It seemed as if all my life;I’d been cooped in a room

road_to_the_desert.jpg
Journalist Jill Carroll Freed By Her Captors in Baghdad

"I was treated very well. That's important people know that," Carroll said in an interview broadcast on the TV station run by the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab organization. "They never said they would hit me, never threatened me in any way. I was just happy to be free, and I want be with my family."

What a great ending to what could have been tragic. M's Carroll wasn't killed, this has been a big disappoinment apparently for some people. Not only did she disappoint some by living through this ordeal, but dared to say that she was treated well. Let's define some terms before we go on. Unhinged: the informal definition is to refer to someone as confused or even mentally unbalanced. Which probably does not quite describe the petrid bile that has poured fourth from some conservatives. John Podhoretz,

It's wonderful that she's free, but after watching someone who was a hostage for three months say on television she was well-treated because she wasn't beaten or killed – while being dressed in the garb of a modest Muslim woman rather than the non-Muslim woman she actually is – I expect there will be some Stockholm Syndrome talk in the coming days.

Don Imus and his producer,

MCGUIRK: She may be carrying Habib's baby at this point.

IMUS: She could. It's not like she was representing the insurgents or the terrorists or those people.

MCCORD: Well, there's no evidence directly of that –

IMUS: Oh, gosh, you better shut up!

MCGUIRK: She's like the Taliban Johnny or something.

wing-nut blogger Orrin Judd,

May as well just come right out and say she was a willing participant.

Orrin is a member of the extreme right-wing Pajamas Media affiliated blogs which includes frequent Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin.

Insulating Bush

Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address — that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon — might not be true, according to government records and interviews.

As the 2004 election loomed, the White House was determined to keep the wraps on a potentially damaging memo about Iraq.

Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although "most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch "believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons."

Three months after receiving that assessment, the president stated without qualification in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

The previously undisclosed review by Hadley was part of a damage-control effort launched after former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV alleged that Bush's claims regarding the uranium were not true.

An interesting development, one that is gaining traction ( at least in anecdotal observation of the comments at some conservative blogs) is the admission that Bush lied, but it was worth it to save the Iraqi people. While not a complete thesis I think I took a fairly good look at Bush's and by proxy, his supporters rationales for war here and the save the Iraqi people meme is, well let's just say unhinged. It's not unusual for people that when faced with unpleasant facts to either deny reality or come up with some bizarre rationale, but this kind of behavior is unseemly in face of the gravity issues at stake. Time for the conservative movement to grow up.

I meant to point to this yesterday and forgot because I got caught up editing yesterday's post and wordpress wouldn't take the edits, arghhhh..so today, Six theses on immigration policy
I have my own idea. As smartass as it may sound, buy Mexico or rather make it the 51st state. They already have a government model that is similar to the U.S. Their president would become governor, their Congress the state legislature, their highest court would become their state supreme court. It also has its own oil reserves. The U.S. is already the fifth largest Spanish speaking country in the world. Its a win win proposition all around. Much easier to guard Mexico's ports and southern borders against illegal immigrants.

ROBERT—(Simply.) No. I'm dying. (He falls back weakly. RUTH sinks down beside him with a sob and pillows his head on her lap.) Don't try to move me, Andy. It would mean—. I had a bad hemorrhage—trying to get here. I knew then— it was only—a few minutes more. (ANDREW stands looking down at him helplessly. ROBERT moves his head restlessly on RUTH'S lap.) There! Just so I can see—the sun. I couldn't stand it back there in the room. It seemed as if all my life—I'd been cooped in a room. So I thought I'd try to end as I might have—if I'd had the courage to live my dream. Alone—in a ditch by the open road—watching the sun rise.

ANDREW—Rob! Don't talk. You're wasting your strength. Rest a while and then we'll carry you—

ROBERT—Still hoping, Andy? Don't. I know. (There is a pause during which he breathes heavily, straining his eyes toward the horizon.) The sun comes so slowly. I haven't long—to wait. (With an ironical smile.) The doctor told me to go to the far-off places—and I'd be cured. He was right. That was always the cure for me. It's too late—for this world—but in the next I'll not miss—the secret. (He has a fit of coughing which racks his body.)

ANDREW—(With a hoarse sob.) Rob! (He clenches his fists in an impotent rage against fate.) God! God! (RUTH sobs brokenly and wipes ROBERT'S lips with her handkerchief.)

from the play Beyond the Horizon by Eugene O'Neill

Advertisements

I know he can hear me, but my voice is just background noise

record5.jpg
The Democratic Record on Real Security Vs.The Bush Republican Record of Dangerous Incompetence

– The Bush Record of Dangerous Incompetence: Army Stretched Too Thin. Another cost of the Bush Administration's failure to plan properly for the war in Iraq is that the Army has been stretched by frequent troop rotations. Many units are on their second or even third tour in Iraq or Afghanistan without adequate time in rotation at home to rest and recuperate. At least 40 percent of deployed personnel are from the Guard and Reserve. Nearly all of the available combat units in the U.S. Army, Army National Guard, and Marine Corps have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before the war started, Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff for the Army, stated "Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required." [Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, 2/25/2003] A recent report prepared for the Pentagon concluded that the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon. [Report by Andrew Krepinevich, Thin Green Line, 1/06]
– The Bush Record of Dangerous Incompetence: Cuts National Guard by 17,000. Despite recent reports of the tremendous strain that the Iraq and Afghanistan War have placed on our troops, the President's budget fails to fund the force size authorized by law. The budget would fund 17,100 fewer Army National Guard and 5,000 fewer Army Reserves than are authorized by law. The National Guard is a cost-effective, capable combat force in the war on terror and an essential state partner in responding to domestic disasters and emergencies. As the National Guard Association stated, "the very idea that a reduction in strength of reserve components so fully involved in current operations and projected as the linchpin for future operations, both overseas and in the defense and security of the homeland, is ludicrous." [Letter to Senator John Warner, 12/12/05]

Like many modern myths I'm not sure where the one started that conservatives have a better record on national security or supporting the military.

– The Bush Record of Dangerous Incompetence: The Bush Administration's Failure to Uphold Global Nonproliferation Treaties Has Increased the Nuclear Ambitions of Some Countries and Raised the Specter of Nuclear Terrorism.
– The threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons or nuclear materials is very real, and increases when countries like Iran and North Korea enhance their nuclear programs.
– North Korea is a brazen proliferator: it is known to sell missiles and nuclear technology and participate in illicit activities, including smuggling, counterfeiting and the drug trade.
– Experts fear that North Korea's severe economic crisis could give way to regime collapse and could set loose its nuclear arsenal.
– The Iranian regime shows little respect for international norms: it has concealed its uranium enrichment activities for nearly two decades, while purporting to seek only a civilian nuclear program and claiming its commitment to nonproliferation as a signatory member of the NPT.

Remember that Terrorism Not a Priority for Ashcroft Pre-9/11.

Some far right extremists are reporting that according to the ultra-conservative Washington Times that the FISA Court judges have said that Bush's domestic spying program is legal. According to the New York Times, Judges on Secretive Panel Speak Out on Spy Program, all the judges that appeared before Congress are former judges, not current so their opinions certainly carry some weight, but said opinions should be considered within the entire scope of the investigation of Bush's interation of domestic spying. Whether current or former, as of this writing they have not given Bush's program a legal pass as the wing-nuts like Poweline and other right-wing blogs have asserted,

Judge Harold A. Baker, a sitting federal judge in Illinois who served on the intelligence court until last year, said the president was bound by the law "like everyone else." If a law like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is duly enacted by Congress and considered constitutional, Judge Baker said, "the president ignores it at the president's peril."

What's peculiar about the Washington Times( frequently referred to as the Moonie Times) story is this very conditional sentence,

"If a court refuses a FISA application and there is not sufficient time for the president to go to the court of review, the president can under executive order act unilaterally, which he is doing now," said Judge Allan Kornblum, magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and an author of the 1978 FISA Act.

Note the "If a court refuses", a conditional statement that implies that Bush has first gone to the court for approval of a warrant and that approval has not been given. Followed by another conditional statement, " and there is not sufficient time for the president to go to the court of review", then the president may act unilaterally. So Judge Kornblum's conditions under which Bush may spy without a warrant are first, the Executive branch must first go to the FISA court for a warrant, That warrant must be refused ( unlikely considering how accomodating the FISA court has been), then the President establishes that the need to perform this act of domestic spying is of such dire and urgent importance that there is not time to appeal the FISA court's ruling, he may act "unilatterally". So Hinrocket at Powerline, a lawyer I might add, apparently doesn't understand what the WT story says or is being deliberately misleading.

I didn't go to journalism school, but The WT piece isn't clear on this point,

The judges, however, said Mr. Bush's choice to ignore established law regarding foreign intelligence gathering was made "at his own peril," because ultimately he will have to answer to Congress and the Supreme Court if the surveillance was found not to be in the best interests of national security.

Brian DeBose of WT seems to be attributing Judge Baker's quote to the entire group of judges. Not having the whole transcript I can't say, but if every judge said that the executive ignores the laws passed by Congress at "its own peril", that would further erode the wing-nut blogs attempts to spin the WT story as favorable to their assertion that Bush's domestic warrantless spying is legal. One possibility is that all the judges nodded in agreement with Judge Baker.
Judge James Robertson, who had quit the FISA court over the fact that the FISA court was never even briefed about Bush's new program as reported in the NYT story,

In a March 23 letter in response to a query from Mr. Specter, the judge said he supported Mr. Specter's proposal "to give approval authority over the administration's electronic surveillance program" to the court.

Then we have Senator Arlen Specter (R), Arlen Specter Fed Up With White House

But Specter said the White House "has an argument" that the program is legal, based on the president's inherent authority under Article Two of the Constitution — although Specter said he does not know enough about the program to make his own judgment.

"Their position is that the president has the inherent authority, and that's that," Specter said of the White House.

Specter it seems has the perception of how dangerous this circular reasoning is. If any program that this or any administration dreams up is deemed necessary for national security and any actions stemming from those programs are inherently legal because the president says they are, whether Congress has previously addressed the issue or not, then the president is not bound by any law because of his claim of inherent authority. If this is the case, why have a Congress, why have a Supreme Court. Finally, to wrap this up for the day, Jurist legal News and Research, gives their summary of today's (yeserday's at this point) Senate hearing, Federal judges support Specter surveillance supervision bill at hearing

The five, all former members of the FISA court, said they were unfamiliar with the latest NSA program, but insisted that the court has struck the correct balance between civil liberties and national security concerns since its establishment and would continue to do so.

The right-wing blogs have also been quick to jump on the assertion that previous administrations have used executive orders to bypass FISA law, This is simply not true, FISA has been amended by other administrations through Congress. Also note that there has been no constitutional challenges by the Bush administration or previous administrations. If the current administrations thinks that some implied authority exists for them to ignore laws that have been passed by Congress and followed by four other administrations, then out of respect for our constitutional framework and the rule of law, they need to make such a challenge rather then doing an end run around the law of the land. See Top 12 media myths and falsehoods on the Bush administration's spying scandal for more background on previous administrations.

For the last hour I've been asking him questions and telling him stories. I know he can hear me, but my voice is just background noise. He's concentrating on his own internal dialogue, debating whether he should live or die. I want to join that debate, but first I need an invitation.

from the novel SUSPECT Michael Robotham

What do I want with a new king? He’ll bully us from morning till night and make our lives miserable

furry_hare.jpg
Public service announcement. Philip K. Dick's head is missing. According to the April issue of Wired. the founder of Hanson Robotics, David Hanson and a team of developers made a robotic head of the late science fiction writer which was left behind in an overhead storage bin when Hanson changed planes. The head is remarkably life-like. Compare the picture at the Wikipedia link and from Hanson's website. All of which reminds me of a phobia I have. I will not pick up strange packages for fear that it may contain either body parts or a bomb. I'm not sure if this fear has a name or if there are others that share it. Generally this fear hasn't had much impact on my life. I have come across an unattended package that for all I know was stuffed with cash or millions in promissory notes. I will never know as I alerted a security guard. So my fear does leave me with the nagging regret that some day, re-mindful of the finders keepers rule, I will have cheated myself out of easy fortune. If you should come across Mr. Dick stuffed in a duffel bag please notify Hanson at his site.

W, short for witless, is to 2006 political propaganda what the 1972 Ford Pinto was to the future of the automotive industry. RNC Memo Warns GOPers Not To Distance Themselves From Bush,

3. The President is seen universally as the face of the Republican Party. We are now brand W. Republicans. The following chart shows the extremely close correlation between the President's image and overall ratings of the party.

A high five for Ken Mehlman's unintended confession that the face of the far right party is one of incompetence and corruption, and cronyism. The memo that American's deserve to see, the right wing party needs to turn in a new direction: to stand up for small competent government, for rationalism and sound science, to stop using compassion as an empty sleeved advertising gimmick and start being compassionate, stop avoiding substantive political debate with weird personal attacks and attack groups like the Swift Liars, stop being pimps for corporate America ( not really necessary if we live in a real free enterprise economy), and get a dictionary, look up the word integrity ( that means you Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas).

U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) has lost another advisor . Now I wish certain Democratic blogs would stop gloating over the fact that Harris is delusional and destined to lose. Harris knows she is going to lose. That's not the point. The point is to make a name for herself so she can go on to make big easy bucks as a martyred right-wing speaker and pundit.

Bush Opposes Iraq's Premier, Shiites Report

The American ambassador has told Shiite officials that President Bush does not want the Iraqi prime minister to remain the country's leader in the next government, senior Shiite politicians said Tuesday.

It is the first time the Americans have directly expressed a preference in the furious debate over the country's top job, the politicians said, and it is inflaming tensions between the Americans and some Shiite leaders.

The ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the head of the main Shiite political bloc at a meeting on Saturday to pass on a "personal message from President Bush" to the interim prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said Redha Jowad Taki, a Shiite member of Parliament who was at the meeting.

Mr. Khalilzad said Mr. Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" Mr. Jaafari as the next prime minister, according to Mr. Taki, a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite bloc. It was the first "clear and direct message" from the Americans on a specific candidate for prime minister, Mr. Taki said.

This is actually understandable since al-Jaafari supports the Shiite militias who have been responsible for much of the up-tick in violence and has a close alliance with what some people would call a terrorist, Moktada al-Sadr. The point is that this is the government that the Iraqi people choose. Elections and constitutions do not a democracy make without the underlying stable institutions. Something the wise sages of neoconism didn't see in their crystal ball even though there were plenty of people that warned them.

This Week in the NSA Scandal

As Daniel Webster warned: "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions."

Nothing stirred on the African plains. The sun glared down and Hare crept inside the cool hollow of a baobab tree for his afternoon nap.
Suddenly he was wide awake. There was a boom, boom, booming in his ears. And it was getting closer. Hare peeped out from the tree nervously.
Across the clearing the bushes snapped and parted, and out loomed a huge gray shape.
"Oh it's you!" said Hare irritably. "How can a fellow sleep with all your racket?"
The rhinoceros squinted down at him short-sightedly.
"Greetings!" he bellowed in his slow way. "Tembo the elephant has sent me to fetch you to the waterhole. He's going to tell us who our new king will be.
All the animals have voted."
"Oh fiddlesticks!" cried Hare rudely. "What do I want with a new king? He'll bully us from morning till night and make our lives miserable."
"Don't you want to see who's been chosen? asked Rhino.
"I know already," snapped Hare. "It will be that sly old lion, Kali. He has bribed all the other animals and promised not to eat their children if only they
will vote for him."
Rhino didn't seem to believe Hare, and in the end Hare said,
"Oh very well, I'll come. But you'll see I'm right."

from the short story The Hare Who Would Not Be King by Tish Farrell

It’s like I’m out in a big boat and I see one fellow in a rowboat who’s tired of rowing and wants a free ride – and another fellow who’s drowning. Who would you expect me to rescue?

rowboat1.jpg

Let's start with a little intirque and work our way from there, Rove said cooperating in CIA leak inquiry

According to several Pentagon sources close to Rove and others familiar with the inquiry, Bush's senior adviser tipped off Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to information that led to the recent "discovery" of 250 pages of missing email from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Rove has been in the crosshairs of Fitzgerald's investigation into the outing of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson for what some believe to be retaliation against her husband, former U.S. Ambassador to Gabon, Joseph Wilson. Wilson had been an ardent critic of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

While these sources did not provide any details regarding what type of arrangements Rove's attorney Robert Luskin may have made with the special prosecutor's office, if any, they were able to provide some information regarding what Rove imparted to Fitzgerald's team. The individuals declined to go on the record out of concern for their jobs.

According to one source close to the case, Rove is providing information on deleted emails, erased hard drives and other types of obstruction by staff and other officials in the Vice President's office. Pentagon sources close to Rove confirmed this account.

As there have been stories of a riff between Rove and Cheney after Rove floated the possibility of replacing Cheney on the 2004 presidential ticket this would explain the current power play. Cheney is not only less popular then Bush, he's expendable. Karl's record is clear, given a choice he''ll look out for himself and his boss first. Ultimately Bush could come out a winner in the sense that if he replaces Cheney, that replacment will automatically have a boost to frontrunner status in the 2008 elections and Cheney ( and Libby for that matter) can always be pardoned just as the emperor leaves office. There's a lively discussion about this article at The Washington Note, Beneath the Surface on Plame Investigation: Rove and Libby in Deadly Dog Fight. I would just add that while it would be a great service to the ideal of equal justice in the United States to see those involved in the Plame leak in prison stripes, convictions, followed by prisons or pardons, would still be a victory for those that think power should not entitle one immunity from justice.

Ben Domenech isn't the first right-wing moonbat to committ plagiarism. ( I think its a shame that Ben was a plagiartist, not because I grieve for poor Ben's lack of moral direction so much as he would have been a great beacon of wingnuttiness. Anyone that read his few posts could see that he was good at preaching to the already converted and alienating the middle. People like Ben, Ann Coulter and to some extent Bill O'Reilly give a whole new dimension to being rabid. One of the reasons that so many people are beginning to question the doctrinaire far right conservatives is because while they were drawn to the small government advertising of the conservative movement, the Bens and Anns constitute a political perversity that most Americans do not want to be associated with. In their way Ben-Ann-Bill are liberal recruiters that push people away from the moral bankruptcy of conservatism.) HT to James Wolcott for this post about conservative plagiartists Monica Crowley (who though banned from the pages of the Wall Street Journal, is now an MSNBC pundit) and Jerome Corsi of Swift Boat liars fame, Other Conservatives Got Away with Plagiarism. All of which reminded me of Michael Leeden. Who is no fresh faced right-wing punk, but one of the guiding lights of the neocon movement, Neocons plagiarize Italian Fascists,

….quote by the neoconservative Michael Leeden which seemed to be plagiarizing the work of the Italian Fascist F.T. Marinetti. Here is the Leeden quote:

Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our society and abroad.
We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature,
art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have
always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity which menaces their
traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep
pace … [W]e must destroy them to advance our historic mission.

I should say that my graduate studies are focused on the history of fascist Italy. Realizing that the fascist Marinetti is a pretty obscure figure to the rest of the world and hoping that I was somehow wrong, that it would be crazy for someone actively trying to influence the foreign policy of the United States to plagiarize fascist rhetoric, I checked into Michael Leeden. How, I wondered, would a neocon know about Marinetti? Perhaps, it was coincidence or maybe the Leeden quote was taken out of context. I quickly discovered that Leeden in fact has a Ph.D. in history, has focused his studies on Italy, and has even written articles about Italian Fascism. So much for that hope.

My next step was to go to Leeden's text. Maybe he had actually been writing about fascism and Buchanan had conveniently left out the footnote. Leeden's book "The War Against the Terror Masters" does have endnotes, but none for the passage quoted and none referencing Marinetti. It was true; Leeden was actually trying to pass off fascist ideology as his own. He was indeed suggesting that we give the fascist obsession with violence and war another try, regurgitating the ideals of Marinetti and pretending they were new. It is worth recalling the Merriam Webster definition of plagiarizing:
to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own: use (another's production) without crediting the source… to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

What Leeden did was not copy Marinetti word for word, but rather he stole his ideas and passed them off as his own, without ever crediting the source. Now this is not the first or the last time that some bit of fascist ideology will be resurrected and passed off as new. What makes this instance frightening are two things, the sector of fascist ideology being recycled and the recycler, a man with a great deal of influence in American foreign policy.

F.T. Marinetti helped Mussolini found the Fascist Party and is perhaps most famous for his love and glorification of violence and war. Marinetti wrote eloquently and convincingly about the beauty of violence and death. He wanted perpetual war and believed that only through continuous violent destruction could society move forward. Marinetti wrote:
We will glorify war- the world's only hygiene– militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman. We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, we will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.

Leeden has repackaged Marinetti's ideals into a theory he calls "Creative Destruction."

A little something to remember the next time someone in the conservative leadership accuses a Democrat of being a fascist. Pot meet Mr. Black.

Estate of Mind, Dorothy Parker willed her copyright to the NAACP – an organization her executor Lillian Hellman, detested.

LONGFELLOW
See all those fellows? They're
the ones I'm trying to help. They
need it!
(pointing)
Mr. Cedar and that Mr. Semple don't
need anything. They've got plenty!
It's like I'm out in a big boat
and I see one fellow in a rowboat
who's tired of rowing and wants a
free ride – and another fellow
who's drowning. Who would you expect
me to rescue? Mr. Cedar, who just
got tired of rowing and wants a
free ride? Or those men out there
who are drowning? Any ten-year-
old child will give you the answer
to that.
(to farmers etc. in
courtroom)
All right, fellows. Thank you. Sit
down.

LONGFELLOW
Now, my plan is very simple. I was
going to give each family ten acres –
a horse, a cow and some seed. And
if they work the farm for three
years, it's theirs. Now, if that's
crazy, maybe I ought to be sent to
an institution. But I don't think
it is. And what's more, Mr. Cedar
doesn't either.
(vehemently)
Just before the hearing started,
he offered to call the whole thing
off if I made a settlement with
him. So you see, he wouldn't think
I was crazy if he got paid off.

from the screenplay MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (Shooting Draft, 1936) by Robert Riskin
based on a story by Clarence Budington Kelland

I can see nothing at all! That is terrible. Am I stupid? Am I not fit to be Emperor?

empc.jpg
We seem to be stuck in some kind of thick puddle of mud when the conversation turns to which way Bush or conservatism or Bush conservatism manages the tax money that ,you know, like makes civilization possible. We have the one camp that is claiming, a year after Bush's assumption of a second term that Bush is a free spender so do not blame "us", the real conservatives. Then there is the camp that thinks Bush is doing great because since he cuts taxes, economic nirvana is just around the corner, much like victory in Iraq. Fiscal conservatism is the giant yeti of economics, it doesn't really exist. In every incidence in which conservatives have had power in the last 40 years either on the federal level or state, they've tried and sometimes succeeded in running the economy into the anti-tax sand bar. Medicare is not and never will be a cute little program that serves at the king's pleasure it's an integral part of what keeps a good part of the population's head above water. To refer to Medicare as discretionary spending is like saying health is an option. The cynics that see selling reorganization of Medicare as a government guaranteed revenue stream for health and pharmaceutical companies as a necessary lie in advertising as the new reality model are the same people that snicker at funerals. Conservatism itself has tried to stand for so many contradictions that at the heart of the conversation is a realization that even many liberals find hard to believe, that conservatism has never really had guiding principles. Cultural conservatism is just the movement that has been with us since Cotton Mathers to turn America into a theocracy that is every bit as repressive as the Taliban or the old Holy Roman Empire. Using Medicare as our example; while we call it a government program as a kind of shorthand, what it is actually is something else. Some folks in Savannah and Seattle and all the towns in between saw the need for this kind of program. Way too huge to be handled by 50 different beaurocracies, so how bout' we get those folks in the city on the Potomac to put it together with some consistent national standards. How could conservatives attack what the people want? You label Medicare anything else you do not like, for reasons that have never been made clear as big government, an intrusion into your freedom. I am not sure how relieving some of the physical and financial pain of your fellow citizen makes anyone less free, but such is the nature of conservative doublespeak. Wrap this up in a little ribbon and call it the crusade against big bad government and you have a political philosophy of Ebenezer Scrooge, not a nation of the common good. I realize the "common good" as a concept can be used as a blunt instrument like prohibition, but it seems that programs like Medicare, school lunch programs, and setting aside land for preservation have been more then marginally successful. Big Government , at least when its effective and efficient is the conscience that haunts Ebenezer in his dreams, that he is welcome to run a business, to make a profit, but his greedy and anti-social tendencies need to be reigned in. That has been at the core of conservatism since Eisenhower. Liberalism's faults lie more with its execution rather then the core of its philosophy. Conservatism has actually been practiced in his present form in a previous incarnation; it was called The Gilded Age or better the Age of Robber Barons. The Gilded Age just didn't die from its own bourgeois proclivities it was literally built on the bones of the working class. If the middle and low middle working want to return to the good old days that never were all they have to do is keep believing in the fairie tale of conservatism.

The real journalists are finally coming out of the shadows

CBS News' Lara Logan did the smackdown of Howie the Whore Kurtz on Reliable Sources this morning, and gives the odious Laura Ingraham some more of what she so richly deserves.

We're finally starting to see some passion from the journalists who are putting their lives on the line trying to cover Bush's botched Iraq adventure….

Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says

In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

Stamped "extremely sensitive," the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Mr. Blair's most senior aides, had not been made public. Several highlights were first published in January in the book "Lawless World," which was written by a British lawyer and international law professor, Philippe Sands. In early February, Channel 4 in London first broadcast several excerpts from the memo.

Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

Remember this from March 21st,

"I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong … with all due respect," he told a reporter. "No president wants war." To those who say otherwise, "it's simply not true," Bush said.

I suppose his defenders can always blandish the canard that Bush had to lie America into a war for the good of the nation. This Orwellian side trip into Iraq has made America and the world less safe. Bush can repeat unsupported assertions all day, trying his best not to have the usual condesending smirk, that is not going to make them any more truthful.

“What’s this?” thought the Emperor. “I can see nothing at all! That is terrible. Am I stupid? Am I not fit to be Emperor? That would be the most dreadful thing that could happen to me. O, it is very pretty!” he said aloud. “It has our highest approbation.” And he nodded in a contented way, and gazed at the empty loom, for he would not say that he saw nothing. The whole suite whom he had with him looked and looked, and saw nothing, any more than the rest; but, like the Emperor, they said, “That is pretty!” and counseled him to wear the splendid new clothes for the first time at the great procession that was presently to take place. “It is splendid, excellent!” went from mouth to mouth. On all sides there seemed to be general rejoicing, and the Emperor gave the rogues the title of Imperial Court Weavers. 21
The whole night before the morning on which the procession was to take place, the rogues were up, and kept more than sixteen candles burning. The people could see that they were hard at work, completing the Emperor’s new clothes. They pretended to take the stuff down from the loom; they made cuts in the air with great scissors; they sewed with needles without thread; and at last they said, “Now the clothes are ready!

from The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen

Well, my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country

jackcash.jpg

Former DeLay Aide Enriched By Nonprofit

A top adviser to former House Whip Tom DeLay received more than a third of all the money collected by the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit organization the adviser created to promote a pro-family political agenda in Congress, according to the group's accounting records.

DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who helped create the group while still in DeLay's employ, and his wife, Wendy, were the principal beneficiaries of the group's $3.02 million in revenue, collecting payments totaling $1,022,729 during a five-year period ending in 2001, public and private records show.

The group's revenue was drawn mostly from clients of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to its records. From an FBI subpoena for the records, it can be inferred that the bureau is exploring whether there were links between the payments and favorable legislative treatment of Abramoff's clients by DeLay's office.

Today paleo-conservative dinosaur Robert Novak writing on a notorious far right web site says that Abramoff is not going to rat out Tom Delay (R-TX), but may implicate Rep. Robert Ney (R). Of course Novak is also calling Gore's decision not to run in 2008 "surprising". Only surprising to moonbattie conservatives.

The group's payments to the Buckhams — in the form of a monthly retainer as well as commissions on donations by Abramoff's clients — overlapped briefly with Edwin Buckham's service as chief of staff to DeLay and continued during his subsequent role as DeLay's chief political adviser.

During this latter period, Buckham and his wife, Wendy, acting through their consulting firm, made monthly payments averaging $3,200-$3,400 apiece to DeLay's wife, Christine, for three of the years in which he collected money from the USFN and some other clients.

Apparently USFN was raining down bribes, some of which fell on Delay's cheif of staff Edwin Buckham (also a minister), Delay's wife and the wife of Delay's deputy chief of staff , but none of the drops hit Delay. This scenario is possible, its also possible that I'll win the lottery this week.

The accounting records reviewed by The Washington Post included a list of every transaction by the USFN from 1996 to 2000 and the group's tax returns for 2001, the last year it existed. They demonstrate that the consulting fees, bonuses and fundraising commissions for the Buckhams — plus the purchase of a townhouse that served as the locus of DeLay's own fundraising efforts — consumed far more of the group's budget than its spending for lobbying on "moral fitness" issues.

Moral fitness is defined by the conservative establishment as the ability to pass stacks of cash with one hand behind their back.

…a variety of expenses that experts say are atypical for such a small nonprofit: $62,375 for wall art, a vase listed at $20,100, airfare and meals for Abramoff that cost $11,548, and $267,202 in travel and entertainment expenses that appear to have benefited mostly Buckham, the group's board members, and its tiny staff.

"They were using donor funds for interior decorating," said Chris Geeslin, a pastor in Frederick, Md., who between 1998 and 2001 served as one of the group's directors

According to PoliticalMoneyLine, Buckham's Alexander Strategy Group gave money to JO BONNER FOR CONGRESS COMMITTEE, NUCLEAR ENERGY INSTITUTE FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE, MCCRERY FOR CONGRESS COMMITTEE, JON KYL FOR U S SENATE, SUPERIOR CALIFORNIA FEDERAL LEADERSHIP FUND, PETER HOEKSTRA FOR CONGRESS among others. None of this necessarily illegal, but does indicate what a busy little bee ASG was and whether there was any quid pro quo from any of the elected recipients.

At the time, Abramoff was under contract with the Marianas government to lobby against congressional legislation to impede the free flow of immigrant labor to the islands from China and elsewhere in Asia, and impose a minimum hourly wage exceeding the island's standard rate of $3.05.

To U.S. immigration officials and other critics, maintaining the Marianas' exemptions from these rules amounted to providing legal protection for sweatshops. But textile manufacturers, who dominated the islands' politics and profited heavily from paying immigrant workers less than required on the mainland, ardently opposed the legislation. The Marianas government paid Abramoff a total of $7.17 million in lobbying fees from 1996 to 2001, according to an audit there.

One can't help wonder about people wallowing in over 7 million dollars and their dedication to keeping wages of people that actually work at rock bottom. When liberals object to robbing the poor to give to the wealthy they are labeled anti-business. Labeling is a strange phenomenon from the right, it blows in from the gapping mouths of conservatives whose rapacious appetite for more, more, and more is in perverse sync with their laziness.

In April 1997, for example, a longtime Tan aide and island politician named Benigno Fitial went to Washington, where he sang "Happy Birthday" to DeLay in the whip's office. He sent Buckham an e-mail after the trip expressing appreciation for his support and recalling Buckham's explanation that one of his roles was to "stop legislation from getting on the floor of the House." Fitial signed the e-mail, "YOUR 'ADOPTED' BROTHER BEN."

Three months earlier, Tan's network of companies had written five checks of $10,000 each to USFN, and Buckham's wife had claimed $10,000 in "commissions" on these checks, according to the group's ledger.

These were just the first of 23 payments by Tan's companies to the group, which eventually totaled $650,000.

Later in 1997, Wendy Buckham claimed another $10,000 in commissions on Tan's checks, and in 1998, the couple's jointly owned consulting firm took another $20,000 in commissions explicitly attributed to the Tan donations, according to the ledger. Many other "commissions" collected by the couple were not linked in the ledgers to a specific donor.

DeLay saw Tan when he took his wife and daughter to the Marianas in a December 1997 trip arranged with the help of Abramoff and his lobby firm. After brunching with Tan on his first full day, followed by a round of golf with Tan and others, DeLay attended a dinner in his honor sponsored by Tan's holding company at the local Pacific Islands Club.

It was at this dinner that DeLay gave the speech in which he called Abramoff "one of my closest and dearest friends," according to a copy. DeLay also reminded Tan and his colleagues of his earlier promise that no wage and immigration legislation would be passed.

"Stand firm," DeLay said in his closing. "Resist evil. Remember that all truth and blessings emanate from our Creator." He then departed with Tan to see a cockfight, according to a written account by one of the trip participants.

Worth a minute to go read the whole article. Geez what a tangled web they weave.

Delta Force founder: Bush may have started World War III

Retired Command Sergeant Major Eric Haney's book "Inside Delta Force" became the basis for the CBS drama "The Unit," where he now assumes technical adviser and executive producer duties.

Excerpts from the forthcoming article written by David Kronke:

Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and … pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.

Algernon. Yes. But why does your aunt call you her uncle? 'From
    little Cecily, with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack.' There
    is no objection, I admit, to an aunt being a small aunt, but why an
    aunt, no matter what her size may be, should call her own nephew her
    uncle, I can't quite make out. Besides, your name isn't Jack at
    all; it is Ernest.

    Jack. It isn't Ernest; it's Jack.

    Algernon. You have always told me it was Ernest. I have introduced
    you to every one as Ernest. You answer to the name of Ernest. You
    look as if your name was Ernest. You are the most earnest-looking
    person I ever saw in my life. It is perfectly absurd your saying
    that your name isn't Ernest. It's on your cards. Here is one of
    them. [Taking it from case.] 'Mr. Ernest Worthing, B. 4, The
    Albany.' I'll keep this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever
    you attempt to deny it to me, or to Gwendolen, or to any one else.
    [Puts the card in his pocket.]

    Jack. Well, my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country, and
    the cigarette case was given to me in the country.

from The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

As long as it’s not a middle class problem, no one will care

la_confidential.jpg

Properly Chilled
We probably have reached the point where everyone is a music junkie thus rendering the term a universal redundancy. Though there are people that take that personal obsession to the next level. Its not enough to be a listener anymore.

Properly Chilled opened its doors on January 18, 2005.

My name is Brandon, and throughout 2004 I was looking for a specific website I just couldn’t find. It’s not to say there aren’t plenty of good electronic music sites out there, there are tons, but I was looking for a site dedicated to Downtempo music and culture.

Has a nice selection of free mp3s. The default download method is through Quicktime, at least in Fire Fox. Natalie Walker’s vocal styling on No One Else reminds me of Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies. Some other featured downloads included Boozoo Bajou, Annie, and Cities Of Foam.

DOJ: NSA Could’ve Monitored Lawyers’ Calls

The National Security Agency could have legally monitored ordinarily confidential communications between doctors and patients or attorneys and their clients, the Justice Department said Friday of its controversial warrantless surveillance program.

At this juncture we’re at the level of school yard brats. They say its legal. Every argument given for the basis of that legality is dubious, mostly just lies said in the indignant voice of grey haired brats with their hands caught in the cookie jar. Reasonable Americans that care about the future of the republic point out the letter of the law. The right reponds its legal in a slightly louder tone. Principles have become a stranger in the house of conservatism and they mean to use all the power at their disposal to keep it that way.

When you give boys unlimited power and lots of neat technology toys to play with, what is inevitable, Dots: An Apparatus of Domestic Repression?

902nd warriors: I know you are out there on the front lines, collecting and analyzing dots to find a terrorist enemy. It is activity that on the one hand is less intrusive and politically motivated than anything in the past. Yet, at the same time, it is more diabolical because of its very pervasiveness and promiscuity.

The Pentagon “suspicious activity” database I revealed in December contained entries of anti-war and anti-military demonstrations, certainly suggesting that the military was conducting surveillance.

To understand what kind of surveillance though, one has to abandon the Nixonian model of surveillance for the purpose of harassing government opponents or selecting individuals to spy on because of their political affiliations.

Modern spying, at least of this type I’m discussing here, is not so individual-centric. Dot collecting and analysis mostly involves looking for potential threats when the individual is not necessarily known.

The “dots” are everybody and anybody that happens to for whatever reason gets caught in their throw of the intelligence fish net, like maybe your doctor or lawyer.

The good news, Senator Sets Hearing on Censure of Bush

The Senate Judiciary Committee has set a hearing for next Friday on the call by Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, to censure President Bush for his approval of a program to allow electronic eavesdropping without warrants.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the panel, said he had decided to schedule the session after Mr. Feingold, in a television interview, pressed for hearings on the censure proposal.

Some Republicans have seized on the issue to rally their supporters by arguing that the censure plan is evidence that Democrats would try to take some action against Mr. Bush should they gain control of the House or Senate in the November elections.

Now that is funny. Republicans are warning America not to vote for Democrats in the mid-terms because if they get a majority Dems will hold Bush accountable to the rule of law.

The Christo-fascists movement rears its ugly head and takes another life, Police Charge Pastor’s Wife in His Slaying in Tennessee

The killing has roiled the town of Selmer, a southwestern Tennessee community about 80 miles east of Memphis where Matthew Winkler, 31, was known as an energetic and vibrant preacher at the Fourth Street Church of Christ, as well as a loving father and husband.

“I don’t know what her reason is,” said Betty Wilkerson, the church secretary. “I know we’ll probably find out in the weeks to come. But I’m not going to judge her.”

Considering Betty’s statement it sounds like the church of moral relativity. Cynicism aside this whole episode is going to be very tough on her three daughters. Whatever the problem was you would think that she would have thought of those children and what it would do to them first.

Our quote of the day from Glenn Greenwald, speaking of Ben Domenech, ” In many ways, he’s a poster child for the Bush movement.”

DUDLEY
I’m loathe to kill my brother
officers, Edmund.

EXLEY
Tell that to Jack Vincennes. To
Stensland.

DUDLEY
Jack was a shame, but Dick
Stensland had the audacity to try
to sell me my own heroin. Through
his whore girl friend. I sent him
to make the buy. The rest is
history.

EXLEY
Why?

DUDLEY
A vacuum, Edmund. That’s what we
have in Los Angeles. Sending
Mickey Cohen up created it. My
containment work maintained it.
Certain photographs guarantee it.
Organized crime has been held
back, but there’s still a demand
for the services it provides.

EXLEY
And now you’ll provide them.

DUDLEY
Absolutely. Prostitution and
gambling are victimless crimes.
The heroin we’ll run down to the
coloreds. Anesthetize them. As
long as it’s not a middle class
problem, no one will care. It’s
still a crime free city… for
respectable people.
from the screenplay L.A. CONFIDENTIAL by Brian Helgeland
Based on the novel by James Ellroy