July 31, 2007
Impeachment Video Contest With $1000 Prize
Democrats.com is holding a contest for the best video comparing Dick Cheney and Richard Nixon and making the case for impeachment, with a $1000 prize going to the winner. All you have to do is make it and upload it to YouTube by noon ET on Thursday, August 9th—the 33rd anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation. More information here.
Robert Parry On O'Hanlon & Pollack
Robert Parry examines the impressive careers and op-eds of Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack in the Baltimore Chronicle.
Also in the Baltimore Chronicle, Greg Palast writes a review of John "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" Perkins' new book, and describes how he met Perkins back when he was still actively hitting people.
The Primal Forces Of Nature
From CNN today:
Crude jumped $1.03 to $77.86 a barrel by 1:30 pm ET in volatile trade that saw oil just shy of the record high of $78.40 struck on July 14, 2006
The Bush administration said Monday that a new multibillion-dollar military sales package for Arab nations will help secure Iraq and the Persian Gulf while promoting stability and U.S. influence...
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the proposed U.S. package, estimated at up to $20 billion, "will help bolster forces of moderation and support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran."
Uh huh. Too bad we're only allowed to tell the truth in fiction:
ARTHUR JENSEN: The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. It is ecological balance.
You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations; there are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems; one vast, interwoven, interacting, multivaried, multinational dominion of dollars.
July 30, 2007
Mike already has a plethora of high-quality material on Ingmar Bergman:
"Men Who Wear Red Shirts Are Crazy And Dangerous," Said The Man In The Red Shirt
Kenneth Pollack, writing an op-ed for the New York Times with Michael O’Hanlon today:
A War We Might Just Win
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with...
[T]here is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.
Kenneth Pollack, writing in The Threatening Storm in 2002:
Saddam has a twenty-eight year pattern of aggression, violence, miscalculation, and purposeful underestimation of the consequences of his actions that should give real pause to anyone...
Even when Saddam does consider a problem at length...his own determination to interpret geopolitical calculations to suit what he wants to believe anyway lead him to construct bizarre scenarios that he convinces himself are highly likely.
Rick Perlstein tells a dreadfully sad story involving his grandmother and Fox News, here.
There really are no words for people who make it their life's work to encourage Americans to hate and fear each other. By contrast, some days it seems like it's only anti-American America-haters like us who actually like other Americans.
BLURG: Borrowed from here.
Effects Of Nuclear Explosions On Bulk Food Staples
That's the name of an old government study I stumbled across:
Effects of Nuclear Explosions on Bulk Food Staples
Twenty-eight different selected packaged foods representing those of greatest volume in the American diet were exposed to nuclear detonations at the Nevada Test Site during the spring of 1955. The different packages were so placed that some were exposed to strong neutron and gamma flux, others to gamma radiation and blast effects, and still others to only blast effects. These studies showed that most foods were suitable for emergency feeding at presently suggested AEC tolerances within 15 days after exposure.
Mmmm...bulk food staples exposed to strong neutron and gamma flux. Is this making you as hungry as it's making me?
If it were 1990 I would order a paper copy and then incorporate it in my zine.
AND: The government was, of course, experimenting on more than just bulk foods during the fifties. As the Orange County Register just reported, it was also experimenting on bulk soldiers:
In retrospect, the audacity of 1957's Operation Plumbbob was stunning: a series of 29 aboveground atomic explosions witnessed at close range by 18,000 men testing their ability to fight on a nuclear battlefield.
Planes flew through radioactive clouds. Marines marched through radioactive sand. Paratroopers jumped through radioactive skies. Assaults were launched. Objectives taken. The military measured blast effects on pigs, dogs, rabbits, mannequins, tanks, trucks and the psyches of men witnessing unparalleled power.
July 29, 2007
Chalmers Johnson reviews the new history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes
July 27, 2007
The System Works!
I can't deny I'm impressed by the efforts of the craz-o-sphere in the Scott Beauchamp matter. They do great work. Even if you assume media outlets are purely profit-driven and completely non-ideological otherwise (which is obviously not the case), pressure that forces them to go back and recheck every single claim in any non-right wing approved story means they'll do fewer such stories, just because the extra time costs them money. No business strives to do things they know will cost them money.
And what's beautiful about this is that it works without overt censorship of any kind. It's just the free market in action!
July 24, 2007
A Sad Performance So Far By Conyers
John Conyers told a San Diego meeting last Friday that he was willing to consider impeachment of both Bush and Cheney if he received support from others in Congress. I posted the transcript yesterday, and now have the cell phone video, below.
However, Conyers appears to have changed his mind at some point over the weekend. Cindy Sheehan, Ray McGovern and others met with him yesterday to discuss impeachment. (Sheehan and McGovern were two of the witnesses at the roundly-mocked hearings on the Downing Street Memo that Conyers held in 2005.) McGovern's report of the meeting is here. Sheehan writes:
The Congressman claims that there is absolutely no way that impeachment can go forward and when I was nearing the end of my hope I cried out: "So, if the people's house won't help us then we the people have no recourse against the executive branch." To which he replied: "Yes you do, vote the enablers out in '08."
Given the Friday video, this is not at all what people were hoping for. The response from Conyers yesterday was bad enough by itself, but it's particularly disappointing that he would seemingly mislead supporters in San Diego. See for yourself:
CONYERS: Now, let me close with this one suggestion, is that I need some Members of Congress to come to me and say Mr Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I heard you were out in San Diego, and they really put it to you, and you made commitments that we don't know if you were just saying, saying something to get out of that hotel alive or were you, or were you serious and here's what we need to do. We need to have three Members of Congress from anywhere come and say, "Congressman, if you... if you are willing to support an inquiry into a resolution of whether there had been acts of impeachability conducted by, the Vice President of, and the President of the United States, that could lead to High Crimes and Misdemeanors, then we will join you if you introduce such a resolution."
SPECTATOR: With House Resolution 333, you have that right now, do you not?
CONYERS: No, I, I, this is something that we are working on right now. We don't have it right now.
SPECTATOR: We do have House Resolution 333.
CONYERS: I'm talking about more. Look. And so let us, let us see how many people would be willing to back us up, in addition to the ones --
SPECTATOR: Maxine Waters
CONYERS: Let, let us, let us stay in close communication. These are decisions that should not be taken lightly. We have, I want to examine and put forward as we move along a close, critical examination of all of the benefits and the costs involved in making this momentous decision. It's easy to say that this is an easy, this is a no brainer, the logic is all on one side, and I wish that were so. If it were so, you would be here congratulating me for doing what you had been asking me and others to do for so long.
So let's think soberly about it. There is no, let's say, now is the time and we don't have to worry about the future. I, with due respect, disagree with that. I have to think about the future. I have to weigh what this, the impact of this is going to be. And, by the way, you probably know, that there is such a thing as the retroactive impeachment process.
SPECTATORS: No, what's that? Tell us more.
CONYERS: If you introduced the resolution of impeachment after the person is gone.
SPECTATOR: Really? Wow!
CONYERS: When, I just, I just want you to know about all of the things. I am so glad that Bill Moyers did what he did. Those CDs and, we have to, print, and we want everybody to listen to them carefully and think seriously on this matter.
Video and transcript by Richard Matthews (I think).
Bill Clinton: "Fewer People Have Died [In Iraq] Than Would Have Died If The American Military Hadn't Been There"
The shallowness and just basic factual inaccuracy of America's political discourse is terrifying. This isn't so only when people are screaming at each other on cable news. It's pretty much the same at the fanciest venues, with just a thin veneer of sophistication added. It's all Just So stories that are false both in their specifics and their morals. Yet no one notices or cares.
Take Bill Clinton's remarks on Iraq earlier this month at the Aspen Ideas Festival:
As awful as Iraq has been, fewer people have died there than would have died if the American military hadn't been there. You've got to be prepared for this. And all you have to do is look at Bosnia. Both Bosnia and Iraq are multi-ethnic, artificial creations of the demise of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. We didn't do anything in Bosnia for three years, until sort of the blood lust was spent, NATO bombed them for a few days, we went to a peace agreement and made a deal.
But before that deal was made, there were 250,000 dead people and two and a half million refugees. Iraq is four times as big. Nearly as I can tell, the death rate is three or four hundred thousand and two million refugees, which means you could have another six hundred thousand dead people and eight million more refugees if we disengage altogether before the process plays itself out and politics can assert itself.
Let's assume Clinton means fewer people have died in Iraq than would have if we'd overthrown Saddam and left immediately, rather than if we'd never invaded at all. And let's also assume Bosnia and Iraq are closely comparable situations (as unlikely as that seems).
But even on Clinton's own terms, much of this is flatly wrong—to the extent his entire point is invalidated.
1. Bosnia is not a creation "of the demise of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I." The Ottomans were forced to cede Bosnia to the Austro-Hungarian Empire under the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.
This isn't obscure. I learned it in 11th grade history. Moreover, even someone who didn't know this should be able to figure out that Bosnia belonged to Austria-Hungary at the beginning of the First World War. Would it really make sense that Archduke Ferdinand was off on a jaunt to the Ottoman Empire when he was killed in Sarajevo? Would it make sense that a Serbian nationalist assassin would, if the Ottoman Empire were running Bosnia, be angry at the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary?
Even though this isn't that relevant to what Clinton's saying, it would be nice if the man who was president during the Bosnian War could get this right when he's giving us a history lesson.
2. The Bosnian War didn't kill 250,000 people. That number was thrown about at the time, but an investigation by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia found it was around 102,000. Another study by a Sarajevo NGO, funded by the Norwegian government, estimated the number killed at 97,000. (Clinton is likely right about the number of refugees, however.)
3. Where did Clinton get "three or four hundred thousand" for the number of Iraqi dead? I've never seen that anywhere. I strongly suspect he just chose that because it was in between the 2006 Johns Hopkins estimate of 650,000 people killed total and the Iraq Body Count's finding of 74,000 civilians killed. This isn't especially, uh, rigorous. (Note that the Sarajevo NGO study didn't include accidents or sickness caused by the war, so it's not directly comparable to the Johns Hopkins study.)
4. Four times the 100,000 killed in Bosnia is 400,000. Thus, even if we accept Clinton's guess at the number of Iraqi dead, it would indicate that killing in Iraq should be pretty much over. If we take the higher Johns Hopkins numbers, it means there's already been substantially more killing in Iraq than there was in Bosnia.
So, there you have it. Bill Clinton tells a story whose moral is: the U.S. presence in Iraq has actually prevented bloodshed, and if we leave, there will likely be far more! And lots of people with fancy degrees, all in Aspen to celebrate their own smartness, nod knowingly. Yet just a cursory look at the facts indicates Clinton's tale was completely wrong. (This doesn't mean there won't be terrible bloodshed whenever we leave Iraq; maybe there will be. But Clinton's story demonstrates nothing one way or the other.)
And this is the way it goes in every single case with every single issue in American politics. America's elites go around telling little nice-sounding stories to each other—did you know the US share of world GDP has increased from 20% to 29% since 1980?—that not only are wrong, but are so shoddily constructed that with a tiny poke they collapse into dust. Yet the people in charge are oblivious to this. That's how they got us into Iraq, and that's how they'll continue blindly rampaging around the world until something stops them. Hopefully that something will be American democracy, rather than the end of mankind.
(I'm by no means the world's greatest expert on Bosnia, and welcome corrections if I've gotten something wrong.)
July 23, 2007
More Exciting John Conyers Impeachment Rumor-Mongering
On Friday John Conyers appeared at an event in San Diego. While speaking there he said that he would support the introduction of articles of impeachment if three additional members of Congress ask him to do so. (He seemed to say he meant in addition to the 13 current co-sponsors of Kucinich's bill H.Res. 333 regarding Cheney.)
Below is a transcript of Conyers' remarks. Video should be available soon.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Call Conyers at 202-225-5126 and ask him to start hearings on the impeachment of Dick Cheney. Phone your own Congressmember at 202-224-3121 and ask them to co-sponsor H.Res. 333 and express their support for impeachment to Conyers.
CONYERS: Now, let me close with this one suggestion, is that I need some Members of Congress to come to me and say Mr Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I heard you were out in San Diego, and they really put it to you, and you made commitments that we don't know if you were just saying... saying something to get out of that hotel alive (laughter) or were you, or were you serious and here's what we need to do. We need to have three Members of Congress from anywhere come and say, "Congressman, if you, if you are willing to support an inquiry into a resolution of whether there had been acts of impeachability conducted by the Vice President of, and the President of the United States, that could lead to High Crimes and Misdemeanors, then we will join you if you introduce such a resolution"...
QUESTIONER: We do have House Resolution 333.
CONYERS: I'm talking about more. Look. And so let us see how many people would be willing to back us up...
I want to examine and put forward as we move along a close, critical examination of all of the benefits and the costs involved in making this momentous decision. Um. It's easy to say that this is, this is a no brainer. It's, the logic is all on one side, and I wish that were so. If it were so, you would be here congratulating me for doing what you had been asking me and others to do for so long.
So let's think soberly about it. I have to think about the future. I have to weigh what this, the impact of this is going to be. And, by the way, you probably know, that there is such a thing as the retroactive impeachment process...If you introduced the resolution of impeachment after the person is gone.
July 22, 2007
From Mike, a joke especially designed for all the world's blurghers. Be sure to watch to the end:
July 21, 2007
Many thanks for the kind, thoughtful comments in response to my teeny-tiny existential crisis. I think I came across a bit more dramatically than I intended. I have no desire to close up shop here. In fact, I know if I did I'd go crazy within minutes.
However, I do have a strong desire to switch things up, because these days I'm finding myself unbearably boring. "I wonder what I'm thinking today," I hear myself saying each morning. "Why, it's the SAME EXACT THING I WAS THINKING YESTERDAY."
This is the problem with politics. As I've argued before, it doesn't have much more intellectual content than tic tac toe. It's not enough to keep anyone's mind occupied, unless you personally have billions of dollars at stake. Writing about it is, as Donald Johnson commented, "a boring tedious task because the people in power are boring tedious villains who keep doing the same sorts of things and telling the same sorts of lies about it."
That said, somebody should be doing this, and whining about the boring nature of it is unseemly. Most people on earth can't afford to find politics boring, in the same way you can't be bored with hammers when someone is hitting you on the head with one. The trick for me will be finding some way of combining the scut work with my deeper interests, such the work of Stephen Sondheim, finally understanding calculus, and finding the best recipe for homemade hummus.
Anyway, again, I greatly appreciated hearing from everyone who chipped in. As Mistah Charley says, may the Creative Forces of the Universe, if any, have mercy on our souls, if any.
July 19, 2007
I'm not a good political blurver, because (1) I hate politics, and (2) I don't really like blurves.
I hate politics because the struggle for power generally bring out the worst in people on all sides. The most you can hope for from politics is that it will keep us from slaughtering each other and give us the space to do the things that life is actually about.
I generally don't like blurves because, as a medium, they push people towards a focus on the now now now and My Underinformed Opinion On The Latest Outrage. This is not something the world needs more of. Also, as a writer, I'm not keen on doing lots of work with the life span of a mayfly.
On the other hand, I certainly enjoy blurve comments, and would appreciate your views on this subject.
July 18, 2007
Another Day, Another 17,000 Lies By Condoleezza Rice
Here's just one from her interview today on NPR:
The United States was very involved in encouraging the Palestinians to move to democracy and to have free and fair elections, which brought to power Mahmoud Abbas....the Palestinians have elected a man in Mahmoud Abbas and a prime minister, now, in Salam Fayad...
Abbas was elected, but Fayad, of course, was not. He was appointed by Abbas, which Abbas had the right to do when declaring a state of emergency under Article 101 of the Palestinian Basic Law. But any state of emergency could not exceed thirty days without the approval of the Palestinian parliament, where Hamas holds a majority. Wonderfully enough, those thirty days are over today, making Fayad's appointment illegal at exactly the moment Rice was lying about him being elected.
Neck Deep By Robert Parry
Robert Parry's new book Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush is now on sale. I just ordered it, and I hope you'll consider doing so too and maybe even sending Parry's website some money. Parry is one of America's greatest investigative journalists, and has really put himself on the line to do the work he does.
AND: Check out Parry's recent piece, "If the Democrats Want to Win..."
July 17, 2007
My mother tells me to tell you to contact your sentators in support of the DREAM Act, now being sponsored by Durbin, Hagel, and Lugar as an amendment to the Defense spending bill. The DREAM Act provides a six-year procedure that allows children brought to the US as illegal immigrants to become citizens if they graduate from high school and go on to college or the military.
My mother has seen close up, as part of an I Have A Dream program she works with, what a difference this would make for many kids. But there will inevitably be a flood of lies and a ton of pressure about this from the anti-immigration movement, so it's important for people who support it to speak up.
July 16, 2007
We Still Can't Get Our Act Together
Arthur Silber contrasts the organized conservative outcry that stopped the immigration bill with progressive fecklessness, especially on Iran:
Over the last few years, I have never heard anything similar on the liberal shows. Never. Not about the Military Commissions Act (see both "'Thus the World Was Lost'" and "America, Now Without the Revolution"), not about the Roberts, Alito or Gonzales nominations, not about ending the immoral and criminal occupation of Iraq -- and not about preventing an attack on Iran.
Not on any of these issues. Never. Nor have I ever seen a similar kind of effort on the liberal and progressive blogs. Never. Every once in a while, the liberal blogs will urge action on perhaps on a single day, maybe two -- and then the issue vanishes until some new development (not brought about by the bloggers themselves) might catapult it into public consciousness again. Such tactics are sporadic, severely limited in time and scope, very infrequent, and completely ineffective.
I hesitate to say that the conservatives who worked so hard to defeat the immigration bill are "serious" about their ideas. That word grants them a stature that is entirely undeserved, particularly since the reasons for their opposition are so viciously ignorant. But I will acknowledge that they care about their ideas and that they are committed to them, in a way that it appears liberals and progressives are not.
What Strikes You First When You See Me? My Handsomeness? Or My Extreme Good Looks?
Here's a question from a recent Newsweek poll, along with the percentages choosing the possible answers Newsweek provided:
13. Right now, which of the following do you think is the biggest threat to achieving peace and stability in Iraq?
34% Al Qaeda in Iraq
9% Sunni nationalists
14% Shiite militias
13% Same/All equal
30% Don't know
Yes, I think that exhausts all the possible threats to peace and stability in Iraq. There are no other conceivable answers at all.
July 15, 2007
I think the world would be a better place if from now on everyone began referring to Hayes as "W.W. Beauchamp."
Tom Engelhardt: "Wrong Again! Bush's Logic and Ours"
July 13, 2007
How The Propaganda Gets From The Farm To Your Dinner Table
A previously undisclosed Army investigation into an audacious January attack in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers concludes that Iraqi police working alongside American troops colluded with insurgents.
Of course, the US has for months been saying this attack was planned by Iranians. And the involvement of Iraqi police doesn't necessarily contradict that.
Still, it seems like it would be nice to mention the role played by Iraqis—particularly if, like Joseph Lieberman, you've written opeds saying this:
While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States...To turn around the crisis we need to send more American troops while we also train more Iraqi troops...
Here's a recent picture of Iraqi policemen from the Karbala region graduating from their training course:
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU — The Iraqi Police Sustainment Training program on Forward Operating Base Kalsu graduated its second class March 24 as part of Babil and Karbala provinces' journey towards provincial Iraqi control.
The Karbala police sent 35 officers and the Babil police sent 15. After 10 days of training in the art and science of police work, the graduates felt excited and honored to serve the people of Iraqi.
"This was a good group of policemen who were willing to learn and were very excited about getting out there and doing their job," said Lonnie Webb, a native of Homerville, Ga., and member of the Homerville Police Department who assisted with the training.
Yet for some odd reason, Lieberman failed to note the involvement of the Iraqi police in a recent press release touching on the attack:
Brig. Gen. Bergner also provided new evidence this morning that Iranian operatives helped plan a sophisticated ambush in January that resulted in the abduction and murder of five American soldiers.
And there was no mention of it in Lieberman's Senate amendment on Iran, though he did feel it needed to include lots of information about the Karbala incident:
(17) On January 20, 2007, a sophisticated attack was launched by insurgents at the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Iraq, resulting in the murder of five American soldiers, four of whom were first abducted.
(18) On April 26, 2007, General Petraeus stated that the so-called Qazali network was responsible for the attack on the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center and that "there's no question that the Qazali network is directly connected to the Iranian Qods force [and has] received money, training, arms, ammunition, and at some points in time even advice and assistance and direction''.
(19) On July 2, 2007, Brigadier General Bergner stated that the United States Armed Forces possesses documentary evidence that the Qods Force had developed detailed information on the United States position at the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center "regarding our soldiers' activities, shift changes, and defenses, and this information was shared with the attackers''.
(20) On July 2, 2007, Brigadier General Bergner stated of the January 20 Karbala attackers, "[They] could not have conducted this complex operation without the support and direction of the Qods Force.''
And that, my children, is how propaganda gets from the farm to your dinner table.
Twenty Years Ago Today
Sam Husseini points out it was twenty years ago today that this strange exchange took place during the nationally televised Iran Contra hearings:
REP. BROOKS: Colonel North, in your work at the NSC, were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the "continuity of government" in the event of a major disaster?
SEN. INOUYE: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch on that, sir?
REP. BROOKS: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was the area in which he had worked. I believe that it was and I wanted to get his confirmation.
SEN. INOUYE: May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I'm certain arrangements can be made for an executive session.
Sam goes on to explain how this turned him into a radical.
July 12, 2007
Barbara Boxer: Impeachment "Should Be On The Table. This Is As Close As We've Ever Come To A Dictatorship"
Below is a transcript and mp3 of Barbara Boxer on the Ed Schultz Show yesterday. Though she wimped out a bit at the end, she was mostly strong on the necessity of considering impeachment.
SCHULTZ: They're throwing down the gauntlet. They're just declaring that they're not going to change anything -- the President in Cleveland yesterday saying, we're just getting started. So in the meantime, the frustration of the American people continues to build, and I have to tell you Senator, I'm not trying to rope you into a conversation one way or another or where you're at on this, but I want to say this for our listeners: they want impeachment put back on the table. They want impeachment on the table as a bargaining chip. Because for instance, Scooter Libby, commuting the sentence, what happened today with Sarah Taylor saying she'd been instructed by the president not to say anything, Alberto Gonzales, the story today about how he was briefed over the Patriot Act and then lied a week later in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I mean, when is enough is enough?
BOXER: Yeah. I mean, you left out a bunch of things -- spying on citizens without a warrant, going around FISA, on and on. Look, I have always said it should be on the table. Ed, I've always said it. I was on a book tour and I ran into John Dean of Watergate fame. He was on the book tour that I was on, for his book. And it was right after we discovered that the administration was spying on our people without a warrant. And he just said, he looked at me and basically just said, as far as he could see, unless there was some explanation for this, this was impeachable. I've always said that you need to keep it on the table, and you need to look at these things, because now people are dying because of this administration. That's the truth. And they won't change course. They are ignoring the Congress. They keep signing these signing statements which mean that he's decided not to enforce the law. This is as close as we've ever come to a dictatorship. When you have a situation where Congress is stepped on, that means the American people are stepped on. So I don't think you can take anything off the table. Because in fact the Constitution doesn't permit us to take these things off the table.
SCHULTZ: Would you counsel Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to put it on the table and make a statement before everybody goes home in August. Because they're going to get an earful from the American people when they go home.
BOXER: Well, I don't presume to tell people what to do. I have made my statements. And of course if asked I will say. I've been out there, I'm out here again today. I think, John Conyers is -- this is where impeachment starts. When Alberto Gonzales, when it came out that he fired these U.S. attorneys, that it was politics being played with it, I thought then that we should look into impeachment hearings. So I don't think it should be taken off the table.
On the other hand, we've got a war to end. We've got things that we've got to keep on doing. So if we do this right, we should give it to the appropriate committees, let them do the hard work that it entails, but we have to do something about health insurance. We have to do something about global warming. We have to end this war. We have to do something about education. And all these other things. About the budget deficit. You have to walk and chew gum at the same. And I know Nancy's point was, we have to reverse about seven years of this horrific administration's policies, and she's fearful of losing steam on that, in that regard.
There's a teeny-tiny street in the richest neighborhood of Washington, DC named Irredentism Ridge Road.
Does Irredentism Ridge celebrate the general concept of irredentism? Or...does Maryland claim the ridge is part of the eternal Marylandian homeland and want to annex it? I don't know, and would appreciate hearing from anyone who does.
So the Senate just passed an amendment to the defense spending bill sponsored by Joe Lieberman. It requires David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker to produce a report every sixty days on Iranian involvement in Iraq.
The vote was 97-0. Here's some of what the amendment says, quoting Zalmay Khalilzad:
We can't say whether Teheran is supporting Al Qaeda, but we do know that Al Qaeda people come here from Pakistan through Iran. And Ansar al Sunna, a partner organization of Zarqawi's network, has a base in northwest Iran.
Huh. This all seems reminiscent of something that happened a few years ago, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is.
AND Who were those three Senators who didn't vote, you ask? Were they Clinton, Obama and Biden? Ha ha ha ha no. Brownback (R-KS), Johnson (D-SD), and Vitter (R-LA).
July 11, 2007
I'm busy working on a piece for Mother Jones about international food aid, which is something I previously knew nothing about at all. And it turns out to be much more interesting than I anticipated.
It also turns out to be easy to get outraged about it. The UN estimates 850 million people are chronically malnourished. How much does the world spend annually on food aid? Four billion dollars. How much does the US alone spend on the Iraq war every month? Ten billion.
I'm beginning to suspect this is not the best of all possible worlds.
July 09, 2007
George Bush's Ass-Based Foreign Policy
This is from the new book The Blair Years by Tony Blair's spin master Alastair Campbell:
Shortly before the Commons debate, Mr Campbell recalls President Bush promising: "If you win the vote in Parliament, I'll kiss your ass."
This is from Hubris by Michael Isikoff and David Corn:
As Fleischer recounted [an exchange with Helen Thomas about Saddam Hussein] for the president, Bush's mood changed...Out of nowhere, he unleashed a stream of expletives.
"Did you tell her I'm going to kick his sorry motherfucking ass all over the Mideast?"
This is from Ariel Sharon: An Intimate Portrait by Israeli journalist Uri Dan:
“It was an excellent discussion with the President,” Sharon told me afterwards when we sat in a fancy colonial furnished corner of ‘Blair House’..."The President was very friendly and he replied that he is decisive in continuing his total war against Bin Laden...” and here Sharon stopped for a moment, like someone who finds it hard to express the President’s words, but he got over it and smiled: “He told me about Bin Laden – “I’LL SCREW HIM IN HIS ASS.”
Other foreign leaders and the proposed Bush actions toward their asses:
• Germany's Gerhard Schroeder, "appreciate"
• Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, "perform liposuction upon"
• Mexico's Vicente Fox, "spray gold and silver glitter onto"
• Japan's Junichiro Koizumi, "croon ballads softly to"
What now-prominent political pundit wrote this in 1976?
An Arab country with the second largest proven oil reserves, a fierce revolutionary ideology, a large and recently-blooded army, and a leadership composed almost entirely of men in their thirties is obviously a force to be reckoned with. Iraq, which has this dynamic combination and much else besides, has not until recently been very much regarded as a power. But...its political voice is being heard more and more....And it has a leader — Saddam Hussain — who has sprung from being an underground revolutionary gunman to perhaps the first visionary Arab statesman since Nasser.
Now that this has come to light, I can't wait to see the scorn and vitriol that Christopher Hitchens will pour upon this appalling Saddam-lover.
July 08, 2007
July 06, 2007
Today is the launch of ImpeachCheney.org. It's an effort by Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films and a big coalition of progressive organizations to try to put the impeachment of Cheney on the national agenda in a serious way. (I'm currently doing some work for After Downing Street, which is part of the effort.)
The first step is for as many people as possible to sign the Impeach Cheney petition. Then before long there will be further news, including fancy national spokespeople and further actions to take for those who want to get more involved. Those with blurves can start by posting these logos on their site.
So I strongly encourage you to go sign the petition now. And if you haven't yet, sign Moveon's Cheney petition too. In all of American history, has there ever been a government official who deserved impeachment more than Dick Cheney? Let's get our act together and do it.
July 05, 2007
Estimated Iraqi Deaths Due To Invasion Nears One Million
Last year Johns Hopkins researchers produced a study estimating that 650,000 Iraqis had died as of July, 2006 as a result of the U.S. invasion. The organization Just Foreign Policy has now created a very rough new estimate, based on the original study, of deaths to the present day. The number they came up with is just under one million.
For more information on the new estimate, including an explanation of how it was created, see here.
AND: The number of civilian deaths is different from the total deaths, but nonetheless this poll from last February is highly disturbing:
The number of [civilian] Iraqis killed, however, is much harder to pin down [than US deaths], and that uncertainty is perhaps reflected in Americans' tendency to lowball the Iraqi death toll by tens of thousands.
Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated at more than 54,000 and could be much higher; some unofficial estimates range into the hundreds of thousands...
Among those [Americans] polled for the AP survey, however, the median estimate of Iraqi deaths was 9,890.
Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida is trying to censure Bush over the Libby commutation. Bob Fertik has more on this very bad idea, including Wexler's phone number for anyone who wants to call and tell them to stop.
AND: A serious new effort to impeach Cheney, coordinated with numerous organizations, is going to be unveiled tomorrow. I'm doing some work for this via After Downing Street.
No Statute Of Limitations On Impeachment
Avedon Carol makes an extremely important but often-overlooked point here:
...if impeachment proceedings don't become moot on inauguration day, all this wibble about how there's not enough time becomes just more excuse-making, of which we have plenty already.
There's nothing in the Constitution that says you can't impeach officials after they've left office—and it by no means would be an empty gesture. Avedon C. has more, so read it all.
(Thanks to Matt for pointing this out.)
Moveon Semi-Calls For Impeachment Of Cheney
I strongly encourage you to sign this Moveon petition:
"Congress must force Vice President Cheney to respond to its subpoenas. If he continues to obstruct justice and disregard the rule of law, Congress has no choice but to begin impeachment proceedings against him."
The fact that Moveon has gotten to this point is significant. The Democratic leadership listens to them, because they have to—and Moveon rarely moves too far away from the Democrats. Sign this and send it to everyone you know. Push Moveon to keep going.
July 04, 2007
Happy July 4th?
Any attempt to impeach George Bush and/or Dick Cheney would obviously need the support of Rep. John Conyers, given that he's Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. (If you've forgotten since the exciting days of the Clenis, articles of impeachment are considered in the Judiciary Committee first, and then if approved go to the full House for a vote. If a majority support any of the articles, the official is impeached—the equivalent of an indictment. The articles are then sent to the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is needed to convict and remove the official from office. Nixon never even made it to impeachment; just having three articles of impeachment approved by the Judiciary Committee was enough to get him to resign.)
But frustratingly for those (of us) who believe we desperately need to ITMFA, Conyers has been unwilling to come out in favor of impeachment. Whether this has been because of pressure from the Congressional leadership or reasons of his own, it's meant that impeachment has been essentially dead in the water. By contrast, if Conyers changed his mind, it would make impeachment a serious possibility.
So...I'm pleased to pass along this absolutely completely unverified rumor from the comments section of DailyKos yesterday morning. I doubt this is accurate, and in any case we'll probably know one way or another for sure tomorrow. But given this country was founded in a burst of possibly unwarranted optimism about human capability, I don't see any harm in believing this for at least a few hours:
I'm not sure if this is correct place, but the aide I just spoke to in Congressman Conyer's office told me that Rep. Conyers is now in support for Impeachment.
I asked her what Rep. Conyers' stance is concerning Impeachment of president george w. bush and vice president richard b. cheney and she said and I'm quoting:"Congressman Conyers supports Impeachment of the President and Vice-President."
I'm not sure if this is going to actually mean anything, but this is what I was just told by Conyers' office less than 5 minutes ago.
I also asked her if I could quote her and she said "yes". Let us hope this is a good sign.
Happy July 4th!
July 03, 2007
The Unique BTC News
I don't know if you've noticed, but there seem to be a lot of blogs around these days. But BTC News is unique in their ingenuity and initiative: they somehow wrangled a press pass for White House briefings. It's something they don't get nearly enough credit for, and an embarrassment for everyone else that we haven't tried something similar.
Anyway, the designated BTC reporter Eric Brewer was at the White House today, and asked some worthwhile questions. Check it out, and if you can manage it, give BTC some bucks to keep the blurgh-powered questions coming.
What Is That Strange Noise You're Making With Your Mouth, Foreign Person?
CNN just ran a show on terrorism in England. Here's my favorite part:
NAWAZ: As far as terrorism is concerned, we can't even touch the immensity of state terrorism that has gone on by the West.
AMANPOUR: You mean that?
NAWAZ: I absolutely mean it, right across the globe, even in Europe people are sick, sick to death of the American foreign policy.
AMANPOUR: Aki Nawaz may be on the cultural cutting edge, but his take on America is becoming mainstream in Britain's Muslim community...This so worries the United States that it sent its ambassador, Robert Tuttle, and his wife Maria, to reach out to Muslims here in Britain. Today they're visiting Birmingham's central mosque...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't bring democracy to Iraq if you bomb cities and kill children and men and women. They're not going to love you. If you're killing my child, I'm not going to love you. I'm going to hate you. And this is what he has done. Sorry, Mr. Ambassador, you know, you're a nice man. How can you defend Mr. George Bush's policy?
ROBERT TUTTLE, U.S. AMBASSADOR: Let me say first let the record show he said I was a nice man, let's not forget that, all right? I've known President Bush for 25 -- almost 25 years. He's not anti-Muslim. He's not anti-Islam.
You may scoff, but remember that in Muslim-speak, "If you're killing my child, I'm not going to love you" actually means "BUSHITLER HATES TEH MUSLIM!!!"
I cannot help but think that as Nixon walked to the chopper, somewhere in the darkened hallways of the White House Dick Cheney shook his head, spit, and whispered: "Pussy."
Can't Bring Myself To Care
I just can't manage to care about Libby's sentence being commuted. The case was a teeny-tiny part of the gigantic campaign of deceit that sold the war. It's the gigantic campaign of deceit that matters. And that's something well within the power of Democrats and the U.S. media to expose, if they wanted to. Their refusal to do so is the real problem, not George Bush giving America the finger one more time.
That said, it is frightening for a cosseted middle class white person like myself to see raw power exercised so nakedly. Usually they do it in more subtle ways, or to non-middle class white people, so we can pretend it isn't happening.
July 02, 2007
Get To Work, History
Harry Reid is mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore:
The President’s decision to commute Mr. Libby’s sentence is disgraceful. Libby’s conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq War. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone. Judge Walton correctly determined that Libby deserved to be imprisoned for lying about a matter of national security. The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own Vice President’s Chief of Staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law.
Oh, if only the United States Senate had some way of judging George Bush! If only our Founding Fathers had had the foresight to provide such a method in Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 of our Constitution!
But sadly, the Senate is completely powerless in such situations, leaving this matter entirely in the hands of history.
From the Freeway Blogger.
Conspiracy Theorists Once Again Claim Sky Is Conspiring To Be Blue
Time has run a surprisingly long story about the possible reopening of the Lockerbie bombing. Even more surprising is that it does mention that some people think Iran was behind the attack. Fortunately, it explains that this nutty belief is held only by "a wide range of conspiracy theorists" who, as is their wont, believe in "ever-popular and persistent conspiracy theories."
I've sometimes wondered whether the U.S. will turn on a dime and suddenly begin accusing Iran of the bombing if it's needed for the propaganda buildup to a new war. If so, I look forward to the idea's sudden transformation in the pages of Time from "conspiracy theory" to "sober conclusion well supported by extensive evidence."
July 01, 2007
Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, writes about the recent attempted terrorism in Britain here, and about some more successful terrorism here (via). Below is video of him giving a speech about Islamaphobia.