Thursday, September 13, 2007
"People should not vote for any Republican, because they're dangerous, dishonest and self-serving." - who said this? A Republican.
I never thought that the GOP posed a threat to the well-being of our nation. But these days, I no longer recognize my old party.
Editor's note: The following passage is excerpted from John W. Dean's new book, "Broken Government," with permission of Viking, © 2007 by John W. Dean.
Sept. 11, 2007 | In almost four decades of involvement in national politics, much of them as a card-carrying Republican, I was never concerned that the GOP posed a threat to the well-being of our nation. Indeed, the idea would never have occurred to me, for in my experience the system took care of excesses, as it certainly did in the case of the president for whom I worked. But in recent years the system has changed, and is no longer self-correcting. Most of that change has come from Republicans, and much of it is based on their remarkably confrontational attitude, an attitude that has clearly worked for them. For example, I cannot imagine any Democratic president keeping cabinet officers as Bush has done with his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, men whom both Democrats and Republicans judged to be incompetent. Evidence that the system has changed is also apparent when a president can deliberately and openly violate the law -- as, for example, simply brushing aside serious statutory prohibitions against torture and electronic surveillance -- without any serious consequences. Similarly, but on a lesser scale, Alberto Gonzales faced no consequences when he politicized the Department of Justice as never before, allowing his aides to violate the prohibitions regarding hiring career civil servants based on their party affiliation, and then gave false public statements and testimony about the matter. When the Senate sought to pass a resolution expressing "no confidence" in the attorney general, the Republicans blocked it with a filibuster. The fact that Bush's Justice Department has become yet another political instrument should give Americans pause. This body was created by Congress to represent the interests of the people of the United States, not the Republican Party, but since the system of law no longer takes account when officials act outside the law (not to mention the Constitution), Republicans do so and get away with it.In the past the White House (whether occupied by Republicans or Democrats) placed tight restrictions on who could contact the Department of Justice regarding pending business. It was typically limited to only the president, the vice president, the White House chief of staff and White House counsel, who were authorized to speak with the attorney general, the deputy attorney general or the top assistant and associate attorneys general. However, in the Bush White House no less than a startling 471 White House aides are authorized to speak with 30 senior Justice Department officials. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Bush administration has made the Justice Department a political extension of the White House in the area of law enforcement, which is unprecedented and seriously dilutes the credibility of the government when it goes to court. It will take years to depoliticize the Justice Department, and countless nonpolitical career attorneys -- including some of the most experienced and able men and women ever to serve in the department -- have left because of the way Bush's people run it. Ironically, when Republicans find Democratic officials with even a toe across the line, they raise unmitigated hell for that official. But when a Republican official crosses the line, Republicans close ranks around the miscreant, as they have done with the former chief of staff to the vice president, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Libby, a sophisticated Washington attorney, leaked Valerie Plame Wilson's covert CIA identity. Libby had leaked her name as part of the effort to discredit Valerie Wilson's husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, who had traveled to Niger to determine for the CIA if Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium -- a claim that would be made by the Bush White House. When Ambassador Wilson wrote a New York Times op-ed putting the lie to that claim, Scooter Libby led the attack against him, notwithstanding the fact that he was telling the truth. One of his tactics was to claim that Wilson's wife, a covert CIA operative, had sent him on a boondoggle. Libby, as Cheney's national security adviser, was quite familiar with the potentially dire circumstances of leaking the identity of a covert agent. When special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald (the U.S. Attorney in Chicago) was appointed to investigate, Libby lied to the FBI and then to the grand jury about how he had learned of Valerie Wilson's CIA connection, claiming a newsman had told him, when, in fact, he had been told by the vice president. Although Special Counsel Fitzgerald found no criminal statute had been violated in leaking Valerie Wilson's name, he indicted and convicted Scooter Libby for false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice. Even before federal judge Reggie Walton (a Bush appointee) sentenced Libby to 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine, Republicans were demanding that Bush pardon him.
Having watched the GOP's evolution as it embraced the radicalism of authoritarian conservatism, slowly ceding control to its most strident faction, the authoritarian conservatives, I can no longer recognize the party. These new conservative leaders have not only sought to turn back the clock, but to return to a time before the Enlightenment when there were no clocks. As former vice president Al Gore nicely stated it, the Republicans have undertaken an "assault on reason." Indeed, they have rejected their own reasoned philosophy by ignoring conservatism's teachings -- based on well-documented history -- about the dangers of concentrations of power. They have done so by focusing on the presidency as the institution in which they wish to concentrate the enormous powers of the federal government. Nixon led the way, and Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II learned from his mistakes. Nixon scowled as he scolded and secretly investigated his opponents in the name of national security; his GOP successors have smiled and reassured Americans they are operating to protect them as they have proceeded to convert the American presidency into an elective monarchy, with its own high council, which was once known as the federal judiciary.Fortunately, the power of the authoritarian conservatism that has so dominated the Bush/Cheney presidency is waning, although it is not likely there will ever be less than about one in four Americans who will follow such authoritarian leadership without question. For authoritarian conservatism to win another presidential contest, its candidate would have to attract independent voters in addition to their hardcore base. But polling of independents reveals that they have largely become disgusted with the Republicans, and lean heavily toward the Democrats. In surveying all of the Republican contenders for the GOP nomination, I have found that to the man, they all are far more authoritarian than even the most authoritarian of the Democrats. This raises the almost certain likelihood that, regardless of how great a distance any of these GOP candidates might attempt to place between himself and the Bush/Cheney presidency during a general election campaign, in fact, if elected he is going to continue in the vein that has already caused this nation so much trouble. (There is no doubt that the GOP will select an authoritarian standard-bearer, because these are the people who are most active in the primaries and the most devoted workers in the general election. It is almost impossible for a non-authoritarian to win the Republican nomination, as the party is now structured.)
As I was writing this closing section an old friend from the Nixon White House called. Now retired, he is a lifelong Republican who told me that he voted for Bush and Cheney twice, because he knows them both personally. He asked how my new book was coming, and when I told him the title, he remarked, "I'll say the government's broken." After we discussed it, he asked how I planned to end the book, since the election was still a good distance away. I told him I was contemplating ending midsentence and immediately fading to black -- the way HBO did in the final episode of the Sopranos, but that I would settle for a nice quote from him, on the record. He explained that he constantly has to bite his tongue, and the reason he does not speak out more is because one of his sons is in an important (nonpolitical) government post, and we both know that Republicans will seek revenge wherever they can find it. How about an off-the-record comment? I asked. That he agreed to.
"Just tell your readers that you have a source who knows a lot about the Republican party from long experience, that he knows all the key movers and shakers, and he has a bit of advice: People should not vote for any Republican, because they're dangerous, dishonest and self-serving. While I once believed that Governor George Wallace had it right, that there was not a dime's worth of difference in the parties; that is not longer true. I have come to realize the Democrats really do care about people who most need help from government; Republicans care most about those who will only get richer because of government help. The government is truly broken, particularly in dealing with national security, and another four years, and heaven forbid not eight years, under the Republicans, and our grandchildren will have to build a new government, because the one we have will be unrecognizable and unworkable."
These comments summed up our current situation -- and our possible future -- as eloquently as anything I could have wished.
Our Civilization Warriors like Kirchick -- last seen justifying multiple new Middle Eastern wars -- are either so fearful of Muslims or so eager to demonize them as the Greatest Threat Ever (and, in the process, depicting themselves as Brave and Courageous Warriors for Freedom) that they live in a world that exists only in their imagination. If there is one thing that exists in abundance, it is anti-Islamic commentary in the U.S. Does Kirchick's paranoid claims about what happens to the brave souls who express such thoughts bear any remote relationship to reality?
The largest right-wing bloggers, such as Michelle Malkin and Charles Johnson, devote themselves on a virtually daily basis to condemning Muslims and mocking Islam. During the "Mohammed cartoon" controversy, they repeatedly published the blasphemous cartoons. Malkin has a blogger on her Hot Air blog who derisively blogs under the name "Allah". Were fatwas issued against them? Are they living in seclusion, under 24-hour guard from the Grave Islamic Menace that lives in Kirchick's head?
Both of Kirchick's bosses -- Marty Peretz and Norm Podhoretz -- have made advocacy of wars against Muslims the centerpiece of their identity. Peretz's TNR blog is a virtual museum exhibiting on a daily basis every form of known anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry. Podhoretz openly "prays" for bombing campaigns against still more Muslim countires as part of what he calls "World War IV." Are they in hiding? Are they attacked during their endless public appearances? Are there fatwas on their heads?
Labels: right-wing nutjobs
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Barack Obama to Bush - "You don't have our support, and you don't have our authorization for another War."
"We hear eerie echoes of the run-up to the war in Iraq in the way that the President and Vice President talk about Iran. They conflate Iran and al Qaeda. They issue veiled threats. They suggest that the time for diplomacy and pressure is running out when we haven't even tried direct diplomacy. Well George Bush and Dick Cheney must hear - loud and clear - from the American people and the Congress: you don't have our support, and you don't have our authorization for another war."
"Conventional thinking in Washington lined up for war. The pundits judged the political winds to be blowing in the direction of the President. Despite - or perhaps because of how much experience they had in Washington, too many politicians feared looking weak and failed to ask hard questions. Too many took the President at his word instead of reading the intelligence for themselves. Congress gave the President the authority to go to war. Our only opportunity to stop the war was lost."
"There is something unreal about the debate that's taking place in Washington... The bar for success is so low that it is almost buried in the sand. The American people have had enough of the shifting spin. We've had enough of extended deadlines for benchmarks that go unmet. We've had enough of mounting costs in Iraq and missed opportunities around the world. We've had enough of a war that should never have been authorized and should never have been waged."
"I opposed this war from the beginning. I opposed the war in 2002. I opposed it in 2003. I opposed it in 2004. I opposed it in 2005. I opposed it in 2006. I introduced a plan in January to remove all of our combat brigades by next March. And I am here to say that we have to begin to end this war now."
"Let me be clear: there is no military solution in Iraq, and there never was. The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year - now. We should enter into talks with the Iraqi government to discuss the process of our drawdown. We must get out strategically and carefully, removing troops from secure areas first, and keeping troops in more volatile areas until later. But our drawdown should proceed at a steady pace of one or two brigades each month. If we start now, all of our combat brigades should be out of Iraq by the end of next year."
"Some argue that we should just replace Prime Minister Maliki. But that wouldn't solve the problem...The problems in Iraq are bigger than one man. Iraq needs a new Constitutional convention that would include representatives from all levels of Iraqi society - in and out of government. The United Nations should play a central role in convening and participating in this convention, which should not adjourn until a new accord on national reconciliation is reached."
"The President would have us believe there are two choices: keep all of our troops in Iraq or abandon these Iraqis. I reject this choice... It's time to form an international working group with the countries in the region, our European and Asian friends, and the United Nations.... We should up our share to at least $2 billion to support this effort; to expand access to social services for refugees in neighboring countries; and to ensure that Iraqis displaced inside their own country can find safe-haven. .... Iraqis must know that those who engage in mass violence will be brought to justice. We should lead in forming a commission at the U.N. to monitor and hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes within Iraq."
"I'm here today because it's not too late to come together as Americans. Because we're not going to be able to deal with the challenges that confront us until we end this war. What we can do is say that we will not be prisoners of uncertainty. That we reject the conventional thinking that led us into Iraq and that didn't ask hard questions until it was too late. What we can say is that we are ready for something new and something bold and something principled."
Labels: Go Barack
All Things Considered, September 11, 2007 · Gen. David Petraeus has offered two days of testimony on Capitol Hill. Is America buying into his comments? What do the general's words on Iraq mean for the future of the war effort?
Listen here as Ted Koppel compares the "surge" and "withdrawal" to a 25% off sale in which the prices are inflated by 25% the day before the sale. Koppel exposes the Bush Administration strategy as the shell game that it is.
Bush Puppet Dave Petraeus. I'm just trying to figure out who has who's hand up who's ass.
Breaking News! Bush to announce 30,000 Troop Withdrawal.*
The 30,000 Troop Promise
by Taylor Marsh at Huffpo
The military is at war about the war. Bush is trying to keep the lid on and General Petraeus is helping him do it.
Another new arrival in the West Wing set up a rapid-response PR unit hard-wired into Petraeus's shop. Ed Gillespie, the new presidential counselor, organized daily conference calls at 7:45 a.m. and again late in the afternoon between the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the U.S. Embassy and military in Baghdad to map out ways of selling the surge. ... ..Congress and the American people are being sold a decidedly unpresidential bill of goods. There have been reports of Admiral Fallon's disagreement with General Petraeus. It's a harder line than we're being told. Unfortunately, we won't be privy to the truth until we're in the midst of the '08 elections.
But it's questionable whether even the smoothest-talking salesman could appease public opinion--or Petraeus's Pentagon detractors--at this point. NEWSWEEK has learned that a separate internal report being prepared by a Pentagon working group will "differ substantially" from Petraeus's recommendations, according to an official who is privy to the ongoing discussions but would speak about them only on condition of anonymity. An early version of the report, which is currently being drafted and is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year, will "recommend a very rapid reduction in American forces: as much as two-thirds of the existing force very quickly, while keeping the remainder there." The strategy will involve unwinding the still large U.S. presence in big forward operation bases and putting smaller teams in outposts. "There is interest at senior levels [of the Pentagon] in getting alternative views" to Petraeus, the official said. Among others, Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon is known to want to draw down faster than Petraeus.
John Arquilla, an intelligence and counterinsurgency expert at the Naval Postgraduate School, is even harsher in his assessment of Petraeus. "I think Colin Powell used dodgy information to get us into the war, and Petraeus is using dodgy information to keep us there," he said. ... ..
Admiral Fallon wants a quicker redeployment, a more immediate response to the debacle in which we're entrenched.
Today General Petraeus said "I don't know" to Senator Warner's question, Is the Iraq war making the U.S. safer?
Now we're hearing "breaking news" from the AP that Bush will announce a reduction of 30,000 troops.
But if you look at this archived article you'll notice something very interesting. It's deja vu all over again.
Officials: U.S. hopes to pull 30,000 troops Rumsfeld, Rice visit Iraq, encourage formation of government
Wednesday, April 26, 2006; Posted: 8:50 p.m. EDT (00:50 GMT)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has tentative plans to reduce U.S. troops levels in Iraq by about 30,000 by the end of the year, senior military officials said Wednesday.
The fact that Mr. Bush and General Petraeus are talking about drawing down 30,000 troops is an insult to our intelligence. Those troops were always planned to be pulled, otherwise our Army and Marines would collapse. Not a very impressive tactic when you think about it, especially considering the costs, human and economic. But the general is tasked with one job: keeping us in Iraq until the Republicans hand off the presidency to the Democrats. They intend on blaming us for Bush's war. It's been the plan all along.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Liberal Media? Pshaw... more like Pontius Pilate Press.
by Arianna Huffington at HuffPo
I was in Miami last night for the Univision-hosted Democratic debate. Listening to their responses on Iraq left no doubt that the candidates have gotten the message that, no matter what Gen. Petraeus says during his testimony, the American people -- including the Hispanic community -- are done with this war.
"We need to quit refereeing their civil war and bring our troops home as soon as possible," said Hillary Clinton.
"I believe no political progress [in Iraq] means no funding without a timetable for withdrawal," said John Edwards.
"I'm calling on Republican congressmen and legislators to overturn the president's veto of a timetable," said Barack Obama.
Later, after the debate, Chris Dodd told me he had made it clear to Harry Reid: "As you are trying to get Republican votes for a compromise bill, don't count on my vote on any legislation that doesn't include a clear withdrawal date."
I asked freshman Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey if he felt the same way. "I voted against the war as a Congressman," he told me. "I've been in favor of a definite withdrawal date for a long time. I don't close the door on a bill that, like the Webb amendment, would achieve the same results by making troops unavailable. But it's time for America to stop enabling Iraqis' refusal to come to terms with what they need to do."
So the American people get it, and the Democrats running for president and trying to win their votes get it. Then why do so many in the media still not get it?
In Sunday's New York Times, Michael Gordon, Judy Miller's former partner in the Ahmed Chalabi vaudeville production of "Saddam's Got WMD," served up a fact-challenged piece of administration propaganda in which he asserted, "The most comprehensive and up-to-date military statistics show that American forces have made some headway toward a crucial goal of protecting the Iraqi population."
Talk about drinking the Kool-Aid. Nowhere does Gordon point out that the methodology the Pentagon uses to arrive at the comprehensive stats he cites has been thoroughly discredited, as shown by the Washington Post. Instead he asserts:
"Data on car bombs, suicide attacks, civilian casualties and other measures of the bloodshed in Iraq indicate that violence has been on the decline, though the levels generally remain higher than in 2004 and 2005."
Apparently, this means there was some period in 2006 in which attacks, as measured in some particular way, were higher than now. Thanks, Michael Gordon. Your White House thank-you note is no doubt in the mail.
Gordon ends his muddled piece by adopting the pseudo-objective "on the one hand... but on the other" stance favored by so many in his profession: "The figures that have emerged in recent government reports have seemingly provided something for everyone."
I guess we just can't know anything, can we?
Like Pontius Pilate washing his hands of responsibility, too many in the Washington press corps want to pretend they are leaving the question of "what is truth" to their readers -- refusing to admit that there is even such a thing as truth. It is particularly troubling that so many in a profession dedicated to the idea that there is a truth to be ferreted out -- and that the public has a right to know it -- remain so resolutely committed to presenting two sides to every story -- even when the facts are solidly on one side.
Progress in Iraq is actually something that can be measured. Last week's report from the Government Accountability Office did such measuring. That's why it was immediately attacked by Republicans -- because it pointed out that Iraq was failing to meet 11 of 18 benchmarks.
But the administration has faith that, because of the way too many in the press operate, all it has to do is sow doubt. The GAO puts out one set of facts, the administration puts out an opposing set of "facts" -- and counts on reporters to refuse to see the difference between facts and "facts."
Case in point: Sunday's AP story about how Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker wouldn't be meeting with "Mr. Bush or their immediate bosses" in order to protect the "independence and the integrity of their testimony." This is a claim that is beneath contempt. It is hard to fathom how a journalistic operation could write something so blatantly untrue when there have been numerous stories about how the Petraeus report has already been discussed and thoroughly vetted by the White House and how Ed Gillespie has set up a war room between the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House to coordinate the Petraeus PR campaign.
The stated purpose of the surge was to provide the stability and security necessary for political progress to be made by the Iraqi government. Progress that, as the GAO report made clear, is unequivocally not happening.
So the White House focuses on small improvements in cherry-picked data. But it surely isn't surprising that in the immediate vicinity of the 30,000 troops involved in the surge, attacks might temporarily decrease. Just as it's not surprising, for instance, that the crime
rate inside the gates of the White House is lower than the rate in NE Washington. The point of the surge was that it would have a political spillover effect. But since that hasn't happened, the White House is once again attempting to move the goalposts, and the Michael Gordons of the press corps are there to help with the heavy lifting.
The problem for the White House, and General Petraeus, and the go-along members of the press, is that the public isn't buying it anymore. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 40 percent of Americans expect General Petraeus to give an accurate picture of Iraq. Fifty-three percent believe he'll give an overly optimistic presentation. And a whopping two-thirds say it doesn't matter what Petraeus says because Bush will hold to his Iraq policy no matter what.
Today, we've been told by the White House and by the press, is The Big Day. Petraeus has come down from the mountaintop with his 10 Commandments and all of humanity now knows the way forward in Iraq. Except, unlike the original, Petraeus' message is not divinely inspired. Indeed, having watched his opening salvo -- which he delivered while barely looking up from his script -- it's not even grounded in reality.
The driving force of the White House's approach to this war has been the belief that saying something is so makes it so. That truly is the first commandment of the Bush administration. But it wasn't true when the war started and it's not true now.
The time has come for the media to stop acting as if there are two sides to the story of what's happening in Iraq when there is only one.
Bush has lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis. Anyone in this administration remember Vietnam? Oh that's right, they skipped it.
By E&P Staff
Published: September 10, 2007 6:45 PM ET
NEW YORK So General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker have spoken. Now, will the press listen to certain other interested parties in the debate over the future of the “surge” and the U.S. in Iraq: The Iraqi people?
By chance or design, a credible new poll was released today shortly before the testimony on the Hill. Findings could prove sobering, and seem to challenge much of the Petraeus/Crocker reporting.
For example, by 57% to 43%, those polled back “attacks on coalition forces.” This broke down to 93% of Sunnis in favor, 50% of Shia, and 5% of Kurds. In contrast, only 7% of the sample supports attack on Iraqi forces.
Asked separately, 48% said attacks by al-Qaeda in Iraq on U.S. forces were "acceptable" with 51% finding them unacceptable. Yet only 1% backed al-Qaeda attempts to take over any areas. So sympathy for al-Qaeda was extremely low -- except when it comes to hitting U.S. troops.
The poll was conducted in mid-August by ABC News, Britain's BBC, and Japan's public broadcaster NHK. More than 2,000 Iraqis were interviewed.
By 46% to 35% the Iraqis believed that a U.S. pullout would make a civil war LESS, not more, likely.
Among other findings:
-- 63% say the U.S. invasion in 2003 was wrong, up from 52% in March
-- 79% say they oppose U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq, up 1% since March
-- 47% want U.S. troops to “leave now,” up from 35% in March
--72% said the U.S. presence is making security “worse,” up from 69% in March.
-- 75% said they still felt not safe in their neighborhoods, virtually unchanged since March.
Brit Hume's "no diplomatic options" comments are part of the American Psyops Program to get American Support for War with Iran.
A Warning from Reggie, Contributing Editor, TvNewsLIES.org
The Jigsaw to Armageddon
Yeah, folks, you can bet the ranch: we’re going in. I’ve heard all the arguments from the nay sayers, so let that go. We’re going in.
This is déjà vu time, for sure, as we look back on the months before Shock and Awe, when so many of us tried to warn the nation about the coming catastrophe in Iraq. But those of us who shouted went unheard and those of us who marched in protest went unseen. Yet in the end we were right on the mark.
And so, we’ll try again. This time, we’ll set out five easy pieces of a doomsday jigsaw puzzle that easily can be assembled if you take the time to do so. As in any such puzzle, the separate parts might be interesting, but not significant in themselves. But once assembled, the full picture emerges, where none could be seen before.
Each piece of this puzzle contains disturbing evidence that Bushco intends to unleash a massive, and possibly nuclear attack on Iran in the very near future. Examined separately, the pieces might seem unsettling but not calamitous. But when all of the pieces are viewed in correct perspective, when they interlock to form a complete picture, the final image is undeniable:
The puzzle we have pieced together reveals a very frightening picture: It is very plausible that in a very short time, most assuredly before the next presidential election, the murderous men in charge of US foreign policy may unleash Armageddon on us all.
Five Easy Pieces:
PIECE ONE: The Neocons.
• Between 1997 and 2000, the founders of the Project for a New American Century laid out their plans for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the need for US military domination of the Middle East.
• In a 1996 letter to President Bill Clinton, they wrote: The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.
• In 2000, their treatise on Rebuilding America’s Defenses stated that… the United States must retain sufficient forces able to rapidly deploy and win multiple simultaneous large-scale wars…
• In a letter to President George W. Bush immediately after 9/11, they wrote:…even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power…
• And after the 2000 theft of office, more than a dozen members of PNAC, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and others, assumed high level positions in the Bush administration. To this day, many of the PNAC neocons continue to be largely responsible for formulating American foreign policy.
PIECE TWO: The Warning
• On February 1st, 2007, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Iraq that attracted little public attention and that received hardly any mainstream media coverage. Testifying before the committee was Zbigniew Brzezinski, the prominent political scientist, geostrategist and statesman who had served as United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter
• A long time critic of the war in Iraq, Brzezinski referred to the Iraq invasion as “…a historic, strategic, and moral calamity…undertaken under false assumptions, [and] undermining America’s global legitimacy.” But far more important than this characterization of Bush’s ‘war of choice’ was his unmistakable warning about what was in the works.
• The official transcript of Brzezinski’s testimony includes this devastating warning:
If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a “defensive” U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Was anyone listening?
PIECE THREE: Getting Ready
• An ominous segment of the PNAC treatise states that….the preferred weapon for punitive raids is the cruise missile, supplemented by stealthy strike aircraft and longer-range Air Force strike aircraft. Carrier aircraft are most useful in sustaining a campaign begun with missiles and stealth strike aircraft, indicating that a surface action group capable of launching several hundred cruise missiles is the most valuable naval presence in the Gulf.
• On February 25th, 2007 a journalist for the British newspaper The Telegraph reported from on board the USS Eisenhower en route to the Persian Gulf. In an article entitled “American Armada Prepares to Take on Iran,” Damien McElroy described the carrier as “Four and a half acres of American power in the Arabian sea,”
• On June 13, 2007, news services reported that a fourth carrier had joined three other U.S. carrier groups in Gulf. The nuclear-powered USS Enterprise, which joined the USS Eisenhower, USS John C. Stennis and USS Nimitz carrier strike groups is the longest naval vessel in the world and carries 66 aircraft.
• And, for icing on the cake, - on September 10, 2007 the US announced it’s intentions to build a military base on the Iraq-Iran border. According to the report, “The push also includes construction of fortified checkpoints on the major highways leading from the Iranian border to Baghdad and the installation of X-ray machines and explosives-detecting sensors at the only formal border crossing between Iran and Iraq.”
Do the math.
PIECE FOUR: Nuclear madness
• Background: The first of the three documents which made up the post 9/11 U.S. nuclear posture was delivered to the. Congress by the DOD in January, 2002. Titled the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the document authorized the potential use of nuclear weapons “…in various contingencies, including against non-nuclear weapons states and in response to conventional weapons.”
• In other words, this official declaration of US military policy states that the United States may use nuclear weapons as it would any other weapon.
• Reality check: On September 5th, 2007, six nuclear warheads on cruise missiles were “mistakenly” carried on a flight from North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Please, please, for the sake of this nation and the world, try to understand the significance of this ‘accidental’ move. Larry Johnson raises a very vital question in his article at TMP CAFÉ. He explains that Barksdale AFB is not simply a landing field. Rather, it is a major jumping off point for US operations in the Middle East, and wonders whether this story might not have been leaked by military personnel concerned about plans for staging a nuclear attack against Iran.
• Johnson writes: What is certain is that the pilots of this plane did not just make a last minute decision to strap on some nukes and take them for a joy ride. We need some tough questions and clear answers. What the hell is going on?
What the hell, for sure. Someone was willing to violate the long standing cold war treaty that prohibited the transporting of armed missiles by air.
PIECE FIVE: The Hype
• We’ve all been there and done that. In 2002 we had the White House Iraq Group writing copy for the complicit corporate media to sell the war to a terrified and vulnerable public It worked then, and may well work again as a new campaign is under way to beat the drums for a new war.
• At TvNewsLIES.org we thought an attack against Iran would begin sooner, but apparently the thugs in Washington still have some glitches to work out. But it’s time to get the lap dogs in the media to soften up the public for a new adversary. Bush/Cheney/PNAC has run out of bogey men for the moment, and it’s getting too close to an election which might just take away their momentum.
• How about this: The August 23rd, 2007 issue of New Yorker Magazine ran a story saying that Dick Cheney has given orders for a “a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day.” The campaign purportedly will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, Murdoch’s new acquisitions - FOX and the Wall Street Journal - as well as the PNAC mouthpiece, Weekly Standard, and other media outlets. “It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves,” claims the reporter, and is “designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained.”
• The information came from Barnett Rubin, a well known and highly respected Afghanistan expert at New York University who received corroboration concerning the accuracy of the piece from someone at a neocon think tank.
Watch for it and see where it goes this time around
Placing the Pieces
Let’s see, now. Is it possible to piece together these five puzzle pieces and end up with a lovely picture of peace and harmony in the world? Sure it is. On the other hand, is it not only possible, but far more probable that the image on the completed puzzle board will actually be one of horrific disaster?
At this moment, I don’t really care whether or not anyone out there has bought into the official story of 9/11 or not. I really don’t care if you are convinced that anyone in power in the United States could actually orchestrate an attack on his or her own people.
I do care, however, that someone with decades of experience in government and a first hand look at the inside machinations of foreign policy has publicly warned us that …a plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran.”
I do care that Presidential Directive 51, issued in May of 2007 gives George W. Bush full charge of every existing government agency in the event of any occurrence he personally deems ‘catastrophic.’
I do care that the Five Easy Pieces presented in this article include vital information that is factual and well documented and undisputed, yet are not considered newsworthy by our failed media.
I do care that the pieces appear to fit together easily, and that the image that is emerging scares me to death.
You might want to put the pieces together on your own and see what happens.
Peace and tranquility or Armageddon. You decide.
Petraeus and Bush and Brit Hume are Lying to You.
CATAPULTING THE PROPAGANDA - BRIT HUME PLAYS THE ROLE OF SOVIET STYLE "reporter."
Tuesday September 11, 2007 07:10 EST
Fox and Brit Hume take propaganda to a new level
Just as George Bush and Dick Cheney have done on politically important occasions, Gen. David Petraeus (along with Ambassador Ryan Crocker) last night selected Fox News' Brit Hume as the "journalist" rewarded with an exclusive "interview." Whereas Hume, in the past, at least has pretended to play the role of journalist when interviewing high Bush officials -- doing things like asking (extremely respectful) questions about sensitive areas (with no follow up) -- he dispensed entirely with the pretense here. This "interview" took government propaganda to a whole new level, and really has to be seen to be believed (the full video is here).
The whole production was such transparent propaganda that one doubts that Pravda would have been shameless enough to present it. Even the title of the program was creepy. Fox did not even bother to call it an "interview," but rather hailed it as a "Briefing for America."
The model for the entire hour was not a journalist asking questions of government leaders, but instead, a direct examination at a trial, where a friendly lawyer gently leads his own witness to present claims in the most persuasive manner possible, with the lawyer interrupting only to clarify the witness' statements and to provide helpful suggestions as to how the witness can make his case even more effectively.
Amazingly, the first ten minutes or so of the program consisted of Petraeus unilaterally presenting his case, uninterrupted, as to all the ways in which we have made Great Progress in Iraq since the Surge began. Fox News set up a huge flat screen television next to Petraeus, and already plugged into that screen were all of the U.S. military's own charts and graphs designed to visually depict Iraq as becoming better and safer since the Surge began.
Like a professor lecturing his class, Petraeus held a pointer, and had notes in front of him indicating the sequence of the screens. When he was done explaining one happy Good News screen, the next one popped up, and he proceeded that way -- with no challenge whatsoever -- to present his "Briefing for America." Hume sat by quietly and reverently, opening his mouth only to add information to make Petraeus' point clearer. The "interview" was engineered and scripted by the U.S. military, with Hume playing the role of Master of Ceremonies.
The second segment was with Ambassador Crocker, and it proceeded exactly the same way. With virtually no interruption, Crocker delivered prepared remarks, hailing one exciting improvement after the next on the political and diplomatic front. Not only did Hume not challenge a single point, but he again spoke only in order to bolster the points Crocker was making.
The remainder of the interview was designed to elicit the points which both Fox and Petraeus are most eager to make, focusing particularly on the alleged acts of war Iran is directing against U.S. forces. At Hume's prodding, Petraeus strongly implied that it would soon be necessary to obtain authorization to take action against Iran within its borders, rather than only in Iraq. After Petreaus made sweeping accusations against Iran, this exchange ensued:
HUME: Do the rules of engagement that you're operating under allow you do to what you think you need to do to suppress this activity on the part of Iran, or perhaps do you need assistance from military not under your command to do this?The rest of the "interview" was filled with unbelievable exchanges like this one:
PETRAEUS: They allow us to do what we need to do inside Iraq.
HUME:Is that enough in your view?
PETRAEUS: Well, that's what I'm responsible for, and again, when I have concerns about something beyond that, I take them to my boss . . . and in fact, we have shared our concerns with him and with the chain of command, and there is a pretty hard look ongoing at that particular situation.
HUME: That sounds pretty disturbing, Ambassador Crocker -- that we are confronting with Iran now a situation where it doesn't appear that we have any diplomatic possibilities to suppress this activity by Iran, or do we?
HUME: Would you say that we wouldn't be in the situation we are in today in terms of sectarian violence in Iraq generally had not Al Qaeda not been present and active there?Obviously, Fox News is free to say whatever it wants, and to give the government as much of a platform as it wants. But the fact that other journalists would sit meekly by and quietly accept the announcement that Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker would grant an "exclusive interview" to a propaganda network -- and that they all continue to pretend that Brit Hume is a "journalist" -- is inexcusable. I defy anyone to watch this hour-long program and identify anything at all that would be different if the interview had been conducted with a Soviet General by Pravda, or if the interview had been conducted by a U.S. military spokesman. There are no differences, except that -- with a Pravda interview or one conducted by one of Petraeus' subordinates -- the deceit would be less.
PETRAEUS: That's correct.
HUME: Has this, in an ultimate sense, turned out to be, more than anything else, a war with Al Qaeda?
PETRAEUS: Well, it is Al Qaeda and associated movements, I think, or affiliates, if you would.
Yet our media class continues to treat Fox News, and especially Brit Hume, as though they are some type of legitimate journalists. That says more about the state of our political press and the true role it plays than it does about Fox and Hume. Here, for instance, is just part of a worshipful profile written last year by Howard Kurtz, "media critic" for The Washington Post, in which he and several other "journalists" praised Hume for his superb journalistic integrity:
There is a formal bearing about Hume that transcends his suspenders and American flag lapel pin. He speaks deliberately, unhurriedly, making his points with logic rather than passion. On a network filled with flamboyant personalities, he gave his nightly program the bland title "Special Report." . . .Even before this obscene propaganda show last night, the very idea that Hume could be considered a "journalist," and that there is nothing deemed improper about Gen. Petraeus choosing him for an exclusive interview, speaks volumes about the broken and corrupt state of our media. Hume is an outspoken proponent of the war, having called Jack Murtha senile for advocating withdrawal and proclaiming the Democrats untrustworthy on national security for opposing the war.
Hume is no partisan brawler in the mold of some of Fox's high-decibel hosts. By virtue of his investigative background, his understated style and his management role, he represents a hybrid strain: conservatives who believe in news, not bloviation, but news that passes through a different lens, filtered through a different set of assumptions. . . .
"He has a wonderful style which makes you want to hear what Brit has to say, in an age when so many people are in your face," [Charlie] Gibson says.
A country with a functioning political press would never pretend that the pro-war, Bush-worshipping Hume could conduct an actual interview with Petraeus, let alone be the only journalist allowed to do so. And a government subject even to minimal levels of accountability would be too embarrassed, or at least deterred, from decreeing that its top general, burdened by a dubious record and making highly precarious claims about an ongoing war, would sit for a television interview with only one "journalist," and that journalist would be Brit Hume.
Yet not only does all of that happen with not a word of protest from our media, but they proceed to produce the most astonishingly transparent propaganda spectacle one can imagine, knowing that there is no cost to doing so. What a sad commentary on the state of our country's political culture.
When David Halberstam died earlier this year, all of our media stars solemnly paid homage to this "true journalist." But as I have noted many times, Halberstam -- in a speech to the Columbia School of Journalism shortly before he died -- recounted the proudest moment of his career: When he was a young reporter in Saigon, already disliked by the U.S. military for his adversarial reporting, he stood up in a military press briefing and demanded that he be allowed access to the battlefield so that he could see for himself what was happening and not have to rely blindly on the Generals' claims:
And in the back, and outside, some 40 military officers, all of them big time brass. It was clearly an attempt to intimidate us.Now, our "journalists" conduct "interviews" with Generals from their knees, allow them to script the entire program in advance, and -- with some isolated and noble exceptions -- see their role as giving a platform to and uncritically amplifying every assertion made by the U.S. military. Last night's perfectly scripted Fox pageant demonstrates that they don't even bother to pretend otherwise anymore. That hour-long "interview" last night with Petraeus and Crocker would fit quite comfortably on North Korean state television. It also now fits quite comfortably within the American media landscape.
General Stilwell tried to take the intimidation a step further. He began by saying that Neil and I had bothered General Harkins and Ambassador Lodge and other VIPs, and we were not to do it again. Period.
And I stood up, my heart beating wildly -- and told him that we were not his corporals or privates, that we worked for The New York Times and UP and AP and Newsweek, not for the Department of Defense.
I said that we knew that 30 American helicopters and perhaps 150 American soldiers had gone into battle, and the American people had a right to know what happened. I went on to say that we would continue to press to go on missions and call Ambassador Lodge and General Harkins, but he could, if he chose, write to our editors telling them that we were being too aggressive, and were pushing much too hard to go into battle. That was certainly his right.
Glenn Greenwald on the Petraeus report (written 6 months ago)
September, you see, is the real turning point, the real Day of Reckoning. Finally, our political elites are going to face the cold, hard truth in an unvarnished and hard-nosed way about The Facts on the Ground. That is the read deadline for George W. Bush. No more leniency for him come September. Republicans, Democrats and their pundit and opinion-making comrades alike have all banded together -- strength in numbers -- and boldly decreed: "No More." Either we have Real Progress in September, or that is the end of the line.
That's what one hears over and over from all of our Serious and Sober Beltway denizens -- the ones who advocated the war in the first place and assured us it was going well for the last four years (and therefore have great credibility on such matters). As but just one example, the very serious, sober, smart expert Michael O'Hanlon, bearing the title of Senior Fellow of Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, was on Fox News yesterday explaining how "smart" the Democrats were for funding the war with no limits because their real opportunity is September, when -- if things are not going well -- everyone will support them in imposing real limits.
But all that is going to happen In September is that we are going to await with bated breath for General David Petraeus -- he of infallible wisdom, judgment and honesty, and unquestionable objectivity -- to descend upon Washington and reveal whether there is Real Progress being made (by him) in Iraq. We are all going to leave partisanship and politics to the side and turn to the source who resides above all of that, the one who can be counted on to speak the Real Truth -- General David Petraeus.
And, needless to say, General Petraeus will, cautiously though emphatically, declare that progress is being made, though there is much work that remains to be done. And therefore we must redouble our resolve and stay until The Job is Done. . . .
And with General Petraeus heralded as the Objective Source of Honor to be Trusted, the White House and Congressional Republicans and Fred Hiatt will immediately proclaim that it would be irresponsible and reckless (and terribly unserious) not to continue with our Great Progress, that we should leave such judgments to the Generals on the Ground, not Politicians in Washington. Joe Lieberman and Bill Kristol will warn that anyone who speaks out in dissent at this Important Time of Opportunity is Emboldening Al Qaeda, and General Petraeus will agree.
And in September, when the great (though incomplete) progress is unveiled by General Petraeus, our pundit class will continue their canonization of The General, and thus, that there is Progress in Iraq will be the conventional wisdom which all serious and responsible people recognize ("Finally, after four years of frustration, General David Petraeus, in dramatic testimony before Congress, highlighted the great improvement the U.S. is seeing in its war against Al Qaeda in Iraq"). And a sufficient number of Democrats will either be persuaded by this ritual or will be sufficiently afraid of it to do anything other than let the entire spectacle continue.
The central unyielding truth in our political landscape is that -- no matter what -- the War in Iraq is not going to end before the end of the Bush presidency. That has been obvious for a very long time, and that is why it is so bizarre to watch the Beltway establishment continue to pretend that there is some Big Decision Day coming in September -- the day when Republicans take a stand and our political elite put their foot down.
Nothing has changed. Republicans and media-war-proponents are far too invested in the war to do anything other than claim it is finally going well. And there are more than enough Democrats who either (a) believe we should stay in Iraq indefinitely, (b) perceive political benefits from staying, and/or (c) fear forcing withdrawal.
General Petraeus is a Bush Yes Man.......... and a Fucking Liar.
You can sign the petition, here.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Oilwellian - Pox Americana
Study finds left-wing brain, right-wing brainEven in humdrum nonpolitical decisions, liberals and conservatives literally think differently, researchers show.
By Denise Gellene
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 10, 2007
Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives because of how their brains work.
In a simple experiment reported todayin the journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists at New York University and UCLA show that political orientation is related to differences in how the brain processes information.
Previous psychological studies have found that conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments whereas liberals are more open to new experiences. The latest study found those traits are not confined to political situations but also influence everyday decisions.
The results show "there are two cognitive styles -- a liberal style and a conservative style," said UCLA neurologist Dr. Marco Iacoboni, who was not connected to the latest research.
Participants were college students whose politics ranged from "very liberal" to "very conservative." They were instructed to tap a keyboard when an M appeared on a computer monitor and to refrain from tapping when they saw a W.
M appeared four times more frequently than W, conditioning participants to press a key in knee-jerk fashion whenever they saw a letter.
Each participant was wired to an electroencephalograph that recorded activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects conflicts between a habitual tendency (pressing a key) and a more appropriate response (not pressing the key). Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives when they saw a W, researchers said. Liberals and conservatives were equally accurate in recognizing M.
Researchers got the same results when they repeated the experiment in reverse, asking another set of participants to tap when a W appeared.
Frank J. Sulloway, a researcher at UC Berkeley's Institute of Personality and Social Research who was not connected to the study, said the results "provided an elegant demonstration that individual differences on a conservative-liberal dimension are strongly related to brain activity."
Analyzing the data, Sulloway said liberals were 4.9 times as likely as conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts, and 2.2 times as likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy.
Sulloway said the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a "flip-flopper" for changing his mind about the conflict.
Based on the results, he said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.
"There is ample data from the history of science showing that social and political liberals indeed do tend to support major revolutions in science," said Sulloway, who has written about the history of science and has studied behavioral differences between conservatives and liberals.
Lead author David Amodio, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University, cautioned that the study looked at a narrow range of human behavior and that it would be a mistake to conclude that one political orientation was better. The tendency of conservatives to block distracting information could be a good thing depending on the situation, he said.
Political orientation, he noted, occurs along a spectrum, and positions on specific issues, such as taxes, are influenced by many factors, including education and wealth. Some liberals oppose higher taxes and some conservatives favor abortion rights.
Still, he acknowledged that a meeting of the minds between conservatives and liberals looked difficult given the study results.
"Does this mean liberals and conservatives are never going to agree?" Amodio asked. "Maybe it suggests one reason why they tend not to get along."
by: Matt Stoller
Mon Sep 10, 2007 at 10:09:33 AM EDT
Relatively speaking, there's not a lot of press coverage of Republican Presidential candidates, though there is tremendous parsing of misquotes of Obama's wife's statements about which bed she sleeps in, Oprah's questionably relevant endorsement, or the Clinton campaign's tangential relationship to one donor out of thousands.
But it really is a good question as to why the Beltway establishment isn't pointing out that John McCain regularly says things that are, simply put, crazy.
Today, leading Democratic presidential candidates vote against funding for our troops engaged in war in Afghanistan and Iraq," McCain said in a speech to the California Republican Party convention. "Today, leading Democratic presidential candidates question whether there is a war on terror, offer to enter into unconditional negotiations with our worst enemies, and talk about countering the forces of radicalism by advocating surrender to them in Iraq.
First of all, McCain's accusation, that Democrats want to 'surrender' to the forces of radicalism, is remarkable for its sheer extremist bent. The only possible meaning is that a policy change in which the US forces no longer occupy Iraq indefinitely is somehow treasonous. The vast majority of the US public disagrees with this assessment, which is increasingly part of a fringe corner of a lunatic right-wing world. The Beltway world isn't bothering to incorporate this stunning assertion, repeated endlessly by various right-wing bloggers, into their narrative. John McCain, far from a fringe candidate who rhetorically associates with some of the most extreme elements of American culture and seeks an indefinite occupation of a foreign country, is a mainstream Presidential candidate, perhaps a reformer, a maverick, a straight-shooter, but always an honorable guy.
I don't know why this is, but I was having a rather depressing conversation yesterday with a few Hill staffers, and we talked about our mutual frustration with Democrats who believe in 'adults' like McCain, Mike McConnell, Colin Powell, and the latest showhorse, David Petraeus. They just need to trust someone, anyone, in the administration, to give them facts, even if there is no one trustworthy in the entire operation. I think this is generational, and is bound up in our entire think tank and media culture. Let's go back to the penultimate 'liberal hawk', to Tom Friedman, who wrote the following in November, 2002.
With the Dems out of business, the real opposition party on foreign policy will now be the ''De Facto Democrats'': Colin Powell, John McCain and the British prime minister, Tony Blair. They are the only voices that, if raised in opposition to any Bush foreign policy initiative, could restrain the president and sway the public. That is not true of any Democrat today.
What the last election showed us is what a deep trauma of vulnerability 9/11 etched on the American psyche. ''While the Democrats failed to articulate a broad range of policy differences with President Bush,'' said David Makovsky of the Washington Institute, ''their key failure was their inability to persuade Americans -- in their guts -- that they were prepared to deal with the world as it really is now.'' That is a world full of terrorists and rogue regimes dedicated to our destruction and not responsive to therapy or social work.
...The reason the De Facto Democrats are so important, and have a future, is that people trust that they see the world as it is -- but also aspire to make it a better place. That is where the soul of America is.
This misjudgment is unbelievably profound. John McCain was a 'de facto' Democrat, though now he's practically accusing leading Democrats of treason, and that's not even speaking to the error of considering Colin Powell or Tony Blair meaningful opposition figures to Bush. Tony Blair.
Anyway, this desperation that baby boomer establishment figures have to believe in someone, anyone, leads them to fall in love with the latest assuring Republican Daddy figure, like that ole' maverick John McCain in 2002. And then when these people unmask themselves as extremist right-wing fringe elements of society, the establishment simply cannot cope, and so ignores their turn.
Fortunately, the public has learned to ignore the establishment.