Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Declaration of Independence...from Republican tyranny

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

"It’s an entire culture that focus on immediate gratification and the pursuit of happiness and personal pleasure and it is, it is harming America."

Republican Senator Rick Santorum, television interview, July 25, 2006.

The Declaration of Independence is one of the most remarkable documents ever written. The writing is simple and accessible and yet poetic and revolutionary. "We hold these truths to be self-evident...". Anyone can understand this phrase but almost no one conceived of the idea, let alone thought to write it down on a "subversive" document 230 years ago. It was revolutionary - all men were endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Andrew Sullivan's brilliant new book, The Conservative Soul: How we lost it, How to get it back, talks about this idea. I'm paraphrasing but basically it goes something like this. It wasn't life, liberty and the pursuit of morals or the pursuit of virtue or the pursuit of religion. It was the pursuit of happiness. Not even happiness but simply its pursuit. Your idea of happiness might be boating, mine may be (is) golfing. It may be that your idea of happiness is painting, hiking, traveling, mountain climbing, skydiving, watching movies, playing the harmonica or yes, even internet gambling while, horrors, having a martini. That was the unalienable right. The simple pursuit of happiness. To play. To enjoy oneself. To be left alone from the awesome power of government to pursue your pleasure. The pursuit of pleasure, of happiness was a goal or a right as important as life. As important as freedom. It is life, it is freedom. But it's the pursuit of happiness, that is, the pursuit of pleasure that Republicans hate. They want to tell you how to live and they want to pass laws to make sure you don't pursue your happiness.

Take a look at this video (hat tip: Andrew Sullivan) where Republican Senator Rick Santorum says, "It’s an entire culture that focus on immediate gratification and the pursuit of happiness and personal pleasure and it is, it is harming America." No Senator, you're harming America. When the Taliban came to power they banned music and dance and kite flying. They banned movies and alcohol (banning alcohol, hmmm, that sounds familiar) and anything else they deemed as harming Islam and Afghanistan. Rick Santorum bans internet gambling (but not online horserace betting or online state lotteries) because he wants to tell you how you spend your money and free time. As Sullivan writes about Santorum, "he tries to portray such a pursuit as somehow an enemy of personal responsibility. But why not both? Isn't that what true conservatism means? And since when was it the role of government to be the means of imposing values and responsibility? In Santorum, you see how the big government left met the moralizing right and became Bush-Rove conservatism. It's a vision of America suited for October 31. And it's time to fight back against it."

George Will, another obvious "liberal, just do it" kind of guy says, yes, "some people gamble too much. And some people eat too many cheeseburgers. But who wants to live in a society that protects the weak-willed by criminalizing cheeseburgers? " He adds, "But governments and sundry busybodies seem affronted by the Internet, as they are by any unregulated sphere of life. The speech police are itching to bring bloggers under campaign-finance laws that control the quantity, content and timing of political discourse. And now, by banning a particular behavior—the entertainment some people choose, using their own money—government has advanced its mother-hen agenda of putting a saddle and bridle on the Internet." He's right. Or "left" if you believe Santorum.

Sullivan says it's time to fight back. I voted early today and it felt so good. Better than ever before. The referees will call the fight next tuesday night. Let's hope it's a knockout and not a split decision on points because frankly I don't trust the refs anymore and I sure don't trust people like soon-to-be former Senator Rick Santorum who think they know better than Thomas Jefferson about the meaning of the Declaration of Independence or you or me if we want to have a drink, place a bet or fly a kite. Who knows, his head might explode if you wanted to do all of that at the same time. As President Bush likes to say, "the terrorists hate us for our freedoms." No, Republicans like Rick Santorum hate us for our freedoms.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I'm a Charlie Brown Democrat

Be still my still beating heart. Wait. Let me rephrase that. Beat my still beating heart. I know polls are like oh so many women who promised so much and then never delivered but this time I have to have hope. Without hope I'd have to look for a nice spot to sit down in front of a train right after election day should things go badly for the Democrats. New polls came out and while I may be setting myself up, like Charlie Brown running to kick the football from Lucy, I am getting a bit uncurmudgeonish. Take a look at the new polls. How could you not be a bit optimistic? Sen. Macacawitz, a.k.a George Allen, looks to be falling behind Jim Webb. Sen. Rick "man on dog sex" Santorum is headed for a huge defeat. Jon Tester is going to send Republican Senator Conrad Burns into a much needed retirement. In Maryland, Ben Cardin is going to end Republican Michael Steele's political career. I think Harold Ford is going to pull out one of the greatest uphill battles in American history. In Missouri, Republican Jim Talent, looking too much like ferret-face Maj. Frank Burns may beat Claire McCaskill, although he shouldn't, but only because Missouri is as politically odd as Minnesota. Heath Schuler and Ken Lucas look to beat incumbent Republican congressmen. In Illinois Rep. Melissa Bean is ahead of her Republican challenger and former Iraq helicopter veteran and double-amputee Tammy Duckworth is slightly ahead of a Tom Delay protegee. Here's the big news though - in my district the 10th congressional district the challenger, Dan Seals is ahead of the empty suit and invisible congressman Republican Mark Kirk. Wow.

I know these polls aren't entirely reliable but they are something. They are at least a snapshot of what is going on in the various races. All I know is this election night I am going to be stocked up on chips, dip and cold drinks. Here are my predictions for next Tuesday. Let's see how my cranky crystal ball does.

Pennsylvania: Casey beats Santorum
New Jersey: Menendez beats Kean
Virginia: Webb beats Allen
Montana: Tester beats Burns
Missouri: Talent beats McCaskill (edge to Talent but McCaskill could win no question)
Tennessee: Ford beats Corker
Maryland: Cardin beats Steele

Senate goes Democratic with Democrats winning 6 or 7 of the seven races that will decide control. A six seat pick up would be like pulling an inside straight to win. Seven for 7 would be like pulling inside Royal Flush to win and it could easily happen.

As for the House, the Democrats take over gaining 25-30 seats. The other prediction, lesser for some but huge for me, is that Dan Seals beats Republican incumbent (a.k.a. Bush's shoe shine boy) Mark Kirk here in my home district. Taking over the House would be satifying. Taking over the Senate would be satisfying. Having Republican Mark Kirk lose his seat would be satisfying. When all three happen next tuesday I'm going to be so satisfied I may even change the name of my blog to "The Temporarily Happy Curmudgeon." So feel free to stop by and watch the Republicans get hit with Hurricane Cranky. Here's hoping Lucy doesn't pull the football away again.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Memories, like the corners of my mind...

Lynne Cheney appeared on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and denied that the book she wrote and published entitled "Sisters," had sexually explicit passages in it. This only came up because Sen. George Allen's campaign has quoted from books challenger Jim Webb wrote and cites sexually charged language in the books to argue Webb is some sort of sexual deviant like, for example, Republican Mark Foley. Cheney of course lied and was evasive when pressed to answer questions about her book in light of the fact that she was critical of Webb for writings in his book. Follow me? The video is another classic that should be immediately sent over to the broadcastng hall of fame. Blitzer tried to get an answer out of Cheney when he asked her about passages in her own book that "featured a lesbian love affair, brothels and attempted rapes." Here's how the Associated Press described the book in 2004: "a historical romance published in 1981 that includes brothels, attempted rapes and a lesbian love affair." Brothels, attempted rapes and lesbian love affairs written about in bad novels. By all means let's talk about the important things this election cycle rather than how are we going to help protect 147,000 troops in Iraq and remove them from the middle of a nascent civil war that will make the past three years of bloodletting look like a picnic.

Maybe Cheney needs a memory expert to help her out. Here's one that probably need a new gig. Elizabeth F. Loftus, a professor of criminology and psychology at the University of California at Irvine, was hired as an expert memory witness for Vice President Dick Cheney's indicted chief of staff Lewis I. "Scooter" Libby. Libby has been indicted for lying to F.B.I. investigators and obstruction of justice. His defense seems to be that he was so inundated with secret memos and national security papers and briefings that he just didn't remember leaking the name of an undercover C.I.A. agent to Judith Miller. So he and his team hired Prof. Loftus to explain how he wouldn't remember gossiping about classified non-official cover agents of the C.I.A. to the big, bad New York Times. Only one problem - the "memory expert" Prof. Loftus doesn't have a good memory herself. Loftus insisted that she had never met Fitzgerald but he reminded her that he had cross-examined her before, when she was an expert defense witness and he was a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office in New York. It has been reported that Loftus was reduced to "stuttering" and "backpedaling" on the stand. It's just too funny. As a former trial lawyer you fantasize about this kind of cross-examination. It will be one of the top war stories Patrick Fitzgerald will be telling the rest of his life, believe me.

I'm thinking there is a future for anyone interested in becoming a memory expert. Maybe the Cheney family can get a group discount. Since President Bush has now claimed he never said "stay the course" in Iraq, maybe the administration can get a governmental discount. But since this Republican congress and Reoublican president enjoy spending money at a faster rate than any Democratic congress since FDR I think they probably would pay full price.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I won't have what he's having

Every day I ride the commuter train between Chicago and the suburbs. I asked my fellow train rider who he was voting for in our congressional district. While he didn't say he definitely was going to vote for the Republican incumbent, Mark Kirk (IL-10), he probably will. I asked, "why?" "Because he's good for Israel," was the answer. The challenger, Dan Seals, has made his support for Israel crystal clear. And anyone who has read my blog knows that I am a rabid supporter of Israel. I have relatives there who have and do serve in the army. So I wouldn't support a candidate that wasn't, shall we say, "kosher" on the issue of Israel. That being said it struck me another way. I offered a few reasons why he might want to reconsider his vote but I don't think I got very far. I have eight or nine train rides to persuade him though. Anyone who wants to read about Kirk calling himself independent and then voting 91% of the time with President Bush you can read through this blog or take a look at this one. In short, the guy is an empty suit who hides from his constituents and his opponents. He doesn't say anything obviously stupid and talks like, "I'm for strengthening Social Security," and "I'm for supporting seniors and veterans." If you can tell me what that really means please email me.

The point is that if you like a restaurant because you like one dish and the rest of the menu is warmed over rat vomit, pardon me if I don't want to eat there. Even if you say the Republicans in general and specifically Republican Rep. Kirk is "good for Israel" what would it take for you to not vote for them? This is assuming, as is the case in our district, that the challenger, Dan Seals, is also "good for Israel" which he is. My relatives' lives depend on it and I'm voting for Seals. So getting back to the menu. The Republicans have exploded the debt and deficit. They have taken us from $250 billion yearly surpluses to over $400 billion dollar deficits. The national debt has gone from around $5.5 trillion to nearly $9 trillion in under six years. Unfunded liabilities, the promises government has made for the future, was $20 trillion in 2000 it's now $43 trillion. Ronald Reagan once vetoed a transportation bill with around 150 earmarks for pork projects. Bush signed one with over 6,000 earmarks. On Iraq and Katrina it's been a disaster. Limited government? They dictate that California can't pass medical marajuana laws; same-sex couples can't have equal rights, not even marriage mind you just hospital visitation or pension rights; that you must say the pledge of allegience with "under God" in it; that stem-cell research should be banned; that end of life decisions, like in the Schiavo case, should be made in Washington D.C. in the Oval Office rather than say, I don't know maybe by a husband or a family at the hospice and don't forget it's now illegal to engage in internet gambling. Unless it's online state lotteries or betting on the horses online. And we decry when the Taliban banned kite flying or the Suadis ban alcohol. (We tried banning alcohol by Consitutional amendment no less and all it did was create the mafia.) Balanced budgets? Limited government? Competent and wise foreign policy? Smaller government? How about even competent government. The Republicans want to visit Mars but they won't visit New Orleans. It's farce at this point.

So again. What would it take to vote against a Republican? If after Iraq, Katrina, the spending, the indictments, the guilty pleas, the resignations, the elevation of governmental power over individual rights, the lies, the state of denial, the subsitution of faith for science, the support for creationism and a whole lot of other things - if after all that you still proudly want to vote for Republicans then there is nothing I can say to change your mind. Hope you enjoy the warmed over rat vomit too.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Divide and Conquer

"Reconciliation is difficult in a country that has been tortured and divided by a tyrant."

--President George W. Bush, press conference, October 25, 2006

My first question after reading this was he talking about Iraq or the United States? I mean how do you divide a nation? Well first off you take over control of the presidency with more than 500,000 votes LESS than your opponent then you govern as a hard-right religious fundamentalist. Then after September 11, 2001 you ask for unity from Democrats and you get it followed by kicking them in the teeth. You accuse them of wanting to practically fellate Osama bin Laden. You put pictures of war heroes next to pictures of bin laden and Saddam and tell people Democrats want the terrorists to win. You swift boat a war hero who volunteered for Vietnam and was awarded a Bronze Star a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts. You tell people vote for Democrats and you'll die. You call half the country "defeatocrats" and claim critics of the Iraq war are Nazi appeasers. You call critics of the USA Patriot act as giving "ammunition to America's enemies" and "aid [to] terrorists." You say the words of the Democratic Senate Minority Leader "embolden the enemy." And the kicking in the teeth and the balls of half the country has gone on non-stop since September 12, 2001. The message is clear - if you are a Democrat or opposed to the Republican fundamentalists in complete control of the government you are un-American, you are unpatriotic, you are a security threat. You are to be hunted down and caged like the godless, treasonous, terrorist loving person you have been made out to be by this president and the plague of Republican supporters.

As for tyranny the Republican Congress just gave the President what he wanted - the ability to label anyone, including any American citizen in America, as an "enemy combatant" and to be arrested (disappeared) without any ability to challenge the claim or the imprisonment and to be held forever without any charges being filed or any court to review the arrest or any lawyer to assist in proving that a mistake has been made. I'm talking about the end of habeas corpus. Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University put it this way, "People have no idea how significant this is. Really a time of shame this is for the American system.—The strange thing is that we have become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to Dancing With the Stars. It's otherworldly..People clearly don't realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today changed us. And I'm not too sure we're gonna change back anytime soon." These are despotic powers gleefully given to The Decider and it's just the beginning.

How do you reconcile a nation that has been divided and tortured? You get rid of those doing the dividing and torturing. And speaking of torture it looks like the "20th hijacker" of Sept. 11 may avoid prosecution because of our "aggressive interrogation" of him at Gitmo. Republicans torturing and dividing. So I ask again, how do you reconcile a nation that has been divided and tortured? You vote Democratic.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Celebrity Monday

Last night I went to see an intellectual rock star. Andrew Sullivan the uber-blogger and author of a really great book, "The Conservative Soul: How we lost it, how we get it back." It's been clear that the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his Republican towel boys in Congress are not conservative. They hardly believe in balanced budgets or small or limited government. They have exploded spending, balloned the debt and deficit and want to act as the nanny and secret police for everyone in the country. Increasing spending 37%, taking the national debt from $5.5 trillion to nearly $9 trillion, never vetoing a spending bill, expanding entitlements, going from budget surpluses to deficits, taking unfunded government mandates from $20 trillion to $43 trillion in six years, banning internet gambling, trying to amend the constitution to ban flag burning and gay marriage, trying to pass a pledge of allegience, under god of course, law, taking jurisdiction away from courts whose decisions you disagree with, getting involved in one family's end of life decision (Schiavo), wiretapping without warrants, passing a law to end habeas corpus so that despotic powers are now in the hands of one man are many things but it is not conservative. That's the nutshell of Sullivan's new book. It is a convincing case that these "theocons" divinely believe they are right and in possession of the "truth." Once you have no doubt about what you are doing whether it be spending unprecendented amounts of money or wiretapping your own citizens or ending habeas corpus or invading countries that never attacked you then the rest is easy. God told you to do it. Hard to argue or reason with faith. Faith cannot be reasoned or argued with it can only be asserted, Sullivan says and he's right.

The book is easy to read and follow and I recommend it highly for anyone who wants to understand the religious fundamentalists who have hijacked the Republican party and how they are no different in their belief of divine truth and divine purpose than Iran's President or other religious fanatics. The end of the path of "my truth is the one truth" is a bloody one. Just take a look at the Sunni and Shiites who are ready to tear Iraq apart.

I didn't have chance to buy his book at a discount so I paid full price and had him sign my book, "Thanks for paying full price! Andrew Sullivan." He came early and spoke at length with everyone. He is one of only a few writers I would go and buy their book, read it and then show up at a discussion/book signing. It was worth it. Rather than spew talking points this Oxford educated, Harvard Ph.d. actually is able to talk at length about history, religion and politics and make a coherent and persuasive argument. I did challenge his assertion that conservatives balance budgets and are for smaller, limited government, freer trade and restrained foreign policy. Not even under Ronald Reagan did that happen. Democrats have smaller increases in spending, smaller deficits and over all better economic record - growth, inflation, recession, etc. It was President Bill Clinton who ended welfare as we know it. It was Clinton who gave us surpluses rather than the deficits of Reagan, Bush and Bush Jr. It was Clinton that shrank the size (employees) of the federal government. In short, all the talk of Republicans, whether they are Reagan or Bush Jr. conservatives, is simply nonsense. They have never delivered on any of the pie in the sky free lunches they peddle. It's just a matter of who is worse for the nation fiscally, domestically and foreign policy-wise. Without question it's the religious fundamentalists who now run things.

I disagree with Sullivan but not on his critique of the radical theocons controlling our government. When he talked about the recent end of habeas corpus he choked up. He was born in Britain but is now an American citizen. His reaction is one I haven't seen from anyone here. Maybe if we did that rather than yawn as our rights and freedoms are banned and taken away by the religious fundamentalists running the nation we wouldn't have to take our country back. It would still be the a nation committed to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Another prediction

Let's look at the ledger and see how the Republicans are at predicting things. They said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They said the war would last, "six days, six weeks, certainly not six months." They said we would be greeted as liberators. They said the oil revenues would pay for the war. They said it wouldn't take hundreds of thousands of troops to secure the country. They said there is almost no historical evidence of Sunni and Shiites having animosity towards each other. They said the mission was accomplished. They said the insurgency was in its last throes. They said after Saddam was captured it was a turning point. They said when Uday and Qusay were killed it was a turning point. They said when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed it was a turning point. They said after elections and forming a government and writing a constitution it was a turning point. I'm sure I've forgotten (repressed is more like it) other similar and objectively incorrect predictions by the delusionally self-confident Republicans but you get the point.

Why do I bring this up? Because another prediction has been handed down by the predictor-in-chief. "President Bush gently admonished his father for saying he hates to think what life would be like for his son if the Democrats win control of Congress in the November 7 election. It was the latest sign of possible strain in the relationship between the two men. "He shouldn't be speculating like this, because -- he should have called me ahead of time and I'd tell him they're not going to (win)," a smiling Bush told ABC "This Week" in an interview broadcast on Sunday. "They're not going to win." Marvelous. And smiling when saying it. Either he knows something that we don't - like the election results are already in the electronic voting machines or Bob Woodward's book, "State of Denial" understands the case. Neither is very comforting but given their track record at predicting I think this one will be added to the pile of demonstrably wrong and delusionally optimistic predictions despite empirical evidence to the contrary. Here's hoping.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hearts and Minds

It's confirmed - I do have a heart. And I have the emergency room EKG to prove it. Nothing to worry about. The doctor did say I will die -- in about 50 years. Must be all the stress trying to meet the demands of my insatiable readers.

P.S. A major political celebrity book signing and cocktail party will be attended by yours truly and an intellectual and blogger rock star on Monday. Don't forget to check back here on Tuesday for the scoop. This will be bigger than Sen. Bill Nelson, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Al Franken or any of the other "B" list political types I've met and blogged about in the last year. I even paid full price for his book because I had no time before Monday to get it through Amazon. That either makes me a big spending Democrat or just another member of the even bigger spending Republicans who have increased unfunded liabilities for this country from 20 trillion in 2000 to over 43 trillion now. And don't even get me started on the $29 billion a year in pork projects through earmarks. Have to go and try and read at least some of this high brow's book. One hint - he's bald and it's not Dr. Evil.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Senator, let me quote from Star Wars"

What is it about Republicans and fiction? I'm talking about novels. Their speeches about how Iraq is going "remarkably well," how they are fiscal conservatives and the party of "family values" is all fiction but they seem to like to drag best sellers in when they argue policy. The latest "open mouth, insert foot" moment was when Republican Senator Rick Santorum compared Iraq to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. As reported recently, Sen. Santorum "said America has avoided a second terrorist attack for five years because the “Eye of Mordor” has been drawn to Iraq instead. As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.,” Santorum continued. “You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States.” Reminds me of former Vice President Dan Quayle who argued on the Senate floor for funding of antisatellite weapons because they had been so effective in the Tom Clancy novel "Red Storm Rising." I wish I were joking about any of this but unfortunately I'm not. Quayle argued for funding the ASAT antisatellite weapon on the grounds that it was what won the war in Clancy's book. That would be Clancy's book of fiction. I believe the exact quote was, "We should develop anti-satellite weapons because we could not have prevailed without them in 'Red Storm Rising'." "They're not just novels," Quayle explained. "They're read as the real thing."

Note to Ricky -- um, in Lord of the Ring the Eye of Sauron was indeed drawn away from Mordor as you say the "eye" is drawn towards Iraq. But in Tolkien's tale the distraction of the Sauron's eye was precisely how a couple of hobbits were able to sneak attack up Mount Doom and destroy the One Ring. Hello? Get it? It's not the jihadists who are distracted in Iraq. They are gaining in size, strength and experience. It's the U.S. being distracted in Iraq and we are the ones who aren't watching the ports or the borders or the chemical plants or the airports or the nuclear reactors. And another small note, yes we haven't been attacked on U.S. soil for five years but we weren't attacked on U.S. soil for eight years after the 1993 World Trade Center car bombing and we all know how that turned out on September 11th. So stop making 5th grade analogies about complex foreign policy issues. Stop reading fiction and try a bit of fact. The only bright spot in this story is that the latest poll shows Rick-baby losing his Senate seat 52% to 44%. Hopefully that poll is fact and not fiction.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Magna Carta? Is that Jimmy's brother?

The only good thing about the end of habeas corpus is that there are two less Latin words to remember. Everything else about the death of habeas isn't just bad it will rightly seen as a stain upon this nation rivaling the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II or the racist horrors of the South before, during and more than 100 years after the Civil War. King George smirked and smiled and told you he was making you safer when he lifted his pen and took a line-item veto to the U.S. Constitution. If you have nine minutes watch this with a box of tissues.

In 1215 on a field in the United Kingdom, King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta. It established the beginnings of modern ideas of civil and human rights, including the writ of habeas corpus - literally "produce the body." What it really means is you can't imprison someone forever you need to either give them a trial or let them go free. In 1627 King Charles I threw five knights in jail over a tax dispute and they asserted their habeas corpus rights. King Charles I argued that he had the right to simply imprison anyone he wanted at anytime for any reason. Sound familiar? King George Bush perhaps? King Charles' 17th century Gitmo decree led to the "Petition of Right" law, the basis for our Fourth and Eight Amendments to the Bill of Rights, that prevented a King from suspending habeas.

Oh but that was long ago when they didn't even have cell phones or cheddar dogs. How barbaric. Didn't they leech people with fevers? What do they know about human rights? Human rights for terrorists (or innocent cab drivers from Kabul) when they're human!

Reminds me of a "Liberal" who, when writing about the establishment of the writ of habeas corpus said, "...the practice of arbitrary imprisonments have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny." This "Liberal" went on to write, quoting Blackstone, "To bereave a man of life, [says he] or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government." That "Liberal" was Alexander Hamilton, one of the most conservative of the Founder writing in Federalist 84. Ah, what does he know anyway? He's dead. So is habeas. At least it doesn't have to be around to see the other rights we take for granted die one by one by our own King George.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's definitely not what you know

From the "why am I not surprised" files...

Today's op-ed pages of the New York Times was replete with examples why this country is off its rocker. First there was the editorial explaining how Ohio looks more and more like a banana republic. The Republican nominee for governor there is Kenneth Blackwell. He is also the secretary of state. If the name sounds familiar it's probably because Blackwell was the c-chairman of President Bush's Ohio campaign in 2004. Remember all the trouble with voting machings, the number of machines in Democratic areas, the disqualifying of voters, the eight hour waits in line to vote? All courtesy of Ken Blackwell. Well here we go again. There is phony claim that the Democratic nominee for Governor has a residency problem, not that he doesn't live in Ohio rather that he has more than one home and it's about where he is registered to vote. Experts who aren't running for governor as the Republican nominee say it's not an issue but guess who could "rule his opponent is ineligible to run"? If you guessed Ken Blackwell you'd be right. The county board has ruled 2 to 2 on party lines (what a surprise) to hold a hearing. The matter is now before Mr. Blackwell who claims he won't rule on the matter to avoid any conflict but his assistant will. Any bets on what happens? It's just over folks. The integrity of elections are gone. Secretaries of state like Ken Blackwell or Kathrine Harris who co-chair election campaigns but who also run the elections makes as much sense as appointing Mel Gibson our ambassador to Israel. We had a good run for 230 years but all good things must come to an end.

The I turn the page and there is an opinion piece written by Jeff Stein the national security editor at Congressional Quarterly. During his interviews with people in Congress or say the F.B.I. he asks them a simple question, "Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?" He explains it's not a "gotcha" question, "[a]fter all, wouldn't British counterterrorism officials responsible for Northern Ireland know the difference between Catholics and Protestants?" His conclusion after doing this for a while -- "most American officials...don't have a clue." In 2005 during a deposition brought by an Arab-American FBI whistleblower the bureau's counterterrorism chief, Gary Bald, was asked whether he knew the difference between Sunni and Shia. Bald answered, "You don't need subject matter expertise...The subject matter expertise is helpful, but it isn't a prerequisite. It is certainly not what I look for in selecting an official for a position in the counterterrorism [program].” A few weeks ago Stein asked the FBI's new chief of its national security branch, Willie Hulon, who runs Iran, Sunnis or Shiites? Hulon knew Iran and Hezollah were together but when pressed, "He took a stab: Sunni. Wrong. Al Qaeda? Sunni. Right." Yes, I'll sleep soundly tonight knowing the top counterterror guys in the U.S. have a 50-50 chance of getting it right.

Then there are the members of congress. From Stein's opinion piece, "Take Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence. 'Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?'" Everett answered, "One's in one location, another's in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don't know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something." Hold on a moment folks while I pick my jaw off the floor. Another "tough on terror" Republican, Representative Jo Ann Davis from Virginia who "heads a House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.'s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, was similarly dumbfounded when [Stein] asked her if she knew the difference between Sunnis and Shiites." Answering, and reminding me of the saying," it's better to be thought of as a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt," Davis opened her mouth and removed the doubt. "You know I should. It's the difference in their fundamental religious beliefs. The Sunnis are more radical than the Shia. Or vice versa. But I think it's the Sunnis who're more radical than the Shia." Gee I wonder who she beat to get elected? Has to be someone born without a brain.

So there you have it. Corruption and incompetence in two pages of the Times. I think rather than trying to think how to fix the problem or waste my time worrying about it, I think I'll take the path of least resistence and just not read the New York Times anymore. As soon as I have no idea who is who or what is what in the world I'll be ready to chair an intelligence subcommittee in the House or apply to become chief of the F.B.I.'s counterterrorism division. Sleep tight.

Monday, October 16, 2006

War versus war games

I heard a fact today which once again tells you all you need to know about the current Republican controlled Congress. "Back in the mid-1990s, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, aggressively delving into alleged misconduct by the Clinton administration, logged 140 hours of sworn testimony into whether former president Bill Clinton had used the White House Christmas card list to identify potential Democratic donors. " However when it came to investigating the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison the Republicans have only had 12 hours of sworn testimony. 140 hours for Christmas cards and 12 for prisoner abuse.

I recall the hearings about steroids in baseball but none for how pre-Iraq war intelligence was used. I've seen hearings about violence in video games but none on why we pulled our troops and special forces out of Afghanistan before the country was secured so that we could invade a country that hadn't attacked us. With Republicans in Congress voting over 96% of the time with President Bush it's no wonder we have less ovesight and more earmarks for bridges to nowhere. My local Congressman Mark Kirk is a typical Republican. He has voted over 91% of the time with Bush but claims he is "independent." If you stand with the President over 9 out of ten votes, I'd hate to see what "dependent" looks like. There was more turnover in the old Soviet Union's Politburo than there is in the the House of Representatives. But I think the over 98% re-election rate for incumbents is going to be knocked down a bit this time. Looking at individual districts there are some really good numbers trending for Democrats. Some with big leads and some gaining. The point is this year I can't wait for election night (pizza and Cheetos standing by) to see if there is hope that the Congress might spend more time on hearings for things like war rather than for things like war games on the Xbox.

Friday, October 13, 2006


This may be a bit off-topic these days but there was a sentence in a story about the ongoing back and forth violence between the Israelis and Hamas in Gaza. It's a sentence that I can't imagine being written about any other country except Israael. The sentence sums up why Israel and its supporters, (yours truly for one) always say Israel is different. That they conduct their warfare with morality and a code of ethics that no other military follows. In Israel it is referred to as Tohar HaNeshek or roughly, purity of arms. So what's the sentence?

"In another incident in Gaza, the Israeli Air Force bombed the house of a Palestinian legislator, Mariam Farhat, shortly after calling the home and telling the occupants to leave." The story went on to explain, "No one was injured. The military said the house was being used to manufacture and store weapons." Can you imagine any other military, any other air force ringing up the occupants of a house being used to manufacture and store weapons to warn them to get out before we bomb you? Would the U.S. do it? Would Russia? Pakistan? Forget the Syrians, Iranians or any of the many terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. They measure success by leveling homes with as many people in them.

And by the way, the poor, "innocent" homeowner was not so innocent. From The New York Times, "Ms. Farhat, who is a member of the militant faction Hamas, gained notoriety in 2002 when she made a video with her 17-year-old son, Muhammad, and encouraged him to attack Israel. A short time later, he took part in a shooting that left five Israelis and himself dead. The video was released after the shooting. Since then, two more of Ms. Farhat’s six sons have been killed in clashes with Israel. Ms. Farhat, who is known as “mother of the martyrs,” was elected to the Palestinian parliament in the January elections that brought Hamas to power." And the Israeli Air Force actually picked up the phone and called this "mother of the martyrs" and said, "Hi. Is this a bad time? Listen we've got a couple of F-16s with laser-guided smart bombs ready to destroy your home/weapons factory and storage building. Could you grab your address book and your cat and leave so that we can level the place? We'd really appreciate it. Thanks."

Like I said, I can't imagine any other military doing anything like that. They would level the building and hold a press conference about another victory in the war on terror. They would give the news media copies of the black and white gun-sight video of the building going poof. They would give themselves a medal for taking out a member of Hamas. The Israelis give a "heads up" to the "mother of the martyrs" so she can pack a bag while the IAF circles in strike fighters waiting for the go ahead to destroy a weapons factory making weapons that kill Israelis. I can't imagine any other army conducting themselves like that. I also can't imagine a day when nicknames in Gaza are things like "mother of a cure for cancer" rather than "mother of the "martyrs." Probably because there are mothers in Gaza longing for their sons and daughters to grow up and die for a cause rather than live for one.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Manna from Heaven

I was going to blog about the Iraq Study Group, a group led by James A. Baker III that is going to release a report about what to do in Iraq. It will give the president political cover for what he accuses Democrats of wanting to do , "cut and run." Incurious George now blames that phrase on his own lack of a large vocabulary and no, I'm not making this up. As predicted the real reason Republicans have repeated the lie about Democrats wanting to cut and run from Iraq was so that when they do it people will think it's something other than cutting and running like the chickenhawk cowards they are. Turns out, are you ready for the market tested phrase, that Baker is going to advise "withdraw and contain." Not as catchy as "cut and run" but it's the same thing. Sort of like how the jungle and rain forest are the same thing. Or swamps and wetlands. (hat tip to Geogre Carlin). So brace yourselves for "withdraw and contain" which you will be told 24/7 on cable by the Republicans and their lackeys that it is not, I repeat not anything even remotely like "cutting and running." Got that straight?

As I said I was going to blog about that but I decided not to. (I think I just did.) What I am going to highlight today is good news. Check out this interactive map of some competitive races. It's kind of inside baseball and all but for those of us who know who Heather Wilson or Curt Weldon are it's sweet, sweet manna from heaven. (Not to be confused with fruit of the gods - Cap'n Crunch with crunchberries or nectar of the gods - the pink milk left behind in the bowl.) Take a look at the map. I can't wait for election night to fire up the plasma screen and pop some popcorn. If these polls hold Heather Wilson is gone along with Curt Weldon and, be still my beating heart, Mean Jean Schmidt. Bye-bye Rick Renzi. Ta-ta Chris Chocola. And what can you add to the fact that the head of the NRCC, Tom Reynolds whose job it is to get Republicans elected and re-elected to the House won't get himself re-elected. That's like Democrat Rahm Emanuel not getting re-elected. I haven't fully explained why these people should be swept into the dustbin of history but just trust me. When the Democrats take over the House and these Republican Representatives get a "former" put in front of their title, it will feel so very satisfying. Sort of like getting my daily post up just in time.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

At least nobody died

After Republicans treid to blame Democrats, the media and even a secret gay society on Capitol Hill the latest defense of the indefensible conduct of Mark Foley and the cover-up by Republican House leadership is that at least nobody died. "Republican Rep. Christopher Shays defended the House speaker's handling of a congressional page scandal, saying no one died like during the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident involving Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy." That's the standard folks. I though "it wasn't illegal" was the lowest we could go but just when you think the Republicans can't go any lower they somehow limbo under the bar of ethics and decency with room to spare.

"Dennis Hastert didn't kill anybody," Shays said. Well actually how do we know? I mean another Republican doing the ethical limbo when asked if he had any evidence to back up his charge that Democrats were behind the disclosure of the Foley man-boy love thing (as if making it public were a bad thing) Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry answered, "Do you have any evidence that they weren’t involved?" So I ask Rep. Shays, "Do you have any evidence Speaker Hastert hasn't killed anyone?" He could be strangling someone right now. Have you checked?" No? Oh, then on top of protecting a pedophile Hastert could also be a murdered. We just don't know.

We do know that the Republicans are out of touch with what people expect them to be doing in Washington while Foley was trying to touch boys he shouldn't have been in touch with. Whether it's Iraq, Schiavo, flag burning and gay marriage constitutional amendments, stem cell research or pedophiles in the halls of Congress, the Republicans just have no idea what matters to people in their daily lives. Most of us haven't killed anyone either Congressman Shays. So when Speaker Hastert resigns or is thrown out when the Democrats take over, should the most important qualification for the next speaker be that they didn't killed anyone or that they tried to do the right thing for our soldiers in Iraq, or a patient in a hospice, or some little girl in need of a cure for a fatal disease, or for people trapped in a hurricane and flood or simply a 16 year-old-boy who was working for free grabbing your coffee while trying not to be grabbed by a 52 year-old Republican Congressman who's a pedophile?

No Hastert hasn't killed anyone. He's just killed decency and honesty and hope that this country will one day side with the gropee and not the groper.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Can't we all just get along?

There has been a diplomatic breakthrough between two sworn enemies. After not speaking for a very long time and wishing horrible things happened to each other the two sides have finally agreed to talk. There is hope in the world tonight that the two sides have put their claws away and instead of trying to publicly humiliate each other they are working together for the good of the planet. Israel and Hezbollah? America and North Korea? Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner? Nope. Paris and Nicole.

Yes Paris Hilton, who swallows anything and Nicole Richie who doesn't, have put aside their infantile feud to reunite. Hilton and Richie have agreed to join together for a new season of "The Simple Life." "The thing the viewers love is the two girls together. America, Paris and Nicole are going to camp." Wish they were going to Camp Gitmo. The 25-year-old do nothings famous for being famous will be camp counselors in the newest "Simple Life." "They reached out to each other...and rekindled their friendship. The two went public with their seemingly reconciled relationship Sunday, arriving together at Dan Tana's Steakhouse in Los Angeles. After dinner, they text-messaged while waiting for their car on a bench in front of the restaurant."

So what do you say Kim jung-Il and Georgie-boy? If they can do it how about you two? Say 7:00 p.m. Saturday night at Dan Tana's? Ill bring the wine you bring the Blackberries?

Monday, October 09, 2006

I will do the opposite

If countries were people North Korea would be considered psychotic. With their nuclear bomb test yesterday they have taken a big step towards wrecking the planet for everyone whereas before they were content to do that to their own people. Its just more proof that it doesn't take very many people to wreck the planet. On the other hand, at least they've been honest with their public statements something our own government could learn from.

North Korea told everyone that they were breaking the U.N. monitoring seals on their nuclear fuel rods. They told everyone they were enriching nuclear fuel for a bomb. They told everyone they had a number of nuclear bombs and they told the world they were going to test a nuclear weapon. At least they were up front about it.

Back in this country our government refuses to level with the American public on the situation in Iraq. Bob Woodward's book, State of Denial, included a number of classified documents that showed when U.S. casualties were increasing, when our troops were being attacked over a 100 times a day or an average of every 15 minutes, Bush and his lackeys were telling the nation that the terrorists were on the run, that we've turned a corner in Iraq, that we were winning. None of it was true.

For months the Republicans have parroted the talking points of Karl Rove claiming the Democrats want to "cut and run" in Iraq. The Republicans have cut and run from reality and want you to join them there. The point behind charging over and over that the Democrats want to "cut and run" from Iraq was to lay the groundwork so that when the administration cuts and runs from Iraq it won't be called that - something like declare victory and get out - but not "cut and run." Quietly, James Baker III has been leading what is called the Iraq Study Group and their solution is to carve Iraq into three sub-countries with a loose central government. Talk about cut and run - their plan is to literally cut Iraq in three and run. The group also recommends talking to Iran and Syria something many people have suggested only to be called "appeasers of terror." It's political cover for the administration to cut and run from Iraq without it being called that by the know-nothings in the media. It's another phony report to have it both ways and be able to say you are for everything and nothing. It's a way to continue to be dishonest about your policies and intentions.

That's the difference between the maniacs in charge in North Korea and the maniacs in charge in Washington, D.C. The nuts in North Korea tell you what they are going to do and then do it. The ones here tell you what they're not going to do and then do it. The loons in North Korea stay in power by starving their people of food. The loons here stay in power by starving our people of truthful information. So when Bush tells you "the terrorists in Iraq are on the run" think the opposite. When he tells you we're not going to cut and run from Iraq think the opposite. When Bush tells you the Republicans are going to win in November because of their strong record, well, you know the rest.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hurricane Foley and more bad news

I thought I might be able to get paroled from having to post nearly everyday about the end of truth, science, decency, justice, freedom and democracy in this country. Before Hurricane (His-icane?) Foley grew from a 3 to a 5, not inches but category strengths, I thought the Democrats might, just might take back the House of Representatives but not the Senate. If that happened at least I would be able to convince myself that my little blog, my small voice in the woods, had at least a drop in the ocean impact on the Democrats winning. If the Democrats did not take back the House I would have gone happily into that goodnight. It looks like my worst fears will come true and I'll be forced to waste more time and energy ranting and raving into the vast internet and believe me it's vast.

Looks like unless Hillary and Bill Clinton, along with Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Al Gore open up a gay abortion clinic, before November 7, that caters to nuns and underage girls, I think the Democrats can't lose this one. The Senate might even fall the Democrats way. How is that possible? Because the American people might not understand things about National Intelligence Estimates or PDBs or what general asked for more troops and was fired or may buy that Condi Rice doesn't recall a briefing by CIA Director George Tenet on July 10, 2001 when he warned her that an al Qaeda attack was imminent. (Attorney General Ashcroft started flying charter jets after that briefing.) But they do understand a sex scandal involving predatory behavior, 16 year-old boys and cover-ups. That they get.

The Republican House leadership should get gold medals for the scandal decathlon. Sort of a variation on the five stages of grief. First there is the ignore the information event followed by the pretend it never happened and cover-up events. Then when the news breaks it's the I don't recall event followed by the throw everyone under the bus finale. I'd say a world-record for speed, execution and presentation by Republican leaders. People may not understand about how intelligence briefings work but they do have a strong visceral reaction when the Speaker of the House, the guy behind the vice-president in presidential succession, stands before cameras and gives excuses that sound more like Jake Blues than the guy two heartbeats away from the Oval Office.

Question: Mr. Speaker what did you know and when did you know it about COngressman Mark Foley?

Speaker Dennis Haster: "Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD"

So the good news is that the Democrats will take over the House. We know this because Vice-President Dick Cheney has recently said the Republicans will retain control of Congress and since his track record of correct predictions were "in their last throes" from the moment he started uttering them it just stands to reason. The bad news is I'm condemned to blog purgatory for a while longer. What a pity.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Not gay bashing - child molester bashing

I wish I could come up with a great title for this post (pun intended) about Congressman Mark Foley (R-Pedophileville). As always The Daily Show with Jon Stewart gives penetrating (pun intended) insight in to the scandal. For a number of laughs watch the video here. Titles like, "Foley Erect" and "Paged Heat" are priceless. Must be a former headline writer for the New York Post working over there.

The tale about tail grows by the minute. It's impossible to keep up with the changing stories of Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader John Boehner, NRCC chair Rep. Tom Reynolds, Rep. John Shimkus, Rep. Rodney Alexander, etc, etc, etc. There's also the chief of staff for Hastert denying what Kirk Fordham the recently fired, or more accurately thrown under the bus, chief of staff and former chief of staff for Tom Reynolds had to say. Short story: Hastert and his staff are lying about not knowing what Foley was up to. It should have raised eyebrows that Foley could type 85 words-a-minute only using one hand. (Think about it.) In any event, the electoral situation for the Republicans just changed. Before it was a catagory 3 hurricane and the Republicans were Florida. Now it's a catagory 5 hurricane and the Republicans are New Orleans.

After watching the "values" party who believe in "personal responsibility" blame alcohol, Bill Clinton, priest molestation from 30 years ago and even the Wicca religion it was Robert Novak who wins the award for the most absurd statement of the Foley scandal. In today' Chicago Sun-Times Novak writes, "Dealing with Foley was complicated because he was a known, though never a self-proclaimed, homosexual. A desire not to be accused of gay-bashing may have influenced party leaders to set aside the e-mail that the former page described as "sick, sick, sick." Novak already explained that after it was learned that Foley had sent inappropriate e-mails to a 16-year-old male former page the House leadership urged him to seek re-election. This wasn't because they were afraid of being called "gay-bashers" this was about retaining power and if that means protecting a likely child-molester, a certain sexual predator of young boys, well then so be it.

The Republican party not "gay bashers?" Isn't that called solidifying the base? Andrew Sullivan puts it this way, the GOP is a "party that has built its electoral machine on systematic intolerance and the fueling of populist fear of homosexuals." So yes in the future don't be "gay bashers" just being "child-molester bashers" homosexual or heterosexual bashers will be enough.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

November 7, 2006: D-Day

On the eve of D-Day June 6, 1944, the Allied Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, wrote a short statement to be released to the press. He hoped that wouldn't be necessary. Eisenhower wrote, "Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold, and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack [at Normandy] at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone." As it turned out the Normandy landing and D-Day was a success and the contingency statement written by Eisenhower was tucked away and discovered years later.

I too am writing a contingency statement. This one regarding the potential failure of the Democrats to win enough seats to take over the House and/or the Senate. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times thinks about this and writes today, "It is so important that the Republicans lose, because if the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice team can get away with the grotesque incompetence they have exhibited in Iraq...it makes this country look like a banana republic. If on the morning after the election these people come out smirking that their efforts to scare the public into voting again for their candidates worked, and therefore they can just stay the present course in Iraq - which is not working - it will send a terrible message about our democracy. It will tell us that the country is so divided, and so many districts gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, that performance does not matter any longer. Unless you are caught sending e-mail to a Congressional page soliciting sex, your seat is safe."

I'll put it a different way. Here's my rough draft of the day after if Republicans are still in control of the House and Senate. "Despite all efforts to help the Democrats take back the House and/or Senate, we have failed. The people of this country motivated by fear and faith have willingly tightened the Republicans' stranglehold on America. Our nation may one day emerge from this political darkness but not anytime soon. I wish you all well. And when your children can't get Pell grants or Stafford loans to go to college, I'll just smile and say I told you so. When gas is $5.00 a gallon because this country has no energy policy, I'll just smile and say I told you so. When your taxes go up and your government services go down to pay for tax cuts for the richest 1% in this country, I'll just smile and say I told you so. When you can't afford health insurance, I'll just smile and say I told you so. When you're stopped and strip searched in your car, your home, a mall, a train station, all in the name of national security, I'll just smile and say I told you so. When big brother knows what you read, watch, where you go, what you buy, what your HIV status is all in the name of protecting the homeland, I'll just smile and say I told you so. But hey, at least some gay couples, who you've never met in some state you've never been to and whose relationship to each other has zero affect on your life, can't get married right? Good choice. Bravo. I wish you all the best in your new world. I bid you all adieu"

I could have said you won't have The Daily Curmudgeon to kick around anymore but that's so Nixonian.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Guess Who?

Who said Monday that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and that efforts should be made to bring them and their supporters into the Afghan government? Same guy who said that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated on the battlefield. So who wants to negotiate with terrorists? Who wants to bring al Qaeda's protectors into the Afghan government? Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist. Oh, wait. Frist now says the "Taliban is a murderous band of terrorists" and that "America will never negotiate with terrorists or support their entry into Afghanistan's government" but that "national reconciliation" is needed. Translation: We won't negotiate with Taliban terrorists but they should be persuaded to join the government.

Who said this about President Bill Clinton -- "It's vile. It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction." Republican Mark Foley in 1998, eight years before Foley resigns after being confronted with emails and instant message transcripts showing beyond a reasonable doubt that he is a sexual predator and possible pedophile of young boys.

Who said, "What I am quite certain of, however, 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. The idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible." The context of this "I don't recall unless you can prove it to me" is about a July 10, 2001 briefing by CIA Director George Tenet and top counter-terrorism official Cofer Black. The briefing was set-up by telephone on the drive over to the White House to give it a sense of urgency. At the briefing the two officials practically begged that the U.S. "needed to take action that moment - covert, military, whatever - to thwart bin Laden." The result? "Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through." They "felt the brush-off. Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. Though [they were given] a fair hearing, no immediate action meant great risk. Black felt the decision to just keep planning was a sustained policy failure. Afterward, Tenet looked back on the meeting ... as a lost opportunity to prevent or disrupt the 9/11 attacks. Black later said, 'The only thing we didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head.'"

Who gave the brush off to impeding attacks on the U.S. by bin Laden? Who took no immediate action? Who said they couldn't remember even having the briefing until records were found proving the meeting took place? Who was right when she said it would be "incomprehensible" to ignore the warning? Condi Rice, then the National Security Advisor. Add to that her explanation that the imfamous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief entitled: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." was just "a historical document" and it's incomprehensible why she still has a job or any credibility left.
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