Friday, September 29, 2006

Is incompetence worse than lying or the other way around?

Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlahan: You lied to me, Frank! That's
worse than stealing!
Frank Burns: Well, I happen to think that stealing is worse than lying!
Margaret: And you did both!
Frank: So I oughta know!

--M*A*S*H, episode 85, aired December 2, 1975

I don't know which is worse - the incompetence of this administration or the lying. You tell me. Bob Woodward's new book, "State of Denial," by way of The New York Times who got a copy before it's release, describes galactic dysfunction, division and plain old incompetence in the Bush administration on Iraq. "The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there," the book tells us. In late November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.” Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is portrayed as detached from the nuts-and-bolts of occupying and reconstructing Iraq and was so hostile toward Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, that President Bush had to tell him to return her phone calls. The American commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, is reported to have told visitors to his headquarters in Qatar in the fall of 2005 that “Rumsfeld doesn’t have any credibility anymore” to make a public case for the American strategy for victory in Iraq. And yet Rumsfeld did just that and continues to do so.

Robert D. Blackwill, the top Iraq adviser on the National Security Council issued his warning about the desperate need for as many as 40,000 more ground troops in a lengthy memorandum sent to Ms. Rice. She was later briefed by Mr. Blackwill and L. Paul Bremer III, then the top American official in Iraq, about the urgent need for more troops during a secure teleconference from Iraq. The White House took no action. Well it did take action. It told the American public that the commanders haven't asked for more troops and were comfortable with the troops levels.

Even before September 11, 2001, the members of this administration earned their incompetence medals. "Mr. Woodward writes that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was impeding the effort to develop a coherent strategy to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Mr. Rumsfeld questioned the electronic signals from terrorism suspects that the National Security Agency had been intercepting, wondering whether they might be part of an elaborate deception plan by Al Qaeda. On July 10, 2001, the book says, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, met with Ms. Rice at the White House to impress upon her the seriousness of the intelligence the agency was collecting about an impending attack. But both men came away from the meeting feeling that Ms. Rice had not taken the warnings seriously."

"The book describes an exchange in early 2003 between Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the retired officer Mr. Bush appointed to administer postwar Iraq, and President Bush and others in the White House situation room. It describes senior war planners as having been thoroughly uninterested in the details of the postwar mission. After General Garner finished his PowerPoint presentation — which included his plan to use up to 300,000 troops of the Iraqi Army to help secure postwar Iraq, the book says — there were no questions from anyone in the situation room, and the president gave him a rousing sendoff. But it was General Garner who was soon removed, in favor of Mr. Bremer, whose actions in dismantling the Iraqi army and removing Baathists from office were eventually disparaged within the government."

At one point, when David Kay, the top U.S. weapons inspector, warned that it was possible the Iraqis might have had the capability to make such weapons but did not actually produce them, waiting instead until they were needed, the book says he was told by John McLaughlin, the C.I.A.’s deputy director: “Don’t tell anyone this. This could be upsetting. Be very careful. We can’t let this out until we’re sure.” Translation: we need to cover up and lie about not finding weapons of mass destruction.

This Sunday on CBS's 60 Minutes, Woodward will say that insurgent attacks against coalition troops in Iraq occur, on average, every 15 minutes, a shocking fact the administration has kept secret. “It’s getting to the point now where there are eight, 900 attacks a week. That’s more than a hundred a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces,” says Woodward.

The situation is getting much worse, says Woodward, despite what the White House and the Pentagon are saying in public. “The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], ‘Oh, no, things are going to get better,’” he tells Wallace. “Now there’s public, and then there’s private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know,” says Woodward.

So the incompetence is followed by the lying. Stay the course, We're winning the war on terror, Mission Accomplished, no one could have predicted the insurgency, the commanders on the ground have told us they have all the troops the need, to name a few. So which is worse - the incompetence or the lying? The administration did both so they ought to know.

BONUS POSTING: If Iraq really is the central front in the war on terror and that this is not a war of civilizations but for civilization and if you think, as the Bushies do, that al Qaeda is an existential threat to our country, then why do we only have 140,000 troops in Iraq and only 20,000 in Afghanistan? We had 500,000 to merely kick Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991. Shouldn't we have at least that there now? If society could unravel after a nuclear terrorist strike here wouldn't it be wise to send 1,000,000 to area like it's really the World War they claim it is? Just wondering.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The law that makes us a nation of men - or one man

In 1898, Congress imposed what was billed as a temporary luxury tax on phone calls. One cent per telephone call was collected from the wealthy, as on the wealthiest Americans had phones back then. By 1990, the federal excise tax had grown to 3% of the total phone bill. This year Congress did something that it almost never does - it killed a tax. It only took 108 years after the war ended to get around to killing the tax. Oh Great Curmudgeon, why do you tell us this? What could this Charles Osgood-like look back on history have to do with the problems ("challenges" in today's political lexicon) we face today? Because once a law gets on the books it's just about impossible to get rid of them. And why is that important? In a word: torture.

"What this bill would do is take our civilization back 900 years," to before the adoption of the writ of habeas corpus in medieval England, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) said. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), said the bill as written would allow the executive branch to hold any lawful immigrant in the United States indefinitely without charge. "We are about to put the darkest blot on the conscience of the nation," he said, charging that the push for quick passage was purely for political gain. "There is no new national security crisis," he said. "There’s only a Republican political crisis." The New York Times sums up the new law -- it gives, "Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error."
Andrew Sullivan begs his readers to vote for Democrats to stop, "this [Republican] juggernaut against individual libery and constitutional rights." The Times further added, "Americans of the future won't remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration. They'll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts."

Just like the Spanish-American War telephone excise tax, these "temporary" measures in place only as long as he endless war on terror continues will not be excised off the books in our or our children's or their children's lifetimes. And by the way - callers will still pay a 3% excise tax on local phone calls so the tax really is still there. Just like The Decider's (Bush's) new unchecked power to label whomever he wants an "enemy combatant," disappear them into a black hole of a prison gulag system forever without the right to know the charges or evidence against them, contact a lawyer or relative and in theory could be put to death without knowing why. I'd rather have the excise tax but it looks like we'll have both. There was a time when I would dismiss people who said democracy was dying in this country. Guess I was wrong to doubt them. On the other hand, there will be less consitutional rights to learn about in social studies, history or constitution law classes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Boobs in Art and in Charge

Another simple example why this country has no real future as a united, confident, flourishing liberal democracy. In short, we're doomed.

"In Fresno, Texas, an award-winning Texas art teacher who was reprimanded after one of her fifth-grade students saw a nude sculpture during a trip to a museum has lost her job. The school board in Frisco has voted not to renew Sydney McGee's contract after 28 years. She has been on administrative leave. The teacher took her students on an approved field trip to a Dallas museum, and now some parents are upset. The Fisher Elementary School art teacher came under fire last April when she took 89 fifth-graders on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Parents raised concerns over the field trip after their children reported seeing a nude sculpture at the art museum. The parents had signed permission slips allowing their children to take part in the field trip. McGee's lawyer said the principal at Fisher Elementary School admonished her after a parent complained that a student had seen nude art. McGee said the principal had urged her to take the students to the museum. Now, McGee, who was honored with a Star Teacher Award two years ago, is on paid administrative leave until her contract with the school district expires in March."

Where to begin? So an award-winning art teacher is "urged" by her principal to take the kiddies to the Dallas Museum of Art and after the parents sign perimission slips some nine-year olds saw a boob or two on a sculpture and the teacher, after 28 years of service is going to get fired. If she had taken the kids to a red light district or a XXX movie by the airport without the written permission of the parents I can understand giving her the boot. Didn't the parents give express permission for their kids to go to the museum? Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Does that really mean the teacher is personally responsible for anything the kids see on a field trip? If they little cherubs saw a violent crime being committed outside the museum would the McGee have been fired for exposing them to violence? Probably not since these parents strike me as the type who love violence - probably gun owners who support torture of detainees at secret U.S. prisons and don't mind when abortion clinics are bombed or abortion doctors gunned down - but catch a glimpse of a boob, and not even a real one at that, and well, someone has to get fired.

"Other parents are worried about the future of the art program at the school, which they cite as a reason for moving into the neighborhood. "Our main concern right now is what's going to happen to the children and what's going to happen to the art program at Fisher Elementary. It is the best art program. That's the reason we moved to this neighborhood. It's because of the teachers," said Shannon Allen, a parent. "It was a principal-approved trip. What's the big deal?"

The real big deal is that the Puritans have power and just like the Muslim fanactics who intimidate Western governments, newspaper cartoonists, Dutch filmmakers and the Pope with violent protests protesting people claiming they are violent, they too will make life unlivable for all of us unfortunate enough to want to see art, watch a movie, buy contraceptives, have a beer, go to a casino or any other activity that isn't approved by their God who whispers the "banned" list directly into their small brains. And forget about riding on a bus, train or plane to go do those "scandalous" activites. The Puritans who follow Allah have made that a gamble too.

BONUS POST: "In a sign of regional concern over terrorism, Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with plans to build a fence along its entire 560-mile (900-kilometer) border with Iraq to prevent terrorists from entering the kingdom from the chaotic north." Gee. I wonder if the world will criticize this as much as they did the Israelis for building a wall for the same reason - to keep bloodthirsty murderers who want to blow themselves and innocent civilians up, out of the country. I'm going to bet no.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Plagarism and Torture Tuesday

My brain is too full to be completely original today. Here are two stories that echo Capt. Fogg why the great experiment of democracy in America is ending. An iron curtain is descending here with Republicans saluting and cheering and Democrats pleading with the people to save their country before it's too late. It might be too late already. Only history, if that's allowed in the future to be written without government approval, will tell.

From Andrew Sullivan blog (a multiple daily must read):

"Those of us trying to resist the Bush administration's seizure of permanent emergency powers have so far failed to alert the American public of the immense danger to their basic liberties that this administration represents. Maybe this story in the Washington Post today will help wake America up."

"How do I put this in words as clearly as possible. If the U.S. government decides, for reasons of its own, that you are an "illegal enemy combatant," i.e. that you are someone who "has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States,"

"They can detain you without charges indefinitely, granting you no legal recourse except to a military tribunal, and, under the proposed bill, "disappear" and torture you. This is not just restricted to aliens or foreigners, but applies to U.S. citizens as well. It can happen anywhere in the U.S. at any time. We are all at potential risk."

"Whatever else this is, it is not a constitutional democracy. It is a thinly-veiled military dictatorship, subject to only one control: the will of the Great Decider. And the war that justifies this astonishing attack on American liberty is permanent, without end. And check the vagueness of the language: "purposefully supported" hostilities. Could that mean mere expression of support for terror? Remember that many completely innocent people have already been incarcerated for years without trial or any chance for a fair hearing on the basis of false rumors or smears or even bounty hunters. Or could it be construed, in the rhetoric of Hannity and O'Reilly, as merely criticizing the Great Decider and thereby being on the side of the terrorists?"

"All I know is that al Qaeda is winning battles every week now. And they are winning them because their aim of gutting Western liberty is shared by the president of the United States. The fact that we are finding this latest, chilling stuff out now - while this horrifying bill is being rushed into law to help rescue some midterms - is beyond belief. It must be stopped, filibustered, prevented. And anyone who cares about basic constitutional freedom - conservatives above all - should be in the forefront of stopping it."

Knowing that read this:

"Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) is threatening to punish Democrats for using an Appropriations Committee room for an unofficial hearing on Iraq oversight if it happens again. "They better stop this," the Mississippi Republican said. "This will be the last one or there will be retribution." Lott suggested that Republicans could hold GOP-only hearings or seek other forms of payback." Could the payback be waterboarding at Gitmo? I'm prepared for the sleep deprivation and cold cells as I have an eight-week old baby and a furnace that doesn't always work. Stress positions? I'm married with two kids, a mortgage and college to pay for. Piece of cake. I'll let you know if I see anyone I know at Gitmo other than Capt. Fogg .

Monday, September 25, 2006

That darn "Liberal" media

On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked President Bill Clinton, "Why didn't you do more to put bin Laden and Al Qaeda out of business when you were president?" The fiery answer is worth watching. Clinton goes through point by point and lays out the timeline for what he did and didn't do during his presidency. Wallace suggested that leaving Somalia after Black Hawk Down only emboldened al Qaeda and showed them the West was "weak." Clinton lectured Wallace that bin Laden and al Qaeda were not only NOT involved in Black Hawk Down but that no one even knew al Qaeda existed in 1993. Moreover, Clinton explained that right after the U.S. suffered those loses in Somalia the right-wingers who now say he didn't do enough wanted to cut and run the next day - he stayed for 6 months and had an orderly transfer to the U.N. The only thing Clinton forgot to add was that it was W's daddy President George H.W. Bush who committed U.S. troops and sent the Marines into Somalia in December, 1992. This was after Daddy Bush lost the election to Clinton thus saddling the new administion with a purely humanitarian mission in Somali warlord territory that Clinton was forced to deal with.

Clinton also explained to Fox News that when he did try to kill bin Laden, the closest anyone has got to killing him since then too, when he launched cruise missiles into Afghanistan it was labeled "wag the dog" by Republicans who claimed it was done to distract for his "Monica" problem. Clinton also explained in detail to Wallace, Fox News and their ill-informed audience that after the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole on October 12, 2000 the CIA and FBI would not certify, while Clinton was in office, that bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for the attack. He told Wallace that he had full invasion plans drawn up to go into Afghanistan but they had no CIA or FBI certification and couldn't get basing rights in Uzbekistan. Watch the video. Clinton explains it better but the point is that Clinton didn't have the intelligence community's finding that al Qaeda was responsible and he didn't want to do what Daddy Bush did to him with Somalia, that is, start some foreign military intervention, or in this case the overthrow of the Taliban, in the last two months of being in office. And what did W do form January, 2001 until Sept. 11, 2001 about responding to the Cole bombing? ZERO. Condolezza Rice has explained that a delayed response was worse than no response. Sort of like punishing a dog for a poop accident way after the fact teaches the dog nothing. Well, it might teach the dog to be afraid of you since you could out of the blue whack it on the nose a rolled-up newspaper or a few cruise missiles. Clinton kept asking Wallace did he ask the current administration what they did to put bin Laden out of business since they had ZERO meetings on bin Laden after the Cole and before 9/11?

Katie Couric could have asked some hard questions to Secretary of State Rice on 60 Minutes which aired not even twelve hours after Fox News basically asked Clinton, "How do you sleep at night knowing you were responsible for 9/11?" Couric, part of that big, bad, mean, nasty, "Liberal" media took a different tact with Rice. "How does one go about asking the Secretary of State out on a date?" Couric asked like it was the E! Channel's coverage of the Oscars. Katie, America's sweetheart, earned her $15 million a year paycheck when she asked Rice would she ever like to get married. The hardest hitting questions were something like, "Do you honestly believe that the world is safer now?" and did she agree with Dick Cheney, who said if he went back in time he would do Iraq exactly the same way. Rice agreed. I did find out that Rice works out six days a week, starting at 5 a.m., often to the music of Led Zeppelin or Cream but it's classical music that "moves her." Fascinating. I wish it were results borne from sound policy that moved her. I wish she would listen to dissenting opinions rather than "Whole Lotta Love." I wish she would read PDBs and intelligence reports rather than liner notes.

After watching both interviews I know I was moved. Into the bathroom that is.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Crazy is as crazy does

On friday in Beirut, Hezbollah held what was termed a "victory rally" for thousands of its supporters. This was to celebrate its "victor" after 34-day Israeli-Hezbollah battle that ended last month. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told the crowd, "Lebanon has been victorious, Palestine has been victorious, Arab nations have been victorious." He also told the masses they should celebrate the "divine and strategic victory."

"Peace be with you and with your martyrs and with your families. I feel your pain, and I salute your tears and your blood and your destroyed homes, and I salute your will and your determination," he said. While the U.N. Resolution that ended the fighting called for Hezbollah to disarm Nasrallah said that Hezbollah militants will never obey that section of the resolution. "No army in the world will force us to drop our weapons, force us to surrender our arms, as long as people believe in this resistance," he said. "We do not wish to keep our weapons forever," because they should not be part of domestic life. Just almost all of forever. That's what passes for hopeful talk in the Middle East.

Although Nasrallah has declared victory in the war he has said that if Hezbollah could have predicted Israel's response, it would not have abducted the Israeli soldiers and sparked the fighting. Nasrallah said if he had thought there had been "a 1 percent possibility" that Israel's military response would have been as extensive as it turned out to be, "I would say no, I would not have entered this for many reasons -- military, social, political, economic." He added, "If there was a 1 percent possibility, we would not have done that. We would not have done any capturing."

So Nasrallah declares victory but if he had the chance to do it all over again he wouldn't have done it. Iraq is a failure but back in our country, Vice-President Cheney says that even if we knew in 2003 that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass desctruction, "The U.S. invasion “was the right thing to do, and if we had to do it again, we would do exactly the same thing.” What's that saying about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results? I think the definition needs to be updated to include saying you wouldn't do the same thing over again but still expect the same result. If governments are only as good as their people then we are all insane. Except me of course.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hollywood goes Washington (subtitled: WWJT? -- Who Would Jesus Torture?)

First there was "The Path to 9/11" ABC's $40 million wet kiss to revisionist Republicans who see our Dear Leader as a superhero wearing a cape and holding a Bible. The King George edition. Typical dialogue on ABC mini-series: CIA agent: "I have Osama bin Laden in my gunsights and I wish I could kill him but President Clinton has insisted we read him his Miranda rights, call Alan Dershowitz and provide him with Halal food and a copy of the Koran." Now we see how Hollywood is really going Republican.

From the New York Times today, "Hollywood took another step toward America's vast and apparently growing Christian audience on Tuesday, as 20th Century (shouldn't it be 21st Century?) Fox unveiled a new division, FoxFaith, that will release up to a dozen religious-oriented films each year." In one of the first new releases, "Jesus: The Resurrection and Payback," the Messiah, having been tortured and placed into "stress positions" turns the tables on his Roman torturers and murderers by employing the Christian-based "alternative interrogation techniques," advocated by President Bush, on his former jailers. "It's all in compliance with the Geneva Convention," says the future King of Kings. He then explains the convention he attended was actually in Geneva with the Shriners. And that the loud music, sleep deprivation and cold temperatures they experienced was about the same as they would employ on the Romans. They decided to the new rules over a Sabbath dinner. It's all legal now so get out the water and boards and hoods and have at it the most famous son of Nazareth.

In the U.S. or should I say in the formally secret gulags run by the U.S., Donald Rumsfeld wonders if he "stand(s) for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours (for the detainees)?" That and waterboarding. Christians supporters of Bush support torture. Or maybe how they rationalize it is that with Christ it was torture and with Mohammed the cab driver turned in by the Hatfields or the McCoys or the Husseins it's "alternative interrogation methods" because we're doing it not those savage Romans 2000 years ago. Remember, there is no "Thou Shalt not employ alternative interrogation methods" in the Ten Commandments so it's all kosher so to speak.

Add to that the altering of history that Hollywood is obviously copying from the Bush administration. "CBS Paramount Domestic Television, a unit of CBS, is digitally remastering all 79 episodes of the original [Star Trek] series to enhance the show's 1960s-era visual effects with 21st-century computer-generated graphics. Digitally created images will replace the miniature-scale models used for exterior shots of the various spacecraft on the show, including Kirk's Starship Enterprise and the enemy war vessels of the alien Klingons and Romulans. Shots of distant galaxies and planets also will be touched up with computer graphics to give them greater depth. The flat matte paintings used as backdrops on the surface of the strange new worlds visited by the Enterprise crew will be digitally enhanced to add texture, atmosphere and lighting."

"Nothing really has changed except for the fact that it's just prettier to look at," John Nogawski, president of CBS Paramount Domestic Television, said in a recent conference call with reporters." Yes, prettier to look at just like when we don't include car bomb deaths and executions to the body counts in Iraq to make the level of violence seem "prettier."

So history will now be revised to be propaganda of the ruling Repubicans, Evangelical Christians will get their own production studios and everything else will be "enhanced" and "digitally altered" like airbrushing "enemies of the state" out of "Enemy of the State." They used to say Washington D.C. was just like Hollywood oly with higher ceilings. Now Hollywood is just like Washington only with lower standards.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sen. George Allen - A Jew? Oy Vey.

Just when things can't get any weirder they do. Sen. George Allen (R-VA) has what can only be described as a suspicious history of supporting, either in coded terms or clear as day photos, discrimination at best or unrepentant racism at worst. His tropism to the Confederate Flag is well-known, had a noose hung from a tree in his law office (he claims it was "Western stuff...more of a lasso..[having] nothing to do with lynching.") and as governor of Virginia signed a "Confederate Heritage Month" proclamation while calling the NAACP an "extremist group." The proclamation called the Civil War "a four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights." It was observed during April, the month in which the Civil War essentially began with the Confederates' attack on Fort Sumter, S.C. The declaration made no mention of slavery.

Allen also opposed the 1991 Civil Rights Act in Congress, not the the 1964 Civil Rights Act mind you the 1991 Act, and as a state delegate he opposed creating a holiday for Martin Luther King. And then there is the "macaca" incident that basically exposed Allen's, just below the surface, racism to everyone. His explanation for calling an American citizen of Indian descent "macaca" changed as many times as Bush's reason for invading Iraq. There's more and more but you get the point if you didn't know it already.

So how can it get wierder? Someone found a way. At a debate yesterday between Republican Allen and Democrat Webb, WUSA-TV's Peggy Fox asked Allen, if his French Tunisian-born mother has Jewish blood. "It has been reported," said Fox, that "your grandfather Felix, whom you were given your middle name for, was Jewish. Could you please tell us whether your forebears include Jews and, if so, at which point Jewish identity might have ended?" Allen recoiled as if he had been struck. "To be getting into what religion my mother is, I don't think is relevant," Allen said, furiously. "Why is that relevant -- my religion, Jim's religion or the religious beliefs of anyone out there?" "Honesty, that's all," questioner Fox answered, looking a bit frightened. "Oh, that's just all? That's just all," the senator mocked.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post writes, "Turns out the Forward, a Jewish newspaper, reported that the senator's mother, Etty, "comes from the august Sephardic Jewish Lumbroso family" and continued: "If both of Etty's parents were born Jewish -- which, given her age and background, is likely -- Senator Allen would be considered Jewish in the eyes of traditional rabbinic law, which traces Judaism through the mother."

Oy Vey. George Allen a member of the tribe? What's interesting is that Allen was furious during and after the debate because of the Jewish question - no pun intended. Allen lectured Fox about the importance of "freedom of religion and not making aspersions about people because of their religious beliefs." Just to be sure Allen made the point that religion didn't matter he pointed out that he's a Christian. Allen said, "my mother is French-Italian with a little bit of Spanish blood in her, and I've been raised, and she was, as far as I know, raised as a Christian." Milbank reports, "Allen, surrounded by cameras and microphones after the event, hadn't cooled down. "What do you mean, 'make me so angry'?" he demanded angrily when asked why Fox's query had made him so angry. "To make whatever sort of comment that was, you just don't judge people by their ethnicity or their religion," Allen said, fuming that Fox would "drag my mother into this.""

The real question to be answered -- is Allen angry because the "is your mom Jewish" question was impolite or because he doesn't want even the hint of suggestion that he may have Jewish roots through his mother. "Me? A Jew? Absolutely not! Why would you even suggest such an awful thing? I'm not Jewish but some of my best friends know some Jews." I have this feeling in my stomach that this story gets even weirder. Then again it could simply be a craving for a bagel with lox and cream cheese.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Grand Unification Theory of Republicanism

Reprinted without much editing since it is unable to be improved upon:

"After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans -- restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon. To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

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

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation that sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.

The CPA had the power to enact laws, print currency, collect taxes, deploy police and spend Iraq's oil revenue. It had more than 1,500 employees in Baghdad at its height, working under America's viceroy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, but never released a public roster of its entire staff.

‘Political leanings’

Interviews with scores of former CPA personnel over the past two years depict an organization that was dominated -- and ultimately hobbled -- by administration ideologues.

"We didn't tap -- and it should have started from the White House on down -- just didn't tap the right people to do this job," said Frederick Smith, who served as the deputy director of the CPA's Washington office. "It was a tough, tough job. Instead we got people who went out there because of their political leanings."

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

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

By the time Bremer departed in June 2004, Iraq was in a precarious state. The Iraqi army, which had been dissolved and refashioned by the CPA, was one-third the size he had pledged it would be. Seventy percent of police officers had not been screened or trained. Electricity generation was far below what Bremer had promised to achieve. And Iraq's interim government had been selected not by elections but by Americans. Divisive issues were to be resolved later on, increasing the chances that tension over those matters would fuel civil strife.

To recruit the people he wanted, O'Beirne sought résumés from the offices of Republican congressmen, conservative think tanks and GOP activists. He discarded applications from those his staff deemed ideologically suspect, even if the applicants possessed Arabic language skills or postwar rebuilding experience.

Smith said O'Beirne once pointed to a young man's résumé and pronounced him "an ideal candidate." His chief qualification was that he had worked for the Republican Party in Florida during the presidential election recount in 2000.

O'Beirne, a former Army officer who is married to prominent conservative commentator Kate O'Beirne, did not respond to requests for comment.

One former CPA employee who had an office near O'Beirne's wrote an e-mail to a friend describing the recruitment process: "I watched résumés of immensely talented individuals who had sought out CPA to help the country thrown in the trash because their adherence to 'the President's vision for Iraq' (a frequently heard phrase at CPA) was 'uncertain.' I saw senior civil servants from agencies like Treasury, Energy . . . and Commerce denied advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC [Republican National Committee] contributors."

As more and more of O'Beirne's hires arrived in the Green Zone, the CPA's headquarters in Hussein's marble-walled former Republican Palace felt like a campaign war room. Bumper stickers and mouse pads praising President Bush were standard desk decorations. Other than military uniforms and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" garb, "Bush-Cheney 2004" T-shirts were among the most common pieces of clothing.

"I'm not here for the Iraqis," one staffer noted to a reporter over lunch. "I'm here for George Bush."

And you wonder why Bush and the Republicans lost the war in Iraq? No need to wonder anymore. This is the Grand Unification Theory of Republicanism. This is the Holy Grail, the Unicorn the one all-encompassing Grand Unification Theory of how Republicans work and why how they work is an existential threat to truth, reality and basically the future of this country. The words in this article are strung together like acid pearls. A lethal gift given to Iraq, the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The word torture has been tortured and other fractured fairy tales

Within 24 hours of Friday morning, police in Iraq retrieved 50 bound bodies, most shot in the head after being trussed and tortured, a senior Interior Ministry official told Reuters. That took the body count in the city for three days to at least 130. Other corpses have been pulled from rivers downstream of the city, among them a headless, legless corpse found at Mussayab. Officials said 20 bodies were found in Baghdad on Thursday after 60 on Wednesday -- the latter a figure that made headlines and drew renewed international attention to violence the United Nations has estimated may be killing 100 Iraqis a day. "It's barbaric but sadly we've become used to it," the Interior Ministry official said. "Forty bodies, 60 bodies -- it's become a daily routine."

Insurgents and militia death squads have issued statements claiming that, "We do not torture. We want to be absolutely clear with our people, and the world: The death squads do not torture. We behead but not torture. It's against our rules to torture, and it's against our values. We have not authorized it - and we will not authorize it. What we have done is employ 'alternative interrogation methods.' We will not disclose our interrogation methods so as not to allow our detainees to know what to expect before they are beheaded. This is consistent with our rules. We voted on it over a plate of rice and chicken and Arabic coffee. We wanted to comply with our rules so we changed the rules. We have allowed 'acts inflicting, and that are specifically intended to inflict, severe pain or suffering, whether mental or physical. Certain acts may be cruel, inhuman or degrading, but still not produce pain and suffering of the requisite intensity to [be considered torture.] Torture is defined as being, it must inflict pain that is difficult to endure. Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years.' Where did we get this definition of what isn't torture? We plagarized it from the U.S. Justice Department."

There where no protests or violent demonstrations denouncing the kidnapping, torture and killings of Muslims by Muslims. There were protests and violent demostrations against the Pope who made what are being called "derogatory remarks" about the idea of "jihad." The violent protests against cartoons were re-scheduled for the next time hope rears it's bound, tortured and beheaded head.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Judge Orwell meet President Orwell

The chief judge in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial said Thursday that he does not believe Hussein was a dictator. Judge Abdullah al-Amiri made the remark in a friendly exchange with the deposed leader, a day after the prosecution said the judge should step down because he is biased toward the defense. Hussein and his co-defendants are being tried on charges of committing atrocities against Kurds in northern Iraq nearly two decades ago. Questioning a Kurdish witness Thursday, Hussein said, "I wonder why this man wanted to meet with me, if I am a dictator?" The judge interrupted: "You were not a dictator. People around you made you (look like) a dictator." "Thank you," Hussein responded, bowing his head in respect.

President Bush, last week:

"I want to be absolutely clear with our people, and the world: The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it - and I will not authorize it."

President Bush, four years ago:

On August 1, 2002 a Justice Department memorandum, "Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A," the so-called "Torture Memo" written by John Yoo and signed by Jay Bybee, now a federal appeals court judge, became U.S. policy. The new United States policy, notwithstanding President Bush's claim that "We do not torture," from that day forward we that the U.S. could proscribe "acts inflicting, and that are specifically intended to inflict, severe pain or suffering, whether mental or physical...certain acts may be cruel, inhuman or degrading, but still not produce pain and suffering of the requisite intensity to [be considered torture.]" Torture is defined as being, "it must inflict pain that is difficult to endure. Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years."

So short of organ failure, impairment of bodily function or death you can have at it. Seems clear that hammering nails under the nails of detainees is clear. Same with pulling their nails out with pliers. What about pulling the nails out of their children while they watch and your co-interrogators eat popcorn? It's not death. It's not organ failure. It doesn't impair a bodily function. How about "waterboarding" where you strap people down to simulate drowning. Seems "legal" under the new legalisms. How about forcing a detainee to eat dog poop? How about torturing an already mentally ill person who spews out imaginary plots and plans? Allowed. How about battery cables clipped to testicles? It's not death or organ failure and I'm sure there's a team of government lawyers just waiting to argue it doesn't impair a bodily function since the prisoners could still urinate -- look they just did so involuntarily all over themselves! So the so-called "torture memo" approves "alternative interrogation methods" but not torture. Wink, wink. So when President Bush tells Matt Lauer that if he had the mastermind of 9/11 in custody, the American people would say "Why don’t you see if you can’t get information out of him without torturing him, which is what we did." So don't torture Khalid Sheik Mohammed just get information out of him by using alternative interrogation techniques. And before you have him executed without letting him see the evidence against him or be able to challenge the charges give him a nice doggie bag for his fingernails and testicles. And if you happen to do this to some innocent cabdriver who got picked up in Afghanistan by accident, well hey, war is hell.

And before you think I'm some leftist, terrorist-loving type of guy, here's a quote for another, as Andrew Sullivan says, "leftist, terrorist-loving, draft-dodging guy who "doesn't get" the threat from terrorism -- it's from Colin Powell in a letter dated Sept. 13, 2006: "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk." Who else is against this? "liberals" such as Republican Senators John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

In Iraq, a war crimes judge says to Saddam, "You were not a dictator. People around you made you (look like) a dictator." In the U.S. President Bush says we do not torture and that he hasn't authorized torture. It's just that the people around him made him look like he did.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dropping the ball and not a bomb

Back in January of this year, Karl Rove the Dark Prince of American politics (a.k.a. Bush's brain) set out the Republican campaign theme for the 2006 mid-term elections. He said, "At the core, we are dealing with two parties that have fundamentally different views on national security," Rove said. "Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview. That doesn't make them unpatriotic -- not at all. But it does make them wrong -- deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong."

President Bush, Vice-president Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and just about everyone else in the Bush White House and the Republican Congress have parroted this mantra. Pre-9/11 versus post-9/11 thinking. I guess the idea is that the pre-9/11 worldview is a lot of subpoenas and judges and due process and indictments and handcuffs and defense lawyers and legal memos and meetings and risk avoidance and cultural sensitivity and maybe even group hugs and singing Kumbaya my Lord by the fire while roasting marshmellows. That would be how the tough guys like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, oh the list goes on and on, of chickenhawk Republicans who have never served in combat describe Democrats. Democrats, they would argue wouldn't "take the shot" when the have the chance. They would freeze up, send the decision through layers of lawyers and rule to avoid risk of harming poor street waifs who happen to be in the area or maybe fear damaging not just a mosque but maybe a single page from a single Koran. After failing to "take out the enemy" those pre-9/11 Democrats would likely go back to sipping lattes and reading Le Monde. Ah, but there is one problem with this. It's the Republicans who have the pre-9/11 mindset.

Exhibit A:

U.S. military officials confirmed to NBC News they had “high-level” Taliban fighters in their gunsights during a July reconnaissance flight but decided not to fire. The decision to pass on the target angered some in the military. Army intelligence officers say the grainy black-and-white aerial photo (seen at right) taken by an armed Predator drone shows 190 suspected Taliban militants standing in several rows near a vehicle in an open field in Afghanistan. The military said Wednesday that the group seen in the Predator image was likely gathered for a religious ceremony. Intelligence officers monitoring the footage captured by the armed, unmanned aircraft told NBC News they were prepared to fire but were prevented from doing so by military rules of engagement that prohibit waging war in a cemetery. Such rules are in place in an effort to minimize collateral damage, the killing of innocent civilians or destruction of sensitive targets, such as religious sites. “During the observation of the group over a significant period of time, it was determined that the group was located on the grounds of a cemetery and were likely conducting a funeral for Taliban insurgents killed in a coalition operation nearby earlier in the day,” a coalition spokesperson said. “A decision was made not to strike this group of insurgents at that specific location and time.” U.S. military officials in Afghanistan had positively identified those gathered as Taliban fighters, including some “high-level Taliban leaders.

The decision not to fire angered some military officials who said the U.S. passed up an opportunity to strike a valuable target. "That was frustrating, those individuals lived to fight another day,” Lt. Col. David Morrison of U.S. Army Intelligence told NBC News. They “potentially could cause harm to our soldiers, civilians, the population and the government of Afghanistan.” Defense Department officials have said repeatedly that while they try to be mindful of religious and cultural sensitivities.

So after all the speeches and spin and propaganda it's the Republicans who had their finger on the trigger to take out 190 Taliban fighters including high-value targets and kicked the decision up to a bunch of lawyers who dropped the ball and not a bomb. And why wasn't the green light given to kill men with black hearts? So as not to disturb a funeral for a terrorist. Good thing the Democrats weren't in charge. Maybe those vicious Taliban terrorists who protected al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden before and after 9/11 might have gotten away to fight another day and kill American troops and Afghan civilians. Good thing the guys with the "post-9/11" mindset are behind the wheel. I feel so much safer.

P.S. On Tuesday, a Taliban suicide bomber attacked the funeral of provincial Gov. Abdul Hakim Taniwal, killing six and wounding 25. Most of the victims were civilians, according to the U.S. military.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Why I should be senate minority leader

I was going to entitle this post, "Why Democrats Lose Elections," or "The Opposition Party Means Just That" but you get the point. On a night where primary votes are being tallied around the country, places like Rhode Island may lock in a U.S. Senate for the Democrats if the sitting Republican senator loses his primary run. That's good news if it happens but then I see a story that makes me wonder if Democrats know how to be an opposition party especially in an election year.

Representative John Boehner of Ohio, the Republican majority leader, wondered aloud at a news conference “whether Democrats are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people.” This wasn't some nutjob backbencher who forgot to take their antipsychotic medication this was the U.S. Senate's Majority Leader. The majority being Republicans. I won't even waste time arguing about Boehner's statement because no one is really interested in my opinion and almost no one will hear it and I was always told not to argue with crazy people. It makes them look sane and you insane. But the Senate minority leader, that would be Democrat Harry Reid, is someone who's opinion is asked for and people will hear him and he said the following about Boehner's claim that Democrats want to pamper Osama bin laden with hot stone massages and manicures:

Mr. Reid said he had “great respect for Leader Boehner... He’s a good guy...I like him. But haven’t we moved beyond that? Haven’t we moved beyond, the Republicans are more religious than Democrats? Haven’t we moved beyond the fact that Republicans are trying to save us from the terrorists and Democrats aren’t? I think we’ve moved beyond that.”

Not what I'd call a full-throated response. And since Boehner basically said Democrats were interested in full-throating bin Laden I thought something more than "[Boehner's] a good guy," was in order. Guess I'm wrong. The Republicans are going to spend $50 million in the next 60 days in the nastiest campaign you've ever seen. There are already ads coming out claiming that you will die if you don't vote Republican. Until the Democrats stop calling the guy who just kicked them in the nuts a "good guy" they won't convince people they can be as tough and dirty and vicious as they need to be to defeat the likes of John Boehner and Osama bin Laden. Who wants to be my campaign manager?

Monday, September 11, 2006


On its website, CNN is playing its coverage of 9/11/01 as it happened that day. I've been watching it for a bit since I didn't see it live that day five years ago. I saw video of the second plane strike and I remember saying, to a co-worker, "They just changed the world." I followed most of the morning on the radio as I took a train back home. I didn't understand when Peter Jennings said "the building has collapsed." It didn't compute. I didn't have the capacity to imagine what I saw later on cable after I got home. I saw Gen. Wesley Clark on CNN saying, only a couple of hours after the Twin Towers fell, that it was probably Osama bin Laden who was behnid the attack. Pretty good call. I saw Tom Clancy being interviewed claiming "self-preservation is the first rule of nature and there aren't a lot of people out there willing to give up their lives in suicide missions like this." Pretty bad call.

I also got angry. When you see the video coverage of the jet striking the tower and you see the collapse of the buildings you want to enlist and go kill someone. Too bad Bush and Rove were more interested in winning elections than actually killing someone like Osama bin Laden. Five years later and I'm not sure if Bush wants him "dead or alive" or whether he doesn't think about him too often or isn't concerned about bin Laden. I'm also angry at the historically disgraceful way Bush, Rove and the Republicans have politicized 9/11 while saying they aren't. We sink or swim together. We are in the same boat but the Republicans treat it as if we are in two boats and they are going to swiftboat all those who don't slavishly follow their party line. Surfing the net while watching the five year old CNN coverage I saw something that made my argument of Republicans politicizing 9/11 seem entirely understated.

A new ad set to be placed in key markets by a neoconservative think tank will tell Americans that they will likely die in a terrorist attack if they vote Democratic. Over images of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, an off-camera narrator will tell voters in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia and Vermont that "the world is a dangerous place. Islamic terrorists hate us for who we are and what we stand for." The Center for Security Policy, linked to a number of well-known neoconservatives, produced the ad. Though it claims to be nonpartisan, it centers around the widely-used Republican "cut and run" talking point. After conflating 9/11 and Iraq the narrator asks over a picture of the Earth, "The next time someone suggests America should cut-and-run from the war on terror, ask them, 'run to where?'" A final on-screen graphic tells residents of those states to "vote as if your life depends on it. Because it does."

So there you have it. All the talk of sadness and grief and loss and security and justice and freedom is packaged by Republicans as a tag line in a political ad. "Vote Republican or you'll die a fiery death." Pretty much sums up today's Republican party and why I remain angry and cranky five years after 9/11.

Friday, September 08, 2006

ABC and F as in fail

Here's another controversy that shouldn't be. It's about ABC's propaganda movie, a sloppy wet kiss to Republicans, called Path to 9/11. It's the hottest topic in the blogosphere. If you haven't heard about it then you also probably think Saddam and Al Qaeda had ties, operational or not. They didn't. Even though 43% of Americans still believe Iraq had something to do with 9/11 the unclassified Senate report issued today say there were no ties. That's the same conclusion of the 9/11 Commission report. But no matter. ABC is probably editing in a scene of Saddam and Osama as college roommates along with Michael Moore and Bill Clinton. I've read about the scenes, made up from the imagination of the conservative and evangelical producers and director, claiming the Clinton Administration basically sent flowers and love letters to bin Laden and it's a disgrace. What is so difficult of just portraying the facts straight up? Why does 9/11 have to be "kicked up a notch?" What, it's not bad enough as it is?

It's such an easy call. It's so depressing to have to waste time and energy fighting about this. Whatever you think of Bill or George or Condi the truth is dying before our eyes. It's going from truth to truthiness to everyone is entitled to their own reality and if they own a network or are in the Oval Office so much the better to get that reality injected in the nation's veins. We are becoming, have become addicts to falsehoods. Celebrity magazines reporting on love affairs that never happened, WWF showing wrestlers hitting each other with metal chairs, David Blaine convincing people he can levitate. We can't get enough. And now recent events, current events, not even history yet since it's so young is being deconstructed and re-arranged for political propaganda. If a student in 5th grade wrote as an assignment the history of 9/11 as the producers of Path to 9/11 imagined it, he or she would fail. ABC might know about the abcs but as far as history and truth and fairness and decency, it fails miserably. And anyone who watches Path to 9/11 with get just a bit more ignorant about the path to 9/11.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Put another fact on the barbie!!!

It's all propaganda now. It's hard to point to something this administration does that isn't for propaganda purposes. The latest is the phony story and photo-op ceremony whereby our Coalition forces "handed over control of Iraq's armed forces command to the [Iraqi] government". U.S. officials hailed the move as "a crucial milestone on the country's difficult road to independence. Trouble is it's not true. Even the one news story I read about it had in it the facts which disprove this phony bit of theater.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed a document taking control of Iraq's small naval and air forces and the 8th Iraqi Army Division. "From today forward, the Iraqi military responsibilities will be increasingly conceived and led by Iraqis," said Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, at a ceremony. The propoganda being peddled is that up until now the Coalition (read: U.S.) was in control of the Iraqi forces and the chain of command. Now, the chain of command flows directly from the prime minister in his role as Iraqi commander in chief, through his Defense Ministry to an Iraqi military headquarters. From there, the orders go to Iraqi units on the ground.

But the key to this "feel good" story about Iraqi troop "standing up so we can begin to stand down" is that they are more like one foot out of bed rather than standing up. The Iraqi army has ten divisions and this hands only one over to Iraqi command. It does transfer the air force (didn't even know they had one left) and the navy (I'm picturing Huck Finn-type rafts and poles) but last time I checked the insurgency and nascent civil war were coming by land and not-ith by sea or air Mr. Revere. So the "transfer" of the army is a 10% transfer which is the amount of truth and fact in this story that I heard on CBS radio this morning and in the headlines I've read this afternoon.

There was a time when the saying, "It must be true, I read it the newspaper" meant something. Now they should re-tool it to be, "I read it in the newspaper, it must be false." Another sad nail in the coffin of truth and another fact of the barbie all in the name of propaganda and truthiness.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Can you hear me now?

From Presidential news conference, March 13, 2002:

Question: Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part -- deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really eliminate the threat of --

President George W. Bush: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.

Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.

So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. I'm more worried about making sure that our soldiers are well-supplied; that the strategy is clear; that the coalition is strong; that when we find enemy bunched up like we did in Shahikot Mountains, that the military has all the support it needs to go in and do the job, which they did.

And there will be other battles in Afghanistan. There's going to be other struggles like Shahikot, and I'm just as confident about the outcome of those future battles as I was about Shahikot, where our soldiers are performing brilliantly. We're tough, we're strong, they're well-equipped. We have a good strategy. We are showing the world we know how to fight a guerrilla war with conventional means.

Question: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

President Bush: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

And as the mid-term elections approach...

President Bush in a speech yesterday:

"Osama bin Laden, declared the massacre of nearly 3,000 people that day -- I quote -- "an unparalleled and magnificent feat of valor, unmatched by any in humankind before them."

"Osama bin Laden has called the 9/11 attacks -- in his words -- "a great step towards the unity of Muslims and establishing the Righteous… [Caliphate]."

"Again, hear the words of Osama bin Laden earlier this year: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.""

"Bin Laden calls this his "bleed-until-bankruptcy plan."

"Osama bin Laden says, "al Qaeda spent $500,000 on the event...,"

"Bin Laden concludes from this experience..."

"Osama bin Laden laid out this strategy in a letter to the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar..."

"In it, bin Laden says that al Qaeda intends to "[launch]," in his words, "a media campaign…"

"This media campaign, bin Laden says..."

"Bin Laden says that by delivering these messages, al Qaeda "aims at creating pressure..."

"Bin Laden and his allies are absolutely convinced they can succeed..."

"Osama bin Laden has written..."

"the nation bin Laden has declared the "capital of the Caliphate." Hear the words of bin Laden: "I now address… the whole… Islamic nation..."

"Again, hear the words of bin Laden..."

"Bin Laden and Zawahiri remain in hiding..."

"Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say? America and our coalition partners have made our choice. We're taking the words of the enemy seriously."

For a guy who doesn't think about Osama bin Laden much Bush found time to mention him 15 times in forty minutes. Twice in some sentences, three times in a paragraph. Bush also warned, "History teaches that underestimating the words of evil and ambitious men is a terrible mistake...Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?" In the words of Maureen Dowd, "Too bad the president didn't take time out from clearing brush at the ranch long enough back in August of 2001 to pay attention to [the famous or imfamous August 6, 2001 PDB entitled] "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." But no matter. It's election time and history and truth are merely obstacles for the marketing of incompetence as strength and failure as success. Can you hear both of them now?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mahmoud Malkin

While reading the New York Times, you know that "liberal" paper, the one that published the first story about Whitewater and the Clintons that led to a presidential impeachment and the paper that published all the phony intelligence about Iraq that Dick Cheney fed to Scooter Libby who fed to Judith Miller who fed on breakfast while transcribing the lies. Then Cheney would go on Meet the Press and say, "I read in the New York Times today..." completing the circle of deception. Yeah, that one. I was reading it today and saw the story about the latest religious and extremist "to do" list of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After "1. Build nuclear bomb tell world to go 'F' themselves; 2. Start war with Israel through Hezbollah" and "3. Call for Israel to be destroyed and deny the Holocaust took place," is number 4 -- purge "liberals and secularists" from Iranian universities. (Number 5 is "get replacement supply of khaki colored Members Only jackets if mine wears out.)

I thought this was a good blog topic but as usual Andrew Sullivan beat me to it and throwing in a joke about how this could be mistaken for a quote by Michelle Malkin. For those of you who don't know who she is (you're lucky) let's just say she is a dark-haired Ann Coulter-type wannabee with less publicity but about the same mixture of insanity and venom dripping from her writings. The quote from the official Iranian news service which means the President was, "Today, students should shout at the president and ask why liberal and secular university lecturers are present in the universities." Ask yourself if this quote could come or in fact has come from the mouths of Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage (who would probably suggest hanging them too), Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly. Kathrine Harris recently said non-Christians shouldn't even be in public office. I don't have Lexis-Nexis otherwise I'm sure I could get Newt Gingrich or Tom Delay quotes but I think you get the point.

So what is the difference between being Americans and Iranians being crushed by the vice of religious extremists in leadership positions who hate vice and liberals and dissent and all those who aren't their religion? Who want to "purge" people from universities and government and broadcast booths? Who listen to a "higher father" to guide them and their guided missiles? Our religious extremists' names are easier to pronounce.