I’m gonna be a wheel someday

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A little late, but Musharaff Reveals New Bin Laden Intelligence

For the first time, Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff has revealed that his government may know the general whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

Speaking at a meeting in New York earlier this week, Musharaff conceded that bin Laden may well be in his country, according to people who heard his comments.

“We believe he is somewhere between Bajaur, Pakistan, and the province of Kunar in Afghanistan,” he said at a meeting connected to his appearance at the United Nations.

As recently as last week, Pakistani government spokespeople had said bin Laden’s whereabouts were a complete mystery.

The area described by Musharaff is a mountainous region north of the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Musharaff told the New York audience that bin Laden “could be in either Pakistan or Afghanistan.”

Pakistan, Bush’s partner in something that patriots across America are trying to figure out and the Bush administration thinks Pakistan has been cooperative enough to deserve the optiion to buy some F-16s. A policy that even Bush Two’s father opposed. Bush and congressional conservatives turn away from the situation as they talk tough about being tough against “them” while at the same time become enablers of the revitalization of the Taliban and al-Queda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Johadists are bad , so bad according to Bush that they represent the biggest threat to democracy in our time, but apparently that only applies to Iraq. Except Iraq is a failed state in a civil war. So Bush, if we pull off the blinders has a perfect scorecard when it comes to helping spread instability in the middle-east and the perfect breeding ground for the next generation of terrorists. Bush has recently said he would send troops after Bin Laden if he knew where OBL was. So Bush is just waiting for Bin Laden to blip on the GPS in the Whitehouse limo. Or maybe Bush would or maybe he wouldn’t go after Bin Laden in Pakistan, it depends on what day it is and whether that little rubber band that connects Bush’s mouh to his brain is working properly,

It’s hard to know where to begin in trying to disentangle the knot of jingoism, recklessness, bad faith and bamboozlement that is President Bush’s latest boast that if he had good intelligence on bin Laden’s whereabouts he would send US troops into Pakistan to catch him whether the Pakistanis agreed or not.

On Friday he suggested that he wouldn’t because “Pakistan is a sovereign nation.” And, yes, not invading other countries is a good rule of thumb in most cases, if one this president has tended to honor in the breach. But I think that given the unique history, most presidents and most Americans would be willing to violate another country’s sovereignty if they had actionable intelligence that gave a good chance of successfully capturing OBL.

While I was over reading Brian Ross’s report on Musharaff I noticed this follow up to the Department of Homeland Security official Brian Doyle, DHS Official Makes Plea Deal in Online Sex Sting

Doyle was arrested last April after allegedly having sexually explicit conversations with whom he thought was a 14-year-old girl but was actually an undercover Polk County, Fla., sheriff’s detective posing as a teenage girl.

According to the plea deal, Doyle pled “nolo contendere,” or no contest, to seven counts of using a computer to seduce a child and 16 counts of transmitting harmful material to a minor, which together would have delivered a maximum prison sentence of 115 years.

There is no avoiding the gotcha aspect of this story. Another holier then thou Republican caught involved in a pedophile scandal. We here it from the snot nosed little right-wing bloggers, to the AM radio wing-nuts, to the floor of the U.S Senate, that Republicans are morally superior. Not only are they morally superior, they are infallible and to dare question them is to be unamerican, to be part of the angry left. Ok then, lets take that concept of what it means to be a citizen in a country where American values take a back seat to loyalty to conservatism. A good part of free speech is squelched, you’re not allowed to point out this or that pedophile because they’re Republican. Know someone is stealing? Selling special favors or quid pro quo legislation? Sorry, if its a Republican that is doing it, you must not say anything, keeping silent is conservatism in the mold of Stalin. To speak of the corruption of Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Riverside, ep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville; Rep. Gary Miller, R-Diamond Bar; Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy; Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio and Rep. and Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles is simply unhinged liberal hatred. All part of a clever scheme cooked up by MoveOn and Sen. John Kerry to appease the terrorists.

What should rational people do when the rabid reactionaries call someone crazy for pointing out the obvious.. I predict emergency rooms across the nation will be filled with conservative bloggers with twisted panty syndrome.

I’m gonna be a wheel someday
I’m gonna be somebody
I’m gonna be a real gone cat
Then I won’t want you

from the lyrics I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday by Sheryl Crow

That damn small case using liberal press do they know no shame

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The Virginia race for Senate between George “macaca” Allen and former Secreatary of the Navy Jim Webb is interesting in how it defines political dividing lines. Webb is running as a Democrat, but is conservative in a way that would have almost defined conservatism 30 thirty years ago, but now he is running against the new conservatism of the Allen-Bush-Rove variety. Allen-Bush-Rove, with the help of the right-wing pundits have moved what the definition of center is so far to the Right that Webb is now on the left. Strange times.
With this shift of center to the fringe Right is also a shifting of what is reasonable or even sane. The actions that conservatives have taken and new actions which they continue to consider are so extreme that rational behavior seems to be shifting from what would once been thought of as morally repugnant to yawn, oh its just another day. Perhaps the almost daily outrages of Bush and a ultra right-wing Congress serve some ulterior motive, to make plausible those options just one notch below insanity, War Clouds, Plus — Worst Idea Ever

At this point, I think I need to bring up what one might call the Craziest Goddamn Thing I’ve Heard In a Long Time. This story came to me last week from an anonymous individual who I would say is in a position to know about such things. According to this person, the DOD has (naturally) been doing some analysis on airstrikes against Iran. The upshot of the analysis was that conventional bombardment would degrade the Iranian nuclear program by about 50 percent. By contrast, if the arsenal included small nuclear weapons, we could get up to about 80 percent destroying. In response to this, persons inside the Office of the Vice President took the view that we could use the nukes — in other words, launch an unprovoked nuclear first strike against Iran — and then simply deny that we’d done so.

My apologies to Matthew for stealing the payoff to the punchline. So they decide not to use nukes, but just use a comprehensive bombing campaign which pushes the middle-east further into chaos, causing catastrophic economic consequences for the rest of the world. After which they claim how rational they are because they had first considered nukes and then rejected that idea. This talk or chatter may serve another purpose. To shore up Bush’s poll numbers for being tough on some issue that has to do with brown people 20,000 miles away, the one area where he still has at least a marginal amount of support. Most of us find the tough talk more then a little high schoolish, but it does have a certain appeal to the raw meat crowd.

Physics was never my strong suit, but I feel obligated to read the occasional article. Kind of trying to keep up with the universe and all. I saw a special on String Theory once and was fascinated by the idea of multiple universes or at least the possibility of a mirror universe. It looks like String Theory and its supporters may be in need of some breakthrough. Some are beginning to wonder if there is any there there, String Theory is the darling of theoretical physics but there’s no way to test it. Does this qualify as a dead end?

Smolin, a theoretician at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, also takes issue with the landscape. But as a proponent of a rival theory known as loop quantum gravity, Smolin has a slightly different perspective. While string theory modifies the structure of subatomic particles—proposing that they’re stringy rather than pointlike—loop quantum gravity modifies the structure of space and time, positing that they are gnarled and tangled rather than smooth like relativity implies. Smolin, who’s worked on string theory in the past, struggles to keep his book from seeming like a partisan attack from a rival. “I can only insist that I am writing this book not to attack string theory or those who believe in it, but out of admiration for them and, above all, as an expression of faith in the physics scientific community,” he writes. However, when he accuses string theorists of “groupthink,” it’s hard to imagine it’s done out of admiration.

Since I already see the world as “gnarled and tangled”, Smolin is already playing to my prejudices.

Michelle Malkin and the Gateway Pundit are having a bad day, the poor things. It seems that without human rights, fair trials, legal representation, rules of evidence and the Geneva Convention the world is just one big hell hole. Wait…I…think I just blew a circuit, the fringe Right thinks that the rule of law is a necessary component of a civilized world, Well beyond satire

This post writes itself. For instance, I thought (from having read Michelle’s blog) that people who were concerned about due process for Terrorists are themselves pro-terrorists. I wonder what it is about this case that makes Michelle and Gateway Pundit so concerned for the Rights of Terrorists when normally they mock those who express such concern?

Some other blogs that are currently using duct tape to keep themselves from falling off their chairs laughing at the bald faced hypocrisy of the Right’s sudden embrace of human rights, The Sport of Us vs. Them, Wha???, Right Wing Bloggers Protecting Terrorists

More on M’s Unhinged Malkin, The Pulitzer Prize for Right-Wing Distortion 

1) Powerline, Michelle Malkin and the others like them have no respect for the American principle of a free and unfettered press, no understanding of what a photojournalist does or the importance that uncensored photos can play in the political debate half a world away. The bottom line is they’d like to destroy any photographic evidence of how badly their president’s lie-laden misadventure has gone in Iraq.

A bonus piece of wing-anger for the day from the comments at The Jawa Report, September 19, 2006, AP Responds to Bloggers: Cite Known Terrorist Sympathizer as Source

I’ve had a big problem with the AP ever since they first insisted on writing “war on terror” in quotation marks and lowercase letters instead of rightfully writing it as the War on Terror. That shows their own left wing bias that we aren’t really at war and Bush is just exaggerating the threat.
Posted by: Thrill at September 19, 2006 06:13 PM

That damn small case using liberal press do they know no shame.

My friend tried to tell me You didn’t mean me no good

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This gave me a headache so I thought I’d share it, What’s the Matter with Voting Republican If You’re Poor?

According to recent US census figures, since President Bush assumed power in 2000 poverty has risen by 7%, the proportion of those without healthcare has risen by 9%, and median household income has fallen by 3%. But where the poor are most numerous, it seems the Democrats are weakest. The 10 states with the lowest household median income, where people are least likely to have healthcare and most likely to live in poverty, all voted Republican in 2004. Not only are they poor, but they’re getting poorer.

So the poorest states voted for Bush which would for most people suggests that most poor people voted for Bush against their own economic interests with their ultra conservative cultural tendencies taking precedent.

The white working class, insisted Bartels, hadn’t abandoned the Democratic party, and neither their moral values nor their religion distracted them from their economic interests. Bartels’s argument was not quite as devastating as he claimed (Frank’s facts stand up if you assess class by educational attainment rather than income), but it undermined the key assumption that poor white people vote Republican. They don’t. According to CNN polls, 63% per cent of those who earn less than $15,000 a year and 57% of those who earn between $15,000 and $30,000 voted Democrat. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to vote Democrat.

So how are we to understand the fact that the poorest states voted for Bush? Soon after Bartels’s paper came another by four academics, subtitled: Rich State, Poor State, Red State, Blue State, What’s The Matter With Connecticut?. It revealed that rich people in poor states are more motivated to vote Republican, whereas in wealthier states there is a lower correlation between income and voting preference. In other words, thinking of the American political landscape in terms of different states (remember the map with the Democrat blue on the edges flanking a sea of Republican red?) hides the often far more important differences within states.

So what’s the matter with all these analyses? First of all they seem to step over a huge elephant in the room – namely race. There is a reason why we are only talking about white working-class voters: black people, regardless of income, overwhelmingly vote Democrat. Indeed, were it not for black people, the Democrats would have won the presidency only once, in 1964. That was the year President Lyndon Johnson signed the civil rights act, turned to an aide and said: “We have lost the south for a generation.” We are well into the second generation now, and the racialised politics of the south seem to be influencing the rest of the country rather than the other way round.

In other words there is a clear racial attachment that white voters have to the Republican party that does not override income but certainly qualifies it. No understanding of why so many of them vote Republican can examine class as though it is distinct from race.

Howard Dean may have other reasons for thinking that he and the Democratic party should not abandon the red states, but that doesn’t matter. The margins for conservatives victories in those states are thin both in terms of ideology and voter turnout. Maybe not an earth moving revelation that getting more poor and working class voters to the polls would produce quite a few more Democratic victories, on the contrary it is a real problem that can be handled by the kind of grass roots efforts to get out the vote that Mr. Dean thinks is the future of the party.

The Longer the War, the Larger the Lies

No kidding: “The Path to 9/11” was false from the opening scene, when it put Mohamed Atta both in the wrong airport (Boston instead of Portland, Me.) and on the wrong airline (American instead of USAirways). It took Mr. Bush but a few paragraphs to warm up to his first fictionalization for dramatic purposes: his renewed pledge that “we would not distinguish between the terrorists and those who harbor or support them.” Only days earlier the White House sat idly by while our ally Pakistan surrendered to Islamic militants in its northwest frontier, signing a “truce” and releasing Al Qaeda prisoners. Not only will Pakistan continue to harbor terrorists, Osama bin Laden probably among them, but it will do so without a peep from Mr. Bush.

WE have entered a new phase of the war on the truth. First we had dozens of lies and hundreds of distortions and exaggerations with a degree of plausible deniabilty that all together constituted the Big Lie. Now we have a second wave in which the Bush administration and the right-wing apologists are lying about the lies and distortions.

These verbal tics are so consistent that they amount to truth in packaging – albeit the packaging of evasions and falsehoods. By contrast, Condi Rice’s fictions, also offered in bulk to television viewers to memorialize 9/11, are as knotty as a David Lynch screenplay. Asked by Chris Wallace of Fox News last Sunday if she and the president had ignored prewar “intelligence that contradicted your case,” she refused to give up the ghost: “We know that Zarqawi was running a poisons network in Iraq,” she insisted, as she continued to state again that “there were ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda” before the war.

Ms. Rice may be a terrific amateur concert pianist, but she’s an even better amateur actress. The Senate Intelligence Committee report released only two days before she spoke dismissed all such ties. Saddam, who “issued a general order that Iraq should not deal with Al Qaeda,” saw both bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as threats and tried to hunt down Zarqawi when he passed through Baghdad in 2002. As for that Zarqawi “poisons network,” the Pentagon knew where it was and wanted to attack it in June 2002. But as Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News reported more than two years ago, the White House said no, fearing a successful strike against Zarqawi might “undercut its case for going to war against Saddam.” Zarqawi, meanwhile, escaped.

It was in an interview with Ted Koppel for the Discovery Channel, though, that Ms. Rice rose to a whole new level of fictionalizing by wrapping a fresh layer of untruth around her most notorious previous fiction. Asked about her dire prewar warning that a smoking gun might come in the form of a mushroom cloud, she said that “it wasn’t meant as hyperbole.” She also rewrote history to imply that she had been talking broadly about the nexus between “terrorism and a nuclear device” back then, not specifically Saddam – a rather deft verbal sleight-of-hand.

Ms. Rice sets a high bar, but Mr. Bush, competitive as always, was not to be outdone in his Oval Office address. Even the billing of his appearance was fiction. “It’s not going to be a political speech,” Tony Snow announced, knowing full well that the 17-minute text was largely Cuisinarted scraps from other recent political speeches, including those at campaign fund-raisers. Moldy canards of yore (Saddam “was a clear threat”) were interspersed with promising newcomers: Iraq will be “a strong ally in the war on terror.” As is often the case, the president was technically truthful. Iraq will be a strong ally in the war on terror – just not necessarily our ally. As Mr. Bush spoke, the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, was leaving for Iran to jolly up Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Hearing that Iraq will be a “strong ally in the war on terror” is the kind of thing that makes people blow milk through their nose.

I couldn’t believe, I couldn’t believe you’d let me down
I just couldn’t believe, I couldn’t believe you would let me down
I’ve been too good to you baby, you hurt me with what you did
My friend tried to tell me
You didn’t mean me no good
I didn’t believe a word he said
I couldn’t believe it, whoo
I couldn’t believe you would let me down
I done lost everything that I had baby
I can’t believe you would let me down

from the lyrics to I Put My Trust On You by John Lee Hooker

would never be of such fatal consequence to the public weal, as the practices of a man, whose inclinations led him to be corrupt

If you’re a Eudura Welty fan this is a must read, A Pondered Life By Lorrie Moore a combination mini biography and review of several biographies written about Welty. From the last paragraph,

In letters Welty wrote, especially toward the end of her life, she said she often dreamed in galley proofs, and the struggle of the dream consisted of trying to make corrections on the type. She wrote at a desk with her back to the window, the quiet cruise and trespass of tourists insufficiently obscured outside.

I can relate to this in that I wish I was a better on the fly kind of writer that blogging really requires. I regret everything I post, not in content, but by way of prose. In college I was outline plus third or fourth draft kind of writer.

This WaPO article uses the Burns-Tester race out in Montana as an example of Corruption That Shook Capitol Isn’t Rattling Elections,

“Burns has been extraordinary in his ability to bring money to poor little old Montana,” said Tom Britz, a consultant to the credit card industry who lives in the booming northwest Montana town of Whitefish. “When it is time to vote, the many people who have been touched by that money know where their bread is buttered.”

What may also matter in the Senate contest here is the atypical optimism of many Montanans, as compared with voters’ attitudes in most states.

“This is one of the few places in the country right now where people are not hankering for change,” said John Russonello, a Washington pollster who works for Democrats and liberal nonprofit groups and who has led focus groups on social issues across Montana this year.

Unlike some Republican incumbents facing reelection, Burns has embraced the war — and Bush’s conduct of it — as essential to the country’s fight against terrorism. Betting that most Montanans see Iraq as he does, Burns has launched blistering TV and radio attacks on Tester, accusing him of taking money from “extreme liberal groups that mocked American deaths.”

“Tester’s not tough,” one ad says. “He is deceitful, and he’ll say anything to get elected.”

In the recent debate, Tester responded to those accusations by saying that Burns, whom he described as bought and paid for by lobbyists such as Abramoff, is just not honest.

“Washington has changed him,” said Tester, pointing at Burns. “The fact is we have to have people back there who have Montana values.”

Burns smiled and said he had not changed and never would: “I have the same wife, the same kids; got the same principles, same values.”

As pro-Tester hecklers booed, hissed, cursed and at one point called the senator “psycho,” Burns spent much of the 90-minute debate reminding the crowd that he — not Tester — is a specialist in funneling federal money back home. By these lights, a candidate who knows the corridors of insider Washington might have an advantage. “It is going to take a guy who has got a little seniority and a little position to get it done,” he said.

Burns is corrupt and unlike a real conservative has done his best to earmark pork for Montana. His supporters can probably rationalize that. Still it doesn’t speak well for the Republican party that they feel no shame about their corruption or ties to corruption. Money floating in and out of political coffers in exchange for legislation and special favors isn’t just the titillating story of the day, it is about fundamentally undermining democracy. That Burns and his supporters find nothing wrong with that is indicative of the what really matters is that they get theirs.  Its an odd kind selfishness where with one hand they swear they love their country and with the other undermine the trust that we need in a free society to sustain business and government.
Housekeeping, one more point about How Bad Is the Senate Intelligence Report? Very bad. by Stephen F. Hayes 09/25/2006, Volume 012, Issue 02 at The Weekly Standard. Hayes writes,

There is no mention of alleged Iraqi complicity in Abu Sayyaf attacks in October 2002 that claimed the life of U.S. Special Forces soldier Mark Wayne Jackson. One week after that attack, Filipino authorities recovered a cell phone that was to have detonated a bomb placed on the playground of a local elementary school. The cell phone , which belonged to an Abu Sayyaf terrorist, had been used to make calls to Abu Sayyaf leaders. Investigators also discovered that the phone had also been used to call Hisham Hussein, the second secretary of the Iraqi Embassy in Manila, just 17 hours after the attack that took the life of the American soldier. Hussein was ordered out of the Philippines for his associations with terrorist groups, including Abu Sayyaf.

Maybe this phone called occurred or not. Previously Hayes had produced documents that said proved an on going collaborative relationship between Iraq and Abu Sayyaf. Only those documents were inconclusive at best, Stephen Hayes Strikes Out (Again)

 

1. Both of the Iraqi documents Hayes cites show that Iraq declined to support Abu Sayyaf, financially or otherwise, because of its terrorist activities.

2. Neither of the documents proves that Iraq ever supported Abu Sayyaf. According to Hayes, this is the key passage, from an Iraqi document describing their response to an Abu Sayyaf kidnapping: “We have all cooperated in the field of intelligence information with some of our friends to encourage the tourists and the investors in the Philippines…The kidnappers were formerly (from the previous year) receiving money and purchasing combat weapons. From now on we (IIS) are not giving them this opportunity and are not on speaking terms with them.” Hayes says this passage “seems to confirm” to that Iraq provided Abu Sayyaf with financial support. But the language (as Hayes implicitly acknowledges) is vague and could refer to financial support from another country.

3. Sporadic contact between Iraq and Abu Sayyaf is old news. As Hayes acknowledges, the State Department’s Matthew Daley publicly testified about some suspected contacts between Iraq and Abu Sayyaf in March 2003.

Much of the basis for Hayes recycled claims about Iraq rest on a store of documents that have been recovered from Iraq since the invasion. Most of them not even translated yet. Saddam was/is an easy figure to demonize considering his abysmal human rights record and that is an area on which we can find some agreement, but that isn’t the point. Did Saddam collaborate with al-Queda in attacks against the U.S. To date no evidence exists that he did. Hayes has made a subtle transition in fact. The test is no longer whether Saddam had collaborative ties to al-Queda, but if he had ties to any nefarious group over the last forty years. It is little wonder that much of the country has turned on the neocons when they would send out the nation’s children and spouses to die in wars over some incident or fleeting association from before many of these soldiers were even born.

In choosing persons for all employments, they have more regard to good morals than to great abilities; for, since government is necessary to mankind, they believe, that the common size of human understanding is fitted to some station or other; and that Providence never intended to make the management of public affairs a mystery to be comprehended only by a few persons of sublime genius, of which there seldom are three born in an age: but they suppose truth, justice, temperance, and the like, to be in every man’s power; the practice of which virtues, assisted by experience and a good intention, would qualify any man for the service of his country, except where a course of study is required. But they thought the want of moral virtues was so far from being supplied by superior endowments of the mind, that employments could never be put into such dangerous hands as those of persons so qualified; and, at least, that the mistakes committed by ignorance, in a virtuous disposition, would never be of such fatal consequence to the public weal, as the practices of a man, whose inclinations led him to be corrupt, and who had great abilities to manage, to multiply, and defend his corruptions.
from Gulliver’s Travels, Chapter 6 by Jonathan Swift

to be persuaded to do something they had already decided to do, which would some day result in a sale

Those of us not cooking up the latest crack-pot theories about Saddam’s supposed links to al-Queda or WMDs thought that whatever the real reason behind Bush’s obsession with Iraq that once the invasion began that this was serious business. That competence, execution, thinking things through had to, must trump all other considerations, the stakes in terms of lives and costs were far too great to think otherwise, but no Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq

To pass muster with O’Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn’t need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O’Beirne’s staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

Endowed with $18 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds and a comparatively quiescent environment in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion, the CPA was the U.S. government’s first and best hope to resuscitate Iraq — to establish order, promote rebuilding and assemble a viable government, all of which, experts believe, would have constricted the insurgency and mitigated the chances of civil war. Many of the basic tasks Americans struggle to accomplish today in Iraq — training the army, vetting the police, increasing electricity generation — could have been performed far more effectively in 2003 by the CPA.

But many CPA staff members were more interested in other things: in instituting a flat tax, in selling off government assets, in ending food rations and otherwise fashioning a new nation that looked a lot like the United States. Many of them spent their days cloistered in the Green Zone, a walled-off enclave in central Baghdad with towering palms, posh villas, well-stocked bars and resort-size swimming pools.

If Iraq was to be a model for democracy in the middle-east why was it used like a lab animal from the basement of the Free Enterprise Institute. The rebuilding of Iraq became part of the ideological march of conservatives, a Katrina of the middle-east. If they failed it would be easy to blame the violence. The violence that might not have become so intense if the average Iraqi felt that the most fundamental institutions and infrastructure was on the way to being stabilized. For conservatives Iraq rebuilding cash became became a suitcase full of candy that had been thrown out into the street and they ran out of the woodwork to grab a piece. These are the people that say they deserve your the vote this November and in 2008. The same people that are just getting around to this, U.S. asks finance chiefs to limit Iran’s access to banks

He’s back. Arch neocon Stephen F. Hayes has a rant up about the recent revelations in the Senate Intelligence Report, Intelligence Report? Very bad. by Stephen F. Hayes 09/25/2006, Volume 012, Issue 02. In short Hayes connects Saddam with just about every mid-east Islamic organization that has ever existed in the middle-east,

As early as 1982, the Iraqi regime was openly supporting, training, and funding the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization opposed to the secular regime of Hafez Assad.

Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is a group started in 1940 as an off shoot of the original brotherhood started in Egypt. It is a fact that Saddam supported this conservative Islamic group against the Syrian government of the seventies, so how would Saddam support of some inter-Syrian political group against Syria count as a tie to the kind of international terror that al-Queda engages in and since when did the neocons develop a bleeding heart for Syria. If physical presence and financial support constitutes links then why does Hayes continue to gloss over the multitude of links between fundamentalists political groups and Egypt ( the USAs second largest recipient of financial aid), Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Pakistan. There are literally dozens of groups that have had various mixes of political goals in the middle-east and whose alliances have ebbed and flowed with degrees of radicalism and alliances of convenience. The way Hayes spins things to make Iraq, who was a U.S. ally with full diplomatic recognition during the Reagan administration the center of especially egregious terror activity is to display a stunning amount of dishonesty. Hayes continues to indulge in the Big Lie, reeling off names and dates knowing that it creates the illusion of knowledge where obviously knowledge is lacking and at the same time spinning a string of tales that his lap dog right-wing followers eat up without doing a single fact check..
Hayes also mentions that Saddam had relations with a Sudanese fundamentalist Hassan al-Turabi. What is odd about making that association is that when Saudi Arabia wouldn’t help Osama Bin Laden organize a jihad against Saddam’s presence in Kuwait, that is when Bin Laden went to the Sudan where Hassan al-Turabi granted him freedom to orgainize a jihad against Saddam. This sequnce of events is very well documented, si when Hayes fails to include that information that is a pretty big sin of ommission. He clearly omits this information to leave the impression that Saddam had “good” relations with  Hassan al-Turabi, which was not the case.

Hayes mentions one of the right’s favorite links between Iraq and terrorism Abdul Rahman Yasin, who was involved in the first World Trade Center attack of 1993. While of Iraqi heritage, he was American born. Once again while not a great leap for the right, to say that since Yasin was of Iraqi heritage there is a definitive link with Saddam. If your cousin robs a bank does that make you guilty too. If we apply that simplistic standard, why not attack Saudi Arabia since most of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudis. It is also known that Iraq offered to turn over Yasin to the U.S. in return for lifting sanctions. Some suspect that it may have been a show, but Leslie Stahl of CBS interviewed Yasin from an Iraqi prison where he was in hand cuffs and prison garb. Hayes suggests some unsubstantiated rumors,

There is no mention of documents recovered in postwar Iraq confirming that the Iraqi regime provided Yasin with housing and funding after his return to Iraq until the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003. Vice President Dick Cheney has discussed these documents in television and radio interviews.

Here we go again with Dick Cheney’s knowledge and documents that he and he alone possesses. Wouldn’t common sense dictate that with the administration’s poll numbers are in the high thirties and an upcoming election in which it looks like the Democrats will gain control of the House, that Dick Cheney would produce said documents.
Hayes then moves on the Ayman al-Zawahiri. Lets pretend for a moment that we’re trying to find connections between top al-Queda operatives and certain countries we might start by asking where Ayman al-Zawahiri is from. Egypt. He states emphatically that Ayman al-Zawahiri and Saddam were connected, but to date no proof has ever been provided of a collaborative relationship. Even Hayes can’t do much better then site the statement of one captured member of Saddam’s Mukhabarat about a meeting with an Egytian Islamic group and a quote from Joe Klein. There is more, but I’m too short on time to run down all the facts right now. I think Hayes is aware of that just the shear volume of lies, partial truths, distortions, and exaggerations will just wear down some of his adversaries. He weaves bits and pieces from here and there, always without any real documentation just to plant the possibility that his spin could be partially true. That is the game, to keep their version of the narrative going. Like all conspiracy nuts Hayes knows that his have gained a foothold and the die hard kool-aid drinkers will soak it all up without question.

They were his symbols of truth and beauty. Regarding each new intricate mechanism—metal lathe, two-jet carburetor, machine gun, oxyacetylene welder—he learned one good realistic-sounding phrase, and used it over and over, with a delightful feeling of being technical and initiated.

The customer joined him in the worship of machinery, and they came buoyantly up to the tenement and began that examination of plastic slate roof, kalamein doors, and seven-eighths-inch blind-nailed flooring, began those diplomacies of hurt surprise and readiness to be persuaded to do something they had already decided to do, which would some day result in a sale.

from Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

IF we must die; let it not be like hogs

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Why George W. Bush was reading Albert Camus during his summer vacation and what he got out of it, if anything is one of those dank damp secrets that I don’t feel any particular need to get to the bottom of. Though perhaps Bush gave Camus’s catalogue a bump in sales. Which would count as one of the very few positive effects of his presidency or as some would properly call it, his reign. I’m not an expert on Albert Camus’s writing career though for about 70 euros or about 89 dollars(each volume) I could start with Albert Camus OEUVRES COMPLETES, I: 1931–1944.. Which means that I’ll be waiting for the Quality Paperback Book Club version.

A simple one liner used to describe existentialism is that the real precedes the perception. If we can put aside the French intellectual baggage (there is a Christan existentialism for those that are interested) that comes with the study of existential philosophy we have something very populist. The common good and basic needs of the people are paramount. How those that are trusted to govern the populace must be cognizant of that fact. Folk and later rock and roll when not being about love were about the struggles of the common man. Bruce Springsteen always seemed aware of the roll of music as anthem to the average American’s daily life. It was always about bread on the table and heartbreak. The Boss, Rooted

Some of the press have referred to the Springsteen album as a new protest album in the old Seeger mode, tying its success to widespread disenchantment with the Bush Administration. Certainly, Springsteen is an unabashed old-fashioned left-liberal. He campaigned with and for John Kerry and has hardly made his disdain for George W. Bush a secret. We Shall Overcome includes “Mrs. McGrath”, a ballad popular during the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Ireland (but which actually dates from 1815). The lyrics capture the pain of war and the sad familiar response of a mother when she sees her son home from battle and hardly recognizes him because of his injuries. It is a timeless song that could be sung during any war, as families come to appreciate the sacrifice their sons and daughters have made for their country. The grieving mother wails a universal lament: “All foreign wars I do proclaim live as blood and a mother’s pain/ I’d rather have my son as he used to be.”

Senator Harry Reid seems to have drawn a line, Sen. Reid: The Specter bill will NOT be enacted. Period.

They have ways to get what they want. Senator Graham: White House Tried to Coerce JAG Attorneys Into Signing a Prepared Statement

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), a former JAG attorney, is alleging that the White House called several active duty JAG attorneys into a meeting and held them for five hours in an attempt to “force” them into signing a prepared statement supporting the White House’s proposed detainee treatment bill.

Panel: Proposed Administration Bill Would Roll Back Human Rights Advancements

Torture: According to Chemerinsky, the Administration’s bill would “liberalize the definition of what is torture.” As a recent blog post by Professor Marty Lederman explains, the Administration’s bill would amend the War Crimes Act to permit use of “hypothermia, threats of violence to the detainee and his family, stress positions, ‘long-time standing,’ prolonged sleep deprivation, and possibly waterboarding.” These techniques are currently prohibited by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

I still have a few of those old school liberal ideals about fairness, facts, and addressing the issues directly; though obviously I’m not above using some snark to make a point. Hundreds, if not thousands of columnists, reporters, bloggers, and activists have covered the immorality, illegality and dubious benefit of torture. Maybe this gets back to some deeper philosophical issues, how does a rational person deal with people who aren’t just irrational, but hold rationalism in contempt. Threaten people’s families? Waterboarding? These are not the actions of rational sane people, and plays into the propaganda of terrorist ringleaders. Since many of the people that are undergoing such treatment haven’t been given a trial we don’t even know if the administration is torturing terrorists or ordinary people and here.

IF we must die—let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
from If We Must Die by James Weldon Johnson

Right-wingers Reject Senate Report and Invent New Saddam- Al-Queda Myth

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It was only a matter of time before the Republican bloggers found a new myth to counter this report, CIA Learned in ’02 That Bin Laden Had No Iraq Ties, Report Says (link fixed)

The CIA learned in late September 2002 from a high-level member of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle that Iraq had no past or present contact with Osama bin Laden and that the Iraqi leader considered bin Laden an enemy of the Baghdad regime, according to a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report.

Although President Bush and other senior administration officials were at that time regularly linking Hussein to al-Qaeda, the CIA’s highly sensitive intelligence supporting the contrary view was apparently not passed on to the White House or senior Bush policymakers.

So like drowning rats on a spongecake canoe conservatives bloggers have lashed themselves to this thin gruel from that pinnacle of journalism the New York Sun, Iraqi Official Testifies to Links Between Saddam and Al Qaeda

A deputy prime minister of Iraq yesterday offered a sharp contradiction of the conventional wisdom here that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Al Qaeda had no connection before the 2003 war, flatly contradicting a recent report from the Senate’s intelligence committee.

snip

A Kurdish politician who took his high school exams from inside a Baathist prison, Mr. Salih said he was the target of the alliance between jihadists, Baathists, and Al Qaeda in 2001, when a group known as Ansar al-Islam tried to assassinate him. In 2002, envoys of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two Kurdish parties sharing sovereignty over northern Iraq between the two Iraq wars, presented the CIA with evidence that the organization that tried to kill Mr. Salih had been in part funded and directed by Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard.

Those words directly contradict a recent report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that declassified a 2005 CIA assessment of Iraq’s pre-war ties to Al Qaeda and found that none existed. In an interview after the speech yesterday, Mr. Salih said he was unaware of the CIA assessment. But he added, “There were links between Ansar al-Islam and Al Qaeda. The information at time [in 2002] was quite different. Now, we could not prove this in a court of law, but this is intelligence.”

The Senate’s report declassifies a July 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency study of Ansar al-Islam as a possible link between Saddam’s Iraq and Al Qaeda that concludes that, even if it can be proven, as Mr. Salih at the time alleged, that the Baathist regime supported the group, “it will not necessarily implicate the regime in supporting Al Qaeda.” The DIA concludes that Ansar al-Islam “receives assistance” from Al Qaeda but is not a branch of the terrorist organization.

Who is Barham Salih, the man who says he knows for certain that Saddam had Al Qaeda connections. He is an engineer who left Kuristan in 1979 after which he lived in London. One has to wonder how a man that left northern Iraq and could never have had intimate knowledge of the workings of Saddam’s inner circle knows for a fact that there were links to Al Queda. He claims that Ansar al-Islam tried to assassinate him which may be true, but Ansar al-Islam was dedicated to fighting the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of who Salih was a member. Ansar operated in northern Iraq, an area outside of Saddam’s control. Ansar is reported to have had connections to Al Queda, but there is no evidence what so ever that Ansar was supported by Saddam. That doesn’t stop conservative blogger The Jawa Report from trying to make the connection no matter how tenuous, Iraqi Minister: Saddam Was Tied to al Qaeda, September 14, 2006, Posted by Dr. Rusty Shackleford at September 14, 2006 02:19 PM

If you still don’t believe Saddam supported terrorists, well then you are just ignorant. If, however, the larger point is that Saddam had no connection to 9/11, then your point is well taken.

He links to the article and supplies no evidence, then concludes, If you still don’t believe Saddam supported terrorists, well then you are just ignorant.
Jawa has done a nice little dance here. A terrorists group was in northern Iraq. This group had some ties to Al Queda. Then great leaping logic, Saddam had ties to terrorists. By this reasoning if you have heroin dealers living on your street then you have connections to drug dealers.

John(Assrocket) at Time magazine’s former blog of the year, September 14, 2006, Quick, Someone Tell the Intelligence Committee!, Posted by John at 10:42 AM

This last point is the kind of sophistry that defenders of Saddam are forced to resort to. There is no doubt that Ansar al Islam was a dangerous terrorist group; among its activities was the production of ricin to be used in terrorist acts in Europe. The left’s conventional defense of Ansar al Islam is that it was located in the northern part of Iraq, and therefore under the presumed dominion of the Kurds. But so what? They were in Iraq, and Saddam not only tolerated but supported them. The Kurds had no ability to drive them out. The idea that Saddam is insulated from al Qaeda because Ansar was only supported by al Qaeda, but was not a “branch” of al Qaeda, is the kind of silliness liberals engage in on this issue. Ansar was a terrorist Islamic group, and Saddam both harbored and supported them.

Assrocket doesn’t acknowledge that Barham Salih left Iraq in 1979 and might be speaking more as a gossip with a grudge rather then someone knowledgable of the secret political machinations of Saddam’s regime. Salih in the article states , “Now, we could not prove this in a court of law..” Which Assrocket and Jawa conviently ignored. It probably wouldn’t matter anyway, Salih has said what they wanted to hear. As to the, ” Saddam not only tolerated but supported them” (them is Ansar). Yet I can find no proof at all that Ansar, a radical and very fundamentalist Islamic organization had any ties or support from Saddam. This kind of fact checking is exactly the kind of things liberals do. Its obviously a thorn in Assrocket’s side. The facts just do not lend credibility to his claims no matter how hard he beats the drums of far right agiprop. Assrocket sights Saddam’s conflict with Iran as one reason he had to be removed, that would be the conflict where Iraq had the full support of Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, and Colin Powell. Another sad attempt by the fringe Right to somehow justify the fact that more Americans have died in Iraq then died on 9-11. Odd fact given that the invasion of Iraq was supposed to make the US and the world safer. Saddam was beyond redemption but ironically the neocons answer to Saddam’s brutality has been to kill over 60,000 Iraqis and have most of the rest of the population live without basic amenities like electricity and clean water.

For right-wing blogger Macsmind the facts are indeed awful things, so awful that he is pissed, About that Senate Intelligence Report on Saddam and Al Qaeda, Posted by Macranger on Thursday, September 14th, 2006 at 10:51 am.

You know, this isn’t about politics folks, but that’s what it has become. Democrats could care less about security or intelligence, they’re only concern is defeating President Bush in 2006 and 2008 (even though he isn’t running). It’s about “he said, she said, they said”, but not about the facts and the fact is that if anyone thinks Saddam and Al Qaeda weren’t linked has their head up their ass, it’s just that simple.

Mac is a believer, he believes, that makes it true and no facts, no evidence will change his mind. He is the Robert Cardinal Bellarmine of wing-nuttery determined to fight against the Copernican theory to the death. If you dare to question Mac he’ll slap you with his ad hominem. He is correct that it is all about politics, not is what is best for America or humanity. He sights neocon poster boy Stephen Hayes as more definitive proof of the Saddam-Al-Queda connection, but Steve has some credibility problems, Stephen Hayes: Conservatives’ favorite authority on “The Connection”

The most vigorous critique of Hayes’s article came from a November 19, 2003, Newsweek article titled “Case Decidedly Not Closed: The Defense Dept. memo allegedly proving a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam does nothing of the sort,” in which Investigative Correspondents Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball wrote that Hayes’s article was “mostly based on unverified claims that were first advanced by some top Bush administration officials more than a year ago — and were largely discounted at the time by the U.S. intelligence community, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials.

We all get the idea and lets state this strange event in the simplest terms, rather then believe a report by the Republican dominated Senate Intelligence commitee Republican bloggers would rather believe an expatriot Kurd that lived in London for the 24 years before Bush elected to invade Iraq. It would be nice if conspiracy theories balanced out, the 9-11 conspiracy theorists that think it was an inside job canceling out the conspiracy theorists that insist there was a connection between Saddam and Al Queda. Unfortunately both are like some creeping alien mold that can’t be reasoned with.

The following is from the Columbia Journalism Review. I’ve left it out of blockquotes in order to make it easier to read. It is part of a response to reporters of the Los Angeles Times and Knight Ridder to a letter written by neocon darling Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. Bold emphasis is mine.

[ Jonathan S. Landay responds:Mr. Chalabi is correct that on April 3, 2004, Knight Ridder published a story that quoted anonymous U.S. officials as saying that the Iraqi National Congress supplied the Iraqi defector code-named “Curveball.” He is also right that the Silberman-Robb commission found that the defector wasn’t connected to the INC.

He fails to mention, however, that a defector who was provided by the INC and later determined to have been a fabricator was used to corroborate Curveball’s false claims about Iraqi mobile biological warfare facilities. Chalabi also neglects to acknowledge that after learning that the Silberman-Robb commission had concluded that the INC had not provided Curveball, Knight Ridder reported that on March 29, 2005 — two days before the Silberman-Robb report was released.

Further, Chalabi is wrong to assert that in its extensive reporting on pre-war Iraqi intelligence, Knight Ridder portrayed his organization as “the main source of U.S. intelligence on Saddam.” In fact, much of our reporting was about the intense clashes between U.S. officials who wanted to use information provided by the INC and others who were deeply suspicious of INC-supplied information.

Chalabi also claims that the Silberman-Robb commission found that INC-related sources had a minimal impact on the Bush administration’s pre-war assessments. This is true only with respect to the formal intelligence assessments the commission was charged with examining. His assertion sidesteps two equally critical issues:

* The commission did not examine the use of INC-supplied defectors’ claims by the Bush administration, which also was receiving some materials directly from the INC’s U.S.-funded Information Gathering Program unfiltered for accuracy by the Intelligence Community. In a June 26, 2002, letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee staff, the INC itself reported that it was providing information directly to a senior official in the office of the vice president and to another one in the office of the secretary of defense.

* Nor did the commission examine the impact on U.S. and international public opinion of the multitude of media stories alleging that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was training terrorists, stories that were based on interviews with defectors and other information that the INC supplied to print and electronic news media. The INC’s own June 26, 2002, letter lists 108 stories containing information it fed to journalists during a five-month period beginning in October 2001. Much of that information, it later turned out, was exaggerated or fabricated.

*A case in point: When President Bush addressed the United Nations General Assembly on September 12, 2002, the White House released a background paper titled “A Decade of Deception and Defiance” on Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorism. This paper was distributed to foreign governments, members of U.S. and international journalists, and it remains available to the general public on the White House Web site . The first item in the chapter entitled “Saddam Hussein’s Development of Weapons of Mass Destruction” is a claim by an INC-supplied defector, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al Haideri, a chemical engineer, that he had visited twenty secret nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons sites. The White House published this claim even though DIA and CIA interrogators nine months earlier had rejected Mr. Saeed as unreliable after he flunked a lie detector test by the CIA in Thailand. When he was brought back to Iraq by the Iraq Survey Group after the war, Mr. Saeed was unable to identify a single WMD facility. Mr. Saeed’s claim was also the focus of the lead story in The New York Times on Dec. 20, 2001, and was picked up and reproduced by other media outlets.

*In a chapter entitled “Saddam Hussein’s Support for International Terrorism,” the White House paper claimed that, “Former Iraqi military officers have described a highly secret terrorist training facility in Iraq known as Salman Pak, where both Iraqis and non-Iraqi Arabs receive training on hijacking planes and trains, planting explosives in cities, sabotage, and assassinations.” This allegation came from two INC-supplied defectors, Sabah Khalifa Khodada Alami, a former Iraqi army captain, and Brig. Gen. Abu Zeinab al Quairy, the purported commander of the training facility. Both men were rejected as unreliable by U.S. intelligence professionals. Nevertheless, the White House published their claims. Their claims, including suggestions that the September 11 hijackers may have been trained at the alleged facility, also appeared in the American and British media. After the invasion, the only training facility found at Salman Pak was determined by U.S. officials to have been used by Iraqi counter-terrorism units. ]

Bush and his administration are serial fabricators and it is all about the politics of manipulation.

You ought to be kept in a cage

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I was watching an American Masters PBS special about Preston Sturges ( writer, director – 1898 – 1959) and was reminded about how far cinematography and acting have progressed, but I was also reminded how clever that generation of movie writers and directors was. I’m not the first one to make the observation that the American movies of the thirties and forties came from a literary tradition. Dialogue was paramount for the most part and the visuals followed. That tradition pretty much continued unbroken up through the seventies. Where movies after that placed their emphasis on the visual. That isn’t to say that stories were not told or that the dialogue didn’t push the story, only that the anticipation of the clever line, the emotional epiphany, the great revelation took back seat to the crash of the car or the spaceship explosion. I’m not of the school of thought that one is vastly superior to the other or that we have to choose which is the best. There is something to be said for the visceral sensational of watching the psychopathic bad guys chased off a cliff at a hundred miles an hour and going down in a ball of exploding flames. Its a matter of mood, sometimes you want to listen to Charlie Parker and sometimes Link’n Park. Speaking of cognitive dissonance, one of Sturges best films and one of my favorite’s was “The Lady Eve ” which presented a wealth of things to think about, among them is what we want to see and believe about people in contrast to the reality. James Harvey has an imaginative critique of The Lady Eve here, The Lady Eve – James Harvey

Stanwyck’s communication with camera and audience was peculiarly direct and unmediated. And yet just because of this she illustrates Norman Mailer’s insight into the star-personality perhaps better, more simply and clearly at least, than anyone: the sense the star gives us of having other things on his mind. Stanwyck always seemed very sensible, and rather sad. And in The Lady Eve, all her energy and activity—her flights of comic enthusiasm, her self-delighted feats of impersonation and deception—seem superimposed on an essential reserve, something final and deep held back. Her voice is both flat and eloquent, oddly both nasal and husky, and most at home perhaps in assured declarative statements. But its huskiness suggests not so much whiskey or disillusion or sexual provocation as it does the quite unsentimental sound of tears—which have been firmly and sensibly surmounted but somehow somewhere fully wept.

“Conservative”, what an odd name to call the modern cabal of extremist miscreants. Lying a nation into an unnecessary war in Iraq as it lets Afghanistan and a large portion of Pakistan fall back into the sway of the Taliban. These “conservatives” that turn their backs and have a little snicker as Bush scribbles little signing statements to over 200 pieces of legislation which effectively gives him unchecked king like powers. So what does a king need, these “conservatives” ask as they roll over on their backs and ask the king to scratch their weaselly little bellies; how about powers like the Soviet KGB had, the ability to place to the entire nation under surveillance unaccountable to anyone, GOP Leaders Back Bush on Wiretapping, Tribunals

With prodding from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10 to 8 along party lines to approve a bill negotiated with the White House to allow — but not require — Bush to submit the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program to a secret court for constitutional review.

Frist and Hastert are conservatives in the same way that the politburo was conservative. They stand four-square for the power and privilege of the state over that of the individual. And the WaPo is doing its part to spread the doublethink of the administration by repeating its talking points,

At the same time, the House Armed Services Committee voted 52 to 8 to ratify the White House’s version of legislation creating military commissions for trying terrorism suspects. The measure would give Bush the authority he seeks to withhold classified evidence from defendants, admit testimony that defendants might maintain was coerced, and protect U.S. intelligence agents from legal action over their interrogation methods.

Intelligence agents are under no such legal shadow or at least when certain folks aren’t leaking the names of classified agents, their identities are a secret or its more like they’re afraid their dear leader maybe procecuted for war crime,

His profession of concern for military and intelligence personnel was utterly misleading.  Military personnel charged with war crimes have always been, and continue to be, prosecuted under the Universal Code of Military Justice rather than the War Crimes Act; and the likelihood of CIA interrogators being identified and prosecuted under the act is remote — they are protected by the secrecy that surrounds all CIA operations

War and Piece notes this news from Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV

“As one of the few members who have received the most detailed information to date, I can say that the Administration has not been able to document convincingly the benefits of the program,” Rockefeller said, adding, “I support all efforts to track down terrorists wherever they are – using all of our best technology and resources. But, it must be both effective and legal, and it must be conducted in a way that protects the rights of all Americans.”

“For the past six months, I have been requesting without success specific details about the program, including: how many terrorists have been identified; how many arrested; how many convicted; and how many terrorists have been deported or killed as a direct result of information obtained through the warrantless wiretapping program.

“I can assure you, not one person in Congress has the answers to these and many other fundamental questions,” Rockefeller stated emphatically.(emphasis mine)

Our government is secret, what they do is secret, how effective they are is secret. The Secret United States of America. The great thing about all these secrets is that the average citizen only gets glimpses of how badly they’re failing. One imagines that they’d throw a big black out tent over the entire country of Iraq if they could. Nearly 100 Killed In Baghdad Over 24 Brutal Hours

update: Raw acquires NSA wiretap talking points

The National Security Agency has taken the unusual move of sending members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee a list of “approved talking points” regarding its warrantless eavesdropping program, RAW STORY has learned.

Some of the talking points urge Senators to imply that they have personal knowledge of plots foiled by the wiretap program, or that the Senators–seven of whom responded by writing the NSA a letter blasting the move–had other personal knowledge that the program was legal or necessary.

“I have personally met the dedicated men and women of the NSA,” one point reads. “The country owes them an enormous debt of gratitude for their superb efforts to keep us all secure.”

There is more and a photocopy of the document at the link. I have no doubt that the emplotees of the NSA are dedicated, but that isn’t the point. And what the hell the intelligence operations of the Pentagon doing sending propaganda to Congress anyway. That would seem to cross the line as far as military encroachment on civilian and constitutional issues.

I don’t expect Google, Yahoo or any internet company to be pure as the driven snow, but why are they putting pure evil on the payroll.

Jean: We’d better get back now.
Charles: Yes, I guess so. You see, where I’ve been, I mean up the Amazon, you kind of forget how, I mean, when you haven’t seen a girl in a long time. (They stand together and remain close together.) I mean, there’s something about that perfume that…
Jean: Don’t you like my perfume?
Charles: Like it! I’m cock-eyed on it!
Jean: Why Hopsie! You ought to be kept in a cage!

from the screenplay The Lady Eve by Preston Sturges

Conservatives and Their Cognitive Dissonance About The Press

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I do recommend visiting a right-wing blog(s) once in a while its makes for an interesting study in cognitive dissonance. Their ability to deny reality after looking it in the face is quit a psychological feat. Conservative blog The Strata-Sphere, The Incoherent NY Times, Posted by AJStrata on Tuesday, September 12th, 2006 at 8:03 am.

The NY Times is one of the most incoherent news organizations I have seen. After exposing the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program (which is nothing new per the Church Committee Report from 1978) and the SWIFT terrorist financial tracking program, and after all sorts of reports and editorials claiming Bush is hyping the war, that since we have not had an attack we should pull out of the ME, that Bush is war mongering, the NY Times leads with this line:

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the NYT editoiral does it say that the U.S. should completely withdraw from the middle-east. What did the NYT call for,

Fending off the chaos that would almost certainly come with civil war would be a reason to stay the course, although it does not inspire the full-throated rhetoric about freedom that Mr. Bush offered last night. But the nation needs to hear a workable plan to stabilize a fractured, disintegrating country and end the violence. If such a strategy exists, it seems unlikely that Mr. Bush could see it through the filter of his fantasies.

It sounds like someone being very rational and coherent (and in step with the thoughts of the majority of Americans), the exact opposite of what AJ would have the readers of his blog believe. AJ throws in this non-sequitor,

The NY Times is claiming everyone knows there is the threat of a new attack? So they exposed our anti-terrorism defenses on the word of partisan hacks anyway?

This requires some translation. An employee of the NSA informed the NYT that Bush had ordered domestic warrantless spying on American citizens in violation of FISA law. In the unhinged world of Strata this is exactly the same thing as exposing our anti-terrorism defenses. AJ provides no proof, no links, no names, no dates, but insists that the NYT piece on Bush’s illegal domestic spying has gotten people killed,

Well, actually he does have to remind people, especially those in the advanced stages of BDS like the NY Times that their actions have serious and life ending consequences. (emphasis mine)

Where was AJ in his hunt for the truth when the New York Times was selling Bush’s rationales for invading Iraq like a color insert in the Sunday advertising section, New York Times Rewrites Iraq War History

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised,” Bush said in a March 17, 2003 address to the nation.The New York Times’ editorial page unskeptically accepted these claims and incorporated them into the paper’s own arguments. In a September 18, 2002 editorial, the paper declared:

What really counts in this conflict…is the destruction of Iraq’s unconventional weapons and the dismantling of its program to develop nuclear arms…. What makes Iraq the subject of intense concern, as Mr. Bush noted, is Mr. Hussein’s defiance of the Security Council’s longstanding instructions to dismantle Baghdad’s nuclear weapons program and to eliminate all its biological and chemical weapons and the materials used to make them.

After the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on inspectors returning to Iraq, the Times editorialized (11/9/02):

The unwavering goal is to disarm Iraq, enforcing a string of previous Security Council resolutions that Baghdad has contemptuously ignored. The cost of letting that happen has been diminished authority for the United Nations and a growing danger that Iraq’s unconventional weapons will be used in war or passed on to terrorists. Mr. Bush has galvanized the Security Council to declare that its orders must now be obeyed and those dangers eliminated.

When the inspectors returned, the paper stated (12/6/02), “Iraq has to get rid of its biological and chemical arms and missiles and the means to make them, and abandon its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.” When the inspectors failed to find any evidence of banned weapons, the Times insisted (2/15/03): “The Security Council doesn’t need to sit through more months of inconclusive reports. It needs full and immediate Iraqi disarmament. It needs to say so, backed by the threat of military force.”

Looking back at the record of the NYT and its role as cheerleader for the Bush administration and every single talking point one has to wonder how far conservatives had their hands up the NYT’s collective ass. After nearly eight years of dogged pursuit of any flimsy story they could exploit to destroy President Clinton, the NYT is tied with the lackluster CBS as the favorite straw man liberal media to beat up on. What is the Right’s real problem with the NYT; they’re not 100% anti-democrat 100% of the time. Its very similar to the whole business with Christianity and religion. The Democratic party is filled with lay Christians, ministers, priests, and rabbis, but they will never be “CHRISTIAN” or religious enough in the way the the far right interprets Christianity or Judaism. Let’s look at this story about NYT and the Dole campaign, Election Coverage Narrowed Clinton’s Lead-and Helped the GOP Keep Congress

Why do you need media critics when you’ve got Bob Dole?

In the final weeks of the campaign, as Dole groped for some theme that would prevent him from being buried under a Clinton landslide, the Republican candidate hit on his party’s favorite imaginary enemy: the “liberal” media.

At campaign stop after campaign stop, Dole blamed his dismal poll numbers on the failure of the liberal media to tell the truth about the president’s character: In particular, he accused the New York Times of covering up allegations that Democratic National Committee fundraiser John Huang had unethically or illegally raised money from Indonesians and other Asian nationals.

“They don’t put any anti-Clinton stories in the New York Times,” Dole complained after outlining his fundraising charges (New York Times, 10/31/96), “only anti-Dole stories in the New York Times.”

The only problem is that the press in general and the New York Times in particular have devoted vast amounts of space to the “Indogate” allegations. Far from burying the story, the Times did all it could to push it, assigning Jeff Gerth and Steven Labaton to cover it, two zealous reporters whose coverage of Whitewater, columnist Gene Lyons argued in his book Fools for Scandal, amounted to a vendetta against the president.

In the 14 days before Dole began making his complaints, the New York Times ran 11 news stories focused on the fundraising charges, three of them on the front page. They also ran two editorials criticizing the contributions; the pundit who did perhaps more than any other to push the story was William Safire, who is based on the Times’ op-ed page.

Race and Casablanca

The Huang story was ostensibly about illegal contributions raised from foreigners and then returned. But what seemed to drive the outrage over the story were two points: that Clinton was accepting contributions from people or corporations who hoped to influence U.S. government policy. And that these people and corporations were Asian.

The first part is indeed a big story, perhaps the biggest in U.S. politics. It’s also in the Casablanca category: Pundits were shocked, shocked to find out that donations of money might be influencing a politician. The fact is that business gave hundreds of millions of dollars to parties and candidates in the last election cycle-all of it self-interested. To give the impression that the party mainly implicated in this corrupt system is the Democrats-who got a little more than half what the Republicans received from business in this election cycle-is disingenuous in the extreme.

The story illustrates two points really well. One is that as long as any particular coverage run by NYT is anti-democrat you don’t hear a word from the fringe right about the ethics of fairness in reporting regardless of politics, and two that while the story should have been covered it was done so from an obvious slant that let Dole and conservatives get away with being two faced hypocrites. Well there is a third item, the item that Strata points to is an editorial, an opinion which by definition subjective. The slanted stories about President Clinton were printed under as straight news, when in fact they were taking an editorial stand that leaned strongly Republican. So for the AJ’s of the right-wing blogosphere the NYT should turn a blind eye to the failures and corruptions of conservatives both in their news reportage and their editorials. That being his wish and the wish of your average member of the Cult of Bush, just say so. Just honestly admit that their problem with the NYT and the press in general is that they think conservatives should never be held accountable. That conservatives should be held to an elite standard, untouchable by the mere common citizenry. Name a totalitarian movement that has not had the exact same attitude toward the press. If only conservatives could decide which stories were covered, what the content of editorials contained and how they were covered, then and only then would they be happy. Pea Brains From the Same Pod

TEHRAN, Iran (AP)- Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the country’s universities…

PHOENIX (AP) – Conservative state lawmakers are targeting what they see as left-leaning university professors, pushing a series of bills in recent and upcoming sessions designed to ensure that students are not unduly influenced by professors’ beliefs.

Conservatives are obviously intellectually corrupt, but that isn’t enough they insist on pushing the envelop on material corruption too, BUSH FUNDRAISER Noe gets 27 months in federal prison for illegal contributions

“He has risen in the past to positions of respect and power and he violated the trust of those who placed him in those positions,” Judge Katz said during sentencing.

Most of the conservative movement has violated the trust of the American people and seem not only unashamed, but keep insisting it is their right to do so.

“There must be something else,” said the perplexed gentleman. “There is something more, if I could find a name for it. God bless me, the man seems hardly human! Something troglodytic, shall we say? or can it be the old story of Dr. Fell? or Is it the mere radiance of a foul soul that thus transpires through, and transfigures, its clay continent? The last, I think; for, O my poor old Harry Jekyll, if ever I read Satan’s signature upon a face, it Is on that of your new friend.”
from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson