Saturday, September 30, 2006

Take the End-Times Challenge!

(That's the End-of-September Challenge)

How many readers can find some good news coming out of the ruins of George Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI)?

While you're thinking, Googling, writing or whatever you do best, let me provide you with some numbers, inspired and borrowed from TomDispatch's Iraq at the Gates of Hell: 21 Questions:

How many freelance militias are there in Baghdad?
23 "known" militias
How many civilians are dying in the Iraqi capital, due to those militias, numerous (often government-linked death squads), the Sunni insurgency, and al-Qaeda-in-Mesopotamia-style terrorism?
5,106 people in July and August. By late September, suicide bombings were at their highest level since the invasion.
How many Iraqis are being tortured in Baghdad at present (According to U.N. chief anti-torture expert Manfred Nowak):
What most people tell you is that the situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand. The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein.
How many Iraqi civilians are being killed countrywide?
The UN Report offers figures on this: 1,493 dead, over and above the dead of Baghdad.
How many Sunni Arabs support the insurgency?
75% of them, according to a Pentagon survey, up from 14% at the beginning of the occupation in 2003.
How many Iraqis want the United States to withdraw its forces from their country?
Except in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, according to a U.S. State Department survey based on 1,870 face-to-face interviews conducted from late June to early July, strong majorities favored withdrawl. In Baghdad, nearly 75% of residents polled claimed that they would "feel safer" after a U.S. withdrawal, and 65% favored an immediate withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign forces.
How many Iraqis think the Bush administration will withdraw at some point?
According to the PIPA poll, 77% of Iraqis are convinced that the United States is intent on keeping permanent bases in their country.
How many terrorists are being killed in Iraq (and elsewhere) in the President's Global War on Terror?
Less than are being generated by the war in Iraq, according to the just leaked National Intelligence Estimate.
How many Islamic extremist websites have sprung up on the Internet to aid such acts of terror?
5,000, according to the same NIE.
How many Iraqis are estimated to have fled their homes this year, due to the low-level civil war and the ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods?
300,000, according to journalist Patrick Cockburn.
How much of Bush's Iraq can now be covered by Western journalists?
Approximately 2%, according to New York Times journalist Dexter Filkins.
How many U.S. troops are in Iraq today?
Approximately 147,000
How many active duty Army troops have been deployed in Iraq?
Approximately 400,000 troops out of an active-duty force of 504,000 have already served one tour of duty in Iraq.
How is the Pentagon keeping troop strength and maintaining equipment up in Iraq?
Stop-loss, deferred maintenance and budget-borrowing against future generations of Americans.
How many extra dollars does a desperately overstretched Army claim to need in the coming Defense budget, mainly because of wear and tear in Iraq?
$25 billion above budget limits set by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld this year; over $40 billion above last year's budget. The amount the Army claims it now needs simply to tread water represents a 41% increase over its current share of the Pentagon budget.
How many speeches has George W. Bush made in the last month extolling his War on Terror and its Iraqi "central front"?
Too many, and counting.
Sorry! In order not to give you more info than you ever wanted to know, I had to condense and shorten!

Now, I know many readers have a lot of good news items about Iraq to share. All I ask is that you make them brief (links are better than entire articles) so that there is plenty of room for all!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In Other Words. . . .

The National Intelligence Estimate, Translated:

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report is a collection of the view of all 16 US intelligence agencies. Even as a partially declassified document, we can consider it as authoritative.

The findings should not surprise an increasing number of Americans who are paying attention:
  • Militants, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion
  • If this trend continues, threats to US interests globally will become more diverse leading to increased attacks worldwide over the next five years “the confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups.’’
  • Militants consider Europe an important venue for attacking Western interests
Its conclusion about Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI)?
. . . the Iraq conflict has become a cause célèbre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world, and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.
In other words, as David Sanger (NYT) states, this NIE
raises the implicit question . . . whether postponing the confrontation with Saddam Hussein and focusing instead on securing Afghanistan, or dealing with issues like Iran’s nascent nuclear capability or the Middle East peace process, might have created a different playing field, one in which jihadists were deprived of daily images of carnage in Iraq to rally their sympathizers.
In other words, Check out the Pew Global Attitudes Poll released in the middle of last June, which concludes,
. . . The war in Iraq is a continuing drag on opinions of the United States, not only in predominantly Muslim countries but in Europe and Asia as well . . . . favorable opinions of the United States have fallen in most of the 15 countries surveyed.
In other words, as Athenae writes in First Draft:
Turn it around, look outward: that national security, true national security, doesn't mean a world in which no one can hurt us. It means a world in which no one wants to.
In other words, this NIE answers the question I have asked so many times before: Who has hurt America more, OBL or GWB?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

No Impeachment?

John Dean's Inconvenient Truths

In an email interview with Truthdig managing editor Blair Golson, John Dean presents me with some unpleasant, but compelling considerations:
. . . . The only political restraint on a Democratic controlled House would be their collective good judgment. There is no question they have a duty to tell Americans what the Bush administration has been up to the past six years – and I have no doubt they will do that through aggressive oversight by all the committees of the House. But, say the Democrats win the House but not the Senate, meaning there is no chance in the world to convict Bush.

. . . .Is it not blatantly political to undertake impeachment when there is no chance of conviction?

. . . .Should impeachment be launched when a president is headed for the door, and it could take a year or more to conduct the inquiry?

. . . . .I think the issue of what is acceptable behavior for a presidency (following Bush and Cheney) should be front and center in the next election, for it is more important that voters address this subject than what could be considered an excessively political act by the House of Representatives.

. . . . if Democrats were to do what the Republicans did to Clinton – impeach merely because they had the votes to do so and because they wanted to tarnish him – it will pretty much make a nullity of the impeachment clause.

. . . .Democracy, and our constitutional machinery, is quite sturdy but they cannot withstand endless incautious political abuses.
Dean's comments are, frankly, disappointing. The prospects of the worst president in history escaping impeachment is deeply depressing.

I encourage readers to click on the link, and read Dean's comments in full.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Is Osama Dead?

A Lingering rumor gets new legs!cui bono?The two questions arise:
  1. Who benefits from continued suppression of this story?
  2. Who benefits from leaking this story at this time?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

When I Parted Company with George W. Bush

Is there anyone in the universe who agrees with my interpretation of George W. Bush's speech of 20 September 2001?

All right, I have a little confession to make. Those who know me know I distrusted George W. Bush ever since the early primaries in 2000. I was dissing Bush before it was fashionable. When he was selected president, I was embarassed as an American for having such a cowboy in the White House. By the time he was actually elected, this drugstore cowboy had become the outlaw president.

This column is a confession that he, or his speech writer, had me fooled one night in 2001. I can't remember now if I remained fooled for eight hours or eight days (at the most). In any case, when it came, it was a rude awakening. Nevertheless, looking back I have to say since George Bush was selected president 3½ years ago, he has done three things right. I'm referring to (a) the trashing of Trent Lott, (b) delivering his speech of 20 Sept 2001, and….. (c)….. actually I've forgotten the third item …

But that speech of 20 September was unique and different from every other Bush speech, before and since. In it, I actually found hope, eloquence, and encouragement. Who actually wrote it, I wonder? Anyways. . . I think we ought to review that speech in light of how things have unfolded since.

Looking, then at that speech, remember how it started out?

In the normal course of events, presidents come to this chamber to report on the state of the union. Tonight, no such report is needed. It has already been delivered by the American people....We have seen it in the courage of....We have seen the state of our union in the endurance of rescuers working.....We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people who have made the grief of strangers their own.
This was very responsive and in tune with the sentiments, the very pulse of the American people in the aftermath of 9-11. We were united that night nine days later as we never have been since, and in those first few moments we sensed Bush was speaking for every one of us. He had us with him as he held up the light and promised to show us the path out of the strange and menacing darkness. Next, he said
My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has seen for itself the state of our union, and it is strong....Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.
Yes, the necessary and resolute call to bold action. Got blood surging in my veins, I'll tell you. Bush paused to acknowledge the unprecedented out pouring of sympathy from all regions of the globe:
We've seen the unfurling of flags, the lighting of candles, the giving of blood, the saying of prayers in English, Hebrew and Arabic....on behalf of the American people, I thank the world for its outpouring of support. America will never forget the sounds of our national anthem playing at Buckingham Palace, on the streets of Paris and at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in Seoul or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo. We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa and Latin America.
Remember that? Bush -- or his speechwriter -- was right on. Remember how the world responded? Remember the interception of a U.S. ship by a German navy ship in the Atlantic? When the two were along side, the German crew -- every man jack of them -- was in formation on deck, dressed in their formal whites, and the ship's audio system was blaring the U.S. national anthem? Remember that? Remember all over the world, even in Palestine, there was evidence of sympathy. Even Saddam, for a moment, forgot who he was and who we were. (The next morning he came to his senses.) It took an unnecessary war for the rest of the world to come to its senses. But, back in that moment we felt unity with the world for some other reasons:
Nor will we forget the citizens of 80 other nations who died with our own: dozens of Pakistanis, more than 130 Israelis, more than 250 citizens of India, men and women from El Salvador, Iran, Mexico and Japan, and hundreds of British citizens....The civilized world is rallying to America's side. They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens, may be next. Terror unanswered can not only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments....They hate what they see right here in this chamber, a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other. They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.
Bush put the attacks in the context of American history:
.... enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars. But for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war. But not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks. But never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day. And night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.
He accurately and succinctly identified our attackers:
.... a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are some of the murderers indicted for bombing American Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the U.S.S. Qaeda is to terror what the Mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere....A fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teaching of Islam. The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children. This group and its leader, a person named Osama bin Laden, are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.....There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries. They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction. The leadership of Al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country.
He took pains to isolate the enemy and to staunch any national impulse to blame everything and everyone in the Moslem faith.
The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics . . . . I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful. And those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying in effect to hijack Islam itself . . . . The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends . . . . We're in a fight for our principles and our first responsibility is to live by them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith.
He castigated the enemy, showing them up as the craven scumbags they were (and are):
In Afghanistan we see al Qaeda's vision for the world. Afghanistan's people have been brutalized. Many are starving and many have fled. Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough . . . . we condemn the Taliban regime. It is not only repressing its own people; it is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists. By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder.
And then the requisite, suitably unconditional ultimatum, offering the slimy, cowardly, uncouth enemy a sniveling way out:
And tonight the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban:
  1. Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land.
  2. Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned.
  3. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country.
  4. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to appropriate authorities.
  5. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps so we can make sure they are no longer operating.
These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate.
He enlisted the help of all sympathetic peoples in a truly multilateral response to a world threat.
We ask every nation to join us. We will ask and we will need the help of police forces, intelligence service and banking systems around the world....The United States is grateful that many nations and many international organizations have already responded with sympathy and with support. Nations from Latin America to Asia to Africa to Europe to the Islamic world....Perhaps the NATO charter reflects best the attitude of the world: an attack on one is an attack on all....The civilized world is rallying to America's side. They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens, may be next. Terror unanswered can not only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments.
With FDR looking over his shoulder he reminded us there was nothing to fear but fear itself.
After all that has just passed, all the lives taken and all the possibilities and hopes that died with them, it is natural to wonder if America's future is one of fear. Some speak of an age of terror. I know there are struggles ahead and dangers to face... But this country will define our times, not be defined by them. As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror. This will be an age of liberty here and across the world . . . . . Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger, we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom, the great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time, now depends on us . . . . Our nation, this generation, will lift the dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage.
And like FDR, Bush promised us ultimate victory. "We will not tire," He said. "We will not falter and we will not fail." Of the craven enemy, he said:
They kill not merely to end lives but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us because we stand in their way. We're not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.
And now I come to the phrase in the speech that I really want to talk about, because it seized my attention that night and it has always intrigued to this very moment. In mentioning it to others, I have never sensed that it received much notice. Every time I've tried to discuss it, I've been met with glassy eyes & blank stares. Perhaps it was overshadowed by a small cacophonous sentence elsewhere in the speech, which I'll mention later. Or perhaps, I just misunderstood it at the time. Anyways, here is the statement:
Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

There's the phrase, "every terrorist group of global reach". To me it meant focus. We were not going after everyone with a particular vengeance or backyard spat in every corner of the world. We were not declaring war against the IRA in Northern Ireland, We were not going into Russia to fight the Chechens. We were not going into Turkey to fight the Kurds' PKK. We weren't air-dropping into rural Columbia to fight the FARC, flying into Spain to suppress the Basque ETA, or convoying to Sri Lanka to pacify the Black Tigers of Tamil. We weren't about to pave Kashmir. We weren't going to misconstrue our mission of anti-terrorism with intervention in bloody civil wars in Sub-Sahara Africa in Angola, Burundi, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea-Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria-Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania-Zanzibar, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Nor, therefore, was this a war against the various terrorist groups in Palestine (Hamas and Hezbollah); only against "terrorist groups of global reach".

What, then, was it? It was a war against the fucking ass-holes who had the astonishing misjudgment to run amuck in our front yard and maybe our back yard (Europe). If the Taliban had been even nominally cerebral, they would have realized the consequences of not monitoring or controlling al Qaeda. But then the Taliban had a track record of cultural and historical myopia.

Anyway, Bush’s “every terrorist group of global reach" opened for me an element of hope by narrowing the focus. For me, this phrase offered a definition of eventual victory and it was a concept that encouraged the measurement of success along the way.

It was a beautiful speech, an almost perfect storm of eloquent rhetoric and historic moment. Before the world, Bush was hoisted upon an unprecedented pinnacle. An under-educated political hack with a famous political family and fortune behind him, anointed President by a divided Supreme Court, had been deftly lifted and seated - all too briefly -- into his Churchillian moment.

And what happened? Virtually overnight the better-educated Neocon cabal who had ridden into the White House with this pious, simple-minded cowboy led him astray; led him to squander his place in history, our country's international esteem, our national treasure, and the blood of our youth.

Originally published on 11 March, 2004.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Some people don't like to be lied to by their leaders.

All night riots swept Budapest up in chaos after the tape of a speech by Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany to political insiders was leaked to the press on Sunday. In the speech, the prime minister admits he had been lying to the public in order to gain re-election.

Protests against the Hungarian government turned violent last night as police used water cannon and tear gas on crowds demanding the resignation of prime minister.

BBC carries a transcript of the tape of Bush's Gyurcsany's speech:
If I am honest with you, I can say that we are full of doubts. That torment and anguish are behind the self-assurance. I can tell you exactly that all that we are doing will not be perfect...

We did what we could in the past month. We did whatever was possible to do in secret in the preceding months, making sure that papers on what we were preparing for would not surface in the last weeks of the election campaign.

We kept the secret, while we knew and you did too, that if the election victory comes, we will have to seriously settle down to work and that we have never had such a problem.

Since last summer we have been preserving our political unity and, behind it, our professional political unity as never before in recent years...

There is not much choice. There is not, because we have screwed up. Not a little but a lot. No country in Europe has screwed up as much as we have. It can be explained. We have obviously lied throughout the past 18 to 24 months. It was perfectly clear that what we were saying was not true.

We are beyond the country's possibilities to such an extent that we could not conceive earlier that a joint government of the Socialists and the liberals would ever do. And in the meantime we did not actually do anything for four years. Nothing.

You cannot mention any significant government measures that we can be proud of, apart from the fact that in the end we managed to get governance out of the shit. Nothing. If we have to give an account to the country of what we have done in four years, what are we going to say?

Naturally, the government's work is not constructed nicely, calmly or scrupulously. No. No. It is being prepared at a mad break-neck speed because we could not do it for a while in case it came to light, and now we have to do it so desperately that we are almost at the breaking point. And then we end up falling over because we cannot keep up the pace. This is the situation. In the meantime, we still have to come to an agreement with the free democrats because we still have ministerial problems - you know.

Look. The point is that there are no options in the short-term. [Finance Minister] Jani [Janos] Veres is right. We can dither a little longer but not much. The moment of truth has arrived quickly.

Divine providence, the abundance of cash in the world economy, and hundreds of tricks, which you do not have to be aware of publicly, have helped us to survive this. This cannot go on. Cannot. And of course we can ponder for a long time, and a shitload of analyses can be carried out as to how each social group will be affected, this is what I can say to you.

We cannot continue analysing for weeks, guys, we cannot. We must tell on the first day what needs to be done to ensure that an adjustment can be made this year and that certain tax regulations can be implemented on 1 September...

Guys, we are not perfect. Not at all. We will not be either. I cannot say to you that everything will be fine...

The team to which you have entrusted the leadership of this side is roughly capable... is able to define a programme. There may be another team that can do something else. We cannot, we cannot do anything more or better than this. We will not be capable of it.

Even if we work ourselves into the ground. We are doing a great and decent job among ourselves. We must do it. I am not talking about the New Hungary, developments, Hungarians beyond the border, relationship with churches, or another thousand things because these are not the most important things compared to the big picture.

We will have substantial, significant, and profound proposals on each. One or two will be surprising. But compared to the whole, which we have to decide among ourselves, this is not the most important one. Reform or failure. There is nothing else. And when I say failure, I am talking about Hungary, the left wing, and I very honestly tell, you, about myself, too...

I will only repeat this once at most: it is fantastic to be in politics. Fantastic. It is fantastic to run a country. Personally, I have been able to go through the past 18 months because one thing has inspired and fuelled me: to give back its faith to the left, that it can do it and it can win. That the left does not have to lower its head in this bloody country. That it does not have to shit its pants from Viktor Orban [chairman of opposition Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Alliance] or the right, and it should learn to measure itself against the world, rather than them.

This gave me the faith that it is worth doing this. It was a great thing. I loved it. It was the best part of my life. Now the faith comes from the fact that I am creating history. Not for the history books, I do not give a shit about them. I do not at all care whether we or I personally will be in them. I do not at all care.

Will we do something big? Are we going to say: goddammit, some people have come who dared to do it and did not get preoccupied with how they would deal with the travel expenses, fuck it.

Some came who did not bother whether they would have a place in the county government, because they understood that this bloody country is about something else. They can understand that it is worth being a politician here at the beginning of the 21st Century because we can create a different world. Only for this. Livelihood can be found in many other ways.

I know that this is easy for me to say. I know. Do not keep bringing it up against me. But this is the only reason it is worth doing it. I almost perished because I had to pretend for 18 months that we were governing.

Instead, we lied morning, noon and night. I do not want to carry on with this. Either we do it and have the personnel for it, or others will do it. I will never give an interview at the end of which we part with each other in argument. Never. I will never hurt the Hungarian left. Never.
Last night, I had the strangest dream...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Letter to a Mad Blogger

With all due respect, MadMike, when you say this:
. . . . Chimp put us in Iraq under false pretenses and we are there and we can't leave. So let's finish this fight. The Taliban and The Terrorists need to know that we, America, is coming for them and Hell is coming with us. . . . .
I have to say to you what my high school music teacher Ernest Kitson (RIP) taught me were the two most tragic words in any language: "Too Late."

It's too late telling anybody we Americans are coming after them and bringing Hell with us. We had that opportunity in 2001 but our misleader couldn't settle for warring with the enemy we had; he had to have a go at besting his father's hand at Iraq. So, that's where he has shot our wad, and is still doing so, and has to continue doing so in a last languishing grasp at saving his presidential legacy.

Every morning I wake up at 3:00, crying for my once great country. In a fitful effort to regain the sleep I sorely need, I turn on my A.M. radio and get BBC for two hours. That works half the time in recovering my sleep; when it doesn't, I wake in a full rage and go to my desk.

Michael-the-Mad, I say to you, the fortunes and interests of George W. Bush are not the fortunes and interests of America. When Bush was selected president over Gore, people winced because they thought of him as a cowboy. He turned out to be an outlaw.

Michael, Bush is well on his way to turning your nation and mine - once the great leader of the free world - into an outlaw nation.

Staying Bush's course in Iraq will risk salvaging (a) his doctrine of unprovoked and aggressive war (b) his unabashed use of torture on POW's (c) his trashing of our beautiful and indispensable civic religion - our Constitution and (d) his obliteration of the international sympathy and trust extended us after 9-11. Completing Bush's course in Iraq will consecrate his delusions and validate his arrogance.

Instead, we Americans must stand up and say :
Don't do this anymore.
And don't ever let it be done again, in our name!
I believe - skin, bones, flesh and blood
believe - that in order for America the Beautiful to succeed and cleanse herself, Bush must fail in Iraq.

For in failing in Iraq, Bush and his bloody hands and thoughtless mind will have been repudiated by his countrymen. And our America can climb down from the pedestal where Bush has it now: the world's greatest terrorist state.

It will not be America failing. It will be America correcting its course from a wayward and illegal but temporary detour.

Mike, We will get Osama and al Qaeda. We must first exorcise our own demon(s) within.

Where Has Been the Mind of George W. Bush?

Bush's Iraq obsession has disconnected him from America's priorities.

As a result, our adversaries in Talibanistan and Iran have 'gotten the draw' on our Cowboy-in-Chief.

Let's engage in more quanitative analysis.

Content analysis is a standard methodology in the social sciences on the subject of communication content. Content analysis enables the researcher to include large amounts of textual information and systematically identify its properties, e.g. the frequencies of most used keywords (KWIC meaning "KeyWord In Context"). From this exercise, by identifying the dominant messages and subject matter within the text, we can derive the thinking and logic of the author or speaker.

For example, here are some words from George W. Bush, speaking at the Cincinnati Museum Center on Oct 7th, 2002:
. . . .The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime's own actions -- its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror.

. . . . some ask why Iraq is different from other countries or regimes that also have terrible weapons. While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone -- because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility toward the United States.

By its past and present actions, by its technological capabilities, by the merciless nature of its regime, Iraq is unique.

Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time . . . .

Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror . . . .

Terror cells and outlaw regimes building weapons of mass destruction are different faces of the same evil. Our security requires that we confront both. And the United States military is capable of confronting both . . . .

The lives of Iraqi citizens would improve dramatically if Saddam Hussein were no longer in power, just as the lives of Afghanistan's citizens improved after the Taliban . . . .
You get the drift. This speech lasted 29 minutes, contained 3,390 words and only one of them was "Iran", (mentioned as a past victim of Saddam's aggression).

"Afghanistan" appears twice. Once as a source of/link to al Qaeda and once as it appears in the excerpt above.

What can we conclude from this exercise in content analysis?

Coming to a Theater Near You!

See the trailer and clips! Buy your tickets!

Monday, September 11, 2006

On the 5th Anniversary of 9-11

The question cries out for an answer:

Who has hurt us more?
  • Osama bin Laden
  • George W. Bush?
Doing the simple arithmetic does not give us a pretty picture.

George Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, and largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI) has cost our nation more in blood than Osama bin Laden.
OBL: Total Deaths - All 9/11 Attacks: 3,030
OBL: Total Injuries - All 9/11 Attacks: 2,337
GWB: Total US KIA in Iraq): 2,667
GWB: Total U.S. WIA in Iraq (not counting those troops wounded and returned to combat): 9,062

This is an update of a post on 16 June 2006.
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

Friday, September 8, 2006

Where Is Phase II???

Cough It Up! At long last! Let the Cover-Up End!

Tomorrow, Phase II is will be 40% Completed. Not freeking enough!

The Senate Intelligence Committee issued a portion of its analysis, labeled Phase I, on prewar intelligence shortcomings in July 2004. But the Republican membership on the Committee has delayed publication of Phase II which purports to deal with how intelligence was "fixed" in order to market the un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI).

The report to be released by the committee tomorrow (always on Friday! right?) focuses on two much-studied issues: the influence of the anti-Saddam exile group Iraqi National Congress in shaping U.S. intelligence estimates, and a comparison of prewar estimates and postwar findings about Iraq's weapons programs and links to terrorism.

The 400-pages to be released Friday covers only two of the five topics outlined under Phase II. It's a rehash of the intelligence supplied by the INC and Chalabi and the overestimation of Saddam's WMD threat - has been documented in numerous studies.

A third segment, on the prewar intelligence assessment of postwar Iraq, could be issued later this month. But of course there is no date-certain for issuing the last two parts of Phase II, which take up the politically divisive issue of whether policy makers manipulated intelligence reports to set the stage for war.

Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, vice-chair of the Senate Committee, says - full truth be known - the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq
. . . was fundamentally misleading... the administration pursued a deceptive strategy, abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances, fabricated.
For how many more elections will the Republican micro-majority in the Senate be allowed to play DEFENSE to protect its un-American and incompetent incumbents from public repudiation and removal?

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Byzantine Symmetry?

Or obfuscation via innuendo?

I saw it 40 years ago, when the argument over facts (as opposed to the solution) of the Vietnam War had been settled: those who struggle to cobble together a case for perseverance, resort to contorting logic and distorting fact.

Thus it is with Wizard, whose comments are frequently welcomed in these pages.

To be honest, I can't tell from Wizard's September 02, 2006 post whether he is trying harder to swift-boat a diplomat with a distinguished and heroic career (Joe Wilson) or a Special Prosecutor with an equally distinguished career of effectiveness and incorruptibility (Patrick J. Fitzgerald).

Whichever the case, Wizard clearly thinks the Valerie Plame case begins and ends with Richard Armitage when he writes:
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, knew the identity of the leaker from his very first day in the special counsel's chair, but kept the inquiry open for nearly two more years before indicting I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on obstruction charges.

Now, the question of whether Mr. Fitzgerald properly exercised his prosecutorial discretion in continuing to pursue possible wrongdoing in the case has become the subject of rich debate on editorial pages and in legal and political circles.
Oh, Really? "Rich"?

In the wake of his interrupted and uncompleted thought, Wizard tosses another inflammatory canard, which he also fails to substantiate:
...when Joe Wilson fanned the flames of his wife Valerie Plame's CIA status being revealed (which would have absolutely never happened if Wilson hadn't lied over and often about both the nature and results of his Niger investigation...
Lied "over and often"?

David Corn, co-author of
Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, the publication which first disclosed the Armitage leak, is including people like Wizard when he writes,
White House defenders are chortling. . . For some reason, they believe that the news from ‘Hubris’ that Richard Armitage was the original leaker means there was nothing to the CIA leak case. . . . Rove's leak (to Robert Novak and Matt Cooper) and Libby's leak (to Judith Miller and Cooper) were part of a campaign to discredit former ambassador Joseph Wilson. That's no conspiracy theory.
Right. This is settled history. Also settled is that the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), the marketing arm of the White House whose purpose was to sell the 2003 invasion of Iraq to the public, also availed themselves of the instruments of state power to cover-up their defective marketing and to attack and smear those who weren't buying their un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI). In the case of Valerie Plame case, they went to such lengths as to out and destroy the career of a CIA NOC officer, ironically working on Iraqi WMD.

As with the Vietnam era, people like Wizard are engaging themselves in self-delusion in order not to take a position on Iraquagmire. We used to call it Byzantine Symmetry: if you can turn away from the writing on the wall long enough and fabricate argument that 'both sides are wrong', then 'neither are right' and one has given oneself an excuse for inaction while more blood and money swirl down the Mesopotamian toilet Bush has crafted.

Wizard, for all of his putative reasonableness, is still in need of an occasional Kool-Aid.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Find the Whopper!

I can't count how many lies there are in here, but I know which of them is the biggest flaming whopper of them all!

From the August 30 edition of MNSBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews - Excerpts from Brian Williams' interview with George Bush - courtesy of Media Matters:

When you take a tour of the world, a lot of Americans email me with their fears that, you know, some days they wake up and it just feels to them like the end of the world is near, and you go from North Korea, to Iran, to Iraq, to Afghanistan and you look at how things have changed. How Americans are viewed overseas, if that is important to you. Do you have any moments of doubt that we fought the wrong war, that there is something wrong with the perception of America overseas?
Well, those are two different questions. Did we fight the wrong war? And the answer is, I have no doubt. The war came to our shores, remember that. We had a foreign policy that basically said, "Let's hope calm works," and we were attacked.
But those weren't Iraqis.
No, I agree. They weren't Iraqis, nor did I ever say that Iraq ordered that attack. But they are part of -- Iraq is part of the struggle against the terrorists. These terrorists have made it clear they want us to leave Iraq prematurely. And why is it? Because they want a safe haven. They'd love to get a hold of oil. They have territorial ambitions. And no, I think fighting this war is the absolute right thing to do.

Now, in terms of image, of course I worry about American image. We're great at TV, and we're getting crushed in the PR front. And so, we try to work hard and try to work smart about how we get a message out that says we respect Islam. We just reject the ideology of extremists who kill innocent people to achieve political objectives. And we've got to do a harder job.

But somehow people -- if what you're saying is if we retreat for the sake of popularity, is that the smart thing to do? And my answer is absolutely not. It would be a huge mistake to give the battlefield to these extremists. We retreat; they follow us. And I see it as clearly as day. And I understand the challenge, and I understand -- I also understand the frustrations of our citizens.
Let's, if we might, get back to 9-11 for one second. Has there ever been an effort to link the two? How far have you gone?
No, I really haven't. Because I'm very careful. I understand what happens when you lay something out that people can tear apart. It hurts credibility. And you know, I personally do not believe Saddam Hussein picked up the phone and said to Al Qaeda, "Attack America."
How close was he associated with Al Qaeda, in your view?
Well, he was -- he was on our state sponsor of terrorists list. And he was paying families of suiciders. He has -- he also, by the way, had weapons of mass destruction one time and had the capacity to make them. And that's a dangerous mix. We didn't put him on the state sponsor of terrorists list. The previous administrations put him on the state sponsor of terrorists list.
Do you see that the argument that some on the left make that the war in Iraq has amounted to a colossal recruitment poster in the fundamentalist world?
No, I don't see that at all. The fundamentalist world attacked the United States and killed 3,000 people before I even thought about removing Saddam Hussein from power. I just don't buy that argument. It is an argument that's not based upon fact.