November 29, 2005

More News From The Inside Of Your Mouth

This was found in a fortune cookie served in a New York restaurant to my friend Rob:

What I find most interesting is the fortune's enthusiasm. I believe there are several possible reasons for this:

1. The simple fact of receiving a message from your teeth is exciting

2. It's exciting to receive a secret message from your teeth, because your teeth have always been notoriously indiscreet

3. The exciting part is not receiving a message from your teeth, nor that it's secret, but rather the soon-to-be-revealed content of the message: "We are going to stop eating food, and start eating you"

November 28, 2005

I Write Letters

Like most Americans, I spent the Thanksgiving weekend writing a letter to Washington Post columnist David Broder.

I wonder if he'll reply. If you feel like contacting him yourself on this subject, his email address is davidbroder[at]washpost[dot]com

Mr. Broder,

I have a question regarding this exchange today between yourself and Tim Russert on Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: David Broder, is it possible for official Washington--the president, Democratic leaders, Republican leaders--to arrive at common ground, a consensus position on Iraq?

MR. DAVID BRODER: It's possible, Tim, but they won't get there by arguing about who did what three years ago. And this whole debate about whether there was just a mistake or misrepresentation or so on is, I think, from the public point of view largely irrelevant. The public's moved past that.


What I'm wondering is this: on what you base these statements? The reason I ask is because the evidence of which I'm aware indicates exactly the opposite—that not only do a majority of Americans believe the Bush administration intentionally misled us on Iraq, but a similar majority believe this may rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

See, e.g., the following representative polls:

1. ABC News

On Iraq, a new high—55 percent—say the Bush administration intentionally misled the American public in making its case for war.

2. Zogby

The poll found that 53% agreed with the statement:

"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."


Thanks in advance for your attention to this. I understand you must be quite busy, but as this is a very serious issue, I hope you'll be able to take the time to respond.

best regards,
Jonathan Schwarz

Red State Son Celebrates One Year Of Extremely Lucid Malcontenting

Happy birthday to Dennis Perrin's Red State Son, which just turned a year old. He has some thoughts:

Early on I attempted to comment on every current event as it happened, and soon discovered that it was madness. Would you trust someone who has an opinion about everything? Like the know-it-all drunk freely opining in a darkened bar at midday, bloggers who post constantly soon batter your psyche, never giving you a chance to reflect upon or digest any given topic. And while this medium thrives on instant analysis and up-to-the-minute moralizing, I'm becoming more of a less-is-better blogger. Pick a subject, flesh it out, explore everything you can of it, then let it sit and ripen for a few days so readers may come back to it if they wish. Allow space between posts so your voice doesn't melt into the surrounding white noise. In the frenzied online crush, standing still after speaking your mind might better convey your message and meaning.

And there is more.

November 27, 2005

Happy Spiritually Evolved Thanksgiving

Has Thanksgiving happened already? I can't remember, because I hate America. AMERICA AND ALL ITS HOLIDAYS.

In any case, for Thanksgiving here's something worth reading by Margaret Wheatley called "Letting Go of Hope." It deals with a deep, genuine problem about politics: while it's easy to have a negative impact on the world, and to understand just how you've made things worse, if you try to make things better it's much harder to tell if your efforts are paying off. This leads some people to give up.

Here's Wheatley's advice:

Vaclav Havel helped me become further attracted to insecurity and not-knowing: "Hope," he states, "is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out."

Havel seems to be describing not hope, but hopelessness. Being liberated from results, giving up outcomes, doing what feels right rather than effective. He helps me recall the Buddhist teaching that hopelessness is not the opposite of hope. Fear is. Hope and fear are inescapable partners. Anytime we hope for a certain outcome, and work hard to make it happen, then we also introduce fear—fear of failing, fear of loss. Hopelessness is free of fear and thus can feel quite liberating. I've listened to others describe this state. Unburdened of strong emotions, they describe the miraculous appearance of clarity and energy.

I suspect this is the right way to look at it. The downside is it's literally impossible for most humans to achieve this mindset.

Still, it's worth having it as a goal, even if you never get there. I believe this is what T.S. Eliot had in mind in his poem "Ash Wednesday":

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things


Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

It may be significant that Eliot didn't write:

Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to start a blog

In any case, similar advice appears in the source of all human wisdom, Life and How to Survive It by John Cleese and Robin Skynner:

Cleese: So all we have to do to increase our health is to become more aware of ourselves...What can any of us do to increase our degree of integration?
Skynner: Sit still.
Cleese: What?
Skynner: That's what you have to do. Sit quietly.
Cleese: That's all?
Skynner: Well, you might meditate, or contemplate religious "myths," or pray, but being quiet is the best start.

November 22, 2005

This Divided State

I was going to express my opinion about This Divided State, a documentary about a huge brouhaha at a Utah college when they invited Michael Moore to come speak. But then I thought I should watch it first. I'm just old fashioned that way.

So, at the moment all I can say is the DVD packaging makes it look extremely promising as it sits on my desk.

In the meantime, I suggest you check out the first 26 minutes, which the filmmakers have graciously made available on their website FOR ONE WEEK ONLY.

There's no reason that had to be in all caps. I JUST LIKE TO YELL.

November 21, 2005

Dick Cheney, Now With More Snarl!

Dick Cheney today:

"The flaws in the intelligence are plain enough in hindsight. But any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped or fabricated by the leader of the nation is utterly false," Cheney said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

Cheney then added: "That was my job. I would never let him handle something that important."

November 20, 2005

No Wonder The Washington Press Corps Has So Much Respect For Colin Powell

Back in September Colin Powell was interviewed by Barbara Walters. She asked him about his U.N. presentation on Iraq, and he agreed it would always be "a blot" on his reputation. But then he added this:

POWELL: George Tenet did not sit there for five days with me, misleading me... He believed what he was giving to me was accurate. The intelligence system did not work well. There was some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me.

WALTERS: Want to name names?

POWELL: I don't have the names. These are not senior people but these are people who were aware that some of these sources should not be considered reliable. And they were aware that we were putting this information in the believing.

So here's what Powell invited us to think:

1. He feels he'll always have this terrible blot on his reputation because of some low-level functionaries
2. He's never gone to the trouble of finding out who these functionaries are... despite the fact that their positions are provided in the Senate Intelligence Committee Phase I report as the Chief and Deputy Chief of the CIA's Iraqi Task Force.

It's hard to believe that's true, so let's ask someone else what Powell knew. This source is quoted in today's Los Angeles Times story on the bogus WMD intelligence, and is named Colin Powell:

Powell said he was never warned, during three days of intense briefings at CIA headquarters before his U.N. speech, that he was using material that both the DIA and CIA had determined was false. "As you can imagine, I was not pleased," Powell said. "What really made me not pleased was they had put out a burn notice on this guy, and people who were even present at my briefings knew it."

So...Powell knows these "people" were present at his briefings, and he's truly steamed up about it, but—if his previous statement to Walters remains operative—he still doesn't know who they were.

You bet.

I think the real question with Colin Powell is not why he has a blot on his reputation, but why he has any reputation left on his blot.

November 19, 2005

Can Bob Harris Get A Witness? Yes; Yes, He Can

I agree with Bob that we should hold off on celebrating.

Also, Bob has intriguing tales about residents of his old apartment building.

John Hodgman Is Trying To Kill You

Kill you with laughter, that is.

If you are the kind of person who enjoys laughing, chortling, guffawing, giggling, tee-heeing or cachinnating—or all of them at the same time—perhaps you should check out John Hodgman's recent appearance on the Daily Show. (I don't know how to link to it directly, but you can go here, choose any of the videos, then choose "view all videos from this show" and then look for l'homme de Hodge.)

Hodgeman was on to promote his genuinely funny little book The Areas of My Expertise. Learn more here.

November 18, 2005

Stuff! Stuff! Stuff!

1. Robert Jensen delivered a sermon at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin last Sunday titled "Hope is for the Weak":

When I assert that hope is for the weak, there is implied no criticism of hope or the hopeful. All it means is that hope is for us all, because we are all weak. We are human, and to be human is to be weak at times, to struggle with uncertainty, sometimes to lose our grip on ourselves and on the world. Hope is the name we give to our ability to persevere when we are weak, as we all inevitably are sometimes.

So, to claim hope implicitly acknowledges one’s weakness, which is a good start. Then we can see that real hope requires real humility. To claim to not need hope is the ultimate arrogance, a vain attempt -- and one that, in the end, will be in vain -- to ignore a deep yearning in us all. The weakest people in the world are the cynical, those who claim to have advanced beyond a need for hope. Cynicism is simply another name for moral laziness and cowardice; it is a way of choosing to give up without taking responsibility for the choice.

2. John Ralston Saul was recently interviewed by Mother Jones.

3. The King of Zembla, a distant northern land, has extremely interesting news:

Tim Lucas of Video Watchblog informs us that "Homecoming," the Joe Dante episode of Masters of Horror, has been warmly received at the Turin Film Festival. We are pleased to hear it, because the plot -- in which fictitious soldiers, killed in a fictitious Middle-East conflict, rise from the dead to confront a fictitious president, who sent them off to war based on a fictitious fictitious threat -- is likely to generate some controversy here in America.

We have recently watched a screening copy of this pleasing agitprop comedy, and we can assert with some confidence that you will not see a more aggressively Zemblan production this year or next. The episode premieres on Showtime three Fridays hence, December 2, at 10 PM EST/PST, with multiple showings throughout the weekend.

Things Are Even More Horrifying Than You Imagined

James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets and Pretext for War has written an outstanding article for Rolling Stone about the Rendon Group.

Who is the Rendon Group? Well, you've probably only heard of them if you're a genuine weirdo, because they try to keep a low profile. That's because they're probably the world's greatest propaganda artists. While ostensibly "private," they make tens of millions of dollars on U.S. government contracts to sell wars:

One of the most powerful people in Washington, [John] Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result. His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. It was as if President John F. Kennedy had outsourced the Bay of Pigs operation to the advertising and public-relations firm of J. Walter Thompson...

Rendon is a battle-tested veteran who has been secretly involved in nearly every American shooting conflict in the past two decades. In the first interview he has granted in decades, Rendon offered a peek through the keyhole of this seldom-seen world of corporate spooks -- a rarefied but growing profession. Over a dinner of lamb chops and a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape at a private Washington club, Rendon was guarded about the details of his clandestine work -- but he boasted openly of the sweep and importance of his firm's efforts as a for-profit spy. "We've worked in ninety-one countries," he said. "Going all the way back to Panama, we've been involved in every war, with the exception of Somalia."


November 16, 2005

Sam Husseini Asks Judith Miller A Question

Judith Miller appeared at the National Press Club in Washington on Monday. As it happens, Sam Husseini's office is in the National Press Club, so he stopped by to ask her a question we cooked up for her:

We decided it should be about her two famous "aluminum tubes" stories published in September, 2002 claiming Iraq had an ongoing nuclear weapons program.

The first story was published on September 8. It indicated the tubes were surely intended for uranium enrichment, with no hint of the vociferous debate within U.S. intelligence agencies over this. The second story, on September 13, did mention the debate -- but also included this:

An administration official called discussions about the aluminum tubes and Iraq's intentions "a normal part of the intelligence process"... He added that the best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the C.I.A. assessment [the tubes were for a nuclear program].

This would seem to settle the matter for any normal reader of the New York Times—sure, there are a few uninformed holdouts, but the people who really know what they're talking about think the tubes are part of a program for nuclear weapons.

There's just one problem: what this "administration official" said was flatly false. Indeed, it's one of the most brazen lies told by the Bush administration in the lead up to war.

As the Senate Intelligence Committee found in July, 2004 the director of Oak Ridge's Field Intelligence Element said "the vast majority of scientists and nuclear experts at the DOE and the National Labs did not agree with the CIA's analysis."

Several month later in October, 2004, the New York Times itself reported that the government's "A-Team" of experts -- including the head of Oak Ridge's national security advanced technology group -- strongly disagreed with the C.I.A.

So I was curious: what would Judith Miller now say about this? Would she break her confidentiality agreement with an administration official who'd given her a falsehood to help deceive the world toward war?

Find out the answer here.

November 15, 2005

I Feel Bad For Imad Khadduri's Head

Imad Khadduri's head is constantly, I believe, in the process of trying not to blow up. Khadduri is the Iraqi nuclear scientist who escaped to Canada in 1998. Before the war he was telling anyone who'd listen that the whole WMD case for war was preposterous.

Thus, when George Bush says others are "rewriting history," Khadduri's head goes on high alert. You can read its most recent attempts not to blow up here:

The first radio interview with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now on November 27, 2002 upon finally managing to publish my first article "Iraq's non-nuclear capability" in on November 21, 2002.

The first TV interview with CTV's CanadaAm Show on January 31, 2003 when I decided to come out publicly in full.

A TV interview with CBC (requires RealOne Player) following Colin Powell's infamous lies to the UN Security Council on February 8, 2003. (This is the sound track of it on Windows Media Player for those without RealOne Player).


November 14, 2005


Here's my favorite part from George W. Bush's speech today:

...only one person manipulated evidence and misled the world -- and that person was Saddam Hussein.

Insane projection doesn't get much more insanely projectiony than that. I only wish Bush had also said:

Only one person here is named George W. Bush. And that person is Saddam Hussein.

Yet More Robert Dreyfuss Again

Talking Points Memo Cafe is hosting a discussion of Robert Dreyfuss' book Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam in their book club this week. It's genuinely interesting so far, even though they're only on the first day.

November 12, 2005

For All Your Robert Dreyfuss Needs

I'm a longtime admirer of Robert Dreyfuss' writing for and elsewhere. Though I haven't read it yet, I just bought his new book Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. So I'm pleased to see he's started his own website, including a blarghh.

I was particularly interested to read this recent post (based on his work on an important article about the current state of the CIA):

...there are a lot of angry spooks who would love nothing more than to come talk to the Senate about the administration’s malfeasance.

This is interesting because both the Senate Intelligence Committee "Phase I" report and the presidential WMD commission concluded there was no pressure exerted on intelligence analysts. This is completely preposterous, but it was possible for the Bush administration to get away with it when political conditions were different. It may not be possible for them to continue to shove this under the rug for the Senate Phase II report, even though this ground has purportedly already been covered.

There's Always Room to Become More Petty

There is nothing nothing nothing more boring and petty than the personal sniping that makes up 98% of writing about politics. Who's more morally beautiful than whom? Who's issued the correct thunderous denunciations of others for having or not having signed the correct meaningless petition at the correct meaningless time? This is particularly prevalent among groups without power, making it so pointless and grimly silly you despair for all humanity.

However, just because it's boring and petty doesn't mean I won't participate in it. So, let's get started!

Back in October, 2002 Christopher Hitchens was given space in the Washington Post to explain that the International Action Center is a "sinister sect" and "quasi-Stalinist." This was deeply significant to Hitchens because the IAC played a role in organizing anti-Iraq war protests.

Now, for all I know the IAC is sinister and quasi-Stalinist. But if it is, I will never find out, because if I'm ever on the verge of learning that much about fringe political groups I will commit suicide.

The reason I bring it up is because I was just watching The Trials of Henry Kissinger—largely based on an excellent book by Hitchens—and was amused to see this sequence:

Here's Hitchens, being interviewed outside of a hotel where Henry Kissinger is making an appearance.

Hitchens is joined on the sidewalk by a group protesting Kissinger. Here we see him enthusiastically taking some of the group's literature. Everyone in the group has the same yellow signs.

I wonder who this group is that cares so much about the things Hitchens cares about? Let's take a closer look at these signs...


So, there you have it: FINAL PROOF that, because the International Action Center criticizes Henry Kissinger, all criticism of Henry Kissinger is illegitimate. Also, Christopher Hitchens luvs the people who luv Saddam which means Christopher Hitchens luvs Saddam!!!!!

I am so smart and my enemies are so so stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

...hey, where'd everybody go?

November 11, 2005

Zarqawi and Bush Bomb Because We Let Them

Sam Husseini, whose father lived in Zarqa as a teenager, has this to say about the Jordan bombings:

Zarqawi's bombings are being used by [Jordan's] monarchy to consolidate its power; and Zarqawi uses Abdullah's complicity in the crimes of the U.S. and Israel to commit mass murder of his own. He achieves stardom through the martyrdom of others. Others who seemingly can no longer tolerate the oppressor's wrong, forgo the slings as arrows of outrageous fortune and take up arms against a sea of troubles, as so end them; at least for themselves, perhaps they are certain what comes after; but they do so shooting out worse than slings and arrows at their victims, survivors and their loved ones.

Zarqawi's too violent even for Bin Ladin; but then he's had it a bit harder. Some warned before the invasion of Iraq that such action would spawn more Bin Ladins, I don't think anyone suggested any of them would be more ruthless.


November 10, 2005

A Shocking Outbreak Of Honesty From Ted Koppel

A few weeks ago I made these claims:

The mainstream media does a FANTASTIC job. Day in and day out, they turn in an extraordinary performance—at what they exist to do. And that is to make as much money as possible...

The mainstream media is made up of gigantic corporations. Like all corporations, they manufacture a product, which is their audience. They sell this product to their customers, which are other huge corporations.

Informing people about the world is not just irrelevant to the purpose of making money, but in many ways actually HURTS a corporation's profitability. No business goes out of its way to piss off its owners and customers...if the need for huge profits ever conflicts with holding the powerful responsible—and it will, constantly—you really shouldn't wait up.

I'm pleased to see that, now that Ted Koppel is retiring from Nightline, he is saying just about the same thing. Too bad he couldn't tell the truth in his previous forty years of being on national television, but it's better late than never:

This is an industry, it's a business. We exist to make money. We exist to put commercials on the air. The programming that is put on between those commercials is simply the bait we put in the mousetrap.

If it is true that David Letterman can draw a lot more viewers than 'Nightline' and Ted Koppel, if you can make an extra $30 million or $50 million a year, I absolutely understand they not only have the right but the fiduciary obligation to do that.

November 09, 2005

A Triumph Of The Human Spirit

Forty-eight hours ago I tried to upgrade this site to Movable Type 3.2. All I accomplished was to break everything to the degree it was impossible for me to post new entries.

Fortunately, thanks to intensive technical support from my saintly father, everything now appears to be working again. But please let me know if you encounter anything peculiar.

UPDATE: Here's something peculiar: at least in my browser, slightly unusual characters now show up as question marks. For instance, if you scroll down to the November 6 entry "How Interesting," there's a question mark where em dashes and quote marks belongs.

BUT...if you go to the entry individual page here, everything looks fine.

And so I ask the Internet Overbrain: what's going on? How can it be fixed?

November 07, 2005

They Only Understand Force

Last year, Seymour Hersh reported that much of the Bush administration believes "Arabs only understand force." More recently, in the famous New Yorker article about Brent Scowcroft, Scowcroft explained that Dick Cheney feels "one of the things you've got to do to Arabs is hit them between the eyes with a big stick."

Fair enough. We all know Arabs are crazed lunatics who are incapable of listening to reason. But...are they the only people on earth who only understand force? We have many enemies, and need to be careful we don't overlook any of them.

Fortunately, using Google, we can search for and locate everyone who only understands force. In an effort to protect our people, I've done just that. These dangerous maniacs are listed below.

1. Adolf Hitler
2. Al Qaeda
3. Americans
4. Three fifths of [Americans]
5. Angloamericans
6. Arabs
7. The Arab mind
8. Arab society
9. The Arab World
10. Arabs and Muslims
11. An Arab... like his donkey
12. Arafat's Al-Aksa Brigades
13. Both sides
14. The Bush administration
15. Chechens
16. The Chechens... mere savages
17. The Chinese
18. The Chinese government
19. Red China
20. Communist governments
21. Darl McBride and Ralph Yarro
22. Europe
23. Evil
24. The government
25. Hamas
26. The Haredim
27. The ignorant, starving peasants [of Haiti]
28. Iraq under Saddam Hussein
29. Although it sounds harsh—the Iraqis
30. Ishmaelites
31. Islamic Jihad
32. Israelis
33. The Israeli enemy
34. The Israeli government
35. Israel's decision makers
36. The imperialists
37. The Jews
38. Not just the Arabs...even Jews, even other Likudniks
39. Khartoum
40. Lenin, Stalin, Tojo, Franco, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Osama Bin Laden, etc etc.
41. Milosevic and his kind
42. Muslim and Arab terrorists and thugs
43. North Korea
44. Our enemies
45. The Pakistani military
46. The Palestinians
47. People
48. The people [in the Balkens]
49. The people of Israel
50. Petty dictators in that part of the world
51. The ragheads running around Fallujah
52. Radical killers and the countries backing them
53. Saddam Hussein
54. The Serbs
56. Seven different TRIBES who's families have obtained a Nation State status and are seen in Saudi Araberia (Saudi family), Jordan, Asseriya, et. Al� the familiy nation states and their lackies
57. The Soviets
58. Syria
59. Terrorists
60. Terrorists and the countries who support terrorism
61. Thugs
62. Today's enemy
63. The U.S.
64. Whoever says... "They only understand force"
65. The world
66. Your [computer system's] users
67. Zionist thugs

Maureen Dowd And The Tao Of Stupidity; Also, A Joke

There are essentially two ways of analyzing the world:

1. Personal: Everything happens because of decisions by individuals
2. Structural: Everything happens because of institutional and historical forces

Obviously, neither of these is completely right. But from what I can tell, it's much more #2 than #1. On rare occasions individual decisions can have a decisive effect—but for the most part, even the options of the most powerful people are limited. If you're the CEO of GM and want to build cars with a minimal environmental impact, you'll get about three feet before the shareholders toss you out and you're no longer CEO. Likewise if you're CEO of Viacom and want good journalism, though there you might only get three inches.

And yet, people near the apex of power almost always describe things in terms of individuals decisions, with no attention whatsoever paid to institutional forces.

With that in mind, let's examine a recent Washington Post profile of Maureen Dowd by Howard Kurtz:

"People who criticize me say I should have focused more on policy or numbers," Dowd says. She insists she is not a liberal columnist, has no overarching ideology and chronicles the political wars as a Shakespearean drama. "In American history," she says, "all of our great traumas -- Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-contra, Iraq, Harriet Miers -- came from presidents' personal foibles..."

What's interesting about this is (1) Maureen Dowd isn't an idiot but (2) what she's saying is truly idiotic.

Let's take one of her examples, Vietnam. Our involvement there covered the terms of six presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. And our policy through each of them was largely the same.

So...did each of these six presidents have the same personal foibles? OF COURSE NOT. Yet Dowd can say this without understanding how weirdly dumb it is, and Howard Kurtz can record it without understanding it himself.

I submit it is no accident Dowd and Kurtz have risen to the heights of their respective institutions. I further submit this is because institutions select for individuals who do not analyze institutions. This makes them, even the ones with some native intelligence, appear peculiarly stupid.


Here's another part of the profile:

Dowd caught fire in 1998, the year of sex, thongs and audiotape, as her mocking style seemed perfectly suited to the impeachment melodrama.

After Bill Clinton had his dog neutered, he told the White House Correspondents' Association dinner that he saw the following column: "Buddy Got What He Deserved, by Maureen Dowd."

Back when all that was happening, Mike and I wrote this (unused) joke for Weekend Update:

A White House source today harshly criticized Bill Clinton, saying, "I find the president's relentless humping distasteful and embarrassing." Even worse, that source was Clinton's dog.

November 06, 2005

How Interesting

Here's a new article by Robert Parry. I wouldn't go just by Mark Crispin Miller's word—as great as he is, he can get a little overexcited—but it's clearly not just him saying it:

Kerry Suspects Election 2004 Was Stolen

Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, has told acquaintances over the past year that he suspects that the election was stolen, but that he didn’t challenge the official results because he lacked hard proof and anticipated a firestorm of criticism if he pressed the point.

“Kerry heard all the disquieting stories” about voting irregularities in Ohio and other states, said Jonathan Winer, a longtime Kerry adviser and a former deputy assistant secretary of state. “But he didn’t have the evidence to do more.”

The Massachusetts senator conceded to George W. Bush on Nov. 3, 2004, the day after the election when it became clear that the uncounted votes in the swing state of Ohio were insufficient to erase Bush’s narrow lead.

The move infuriated some Democratic activists who felt Kerry should have lived up to his campaign promise that he would make sure every vote was counted. In January 2005, as Bush’s victory was being certified by Congress, Kerry also refused to back a resolution challenging the fairness of the Ohio vote.

Mark Crispin Miller, a New York University professor and author of a new book about the 2004 election entitled Fooled Again, said he discussed the voting issue with Kerry on Oct. 28 when he encountered the senator at a political event.

In a Nov. 4 interview on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now,” Miller said he gave Kerry a copy of Fooled Again, prompting Kerry’s comments about the 2004 election results.

“He told me he now thinks the election was stolen,” Miller said. “He said he doesn’t believe that he is the person who can go out front on the issue because of the sour grapes … question. But he said he believes it was stolen. He says he argues about this with his Democratic colleagues on the Hill. He had just had a big fight with Christopher Dodd.”

Miller and Winer said Kerry suspected possible tampering with electronic voting machines, but that he was persuaded by his campaign’s top advisers, including veteran consultant Bob Shrum, that contesting the results only would lead to accusations that Kerry was a sore loser...

November 05, 2005

Important News From The Land Of Tea-Drinkers

The embarrassing thing about England is they seem to take this "rule of law" thing seriously. In other words, at least some of them believe the highest officials in their government shouldn't do things that are illegal. What sissies! Someday we will have to beat them up for this.

Chris Floyd's latest column is about the latest manifestation of this British weakness, one that's been covered here barely at all:

Last week, a legal thunderbolt struck at the heart of the grubby conspiracy that led the United States and Britain into an illegal war of aggression against Iraq. But this searing blow didn't fall in Washington, where a media frenzy raged over a White House indictment, but in the deeps of southern England, in a military courtroom, where a lone soldier stood against the full force of the great war-crime enterprise, armed only with a single, rusty, obsolete weapon: the law.

...[I]n Wiltshire, Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith faced a court martial after declaring that the Iraq war was illegal and refusing to return for his third tour of duty there, the Guardian reports.

He has been charged with four counts of "disobeying a lawful command." But Kendall-Smith, a decorated medical officer in the Royal Air Force, says that his study of the recently-emerged evidence about the lies, distortions and manipulations used to "justify" the invasion has convinced him that both the war and the occupation are "manifestly illegal." Thus any order arising from this criminal action is itself an "unlawful command," the Sunday Times reports. In fact, the RAF's own manual of law compels him to refuse such illegal orders, Kendall-Smith insists...

The moral rigor of his defiance has sent tremors through the British military establishment, already shaken by the strange, unexplained shooting deaths of two military inspectors investigating atrocity allegations in Iraq, the Guardian reports. British brass are panicky about the Goldsmith revelations; indeed, the leader of the UK invasion force, Admiral Michael Boyce, said he now believes the British military does not have "the legal cover necessary to avoid prosecution for war crimes," the Observer reports. Boyce added that if he and his officers are eventually put on trial for such crimes, he'll make sure that Blair and Goldsmith are in the dock beside them.

Read it all.

November 04, 2005

New Bush Impeachment Poll

Check out the new After Downing Street impeachment poll. Or if you refuse to visit any website but this one, here are some highlights:

• 53% of Americans agree with this statement, with 42% disagreeing:

"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."

• According to a new ABC poll, 55% of Americans believe the Bush administration "intentionally misled" the nation in making the case for war.

• Comparable polls in August and September 1998 found only 36% supported hearings to consider impeaching Clinton, and only 26% supported actually impeaching Clinton and removing him from office.

• (one of the members of the After Downing Street coalition) has launched Impeach Pac, a political action committee trying to raise $100,000 for 2006 candidates who'll promise to support the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

Something To Do

Are you wandering around in a daze, wondering what to do with yourself today? I know I am. If you're like me, now would be a good time to visit After Downing Street's page about H.R. 505. H.R. 505 is a bill introduced by Dennis Kucinich requiring the Bush administration to turn over to Congress all documents relating to the White House Iraq Group, or "WHIG." WHIG was the clearing house for the pre-war cascade of lies about Iraq, WMD and Al Qaeda.

While at After Downing Street, you can find out more about H.R. 505; learn whether your representative is co-sponsoring the bill; and follow links to either urge them to do so or to thank them for having signed on already.

P.S. After Downing Street has commissioned another poll—again paid for by individual citizens who think it's important—on how many Americans think Bush should be impeached. Check back here soon for the results.

Mature Audiences Only

Here's some video-based comedy, all of which contains profanity and/or nudity, and is unsuitable for anyone under 85.

1. John Cleese's 1989 eulogy for Graham Chapman.

2. Eric Schwartz overcomes the handicap of the shameful T in his last name to sing a song.

3. I'm not easy to shock, but I was genuinely taken aback by the B Squad's committment to their premises.

November 03, 2005

Bush And Nixon Battle It Out

With the latest CBS poll putting Bush's approval rating at 35%, he's genuinely entered into Nixon territory. Since polling began, Nixon is the only two-term president with lower approval ratings at a comparable point in his presidency:

Johnson 66% (Oct. 1965)
Reagan 63% (Oct. 1985)
Clinton 57% (Oct. 1997)
Eisenhower 57% (Oct. 1957)
Truman 49% (Oct. 1949)
Bush 39% (Oct. 2005)
Nixon 29% (Oct. 1973)

So, I've helpfully graphed both Bush's approval rating and disapproval rating against Nixon's. Note Bush still has about a year to go before he gets to the point in Nixon's presidency when Nixon resigned.

(All polls are Gallup.)

November 02, 2005

America: Not So Good At Symbolism

So, first we took over over Saddam's old Republican Palace for our headquarters in Baghdad. Here's how the Atlantic put it, although they accidentally used "Later" when they should have used the term "Immediately to anyone whose skull isn't filled with inert goo":

In April of 2003, as the U.S. Army's Third Infantry Division fought its way into the Green Zone with heavy loss of Iraqi life, the once privileged residents fled in haste, emptying compounds and palaces—and indeed an entire district—that therefore seemed ready-made for American use. Later it became obvious that the decision to install the occupation government in the center of the city and to base it in the very same buildings that had been used by the recent dictatorship was a serious blunder...

Now it turns out we're holding prisoners secretly at what appears to be part of the old Gulag:

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe...

What next? I suggest we demonstrate our commitment to freedom and democracy by:

• invading North Korea and installing the Bush twins in Kim Jong Il's palace as absolute rulers
• buying Tuol Sleng for use as a new "counter-terrorism" compound
• building a George W. Bush Center for the Study of Human Excellence on the site of Ed Gein's farmhouse

Let The Thinly-Sourced Rumor-Mongering Begin!

Would it be irresponsible to link to a Capitol Blue story simply because it bolsters my belief system, even though Capitol Blue has been egregiously wrong in the past?

It would be irresponsible not to:

An uncivil war rages inside the walls of the West Wing of the White House, a bitter, acrimonious war driven by a failed agenda, destroyed credibility, dwindling public support and a President who lapses into Alzheimer-like periods of incoherent babbling...

The war erupted into full-blown shout fests at Camp David this past weekend where decorum broke down in staff meetings and longtime aides threatened to quit unless Rove goes...

White House staff members say the White House is “like a wartime bunker” where shell-shocked aides hide from those who disagree with their actions and office pools speculate on how long certain senior aides will last.

Bush, whose obscenity-laced temper tantrums increase with each new setback and scandal, abruptly ended one Camp David meeting by telling everyone in the room to “go fuck yourselves” before he stalked out of the room.

Senior aides describe Bush as increasingly “edgy” or “nervous” or “unfocused.” They say the President goes from apparent coherent thought one moment to aimless rambles about political enemies and those who are “out to get me.”

“It’s worse than the days when Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s began setting in,” one longtime GOP operative told me privately this week. “You don’t know if he’s going to be coherent from one moment to the next. What scares me is if he lapses into one of those fogs during a public appearance.”

November 01, 2005

I'm Confused And Disoriented

Help! I've fallen into a bizarre alternate universe in which the Democratic party actually has some balls!

More on this new world we find ourselves in here.

Where We're Going We Don't Need Roads! Or Even The Most Basic Humanity!

I was pleased to see this in the recent, giant New York Times story on pensions:

Critics like Grover Norquist, the tax-cut crusader, lampoons pensions as remnants of a stodgy, Old World economy.

Yes! Back in olden times retirees wanted to "eat" and "not die." Some even had "families" that they "loved" and wanted to "see more than once a decade." Fortunately, those disgusting remnants of the past will be swept away, now that we live in fusion-powered individual pods and have used genetic engineering to eliminate all human emotional attachments.

Steve Martin, Attorney At Law

So, now we know what Scooter Libby's defense is going to be:

Libby, who was charged with five felonies, is putting the finishing touches on a new legal and public relations team. It will argue in court and in public that he is guilty of nothing more than having a foggy memory...

Clearly one of the people Libby's hired is Steve Martin:

Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: "I forgot!" How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don't say "I forgot"? Let's say you're on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, "I forgot armed robbery was illegal."