Saturday, January 22


Haven't posted in a few days because I've been recovering from a little minor surgery. I figured this was the best time to be out of commission, since the inaugural and accompanying pagan worship services (with GWB as idol) would just send my blood pressure soaring and my stomach roiling.

Wednesday, January 19


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has voted 16-2 to confirm Condi-lies-a Rice as Secretary of State. The nays were cast by Barbara Boxer and John Kerry.

Boxer would not be shaken off, even after Rice acknowledged to the Senate committee that "there were some bad decisions" taken by the administration on Iraq.

She accused Rice of "an unwillingness to give Americans the full story because selling the war was so important to Dr. Rice. That was her job."

And now, Boxer said, the toll of American dead and wounded is the "direct result" of Bush administration "rigidness" and misstatements.
John Kerry, who made Bush's management of postwar Iraq an issue in his losing presidential campaign, told Rice Tuesday that "the current policy is growing the insurgency and not diminishing it."

"This was never going to be easy," Rice said in response. "There were going to be ups and downs."

She said that after the Iraqis have voted on Jan. 30 for a transitional assembly, the Bush administration would conduct a review.

"We need to be patient," she told Kerry.

Well, that's just another example of administration lying, isn't it? "This was never going to be easy?" If they thought that, why did they tell the American people it would be a "cakewalk"? These hearings made it perfectly clear that the administration still has no viable exit plan, not even a hint of one. "Conduct a review?" A little late, isn't it? By all means, review away, but if the strategy doesn't change, what's the point? There isn't enough patience in the world to turn this situation around under the current leadership.

Also, notice that Condi refuses to discuss torture or rule out waterboarding, sexual humiliation, etc.. I loved what Biden said to her about "just talk to John McCain for a few minutes about what HE thinks about it."

I guess the "ups" for her were Bush's "Mission Accomplished" thriller on the aircraft carrier, killing Uday and Qusay, and nabbing Saddam. For the rest of us, this whole debacle has been one big downer.

I'm going to have to learn more about Barbara Boxer. She's been a "lone reed" of courage lately, first in challenging the Ohio vote and now this. That's my kinda woman.


Awesome! My home state Democrats are supporting Howard Dean for DNC Chair.

"The only knock against Howard Dean is that he's seen as too liberal," Mr. Maddox said. "I'm a gun-owning pickup-truck driver and I have a bulldog named Lockjaw. I am a Southern chairman of a Southern state, and I am perfectly comfortable with Howard Dean as D.N.C. chair."

(Note that Scott Maddox is an FSU Seminole. Go 'Noles!)

Tuesday, January 18


Unbelievable. It's the "Dean scream" all over again.

Why oh WHY won't the media just report NEWS (you know, facts, not opinion) and let us Dems select our own leaders? I'm beginning to think there's a true-life conspiracy at work: Al Gore, Howard Dean and John Kerry are depicted as lying, opportunistic buffoons (evidence to the contrary!) and George W. Bush as a strong, principled statesman (ALL evidence to the contrary). It can't all be coincidence.

No, it's not a conspiracy, but it's not coincidence either. It's a pattern that started during the 1992 presidential race and has continued since. Democrats are fair game; Bushies and their associates are not.

I thought the media was somewhat contrite after their unfair, unbalanced, mega-repetitive airings of the "Dean scream" derailed his candidacy. They KNEW what they were doing, but like the kid who can't resist whacking the telephone poles until the power goes out and he runs down the street crying, "I did it! I did it! But I didn't MEAN IT!" they seemed a little sheepish after the fact. Now I know just how wrong I was. The millionaire journalists (and those trying to get there) are afraid, or at least mightily intimidated, to tell the truth about BushCo. But they've GOT to have a story, right? That leaves only Democrats as a target.

Soros, Gates Sr., and the rest of the billionaires repelled by this administration should put their money into alternative media. If we can't get our message out, the whole nation is doomed. Of course, the doom and its ensuing suffering will probably re-educate citizens as it exposes the criminal actions of BushCo, and events may eventually restore sanity to the electorate. But as Democrats, we take no pleasure in saying "I told you so" -- we'd much rather avoid the holocaust altogether.


A new book purports to have evidence that Aristotle Onassis was behind the assassination of Bobby Kennedy.

Since Bobby was one of the heroes of my youth, this is of tremendous interest to me. British author Peter Evans investigated the assassination for 10 years before publishing Nemesis. Onassis, he says, hated Bobby for screwing up a huge deal he had almost closed with Saudi Arabia in 1953, and for standing in the way of Ari's marriage to Jackie O. According to Evans, Onassis paid for a CIA-connected doctor to hypnotize Sirhan Sirhan into shooting Kennedy, while a professional hit man actually killed him.

True or not, I always thought Aristotle Onassis was a malignant dwarf.


In commemoration of Martin Luther King's birthday, a prayer for the people of Iraq. From Progressive Christian.


The Scandal Sheet. Salon is keeping a list and checking it twice.

Print it out, send it to Harry Reid, or just read it and weep. Here are 34 scandals from the first four years of George W. Bush's presidency -- every one of them worse than Whitewater.


Just noticed a great quote on the blog of The Liquid List:

"One of the biggest changes
in politics in my lifetime
is that the delusional is no longer marginal.
It has come in from the fringe,
to sit in the seat of power
in the Oval Office and in Congress.”

- Bill Moyer

Monday, January 17


A reader sent us an e-mail today that I don't know quite how to respond to. It's nice that he/she thinks we're an interesting-enough blog that should get a wider readership, but to be honest, that's not what I started this for. When you consider that I write 90% of the posts on No More Apples, have a demanding executive position with a Fortune 250 company, and cherish a family of five almost-grown children, two infant grandchildren and one long-suffering and extraordinary husband (The Sage), it's amazing that I have been able to keep up this pace for the past year. I don't know how long this can go on.

I started this blog as an alternative to throwing shoes at TV and radio newscast and opinion shows. At first it was a welcome vehicle for expressing myself to my family and friends, since we're so diverse and it takes too much energy to recount the same points over and over again to so many individuals. It gave me a way to reference facts and evidence that I could not possibly keep all at the tip of my tongue.

Early on, the response to the blog gave me hope that in some small way I was contributing to rational discourse on the events of the day and maybe even having some effect on some people, especially during the presidential primaries and the lead-up to the presidential election. After the devastating and unanticipated results (to me) of the election, I was discouraged enough to consider shutting down the blog altogether, but just couldn't quite do it. It had truly become by that point a journal of my own thoughts and opinions, and I've never been very good at keeping them quiet.

The challenge of most political blogs is not to emulate mainstream journalism or original reporting (although there are some that do a creditable job of incorporating that element into their blogs), but to record one's own opinions or interpretation of current events/news while backing up any assertions that contribute to those opinions. That's why links are so important. MSM op-eds can spew whatever thoughts the writer desires without verification or validation of any kind. Blogs are subject to a stricter ethos. If you state something as a fact, you better link to evidentiary support.

So Zephyr, don't concern yourself any further with trying to create a "bloggers code of ethics." We have our own. We're independent. We think for ourselves. We back up what we say. And anyone who doubts that can judge a blog on its merits.

After all, who monitors Fox News, talk radio, InstaPundit, PowerLine, NRO and their ilk? Caveat emptor.


Since speculation is already rife re candidates for president '08, I thought it was appropriate to review the successful presidential campaigns of the past century. Note the most recent offices held by each of the electees:

George W. Bush - Governor
Bill Clinton - Governor
George H.W. Bush - Vice President
Ronald Reagan - Governor
Jimmy Carter -Governor
Gerald Ford - Vice President (appointed, non-elected)
Richard Nixon - ex-Vice President
Lyndon Johnson - Vice President
John F. Kennedy - Senator
Dwight D. Eisenhower - General
Harry S Truman - Vice President
Franklin D. Roosevelt - Governor
Herbert Hoover - Secretary of Commerce
Calvin Coolidge - Governor
Warren G. Harding - Senator
Woodrow Wilson - Governor
William H. Taft - Secretary of War
Theodore Roosevelt - Vice President
William McKinley - Governor

Isn't it apparent that governors and Vice Presidents (as many by inheritance as by election) have the best chance of becoming POTUS? I won't delve into the "whys" right now -- I need sleep desperately! But suffice it to say, forget Kerry, Edwards and Hillary for '08. In fact, forget McCain, who some pundits see as invulnerable in the next election! Think Dean. And keep an open mind to new faces -- not Congressional ones, but Governors. Governors have executive experience, don't have a Congressional record to explain or defend, and are "outside the Beltway," which many (or maybe most) Americans interpret as independent of "business-as-usual" thinking and/or obligations.

'nuff said for now.


(This started as a post to AmericaBlog, which has been out of commission for several days. But it got so long, Comments wouldn't accept it, so here it is:)

Welcome back, John in DC! For many of us, we've realized your value to the political discourse by MISSING it.

Martin Frost is a good man, a good Democrat, but pragmatic in the (not extreme) electoral process. He is not a good choice for DNC Chair, but we should not be attacking or alienating pols like him and Tim Roemer as the Republicans do their own moderates. I am a Deaniac (Howard for DMC Chair!), and continued to be so until Kerry won the nomination, and then supported HIM all the way. As Democrats, we should be supportive of other Democrats (except for the Zell Miller types). There is even room in our tent for Joe Lieberman and Tim Roemer.

Let me put it this way. I am a life-long fervent and activist Democrat. My beloved nephew (my third son to my mind) has spent the past year as an employee/activist of Kerry-Edwards '04, despite his ex-hippie-now-fabulous Christian parents' support of GWB on one issue: abortion. As Christians, my husband and I and three out of five of our grown children have opposed the pseudo-Christian positions of the fratboy-turned-politician GWB regarding his policies toward war, domestic security, and the economy. My precious and brilliant dad, after retiring from a career in the military officer corps, became a Social Security bureaucrat. He and I established a policy dialogue from before I reached my teens, and I benefited greatly from his insights. He always encouraged me to think for myself, and for most of my life our political views were aligned, though not perfectly. Daddy believed the U.S.A. was a meritocracy, but that was at least partly prompted by government programs such as the Officers Candidates School and the G.I. Bill, which enabled brilliant young men such as him to rise from the ranks of the poor to the professional class. In fact, he was JFK campaign chairman for north Florida, and one of my most cherished pictures is of my dad and JFK at a lunch counter during the 1960 campaign. It was Daddy's only real opportunity to participate in politics after he retired from the military and before he joined the U.S. government bureaucracy. My mother and father never forgot their humble origins and for all their lives strove to lift up their fellow man (and woman). It's a great part of why I love and honor them.

But that was then, and this is now. The United States has never seen such a government as GWB has established. There is almost no bipartisanship that is not driven by political expediency. The fate of the U.S.A. is not in the hands of its people, history and principles, but subject to political pragmatism, i.e. "What will get me (us) re-elected?" For the Repugs, it's become all about power. For many DLC Democrats it is the same, although with more idealistic boundaries.

I spend a good amount of time trying to help soft Republican voters to understand Democratic positions and how they would benefit the nation more than those of GWB. If I have to tell those people, many of whom are sincere evangelical Christians, that there is no room for debate in our party about (at present) their most closely-held beliefs, I might as well hold my breath. And I would hate for that to happen, since even though I was a Kennedy, McCarthy (Eugene), Kennedy, McGovern, Carter and Clinton Democrat while being fervently anti-abortion. Hey, I had four miscarriages as a young wife, and couldn't conceive of any decent person voluntarily ending a pregnancy when I was so desperate to have a child. Age and a broadened experience changed my views.

I am pro-choice now and have been for some years, which is quite a feat when you are an evangelical Christian surrounded by members of the Christian right. But there are more progressive Christians than you may think. Approached properly, there could be even more. Martin and Bobby--and in our time, The Big Dog-- would have known how to do it. They felt close to the God I know, and believed His words meant something important to our souls. They understood that a relationship with the God revealed by Christ doesn't have to translate into exclusionary doctrines or public policies, and should indeed lend itself to empathy and beneficial social action.

So on this special day commemorating the life and work of Martin (we've always called him Martin in our family, we feel so close to him and have raised our children in such a way that he's one of the very few contemporary American heroes that any of us can point to), I can think of nothing much else but the words to the song "Abraham, Martin and John" --

Didn't we love the things they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some peace for you and me?
And we'll be free someday soon, it's gonna be a one-day,
Has anybody seen my old friend Bobby
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walking over that hill
With Abraham, Martin and John.

I am reminded on this occasion of the words of Robert F. Kennedy, who often quoted George Bernard Shaw, ”Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?”

This is why we are Democrats.


Probably the best analysis of the Social Security issue I have yet read:

The campaign is potentially self-fulfilling: persuade enough people that Social Security is going bankrupt, and it will lose public support. Then Congress will be forced to act. And thanks to such unceasing alarums, many, and perhaps most, people today think the program is in serious financial trouble.

But is it? After Bush's re-election, I carefully read the 225-page annual report of the Social Security trustees. I also talked to actuaries and economists, inside and outside the agency, who are expert in the peculiar science of long-term Social Security forecasting. The actuarial view is that the system is probably in need of a small adjustment of the sort that Congress has approved in the past. But there is a strong argument, which the agency acknowledges as a possibility, that the system is solvent as is.

Although prudence argues for making a fix sooner rather than later, the program is not in crisis, nor is its potential shortfall irresolvable. Ideology aside, the scale of the fixes would not require Social Security to abandon the role that was conceived for it in 1935, and that it still performs today -- as an insurance fail-safe for the aged and others and as a complement to people's private market savings.


A good short explanation of why Howard Dean is the best choice for DNC Chair:

I believe people aren't really looking for a party with which they match up on every single issue on the ideological scale, and that's why shifting positions to gain people won't work. People are looking for a vision of the country with which they can identify. People want guts, more than anything, they want a strong pole to hang on to during a storm.

Democrats, people -- hell, mammals -- are attracted to Dean because he offers that vision, clearly and proudly, unashamedly. Listening to him, even if you disagree with something he says, you know he means it, you know he believes it. And the attitude he has that you can take it or leave it only makes that more admirable. He lost, he got knocked down, and you know what he spent the next months doing? He could have spent it giving whiny speeches about how nobody understood him and everybody was so mean and hey, who threw gum in his hair AGAIN?!!

He spent it getting Democrats elected. Which is what we need the chair of the DNC to do.

NOT ONE DAMN DIME DAY with Sean Hannity

From the fingernails-scraping-across-a-blackboard department:

If you've never listened to Sean Hannity, you probably haven't heard his usual greeting to callers: When they greet him (as they usually do) not with "Hi, Sean, thanks for taking my call" but with "Hi, Sean, you're a great American," Hannity responds with "Thanks, my friend, you're a great American."

Presumably Sean doesn't know anything about the character about his multitude of callers, so his only means of judging their patriotism is their opinion of him. That, evidently, is all he needs to know.

In Sean Hannity's world, if you think HE's a great American, he returns the favor. With these bozos, their egos know no bounds.

Today, Sean was abusing a poor lady (I came in late, so can't identify her) who must be associated with the "Not One Damn Dime Day" protest. His main charge, which he leveled repeatedly until she was obviously disoriented, was that liberals don't give a flip about the little people who will be economically adversely affected by the boycott: waitstaff, fast food workers, etc. "You liberals pretend to care but you don't give them a thought when you're planning such an irresponsible, pointless protest" was his theme. As if the wingers give a darn about such people.

It's the same old argument right-wingers have used for nearly a century to oppose unions: the poor union members are betrayed by their leaders, who insist on strikes that cause their members economic hardship. The fact that the strike is all about the FUTURE and that workers are persuaded that their current sacrifice for a common cause will bring them future benefits, is exactly the argument the Repugs want you to overlook. Instead, their position is, "Those poor people are suffering because the liberals are trying to make a point!" As if the masters could be trusted to do the right thing without suffering some economic hardship themselves. The lady asserted that anyone affected has already been victimized far more by the Bush agenda, to Sean's indignance. Poor people, indeed. As if they care. Sean betrayed his real agenda when he asked the lady if she thought the 10% of the wealthiest Americans are paying too much taxes when they "pay 70% of federal income taxes." THAT's who he cares about. (Incidentally, Sean stated that 50% of his income goes to taxes; I'd love to see that documented.)

Sean's against the boycott (big surprise! if it were the Dixie Chicks it would be a different matter) and has predicted its utter futility. That's reason enough for me to support it. It's not as if I expect BushCo to correct its course as a result; sometimes protests are just that, PROTESTS, an opportunity for the voiceless to speak. If it gets media attention when millions of anti-war protestors couldn't get decent coverage pre-Iraq invasion, it will have fulfilled its purpose, that of expressing opposition to Bush's policies. When our Democratic leaders are too often too cowed by whatever forces to call a Republican outrage an outrage, the people have to speak for themselves.

There are better ways than admiration for Sean Hannity to earn the soubriquet, "a great American."


Digby has the perfect post for this MLK Jr. Day. Don't miss a word.


How much of this kind of thing is out there, and we just don't know it?

Two weeks into the new year, conservative outlets continue to promote the 2005 Republican Freedom Calendar, a 12-month wall calendar "celebrating a century and a half of civil rights achievements by the party of Lincoln."

The stated purpose of the Republican Freedom Calendar is to promote the story, "as remarkable as it is untold," of "the many important Republican achievements in advancing civil rights." But actually the calendar does a good deal more than that. Not only does the calendar ignore the civil rights achievements of Democrats, it paints the Democratic Party as a perennial enemy of civil rights. The calendar also omits the embarrassing chapters in Republican history.

One-sided history would be expected, I suppose, if the Republican Freedom Calendar were a campaign flyer. But the calendar is a government publication prepared by the Policy Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Like the Education Department’s contract with black commentator Armstrong Williams, the Republican Freedom Calendar represents an alarming use of taxpayer dollars for Republican propaganda aimed primarily at African Americans.


So who's the elite anyway?

It's obvious that what they're really complaining about is not "elite media," but that old Republican bogeyman, the "liberal media." It's not as though the GOP really has anything against elites, no matter how much caterwauling about elites we hear from conservative candidates.

Consider one craving from the right wing: repeal of the "death tax," more properly the "federal estate tax," since it taxes not death but assets passed to a new generation. It applies to only the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. In other words, repeal is a measure to "protect the fortunes of the elite," not some measure to better the lot of the other 98 percent of America.

Recently, President George W. Bush (a simple anti-elitist man of the people, of course) started promoting "tort reform," especially in cases of medical malpractice and product liability. There's just way too much money being paid out to poor people who have been maimed and impoverished, and that's bad for American commerce.

There's doubtless some truth to that, since physicians and corporations pass the costs of their malfeasance along to their customers. But who hands out those multimillion-dollar awards? It's not some elite conclave of evil "trial lawyers." Those decisions are made by juries - average American citizens. It's about as non-elite a process as you can imagine - and yet the critics of this aspect of our judicial system are often the same people who denounce "elites."

As the great-grandson of a Populist, I have nothing against bashing the ruling elites in this country. It's an honorable American political tradition that goes back, at least, to Thomas Jefferson and his rallying of western farmers against the Federalist coastal elites of the day.

But I do wish that the word were used correctly - as it is, instead of bashing the elites, Americans fall right into their elitist plans.

Quillen could have added to his list of "elitist plans" multiple tax cuts for the wealthy; attempts to phase out Social Security, for most Americans the only assured income for their retirement years; federal budgets that include lots of perks, pork and parties for the connected and well-to-do, but inadequate funding for mandated public school initiatives and armor for our fighting men and women; etc., etc., ad nauseum.

To think that Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Bennett and a zillion Republican strategists and conservative pundits have made FORTUNES from this disingenuousness is so disgusting in its hypocrisy that I literally scream every time I hear one of them say it. Their charge that Democrats wage "class warfare" while they continue to draw lines of separation between us is abhorrent. But maybe even worse, since language not only reflects who we are but can even drive it, is their successful campaign to change terms for what has traditionally been considered worthy of praise into pejoratives -- e.g., elite (cream of the crop) into "think they're better than us and out of touch with ordinary Americans." It's the whole Orwellian "up is down" thing, and they're awfully, awfully good at it.


Excerpts from "The Coming Wars" by Seymour Hersh:

Despite the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the Bush Administration has not reconsidered its basic long-range policy goal in the Middle East: the establishment of democracy throughout the region. Bush’s reëlection is regarded within the Administration as evidence of America’s support for his decision to go to war. It has reaffirmed the position of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership who advocated the invasion, including Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Douglas Feith, the Under-secretary for Policy. According to a former high-level intelligence official, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff shortly after the election and told them, in essence, that the naysayers had been heard and the American people did not accept their message. Rumsfeld added that America was committed to staying in Iraq and that there would be no second-guessing.

“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”

These people are so simple-minded it's unbelievable. George W. Bush wants to go down in history as having defeated TERRORISM????? What an idiot! How do you defeat a TACTIC? Terrorism has been part of the strategy of ruling classes, insurgents and "freedom fighters" for as long as the world has existed. It's not going to be "defeated" by BushCo. But let's be charitable. Perhaps they mean "we won the war on Al Qaeda." Nope, that doesn't make sense either, since we haven't been putting a tenth of the effort into that crusade that we have on "transforming" the Middle East.

Terrorism, according to Merriam Webster, is the systematic use of terror, especially for the purpose of coercion. By that definition I'd say the United States under George W. Bush has become the world's most prolific terrorist group in the world. When will the Repugs get into their pointy heads that Iraq WAS A SOVEREIGN NATION WHEN WE INVADED. No-one ever suggested that the Iraqi people were a party to any threats against the United States. This was not Germany or Japan; the Iraqis didn't select Saddam. A direct hit on Saddam, if we truly thought he was a threat to Americans, might have been justified, as was Reagan's attack upon Muammar Qaddafi. But "shock and awe" and the destruction of the entire nation, including the killing of more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, can be called nothing short of terrorism, actions taken to coerce the Iraqi people into surrendering their sovereignty to the U.S. and their souls to Bush-Cheney.

The real war BushCo is fighting is the "war to transform the Middle East," a supremely arrogant and ill-conceived strategy to remake an entire region "in our own image" -- or rather, in Bush's image.

Rumsfeld will become even more important during the second term. In interviews with past and present intelligence and military officials, I was told that the agenda had been determined before the Presidential election, and much of it would be Rumsfeld’s responsibility. The war on terrorism would be expanded, and effectively placed under the Pentagon’s control. The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.

It's called the Project for a New American Century, guys. The "War on Terrorism" is a convenient smokescreen.

The President’s decision enables Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books—free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A. ...In my interviews, I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran. “Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq,’” the former intelligence official told me. “But they say, ‘We’ve got some lessons learned—not militarily, but how we did it politically. We’re not going to rely on agency pissants.’ No loose ends, and that’s why the C.I.A. is out of there.”
The civilian leadership in the Pentagon has argued that no diplomatic progress on the Iranian nuclear threat will take place unless there is a credible threat of military action. “The neocons say negotiations are a bad deal,” a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) told me. “And the only thing the Iranians understand is pressure. And that they also need to be whacked.”
The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer. Much of the focus is on the accumulation o intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, both declared and suspected. The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, an perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids. “The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destro as much of the military infrastructure as possible,” the government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon told me.
The hawks in the Administration believe that it will soon become clear that the Europeans’ negotiated approach cannot succeed, and that at that time the Administration will act. “We’re not dealing with a set of National Security Council option papers here,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “They’ve already passed that wicket. It’s not if we’re going to do anything against Iran. They’re doing it.”

Saw Hersh on CNN this morning, and he said bluntly that it's going to happen. George W. Bush wants to attack Iran, and he's going to do it. That's all. "This president will do what he wants to do."

“The idea that an American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would produce a popular uprising is extremely illinformed,” said Flynt Leverett, a Middle East scholar who worked on the National Security Council in the Bush Administration. “You have to understand that the nuclear ambition in Iran is supported across the political spectrum, and Iranians will perceive attacks on these sites as attacks on their ambitions to be a major regional player and a modern nation that’s technologically sophisticated.” Leverett, who is now a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, at the Brookings Institution, warned that an American attack, if it takes place, “will produce an Iranian backlash against the United States and a rallying around the regime.”

Omigod, it sounds just like Iraq, both pre-invasion and post-Desert Storm, when we encouraged Iraqis to revolt against Saddam (and then did nothing to support them, leaving them hanging out to dry -- I mean die). BushCo likes magic bullets; they believe the U.S. fires one, and the people rise up and do the rest of the work of regime change. What bozo at this point in time believes we have any significant popular support within Iran?
Rumsfeld and two of his key deputies, Stephen Cambone, the Under-secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and Army Lieutenant General William G. (Jerry) Boykin, will be part of the chain of command for the new commando operations. Relevant members of the House and Senate intelligence committees have been briefed on the Defense Department’s expanded role in covert affairs, a Pentagon adviser assured me, but he did not know how extensive the briefings had been.

Cambone, Rumsfeld's sycophant and first-ever undersecretary of defense for intelligence (this despite the fact that he'd no experience in intelligence whatsover), of whom one Army general said "if he had one round left in his revolver, he would take out Steve Cambone." And Gen. Jerry Boykin, Muslim-hater and unsuccessful Osama-hunter. Two guys without the necessary diplomatic skills, intelligence, and geopolitical savvy, whose track records qualify them for suck-up but not for essential intelligence operations.
Some operations will likely take place in nations in which there is an American diplomatic mission, with an Ambassador and a C.I.A. station chief, the Pentagon consultant said. The Ambassador and the station chief would not necessarily have a need to know, under the Pentagon’s current interpretation of its reporting requirement.

The new rules will enable the Special Forces community to set up what it calls “action teams” in the target countries overseas which can be used to find and eliminate terrorist organizations. “Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?” the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. “We founded them and we financed them,” he said. “The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it.”
“It’s a finesse to give power to Rumsfeld—giving him the right to act swiftly, decisively, and lethally,” the first Pentagon adviser told me. “It’s a global free-fire zone.”
“Rummy’s plan was to get a compromise in the [intelligence-reform] bill in which the Pentagon keeps its marbles and the C.I.A. loses theirs,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Then all the pieces of the puzzle fall in place. He gets authority for covert action that is not attributable, the ability to directly task national-intelligence assets”—including the many intelligence satellites that constantly orbit the world.

“Rumsfeld will no longer have to refer anything through the government’s intelligence wringer,” the former official went on. “The intelligence system was designed to put competing agencies in competition. What’s missing will be the dynamic tension that insures everyone’s priorities—in the C.I.A., the D.O.D., the F.B.I., and even the Department of Homeland Security—are discussed. The most insidious implication of the new system is that Rumsfeld no longer has to tell people what he’s doing so they can ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’ or ‘What are your priorities?’ Now he can keep all of the mattress mice out of it.”

And that's really one of BushCo's goals -- to remove any semblance of checks and balances so they can operate in total secrecy and safety from accountability.


I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow. I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed--we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!" And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

                And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
                Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
                Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
                Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
                Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
                But not only that.
                Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
                Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."


Sunday, January 16


This is getting really ugly. I haven't been able to get my AmericaBlog fix in two days (John's so frustrated he's considering getting a Mac -- a reflection of his good sense), and LiveJournal was also having problems so for a while it knocked out Sisyphus Shrugged (Julia) and others I count on for intellectual and emotional sustenance.

For John in DC (AmericaBlog):

Oh Lord, won't you replace this pesky PC,
"Cause Blogger don't like it, I need to be set free.
My readers are panicked, they all want me back,
So oh Lord, won't you buy me a new mini Mac.

(All together now)

Oh Lord, we're a pitiful, John-deprived brood,
Without him we're starving, we're coming unglued.
Prove that you love us and get him a Mac,
And oh Lord, while you're at it, give Blogger a whack.

If it were only a Mac-Safari world. (Sigh)


Easter Lemming posts an amazing sermon by the pastor of the First UU Church of Austin, TX, "Living Under Fascism." The entire sermon is here.

In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, “write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?”

Vice President Wallace's answer to those questions was published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. See how much you think his statements apply to our society today.

“The really dangerous American fascist,” Wallace wrote, “… is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism he saw rising in America, Wallace added, “They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.” 


Soooooo...Congress, the media and a large slice of the electorate bought it, and subsequently we've all had to pay for it. When will it stop? The high price of official lies:

Some of the administration’s adherents, who cling to President Bush with a devotion that brings to mind the followers of North Korean despot Kim Jong-Il, insist that the absence of Iraqi WMD is irrelevant, since the war was justified for humanitarian reasons. Talk radio personality Sean Hannity, to cite one exponent of that view, typically dismisses criticism of the Iraq war with what he foolishly regards as a devastating rhetorical question: "Is the world better off without Saddam Hussein in power?"

Actually, the world would have been better off if Washington had not connived in Saddam’s rise to power, and supplied him with the material and economic means to stay in power for decades. And it’s not as if evil is a static quantity. Deposing Saddam by invading and occupying Iraq gave rise to other evils:

* As noted previously, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians – perhaps as many as 100,000, according to the British journal Lancet -- who were alive prior to March 19, 2003 have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion. They are manifestly not "better off" now than they were when Saddam was in power.

* More than 1,300 American soldiers, Guardsmen, Reservists, and Marines are dead. Probably 14-20,000 Iraqi troops (most of them hapless conscripts) have also been killed. They were alive prior to March 19, 2003. They are obviously not "better off" now than they were when Saddam was in power.

* More than 10,000 American military personnel have been injured – many of them crippled and maimed for life – because of the invasion. It’s difficult to know how many Iraqi soldiers and non-combatants have been similarly wounded. They join the ever-expanding ranks of people not "better off" because of the invasion.

* Before the war began in March 2003, Iraq was ruled by a secular authoritarian regime that was very brutal to those who threatened it, but was benign in other areas including freedom of religion. Now, facing the prospect of a hardline Islamic regime, Iraqi Christians are fleeing to Syria and Jordan. Iraqi Christians being driven out of their homeland are manifestly not "better off" now. And those who remain, Christians and non-Christian alike, may find themselves living under a regime more oppressive than Saddam's.

* The manpower demands of the war have badly overtaxed our National Guard and Reserves. This has depleted many police departments and emergency services of critical "first responders" – key personnel with crucial skills that will be indispensable if we are struck by another terrorist attack. Meanwhile, our southern border gapes open, an already horrendous problem that can only get worse if President Bush is able to get Congress to pass his so-called temporary worker program that will provide amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. And there are plausible – and terrifying – concerns about the possibility of al-Qaeda smuggling a nuclear weapon into the U.S. from Mexico. So in terms of our national security, it’s not just that we’re no "better off," we’re actually in greater peril.

* The war is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars that we don’t have. Washington relies increasingly on foreign central banks to finance our budget and trade deficits. Communist China has emerged as our largest foreign creditor. They’re delighted to buy up our debt, while we continue to export our industrial base, build Beijing’s currency reserves, and alienate the rest of the world. Communist China, unlike Iraq, is an actual threat to our nation, both strategically and economically. Once again, we see that the war has actually left us much worse off than we were before.

Hat tip to Cursor.


How to answer Riverbend's questions?

This was an interesting piece of news a couple of days ago:

The United States has ended its physical search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, which was cited by the first administration of President George W Bush as the main reason for invading the country, the White House has said.

Why does this not surprise me? Does it surprise anyone? I always had the feeling that the only people who actually believed this war was about weapons of mass destruction were either paranoid Americans or deluded expatriate Iraqis- or a combination of both. I wonder now, after hundreds and hundreds of Americans actually died on Iraqi soil and over a hundred-thousand Iraqis are dead, how Americans view the current situation. I have another question- the article mentions a "Duelfer Report" stating the weapons never existed and all the intelligence was wrong. This report was supposedly published in October 2004. The question is this: was this report made public before the elections? Did Americans actually vote for Bush with this knowledge?
I hope Americans feel good about taking their war on terror to foreign soil. For bringing the terrorists to Iraq- Chalabi, Allawi, Zarqawi, the Hakeems� How is our current situation going to secure America? How is a complete generation that is growing up in fear and chaos going to view Americans ten years from now? Does anyone ask that? After September 11, because of what a few fanatics did, Americans decided to become infected with a collective case of xenophobia� Yet after all Iraqis have been through under the occupation, we're expected to be tolerant and grateful. Why? Because we get more wheat in our diets?

Terror isn't just worrying about a plane hitting a skyscraper�terrorism is being caught in traffic and hearing the crack of an AK-47 a few meters away because the National Guard want to let an American humvee or Iraqi official through. Terror is watching your house being raided and knowing that the silliest thing might get you dragged away to Abu Ghraib where soldiers can torture, beat and kill. Terror is that first moment after a series of machine-gun shots, when you lift your head frantically to make sure your loved ones are still in one piece. Terror is trying to pick the shards of glass resulting from a nearby explosion out of the living-room couch and trying not to imagine what would have happened if a person had been sitting there.

The weapons never existed. It's like having a loved one sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit- having your country burned and bombed beyond recognition, almost. Then, after two years of grieving for the lost people, and mourning the lost sovereignty, we're told we were innocent of harboring those weapons. We were never a threat to America...

Congratulations Bush- we are a threat now.