Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I'm pretty sure they don't hate us because we're beautiful

As bombs explode in London, in Egypt, and of course, in Baghdad, a question on many minds is, or should be, what motivates Islamic jihadists to believe suicide bombing is an appropriate course of action. Do they hate us because of what we do, or because of who we are?

Today the ever reliable Christian Science Monitor provides a good over view of the to main responses to this question:

For some experts, the attacks - whether in London or Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt - are aimed at the West for what it is doing: in other words for its policies, like the war in Iraq. Others insist that the perpetrators are more at odds with the ideals of the West and "who we are."
That is, do they hate us because we are generally egalitarian civil libertarians, or do they hate us because we invade Arab countries and prop up Arab dictatorships?

Or, as with so many things, is it a little of both. The redoubtable Juan Cole explains:
Michigan's Professor Cole says he agrees that the Iraq war is "irrelevant" to the leaders who formulate and profess the Islamist ideology, but he says it is not at all irrelevant to the local constituencies that would act as the leaders' foot soldiers.

"The ideology is a kind of software that can be installed in certain people's minds," he says. "The question is whether we are helping or hurting the recruitment drive."

It may be that the young Muslim men who are willing to carry bombs for a cause are not so much full of hatred of Western values, but disappointed that they have been drawn to them - only to find, whether they are in Cairo or Leeds, England, that the door is shut. In any case, says Cole, the war in Iraq is "poor" counterterrorism. In his view, it is creating more foot soldiers for global Jihad rather than fewer. [Emphasis mine - CK]
Which brings up a point about current US policy. Does BushCorp™ actively oppose the War on Terror it's supposedly prosecuting (by, let's see, I dunno, EXPOSING NOC CIA AGENTS?!) or are Bush and his merry band of chickenhawks, as Professor Cole's analysis suggests, MERELY INCOMPETENT?

Now that's an either/or question I'd like to hear at Scotty McClellan's next smoke and mirrors show.

Democrat moves one step closer to San Diego mayor's seat

On Tuesday San Diego voters took the first step towards electing its first Democratic mayor in living history (or is it ever? Any historians wish to weigh in?).

City councilwoman, activist, surfshop owner and hot blond chick (hey it IS San Diego after all) Donna Frye won a plurality of votes in the initial election to replace disgraced Republican (aren't they all?) mayor Dick Murphy. She now will face Republican (of course) former police chief Jerry Sanders in a November run-off election.

Since most mayoral elections in San Dayglo are Repug v. Repug, the very fact that she's in the final is historic. But then so is the $1.4 billion hole which SD's GOP/good ol' boy power monopoly has dug for itself.

As an SD native I find this race intrinsically interesting, but it also has wider ramifications. Frye is the ONLY candidate to suggest that it might be necessary to raise San Diego's (historically low) taxes in order to solve its current budgetary crises.

If a Democrat can win in San Diego, even after admitting the possibility that (gasp) higher taxes are the responsible way to go to achieve municipal solvency, then I have hope that the realist streak in American politics can overcome the (GOP nurtured) greediest streak.

The GOP has long since deserted it's good business, fiscal responsibility roots with it's current anti-tax (no matter how neeeded) mania. Which leaves Democrats as the sole proprietors of the civil liberties, fiscal sanity side of the street.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Voluntary Army and War on the Cheap

As bloodshed in Iraq and around the world continues to demonstrate the failure of BushCorp™'s folly, two articles in today's New York Times make a good case as to why.

In the first, WWII Marine Corp vet and renowned war photographer David Douglas Duncan makes this point:

Today, in Iraq, where nearly every dawn is lacerated by mounting carnage - local and foreign - American troops are hemorrhaging among the wounded and the dead, pawns in an unspeakable farce, for the United States of America is not at war.

Only 135,000 men and women in American uniform are fighting - volunteers, members of the National Guard, reservists. There is no draft. No threat of a uniform hangs over the citizens of a nation of nearly 300 million who, in polls, support the invasion of a remote country upon whom our government would pin guilt of 9/11 ... and then attack. An invasion that was ordered by an expertly trained but combat-innocent fighter pilot and a draft-deferred character with "other priorities" during the Vietnam War. [Emphasis mine-CK]
And what is the result of this war on the cheap, run by draft-dodging chickenhawks? Stanford history professor David M. Kennedy has some thoughts:
The implications [of war with little societal cost-CK] are deeply unsettling: history's most potent military force can now be put into the field by a society that scarcely breaks a sweat when it does so. We can now wage war while putting at risk very few of our sons and daughters, none of whom is obliged to serve. Modern warfare lays no significant burdens on the larger body of citizens in whose name war is being waged.

This is not a healthy situation. It is, among other things, a standing invitation to the kind of military adventurism that the founders correctly feared was the greatest danger of standing armies - a danger made manifest in their day by the career of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Jefferson described as having "transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm."

Leaving questions of equity aside, it cannot be wise for a democracy to let such an important function grow so far removed from popular participation and accountability. It makes some supremely important things too easy - like dealing out death and destruction to others, and seeking military solutions on the assumption they will be swifter and more cheaply bought than what could be accomplished by the more vexatious business of diplomacy. [Emphases mine-CK]
And in fact, one of the reasons BushCorp™ was able to go to war in Iraq on what can now seen as demonstrably flimsy evidence of Saddam's actual threat level is that it was able to do so without needing sacrifice on the part of everyday American's. Do you remeber Bush's call to arms after 9/11? Go shopping.

Not exactly Churchillian is it?

If all most Americans need to do to support war is to paste a yellow ribbon on their SUVs our leaders have a standing invitation to misuse the lives of those in our military.

I don't know if the conscription options offered by professor Kennedy are this country's best choices. But I do know that the all-volunteer Army is a loaded weapon that requires responsible leadership far wiser than is currently available from the chickenhawks of BushCorp™.

Toyota Recognizes Progressive Policies are Good for Business

Last week Canada joined the short list of nations that recognize the denial of marriage to gay couples amounts to a denial of equal rights.

This week we learn our courteous and enlightened neighbor to the north will be seeing a financial reward for its forward thinking policies as Toyota chooses Ontario as the location for a new manufacturing plant that had been also hotly pursued by several southern states. And why did Toyota choose Canada over the US south, despite their having offered incentives valued in the hundreds of millions? According to Paul Krugman:

Maybe we should discount remarks from the president of the Toronto-based Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, who claimed that the educational level in the Southern United States was so low that trainers for Japanese plants in Alabama had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech equipment.

But there are other reports, some coming from state officials, that confirm his basic point: Japanese auto companies opening plants in the Southern U.S. have been unfavorably surprised by the work force's poor level of training.

There's some bitter irony here for Alabama's governor. Just two years ago voters overwhelmingly rejected his plea for an increase in the state's rock-bottom taxes on the affluent, so that he could afford to improve the state's low-quality education system. Opponents of the tax hike convinced voters that it would cost the state jobs.
But as the south reaps the "benefits" of GOP domination, their under-funded educational system is only one element of Toyota's decision:
Canada's other big selling point is its national health insurance system, which saves auto manufacturers large sums in benefit payments compared with their costs in the United States.

You might be tempted to say that Canadian taxpayers are, in effect, subsidizing Toyota's move by paying for health coverage. But that's not right, even aside from the fact that Canada's health care system has far lower costs per person than the American system, with its huge administrative expenses. In fact, U.S. taxpayers, not Canadians, will be hurt by the northward movement of auto jobs.

To see why, bear in mind that in the long run decisions like Toyota's probably won't affect the overall number of jobs in either the United States or Canada. But the result of international competition will be to give Canada more jobs in industries like autos, which pay health benefits to their U.S. workers, and fewer jobs in industries that don't provide those benefits. In the U.S. the effect will be just the reverse: fewer jobs with benefits, more jobs without.

So what's the impact on taxpayers? In Canada, there's no impact at all: since all Canadians get government-provided health insurance in any case, the additional auto jobs won't increase government spending.

But U.S. taxpayers will suffer, because the general public ends up picking up much of the cost of health care for workers who don't get insurance through their jobs. Some uninsured workers and their families end up on Medicaid. Others end up depending on emergency rooms, which are heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

Despite our Dear Leader's Yale MBA, BushCorp™ has proven blind to business reality. But, convinced as I am the the ENTIRE Republican party isn't stupid and insane, when will some of its business savvy elements point out that the US' Jurassic era health and education policies are putting the US at a competetive disadvantage?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Bush Doctrine

Some have referred to the President's wrong headed policy of pre-emptive war as the "Bush Doctrine". I'm going to the suggest the term would better be applied to a more pervasive aspect of the current regime.

BushCorp™ hostility towards scientific fact is, at this point, common knowledge. Any fact that doesn't support, or God forbid, actually contradicts BushCorp™'s faith/greed/fear based policies is deleted, altered or ignored, and its proponents fired, silenced or smeared. This is, I believe, the real "Bush Doctrine". And it's used to apply to an amazing array of topics.

Medicare bill too expensive? Change the numbers and threaten the bean-counter with the true count of the beans.

Alaskan Refuge drilling too damaging to the environment? Re-define the "footprint" so it ignores little things like roads and access routes.

No WMD? Well, outed CIA spy Valerie Plame wears the pants in Ambassador Joe Wilson's family. You gonna believe someone who's so obviously 'whipped?

And then there's global warming.

It's increasingly apparent that BushCorp™ and fellow travelers are the only people on the globe for whom the "jury's still out" on the effect of man-made pollutants on the world's climate. Now House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.) is now seeking to intimidate and harass scientists who had the nerve to demonstrate that the administration's head in the sand approach to global warming is wrong, and even some Republicans are nervous:

Mr. Barton's Republican colleagues say they were stunned by the manner in which the committee, whose chairman rejects the existence of climate change, demanded personal and private information last month from researchers whose work supports a contrary conclusion. The scientists, co-authors of an influential 1999 study showing a dramatic increase in global warming over the past millennium, were told to hand over not only raw data but personal financial information, information on grants received and distributed, and computer codes.
I suppose this is the next logical step for the Bush Doctrine: rather than just deny and obfuscate scientific data after the fact, how much better to intimidate scientists into not doing the research in the first place?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Lowball Candidate for SCOTUS


Bush has nominated, for the SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, someone with almost no judicial experience, John Roberts.

OK, so he has two years on the DC court of appeals, which is two more years than I have. How about this, I'll take the job at a 20% lower salary. But he went to Harvard. Well OK, but I went to UC, how about 30% off? I mean with the US debt held in only worthless paper (otherwise known as treasury bonds) you MUST be looking for a bargain, right?

Otherwise, why are you nominating someone with so little experience, when I could do the job for a fraction of the rate?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Trouble in Paradise

I have this pet theory as to why Adam and Eve were REALLY kicked out of the Garden of Eden. If you stay in Eden, paradise, your mom's basement, you stay stupid.

More evidence in support:

SAN DIEGO - A federal jury Monday convicted San Diego's new acting mayor and a city councilman of taking payoffs from a strip club owner to help repeal a "no-touching" law at nude clubs, the latest embarrassment to a city awash in scandal.

Michael Zucchet, who became interim mayor over the weekend, was found guilty of conspiracy, extortion and fraud on his first business day in office. He was immediately suspended from the position, his attorney said.
Yes that's right, the man was to replace Mayor Dick Murphy who, in typical Republican "good government" mode, had recently resigned after helming "America's Finest City" into a $1.7 billion iceberg of debt.

I was born and grew up in San Diego and I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the city now too aptly called "Enron by the Sea". But for years San Diego landowners have benefitted from a combination of prop 13 tax savings and sky-rocketing land values, and the Republican dominated city council has been loathe, in the Republican mannner, to raise taxes.

And while "borrow and spend" may work (for a while) for BushCorp™ on the national level, it is clearly NOT a good model for local government.

So, at the moment, San Diego's best hope for fiscal sanity is a Democratic surf-shop owner.

Well, at least the Padres are having a good season.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Impeach Bush

I'll do my best to keep every one of my posts from having the same header, but it's tough.

Another reason from Frank Rich:

This case is about Iraq, not Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons. The real culprit - the big enchilada, to borrow a 1973 John Ehrlichman phrase from the Nixon tapes - is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. That's why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war, not the unmasking of a C.I.A. operative who posed for Vanity Fair.

So put aside Mr. Wilson's February 2002 trip to Africa. The plot that matters starts a month later, in March, and its omniscient author is Dick Cheney. It was Mr. Cheney (on CNN) who planted the idea that Saddam was "actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time." The vice president went on to repeat this charge in May on "Meet the Press," in three speeches in August and on "Meet the Press" yet again in September. Along the way the frightening word "uranium" was thrown into the mix.

By September the president was bandying about the u-word too at the United Nations and elsewhere, speaking of how Saddam needed only a softball-size helping of uranium to wreak Armageddon on America. But hardly had Mr. Bush done so than, offstage, out of view of us civilian spectators, the whole premise of this propaganda campaign was being challenged by forces with more official weight than Joseph Wilson. In October, the National Intelligence Estimate, distributed to Congress as it deliberated authorizing war, included the State Department's caveat that "claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa," made public in a British dossier, were "highly dubious." A C.I.A. assessment, sent to the White House that month, determined that "the evidence is weak" and "the Africa story is overblown."

AS if this weren't enough, a State Department intelligence analyst questioned the legitimacy of some mysterious documents that had surfaced in Italy that fall and were supposed proof of the Iraq-Niger uranium transaction. In fact, they were blatant forgeries. When Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said as much publicly in the days just before "shock and awe," his announcement made none of the three evening newscasts. The administration's apocalyptic uranium rhetoric, sprinkled with mushroom clouds, had been hammered incessantly for more than five months by then - not merely in the State of the Union address - and could not be dislodged. As scenarios go, this one was about as subtle as "Independence Day" and just as unstoppable a crowd-pleaser.

Once we were locked into the war, and no W.M.D.'s could be found, the original plot line was dropped with an alacrity that recalled the "Never mind!" with which Gilda Radner's Emily Litella used to end her misinformed Weekend Update commentaries on "Saturday Night Live." The administration began its dog-ate-my-homework cover-up, asserting that the various warning signs about the uranium claims were lost "in the bowels" of the bureaucracy or that it was all the C.I.A.'s fault or that it didn't matter anyway, because there were new, retroactive rationales to justify the war. But the administration knows how guilty it is. That's why it has so quickly trashed any insider who contradicts its story line about how we got to Iraq, starting with the former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill and the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke.

Bush put soldier's lives at risk, and squandered all 9/11 international goodwill pursuing a personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein. All else is irrelevent.

Impeach Bush.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

CIA agents ask:

Can We Trust Our President?

By Brent Cavan, Jim Marcinkowski, Larry Johnson, and Jane Doe

We trained and worked at the CIA with Valerie Plame. We presented the following statement at a hearing on Capitol Hill in October 2003. In light of the latest White House sanctioned assault on Valerie Plame and her character, our testimony remains relevant and accurate. All of us were undercover. Brent Cavan and Larry Johnson worked as analysts in the Directorate of Intelligence. Jim Marcinkowski and Jane Doe were case officers and served overseas. Jane Doe's real name is not being used because she was involved in counter terrorism operations and could be at risk if her identity were divulged. We've got each other's back.

We slogged through the same swamps on patrols, passed clandestine messages to each other, survived a simulated terrorist kidnapping and interrogation, kicked pallets from cargo planes, completed parachute jumps, and literally helped picked ticks off each other after weeks in the woods at a CIA training facility. We knew each other’s secrets. We shared our fears, failures, and successes. We came to rely on each other in a way you do not find in normal civilian life. We understood that a slip of the tongue could end in death for those close to us or for people we didn’t even know. We were trained by the best, to be the best. We were trained by the Central Intelligence Agency. They may not appreciate what they have created.

Our joint training experience forged a bond of trust and a sense of duty that continues some eighteen years later. It is because of this bond of trust that the authors of this piece and two other colleagues, all former intelligence officers, appeared on ABC’s Nightline to speakout on behalf of the wife Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a sensitive undercover operative outted by columnist Robert Novak. The Ambassador’s wife (we decline to use her name) is a friend who went through the same training with us. We acknowledge our obligation to protect each other and the intelligence community and the information we used to do our jobs.

We are speaking out because someone in the Bush Administration seemingly does not understand this, although they signed the same oaths of allegiance and confidentiality that we did. Many of us have moved on into the private sector, where this Agency aspect of our lives means little, but we have not forgotten our initial oaths to support the Constitution, our government, and to protect the secrets we learned and to protect each other. We still have friends who serve. We protect them literally by keeping our mouths shut unless we are speaking amongst ourselves. We understand what this bond or the lack of it means.

If you love and fear for your country, read the rest.

And another agent's take, via Crooks & Liars.

And, oh by the way, ain't it great the the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES is undermining the very human intelligence capability so absolutely necessary to his "War on Terror"?

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Media Sometimes Gets it Right

Apologies to both my readers for my rather inconsistent blogging of late. Mrs. C's been rather ill of late and my focus has been on her. But as she is on the mend, my attention again turns to the world at large.

Before I join the general gloating over Rove's transgressions and other such stuff I wanted to mention something. With my wife ill we've been just hanging out watching television more than usual and I have a couple of observations.

The other night Bernard Golderg was on The Daily Show flogging his new book: 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. I've not read the book, but judging from his chat with Jon Stewart, Goldberg's book is the latest in a string of conservative attempts to place blame for all that ills America on those dreaded "Hollywood liberals".

Jon pointed out, helpfully, that Goldberg's energies might be more profitably spent attacking those with actual power, like the Republican government, but Goldberg was having none of it. And I don't blame him too much, he's just shilling for his book after all, though his seeming obliviousness to his role in the RWNM (right wing noise machine) was a bit annoying.

Tonight I was also reminded of what media can do right when they put their minds to it.

First let me affirm my geekhood by asserting that Battlestar Galactica (SciFi Channel) is the best new show on television. It has great production values, and well imagined characters, and a gripping story line. But what I appreciate most about BG is its near mythological historical underpinnings. The sense that the characters featured in this last gasp for humanity have not only personal histories, but are part of a civilization with a real history itself.

This sense of history is something which gives such "sub-creations" as JRR Tolkien, the master, would have termed it, real depth, and a realness within the context of their universe no less real for all that it is fictional.

As for fiction based on real reality, TNT's (via Spielberg, via Dreamworks) Into the West is providing an interesting counter to the truism that the victors write the history (or is, perhaps, the exception that proves the rule). With its parallel tracking of generations of two families, one American, one native American, as whites invade and destroy, er, develop the American west, Into the West provides an in depth look at a period of American history whose reality is left unexamined by most history books. Not since Little Big Man has Hollywood turned a truly critical eye at a period which it has so frequently mythologized.

So while Bernard Goldberg blathers about all that media does wrong, I truly appreciate those (admittedly too rare) moments when media gets it right.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

How American are You?

Just a weird little blog thing:

You Are 47% American
America: You don't love it or want to leave it.
But you wouldn't mind giving it an extreme make over.
On the 4th of July, you'll fly a freak flag instead...
And give Uncle Sam a sucker punch!

What me worry?

The GOP is apparently upset with Senator Clinton's remarks comparing President Bush with Mad magazine's "What me worry?" posterboy Alfred E. Newman.

"I sometimes feel that Alfred E. Neuman is in charge in Washington," Clinton said during the inaugural Aspen Ideas Festival, organized by the Aspen Institute, a non-partisan think tank.

The former first lady drew a laugh from the crowd when she described Bush's attitude toward tough issues with Neuman's catch phrase: "What, me worry?"

And sure, Bush ignores energy policy, global warming, the US economy, the healthcare crisis, and the failure of his "War on terrorism". But seriously, Alfred E. Newman? Really, I don't see the resemblence:

Monday, July 11, 2005

McClellan Changes His Tune

Q: How do you know when White House spokesman Scott McClellan is lying?
A: His mouth is open.
...

Now that email from Time's Matt Cooper confirms that BushCorp™ caporegime Karl Rove leaked information about Valerie Plame to him, White House Spokesdroid Scott McClellan is clamming up.

"No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States," he said.

"And I think the way to be most helpful is to not get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation."
But back in 2003, McClellan somehow had no problem commenting on an ongoing investigation:
In 2003, McClellan said it was "totally ridiculous" to suggest that Rove played any role in the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity. He also said Bush has insisted that his staffers cooperate with the investigation by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, and that anyone responsible would be fired.
The White House correspondence corp, smelling blood in the water, has finally shed its credulity:
The White House spokesman faced sharp questions not only about Rove, but also about his own statements in the nearly two-year-old criminal probe.
...
"You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved, and now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife," one reporter said. "So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation?"

"There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it," McClellan replied.
I suppose this is McClellan's way of trying to retain a few remaining shreds of a credibility now long lost. But at least we know one thing, if he's not talking, he's not lying. Or at least lying a little less.

(Editor and Publisher has a transcript of today's briefing with weasel-in-chief McClellan, if you enjoy black humor it's a worthwhile read.)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Another Impeach Bush Blog

Now I realize that politically impeachment by a Republican dominated congress is extremely unlikely. However, Frank Rich, while discussing similarities and dissimilarities between Watergate and the Plame affair in today's NYT, lays out yet another argument as to why Bush needs to be run out of town:

But the most important difference between the Bush and Nixon eras has less to do with the press than with the grave origins of the particular case that has sent Judy Miller to jail. This scandal didn't begin, as Watergate did, simply with dirty tricks and spying on the political opposition. It began with the sending of American men and women to war in Iraq.

Specifically, it began with the former ambassador Joseph Wilson's July 6, 2003, account on the Times Op-Ed page (and in concurrent broadcast appearances) of his 2002 C.I.A. mission to Africa to determine whether Saddam Hussein had struck a deal in Niger for uranium that might be used in nuclear weapons. Mr. Wilson concluded that there was no such deal, as my colleague Nicholas Kristof reported, without divulging Mr. Wilson's name, that spring. But the envoy's dramatic Op-Ed piece got everyone's attention: a government insider with firsthand knowledge had stepped out of the shadows of anonymity to expose the administration's game authoritatively on the record. He had made palpable what Bush critics increasingly suspected, writing that "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

Up until that point, the White House had consistently stuck by the 16 incendiary words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The administration had ignored all reports, not just Mr. Wilson's, that this information might well be bogus. But it still didn't retract Mr. Bush's fiction some five weeks after the State of the Union, when Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, announced that the uranium claim was based on fake documents. Instead, we marched on to war in Iraq days later. It was not until Mr. Wilson's public recounting of his African mission more than five months after the State of the Union that George Tenet at long last released a hasty statement (on a Friday evening, just after the Wilson Op-Ed piece) conceding that "these 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president."

The Niger uranium was hardly the only dubious evidence testifying to Saddam's supposed nuclear threat in the run-up to war. Judy Miller herself was one of two reporters responsible for a notoriously credulous front-page Times story about aluminum tubes that enabled the administration's propaganda campaign to trump up Saddam's W.M.D. arsenal. But red-hot uranium was sexy, and it was Mr. Wilson's flat refutation of it that drove administration officials to seek their revenge: they told the columnist Robert Novak that Mr. Wilson had secured his (nonpaying) African mission through the nepotistic intervention of his wife, a covert C.I.A. officer whom they outed by name. The pettiness of this retribution shows just how successfully Mr. Wilson hit the administration's jugular: his revelation threatened the legitimacy of the war on which both the president's reputation and re-election campaign had been staked.

This was another variation on a Watergate theme. Charles Colson's hit men broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, seeking information to smear Mr. Ellsberg after he leaked the Pentagon Papers, the classified history of the Vietnam War, to The Times. But there was even greater incentive to smear Mr. Wilson than Mr. Ellsberg. Nixon compounded the Vietnam War but didn't start it. The war in Iraq, by contrast, is Mr. Bush's invention.

Again following the Watergate template, the Bush administration at first tried to bury the whole Wilson affair by investigating itself. Even when The Washington Post reported two months after Mr. Wilson's Op-Ed that "two top White House officials" had called at least six reporters, not just Mr. Novak, to destroy Mr. Wilson and his wife, the inquiry was kept safely within the John Ashcroft Justice Department, with the attorney general, according to a Times report, being briefed regularly on details of the investigation. If that rings a Watergate bell now, that's because on Thursday you may have read the obituary of L. Patrick Gray, Mark Felt's F.B.I. boss, who, in a similarly cozy conflict of interest, kept the Nixon White House abreast of the supposedly independent Watergate inquiry in its early going.

Political pressure didn't force Mr. Ashcroft to relinquish control of the Wilson investigation to a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, until Dec. 30, 2003, more than five months after Mr. Novak's column ran. Now 18 more months have passed, and no one knows what crime Mr. Fitzgerald is investigating. Is it the tricky-to-prosecute outing of Mr. Wilson's wife, the story Judy Miller never even wrote about? Or has Mr. Fitzgerald moved on to perjury and obstruction of justice possibly committed by those who tried to hide their roles in that outing? If so, it would mean the Bush administration was too arrogant to heed the most basic lesson of Watergate: the cover-up is worse than the crime.

"Mr. Fitzgerald made his bones prosecuting the mob," intoned the pro-Bush editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, "and doesn't seem to realize that this case isn't about organized crime." But that may be exactly what it is about to an ambitious prosecutor with his own career on the line. That the Bush administration would risk breaking the law with an act as self-destructive to American interests as revealing a C.I.A. officer's identity smacks of desperation. It makes you wonder just what else might have been done to suppress embarrassing election-season questions about the war that has mired us in Iraq even as the true perpetrators of 9/11 resurface in Madrid, London and who knows where else.
As I mentioned, Congress, as it is currently configured, is unlikely to impeach Bush. But much may change in the year and a half before Congressional mid-term elections. As the public becomes increasingly aware of the criminal deception practiced so routinely by BushCorp™ officials, who knows, even some Republicans may come realize their own re-elections will be stake if they continue to countenance BushCorp™ obstruction.

Putting Terror in Perspective

Mrs. CaliBlogger has been quite ill for the last week or so, so my posting has been infrequent as my focus has been turned elsewhere. In the meantime may I suggest a diary by Jerome รก Paris over at Daily Kos.

Here's a sample:

Terrorism and the lottery - some lessons

by Jerome a Paris
Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 04:02:32 PST

Again, this will be a callous, heartless diary. So if you are easily offended, or think that non-Londoners have no right to write about the kind of reaction we should all be having to the recent London bombings, do not read on.

I will make two simple points:


* you are much LESS likely to be a victim of terrorism than to win the first prize at the lotto/lottery;

* it is IMPOSSIBLE to prevent a terrorist from blowing itself up in the metro or a bus.


My conclusion is that we should NOT care so much about terrorism. Our perceptions suggest otherwise, so public policy with regards to terrorism should endeavor to correct these public perceptions rather than indulge them.

I will add up here one other element gefore you decide to read on: as the father of a 4-year old boy diagnosed with a brain tumor (probability of occurence: 1 in 15,000) and, as a result, a paralysed arm, I do know about the real-life consequences of senseless statistically-rare events.

Here's the rest.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bombs in London

Our thoughts and agnostic prayers go out to the victims, family and friends of today's terror attacks in London.

And as terror alerts rise now over the US I must ask: how exactly has the occupation of Iraq made anyone safer?

I have to assume that when Bush says we have to fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them here he isn't referring to the London Metro.

At least I hope not.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Support our troops

Don't let them become another blip on this map of the war dead:

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

How the Islamic crazies are like the Right

Be sure and read the comments at Daily Kos.

Funny how the wingers try to claim American liberals are in league with crazy fundamentalist Muslims.

Reality is, we hate everything Islamic fundamentalism stands for. On the other hand, the Dobson's of the Republican Party -- you know, the people running the show -- have far more in common with the enemy than they'd ever like to admit.

Religion in government

Al Qaida/Taliban: One and the same
American Taliban: One and the same
Liberals: Separation of church and state

Schools

Al Qaida/Taliban: Religious indoctrination. Run by clergy.
American Taliban: School prayer. Religious indoctrination (creationism and "intelligent design"). Private religious school system.
Liberals: Leave religious teachings to parents and sunday school.

Women

Al Qaida/Taliban: No school, must cover entire body, no rights
American Taliban: Government control over reproductive freedoms, hostility to Title IX, hostility to working women
Liberals: Equality of the sexes

Religious freedom

Al Qaida/Taliban: 'Think like us, or we'll whiip you and/or chop off your head'
American Taliban: 'Think like us, or we'll condemn you to hell'
Liberals: To each her own

Homosexuality

Al Qaida/Taliban: Eradicate them from society
American Taliban: Eradicate them from society
Liberals: Equality under the law

You guys can take it from here.

Update (from the comments):

Torture

Al Qaida/Taliban: Torture them or chop off their heads
American Taliban: Torture them or homosexually rape them.
Liberals: No torture

Medicine and Science

Al Qaida/Taliban: Faith-based world view
American Taliban: Faith-based world view
Liberals: Reality-based community

As I've mentioned before, the worst consequence of the type of war we're fighting is that we become the very thing we're fighting against. And true to form, the wingnut Republicans are working hard to make it so.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Note on Republican Ads

Because I have no control over the algorithms that power Google ads, combined with the fact that I frequently write about such wingnuts, occasionally and ad will appear that looks like this:







I'm sure you understand that in such cases I'm in no way endorsing Bill Frist or whatever wingnut cause is being advertised. On the other hand I suggest such ads present an opportunity for you to go to the site advertised and give them some reality-based suggestions.

I'm certain they'll appreciate it.

Recommended Reading


IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
Full Text here. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Patriots (An Independence Day Repost)

So, Mrs. CaliBlogger and I were watching Mel Gibson's The Patriot the other night. If you're not familiar, it's the story of how an undisciplined, but dedicated group, using unconventional military techniques, manages to defeat a vastly more powerful and better trained professional army. It's the story of the American Revolution.

Seeing this scenario played out against the current drumbeat of insurgent attacks in Iraq made me think of the national cognitive dissonance in play there.

The American mythos is almost entirely tied to our underdog status during the American Revolutionary War. No American story is more American than that of the underdog, facing overwhelming odds, who none the less triumphs over a seemingly insurmountable foe.

And so what is an American to think of Iraqis who, in their native land, using the pettiest of means (Improvised Explosive Devices for chrissake?), inflict major casualties against the world's most powerful military force?

Were that force not American we'd be cheering and standing in line for the Spielberg/Hanks version, out next summer.

It's no wonder George Lucas is catching flack from the wingnuts over the "political overtones" in the latest Star Wars. But the fault does not lie with Lucas, he's merely re-telling a favorite American myth. The fault lies with an America which has become the overweening prideful superpower it has traditionally despised. "We have met the enemy... and he is us". Indeed.

But alas for the Iraqi insurgents, no French warships are likely to pin down the Americans at Yorktown, er Basra. So victory is unlikely for them.

Still, one wonders if the new superpower, America, can avoid defeat. When reading accounts of Iraq try this: black out the name of the superpower and look only at the facts, you'll know the answer in your heart.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Supreme Court: What You Can Do RIGHT NOW

With the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor the US government faces a choice which could affect this country for decades. Will Bush try to appease his far-right Christian supporters with an anti-choice justice, further polarizing the government? Or will he nominate a relative moderate, and let the government return to the people's business?

Believe it or not there is much you can do, so use these links to learn, think, talk and most importantly act. Your country depends on you, and I can think of no better way to celebrate the 4th of July weekend than by acting to defend the liberties so many Americans have striven so hard to protect.

Supreme Court: What You Can Do RIGHT NOW

By DavidNYC [x-posted as a public service from Daily Kos]

Whatever happens with the Supreme Court nomination battle that is about to ensue, it's going to happen fast. Here are some things you can do right now:
If you have any other action items, please post them in the comments below, with links.
Update [2005-7-1 11:33:32 by DavidNYC]: If you have a blog, please post these action items on your site. If you don't, e-mail them to your like-minded buddies and relatives.
Update [2005-7-1 14:57:41 by DavidNYC]: Some more stuff you can do:
  • Sign MoveOn's "Protect Our Rights" petition.
  • Contact members of the media and tell them you think Bush should nominate a consensus candidate. PLEASE be polite, be brief (200 words or less), and don't do copy-and-paste jobs - put things in your own words.
  • Stop by Hunter's thread and make suggestions for potential nominees.

They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety. - Benjamin Franklin