, he is the first god of realism after Caravaggio. And why so many people love him, since he was so seldom rivalled as a topographer of the human clay. Yet for all that has been written about Rembrandt, we have remarkably little certainty as to what he thought about the domain of his genius, the art of painting. He did not theorise. Or if he did, his ideas about art itself have been lost – except for six words, whose meaning is still disputed by art historians. He aimed in his work, he wrote to one of his patrons, the Stadtholder, who employed his friend Constantijn Huygens, to produce die meeste ende die natureelste beweechlickheyt – the greatest and most natural movement.

Rembrandt: before 1639, click on the thumbnails for larger images. The Blinding of Samson, 1636 is almost as graphic and disturbing as anything you’ll see in a modern slasher movie.

Intelligence, Policy,and the War in Iraq

Before the war, on its own initiative, the intelligence community considered the principal challenges that any postinvasion authority in Iraq would be likely to face. It presented a picture of a political culture that would not provide fertile ground for democracy and foretold a long, difficult, and turbulent transition. It projected that a Marshall Plan-type effort would be required to restore the Iraqi economy, despite Iraq’s abundant oil resources. It forecast that in a deeply divided Iraqi society, with Sunnis resentful over the loss of their dominant position and Shiites seeking power commensurate with their majority status, there was a significant chance that the groups would engage in violent conflict unless an occupying power prevented it. And it anticipated that a foreign occupying force would itself be the target of resentment and attacks — including by guerrilla warfare — unless it established security and put Iraq on the road to prosperity in the first few weeks or months after the fall of Saddam.

In addition, the intelligence community offered its assessment of the likely regional repercussions of ousting Saddam. It argued that any value Iraq might have as a democratic exemplar would be minimal and would depend on the stability of a new Iraqi government and the extent to which democracy in Iraq was seen as developing from within rather than being imposed by an outside power. More likely, war and occupation would boost political Islam and increase sympathy for terrorists’ objectives — and Iraq would become a magnet for extremists from elsewhere in the Middle East.

Where in Senator Roberts takes a wishy washy stand for kinda supporting the idea that Bush’s domestic spying program may need some Senate oversight, but not really. Senator explains his stance on wiretaps

A day after Sen. Pat Roberts said he wanted a special court to oversee the warrantless wiretapping program, a top aide sought to clarify his position.

Roberts, a Kansas Republican, heads the Senate Intelligence Committee. He told The New York Times he is concerned that the secret court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act could not issue warrants as quickly as the monitoring program requires. But he said he was optimistic that the problem could be worked out.

Roberts also said the much discussed National Security Agency program “should come before the FISA court.”

Roberts was not available Saturday, but the Senate Intelligence Committee’s majority staff director, Bill Duhnke, said the Times story did not reflect “the tenor and status” of the negotiations between Congress and the White House, as well as within Congress.

Duhnke said Roberts is looking at changes within the federal law, but not necessarily involving court approval.

“The senator remains open to a number of legislative and oversight options,” Duhnke said Saturday. “His preference is always that the entire (intelligence) committee be briefed and involved in oversight issues. He also realizes that, as you negotiate between the branches, that isn’t always possible.”

Roberts told The Times he doesn’t think there is much support among lawmakers for exempting the program from FISA control. That is Bush’s favored approach, and one that would be established under a bill proposed by Sen. Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican.

This is why people laugh at political jokes regardless of the party of the politician, “should come before the FISA court.” versus, “but not necessarily involving court approval”. So Robert’s plan is that some legal cronies from the administrtion staff drop by the FISA court, wave some papers, have coffee, make some lame golf jokes, then leave. This new level of unaccountable accountability is refreshing. Senator Roberts represents the same people that keep repeating over and over again, in the hopes that repetition will make it so, that Democrats haven’t got a clear message. The Anonymous Liberal has more Butchering Legal Facts

How far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?- President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Law Organization Objects To Spy Strategy

The American Bar Association objects to President Bush’s domestic spying program. The lawyers’ group accuses the White House of exceeding his power, and is calling for special court warrants for similar spying in the future.

The Bush Administration says warrant-less eavesdropping is legal under the President’s constitutional powers as commander-in-chief and congressional authorization for the use of military force adopted days after the September 11 attacks. The program bypassed secret courts created under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (or FISA) that grant warrants.

The ABA’s resolution calls on Mr. Bush “to abide by the limitations which the Constitution imposes on a President” to make sure national security is protected in a way that is consistent with constitutional guarantees. It opposes “any future electronic surveillance inside the United States by any U.S. government agency for foreign intelligence.”

– FOR what length of time I lay unconscious after hearing Beckenham’s cry, and feeling the cord tighten round my throat, as narrated in the preceding chapter, I have not the remotest idea; I only know that when my senses returned to me again I found myself in complete darkness. The cord was gone from my neck, it is true, but something was still encircling it in a highly unpleasant fashion. On putting my hand up to it, to my intense astonishment, I discovered it to be a collar of iron, padlocked at the side, and communicating with a wall at the back by means of a stout chain fixed in a ring, which again was attached to a swivel.

This ominous discovery set me hunting about to find out where I was, and for a clue as to what these things might mean. That I was in a room was evident from the fact that, by putting my hands behind me, I could touch two walls forming a corner. But in what part of the town such a room might be was beyond my telling. One thing was evident, however, the walls were of brick, unplastered and quite innocent of paper.

As not a ray of light relieved the darkness I put my hand into my ticket pocket, where I was accustomed to carry matches, and finding that my captors had not deprived me of them, lit one and looked about me. It was a dismal scene that little gleam illumined. The room in which I was confined was a small one, being only about ten feet long by eight wide, while, if I had been able to stand upright, I might have raised my hand to within two or three inches of the ceiling. In the furthest left-hand corner was a door, while in the wall on the right, but hopelessly beyond my reach, was a low window almost completely boarded up. I had no opportunity of seeing more, for by the time I had realised these facts the match had burnt down to my fingers. I blew it out and hastened to light another.

from DR. NIKOLA’S VENDETTA by Guy Boothby

enlightenment principles and empiricism from the reality based community

Round and round we go, who’s more hateful or cultish, the left or the right. All human beings possess the same personality traits, good and bad, the only differences are in degree and frequency in which the worst aspects of our personalities express themselves. When writing about politics and the associated personalities, unless you’re writing some 800 page annotated study, you’re writing in generalities, supported by some specific examples.
Credit where its due I think David Neiwert at Orinus beat Unclaimed Territory to the punch in identifying the cultish tendencies of the right in this five part series on ostensibly Michelle Malkin, but actually covers a cast of right-wing characters. Unhinged: Unhonest
including : The Minutemen, anti-environment extremists, anti-abortion extremists, eiminationist thugs, religious extremists, talk-radio hatemongers,Coulter, Limbaugh, neo-confederates like Trent Lott,John Carlson, racists Haley Barbour, Bob Barr, Kirk Fordice, Mike Foster(former Bush campaign chair), Michael Savage, and Bill O’Reilly among others people and organizations. If these people aren’t cultist and extreme, then what is, in referring to anyone to the left of Giovanni Gentile as excrement, treasonous, seditionist, traitors, terrorists sympathizers, the always popular – communist, and the usual smogasboard of disparaging remarks. From conservative pundits on radio, TV, newspaers, and certainly the internet we’re told that Democrats and liberals are treasonous, Democrats and liberals are military haters ( even though some of those same Democrats are decorated military heros), that anyone opposing the war in Iraq should be lynched ( forget that liberals by a large margin supported going into Afghanistan after Bin Laden), goated terrorists into attacking an American city, advocated the nuclear bombing of an indiscriminate Arab city to prove a point, the Asian tsunami – “Was it God’s hand?” and not a tragedy, public flogging of Bush critics, the benefits of “local fascism”, assassination fantasies, periphernalia depicting permits to hunt liberals. There is some of this behavior on the left, regrettably, but as David explains, we’re pikers in the world of hate mongering compared to the Right.

Ah, but the way Malkin explains things, you see, it’s the sheer volume of the left’s unhingedness that is worth examining. So her text is mostly dedicated to cataloging this ugliness — while studiously ignoring the question of whether a similar volume might exist on the right. Indeed, other than these two “minor” instances, you won’t find a single instance of Malkin describing (let alone denouncing) “unhinged” behavior on the right.

Not only are conservatives guilty of nearly identical behavior that Malkin describes as “unhinged,” but the volume of it is at least equal to, if not greater than, that from the left. Right-wing unhingedness is equally pervasive, if not more so, at nearly all levels: it can be found throughout ordinary movement conservatives; conservative media and punditry spokespeople; and among the officials and movement leaders (like Cheney) who set the tone for the rest. And it has been poisoning the public discourse for a much longer period of time.

Did the right actually think that Bush could carry out a truly bizarre agenda, riddled with incompetence, lacking self claimed compassion, undermine the Consitution, and that people of conscience would fold up like cheap chairs and by our silence permit the unraveling of American values. The Conservative faith

So, it isn’t precisely a cult of George W. Bush. It’s a cult of Republican power. We know this because when a Democratic president last sat in the oval office, there was non-stop hysteria about presidential power and overreach. Every possible tool to emasculate the executive branch was brought to bear, including the nuclear option, impeachment. Now we are told that the “Presidency” is virtually infallible. The only difference between now and then is that a Republican is the executive instead of a Democrat.

Political Religion

George W Bush has won two elections with the unquestioning support of conservatives. Yet, in his first term he made it quite obvious that he was not a conservative in any sense that I understood conservative. From out of control spending to federalizing education to nation building and messianic foreign policy, he has simply not been conservative by any common definition of the term. None of that stopped conservatives from virtually worshipping the man. It is only now that he has become unpopular and his policies are failing that his brand of conservatism is being criticized on the right.

David Brooks says that the left is Stalinist. I assume that’s what Sullivan’s title refers to as well. Communism is often considered a secular religion, although that clearly underestimates the huge power of state coercion. If the American left is Stalinist, it certainly has been extremely ineffective. After all, conservatism now dominates all three branches of government. And I can’t help but find this argument amusing considering that the primary critique of Democrats is that we have no convictions and are constantly fighting amongst ourselves. We are remarkably undisciplined totalitarians.

In one way both parties share the same religion: an all-American obsession with winning. In this I actually envy the right. When they fail, as everyone inevitably does at times, they don’t lose their faith. Indeed, failure actually reinforces it.
Liberals, on the other hand, have nothing like that. We hate ourselves for losing and hate our leaders for failing us. The conservatives just put theirs out to pasture and move on, secure in the knowledge that their greater faith will prevail. It must be very nice to live in a world in which you can never, ever be wrong.

Just One Minute writes in regards to Glenn Greenwalds original posts, Do Bush followers have a political ideology? and Follow-up to the Bush post yesterday ,”But fun’s fun. James Taranto took the trouble to follow the links and see just what evidence Mr. Greenwald offered in suppport of his thesis. What he found was not enough to get a passing grade on a seventh-grade paper, but was evidently more than enough for the Self-Invented Reality Based Community.”. Actually Glenn provided ample evidence short of a five year University study and if right-wing bloggers weren’t so lazy they would find plenty of evidence on their own, rather then relying on Glenn, David, or Digby to do their homework for them. As to the title of Reality Based Community that was bestowed on Democrats and liberals, albeit latently by a Bush administration official as reported in an article by Ron Suskind called Without a Doubt
, the official said, referring to Suskind,

The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

The “we” was the Bush administration. The folks of ” enlightenment principles and empiricism” embraced the title the Bush administration has itself bestowed upon us, ” the reality-based community’. Why shouldn’t we embrace it, as stated earlier, not all every single members of our team lives up to our ideals, but at least that’s what guides us. Not the dogma of Bush or conservative cultism.

Doc, I’ve been everything from a hoopla man with a two-bit carny show to a top mechanic

As Glenn Greenwald suggests today its going to be, The Long Hard Slog in regards to the NSA scandal. Glenn compares it to the Watergate which unraveled over years not months.

Some perspective is necessary and critically important here. The NSA scandal has only existed for two months. It arose in an environment where the President’s party controls not only the Executive Branch, but has transformed Congress into a compliant, obedient, impotent tool of the Administration. The Administration has successfully manipulated terrorism fears for quite some time, and the Administration begins with a rhetorical advantage with any measures that ostensibly involve counter-terrorism efforts. And large parts of the media are captive to the Bush world-view and resistant to the premise that the Administration may have been corrupt or acted illegally.

Thus, this scandal was never going to be the downfall of the Administration after a few weeks, and anyone who expected this was operating with wildly unrealistic expectations. It is going to take hard, focused, patient work to bring about a just resolution to this scandal. It is an uphill battle that will have to overcome substantial and formidable efforts on the part of the Administration to block investigations and they will do everything in their considerable power to ensure that they will be immunized from consequences. All of that has to be expected. None of it should come as a surprise.

I’ve since lost the link, but a year or so ago one blogger noted how over the course of several decades conservatives suffered a few defeats of both their agenda and their candidates. Whatever exaspiration they felt, the didn’t let those defeats detour them from their goals. The presidential lawbreaking that we see with the NSA scandal is only one of many issues that will require patriotic Americans to remain resolute and patient as we work toward our goals. Even the small defeats are victories. They show people like Sen. Pat Roberts and Bush, that Americans of deep conviction and values are paying attention and will not stand by while radical conservative partisans chip away at our freedom and the institutions that guard them.
Here’s a good example of people that didn’t give up, Flats verdict a “body blow” to the DOE?

The $553.9 million jury verdict in the Rocky Flats lawsuit ought to be a “body blow” to what some lawyers called the U.S. Department of Energy’s policy of denying responsibility for pollution and illness caused by its nuclear weapons facilities.

But lawyers who have taken on the DOE and its contractors in a variety of such cases doubted the verdict would persuade the government to ease its battles against homeowners and workers who contend they were injured.

“The DOE has a history of fighting these sorts of cases,” said Reuben Guttman, a New York lawyer who has represented workers at Manhattan Project nuclear weapons sites.

When did these folks start fighting government wrong doing ? How about 16 years ago.

The Rocky Flats lawsuit was filed in 1990, in the wake of a much-publicized FBI raid of the Cold War-era plant during an investigation of environmental crimes. Much of the testimony during the trial focused on the plutonium released from the plant during two serious fires and through leaking waste barrels that were stored on the site.

Are Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas and George Bush Brokeback Mountain pals or what, Doing the President’s Dirty Work

Is there any aspect of President Bush’s miserable record on intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is not willing to excuse and help to cover up?

For more than a year, Mr. Roberts has been dragging out an investigation into why Mr. Bush presented old, dubious and just plain wrong intelligence on Iraq as solid new proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was in league with Al Qaeda. It was supposed to start after the 2004 election, but Mr. Roberts was letting it die of neglect until the Democrats protested by forcing the Senate into an unusual closed session last November.

Now Mr. Roberts is trying to stop an investigation into Mr. Bush’s decision to allow the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without getting the warrants required by a 27-year-old federal law enacted to stop that sort of abuse.

Mr. Roberts had promised to hold a committee vote yesterday on whether to investigate. But he canceled the vote, and then made two astonishing announcements. He said he was working with the White House on amending the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to permit warrantless spying. And then he suggested that such a change would eliminate the need for an inquiry.

Stifling his own committee without even bothering to get the facts is outrageous. As the vice chairman of the panel, Senator John Rockefeller IV, pointed out, supervising intelligence gathering is in fact the purpose of the intelligence committee.

If anyone notices scuff marks on Senator Roberts pants knees we’ll know where they came from. Maybe this is how conservatives are defining their own narrative of truth, toady behavior becomes the right thing to do. HT to War and Piece for the link. For those that haven’t been following the conservative Goebbelization of reality, the administration and its Cult of Supporters have a tendency to treat reality like a lump of wet clay, Report: Bush Spent $1.4 Billion on ‘Spin’

DALLAS — The Bush administration spent $1.4 billion in taxpayer dollars on 137 contracts with advertising agencies over the past two-and-a-half years, according to a Government Accountability Office report released by House Democrats Monday.

With spending on public relations and other media included, federal agencies spent $1.6 billion on what some Democrats called “spin.”

The six largest recipients of ad and PR dollars were Leo Burnett USA, $536 million; Campbell-Ewald, $194 million; GSD&M, $179 million; JWT, $148 million; Frankel, $133 million; and Ketchum, $78 million. The agencies received more than $1.2 billion in media contracts, according to the report.

Ketchum was embroiled in a scandal last year when it was revealed that the Department of Education had paid commentator Armstrong Williams $250,000 to promote President Bush’s No Child Left Behind initiative.

Looks like the simpleminded morons of Islamic fundamentalism have turned the flames up again, Cleric: $1 Million to Kill Cartoonist and here

In the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar, prayer leader Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi announced the bounty for killing a cartoonist to about 1,000 people outside the Mohabat Khan mosque.

Qureshi said the mosque and his religious school would give $25,000 and a car, while a local jewelers’ association would give another $1 million. No representative of the association was available to confirm it had made the offer.

“This is a unanimous decision by all imams (prayer leaders) of Islam that whoever insults the prophet deserves to be killed and whoever will take this insulting man to his end, will get this prize,” Qureshi said.

Qureshi did not name any cartoonist in his announcement. He did not appear aware that 12 different people had drawn the pictures.

To paraphase a commenter at Shakespeares Sister these folks lack both a sense of humor and any real depth of selfworth. Any little insult from outside cracks their fragile sense of who they are and their place in the world. Not unlike our homegrown Christian Imans, Pat Robertson Needs To Update His Website

On August 22, Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. This appears to be in conflict with some of his earlier teachings that appear on his website:

God Almighty wants to protect life and have everyone walk the streets without fear of being murdered. — Pat Robertson

Life has become more and more cheap in the society we live in. But God says you shall not murder. — Pat Robertson

The moral foundations that taught us to value life are crumbling under our feet. — Pat Robertson

The government would never be overzealous in using its power, would it ? Policing Porn Is Not Part of Job Description

Two uniformed men strolled into the main room of the Little Falls library in Bethesda one day last week and demanded the attention of all patrons using the computers. Then they made their announcement: The viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden.

The men looked stern and wore baseball caps emblazoned with the words “Homeland Security.” The bizarre scene unfolded Feb. 9, leaving some residents confused and forcing county officials to explain how employees assigned to protect county buildings against terrorists came to see it as their job to police the viewing of pornography.

After the two men made their announcement, one of them challenged an Internet user’s choice of viewing material and asked him to step outside, according to a witness. A librarian intervened, and the two men went into the library’s work area to discuss the matter. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.

While one might question the judgement of anyone using public libraries to surf for racey material, for Deputy Dudley Dufuses to use that as a pretext for rosting people keeps the phrase “heavy-handed” relevant for yet another year.

How to Tell Republicans From Democrats
Democrats buy most of the books that have been banned somewhere.
Republicans form censorship committees and read them as a group.

MCMURPHY
Hell, Doc, I’ve been everything
from a hoopla man with a two-bit
carny show to a top mechanic and
bull goose catskinner for every
gypo loggin’ operation in the
Northwest till the Army taught me
what my natural bent was.

SPIVEY
Oh, what was that?

MCMURPHY
Poker!

SPIVEY
I see.

MCMURPHY
Yeah, but you know how society
persecutes a dedicated man.

SPIVEY (CONT’D)
In what way?

MCMURPHY
They say I’m a habitual hassler.
Like I fight some. Sheeut. They
didn’t mind so much when I was a
dumb logger and got into a hassle.
That’s a hardworkin’ feller blowing
off steam, they say. But if you’re
a gambler, all you have to do is
spit slantwise and you’re a
goddamned criminal.

SPIVEY
I see…

MCMURPHY
To tell the truth, ever since I
found my natural callin’ I done
time in so many small-time jails I
could write a brochure…

SPIVEY
Yes… Ah, do you know why you’re
here?

MCMURPHY
Well, ya know, Doc…
(indicating his papers)
Doesn’t it say so there?

SPIVEY
(looking over papers)
Well, according to the Warden at
Pendleton, you were a disturbing
influence on others. ‘It appears
that there is a potential in him
for instigating a revolt among the
other inmates.’
(looking up at McMurphy)
What do you think of that report?

MCMURPHY
I don’t, Doc…

from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Bo Goldman, Lawrence Hauben & Ken Kesey 1975

He had very little mind, but what he had was suffering

Why we’re publishing the new Abu Ghraib photos, America — and the world — has the right to know what was done in our name.

The other compelling reason for publishing these pictures is that the system itself broke down over Abu Ghraib. Beyond the collapse of military discipline and adherence to the basic rules of civilized behavior, Abu Ghraib also symbolized the failure of a democratic society to investigate well-documented abuses by its soldiers. After an initial flurry of outrage, the Republican-controlled Congress lost interest in investigating whether senior military officers — and even Pentagon officials — created a climate in which torture (yes, torture) flourished. In similar fashion, the Army still seems intent on ending this shameful story by jailing the likes of Lynndie England and Charles Graner. At least after the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, Lt. Calley was convicted.

Cartoons and photographs of torture are being compared across the crooked divide of the Cult of Bush. A straw man has been erected by the right and according to this straw man since the bulk of the U.S. newspaper media have not published the cartoons, the torture photos should not be published either ( never mind that they’re all over the net ). I guess the Bush Cult’s infatuation with freedom of the press and freedom of expression didn’t last past the first dance. The center-left has no control over the content of newspapers, if we did the cartooons would have been published multiple times by now. The torture photos coming right on the heels of the cartoon controversy ( inflamed by Imans or not ) have obviously come at a bad time. Will they further inflame hate against the west and American forces in Iraq, they probably will. That’s only a portion of an answer to a very screwy question being asked by the Bush Cult concerning the straw man’s concern over the reaction to the cartoon controversy and how that relates to the public relations damage done by the torture photos and the possiblity of further endangering the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m concerned about the effects on the troops too, only how did the photographs come to exist at all ? Where did the torture scandal originate ? It orignated in a Whitehouse that condoned torture, it spread through a segment of the military where rules of conduct and the constraints of morality were knowingly and willfully disobeyed. “They” torture and behead so that gives Bush the right to drag American honor down into the gutter too is not an argument, its a morally lazy and repugnant excuse. ArmyTimes: A failure of leadership at the highest levels
During and after the torture it was not a fringe leftists or exploitative minded journalist who took the pictures of prisoners being abused or tortured, it was the people participating in the actions depicted. Some bloggers like Uboat Kaptain Ed and Internment Camp Malkin may, in the interests of intellectual honesty ask themselves a couple questions; did the Whitehouse have the best interests of the troops in mind when it sanctioned torture and did the troops that carried out the torture at Abu Ghraib have the field troops best interests at heart when they perpetuated the abuse and took photos of that abuse. Was the administration so intent on exercising some kind of masochistic muscle in order to supposedly instill fear that it lost sight of what the repercussions of such acts would be. The Torture Myth or torture is ineffective and wrong.

Most of Iraq is relatively stable. Most Iraqis, by far, reject violence and oppose dictatorship. In forums where Iraqis have met to discuss their political future, and in all the proceedings of the Iraqi Governing Council, Iraqis have expressed clear commitments. They want strong protections for individual rights; they want their independence; and they want their freedom.

America’s commitment to freedom in Iraq is consistent with our ideals, and required by our interests. – G. W. Bush, April 13, 2004

Via Body and Soul, Accountability

Jalal Talabani called for “very harsh punishments against the perpetrators” of the Abu Ghraib crimes. Iraq’s human rights minister, Zuhair al-Chalabi, has asked the United States to turn over all of the 14,000 Iraqi prisoners it holds to the government of Iraq. At the same time, Iraq’s human rights minister, Nermine Othman, announced that that same Iraqi government tortured 170 Iraqis in a secret prison in Baghdad last year, and that she expected people in the interior and justice ministries to be prosecuted — not “high level officials” she was quick to add, demonstrating how quickly Iraqis are picking up cues from our president on accountability.

We’ve seen this time and again where the administration’s high minded rhetoric doesn’t match the facts on the ground. Like many on the center-left of the political spectrum, once boots were on the ground in Iraq I hoped for the best and tried to extract some good out of it; Saddam Hussein was and is a muderous sociopath and if nothing else, while there are plenty more out there, at least one was locked up and out of power. Its truly amazing that Bush and his carnival of incompetents have screwed up Iraq and Afghanistan so badly. They have needlessly and repeatedly endangered our military and flushed away our tax dollars while grinding their heel into every ideal America is supposed to stand for. President Bush is sending the wrong signals on torture.

While the NSA scandal is serious, it does provide for some comic relief, underlying whatever rationale the Bushies have for their reckless disregard of every American’s constitutional rights is the daily Whitehouse wish where they hope that no one is really paying attention, George Will to the Rescue

Anyway, the argument that the AUMF contained a completely unexpressed congressional intent to empower the president to disregard the FISA regime is risible coming from this administration. It famously opposes those who discover unstated meanings in the Constitution’s text and do not strictly construe the language of statutes.

The administration’s argument about the legality of the NSA program also has been discordant with its argument about the urgency of extending the USA Patriot Act. Many provisions of that act are superfluous if a president’s wartime powers are as far-reaching as today’s president says they are.

Dispite all the Dorothy in Oz heel tapping from the Whitehouse and the Cult of Bush blogs the NSA scandal is not going to disappear before the 2006 elections, much to Unka Karl’s consternation. Justice Dept. Role in Eavesdropping Decision Under Review

In a letter to Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Office of Professional Responsibility counsel H. Marshall Jarrett said that his office has “initiated an investigation” into the Justice Department’s role in the NSA surveillance program. The letter, dated Feb. 2 but not received by Hinchey until yesterday, indicates that the probe will include “whether such activities are permissible under existing law.”

As Glenn Greewald notes the issues involved have many “tentacles”. Federal court orders Justice Dept. to release NSA documents

As I have been indicating, this scandal has many tentacles. And each of them is growing inexorably. The White House is running around with a broom desperately trying to sweep each branch under the rug (odd behavior for a White House which claims to welcome this scandal because it politically benefits from it), but once the mechanisms of the Washington scandal machine are activated with full-force, it is very difficult to simply shut them off or the prevent the disclosure of information which someone is trying to conceal. Clearly, this scandal isn’t going to fade away with a little arm-twisting of some weak-willed Senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Rx for GOP doom, The Medicare drug program disaster could cost Republicans control of Congress.

For the sake of balance, but mostly because I think its funny, 84 year old Democrat is a dirty old perv.

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (AP) — William Donald Schaefer, a former governor who is now state comptroller, ogled a young woman at a Statehouse meeting. And he made no apologies about it.

“She’s a pretty little girl,” the 84-year-old Democrat told reporters. “The day I don’t look at pretty women is the day I die.”

Schaefer stared intently at the woman as she walked toward the governor’s office after she brought him a beverage Wednesday during a Board of Public Works meeting. Then he summoned her back, as people waiting to testify watched and waited.

The aide, looking puzzled, returned to the table, and Schaefer told her, “Walk again,” and watched her as she made the second trip to the exit.

He then went into the governor’s private office and returned to say the woman was embarrassed by the incident.

When reporters later asked him about the incident, he called their interest “dumb.” He said “this little girl” ought to be “happy that I observed her going out the door.”

In a bedroom on the fourth floor of the Hotel Guelph in Piccadilly, the Honorable Frederick Threepwood sat in bed, with his knees drawn up to his chin, and glared at the day with the glare of mental anguish. He had very little mind, but what he had was suffering.

He had just remembered. It is like that in this life. You wake up, feeling as fit as a fiddle; you look at the window and see the sun, and thank Heaven for a fine day; you begin to plan a perfectly corking luncheon party with some of the chappies you met last night at the National Sporting Club; and then–you remember.

“Oh, dash it!” said the Honorable Freddie. And after a moment’s pause: “And I was feeling so dashed happy!”

For the space of some minutes he remained plunged in sad meditation; then, picking up the telephone from the table at his side, he asked for a number.

“Hello!”

“Hello!” responded a rich voice at the other end of the wire.

“Oh, I say! Is that you, Dickie?”

“Who is that?”

“This is Freddie Threepwood. I say, Dickie, old top, I want to see you about something devilish important. Will you be in at twelve?”

“Certainly. What’s the trouble?”

“I can’t explain over the wire; but it’s deuced serious.”

from Something New by P. G. Wodehouse

We’re not gonna hand you and your band of lunatics the keys to the kingdom

This is what happens when you start clicking around the web. The Modern Girl Around the World Project

Our collaborative research project analyzes the emergence of the Modern Girl, a figure who appeared around the world in cities from Tokyo to Berlin, Beijing to Bombay, Johannesburg to New York City in the early to mid twentieth century. Modern Girls were known by a variety of names including flappers, garçonnes, moga, modeng xiaojie, schoolgirls, vamps, and neue Frauen. By wearing provocative fashions and pursuing romantic love, Modern Girls appeared to disregard the roles of dutiful daughter, wife, and mother.

Sought of the Modern Girl as a young woman’s Renaissance, the early 20th Century changing culture of women. Outward details like clothing and make-up changed, but this were also markers of some deeper sociological shifts. In the opening years of the 21st Century it may be difficult for some to think of the 1920’s as modern, but a trip to a local retirement home might find someone who has memories of that time. While it seems sometimes that social trends happen all at once and the internet and cell phones have increased the rate of trend assimilation to some degree; lasting social and esthetic impact tends to play out over decades. Unlike the famous scientists, writers, and politicians, many of the lead players of these social and artistic trends are nearly forgotten except by academics or serious hobbyists. From Flappers To Film Noir

The sexual essence of film noir is the image of the woman as black widow, poisonous destroyer of a man trapped helplessly in her sensual web. Black widows are often counterbalanced by a ‘good’ woman, whose love is often squandered by the man who has been seduced by the deadly allure of the world of the darkside. It helps that this man is usually a broad-shouldered bozo, with a one-track mind and half-track brain. Think of Dana Andrews, or Glenn Ford, or Cornell Wilde.

Professor Laura Mulvey of Birkbeck College, who programmed the flappers series, sees the ‘new woman’ of the 1920s as a product of increasing urbanisation and economic boom which provided new opportunities for employment and new consumer power for women. Joining the workforce created ‘leisure time’, and chief among the things American women consumed was the Hollywood film. “It was a period of almost utopianism for working women in America,” she says, “and issues of equality at work and voting rights were subsumed into those of sexual liberation. Hollywood wove folk tales defining self-expression through sexuality fuelled by a consumer boom. These had a huge impact around the world, and while selling a sort of democracy of glamour, also helped Hollywood sell itself overseas.”

It is important not to think of this as an exclusively American phenomenon. Others countries were both influenced by American trends in fashion and art, but America also assimilated trends from other countries. Film noir of the American films of the 1940’s for example, grew out of early German cinema. Its difficult for me to sought out at this point, but it looks like there were ( as mentioned above ) various incarnations of the American flapper and cinema fem fatales around the world, including Japan, which didn’t embrace a strident form of nationalism until the late 1930’s. Camera Obsura’s online edition has some tremendous history up on the trends in Japanese culture that paralelled in some ways the American flappers, New Women of the Silent Screen: China, Japan, Hollywood . I read part of this article, Irie Takako in The Water Magician

Irie Takako was the most popular actress throughout the 1930s in Japan, even though today her contemporaries Yamada Isuzu and Tanaka Kinuyo, who continued successful acting careers into the post–World War II era, tend to outshine her legendary stardom. Born in 1911 (her father was Viscount Higashibojo¯), Irie made her screen debut in 1928 at Nikkatsu studio, following a brief amateur stage career. She promptly became a star, playing rich, intelligent, proud, glamorous, and often bitchy modern girls in so-called tendency films (social problem melodramas with leftist tendencies) such as Ikeru ningyo (A Living Doll, dir. Uchida Tomu, 1929), Tokyo ko shinkyoku (Tokyo March, dir. Mizoguchi Kenji, 1929), Tokai ko kyo gaku (Metropolitan Symphony, dir. Mizoguchi, 1929), and Matenro(Skyscrapers, dir. Murata Minoru, 1929).

I highlighted that part because its something that we take for granted today, That both women and men will play characters in a realistic way. As it was considered modern or shocking depending on who one talked to at the time, Clara Bow’s ‘It Girl’ and Irie Takako’s modernist portrayal of Shiraito were not just wives, girlfriends, or maids , they were females more closely representing the growing social, sexual, and economic power of a contemporary woman.
And a kind of footnote for the 1920’s equivalent of the iPod, The Formation of Modern American Mass Culture, Period: 1920s

Mass Entertainment

Of all the new appliances to enter the nation’s homes during the ’20s, none had a more revolutionary impact than radio. Sales soared from $60 million in 1922 to $426 million in 1929. The first commercial radio station began broadcasting in 1919, and during the 1920s, the nation’s airwaves were filled with musical variety shows and comedies.

The phonograph was not far behind the radio in importance. The 1920s saw the record player enter American life in full force. Piano sales sagged as phonograph production rose from just 190,000 in 1923 to 5 million in 1929. The popularity of jazz, blues, and “hillbilly” music fueled the phonograph boom. The novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald called the 1920s the “Jazz Age”–and the decade was truly jazz’s golden age.

For those on the left and right of conscience its not too late to let your Representatives and Senators know that you’re not crazy about the idea of the president acting more like a Politboro Chief then the executive of a democracy:

Update [2006-2-15 11:23:23 by georgia10]:: There’s still time to contact Senate Intelligence Committee members and demand an investigation. Rather than calling Democratic members who are the ones calling for an investigation, we’ll be more effective acting against the WH pressure on Republican committee members. The toll-free number for the Senate switchboard is 888-355-3588. More below the fold…

Leaders Lead

So it looks like the Judiciary Committee is going to do the big el-foldo on the NSA spying scandal and some Democrats in the congress are going to simply vote with the Republicans make the president’s illegal program legal and call it a day. Once again their losing strategists have misunderstood why Americans believe that they are weak on national security. Indeed, if they capitulate on this they will have reinforced that image much more than if they oppose it outright.

[ ]…Capitulating on issues of such huge importance is even more damaging when it’s clear that it’s the Eunuch Caucus who are truly soft on this issue, not the Democrats. The Republicans hold both houses and have the power to defy this presumptuous administration on a matter of fundamental principle to the conservative cause: unfettered government power.

“Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.” – Abraham Lincoln,January 27,1838

Why do conservative pundits lie ? Media figures repeat claim that disclosure rendered NSA surveillance useless. Conservative media swarms an issue and the first casuality is honor.

Missing the point on Cheney

where were the shows of righteous indignation last week, when it was revealed by the National Journal that Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, had told a federal grand jury he was “authorized” by Cheney and other White House “superiors” to disclose classified information to journalists as part of a plot to defend the Bush administration’s manipulation of prewar intelligence to make the “case” for going to war with Iraq.

more at the link.

Like vultures on a rotting carcass the blogs of wingnuttia have descended on this story, EXCLUSIVE: The Secret Tapes — Inside Saddam’s Palace  

One of the most dramatic moments in the 12 hours of recordings comes when Saddam predicts — during a meeting in the mid 1990s — a terrorist attack on the United States. “Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before August 2 and told the British as well … that in the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction.” Saddam goes on to say such attacks would be difficult to stop. “In the future, what would prevent a booby-trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?” But he adds that Iraq would never do such a thing. “This is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq.” 

[  ]…”Intelligence community analysts from the CIA, and the DIA reviewed the translations and found that while fascinating from a historical perspective the tapes do not reveal anything that changes their post war analysis of Iraq’s weapons programs nor do they change the findings contained in the comprehensive Iraq Survey group report,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

“The tapes mostly date from early to mid 1990s and cover such topics as relations with the United Nations, efforts to rebuild industries from Gulf war damage and the pre 9/11 situation in Afghanistan.”

There’s some more thoughts on this story from The Counterterrorism Blog. The Right has a way of sensationlizing these things, other then being able to hear Saddam’s voice , so far anyway, these recordings provide little in the way of new information. We know that Saddam had chemical and biological agents at one point because the U.S. and Britain sold them to him, How Did Iraq Get Its Weapons? We Sold Them

Reports by the US Senate’s committee on banking, housing and urban affairs — which oversees American exports policy — reveal that the US, under the successive administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr, sold materials including anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever germs and botulism to Iraq right up until March 1992, as well as germs similar to tuberculosis and pneumonia. Other bacteria sold included brucella melitensis, which damages major organs, and clostridium perfringens, which causes gas gangrene.

U.S. Had Key Role in Iraq Buildup 

The story of U.S. involvement with Saddam Hussein in the years before his 1990 attack on Kuwait — which included large-scale intelligence sharing, supply of cluster bombs through a Chilean front company, and facilitating Iraq’s acquisition of chemical and biological precursors — is a topical example of the underside of U.S. foreign policy. It is a world in which deals can be struck with dictators, human rights violations sometimes overlooked, and accommodations made with arms proliferators, all on the principle that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

REYNOLDS
“I know thy works and thy labour
and how thou canst not bear them
that are evil. And thou hast tried
them who say they are apostles and
hast found them to be liars”.
Revelations II.

HAMERSLEY
What the hell does it mean?

REYNOLDS
It means who’s side are you on?

HAMERSLEY
You didn’t ask me to meet you 30
miles from my office for a Bible
study class.

REYNOLDS
It’s a bi-partisan issue. Everyone
needs to swallow hard. No one,
including you, wants to be fingered
as the one obstructing efforts to
crack down on terrorism, and–

HAMERSLEY
Fuck you.

REYNOLDS
What?

HAMERSLEY
I said fuck you.

REYNOLDS
Is that anyway to talk to an old
school chum?

HAMERSLEY
You’re gonna finger me as soft on
terrorism? Terrorism, you
unconscionable asshole?

REYNOLDS
There are planes falling out of the
sky, buildings blowing up. American
buildings. Americans getting bombs
in the mail. What are we gonna do!?

HAMERSLEY
We’re not gonna hand you and your
band of lunatics the keys to the
kingdom. I’m not gonna sit in
Congress and write a law that
allows the NSA to point a camera
and a microphone at anything they
damn well feel like. And the next
time you have something to say to
me, we do it above-board, in my
office, like everyone else. Now get
outa my car, I’ve got a committee
meeting on the hill.

from the screenplay ENEMY OF THE STATE by David Marconi and Aaron Sorkin

To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak.

There is so much irony in regards to this weeks manufactured outrage by the right-wing blogs regarding Al Gore’s supposed ties to Saudi Arabia that its difficult for me to take seriously. Part of the noise now and always is to deflect from whatever real scandal the House of Bush has currently got itself involved in or the newest corruption charges against a congressional conservative. If Al Gore has close ties to the Saudis, he’s pushing over Bush family and associates to make contact. The Barreling Bushes

George H.W. Bush was the first CIA director to come from the oil industry. He went on to became the first vice president — and then the first president — to have either an oil or CIA background. This helps to explain his persistent bent toward the Middle East, covert operations and rogue banks like the Abu Dhabi-based Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which came to be known by the nickname “Bank of Crooks and Criminals International.” In each of the government offices he held, he encouraged CIA involvement in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries, and he pursued policies that helped make the Middle East into the world’s primary destination for arms shipments.

Taking the CIA helm in January 1976, Bush cemented strong relations with the intelligence services of both Saudi Arabia and the shah of Iran. He worked closely with Kamal Adham, the head of Saudi intelligence, brother-in-law of King Faisal and an early BCCI insider

In internet time its ancient history now, but there was mention of BCCI in the background of the 2004 presidential election. How John Kerry busted the terrorists’ favorite bank.

….the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was a highly respected financial titan. In 1987, when its subsidiary helped finance a deal involving Texas oilman George W. Bush, the bank appeared to be a reputable institution, with attractive branch offices, a traveler’s check business, and a solid reputation for financing international trade. It had high-powered allies in Washington and boasted relationships with respected figures around the world.
[ ]..Kerry had helped dismantle a massive criminal enterprise and exposed the infrastructure of BCCI and its affiliated institutions, a web that law enforcement officials today acknowledge would become a model for international terrorist financing. As Kerry’s investigation revealed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, BCCI was interested in more than just enriching its clients–it had a fundamentally anti-Western mission. Among the stated goals of its Pakistani founder were to “fight the evil influence of the West,” and finance Muslim terrorist organizations.

full Senate report here, The BCCI Affair
note the section on Henry Kissinger, the guy that lead footed the Paris Peace accords and who George W. Bush originally proposed to head the 9-11 Commission.
Everyone probably knows that Saudi Arabia turned somewhat of a blind eye to charities that were fronts for funneling money to Osama Bin Laden and associates. That somewhat changed after al-Qaeda attacked three housing complexes in Riyadh. After this the Saudis killed 11 al-Qaeda suspects and arrested over 200. INSIDE THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
I don’t pretend to know the answers, but it does seem that the majority of Saudis are more pro-west, then pro al-Qaeda. The Saudi royals and privleged class get to have it both ways, they enjoy traditional power and patirarchy at home, yet because of their wealth get to enjoy a little weatern decadence when they travel. A practice that fundamentalists like OBL would stop if they were in control ( a shared obsession of Muslim and Christian fundamentalists is the percieved threat of popular culture to so-called traditional values). So who are we to take our cues from, a Whitehouse that says we should have good relations with the Saudis for the sake of the hearts and minds war, and of course for cheap gas. Or should we take our cues from right-wing bloggers who deny the three generations of Bush ties to the Saudis who are trying to deflect srutiny away from President Bush and his Saudi policies to relatively unimportant talks given by Al Gore to actually carry out Bush’s stated goals of promotong democratic values in the middle-east. What Al did was right out of Dale Carnegie – hi , sorry about the whole rosting and hate crimes thing after 9-11, and ya know you guys could help with the whole Iran as a nuclear power threat.

update: via Mahablog this report from Bush’s own Department of Justice Inspector General,  Issues Report on Treatment of Aliens Held on Immigration Charges in Connection with the Investigation of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks

With regard to allegations of abuse at the MDC, the evidence indicates a pattern of physical and verbal abuse by some correctional officers at the MDC against some September 11 detainees, particularly during the first months after the attacks and during intake and movement of prisoners.

If moderate Americans are at the point where they don’t have much confidence in what President Bunnypants says, its because his stated goals and supposed accomplishments don’t quite live up to the hype, Bush Administration Leaves Chemical and Nuclear Plants, HazMat, Ports and Water Systems Vulnerable to Terrorists

Eighty-five percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure is controlled by the private sector. However, the Bush administration has been notoriously hostile toward the reasonable regulation of private industry, including the industries mentioned in this report. It has blocked efforts to create rules to strengthen security at chemical and nuclear plants, make the transportation of hazardous materials more secure, ensure the safety of the drinking water supply or secure the nation’s ports.

The report suggests that this is in part because industries representing the five homeland security areas examined in this study collectively have:

*
Raised at least $19.9 million for the Bush campaigns, the Republican National Committee or the Bush inauguration since the 2000 cycle.
*
Provided 10 Rangers and 20 Pioneers – individuals who raise at least $200,000 and $100,000, respectively – to the Bush presidential campaigns.
*
Spent at least $201 million lobbying the White House, executive branch agencies and Congress from 2002 through June 2004.

Did Herman Melville have an aternate ending to Moby- Dick ? Technology is reshaping literary scholarship on Herman Melville through recovery of his lost annotations
and more here, Melville’s Marginalia Online

Steven Olsen-Smith, an associate professor of English at Boise State University, has recovered the notes that Melville made in his copy of a critical source for Moby-Dick: Thomas Beale’s 1839 book, The Natural History of the Sperm Whale. At the Web site, an edition of Beale’s book has been transformed into a browsable, searchable PDF file with check marks, underlinings, and notations inserted in the spots where Melville had them.

It’s available as a searchable pdf file.

Neither the right or left escapes criticism in this review of the cartoon wars and censorship, A Cartoon’s Portrait of America

I’m not one to follow conservative newspaper pundits very closely. Besides being incredible bores, they’re the elite of conservative hypocrites. Knowing that their audience has the attention span of a two year old with a new toy, they repeatedly contradict themselves within the space of their next ten columns, but having made sure that the column on any given occassion has left room for interpretation, they can always later claim on being caught that what they said was not what they meant, they meant something else all together. Thus we have Jonah vs Jonah, wherein Jonah Goldberg gets involved in identity politics and knocks out his opponent, himself.

More on That Report on Guantanamo

The administration’s response to that allegation, according to the Associated Press, is that it is incorrect to

judg[e] U.S. treatment of detainees according to peacetime human rights laws. The United States contends it is in a state of conflict and should be judged according to the laws of war. “Once you fail to even acknowledge that as the legal basis for what we’re doing, much of the legal analysis that follows just doesn’t hold,” a State Department official said.

One wrinkle in that argument, though, is that (as the St. Petersburg Times notes today), more than half of the people being held at Guantanamo have “no history of engaging in hostile acts against the United States or its allies.” Fully 86 percent of those held were turned over to the U.S. by Afghan or Pakistani forces, and the detainees may

include many noncombatant humanitarian workers and teachers who had no animus toward the United States. Rich rewards gave the Afghans and Pakistanis incentives to offer up any Arabs they could find. The federal government took the prisoners on faith and has not made much of an effort to investigate the veracity of their claims of innocence.

Additionally, according to The National Journal, at least 8 of the more than 500 detainees continue to be held “even though they are no longer designated as enemy combatants.”

Since I did something on Melville up front, lets end with something a little different, Jon Stewart’s take on the Dick Cheney hunting accident. “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” (Comedy Central)

Jon Stewart: “Peppered. There you have it. Harry Whittington, seasoned to within an inch of his life.
* * *

Jon Stewart: “I’m joined now by our own vice-presidential firearms mishap analyst, Rob Corddry. Rob, obviously a very unfortunate situation. How is the vice president handling it?

Rob Corddry: “Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Wittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush.

“And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington’s face.”

Jon Stewart: “But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?”

Rob Corddry: “Jon, in a post-9-11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak.”

Jon Stewart: “That’s horrible.”

Rob Corddry: “Look, the mere fact that we’re even talking about how the vice president drives up with his rich friends in cars to shoot farm-raised wingless quail-tards is letting the quail know ‘how’ we’re hunting them. I’m sure right now those birds are laughing at us in that little ‘covey’ of theirs.

Jon Stewart: “I’m not sure birds can laugh, Rob.”

Rob Corddry: “Well, whatever it is they do … coo .. they’re cooing at us right now, Jon, because here we are talking openly about our plans to hunt them. Jig is up. Quails one, America zero.

Jon Stewart: “Okay, well, on a purely human level, is the vice president at least sorry?”

Rob Corddry: “Jon, what difference does it make? The bullets are already in this man’s face. Let’s move forward across party lines as a people … to get him some sort of mask.”

What that old blackguard doesn’t know of chicanery and crooked dealing, the devil himself couldn’t make use of

Al Gore goes to Saudi Arabia and while there was no need for him to do so, he wasn’t responsible, he aplogized for this, Selective Paranoia:Racist Crackdown on Arab, Muslim Immigrants, which occured in the aftermath of 9-11. As usual of most of my fellow citizens were understanding and pleaded for others not to overreact (pdf file). Gore also spoke about the potential dangers of an increasingly strident Iran ( generally ignored by right-wingers bloggers) at this forum,Tony Blair’s wife even spoke of women’s rights at the same event, thus it was not to any rational adult’s thinking some diatribe against America. The bizarre part is that in all the Gore bashing there was not an a single acknowledgement of the close ties that Bush and company have with Saudi Arabia. That is not some fringe conspiracy theory. In fact its symptomatic of the Cult of Bush to excuse all things Bush and inflate anything a Democrat does or says into something dark and sinister. A 9/11 Conspirator in King Bush’s Court? Sheehan Wasn’t Welcome But a Saudi Accused of Support for al Qaeda Was

While Cindy Sheehan was being dragged from the House gallery moments before President Bush delivered his State of the Union address for wearing a t-shirt honoring her son and the other 2,244 US soldiers killed in Iraq, Turki al-Faisal was settling into his seat inside the gallery. Faisal, a Saudi, is a man who has met Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants on at least five occasions, describing the al Qaeda leader as “quite a pleasant man.” He met multiple times with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Yet, unlike Sheehan, al-Faisal was a welcomed guest of President Bush on Tuesday night. He is also a man that the families of more than 600 victims of the 9/11 attacks believe was connected to their loved ones’ deaths.

Al-Faisal is actually Prince Turki al-Faisal, a leading member of the Saudi royal family and the kingdom’s current ambassador to the US. But the bulk of his career was spent at the helm of the feared Saudi intelligence services from 1977 to 2001. Last year, The New York Times pointed out that “he personally managed Riyadh’s relations with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban. Anyone else who had dealings with even a fraction of the notorious characters the prince has worked with over the years would never make it past a U.S. immigration counter, let alone to the most exclusive offices in Washington.” Al-Faisal was also named in the $1 trillion lawsuit filed by hundreds of 9/11 victims’ families, who accused him of funding bin Laden’s network. Curiously, his tenure as head of Saudi intelligence came to an abrupt and unexpected end 10 days before the 9/11 attacks.

I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but in light of Bush’s relationship with the Saudis how in a rational world can the cabal of conservative bloggers swope down on Al Gore’s little apology and ignore the conflicts of interests that that are so patently obvious within the Bush administration.

Like a successful mystery novel Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory has written a sequel to Do Bush followers have a political ideology?, Follow-up to the Bush post yesterday which contains this blurb from a conservative:

What happens if you’re a Republican commentator and you write a book critical of President Bush that gets you fired from your job at a conservative think tank?

For starters, no other conservative institution rushes in with an offer for your analytical skills.”Nobody will touch me,” said Bruce Bartlett, author of the forthcoming “Impostor: Why George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.” “I think I’m just kind of radioactive at the moment.” . . .

In his first post Glenn pointed to this article at Freeperville as an example of how conservatives have abandoned their distrust of big gov’ment…The Secret FISA Court: Rubber Stamping Our Rights

Seven judges on a secret court have authorized all but one of over 7,500 requests to spy in the name of National Security. They meet in secret, with no published orders, opinions, or public record. Those spied on May never know of the intrusion. Now, Clinton has expanded the powers to include not only electronic, but physical searches.

The aftershock of the Oklahoma City bombing sent Congress scurrying to trade off civil liberties for an illusion of public safety.

Trading civil liberties off for illusions is currently the very mantra that we hear the Bush loyalists chant daily and like shoddily made body armor they can always hide behind the 9-11 changed everything knee jerk response.

Pretty much a must read post at No Quarter: National Security: The Attack on the Constitution by Jim Marcinkowski

The Administration’s wholesale by-passing of court review under the guise of “national security” is an extremely bad precedent. If after-the-fact judicial review of eavesdropping operations can be legally accomplished in a secret court, why should such a review requirement be totally ignored by this President? Is it because the government does not want anyone to know exactly who they are listening in on? Is it only suspected terrorists who are being targeted? If the Bush administration continues to have its way, we, and the congressionally authorized secret FISA court, will never know.

Marcinkowski makes some eye opening comparisons between our current political situation and the old Soviet Union:

The government was always right and never apologized;

Any dissent was suppressed, ridiculed, banned or worse;

Secret prisons were denied and never acknowledged or spoken about;

The torture of captives (in Lubyanka) was condoned;

State incarceration was not subject to the checks and balances of a legal system;

Economic plans, like for oil, were established/determined in closed sessions between politicos, commissars and production managers, far outside public view, and where government claimed privilege in so doing;

Wages were set at the lowest common denominator, no matter what Bloc country you were in;

Government agents had access to your medical records, your library records, your telephone, and your e-mail.

A place where judicial power and judicial review were proclaimed concepts, but simply ignored in application;

The bad guys used to do what Bush and his supporters are doing now.

From Jeff Huber at Pen and Sword, Murtha: We are not Fighting Terrorism in Iraq

The more I hear what Murtha has to say, the more I agree with him. Here are what I thought were some of the best points he made today, and why I think they’re spot on accurate observations.

— We are not fighting terrorism in Iraq.

As Murtha points out, as best we can tell there are only 1,000 to 1,500 members of al Qaeda presently in Iraq. The vast majority of the people we’re killing and capturing in Iraq are not international terrorists; they’re either Iraqi insurgents or innocent civilians.

— We have lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

The innocent civilians we have killed are a large reason for this. This is not to say that our troops on the ground are running around purposely killing civilians. On the contrary, at the tactical level, I believe that we’re taking every possible measure to avoid collateral damage consistent with the safety of our own troops. But operationally and strategically, we’re conducting the war in a manner in which large numbers of non-combatant deaths are unavoidable. Despite our precision weapons technology, we simply can’t take down a defended town like Fallujah without either inadvertently killing a number of mommies and babies or getting a lot of our own troops blown up because they have their hands tied behind their backs.

By this point in this woebegone war, we may well have wrought more death and destruction on Iraqi innocents than the monster Hussein ever did. That we did so in a “noble cause” is really irrelevant. The civilians we have killed accidentally and the ones Hussein killed on purpose are equally dead.

Ken Russell’s 1955 Photo Essay on London’s Teddy Girls and some background on Teddy Boy culture at Wikipedia

The Teddy boy youth culture first emerged in Britain (starting in London, but rapidly spreading across the country) during the early 1950s, and soon after became strongly associated with American rock and roll music of the period

‘Teddy girls’ adopted a style similar to the lads’, with drapes complete with pencil skirts, but also adopted the American fashions of toreador pants and voluminous circle skirts, wearing their hair in ponytails..

Its most interesting as a style and the music that went with it then as a cultural movement. In Britain it had a taint of rascism at one point. ht to BoingBoing
While you still see infuences of Teddy styles on clothes and hair, it was succeeded by Mods and Rockers

The Mods and the Rockers were two British youth movements of the early 1960s. Gangs of mods and rockers fighting in 1964 sparked a moral panic about British youth. They can be seen as a type of folk devil.

There’s a pretty good film about Mods and Rockers called Quadrophenia (1979) with a very young Sting as the character Ace. To me anyway, the early Beatles were transitional figures incorporating a little of both Mod and Rocker.

“Splendid!” Sarah murmured. “Now tell us where Peter Phipps comes in?”

“Well,” Kendrick continued, “Phipps attracts sympathy because of his
lavish hospitality and apparent generosity, whilst Wingate is a man of
many reserves and has few friends, either on this side or the other. Then
Phipps, I should say, is the wealthier man, and in this present deal, at
any rate, he has marvellous support, so that financially he must tower
over Wingate. Then, too, I think he understands the tricks of the market
better over here, and he has a very dangerous confederate in Skinflint
Martin. What that old blackguard doesn’t know of chicanery and crooked
dealing, the devil himself couldn’t make use of. If he’s put his own
money into B. & I., I should say that Phipps can’t be broken. My advice
to Wingate, at any rate, when we meet, will be to stand by for a time.”

from THE PROFITEERS BY E. Phillips Oppeneim

Our history will be what we make of it ?

Do Bush followers have a political ideology?

That “conservatism” has come to mean “loyalty to George Bush” is particularly ironic given how truly un-conservative the Administration is.

This post from Glenn is rather long and hits on so many topics that it was difficult to pick one or two paragraphs to highlight. While I think that Glenn is correct in the main and has already illicted some flak from the Right, he’s actually pretty generous in his view of conservatism. He gives conservatism credit for the fiscally conservative meme, for their mistrust of a strong centralized federal government, and restraint of goverment power. I would argue that conservatives have never believed in these things as a matter of policy, but have only invoked these concepts when it served their partisan agenda. I’m a liberal because I believe in being fiscally responsible, for checks and balances in governance, as much sunshine and oversight as possible, restraint of federal power, and an efficient and effective military. Its my contention that after reading a huge amount of conservative writing, listening to untold hours of conservative pundits and politicians, that conservatism is all a carny sideshow of smoke and mirrors, filled with so many contraditions, hypocrisies, and doublespeak that behind the curtain is nothing but the rants of miscreants. The only uniting theme of conservatism is that all the wrongs in the world do not require study, thought, or reflection just blame all wrongs, real or imagined on liberals. Liberals are to conservatives what heretiks were to the Reformation. The goals and positions that conservatives at least claim to stand for are ironically best achieved through liberalism, Democrats have since FDR come closer to adhering to proposed conservative philosphy then Republicans. Democrats have a better record of keeping the deficit down from Kennedy through Bill Clinton, they also have done better at decreasing the size of government, creating jobs and economic growth, and a marginally better job at controlling inflation. If conservattive contraryism hadn’t stood in the way we probably would have done even better,

1) Economic growth averaged 2.94% under Republican Presidents and 3.92% under Democratic Presidents. See this post.

2) Inflation averaged 4.96% under Republicans and 4.26% under Democrats.

3) Unemployment averaged 6.75% under Republicans and 5.1% under Democrats.

4) Total federal spending rose at an average rate of 7.57% under Republican Presidents and at an average rate of 6.96% under Democratic Presidents.

5) Total non-defense federal spending rose at an average rate of 10.08% under Republicans and at an average rate of 8.34% under Democrats.

6) During the forty-year period studied, the National Debt grew by $3.8 trillion under budgets submitted by Republican Presidents and by $720 billion under budgets submitted by Democratic Presidents. Stated differently, the average annual deficit under Republicans was $190 billion; and, while under Democrats, it was $36 billion.

7) During the period studied, under Republican Presidents the number of federal government non-defense employees rose by 310,000, while the number of such employees rose by 59,000 under Democrats.

This article takes on the so-called Reagan legacy, Reagan’s Liberal Legacy : What the new literature on the Gipper won’t tell you.

A sober review of Reagan’s presidency doesn’t yield the seamlessly conservative record being peddled today. Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised.

Conservatism is riddled with contradictions. Whatever one’s feelings about abortion, there’s nothing conservative about putting the possession of every woman’s womb in the hands of Big Government. If abortion is a nightmarish concept to some people so should the idea of assigning rights to parts of a citizen’s body to Big Brother. How can a conservative ever claim to be against big gov’ment if they’ll willing to put an individual’s most personal decisions in the hands of the blount force of the criminal justice system. The very same conservatives will complain about government interfering with business when we pass laws that regulate toxic pollutants,

People exposed to toxic air pollutants at sufficient concentrations may experience various health effects, including cancer, damage to the immune system, as well as neurological, reproductive (e.g., reduced fertility), developmental, respiratory, and other health problems. In addition to exposure from breathing air toxics, risks also are associated with the deposition of toxic pollutants onto soils or surface waters, where they are taken up by plants and ingested by animals and eventually magnified up through the food chain. Like humans, animals may experience health problems due to air toxics exposure.

Inhaling or ingesting toxins isn’t a matter of personal choice, its a condition that is forced on people, usually by powerful business interests with the help of political allies and is anti-family at the most fundamental level.

While not blindly anti-globalization, as more jobs that would have been taken by working class Americans ( Bush has placated blue collar workers with Let Them Eat War ) are shipped overseas and no compensating widespread transition programs have been put in place and executive compensation increasing at record levels, compassionate conservatism has become yet another empty jingism. Conservatives tend to be pro-family when you’re last name ends in CEO. Concern about trends like this should not be confused with envy, its about fairness and morality. All too often conservatives try to pass this off as the forces of the market place, which in conservative speak is just another name for social-darwinism. If an American worker puts in a good fourty hours of work they should be making enough to live on, if the system doesn’t provide for that the system is broken. If one of the core values of conservatism is letting the market decide, what explains K-Street and the bull in the china shop approach to expanding legislation especially tailored to benefit businesses that pay to play. For a movement that swears that don’t engage in class warfare they seem to do all they can for one class of Americans, while treating other classes like forgotten orphans. As far as Bush conservatism goes, they have rationales, not a policy, and that rationale is blame the person having problems. Blame is an easy game to play when it comes to economic hard times for an individual worker. A scenario that played out writ large in the Katrina disaster; why didn’t the victims do something to keep from being victims. If you’re a victim its because of something lacking inside you, its not the forces outside of you that you have no control over. Its a clever game that takes advantage of people’s natural tendency to ask themselves if there wasn’t something they could have done to prevent whatever tragedy or hard times they’re going through. Its a clever game, but an immoral one. Sometimes people are victims of events and policies, the idea that anyone can transform themselves into some kind of invenerable superhero is absurd. Conservatives just can’t bare the difficulty of walking that line that acknowledges that most people take as much responsibilty for their lives as they’re capable of and that there are times when they need a hand. Certainly neither Bush or Cheney  can claim they are the shining examples of the self made man, they have never achieved anything as a result of their own device or suffered from the consequences of their actions. They are card carrying members of the elite who have gone through life with the best safety nets that money can buy. I don’t resent them that, I resent that they and their supporters pretend otherwise. I don’t resent them because of their unearned wealth, I resent that they have lived in a bubble and don’t acknowledge the social responsibilty that comes with the luck to be born to a class of the advantaged.

KRUGMAN: I think you have to think of this as there’s more than one player in this thing. If you ask Norquist or the Heritage Foundation about where the economic and social policy intelligentsia really stands, their aim is to roll us back to Herbert Hoover or before. Norquist actually thinks that we’ve got to get back to before the progressive movement –- before the McKinley era, which actually is one of Karl Rove’s guiding lights as well. So there’s definitely an important faction in the Bush administration and in the Republican Party that really wants to unravel all of this stuff and basically wants us to go back to a situation where, if you are unlucky, and you don’t have enough to eat, or you can’t afford medical care, well, that’s just showing that you weren’t sufficiently provident. And then, for these people, there would be no social safety net whatsoever.

Other people in the party, and other people in the coalition, have deluded themselves into thinking that somehow this is all going to be painless, and we’re going to grow our way out of the deficit. Other people really don’t care about any of that and are viewing their alliance with these people as a way to achieve their social goals -– basically roll back the revolution in social mores over the past few decades.

So there is a coalition, but there’s no question that if you ask what do the core ideologues want, the answer is they want to roll it all back. If you looked at what the Heritage Foundation says, they use the terms “New Deal” and “Great Society” as essentially curse words. Everything Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson did to provide a little bit of a cushion for Americans having bad luck is a bad thing, from their point of view.

Setting the Wrong Priorities: An Analysis of the President’s 2007 Budget

CIA chief sacked for opposing torture

The CIA’s top counter-terrorism official was fired last week because he opposed detaining Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad, sending them to other countries for interrogation and using forms of torture such as “water boarding”, intelligence sources have claimed.

Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, was relieved of his post after a year in the job. One intelligence official said he was “not quite as aggressive as he might have been” in pursuing Al-Qaeda leaders and networks.

Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, said: “It is not that Grenier wasn’t aggressive enough, it is that he wasn’t ‘with the programme’. He expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists.”

Glenn could have used this of an example of doing things the Bush way rather then doing what’s best in terms of policy. I’m not sure how Bush supporters can keep a straight face when we write posts sympathetic to career intelligence professionals and call us the fringe left. If caring about having a credible, moral intelligence service is fringe left that tells you something about how far right the Malkins and O’Reilly’s are.

Bush’s Bad Connection

The Senate intelligence committee is likely to vote to open an investigation into the NSA’s wiretapping program, according to senior congressional aides who declined to be identified discussing sensitive matters. The chairman of the committee, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, will probably follow the White House line and try to keep a lid on the hearings. But three Republicans—Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Mike DeWine of Ohio—are expected to join with the Democrats on the committee to vote to demand more information about the secret eavesdropping program from the White House and intelligence agencies.

Just a small update. It seems that some people belong to the Cult of Bush are upset about a little speech Al Gore made at a forum. Just a reminder that His Royal Highness George Perfection Bush came darn close to making an apology on foreign soil: The Guardian

In an unprecedented damage-limitation exercise, President George Bush told Arab TV viewers last night the treatment of prisoners by some members of the US military in Iraq had been “abhorrent” and would be thoroughly investigated.
The people of Iraq “must understand that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know,” he said in an interview with al-Hurra, an Arabic-language channel funded by the US government.

Though Mr Bush stopped short of a direct apology for the abuse at Abu Ghraib jail, where prisoners were stripped naked and sexually humiliated, he continued: “In a democracy everything is not perfect _ mistakes are made.”

The perpetrators would be investigated and brought to justice, he said. “We will do to ourselves what we expect of others.”

And remember this bit of hypocrisy:

President Bush, 6/14/05:

The best way to secure this country in the long run, though, is to spread democracy and freedom. We believe everybody deserves to be free. We believe everybody has a deep desire in their heart to live in a free society.

President Bush, 8/2/05:

On behalf of the United States, I congratulate my friend, King Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, on assuming the Saudi throne and the position of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. We wish Saudi Arabia peace and prosperity under his leadership. I have spoken today to the new King, and the United States looks forward to continuing the close partnership between our two countries.

Think Progress noted: “If Bush is for democracy everywhere, why does he hope Saudi Arabia prospers under a monarchy?”

 

MURROW
Our history will be what we make
of it.And if there are any
historians about fifty or a
hundred years from now, and there
should be preserved the kinescopes
for one week of all three
networks, they will there find
recorded in black and white, or
color, evidence of decadence…
escapism, and insulation from the
realities of the world in which we
live. We are currently wealthy,
fat,comfortable and complacent.
We have a built in allergy to
unpleasant or disturbing
information. Our mass media
reflect this. But unless we get up
off our fat surpluses and
recoqnize that tejevision in the
main is being used to distract,
delude, amuse and insulate us,
then television and those who
finance it, those look at it
and those who work at it, may see
a totally different picture too
late.

from the screenplay Good Night. And, Good Luck. by George Clooney and Grant Heslov