We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living

In Praise of Red Tape

It was the midlevel intelligence professionals in the CIA whose expertise led them to argue that Iraq had no means of acquiring nuclear material; it was the planners and country experts at the State Department who prepared a 1,200-page document about postwar Iraq outlining in depressing detail the many challenges and brutalizing exigencies our occupying forces now face. It was professional scientists in the bowels of the Environmental Protection Agency who pushed their reports warning of the effects of climate change, only to have them censored and purged. It was concerned and conscientious spooks and cryptographers at the National Security Agency who contacted reporters to raise alarms about the warrantless wiretapping of Americans. It was a midlevel career bureaucrat at the Department of Education named Jon Oberg who spent his own time–nights and weekends–studying the student loan program and discovered that taxpayers were being ripped off by private lenders to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite warnings from his (appointed) superiors, he published his results in an internal memo sent to the entire department. He retired shortly thereafter.

Perhaps the most dramatic example of the virtue of bureaucracy came during the recent revelations of James Comey’s late-night confrontation with the President’s henchmen in the hospital room of the drugged and groggy Attorney General John Ashcroft. True, Comey and Ashcroft were both appointed apparatchiks, but ones who acted, for this moment, like bureaucrats, responsible to the integrity of their office and the rules and processes by which those offices were governed.

However many years ago that paleo-conservatives picked up the mantle of contempt for government knew how to exploit a universal grudge. In this article Hayes goes all the way back to Barry Goldwater and George Wallace. Everyone at some time in their lives has had what they believe to be a legitimate gripe with government authority gone too far, or was uncaring or inefficient. Though starting with Nixon Republicans got to have it both ways. If government did something they approved of like going to war based on misinformation and dangerous day dreams about reshaping the Middle-East into sandy versions of Sacramento, then government was suddenly so sacred that the mildest criticism became sedition. On the other hand when the self same government that Conservatives ran from top to bottom didn’t work,   as in preventing 9-11 or responding to Katrina that was fine too, after all they had be saying for years that government was inept and evil. Pretty clever trick of rhetorical magic. It is both astonishing and sad that government workers, some of them apparatchiks have had at least moments of clarity and tried to make government work while The Decider smirked and shifted blame, and a generally complacent press stood by and let the powers that be grind down a government created for the people and the common good.

Since we’re obsessed with popular opinion this week, How low can Bush go?

The Taguba revelations might seem like old news since Rumsfeld’s gone, but obviously torture continues, in our name. And while generals and even defense secretaries come and go, the commander in chief holds onto his job. Eminent McClatchy military columnist Joe Galloway writes that he hopes the Hersh piece forces Congress to reopen its Abu Ghraib investigation, as I do. What makes Taguba stand out is that … Taguba really shouldn’t stand out. He was a career military officer following orders; he was told to do a job, and he did it. While he deserves praise for his integrity and sympathy for his forced retirement, it’s worth remembering that Abu Ghraib critics like Mark Danner noted at the time that Taguba’s investigation didn’t go nearly far enough.

Even with public integrity bulldog Henry Waxman around we’ll probably never get to the bottom of who passed what orders to who. That will probably will take a Democratic president.

Alaska’s very own Don Vito Corleone, better know as Ted Stevens should start selling one of those how to get rich in real estate courses on cable, Stevens’ Friend That Testified Is Also Business Partner

Anchorage real estate developer Bob Penney, who testified before a grand jury about the bribery scandal in Alaska, is good to his friend Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).

So good that he brought Stevens in on a real estate deal that fetched the senior senator a 566% return on a $15,000 investment in just five years.

An update on Haleh Esfandiari

Today is Day 44 of incarceration for Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and an FP contributor, who was thrown into Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison in early May. Esfandiari, along with at least three other Iranian-Americans, has been detained in Iran for allegedly plotting against the Iranian government, an accusation that representatives for all the captives vehemently deny.

This little blog by itself can’t bring much attention to Esfandiari’s plight, but if any readers that pass by here would mention it on your blog, maybe collectively we can make enough noise to make this a story that the MSM will follow and draw attention to. Though this by no means is reason to start the Norman Podhoretz quasi-genocide campaign against Iran – Face of a psychopath

Neoconservative icon Norman Podhoretz followed up his Commentary article titled “The case for bombing Iran” — excerpts of which were re-published in The Wall St. Journal — with an interview elaborating on why he “hopes and prays” that we bomb Iran and how he envisions the bombings.

Glenn has a photo up of typical Iranian people walking down the street what appears to be a like almost every other modern cosmopolitan city. A few months back I was searching the net for a photo like that and came across quite a few Iranian bulletin boards and blogs. They talked about their new tattoos, had links to downloads of American pop music, and photos of Playmates – all of which is officially banned. When Norman and the neoncons drop their bombs those bombs will not just kill the most extremist elements of Iran’s rulers they’ll kill people that embrace freedom and popular culture as ardently as most Americans. Why Podhoretz and his like minded followers are not considered insane crackpots shows how far outside the norms of decency the far right has strayed.

“Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.” – General Omar N. Bradley