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The irises and Patrick Fitzgerald

Victorian born novelist and St Kilda supporter, and long-time Webdiary columnist Kerryn Higgs spends a lot of time in New York, and lives the rest of the year in northern NSW. She's been obsessed with the looming environmental crisis since 1972 and is working on the relationship between globalisation, economic growth and the future (if any) of the planet.Kerryn Higgs

Her regular visits to New York began the day before the 2000 election, so she watched the shutdown of counting in Florida by the US Supreme Court at close range. Living amongst New Yorkers, a breed unto themselves, has enriched her view of America and complicated her longstanding interest in its politics, history and impact on the rest of the world. Her 2004 articles The failure to prevent 9/11: Clarke's story  and Bush on the ropes: his awful deeds post S11 reported on Clarke, the US counter-terror co-ordinator under every administration since Reagan, as he fronted the 9/11 Commission.

Her last piece for Webdiary was on Blowin' in the wind, the film by David Bradbury on the nature and effects of ‘depleted’ uranium (DU) munitions.

Again writing from New York, Kerryn reports on the early outing of iris and the alleged criminal outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, wife of Joseph C Wilson, the CIA envoy investigating the fake Niger yellowcake deal.

The irises and Patrick Fitzgerald

by Kerryn Higgs

I left my garden bulbs in Australia last week before the first buds appeared, sorry to miss their splendour. But arriving in Kingston - 70 miles north of New York City and several degrees cooler - I find the iris here in rampant flower, buds bursting every day.  They imagine, apparently, that spring is in the air. Locals assure me no one here has seen anything like it before. Simultaneously, the most intense Atlantic hurricane ever measured appeared in the Caribbean.

As Webdiarist David Roffey has detailed here in Climate change update 3: Greenhouse 2005, the climate stories come thick and fast these days. Quite a few caught my attention in the past few months. The Siberian tundra, with its immense load of sequestered methane, is beginning to thaw, an instance of what is called positive feedback - where the immediate consequences of a process magnify that same trend. UK scientists have also measured increasing CO2 loss from temperate peat bogs. The Arctic sea ice is vanishing at extraordinary speed, another positive feedback, where seawater absorbs even more heat from the sun, instead of reflecting it back into space the way the floating ice did. And last week it was revealed that the vast Antarctic ice-sheets may be far less stable than previously supposed.

Rather than exaggerating the extent of warming, the signs are that we might have seriously underestimated the speed and degree of climate change. Indeed, one team of geologists has foreshadowed feedback events cascading towards a global inferno such as that of the Permian extinction some 250 million years ago when most of the world's species disappeared.

***

Meanwhile, the cliffhanger story here is the culmination of Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, wife of Joseph C. Wilson. Wilson was the envoy the CIA sent to Africa in February 2002 after Vice-President Cheney asked for more information on the story that Niger had sold yellowcake to Iraq. Documents purporting to prove this happened were later passed via a journalist from an Italian "security consultant" to the US Embassy in Rome.

Iraq's supposed nuclear ambitions were a key element in the Bush administration's case for the "grave and gathering danger" from Saddam's alleged WMD, which served as the primary pretext for the invasion of Iraq as well as the central fear motivating US public support for war.

Wilson's story

The Niger documents proved later to be inept forgeries and Wilson found no evidence for the uranium deal. He made his report in March 2002, a year before the invasion. His findings were disseminated to the CIA, the State Department and presumably reached the Vice-President's office - which had asked the question.

However, Wilson's report had no impact on the administration's trajectory and did not prevent the President from repeating the African uranium claim in his January 2003 State of the Union address, eight months later.

When Wilson realised Bush's State of the Union speech was referring to the same allegation he had debunked ten months earlier, it looked to him like the intelligence was being cooked - or "fixed" as the Downing Street memo put it. See this Newsweek article for a summary of the memo story. His distress about the apparent manipulation of intelligence culminated in his own piece, "What I Didn't Find in Africa", published in The New York Times on 6 July, 2003 (archived here on Common Dreams.org).

Valerie Plame's cover blown

Senior administration officials contacted various reporters to tell them that Wilson had been sent to Niger by his CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame. A week later, on 14 July, syndicated conservative columnist Robert Novak published the story. The supposed nepotism was apparently intended to undermine Wilson's credibility and the grim consequences for his wife (cover blown) demonstrated what whistleblowers might expect.

In the USA, it's illegal to reveal the identity of a covert agent - though it is not Novak who has committed a crime but the person(s) who disclosed the classified information in the first place.

In fact Plame was working under the deepest form of cover - "non-official". She worked out of a front organisation and enjoyed no diplomatic protection if something went wrong.  Since Novak's article, she is obviously unable to pursue her career and her entire network has been rendered useless, its personnel endangered. Ironically, she was working on preventing WMDs from falling into terrorist hands.

Under pressure from the CIA, Attorney-General John Ashcroft's Justice Department and the FBI began inquiries into the possible felony in September 2003. Dozens of high-ranking White House officials were interviewed.

It is inconsistencies between these early testimonies to the FBI and later statements which could form the basis for indictments over perjury or obstruction. Martha Stewart, for example, went to jail for just such an offence - lying to the FBI - rather than for the insider trading she was found guilty of lying about.

Fitzgerald takes over

On 30 December 2003, the case was taken out of Ashcroft's hands. Apart from being a member of the same administration which harboured the leaker(s), Ashcroft had specific connections with Karl Rove ("Bush's Brain") who had handled political campaigns for him. It was rumoured at the time that Rove, White House advisor and fixer, might have been fingered by someone lower down. Chicago prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was named to take over the investigation.

Fitzgerald is widely regarded as independent and unlikely to allow political loyalties to cloud his judgement. For nearly two years, Fitzgerald has worked in camera with sparse indications of his hunches, his findings or his intentions. Occasional leaks have emanated from lawyers associated with targets of the inquiry, and some witnesses have published their stories. Most of those who have testified have been identified. But nearly two years have gone by without substantial information about the likely outcome of the investigation.

In the past weeks, however, there's been an avalanche of speculation as Fitzgerald nears his October 28 deadline.

We do not yet know who actually released Plame's name to reporters. We think Novak had one source whose name has not been made public. Two prominent members of the Bush administration have admitted talking to reporters about Plame - Cheney's Chief of Staff 'Scooter' Libby and Karl Rove, but both have maintained that it was reporters who told them Plame's name and job.

According to several sources, Fitzgerald is examining the possibility that blowing Plame's cover was a desperate tactic in a far-reaching conspiracy, first to falsify WMD intelligence and, later, to destroy Wilson's credibility and warn off other potential whistleblowers.

UPI news service cited NATO sources yesterday in reporting that Fitzgerald is investigating the Niger forgery, which was executed on letterhead stolen from Niger's embassy in Rome. The pursuit of this line of inquiry may suggest that Fitzgerald suspects connections between these fakes and administration officials.

The Judith Miller story

New York Times journalist Judith Miller (notorious for her links with Chalabi's defectors and her prewar front page stories based on their "intelligence" about Iraqi WMD) spent 85 days in jail rather than disclose her confidential source. Her reputation varies from First Amendment goddess (protecting journalists' constitutional right not to divulge their sources) to government stooge.  Ultimately her source, who turned out to be Libby, waived her pledge of confidentiality. She was released on September 29.

Since then, she has appeared twice before the prosecutor and publishing an extensive account of her story in last weekend's New York Times (archived here at TruthOut.org). One curious admission made here was that she agreed to Libby's request to misrepresent him as a staffer in Congress rather than a senior member of the administration. Though reporters keep the identities of their sources confidential, it's unusual to agree to fudge their status.

After Miller's first testimony to Fitzgerald, the Times "found" an additional Miller notebook in their Washington office, covering an earlier conversation with Libby back in June. It included references to Plame. Miller claims she has no recollection of  writing them down. Such lapses of memory on the crucial details seem incomprehensible in a top journalist. Avalanche of speculation - is Fitzgerald pursuing conspirators?

Fitzgerald established a website late last week, which some commentators believe could be used to post indictments. Suggested outcomes range from the President suddenly sacking Fitzgerald or issuing pre-emptive pardons, to Fitzgerald extending the inquiry or closing the case with neither charges nor report, to indictments of senior officials (possibly Libby and/or Rove) or conspiracy charges reaching to the very top - to Cheney perhaps, or even Bush.  Some commentators also caution that proving the actual felony involved in leaking Plame's name may not be possible and any charges will more likely be confined to perjury or obstruction.

The more radical speculations are anchored in rumours that Fitzgerald's pursuit of the felon(s) who outed Plame has led him to examine the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) - the team set up inside the White House to market the war - and to investigate the overall process whereby bogus intelligence was deployed to launch the US - and its "coalition of the willing" - into Iraq. WHIG's records were subpoenaed in early 2004.

WHIG was set up as the marketing arm of the war effort and both Libby and Rove were members, along with Whitehouse Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley and several other communications specialists. See Card's interview with Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times (archived here krigskronikan.com). The initial Commission that looked into what went wrong with US WMD intelligence before the war put the blame entirely on the CIA, though it was not authorised to look at the role of policymakers in interpreting intelligence. That issue was supposed to be taken up in Phase II, promised before the 2004 election and shelved by the new administration.  There has still been no public inquiry into the use and/or abuse of intelligence by the administration.

Implications

Even if Fitzgerald decides against indictments, the problem for the administration will not go away. Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson are preparing a civil suit against administration officials which they say they will launch if they have to.

Whatever he does decide, the most salutary result of Fitzgerald's work has been in bringing back into public focus the ruthless tactics employed to sell a war decided upon well in advance, with an objective of regime-change presented in the fictional - but far more saleable - guise of disarmament. See my Webdiary piece here for some of the evidence of the plans to attack Iraq dating back to September 11 and before. As US threats to Iran and Syria continue, it is to be hoped that Fitzgerald's inquiry contributes to ongoing public scepticism this time around.

 

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that an attack on Syria was not an "option" the President would be taking "off the table".  When Senator Lincoln Chafee pressed her as to whether she agreed that an attack on Iran or Syria would require new authorisation by Congress, Rice declined to "circumscribe presidential war powers [which] the President retains... in the war on terrorism and in the war on Iraq." New York Times columnist Frank Rich argues that Rove pushed for the war in  2002 as a poll-reviver and election-winner.  Given Bush's current abysmal ratings, US citizens should all be extremely cautious about the War President's next campaign.

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Of murderers and conmen.

First today, a story that I am sure will please Richard (G'day) - concerns an SEC investigation into deals involving Halliburton and Nigeria ... at a time when Limp Dick was at the helm of H.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission
is conducting a formal investigation into whether Halliburton
made improper payments to government officials in Nigeria in
connection with the construction and expansion by TSKJ of a natural
gas liquefaction complex and facilities at Bonny Island in Rivers
State, Nigeria.

Now to the state of the mind of Commander Codpiece and Robert Scheer is not impressed.

Nor is Sy Hersh.

A personal tragedy - it was all too much.

Meanwhile, is it all falling apart?

William Odom on facing reality.

How does it play for the public? A NYTimes poll.

No wonder the Republicans are getting down and dirty and trying to divert attention.

I look forward to more than just Limp Dick in stripes. The crimes are many and varied and the corrective long overdue. How many more must die? How much more damage must be done? How long will the real dangers be ignored? Phil Kendall (G'day) knows what I mean and has a word for it - "greedastrophe".

 

Down in the gutter.

Six days to go to the midterms and what are the Republicans doing to hold onto their majorities? Well, first, a view of what they want to hold onto.

Is it the torture election?

Now the methods being used.

And this.

Not forgetting Doug Thompson.

Not only blood in the gutter.

By way of contrast, Tom Engelhardt introduces a story by Elizabeth de la Vega on a soldier who had the courage to take a stand.

On August 11, 2006, the day he turned himself in, Sgt. Clousing made a simple statement:

 

"We have found ourselves in a pivotal era where we have traded humanity for patriotism. Where we have traded our civil liberties for a sense of security. I stand here before you sharing the same idea as Henry David Thoreau: as a soldier, as an American, and as a human being, we mustn't lend ourselves to that same evil which we condemn."

On the matter of the war, this from Ray McGovern.

Near the end there is an interesting article from three years ago -a "can't say they weren't warned" reminder.

Now to the matter of climate change and Tony "Snowjob's" response to a question .... Video and transcript. The comments are very interesting and include a list of Bush's actions.

Remember: "We create our own reality".

Others have to suffer the consequences.

Death for what reason?

G'day Phil Kendall, belated thanks for your comments, it seems that WD was tripped up. How I do it is the result of several years of seeking material first for academic pursuits and thence for my own interest. Always seem to be new places to visit. I hope you, and other readers enjoy the material which follows.

On why people are dying in Iraq we turn to Frank Rich of the NYTimes.

The LATimes has this on the similarities in the situation re Iran with the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.

For those who want an interesting 83 minutes of audio there is this discussion with Sy Hersh and Scott Ritter on the plan for Iran and related issues based on Ritter's book Target Iran. Recommended.

While WD was absent Part II of Tom Engelhardt's Truths of a Lost War appeared.

As did Parts II and III of Robert Parry's The Original October Surprise.

Now here is an interesting story - a claim by an adviser to Saddam Hussein that SH had accepted Bush's ultimatum before the invasion. I will post further on this issue if and when material is at hand. To those who would dismiss such a claim without examining the evidence I remind them of all the lies that were told and crimes committed.

Freedom! (I won't.)

Subtitle (From 'Bringing up Baby'): "Do what you want!" (I know you will anyway.)

Keywords: Truth(beauty), lies, belief and ideologues[1].

-=*=-

I was talking yesterday about a certain shameless pro-Howard hussy, and the hapless organization she 'works' for (imagine being the 'official voice of the people' and being forced(?!) to tell us, we the people, lies). I tried listening to 'her' program this morning, but soon had to give up - too many (detested) American voices. I also said yesterday that the choice of material on RN/Breakfast was extremely unlikely to be accidental; a distinct pro-American slant has been evident at least since the time of the predecessor Thompson, another (detested) 'Americaphile'[2]. But before I stopped listening - actually, why I stopped, was hearing a bit from a 'sound-bite,' presumably from here: October 25, 2006 Press Conference by the President.

A note on spelling: yesterday, I wrote 'ass' when I meant 'arse;' this problem arising because the full phrase 'kiss your ass goodbye' came to us from America 'back-then,' in the 'run-up' to the nukular®-holocaust 'promised' by the cold war. We didn't know it then, that America was the real enemy: but now we do, and we avoid as much of the detested Ameri-Speak as possible. Sorry.

-=*=-

Long story short (more detested Ameri-Speak, spit spit!): it's murder for oil. No matter how anyone dresses it up (i.e. geopolitics/un- or non-lawful killing (on 'legal' orders(?!) - tell it to a judge)), Iraqis are being murdered, in the full and true sense of the word[3]. Bob Wall (g'day) gave us a link yesterday ('How to tell they lied'): Jacob G. Hornberger's "They Lied About the Reasons for Going to War." (Bob is a great source of good links; I dunno how he does it but he certainly does it well.) Q: Does this lying matter? A: Yes. Another of Bob's famous links is to Bogart; that stuff added to the content of Phil Moffat's (g'day) Engdahl article all adds up to something truly dreadful (and I mean this really seriously, daaarlings): the 'cold war' is not in any way dead let alone gone; rev-up all those good old nukular fears everyone!

For those unwilling to follow the links and read 'em, Bogart describes how (disgustingly thoroughly) the military/industrial complex has permeated itself into the US, and Engdahl outlines the (utterly ghastly) US strategy. Both together can lead to a severe case of the collywobbles, you bet!

Until the AusBC (and SBS, and the AL-bloody-P) accuses the Libs/Howard both loudly and exactly: "Murder for oil!" they'll be guilty of hiding the truth, simply another way of saying "Liars!" - Oh! Always 'only' IMHO, of course!

And until B, B & H are charged (Yale/Nuremberg: "To initiate a war of aggression ... contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole"), we'll be living in a state of (at the very least) reduced (and for the Iraqis: absolutely no) justice.

-=*pause*=-

Now, what's all this about 'Truth(beauty), lies, belief and ideologues?' Well, 'in here' there are a few pro-status quo stooges, otherwise referred-to by me as proxy-murderer apologist/agitators. By 'pro-status quo' I include pro-'free-market,' pro-Liberal (and specifically pro-Howard), pro-US (and specifically pro-GWBush), and last but hardly least (in the crime stakes), pro-Israel. Note that a) the mention of countries here refers to 'regime' rather than 'good burghers of,' and b) this is not a pro-status quo exhaustive list; just the bits I wanna be here concerned with. Pro-'free-market' is in itself a topic largely for another day, but it's included here as it relates to Iraq's oil. (No market at the point of a gun can be considered in any way 'free,' hmmm?) These stooges are my keyword ideologues; their 'viewpoint' obviously differs radically from mine: why? As Julius Sumner Miller used to say, "Why is it so?" - to which I could add: "How can it be?"

That brings us to the 'Truth(beauty), lies' bit. One of the beauties of truth is that it's unique; one only needs to keep track of the one true reality. Lies, of course, come in many sorts; worse, there's generally more lies than liars and that makes keeping up with liars and their myriad and in this case murderous lies difficult. (Apart from identifying lies, there's nothing much more that you can do with 'em except lament.) Sooo, if there's only one truth (which I doggedly pursue), how can the proxy-murderer apologist/agitators disagree with me? How indeed!

Now, belief; from 'Bringing up Baby': "But everyone thinks they're correct!" Well, of course. But only adherents to truth can be correct; the rest must believe in lies. Basta! QED.

I want to make myself perfectly clear: there is simply no 'wiggle-room' (spit, spit!) here: people have been and continue to be murdered for spoil; in Israel - possibly 'ex-Palestinian territories' for those who won't acknowledge a 'pre-47 Palestinian State' - in Israel it's murder for land (and wardah®), and in Iraq it's murder for the oil (among other 'geostrategic' objectives to be sure, like bases to threaten from and including, as a total 'last resort' for the pro-wars, 'regime change' and 'liberation' - but these two only, as noted, as 'Johnny-come-lately throw-aways.' But whatever, it's mass-murder-most-foul, being a) premeditated and b) in the pursuit of a crime, namely armed theft including actual deadly violence to people: aka murder for spoil. Basta! - and once again QED. The fact that the US (with UK and Aus) and Israel pretend to democracy can't change basic facts: murder is murder. Sooo again; supporters (i.e. voters who gave their effective preference to B, B or H) have not 'excused' these 'leaders,' but rather those voters have assumed some of the the guilt of those 'leaders,' and this is exactly why the apologist/agitators are in actual fact proxy-murderers.

I've said it before (and willing to endlessly repeat); this is an opinion forum (as opposed to a Darlinghurst courtroom, say). Now I can use my keyword 'belief' on my own behalf: I sincerely believe that B, B & H went - actually, sent us - to war, on not 'just' an 'accidental' lie (i.e. not just 'bad' intel), but on deliberately fabricated lies (see Web Results 1 - 100 of about 62,800 English pages for Wolfowitz, Vanity Fair bureaucratic. (0.61 secs) - or Bob's Hornberger link above), and with control of Iraqi oil as 'a' if not 'the' prime objective. Of course, the US could disprove this at any time by totally freeing the Iraqi oil market to open competition, but in exactly the same way, pigs are free to fly.

There have been two (that I recall) more- rather than less-rational 'objections' to my general thesis; one on 'quasi-legal' grounds along the lines that murder is not a defined international crime, the other on some sort'a compassionate basis, the main 'prop' there being that Saddam was a tyrant. Well sorry fellas (but not too sorry); what we see is what we (actually not we but they; i.e. Iraqis, Palestinians etc) get: and that is horribly and unmistakeably mass-murdered for spoil.

It has been asserted 'in here' that the UN is a) a source of legality (i.e. for Israel), b) a source of illegality (i.e. for the aggressive invasion of Iraq) and c) only as good as its 'best' sponsors. With the strongest (US with UK, Aus as pimple on the Anglo's arse, Israel) being also among the greatest of miscreants, well, daaarlings, the whole UN 'thing' is made moot, no? So sorry again (but not too sorry); we resort to 'natural' justice: except in the narrowest of defined exceptions, killing any human being is just wrong.

The word 'propaganda'[4] has also been thrown 'in here.' My claim is that I'm a seeker of truth, and that to the best of my knowledge and ability, my assertions are based on fact - and although I suppose that I could be wrong in some minor detail, surely not in the main? After all, one only needs to open one's eyes (and mind) to see.

One last bit of detested Ameri-Speak (spit spit!): 'closure,' and other-such (IMHO) idiotic nonsense. You won't hear me talking such rubbish, but justice, yes. Without it, we (yes us, all of us; US, UK, Aus and Israel) live in outlaw countries. And that's not all, the worst is yet to come (and we truly are wasting possibly priceless time); the greedastrophe® is coming...

-=*end*=-

PS What's about the "Freedom! (I won't.)" bit? Well (again), GWBush rants and raves about "They hate us for our freedoms!" and "Terrists® will be brought to justice!" etc. His slogans trivialise the complexities; there's little scope for any 'nuancing' for example. But there are implications; a) that we might actually be somehow free and b) that crooks can actually be brought to justice, etc. My objective is to promote justice by speaking freely - but my opponents (apart from the aforesaid proxy-murderers) are B, B & H and their fellow-travellers in deadly crime. So seeking justice may not actually be too 'healthy;' whereas ASIO are unlikely to be interested, the CIA and especially Mossad have form. Brrr. But no, I won't (be intimidated).

Refs:

[1] ideologue n. often derog. adherent of an ideology. [French: related to *idea] (Near to idée fixe n. (pl. idées fixes pronunc. same) dominating idea; obsession. [French, = fixed idea]) [POD]

[2] Americaphile: You can google it with this.

[3] murder —n. 1 intentional unlawful killing of a human being by another [POD]

[4] propaganda n. 1 organized propagation of a doctrine by use of publicity, selected information, etc. 2 usu. derog. ideas etc. so propagated. [ibid.]

History and fantasies and culprits unpunished.

G'day to Jacob A. Stam who has made excellent use of some Tom Engelhardt material elsewhere. Yes, there does seem to be a pattern, perhaps indicating that there are limitations on how much Bush's brain can retain - "Best just teach him one number lest we confuse him."

Or perhaps he just likes saying "30,000". Perhaps he also likes saying "we're winning". Arianna has a view on that.

What is Commander Codpiece's message to the American people?

A Greg Palast reminder of how elections can be "done".

On military matters, they want to go boldly where noone has yet gone.

Let's play Space Empires.

Down to earth, and Enron perp gets 24 years but Robert Scheer asks "what about the enablers?" Yes, them.

On the subject of the soothing balm, Venezuela is in their sights.

There is the oft used term "October surprise" and here is material from Robert Parry on the original October surprise - the deal done to free the US hostages in Iran. And other matters that relate to US involvement in Iran and Iraq.

A lot of material in this and lots of links. You can even find this.

A murky business. And a reminder that despite those who say you cannot deal with certain states, they have done so in the past when it suited them.

 

Terrorists on the loose in US.

And according to Keith Olbermann, it is the GOP. 10+ minutes of video. Apologies to those who lack the facilities to watch this - it is great stuff. And there are others on the page.

On Iraq, "no good options".

And some bad ones, especially for those not fit to fight.

The investigative reporters who researched "Mentally Unfit, Forced
to Fight" concluded, from studying military investigative records and
interviewing troops' family members, that the military was sending
troops into combat, or re-deploying them, despite knowing that they
were suicidal or had other signs of mental illness.

Despite a congressional mandate that all deploying troops must have a mental health assessment, the reporters found
that "Fewer than 1 in 300 were seeing a mental health professional"
after filling out a pre-deployment health assessment that includes one
mental health question--and before going to war.

Once in the theater,
and in violation of the military's stated policies, "some unstable
troops are kept on the front lines while on potent antidepressants and
anti-anxiety drugs, with little or no monitoring or counseling," and
despite the fact that their superiors are aware of their mental
condition.

That's just part of it. And don't forget the comment:

"We can lose in Iraq, or we can lose in Iraq and lose the army." Follow the link "former army commander-in-chief".

How to tell they lied.

Oh, and the keep doing it, determined to stay that course.

Some are cutting and running.

Corrupt! All is corrupt.

A poll.

Having started with one of my favourites, I will end with another, Tom Engelhardt with Part I of Losing the Home Front.

On another thread F Kendall (G'day) mentioned the Bush family purchase of land in Paraguay, well known retread for those wishing to avoid scrutiny. Yes, get yourself a nice place with protection from prosecution and keep a lot of lawyers on the payroll. Personally, I can't see how anyone could defend these people if they weren't being paid to do so.

End of Empire.

G'day Chris and Phil, thanks for the interesting posts.

Worrying report you linked Chris, more of the control the flow of information tactic. Which of your options is it? Either or all? Or just do not like differing views being available?

There might need to be some fancy verbal gymnastics given the possibilities in the air over Iraq. Bush is trying it on and causing headaches for "Snowjob".

Hilarious stuff. As funny as Limp Dick's "everything is going well" approach.

Meanwhile, there are reports of interest:

This.

And this.

I await developments and, if events take a turn completely different to the rhetoric, what the new rhetoric will be.

Planned without reference to facts.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good war. Good war? Only if you get your hands on the soothing balm.

Nice closing para:

Mr. Suskind closed the discussion by reminding his Pittsburgh audience
that the public remains sovereign, must insist that it be informed and
must take back ownership of the future of the country. That can be
achieved by the exercise of their citizenship at the ballot box -- a
very timely recommendation in light of the impending elections.

So they should but a segue to this.

Proving the above point.

Something rotting and an historical analogy.

As all this happens, there are far more important issues, as this latest from Tom Engelhardt shows. It is Bill McKibben reviewing a number of books on climate change and starts with dire predictions about far worse than the end of an empire and moves on to ways to deal with the problem.

Makes one wonder why some spend so much of their time playing their little games with each other. Blinded to the looming danger.

birds of a feather

This morning, as I stumbled groggily out'a my deliciously comfy-warm bed, and 'transitioned' from the bed-side clock-radio to the ancient steam-driven ('only' 2-ch!) stereo in our up-stairs split-level kitchen/dining/living-room space, only to hear - horrors! - a snatch'a RN Breakfast: "Like heck, we can't tell the Iraqis what to do," the senator said. "It's our blood and treasure. ... We should tell them now, 'Get a political settlement, or you're on your own, Jack.' " [My reaction: Haw! - then: Urk!]

I decided to google a bit: "[news] Results 1 - 2 of 2 for it's-our-blood-and-treasure. (0.42 secs)"

Hit#1: "White House Wants Iraqi Leaders to Take More Responsibility for ...
FOX News - 8 hours ago
" - from which my above introductory quote was 'cut.'

And this is interesting because?

-=*=-

Well, most'a you ort'a know me by now, but for those who don't (or 'just' haven't been paying enough attention), one'a my main theses is 'murder for oil,' and a secondary (but nevertheless most important) one is that the AusBC is biased alright - but it 'leans' (BS! 'Is pushed' or even 'shoved' is more like it, and that mostly from 'inside(!)') towards the right, rather than as portrayed endlessly by the (mindless!) right-whingers as 'left-wing.'

Anyhow.

The introductory quote (just as I found it; check it for yourself), 'presented' by Fran Kelly came from Sen. Joseph Biden, senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee via FOX News. Here is the lot (from Biden):

..., said the administration is misrepresenting the war in Iraq, saying it is a battle against terrorists when it's a civil war. He said U.S. forces cannot stand down because the Iraqi Army cannot yet stand together.

Biden, D-Del., said the administration must take a tough stand against the Iraqi government to force it to assume more responsibility and make progress on economic, security and political fronts. Biden said the time is coming when the American public will no longer tolerate lives and money "being poured down a rathole because, in fact, we're in the middle of a civil war."

"The last time I said this, the president said, 'We can't tell the Iraqis what to do."' Biden said.

"Like heck, we can't tell the Iraqis what to do," the senator said. "It's our blood and treasure. ... We should tell them now, 'Get a political settlement, or you're on your own, Jack.' "

Y'just got'a laugh (since the alternative is 'cry'); at how many 'inaccuracies' (aka lies) in the above lot?

As Bob Wall (g'day!) has reported, 'just rub a little soothing oil on any injuries:'

Even as Iraq verges on splintering into a sectarian civil war, four big oil companies are on the verge of locking up its massive, profitable reserves, known to everyone in the petroleum industry as "the prize."

-=*=-

What all'a this shows (always 'only' IMHO!) is:

a) that the US (and UK, with Aus as the pimple on the Anglo's arse), usually written by me as B, B & H 'went in' for the oil - and if you insist regime change, and 'for' Israel perhaps (never against WMD: just filthy lies!) - but always primarily as 'murder for oil,'

b) that the so-called 'opposition' parties - Dems over there; just as Lab over here: Latham (as perhaps the only Lab who ever could'a) did not offer us a clear anti-war choice - the 'opposition' parties do not actually oppose, and certainly not the concept of 'murder for oil' and

c) that the AusBC stays forever silent on 'murder for oil.' (They/she didn't 'select' this item for 'balance...' - bets?)

-=*=-

There must be something terribly wrong with people like me, who can quite clearly see 'murder for oil.' Why are we upset by this?

PS Although 'blind Freddy' can see 'murder for oil' actually happening, and the strife it's causing amongst the (poor, ignorant and often murdered) Iraqi natives, the same disgustingly criminal rip-offs are happening here too. See any of my 100s of contributions lamenting resource-rent. Why do we 'accept' being ripped off?

SBS under attack?

From The Age.

KEY Howard loyalists are set to launch a scathing attack on multicultural broadcaster SBS and force it to answer accusations of blatant left-wing bias.

Influential Victorian Liberal Senator Michael Ronaldson will lead the assault on SBS and its executives at a special Senate estimates hearing next week. He is expected to be joined by Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Senator Alan Eggleston.

Senator Ronaldson, a key player in the Howard Government's long campaign against perceived political bias at the ABC, told The Sunday Age that SBS was "out of control" and needed to be reined in. "I am very concerned about SBS's impartiality and balance."

Just days after the ABC announced new program guidelines enforcing impartiality, Senator Ronaldson said SBS, which receives about $160 million a year from taxpayers, had a lot to learn from Australia's other national broadcaster. "The network has slipped under the radar and compared to the directions that the ABC now seems to be taking, SBS are out on their own," he said.

Senator Ronaldson said he had compiled a dossier of numerous examples of political bias in both its domestic and international news coverage. "There are just so many clear examples of inappropriate political bias, which is OK as long as the robustness falls within clear guidelines. The problem is, it doesn't. "Now, in relation to the ABC, no one is looking for a sanitised national broadcaster. What we wanted was a broadcaster that, when it said its core values were impartiality and balance, actually met those core values."

He singled out SBS's coverage of the recent Hezbollah-Israel conflict as one of the most appalling examples of biased reporting he had ever seen. "Their commentary on international events, particularly the conflict between Lebanon and Israel, just displayed a clear lack of impartiality and completely lacked any balance whatsoever," Senator Ronaldson said. "I have also heard a lot of complaints that they have strayed from their charter as a multilingual, multicultural national broadcaster."

The SBS charter states that the broadcaster must "contribute to extending the range of Australian television and radio services, and reflect the changing nature of Australian society by presenting many points of view and using innovative forms of expression".

Senator Ronaldson is a staunch ally of Treasurer Peter Costello and has been a passionate friend of Israel.

- - -

There are several ways of looking at this.  It could simply be a rearguard action to protect Howard and Co against the fallout from Iraq.  It could be a pre-emptive strike to smother news of the noose which is being tightened around Iran.

It could also be a device which, if left to run it's logical course, might inflame the ire of our Muslim communities.  If so, Ronaldson will be a witting or unwitting dupe of the "sly-boys".

Having crossed swords with him before (by correspondence) on Iraq, I can attest to the fact that he trots out the usual bog-standard cardboard cutout version of the government narrative.  Whether that makes him an ambitious operator, or just too ideological for everyone's good, I couldn't say.

I have contacted Getup, with a view to a campaign - and also sent off some (frankly) inflammatory letters to the Reps and Senators.

To arms!..... my kingdom for a horse!

Who will ride with me?

God moves in mysterious ways his disasters to achieve,

Given the amount discussion about the religious fervour of various leaders, in particular in the ME, the following story I find both interesting and worrying:

Top US general says Rummy is inspired by God. 

 "He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

An illegal invasion based on lies and poorly planned resulting in a disaster which necessitates even more lies from Donald "I never said that" Rumsfeld. Mmmmmm. Best erase a few things from the bible, beginning with some of the Commandments and the teachings of JC will have to undergo some severe editing.

Apart from that there is the matter of what the response would be if say the Chimp passed on the OK to attack some other state and Rummy gave the order to the Joint Chiefs. One has to worry about the amount and nature of the consideration they might give such an order.

Meanwhile, Tom Engelhardt and Robert Dreyfuss on Iraq and time for a coup? 

Leon Hagar - Humbling the Hegemon.

Gordon Prather on Neocrazies and nukes.

Games people play - and some have the tools to do a lot of damage. 

How to lose a war.

Some very interesting material today about Iraq and the situation there.

First is Gareth Porter.

Simon Tisdall.

A surge in US casualties.

On reading the above it seems that things are not going well. An understatement perhaps. The next article is a fulsome analysis of wars; and doctrines and egos and delusions. A little about the author, in case some start reading and try to dismiss him too readily:

Stan Goff is a retired veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces. During an active-duty career that spanned 1970 to 1996, he served with the elite Delta Force and Rangers, and in Vietnam, Guatemala, Grenada, El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Somalia and Haiti.

He is a veteran of the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama and also taught military science at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

So very "hands on", unlike some he mentions.

He begins:

In August 2003, I was interviewed on CNN as "the father of a soldier." Iraq had claimed only 270 American armed forces members' lives. I called the conflict "a quagmire," bringing hoots of virtual laughter from right-wing bloggers the following day. They were still holding out for the Parisian Rose Parade promised them by Ahmed Chalabi, and I was just some malcontented geriatric hippy still mired in the linguistics of the '60s.

I don't want any last laugh. It's not funny. My son has been to Iraq four times now, and is straightaway headed to Afghanistan, where the Taliban now controls whole towns throughout the south. (Out of respect for my son's privacy and security, I do not publicly discuss our conversations about this or his opinions on the war.)

The figure 270 is now marching with terrible inexorability toward 3,000. The Iraqi deaths are now reaching toward 700,000, a staggering number in a country of 26 million. The only redeeming feature of the whole thing seems to be the fact that the U.S. government cannot now order an attack on Iran, since the only Iraqis willing to give conditional support to the U.S. occupation are themselves Iranian allies.

Quagmire does indeed evoke Vietnam. And there are two keys ways in which Iraq is - for all its differences - exactly like Vietnam. The aristocracy of American politics cannot win militarily; and it cannot leave politically. That is not to say the U.S. literally cannot leave. It can, and should, immediately. But neither this administration nor any Democrat administration that follows has established itself politically to tell the whole truth, including the truth that there is no painless way back for Iraq ... and that all resolutions with U.S. occupation will be infinitely worse than any resolution without U.S. occupation. The difference between the Iraq war and the one in Vietnam is that resistance to the latter increased almost at a stately pace but when it crested, that rage was white-hot. Outrage about the Iraq occupation, feverishly hot at first, now seems to have yielded to some version of compassion fatigue.

The daily drip, drip, drip of horror, including the body bags and amputations and burns and psychic dislocations, is hitting a callus on our collective consciousness. We have come to protect ourselves with numerality, that mathematical reduction of human suffering that allows us to nurture the fantasy that this brutality is not irrevocable, that we are not silent or at least acquiescent alongside these sadistic and unnecessary inflictions ... or that they are not happening to real people like us, who themselves do not want the one and only life given to each to be lived in a state of pain, terror and grief.

There is much, much more. And well worth reading and thinking about. Some, such as the Commander, do not seem to want to think about it. But the weight of evidence is that the Bush wars have been failures, Iraq, in particular, a disaster that has discredited and weakened the US. Perhaps James Baker's group will provide an "out" or perhaps obstinacy will rule or even more desperate actions will be taken. We can hope reality imposes itself before any more damage is done.

A few items to ponder.

Interesting piece by Andrew Bacevich on the mess that has been made and a bad case of denial.

James A. Baker, whose opinion has relevance, went and saw and was not impressed.

Despite this, Limp Dick is being positive

Some great comments with the above article.

The public has a different view.

CNN poll. 

This. 

Zogby. 

This is brief as I have a meal to prepare. Just a little more evidence to add to the mountain.

The soothing balm.

There is much death and injury in Iraq but some have a cure, just rub a little soothing oil on any injuries.

It will certainly make some feel a whole lot happier. Pity about the victims.

With the midterms approaching, there is concern about the integrity of the electoral system. It is not just those electronic voting machines but also all the other ways of depriving people of their vote.

There are reports that the GOP is becoming increasingly worried. That there aren't tricks enough to fix the problem. Now it seems solid Republican states are disenchanted with Commander Codpiece. Enough to vote Democrat? Wait and see and watch look out for surprises and shenanigans.

Here is a Dan Froomkin roundup.

And the Commander signs the torture bill today and sets the US on a backward path.

Do not neglect the fiddle.

How not to conduct foreign policy, or, "Do I smell burning?". Gordon Prather on an appropriate historical analogy for Commander Codpiece.

Charley Reese on the neglect.

It should be obvious to all, except those who are blind to reality.

William Rivers Pitt - The Wretched Years.

All the damage being done causes a rising level of criticism. Perhaps there are ways of dealing with that.

One of the justifications for the illegal invasion of Iraq (OK, the justifications change every time truth raises its head) is to spread democracy. Well, the Iraqis seem to have been given a T-model range of choices. For those who do not know it was "any colour you want, as long as it is black." In Iraq it was any government you want as long as ...

Many are voting with their feet.

Noting some of the responses on the mortality thread, I remind readers who don't get it of the warning Colin Powell gave Bush before the war:

You break it, you own it.

That is the simple, straight forward way of putting it. One could always take recourse to various laws and Conventions for the legal view.

For the spin merchants here, this is an article on the professionals.

Need to be good to turn disasters into successes. Or have some really big surprises up your sleeve.

The lies of the land.

From Tom Engelhardt Part II of Elizabeth De la Vega's Debunking the Armitage Story.

Will the presidential pardon be used to remove a vexatious issue?

More Rovian fixing?

It seems increasingly clear that the GOP congressional leadership, eager for every safe incumbent in the House to run for re-election, looked the other way as evidence accumulated that Mark Foley had a thing for pages. Holding onto his seat became more important than confronting him over his extracurricular activities.

But there's more to the story of why Foley stood for re-election this year. Yesterday, a source close to Foley explained to THE NEW REPUBLIC that in early 2006 the congressman had all but decided to retire from the House and set up shop on K Street. "Mark's a friend of mine," says this source. "He told me, 'I'm thinking about getting out of it and becoming a lobbyist.'"

But when Foley's friend saw the Congressman again this spring, something had changed. To the source's surprise, Foley told him he would indeed be standing for re-election. What happened? Karl Rove intervened.

According to the source, Foley said he was being pressured by "the White House and Rove gang," who insisted that Foley run. If he didn't, Foley was told, it might impact his lobbying career.

More evidence of GOP priorities (although not always limited to them). Never mind the paedophilia, look at the House numbers.

Now to those latest Iraq casualty figures.

DemocracyNow! interviews the co-author.

The other stories in today's edition deal with US casualties and treatment of prisoners in US prisons.

Dahr Jamail.

It is the single most important statistic regarding the illegal US invasion and occupation of Iraq. How many Iraqis have been killed?

655,000.

655,000 Iraqis killed as a result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I have worked for eight months in Iraq as a journalist, witnessing the carnage on a daily basis, visiting the morgues with bodies and body parts piled into them, meeting family after family who had lost a loved one, or more ... Finally, we get an accurate figure that shows how immense the scale of the long drawn carnage really is.

The first Lancet Report, published on October 29, 2004, reported that there were 100,000 "excess" Iraqi deaths as the result of the US invasion and occupation. (Excess deaths are the difference between pre-invasion and post-invasion mortality rates.) Whenever I have given public presentations about the occupation, I have invariably found myself in a difficult position due to the lack of a more realistic and recent figure I can cite, knowing full well that the number was grossly higher than 100,000.

The least I could do was mention that Les Roberts, one of the authors of that report, is known to have said this past February that the number of Iraqi casualties could be over 300,000. And now, we know it is far higher, which merely confirms what most Iraqis already know.

In the context of the horror stories that have reached us over the three-plus years of the occupation, this latest figure is not nearly as shocking as when the first Lancet report was published in October of 2004. It has been abundantly clear since then that the number of Iraqis being killed by and because of the occupation has continued to increase exponentially.

Paul Craig Roberts. 

Norman Solomon 

During a live TV debate on Dec. 3, 2002, I cited the report's estimates of the bloodshed ahead and then asked: "What kind of message is that from the Bush administration against terrorism and against violence for political ends?"

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer turned to the other guest: "Jonah Goldberg, do you accept that assumption in that report on these huge casualties, including a lot of children, if there were an effort to go forward with so-called regime change in Baghdad?"

Goldberg, a pundit with National Review Online, replied: "Frankly, I don't. I mean, I haven't looked at the exact report, and I think that there are a lot of groups out there that inflate a lot of these numbers precisely because they're against the war no matter what. We certainly heard a lot of that around on the table last time. Before the Gulf War, we were told there were going to be tens of thousands of casualties."

He was playing off a common U.S. media pretense that the bombardment of Iraq in early 1991 had minimal negative effects. Yet a fleeting Associated Press story reported on March 22, 1991, that the six-week war had killed an estimated 100,000 Iraqi people -- a figure that came from official U.S. military sources.

American news outlets tend to be rather cavalier about the suffering at the other end of the Pentagon's missiles, bombs and bullets. And there's a strong tendency to brand documented concerns as unfounded speculation -- a media reflex that suits war-crazed presidents just fine.

The accuracy of the latest figures is being challenged, the above articles should help readers form a view. Throw in previous wars and the sanctions and even the lowest estimates give a nasty tally. Take the higher range and people should be careful about a limited attribution of the description "monster".

And for what? We have seen the stories of the effect of the Iraq war on the "war on terror". Here is a report on the  progress of the Baker  Panel's considerations on the future of Iraq.

A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has ruled out the prospect of victory for America, according to draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.

Currently, the 10-member commission — headed by a secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker — is considering two option papers, "Stability First" and "Redeploy and Contain," both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.

More telling, however, is the ruling out of two options last month. One advocated minor fixes to the current war plan but kept intact the long-term vision of democracy in Iraq with regular elections. The second proposed that coalition forces focus their attacks only on Al Qaeda and not the wider insurgency.

Instead, the commission is headed toward presenting President Bush with two clear policy choices that contradict his rhetoric of establishing democracy in Iraq. The more palatable of the two choices for the White House, "Stability First," argues that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents. The goal of nurturing a democracy in Iraq is dropped.

Recall yesterday's item about US troop numbers being maintained until 2010.

What could happen after the midterms? Here is a view. 

Some have done OK in Iraq. But where is the justice?

For those who missed the facts, Robert Parry revisits the Bush lies that led to Iraq and since.

Lies, damned lies and Bushworld. 

It's in the Constitution.

Another Keith Olbermann special today - Why does habeus corpus hate America? Great item. Video and transcript.

Karen Kwiatkowski - The Bush Legacy, or the Modern American Standard?

Some very interesting internal links.

Reference has been made to the latest estimate of the Iraq death toll. Here is the report. (.pdf)

Johns Hopkins article about the report.

Dave Lindorff on the tally.

People will dispute the figures but Lindorff has this item:

That means U.S. forces have, since the March 19, 2003 invasion, killed between 132,000 and 246,000 Iraqis. It should be recalled that the Pentagon has estimated that the insurgency numbers perhaps 20-40,000 individuals, and they have only succeeded in killing a fraction of them. Assuming generously that the military has succeeded in killing maybe a quarter of the enemy fighters, that would be 10,000 people at most, leaving the U.S. civilian death toll at 122,000-236,000. The Christian Science Monitor, no radical rag, once did a survey and found that U.S. forces were killing civilians in Iraq at a rate of 30 for every enemy fighter slain. At that rate, it would appear, if the peer-reviewed Lancet study is correct, that the U.S. invasion and occupation forces have killed between 127,000 and 238,000 civilians. At least a third and perhaps a half of those killed, various studies of Iraqi casualties have made clear, have been children. (emphasis added).

"Collateral damage" at 30-1?

And no respite soon, unless soldiers get sick of it. See an internal link in the Kiatkowski article if you have not done so . OK this one.

Their are elections coming up, Doug Thompson Rants about the matter.

Enough to concern people without articles about paedophiles and the cover up.

Like falling rain.

A report on US war crimes in Iraq has been released as a 36 page .pdf document.

As an accompanying piece, here is Kathy Kelly - When Evil Doing Comes Like Falling Rain.

"The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread. When evil doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out 'stop!'

"When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable, the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer."
--Bertolt Brecht

For those who wish to shift the blame, recall Colin Powell's prewar warning to Bush - "You break it, you own it."

Now to the North Korean test and some background on the Bush policy to NK.

Robert Parry.

Joshua Marshall.

And Bush saying a while back how his policy would work.

The Boston Globe editorial on the matter.

A military solution?

If you ask a "silly question" you get a Snowjob.

Apologists might reject the part the Bush administration played in North Korea's decision to pursue nuclear weapons, the logic apparently being that the world's most powerful state with an aggressive, macho chest thumping foreign policy with little awareness of what is really required could not affect the actions of state's it has targeted. You know, the "axis of evil" rhetoric and such. Actually, there seems little in the way of logic, more in the nature of spin and denial.

How do you defend lying, delusional, criminal, corrupt incompetents?

The words that are used ...

Tom Engelhardt - George Bush's War of the Words, looks at the language that is used.

Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been not so much the planet's lone "hyperpower" as its gunslinger in that great Western ("dead or alive") tradition that George and Dick learned about in the movies of their childhood. But fast as they've reached for their guns (and may do so again in relation to Iran after the mid-term elections), over the last years they've reached for one thing faster: their dictionaries.

And of all the words that came to their minds post-9/11, the first and fastest was an old one -- "war." Within hours of the 9/11 attacks, it was already on the scene and being redefined by administration officials and supporters. We would not, for instance, actually declare war. After all, who was war to be declared on? We were simply "at war" and that was that. Since then, according to George Bush and his associates, we have either been fighting "the Global War on Terror" (aka GWOT), "the long war," "the millennium war," "World War III," or "World War IV." We not only entered an immediate state of war, but one meant to last generations, and with it we got a commander-in-chief presidency secretly redefined in such a way as to place it outside any legal boundaries.

Note the use in the article of "Mushroom cloud" in re Condi Rice, saw another article yesterday which used "Mushrooms", someone else has been using such terms for a while now.

Words again, in particular, their use as propaganda.

"The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust [our own] government statements -- I had no idea until then that you could not rely on [them]." --James W. Fulbright (1905-1995), former US senator

Third sorrow: "The replacement of truth by propaganda, disinformation, and the glorification of war, power, and the military legions." --Chalmers Johnson, (Sorrows of Empire)

”If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” --Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda

Now an article about "Mushroom Cloud" and her latest, in a long list, trip to the ME. This is Gideon Levy on the trip and US policy.

Here's one on "Mushroom's" lost credibility.

Perhaps she'd be better off tending the president's banana.

Now to a couple of polls and the numbers are looking bad for the Grotesque Old Paedophiles.

This.

And this.

Which leaves some people speculating on how big the "October surprise" will be.

Of course it would not make sense to launch another war. But we are dealing with an administration not noted for common sense. More one that is delusional, criminal and corrupt.

Base political motives - a peek into the cesspool.

It is the story in DC at the moment and its ramifications could be great. I write of the Foley scandal and the attempts of the GOP to cover it up and to shift blame. I featured a Jon Stewart segment on blame-shifting last week, more shortly.

The first article in this post is from Time magazine and it declares the end of the Republican revolution. Interesting poll figures at the end of the 7 pages.

A Republican Congressman says he knew in 2000. So it goes a lot further back than the leadership claim.

There is an attempt to blame the Democrats:

In a sharp exchange on "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, insinuated that Democrats were behind the revelations of Foley's actions and the release of electronic messages showing Foley having sexually graphic or highly suggestive conversations with former pages.

"What I don't understand is where have these e-mails been for three years? Are we saying that a 15-year-old child would have sat on e-mails that were triple-X-rated for three years and suddenly spring them out right on the eve of an election? That's just a little bit too suspicious, even for Washington, D.C.," Kingston said.

Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) shot back, "If there's any evidence that you need that the values in Washington have turned upside down, you could just hear what Jack had to say. Only in Washington, D.C., can you take a group of people in charge of the House and basically have evidence that they've been looking the other way while a predator has been . . . going after 15- and 16-year-old pages, [and] they somehow . . . have the audacity to turn that into a political attack against Democrats."

Upside down indeed.

And another attempt, but lacking an answer when asked for evidence. Video and transcript.

BLITZER: Do you have any evidence at all that Democrats or others might have been behind the timing of this scandal?

MCHENRY: Look, let’s be honest…

BLITZER: Do you have any evidence to back that charge up?

MCHENRY: No, no, actually, if the Democrats had any issue with saying this, putting all the facts out on the table, they would say, certainly, I’ll testify under oath that I had no involvement in it. They’ve said no.

BLITZER: Well, you don’t have any evidence, though, right?

MCHENRY: Well, look at the fact points.

BLITZER: Yes or no, do you have any evidence, Congressman?

MCHENRY: Do you have any evidence that they weren’t involved?

BLITZER: I’m just asking if you’re just throwing out an accusation or if you have any hard evidence.

MCHENRY: No. It’s a question, Wolf. The question remains, were they involved? And if they were not involved, they need to say clearly. And it’s a question. It’s not an accusation.

I'm sure readers will recognise the tactics - the apologists have learned it well from their heroes. They are always willing to lend a hand, but I hope they keep the tissues handy.

Now for something completely different, a story on what fuels the furnace of Keith Olbermann's brilliant special comments and a reflection on why they stand out so much.

And, as North Korea is in the news, here is a story about happenings in South Korea - farmers versus the USA.

While the arguments for this restructuring suggest the United States and Korea are mutual and equal allies, Korea in fact remains a semi sovereign state under US control in many respects. Most strikingly, Korean troops come under the command of an American officer in wartime. US military plans in Asia, then, necessarily implicate the Koreans and draw them into conflict with their neighbors. Imagining China as the new national enemy is a process well underway in Washington, and the Koreans know all too well that their surgical twinning to US strategic plans will make them China's enemy as well.

All of this is playing out within the context of a difficult relationship between the more than 30,000 US soldiers based around Korea and the local citizens who see them as a source of prostitution, crime, and pollution. Koreans can point to two young girls crushed by US tanks in 2002, multiple rapes and rape-murders of Korean women, and a recent leaked report showing stratospheric levels of soil and water contamination at closing US bases.

In Daechuri, the farmers have been holding a candlelight vigil every night for the last two years in a Quonset hut on the school grounds, under the thunderous thut-thut-thut of US helicopters passing in and out of Camp Humphrey . Supporters have come in from around the country by the thousands, members of groups from across a wide range of Korea's civil society, still vibrant with an enthusiasm for the democracy they achieved only in 1987 after years of brutal dictatorship (armed and supported by the United States). While a majority of Koreans want to see the US military leave, powerful business interests, conservative Christians, and an older generation convinced of the value of the US presence continue to support Washington's military plans and Korean annual payments of at least $625 million toward their execution.

The justification for the US military buildup across Asia is the advance of political and economic freedom. The residents of Daechuri might be forgiven for being suspicious of such claims. Some of the village's oldest residents with whom I spoke last fall remember the Japanese evicting their parents for a military base during Korea's pre war annexation. The US Army took over and expanded the base in World War II, and now, for some, their third eviction in the name of a misconstrued vision of military rather than human security is imminent.

Some would much prefer to talk about the North.

"Anyone who shelters a terrorist is a terrorist"

This post will be a weekend magazine-like collection of articles ranging across a variety of issues. The responses might range from amusement through to fear.

First, another example of Bush hypocrisy by way of a reminder of unequal treatment.

Cooking the books.

Gordon Prather on National Intelligence Estimates being made to order.

What to do about Iraq? All sorts of ideas are being tossed around.

Helen Thomas on Henry Kissinger advising on Iraq.

The latest Newsweek poll.

Fire up those Diebold machines, boys.

"Sorry, it was an accident."

What if the US used missiles designed for nuclear payloads with conventional ones? Who would be able to tell the difference and how long would they have to decide what to do?

OK, a worrying possible scenario, so I'll finish on a lighter note:

Jeb Bush cuts and runs and then goes into the closet but comes out later.

Enjoy your Sunday reading.

No sooner said ...

Having posted material about Commander Codpiece's use of signing statements yesterday, why am I not surprised that today I can link two more examples? Almost a Pavlovian response by the Commander, as in dog's, although reference to a dessert - a meringue cake with cream and fruits - might be an analogy for presidential and party attributes.

Here is one example, on FEMA

And on privacy reports. 

He's the decider who can do what he wants regardless of the Constitution and any other legal impediment.

Which us more ammunition to support articles such as this.

The latest Time poll is not good news for the Commander.

The poll suggests the Foley affair may have dented Republican hopes of retaining control of Congress in November. Among the registered voters who were polled, 54% said they would be more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress, compared with 39% who favored the Republican.

...

Almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents disapprove of President Bush's handling of the war, while 54% believe he "deliberately misled" Americans in making his case for war — a figure that has increased by 6 points over the past year. President Bush's overall approval rating, according to TIME's poll, now stands at just 36%, down from 38% in August.

Perhaps he'll dismiss the nay-sayers, ie., the majority, as traitors.

So the public do not think the Commander is doing a very good job. But what is his job? Jon Stewart investigates. Video. Nice little sting in the tail.

On the revelations of a meeting that was conveniently forgotten, some widows are not happy and have issued a statement. Here is an extract:.

To our continued dismay, both the Bush Administration and the 9/11 Commission have consistently failed to give a complete and honest accounting to the American public with regard to their actions and inactions leading up to the devastation of September 11, 2001.

The inexcusable result of this less than truthful accounting has resulted in America making important national security decisions and passing legislation using the 9/11 Commission's conclusions and recommendations. Chillingly, these decisions appear to be based upon an unclear combination of partial truths mixed with distortions and omissions of important facts.

Incredibly, five years post 9/11 we have come full circle. In spite of all the clear warnings that our government received, why did those in power fail to invoke any defensive measures to protect our nation from the attacks of September 11, 2001?

We demand the immediate declassification and release of these latest documents and transcripts. The American public has the right to know what their government did or did not do to protect us from terrorist actions.

People debating the merits of investigations held might take note of not only this article but also  material previously posted.

Touching on the page boy scandal (no pun intended) here is Doug Thompson revealing yet more Republican hypocrisy

"Liars and scumbags"? Seems justified by the evidence. 

Olbermann takes aim.

Keith Olbermann in a special comment has let fly at Bush. Video here.

Transcript here.

The president doesn’t just hear what he wants.

He hears things that only he can hear.

It defies belief that this president and his administration could continue to find new unexplored political gutters into which they could wallow.

Yet they do.

Just a taste of what to expect. OK., another taste:

In less than one month you have gone from a flawed call to unity to this clarion call to hatred of Americans, by Americans.

If this is not simply the most shameless example of the rhetoric of political hackery, then it would have to be the cry of a leader crumbling under the weight of his own lies.

We have, of course, survived all manner of political hackery, of every shape, size and party. We will have to suffer it, for as long as the Republic stands.

But the premise of a president who comes across as a compulsive liar is nothing less than terrifying.

A president who since 9/11 will not listen, is not listening — and thanks to Bob Woodward’s most recent account — evidently has never listened.

IMO, every word delivered right on target and so deserved. 

The assumption and exercise of power.

The Congressional Research Service has issued a report on Bush's use of signing statements.

In a 27-page report written for lawmakers, the research service said the Bush administration is using signing statements as a means to slowly condition Congress into accepting the White House's broad conception of presidential power, which includes a presidential right to ignore laws he believes are unconstitutional.

The ``broad and persistent nature of the claims of executive authority forwarded by President Bush appear designed to inure Congress, as well as others, to the belief that the president in fact possesses expansive and exclusive powers upon which the other branches may not intrude," the report said.

One can almost hear Bush saying "The trouble with the French is that they have no expression for 'l'etat c'est moi'.

One must be careful about infringing on the domain of the powers that be, as this chap found out.

Steve Howards says he used to fantasize about what he’d say to President Bush or Vice President Cheney if he ever got the chance.

That opportunity arrived on June 16, the same day he says he read about U.S. fatalities in Iraq reaching 2,500.

“Initially, I walked past him. Then I said to myself, ‘I can’t in good conscience let this opportunity pass by.’ So I approached him, I got about two feet away, and I said in a very calm tone of voice, ‘Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.’”

Howards says he was taking two of his kids to their Suzuki piano camp in Beaver Creek, Colorado. They were walking across the outdoor public mall area when all of a sudden he saw Cheney there.

“I didn’t even know he was in town,” Howards says. “He was walking through the area shaking hands. Initially, I walked past him. Then I said to myself, ‘I can’t in good conscience let this opportunity pass by.’ So I approached him, I got about two feet away, and I said in a very calm tone of voice, ‘Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.’ And then I walked away.”

Howards says he knew the Administration has a “history of making problems” for people who protest its policies, so he wanted to leave off at that.

But the Secret Service did not take kindly to his comment.“About ten minutes later, I came back through the mall with my eight-year-old son in tow,” Howards recalls, “and this Secret Service man came out of the shadows, and his exact words were, ‘Did you assault the Vice President?’ ”

Here’s how Howards says he responded: “No, but I did tell Mr. Cheney the way I felt about the war in Iraq, and if Mr. Cheney wants to be shielded from public criticism, he should avoid public places. If exercising my constitutional rights to free speech is against the law, then you should arrest me.”

Which is just what the agent, Virgil D. “Gus” Reichle Jr, proceeded to do.

The effrontery, talking to the Lord of Darkness that way. That chap who told Cheney to "go f*ck yourself" must be counting his blessings. But then that was what Cheney told someone to do on the Senate.

What about American "values" in all this?

Garrison Keillor.

Bill Moyers.

Paul Craig Roberts.

James Abourezk.

So what to do? For a start, Tom Engelhardt presents David Swanson who looks at the remedy available and the reasons to use it. It does seem that the people agree. But what have they got to do with it?

G'day Angela, nice post on the Aussie Islam thread.

Spin out.

Another piece of Bushspin is under fire -the claim that Iran has been supplying weapons to Shiite groups in Iraq. The British have found no evidence to support this claim.

A few hundred British troops living out of nothing more than their
cut-down Land Rovers and light armored vehicles have taken to the
desert in the start of what British officers said would be months of
patrols aimed at finding the illicit weapons trafficking from Iran, or
any sign of it.

There's just one thing.

"I suspect there's
nothing out there," the commander, Lt. Col. David Labouchere, said last
month, speaking at an overnight camp near the border. "And I intend to
prove it."

Other senior British military leaders spoke as explicitly in interviews over the previous two months. Britain,
whose forces have had responsibility for security in southeastern Iraq
since the war began, has found nothing to support the Americans'
contention that Iran is providing weapons and training in Iraq, several
senior military officials said.

"I have not myself seen any
evidence -- and I don't think any evidence exists -- of
government-supported or instigated" armed support on Iran's part in
Iraq, British Defense Secretary Des Browne said in an interview in
Baghdad in late August.

Condi Rice is off to try to   the ME again, although Time is not very optimistic in an article titled Condi Rice Tries to Look Busy.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in the Middle East, hoping to
bolster Arab moderates — foremost among them beleaguered Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — and revive the moribund
Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The unstated objectives include
helping to topple the Hamas-led government elected by the Palestinians
in January, and seeking to rally moderate Arab regimes against Iran. So
what are her chances of success? Let's just say it's probably easier
finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq than finding any Arabs or
Israelis optimistic over Rice's prospects.

With such faint hopes of any success it probably doesn't matter if she remembers what was said in meetings, or even if there were meetings.

US policy towards the ME has echoes of the Cold War.

Ira Chernus on what Iran means to the neocons.

Hot or Cold, a war is a useful tool.

Speaking of tools, OK, one item on the scandal that is preoccupying DC. The Speaker is on his way out according to insiders. And the midterms loom. Will require all the Republicans "expertise" to avoid losing control of at least one chamber.

Interesting times ahead.

Just found this - there have been a number of retired former high ranking US military men critical of the Iraq war. Now we have a serving senior officer speaking out. Marine Gen James L Jones, US commander for Europe has confirmed criticisms attributed to him in Bob Woodward's State of Denial.

The old DC shuffle.

G'day Trevor Kerr, I note you have taken the Foley scandal to another thread. Spread the muck evenly. And no need for anyone to say "Give the Republicans a hand." Been far too much of that. I will focus on another scandal, the one about meetings and attacks and wars.

First, DemocracyNow! interviews Rand Beers, formerly Bush's senior director for combating terrorism on the NSC.

Next, Robert Scheer on Condi Rice.

They are such liars. And no, I am not speaking only of the dissembling GOP House leaders led by Speaker Dennis Hastert who, out of naked political calculation, covered up for one of their own in the sordid teen stalking case of Rep. Mark Foley.

Call me old school, but I am still more concerned with the Republicans molesting Lady Liberty while pretending to be guarding the nation’s security, an assignment which they have totally botched. The news about the Foley coverup, while important as yet another example of extreme hypocrisy on the part of the Republican virtues police, should not be allowed to obscure the latest evidence of administration deceit as to its egregious ineptness in protecting the nation.

William Rivers Pitt - The Tipping Point.

Seventeen American soldiers have been killed in Iraq since Saturday. Dozens of civilians have died in the last few days as the sectarian civil war in Baghdad reaches new and horrific levels of violence. The bombers have gotten clever, it seems; they detonate one device to bring in rescue workers, police and onlookers. When the post-blast crowd is thick enough, they detonate another device.

Condoleezza Rice has been exposed once again as a bad liar. Several new reports confirm that CIA Director Tenet and CIA Counterterrorism Director Black did, in fact, deliver a stern warning to her regarding an impending terror attack two months before 9/11. That same warning was given one week later to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Attorney General Ashcroft, in a briefing described as a "10 out of 10" on the Take-This-Seriously-o-Meter by the official who prepared it.

Rice, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft all received frightening warnings before the attacks, with Bush getting the August 6th PDB warning to cap it off, and nothing came of it. This moves matters well beyond simple negligence. It is abundantly clear that there was a policy in place to whistle past any and all terror warnings in the months before 9/11. It wasn't about incompetence. It was policy.

Now that will make people sit up and take notice. And Jack ...off (how appropriate that is) gets a mention:

Congressman Henry Waxman, minority chair for the House Government Reform Committee, released a massive batch of emails from Abramoff to various Washington DC power players. In one, dated March 18, 2002, Abramoff wrote, "I was sitting yesterday with Karl Rove, Bush's top advisor, at the NCAA basketball game, discussing Israel when this email came in. I showed it to him. It seems that the President was very sad to have to come out negatively regarding Israel, but that they needed to mollify the Arabs for the upcoming war on Iraq."

"The upcoming war in Iraq," wrote Abramoff casually, one year and two days before the invasion was undertaken. It seems those "few staff-level meetings" availed Abramoff of some significant information. How this criminal came to know war in Iraq was coming before the rest of the world did is something that deserves a great deal of intense scrutiny.

He then gets onto the Foley matter and the way it has garnered attention as opposed to other matters.

On the matter of wars, whither Afghanistan?

And is al Qaeda as powerful in Iraq as claimed?

A newly disclosed internal al-Qaeda communiqué reveals a divided organization with only a fragile foothold in Iraq, hoping U.S. troops will stay long enough to give it time to build alliances with often-antagonistic Iraqi insurgents and other Sunni leaders.

The letter, dated Dec. 11, 2005, amounted to a warning from a senior al-Qaeda operative known as “Atiyah” to the then-leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The letter faulted Zarqawi for attacks on fellow Muslims that had alienated key elements of the Sunni-led opposition to the U.S. occupation.

Atiyah told Zarqawi that “the most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness and firm rooting, and that it grows in terms of supporters, strength, clarity of justification, and visible proof each day. Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest.” [Emphasis added.]

Atiyah’s assessment that “prolonging the war is in our interest” flies in the face of President George W. Bush’s argument that a prompt U.S. military withdrawal would amount to a major victory for al-Qaeda.

Well, does that take care of that particular bit of spin?

OK, a bit on the Foley issue and Republican hypocrisy, this is a Doug Thompson Rant, a welcome home present for a particular Thompson fan.

To close, a piece on Hizb Allah, which might be useful to those battling elsewhere. Not the sort of material that suits some.

Trick or treat.

While DC is wallowing in the latest scandal, there is conjecture that an old scandal – and the starting point of this thread – could become a new scandal. Tom Engelhardt features Elizabeth de la Vega on conjecture of a December pardon for Scooter Libby.

Meanwhile, back at Fox, they somehow got confused as to which party Foley belongs to. An accident surely? They wouldn't do it on purpose, would they?

With the bad polls and the latest scandal people expect Democrat victories in the midterms. But do the Republicans have a card (or voting machines etc) up their sleeve?

On really important tissues, a group of scientists predict one third of the Earth will be desert by 2100.

There is also a link to a story on polar ice caps melting.

Really serious problems might lie ahead.

Muck and Mire.

It's a woman's prerogative ... Condi "Must leave those mushrooms alone" Rice has "amended her previous statement about that meeting. And others were also warned.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and former Attorney General John Ashcroft received the same CIA briefing about an imminent al-Qaida strike on an American target that was given to the White House two months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

 

The State Department's disclosure Monday that the pair was briefed within a week after then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was told about the threat on July 10, 2001, raised new questions about what the Bush administration did in response, and about why so many officials have claimed they never received or don't remember the warning.

...

Speaking to reporters late Sunday en route to the Middle East, Rice said she had no recollection of what she called "the supposed meeting."

 

"What I'm quite certain of, is that it was not a meeting in which I was told that there was an impending attack and I refused to respond," she said.

 

Ashcroft, who resigned as attorney general on Nov. 9, 2004, told the Associated Press on Monday that it was "disappointing" that he never received the briefing, either.

 

But on Monday evening, Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack issued a statement confirming that she'd received the CIA briefing "on or around July 10" and had asked that it be given to Ashcroft and Rumsfeld.

My underlining.

Now to the page boy scandal. This is now causing the Republicans a great deal of trouble .. and with the midterms just a month away.

The Huffington Post has a good collection of pieces on the issue.

Here are some views:

This.

This.

The Washington Times calls for the Speaker's resignation.

Who knew and who covered it up?

Jon Stewart and his take on the scandal. 10 minute video.

Now to other problems.

William Pfaff - A Disaster by Any Measure.

This is one reason (or should it be 263) why the word disaster is appropriate.

This senior Republican isn't singing from the same hymn book as the Administration - Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, says Taliban should be taken into the Afghan government.

On the Detainee Bill and the junking of habeus corpus.

Appropriate to finish this edition with Doug Thompson.

Speaker of the House Dennis J. Hastert is a perfect poster child for the Republican Party: Bloated and out-of-control.

With his multiple chins spilling over a too-tight dress shirt collar, Hastert is at once buffoon and bluster - a belching dispenser of contradictory hot air spilling out of an out-of-shape mass of fat. But he's also very, very dangerous.

A former high school wrestling coach, Hastert's girth and weight have mushroomed since he came to Congress in 1987 - much like the federal budget and size of government on his watch along with encroachments on freedom and the Constitution by a House of Representative under his leadership.

Read on.

Has the city in the hill sunk into a cesspit?

Condi caught with her pants ... on fire?

Dear readers, pleasing when apparent confirmation of a claim comes as quickly as it does in the following case.

In this morning's post I linked an further article on the claim in Bob Woodward's book, State of Denial, that then CIA director George Tenet warned then NSA Condi "Mushrooms" Rice of a looming threat by al Qaeda. This is part of Ms Rice's response, as posted earlier:

What I am quite certain of is that I would remember if I was told, as this account apparently says, that there was about to be an attack in the United States, and the idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible," Rice said.

Now we have this

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 2 — A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.
...

Officials now agree that on July 10, 2001, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism deputy, J. Cofer Black, were so alarmed about an impending Al Qaeda attack that they demanded an emergency meeting at the White House with Ms. Rice and her National Security Council staff.

According to two former intelligence officials, Mr. Tenet told those assembled at the White House about the growing body of intelligence the Central Intelligence Agency had collected pointing to an impending Al Qaeda attack. But both current and former officials took issue with Mr. Woodward’s account that Mr. Tenet and his aides left the meeting in frustration, feeling as if Ms. Rice had ignored them.

Ignored or not, it seems Ms Rice eventually forgot all about the meeting. None seem to come out of this smelling of roses it seems. But the claim of not remembering the meeting sits alongside the "noone imagined" statement among Ms Rice's gems. And from the woman who said at her Senate confirmation hearing, after listening to a list (though not a complete one) of her "inconsistencies" read to her:

I won't have my integrity impugned.

When I suggest to people that governments do lie, the above is further evidence. Unless her memory really is that bad. Could it be? I very much doubt it.

Jack's Back.

Jack ...off, that is and in the sense of DemocracyNow! devoting its program to Bill Moyers and his examination of the extent of the scandal surrounding ...off. And it is very extensive. Video and transcript.

In the wake of the Detainee Bill, here is an article of what some US POWs confessed to in Korea under non-physical torture.

The first prisoner to crack said the goal was "the mass annihilation of the civilian population." As often happens, his confession led to others, and before long, three dozen prisoners had coughed up page after page of chilling, meticulously detailed admissions.

The commotion continues over Bob Woodward's new book, which is selling like hotcakes and is already in its third printing. The Administration is ducking and covering and trying to defuse the issues the book has raised. Condi "Mushrooms" Rice is denying that she had secret meeting with George Tenet where he warned her of an impending attack.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she cannot recall then-CIA chief George Tenet warning her of an impending al-Qaida attack in the United States, as a new book claims he did two months before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"What I am quite certain of is that I would remember if I was told, as this account apparently says, that there was about to be an attack in the United States, and the idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible," Rice said.

Well, she would say that.

Here's another view.

And it is not all exactly new news. So why now?

Arianna Huffington's view.

Some more on Pakistan and the war on terror.

Someone on a thread some months ago tried to discredit a critic of the Iraq war by referring to allegations involving  an underage girl. This was shown to be a false allegation. I suggest that person might try to ignore the current scandal in DC concerning the activities of a former Republican Congressman and boys, a matter the party's leadership knew well before the public revelations about his behaviour. The old DC politics above all else game. I will not go into details, they can be readily found on the 'net, but it is worth recalling the fuss over adult consensual sex in re Bill Clinton that the Republicans made.

There have been many comparisons made between the Iraq war and the Vietnam war. Lawdy, Commander Codpiece even has Henry "lots of countries I can't visit" Kissinger advising him. Here is another comparison, between the US and ancient Rome. Empires rise and fall.

A nod in the direction of Craig Rowley who is doing a great job in a number of ways. G'day and many thanks, Craig.

He's not in a state of denial, he's in the state of Texas.

Today more on the fuss and bother over pre-Sept 11 preparedness, the Iraq foul up and why the raking over the ashes, a surprise encounter on Fox, and he fired the wrong man.

Yes, just another day in Old DC.

To start, a Bush adviser takes the usual approach to critics, yes, question their integrity.

The meeting that never was.

As a Counsel to the 9/11 Commission, I became very familiar with both the PDB and the Phoenix Memo, as well as the tragic consequences of the failure to detect and stop the plot. A mixture of shock, anger, and sadness overcame me when I read about revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book about a special surprise visit that George Tenet and his counterterrorism chief Cofer Black made to Condi Rice, also on July 10, 2001:

They went over top-secret intelligence pointing to an impending attack and “sounded the loudest warning” to the White House of a likely attack on the U.S. by Bin Laden.

Woodward writes that Rice was polite, but, “They felt the brushoff.”

If true, it is shocking that the administration failed to heed such an overwhelming alert from the two officials in the best position to know. Many, many questions need to be asked and answered about this revelation — questions that the 9/11 Commission would have asked, had the Commission been told about this significant meeting. Suspiciously, the Commissioners and the staff investigating the administration’s actions prior to 9/11 were never informed of the meeting. As Commissioner Jamie Gorelick pointed out, “We didn’t know about the meeting itself. I can assure you it would have been in our report if we had known to ask about it.”

Lots of Comments as well and could be a useful resource on the 9/11 thread.

Richard Clarke on the fuss.

All the finger-pointing and hunting for scapegoats last week won't rectify those failures, or help us avoid future ones. Fortunately, unlike too many of our political leaders and pundits, most Americans are far more concerned about what we are doing now in the name of fighting terrorism than about petty partisan bickering about the past.

The greatest problem we face is that while the 9/11 attacks should have united us as a nation - and for a while they did - such unity has badly eroded. To recreate that national purpose, we need to understand why the erosion occurred.

First and most obviously, the invasion and occupation of Iraq shattered the post-9/11 American consensus. The ham-handed attempts to erroneously link Iraq with the Qaeda attacks destroyed the government's credibility with much of the country. That needed trust was undermined further last week in a National Intelligence Estimate that showed that our soldiers' sacrifices have not weakened the terrorist movement.

A broad consensus in America on Iraq may now be impossible. President Bush could, however, move in that direction by admitting there is a serious problem with the current strategy and taking advice from a bipartisan group of respected experts to recommend a way forward that concentrates on protecting such basic national interests as preventing Iraq from continuing to be an anarchic failed state where terrorists can train. The Iraq Study Group, created at the urging of Congress in March and led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Representative Lee Hamilton, might perform that service.

A second erosive factor was what appeared to many as the administration's willingness to use 9/11 as an excuse to strengthen presidential power and erode fundamental American civil liberties. Particularly troublesome to me, as someone who was at the nexus of the government's intelligence networks for many years, was the National Security Agency's illegal wiretapping of phones in the United States without a warrant, and also the abandoning of our treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions by engaging in "alternative interrogation techniques" at the C.I.A.'s secret prisons.

Frank Rich.

That’s why long ago a majority of that public judged the war a mistake and Mr. Bush a dissembler. It’s only the variations on the theme that change. When the president declared last month that “the Iraqi government and the Iraqi military is committed to keeping this country together,” reality was once more busily contradicting him. The Los Angeles Times reported that a third of that government wasn’t showing up to parliamentary sessions and that only 1,000 Iraqi soldiers answered the American call for 4,000 reinforcements in the do-or-die battle to secure Baghdad.

Against this ominous reality, the debate over the N.I.E. is but a sideshow: politics as usual on both sides. The president reluctantly declassified what had already been leaked, somehow hoping he could override the bad headlines with Pavlovian repetition of shopworn slogans. (He said America must “stay on the offense” four times in one speech on Friday alone.) Democrats are huffily demanding that the White House release more than a few scraps of the 30-page-plus N.I.E., a debating point with no payoff. The N.I.E. is already six months out of date, and Americans can guess most of it, classified or not. In this war at this late stage, the devil can be found everywhere, not merely in the details.

Obvious to all, except those in denial.

They sold the world a pup and then sacked the chief salesman. The fall of Colin Powell.

This is a lengthy piece bout the development of the "Powell moment", the UN speech, and then the unraveling. A strange item at the end is that when Powell went to bid farewell to Bush, Bush did not seem to know why Powell was there:

The appointed time found Powell already in the Oval Office for a routine meeting; when it concluded, he lingered as the others left. As Powell later remembered it, Bush seemed puzzled and called after his departing chief of staff, "Where you going, Andy?"

"Mr. President, I think this is supposed to be our farewell call," Powell prompted.

"Is that why Condi ain't here?" he recalled the president asking.

That was probably the reason, Powell replied.

On the ball, or what?

Something unexpected on Fox, interviewer gets uppity with William Kristol talking about political manoeuvring while US personnel are dying in Iraq. Video.

Here is a teaser, is Musharraf on the US payroll?

WASHINGTON: A British analyst has stirred a hornet's nest by revealing that the United States is bankrolling Pakistan's military ruler Pervez Musharraf to the extent of $70-80 million a month, adding fuel to the dictator's incendiary visit to the West this month.

The unnamed analyst has made the disclosure in a British ministry of defence think-tank paper that has subsequently been disowned by London as "not representing the views of the MoD or the government."

The denial is expected, one of those "well, they would say that" moments. However, surely the claim could not be true that an administration that claims to be spreading democracy and freedom would simultaneously be supporting dictators. Otherwise it would be gross hypocrisy. Given the Bush administration's record this is surely ... oh, hold on a moment.

Enough, I think for now, to keep readers occupied or perhaps, for some, a risk of apoplexy.

Give the man a banana.

Seemed like a day to rest but seeing as someone has decided to don the moderator's cap and there are such interesting articles (not to some perhaps) I thought I'd prepare a reading list.

First, Marjorie Cohn, "a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is president-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists." on the detainee Bill.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 governing the treatment of detainees is the culmination of relentless fear-mongering by the Bush administration since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, "unlawful enemy combatants."

Bush & Co. has portrayed the bill as a tough way to deal with aliens to protect us against terrorism. Frightened they might lose their majority in Congress in the November elections, the Republicans rammed the bill through Congress with little substantive debate.

Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush's list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government's policies could be declared an "unlawful enemy combatant" and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.

There they go, spreading freedom and democracy again. Or is it just fertiliser they spread?

On the lead up to the new bill.

More on Bob Woodward's new book State of Denial.

From Woodward.

After the above appetizer, an 11 page extract from the book.

This.

From the Grauniad, ooops, Guardian.

On Iraq.

Bush on the offensive. From the safety of the US, of course.

Someone finds Bush offensive.

Now, for a change of subject, an article from Paul Craig Roberts on the US economy, in particular, the outsourcing of US jobs.

I note a response from Timothy Wong (G'day) on another thread to the behaviour of some there. And some weighty material for consideration. Not sure, Timothy, if there will be much intelligent response allowed. Seems to be the aim. Great try though. There is another post addressed to me but short of having a lobotomy and abandoning all regard for the principles and practices of civil debate, I'm not sure I can provide an answer, or to sink to that level.

So, dear readers, you have some more weekend reading. Enjoy.

Heil to the Chief

The US Senate has passed the detainee bill designed to get around the finding of the Supreme Court in the Hamdan case. The Bill now heads to the desk of Commander Codpiece. Following are some reports and views on the matter.

This. 

This. 

This. 

This. 

For some flavour - David Corn This is What Waterboarding Looks Like.

And, just in case they get ideas, the A-G issues a caution to judges.

From DemocracyNow! an interview with Sen. Patrick Leahy. Video and transcript.

The second story on today's program is Rajiv Chandrasekaran on Emerald City, the Green Zone in Baghdad.

On the matter of Iraq, here are some tidbits from Bob Woodward's new book. 

Iraq not healthy for journalists.

For those who have read the material presented above or similar material elsewhere might be a wee bit concerned not only at the powers being granted to a US president, but especially to the current president. Jon Stewart on TDS gives his take on Bush's response to the leaking of the NIE report, the one that gives a bad picture of the impact of the Iraq war on the "war on terror".  Yes indeed, especially this president. Video.

So read the material and draw your conclusions. I've omitted posting extracts as it could have resulted in a very large post and, apart from bandwidth concerns, our moderators have had quite enough to do in a time which seems unusually difficult.. Thanks Richard, and to Craig, who has been fighting a very necessary battle against the Vandals at the gates of Webdiary, quite superbly, imo.

G'day to Chris Shaw and thanks for your kind words yesterday. And g'day to all Irises readers.

A progress report.

The first item today is Keith Olbermann giving an account of the Bush administration's efforts (or lack of them) to deal with the threat of al Qaeda before September 11 2001. Video and transcript.

Some interesting extracts:

OLBERMANN: That, although Clarke‘s January 25 memo specifically warned, “Al Qaeda is not some narrow little terrorist issue that needs to be included in broader regional policy. By proceeding with separate policy reviews on Central Asia, etc., we would deal inadequately with the need for a comprehensive multiregional policy on al Qaeda.”

Clarke‘s deputies‘ meeting came in April, when, he says, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz insisted the real terrorism threat was not al Qaeda, but Iraq.

And

Until September 11, even when Mr. Bush was asked about the “Cole,” an attack carried out on water by men in a boat, he offered a consistent prescription for keeping America safe, one he reiterated upon taking office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: To protect our own people, our allies and friends, we must develop and we must deploy effective missile defenses.

And

On February 26, 2001, Paul Bremer said of the administration, quote, “What they will do is stagger along until there‘s a major incident, and then suddenly say, Oh, my God, shouldn‘t we be organized to deal with this?”

There are also clips of several people who "could not imagine ...". One, perhaps, could imagine small boats falling from the stratosphere ....

A NYTimes editorial on legislating tyranny.

Here's what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans' fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws - while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists - because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That's pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

It was only after the Supreme Court issued the inevitable ruling striking down Mr. Bush's shadow penal system that he adopted his tone of urgency. It serves a cynical goal: Republican strategists think they can win this fall, not by passing a good law but by forcing Democrats to vote against a bad one so they could be made to look soft on terrorism.

Read on.

Browbeating the military.

Now to Iraq. First, Tom Engelhardt.

This is a fulsome piece with at least 50 internal links. 

The Democrats held an unofficial hearing in the Senate on Iraq . Here is Maj Gen John Batiste's (ret) testimony.

Bob Woodward gets stuck in.

CBS) Veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward tells Mike Wallace that the Bush administration has not told the truth regarding the level of violence, especially against U.S. troops, in Iraq. He also reveals key intelligence that predicts the insurgency will grow worse next year.

And a Doug Thompson Rant on the subject.

It begins:

Of the many lies told by the Bush Administration about the invasion of Iraq, and there are now too many to catalog, few stand out as prominently as Vice President Dick Cheney's continued claim that the Iraqi people see Americans as "liberators."

"My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators," Cheney said on Meet the Press on March 16, 2003.

"I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators," he said on Meet the Press on September 14, 2003.

"I said we'll be greeted as liberators. And we were," he said, again on Meet the Press on September 24, 2006.

Say what?

As Cheney repeated his lie for yet another time this month, a poll by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes found that 60 percent of Iraqis approve of attacks by insurgents against American soldiers in their country and 75 percent feel our military "provokes more violence than it prevents."

A separate State Department poll found two-thirds of Iraqis living in Baghdad want U.S. forces out of their country now.

So much for being liberators.

Some get upset when members of the Bush administration are branded as liars. The evidence that they are is overwhelming.

Here is an article on the first poll mentioned in the article. The second has been linked in an earlier post.

Something rotten in the States.

Nuts and Boltons.

Here is an article about John Bolton, whose confirmation for the UN job has been delayed. There are internal links which lead to some very interesting articles.

Here is a poll of Iraqis and what they want. The big majority want the US out, and when do they want it? Now. But what about that embassy and those "enduring bases"?

Tom Engelhardt presents Michael T. Klare on falling oil prices, Iran and peak oil. Sections of this could be used as material for discussion elsewhere, if the lords of Onan were to allow a constructive discussion to occur. Unlikely.

Two articles on why it makes sense to some to nuke Iran.

Jorge Hirsch.

Paul Craig Roberts.

One hopes that these will be read and analysed in a sober manner.

Doug Thompson took a break from writing his Rants but has returned to the fray. Here is his latest - Stupid is as stupid does. This a welcome on the way home present for a diarist who has a particular fondness for Thompson's work. This is understandable given this extract:

Too often, voters make the serious mistake of assuming that political candidates and elected officials are smart.

Most of them aren't. In fact, many of them are dumber than fence posts. I've covered politicians as a journalist and worked with them as a political operative for more than 40 years now and can count on one hand the number with IQs above that of a two-minute egg.

Take George Allen, the Virginia Senator and wannabe President. A few weeks ago, he noticed a young man with a video camera in the crowd at a campaign rally. He knows the guy is a campaign operative for his opponent yet he makes a fool of himself on videotape by referring to the young native Virginian of Indian descent as "Macaca," an ethnic slur against those of Indian heritage.

To most people, common sense would dictate that you don't issue ethnic slurs while your opposition is videotaping you. Common sense, however, is not found in most political campaign plans.

Common sense says Allen would not come up to a political action committee representative at a Washington fundraiser and call Afro-Americans "niggers." But Allen did. I know. I was the PAC rep he said that to in 1991.

Yes, the old common sense we hear so much about. But the worry is, Allen's behaviour would make sense to some. As would that of those mentioned in the earlier articles. Sad but true.

"Attack the virtuous and reward the useless"

G'day Phil Kendall, thank you for your post which has much to commend it.

In my previous post I linked to an extract of the interview in which an attempt was made to ambush Bill Clinton. And the perpetrators wished they hadn't. There has been the usual kerfuffle from the usual suspects in its wake but Keith Olbermann has retaliated with a Special Comment. This is an example of why KO is the nearest the US media has today to Edward R Murrow and this is a prime example of why I make that assessment. Video and transcript. Here is a juicy extract:

Thus was it left for the previous President to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be the textbook definition… Sir, of cowardice.

To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past.

That was one of the great mechanical realities Eric Blair — writing as George Orwell — gave us in the novel "1984."

The great philosophical reality he gave us, Mr. Bush, may sound as familiar to you, as it has lately begun to sound familiar to me.

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power…

"Power is not a means; it is an end.

"One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

"The object of persecution, is persecution. The object of torture, is torture. The object of power… is power."

Condi "Mushrooms must have clouded my brain" Rice denied some of the former president's claim but this article has evidence that Condi was fibbing. Not Condi "Noone imagined" Rice?

William Blum - If It's Election Season, It Must be Time for a Terror Alert

Tom Engelhardt presents David Morse on US machinations over Darfur.

For those who can view videos readily - and in this case I particularly direct this to Richard (G'day) as it deals with issues he is interested in - a film by Robert Greenwald - Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers.

Is a 75 min video. When I tried it yesterday the Real Player version did not work but the WMP did.

The Bush administration is trying to get an amnesty law passed, Robert Parry reports. Could be a case of saving one's own ass.

On Phil's greedastrophe the US National Academy of Sciences reports that Earth is at its hottest for thousands of years.

So all we need is more war for oil and all the time, resources and attention wasted, eh?

The Empire of Fear. Out sourced, of course.

Here is the latest Tom Engelhardt which deals with prisons, an oversized embassy, "enduring bases" and the outsourcing, even in the CIA. Recommended.

Meanwhile, the NYTimes splashed this story over its front page.

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

Not a surprising conclusion, but now made very prominent.

Another instance of corruption - this of the Education Dept's reading program.

Washington - A scorching internal review of the Bush administration's reading program says the Education Department ignored the law and ethical standards to steer money how it wanted.

    The government audit is unsparing in its review of how Reading First, a billion-dollar program each year, that it says has been beset by conflicts of interest and willful mismanagement. It suggests the department broke the law by trying to dictate which curriculum schools must use.

    It also depicts a program in which review panels were stacked with people who shared the director's views and in which only favored publishers of reading curricula could get money.

    In one e-mail, the director told a staff member to come down hard on a company he didn't support, according to the report released Friday by the department's inspector general.

I include this as an example of how widespread corruption appears to have become in old DC. No child left behind? Or no dollar left behind?

On the media - Fox tried to ambush Bill Clinton by questioning him on Bin Laden but they forgot who they were dealing with. Video.

Coincidence? Nooo, I don't think so...

A certain right-wing ratbag (and yes, 'in here') has boasted that s/he was deploying "Islamo-Fascist" before the term became so fashionable, that even Costello has now used it.

That may be so, (and who would deny even such a s**t his or her 'day in the Sun'?) - but 'mainstream' Islamo-Fascism now is. You know it's arrived when the AusBC announcers Oh, so casually drop it into their 'news' bulletins.

The same thing happened to "Jihad;" we even had GWBush's "Crusade" slip Oh, so long ago (before 9/11? We know they wanted to slam Iraq looong before then.)

Now even the Pope's into Islamo-bashing, again with Costello climbing aboard in support. Think of the hypocrisy, of Costello on the one hand addressing "Hillsong" then telling the Muslims to get religion out'a government. Get in the far queue!

Coincidence? Nooo, I don't think so...

-=*=-

A while ago, the idea of 'tipping-points' came to me; it was in connection to a certain 'high-nach' (need to achieve) but nevertheless midget-politician, in response to a) a so-called never-ever GST, b) those kiddies (not!) in the wardah®, c) the shameful Tampa imbroglio (I knew the election was 'lost' as soon as I saw the TV pictures of that rust-coloured near-wreck of a 'rescue' ship) and d) SIEV-X: 353 miserably drowned-dead in nearly the very same wardah, with or without our brave Navy as witness. (Only they really know. And so much for SOLAS.) Then came the non-WMD illegal invasion of Iraq; it was all 'easy-peasy' by then - a boundary had already been crossed.

My idea of a 'tipping-point' is that once a certain limit has been breached, there are no further meaningful limits.

I also talked about service personnel and murder; I think there really is a human utter revulsion towards killing people; service personnel are 'coached' to approach then transcend this natural revulsion, but once this 'limit' is crossed, the 'dogs of war' are truly and horribly unleashed. Panic perfect. One might comprehend the notion of 'defence' perhaps - but that (defence) we just ain't got.

As in Iraq; from the "Get-go" (hideous Ami-speak; spit, spit!) the "Grunts" spoke of going to "Play in Iraq" and "pink-mist" the towel-headed (Muslim) multitudes.

I suspect it's only possible to kill by first de-humanising; the same boastful "Islamo-Fascist" deployed, as well as his three or four stooge-agitators 'in here,' the whole Conga-Line starting with our own mangy politicians and (corrupt!) MSM, all the way 'up' to GWBush himself - and now, how astoundingly, the Pope are all into 'dehumanising' our Muslim mates. (We are all human; only true idiots or outright monsters can delude themselves otherwise.)

And Q: Why dehumanise and then murder? A: To steal the world's resources, that's why. All too-simple, all too bloody-criminal. It really does seem that the fat-to-the-point-of-obscene-cats just can't ever get enough. Now they kill, or kill by proxy, as they steal to gorge and enrich themselves ever grossly more and more. (Now over 400 billionaires in the US alone.)

You could say that the modern age of murder-for-spoil started with the A-bombings; to stay 'credible' they (those fat-cats and their proxies) actually have to kill every now and then, and that on a wide scale. And so we stand (with Iraq nowhere close to being disgustingly digested) before the next murder-feast; another 'pre-emptive aerial-raid' this time against Iran - possibly including nukes - just to keep their stealing going.

And all the while, the greedastrophe® draws nearer...

The rich get ever filthy-richer, but one day the sheople must awake - and, one might presume, with a wrathful vengeance well-justified by the fat-cats' hideous crimes up to and including mass-murder for spoils.

[Can I hear tumbrels being prepared?]

More than meets the eye?

Robert Parry reports that Richard Armitage and Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove are closer than many think and that there is more to Armitage's outing of Valerie Plame than previously realised.

A well-placed conservative source has added an important clue to the mystery of the Bush administration's "outing" of CIA officer Valerie Plame after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, became one of the first Establishment figures to accuse George W. Bush of having "twisted" intelligence to justify the Iraq War.

The source, who knows both White House political adviser Karl Rove and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, told me that the two men are much closer than many Washington insiders understand, that they developed a friendship and a working relationship when Bush was recruiting Colin Powell to be Secretary of State.

In those negotiations, Armitage stood in for Powell and Rove represented Bush - and after that, the two men provided a back channel for sensitive information to pass between the White House and the State Department, the source said.

The significance of this detail is that it undermines the current "conventional wisdom" among Washington pundits that Armitage acted alone - and innocently - in July 2003 when he disclosed Plame's covert identity to right-wing columnist Robert Novak, who then got Rove to serve as a secondary source confirming the information from Armitage.

For Richard, an extract from my Hons thesis (2003) about Bush and religion:

Many in the Christian Right believe that George W. Bush is much more than just a “believer” and adherent, that he is the de facto leader of the movement, that intermediaries in the form of movement leaders are no longer necessary as Bush was able to ‘go over the heads” of the leaders of the movement and reach individual activists. Ralph Reed has stated that religious conservatives no longer need outside organisations because they are in the highest circles of power. Reed also claims that many in the Religious Right believe Bush’s elevation to the White House was due to a divine plan :

In the evangelical mind, the notion of an omniscient God is central to their theology. He had a knowledge nobody else had: He knew George Bush had the ability to lead in this compelling way.


Not only members of the Christian Right believe that Bush has been “selected” to implement God’s purpose, Bush, it has been reported, believes this himself. In the Providential view of history, the narrow and contentious 2000 election victory was proof for Bush and his supporters as a sign that he had been ‘Chosen’ and September 11 ‘revealed’ his purpose. The purpose is to eradicate evil and to remake, by Christianising, the Middle East. That Bush’s message “mesmerises so many and fails to disturb others is due, according to Nicholas Kristof, to 46 percent of Americans being evangelical or born-again Christians. A recent Gallup poll has 41 percent being born-again and 18 percent considering themselves as religious right. Among born again Christians Bush’s popularity is 74 percent as opposed to 50 percent among all others. Andrew Austin compares the 46 percent who are born-again or evangelicals with the 45 percent of those polled who believe that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in September 11 and wonders if they are the same people. This could be the result of choosing to believe something to suit an agenda or a result of the information provided by the media outlets that particular people access. Austin notes the support of the media and limited of criticism of his fanaticism, not necessarily due to support for his approach but for concern that “diplomacy and global resistance may cheat them out of the thrill and ratings of war.” This is not, from past experience, an overly cynical interpretation.

Further examples of the imperatives that drive George W. Bush are those of Chip Berlet from the Political Research Associates in Somerville, Massachusetts :

He seems to buy into the worldview that there is a giant struggle between good and evil culminating in a final confrontation. People with that kind of a worldview often take risks that are inappropriate and scary because they see it as carrying out God’s will.

Or to combine the sacred with the profane there is the view of Michael T. Klare who believes Bush is motivated by :

A combination of the empire and the messianic. He grasps the practical need to control oil, for which the Administration is willing to go to any lengths, and he fuses it with messianic fervor.

I have placed this item here as it seems a more appropriate place and there is so much silliness happening elsewhere.

"We will not walk in fear ..."

Rummy went to Sat Lake City and made some comments about critics.

The mayor of Salt Lake City has responded - here is a video of an interview about a speech he gave a rally. There is a link to the full transcript of his speech.

A patriot is a person who loves his or her country.
   Who among you loves your country so much that you have come here today to raise your voice out of deep concern for our nation - and for our world?
   And who among you loves your country so much that you insist that our nation's leaders tell us the truth?
   Let's hear it: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
    Let no one deny we are patriots. We love our country, we hold dear the values upon which our nation was founded, and we are distressed at what our President, his administration, and our Congress are doing to, and in the name of, our great nation.
    Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism.
    A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president.

Then there is this gem from Keith Olbermann who ends his comments by invoking Edward R Murrow. Video and transcript. Great stuff.

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954.

"We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men; Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular."

Bush served - no not in that sense.

In this sense.

United States President George W. Bush is due to receive a subpoena for a wide range of information relating to National Security Agency wiretaps recently ruled illegal, according to documents obtained by RAW STORY.

There is a link to a .pdf copy of the subpoena. See these lovely words:

To:
The United States of America in its independent capacity and by and through Nominal Defendant National Security Agency.

The United States of America by and through George W. Bush as President and his administrative agent The Executive Office of the President.

Add to the various other legal matters that are in motion and possibly more to come and recall these comments from the introduction to my They hate us for our values thread:

Variously Bob predicts an ignoble demise of the Bush government in the courts.

Accurately read Hamish, and it looks better by the day.

As to comments elsewhere about Bush having been stupid, do not forget the criminal, corrupt and extremely dangerous both to the system in the US and to the world.

Here is Paul Craig Roberts on Bush covering his backside.

His own party is suffering.

Stupid is as stupid does. Have to have this Rummy story.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday he is deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in "manipulating the media" to influence Westerners.

"That's the thing that keeps me up at night," he said during a question-and-answer session with about 200 naval aviators and other Navy personnel at this flight training base for Navy and Marine pilots.

Rumsfeld was asked whether the criticism he draws as Pentagon chief and a leading advocate of the war in Iraq is an impediment to performing his job. He said it was not and he knows from history that wars are normally unpopular with many Americans. "I expect that," he said. "I understand that."

"What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is," he continued, launching an extensive broadside at Islamic extremist groups which he said are trying to undermine Western support for the war on terror.

How clever they are? Perhaps he has seen reports that they can tie their own shoelaces. Or it is a comparative analysis.

"They are actively manipulating the media in this country" by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"They can lie with impunity," he said, while U.S. troops are held to a high standard of conduct.

Manipulating the media. Lie with impunity. Oh for a sense of irony!

Back to proceedings, there is this on Plamegate.

Caution, Jason Leopold has had some misses.

What about the war? Oh, the war on the American people, according to Dave Lindorff.

And to finish off, how about another serving of hypocrisy?

More like a city in a cesspit under Dubya.

Anniversary of the day the scales fell away.

The desolation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, or, more correctly the government response to events is considered the tipping point to public perceptions of George W. Bush. From that time it has been a downhill slide. Now a year later ....

From DemocracyNow!

First Greg Palast and then an interview with Malik Rahim.

Frank Rich - Return to the scene of the crime.

President Bush travels to the Gulf Coast this week, ostensibly to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Everyone knows his real mission: to try to make us forget the first anniversary of the downfall of his presidency.

As they used to say in the French Quarter, bonne chance! The ineptitude bared by the storm - no planning for a widely predicted catastrophe, no attempt to secure a city besieged by looting, no strategy for anything except spin - is indelible. New Orleans was Iraq redux with an all-American cast. The discrepancy between Mr. Bush's "heckuva job" shtick and the reality on the ground induced a Cronkite-in-Vietnam epiphany for news anchors. At long last they and the country demanded answers to the questions about the administration's competence that had been soft-pedaled two years earlier when the war first went south.

An interview with Michael "Heckuva job" Brown

Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Chief Michael Brown says the government agency is a big, black, bureaucratic hole in which money, programs and action disappear and are never heard from again.

Bush admits errors.

It has taken a year but President George W. Bush finally admitted Saturday that his administration screwed the pooch in its slow response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, a response that no doubt cost lives along with billions of dollars.

Still, the President claims racism was not responsible for the poor government handling of the crisis, a claim that many dismiss and one easily disputed by the bigoted record of the Republican Party,.

Read the above with the DemocracyNow! reports in mind. And things must reall be bad if Bush admits any error.

"President" Cheney.

More electoral shenanigans.

Al Gore on democracy under threat from media control

Edinburgh, Scotland - Former Vice President Al Gore said Sunday ever-tighter political and economic control of the media is a major threat to democracy.

Gore said the goal behind his year-old "interactive" television channel Current TV was to encourage the kind of democratic dialogue that thrives online but is increasingly rare on TV.

"Democracy is under attack," Gore told an audience at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. "Democracy as a system for self-governance is facing more serious challenges now than it has faced for a long time.

"Democracy is a conversation, and the most important role of the media is to facilitate that conversation of democracy. Now the conversation is more controlled, it is more centralized."

He said that in many countries, media control was being consolidated in the hands of a few businesspeople or politicians.

Gore said in Italy much of the media is owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has stifled dissent on television, and in South Africa, Gore said, dissent "is disappearing, and free expression is under attack."

In the United States "the only thing that matters in American politics now is having enough money to put 30-second commercials on the air often enough to convince the voters to elect you or re-elect you," he said. "The person who has the most money to run the most ads usually wins."

Dahr Jamail interviews Ray McGovern

I was surprised to hear that. I asked the people who were involved in this, who happen to be involved in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, including one person who was actually in the process of making this overture to Israel. I said, "Why did they turn it down?" He said, "Ray, mutual defense treaties require clearly defined international boundaries. And the Israelis, after they took the occupied territories in '67 and '73, didn't want any part of clearly defined international boundaries. And also, the Israelis really like to be able to do what they want to do. If they want to attack Iraq and take out the Osirak nuclear reactor as they did in 1981, they don't want to have to ask Washington, they just want to do it. So they didn't want to be inhibited by any of the normally accepted norms of behavior. If you have a mutual defense treaty, you usually tell the other partner what you're going to do, if you are going to invade or bomb another country."

So what's the upshot of all of this? There is no mutual defense treaty between Israel and the US. But why does the president say there is? Well, I don't know why he says there is. General Scowcroft, his father's National Security Advisor, told us, "Sharon just has him wrapped around his little finger." He had our president "mesmerized," according to Scowcroft.

In any case, he has made it out that there is a defense treaty with Israel. So, the Israelis are smiling all the way to the bank and saying, "Hey, we have no treaty obligations on the one hand, and yet we've got just as good as a treaty because the president either really believes there is one or he's going to act as if there is one. So we've got the best of both worlds. We can have our cake and eat it too."

That, to me, bespeaks a violation of the admonition of our very first president, who happened to be a general and knew about this kind of stuff. George Washington warned us, very vividly, against entangling alliances. The kind of alliances where the perceived needs of another country become inextricably woven around what we perceive to be the needs of our country. When, in fact, those needs do not coincide.

"Fool me once ..."? Impeachment is too good for him and his puppet master.

"There ought to be limits to freedom"

The above words were spoken by George W Bush whilst Governor of Texas and Jim Hightower reports on Bush's efforts to limit freedom amongst other deeds.

Chatham House report finds that the war on terror has strengthened Iran.

Not, for the US, a desired outcome. Let us hope they do not seek a drastic remedy.

Two reports about Christian groups. The first is on a group the Taliban might feel a kinship with.

Elsewhere, things aren't going well for the Christian coalition.

Will the lessening power of the latter also diminish the prospects for the former or create a space to be filled?

To save a post I will place the link to Jon Stewart's take on the Bush press conference here instead of on Craig's thread. Hilarious piece, as we have come to expect.

Wicked, wicked ways

Good morning Angela, and yes you were right - sounds like peril, but whether it was is a subjective matter. Lots of people seemed to enjoy ... Errol Leslie Flynn 1909-59, live fast die young and leave the corpse of a 75 yr old. The quote in my previous was from The Adventures of Robin Hood, a true cinema classic and a joyous romp. The scene of the quote was Robin gatecrashing a feast in honour of Prince John. It was Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland) who said "Why, you speak treason."

Down to work.

Yes, Joe wants Rummy's job.

Someone wanting to hold onto his job or has the bloom gone off the romance?

The alliance between George Bush and Tony Blair is in danger after it was revealed that the Prime Minister believes the President has 'let him down badly' over the Middle East crisis.

A senior Downing Street source said that, privately, Mr Blair broadly agrees with John Prescott, who said Mr Bush's record on the issue was 'crap'.

The source said: "We all feel badly let down by Bush. We thought we had persuaded him to take the Israel-Palestine situation seriously, but we were wrong. How can anyone have faith in a man of such low intellect?"

The disclosure comes ahead of a mini recall of Parliament to allow MPs to vent their fury over Mr Blair's handling of Israel's war with Hezbollah and whether the recent terror plot in Britain was affected by his role in the Iraq war.

Will the cunning runt rejoice thinking that now he will be Dubya's first best friend?

Here is the Frank Rich article reported yesterday.

The hyperbole that has greeted the Lamont victory in some quarters is far more revealing than the victory itself. In 2006, the tired Rove strategy of equating any Democratic politician's opposition to the Iraq war with cut-and-run defeatism in the war on terror looks desperate. The Republicans are protesting too much, methinks. A former Greenwich selectman like Mr Lamont isn't easily slimed as a reincarnation of Abbie Hoffman or an ally of Osama bin Laden. What Republicans really see in Mr Lieberman's loss is not a defeat in the war on terror but the specter of their own defeat. Mr Lamont is but a passing embodiment of a fixed truth: most Americans think the war in Iraq was a mistake and want some plan for a measured withdrawal. That truth would prevail even had Mr. Lamont lost.

Just what will they do to try to prevent their defeat?

Here is another perspective on threats.

For the last five years, we’ve been kept in a panic state over terrorism, told constantly that it not only presents an immediate threat to ourselves and the ones we love, but is a danger to our very civilisation. The result has been both that extremists have been more successful in spreading fear and authoritarian politicians have used this opportunity to reduce government transparency while eroding protections for human rights and the democratic process.

But is terrorism really the biggest threat facing the United States? And is more military spending really likely to make us safer?

Includes some interesting internal links.

Thanks for linking that "accident" article, I had seen it but it went on the backburner. An "accident watch" - good idea! "Suicide you say?" "Yes, he repeatedly ran over himself with a steam roller."

The worry is that some would believe it.

"Fluently"

G'day Angela, oh treason, yes, there is that suggestion about the neocons on the basis that in at least some cases their loyalties are dual at best and placing the interests of Israel (as they perceive them) above those of the US. Then there is the matter of the WH outing Valerie Plame - that has drawn the accusation as well.

So, when knee (or other) jerk reactions are accusations that investigation of these matters is anti-American, the response is just who is anti-American, if not the abovementioned folk?

The "unconstitutional" finding adds weight to that, oh that "goddamned piece of paper".

Proper investigations? What a novel idea - you will recall material here about the Congressional investigation into 9/11 - not exactly full and thorough and with a bit of convenient for reelection timing involved.

Lots of things smell but are difficult to prove. I tend more often to go for incompetence over conspiracy but there is one that is obvious - the conspiracy of lies to launch a war of aggression.

Must give a nod to Craig Rowley for his quote:

"I just want you to know that when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."

Oh what a follow up to my previous comment on that thread:

The problem we have in trying to analyse the situation and arise at logical answers is that logic doesn't appear to play a big part in the plans of the Bush administration. Too many delusions and a trifle too messianic.

A perfect fit. And not forgetting other resonances.

Lieberman, oh what must the Republican candidate be thinking? Maybe Joe really does want to replace Rummy.

OK, what does my header "Fluently" represent? Uttered by an Australian actor in a famous movie in response to the accusation "You speak treason." I'm sure you know it - but a hint in case: Noone ever buckled a swash on the silver screen quite like this chap.

Pre-requisite poetry

Ah Bob, that cute lutle pencil moustchio, is that whom you mean,sounds like "peril"? And was that really his name? Which movie?

I can understand the delight editors have in getting just that header for the page,it is fun.

But more seriously than peril, did you catch this about the rendition flight investigations and surrounding suicide?(they just happen eh?)

http://iraqwar.mirror-world.ru/article/99443
It is about the SISMI and CIA . There is more about the greek bugging,blamed upon the US at the time and yet another suicide.Hmm.I still think we need a suicide/accident watch column,it is getting rather full of anti neoconners.

And Joe would luuuv to replace Rummy.  But can he do poetry and impromptu Bohemian Grove impersonations?

Cheers

Richard: Angela I like the idea of an "accident" watch.  It might also act as a deterrant.  Any other opinions? 

Some are born to endless night.

G'day Angela, thank you for your very kind words and for your contributions. Big thank you for that document - seeing it all in one place is very useful - and condemning.

Amidst the fear mongering Frank Rich sees signs that the US public is waking up. Subscription needed for entire article but this report gives you an idea.

On the matter of the NYTimes, here is an editorial about the Federal Court decision.

William Blum on perpetual fear. Begins with this quote from Douglas MacArthur:

"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear -- kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor -- with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real."

And Blum:

There must be millions of people in the United States and elsewhere who have thoughts about "terrorist acts". I might well be one of them when I read about a gathering of Bush, Cheney, and assorted neocons that's going to take place. Given the daily horror of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine in recent times, little of which would occur if not for the government of the United States of America and its allies, the numbers of people having such thoughts must be rapidly multiplying. If I had been at an American or British airport as the latest scare story unfolded, waiting in an interminable line, having my flight canceled, or being told I can't have any carry-on luggage, I may have found it irresistible at some point to declare loudly to my fellow suffering passengers: "Y'know, folks, this security crap is only gonna get worse and worse as long as the United States and Britain continue to invade, bomb, overthrow, occupy, and torture the world!"

How long before I was pulled out of line and thrown into some kind of custody?

Sleepers awake!

Here is an amusing, perhaps revealing (or rather, not revealing) item about articles of clothing that are not inspected.

On why no impeachment? Well, no visible stains on little blue dresses. The Constitution, international law etc are different matters. Basically it is due to a reordering of priorities within US politics, particularly in the contemporary Republican party. Partisanship unscrupulously promoted has taken precedence over the health of the system. There is the delusion that what they do is right. Reasons might be explored further on Craig's (G'day) thread.

But yes, beware of what might be attempted to hold onto office - the summary you provided is evidence of the lengths these people will go to.

treason

 Hi Bob, isn't it amazing that after 5 years of hoohaaaar about plane terrorism we still have drug rings managing to smuggle 10kgs of cocaine in our airports via baggage handlers! "Mr Staley said before Chalmers' alleged involvement, baggage handlers had helped the group successfully smuggle 10 kilograms of cocaine into Australia via Sydney Airport. " 

Now, we know how easy a bomb on board a plane would upset that flight and how easy a baggage handler can put it on....so all this fuss about face cream that could never make a bomb anyway and the bleeding obvious techiniques totally elude out moronic protectors.We have even HAD an investiagtion into it already by a Pom who said, yes,your airport security is farcical and the baggage handlers are full of organised crime mates. And look at how the Israelis killed the Lebanese leader they were after...a car door specially made to be added to his car and then boom one day.

So, simply replace an item with another specially made for the plane trip. it could be in the plane,like a fire extinguisher,seat, TV, or put it on board ,like a baby carriage,or surf board.etc. The bovinely obvious point that I am trying to make is all this defence against an attack is totally useless. With unlimited funds and the organised crime links any target is feasible with minimum inagination. it is the will and intention ot do it that must be targeted. But everyone has said that,academic studies have shown it, wise words have been spoken by silver haired gentlemen of previous statesman lives...so why this farsica war on terror method employed??

Why not a proper investigation into 911 and 7/7 and Bali bombing and Jakarta bombing and Bogota? Why all this rubbish about gum and glues. Why use infiltratorrs to stir these people up in underpriveliged areas,already angry with the world like McDAID did in the 7/7 group? Mcdaid, an ex SBS bomb expert. Ring any bells? Staakknife?? And as to the Congress ? the "Party " is a farce. the real game is the "Interest Group" And this article clearly shows who in the Republicans are in that interest group willing to support Neocon warmongeror Lieberman as his henchmen: 

"Despite Mr. Lieberman’s position that he will continue to caucus with Democrats if re-elected, all three Republican Congressional candidates in Connecticut have praised Mr. Lieberman and have not endorsed the party’s nominee, Alan Schlesinger. An independent group with Republican ties is raising money for Mr. Lieberman, who has been a strong supporter of President Bush on the Iraq war. Senator John McCain of Arizona, while saying he would support the Republican nominee, is not planning to campaign for him, and even allowed two of his aides to consult with the Lieberman camp before the Aug. 8 Democratic primary. And Newt Gingrich, the Republican who once served as House speaker, has endorsed Mr. Lieberman’s candidacy."

And when we look at the Clean Break paper that is the evil sister to the PNAC we see the big picture of treason against America for Israeli Neocon interests. Cheers

Courting favour and disfavour.

More views on the Federal Court decision. From Jennifer Van Bergen, a stronger ruling needed.

From Capitol Hill Blue - grounds for impeachment.

If a judge's ruling that declares President George W. Bush's domestic spying program unconstitutional holds up under appeal, the President will be guilty of violating federal law at least 30 times and that could provide grounds for impeachment, says a leading Constitutional scholar.

Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University and a recognized expert on constitutional law, says the ruling Thursday by a federal judge in Detroit raises "serious implications for the Bush administration" and indicates that the President "could well have committed a federal crime at least 30 times."

"This ruling is a bad situation that just got worse for the White House," says Turley. "These crimes could constitute impeachable offenses."

Turley knows a thing or two about the impeachment process. He worked with Special Prosecutor Ken Starr on the investigation that led to impeachment proceedings against former President Bill Clinton.

Dare one suggest that Bush's breaches are far more serious?

The response to the ruling has been predictable, such as:

The White House went into immediate attack mode, claiming Taylor is an activist judge appointed by a Democratic president (Jimmy Carter) and vowing to appeal the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.

A Republican National Committee press release declared: Liberal judge backs Dem agenda to weaken national security.

Turley says such tactics are typical for the Bush White House.

Ray McGovern.

Who can forget the chutzpah of President George W. Bush as he bragged to Bob Woodward, "I'm commander in chief.... That's the interesting thing about being president ... I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

* * *

Wrong, Mr. President. You and Vice President Cheney seem to have missed "Constitution 101." And you seem to have laughed off admonitions against hiring lawyers eager to give an obsequious nihil obstat to whatever you want to do. You have allowed the likes of David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo to do what Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) has accused you and your advisers of doing regarding Iraq - "making it up as they go along." It's enough to make you believe Shakespeare may have been right about lawyers.

Mr. President, you can't just keep making things up - things like "unitary executive," and "unlawful combatant," and "military tribunals" and "enhanced interrogation techniques." You cannot make-believe them into law. These quasi-legal constructs are bound to come back to roost. The US Constitution is not just anther piece of paper. Indeed, it seems to be getting a new lease on life these days. Now you and your lawyers have run into a tough judge who takes the Constitution very seriously indeed and shows no sign of bending with the prevailing winds.

For further discussion, DemocracyNow! interviews Glenn Greenwald. Also features an interview with former UK ambassador Craig Murray on the latest terrorist plot - and suspicions it was revealed early to suit the Bush administration and related matters.

Same old, same old, Limp Dick is getting "intel" on Iran from the Office of Special Plans. You remember them, set up to provide that "intel" on Iraq which turned out to be a heap of ....

Adding to the similarities between the pre-war build up to Iraq, new allegations of Uranium transactions began aggressively circulating earlier this month. For example, in an August 6th Sunday Times of London article entitled "Iran's plot to mine uranium in Africa," Iran is alleged to have purchased Uranium from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Reliable? Read on.

G'day Richard, I, for one, do read your material and take note, I am sure others do as well. I have had similar experiences here - post away and wonder how many are reading - but some drop by to let me know they are. Something I greatly appreciate. Take heart and keep on providing the evidence.

In my case the way things are going I might well see a result.

Cheers.

And likewise to all those who do drop by here.

will we remember?

Angela Ryan Hi Bob, I am grateful to you . I think that if we all get out of this on the right side of the tunnel, it will be documentation like yours that will need careful archiving for future reference and warning. How has he not been impeached? I know it sounds silly but I m sure there is a very nasty false flag around the corner if they don;t do more than just right letters criticising.. Hey, I wonder if that Sweater knitting conversation had a bit of impeachable offensiveness in it,just like Monica. here is a nice summary for you ,comparing to the forgotten details of the past. http://www.iamdi.org/E10.pdf. cheers

Pending appeal, no "alleged" on this.

G'day Phil, thanks for the material ... and the reminder to people about the need for "alleged" to be inserted where appropriate, perhaps in place of "can you make the announcement now because an antiwar, Osama loving candidate just won a ballot".

For more on the ruling on the Federal Court ruling, see here. There are internal links to further material including to Salon. In the header piece there is the explanation of the importance of the decision:

Thus, judicial decisions are starting to emerge which come close to
branding the conduct of Bush officials as criminal. FISA is a criminal
law. The administration has been violating that law on purpose, with no
good excuse. Government officials who violate the criminal law deserve
to be -- and are required to be -- held accountable just like any other
citizens who violate the law. That is a basic, and critically
important, principle in our system of government. These are not
abstract legalistic questions being decided. They amount to rulings
that our highest government officials have been systematically breaking
the law -- criminal laws -- in numerous ways. And no country which
lives under the rule of law can allow that to happen with impunity.

The appeal process is the worry so we have to wait for that process to play out. In the meantime the decision in the F C is not a good look for some and we have this sort of situation already.

When the Columbus Dispatch's respected poll recently reported that
Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was trailing Democratic
Rep. Ted Strickland by 20 points in the race for governor of Ohio,
there was dismay but no shock among his fellow Republicans. Those I
interviewed during a recent visit here said they had seen it coming for
a long time.

But it is a political earthquake. Democrats have not
been able to win a single statewide office in Ohio for most of the past
decade -- and are completely shut out of power in the capitol at this
moment. Strickland has never run a statewide campaign and is trying to
become the first person since Rutherford B. Hayes to go from Congress
to Ohio's governorship. Blackwell has won election in Ohio and led the
successful campaign that gave George Bush this state -- and the
presidency -- over John Kerry in 2004.

Irises readers will be familiar with the name Blackwell and the alleged shenanigans that have allegedly occurred on his watch. The concluding paragraphs:

For all of them, service in this Congress has turned out to be a
handicap rather than a benefit to their chances of advancement. The
reason was explained in blunt terms by the Republican governor of one
of the states where a congressman of his party is struggling for
statewide office. "What has this Congress done that anyone should
applaud?" he asked scornfully. "Nothing on immigration, nothing on
health care, nothing on energy -- and nothing on the war. They deserve
a good kick in the pants, and that's what they're going to get."

That
prediction is supported by the AP-Ipsos poll released last week. It
showed a 33 percent job approval score for Bush and a 29 percent job
approval score for the Republican Congress. On a test of voter
preference for the midterm congressional elections, Democrats had a
staggering 18-point lead, 55 percent to 37 percent. You can see why
Republicans are worried.

Lots of shenanigans will be required. John Conyers will be rubbing his hands together in anticipation.

JC: The upcoming elections couldn't be more important. If
we want to have real government - as our founding fathers envisaged - a Congress
with a Constitutional system of checks and balances holding the administration
accountable, then now is the time we need to take back control of Congress.

Interesting times ahead. Anything could happen. Anything.

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