Thursday, June 30, 2005
Corporate America strikes again. Time Warner announces they will give up Matthew Cooper’s notes to the government.
Time Warner Inc., the world’s largest media company, said it will hand over subpoenaed records to a U.S. prosecutor investigating the leak of a CIA operative’s identity.
The decision ``removes any justification’’ for jailing Time reporter Matthew Cooper, who faces up to 18 months in jail for refusing to identify his source, Time said today in a statement. The U.S. Supreme Court on June 27 refused to hear appeals by Time, Cooper and New York Times reporter Judith Miller. A federal judge plans to consider penalties, including possible jail terms, on July 6.
The reporters were looking into who leaked the name of Valerie Plame, a Central Intelligence Agency weapons expert, to newspaper columnist Robert Novak. Cooper, 42, and New York Times reporter Judith Miller, 57, were found in contempt of court last October for refusing to comply with grand jury subpoenas for information on their sources about the leak. Journalists are not above the law,’’ Pearlstine said in an interview. ``We are people who in fact constantly point a finger at people who believe they are above the law.’’
Although I’m quite pleased on one hand that the Plame case will move forward I am very distressed that a so-called ‘News Organization’ will not protect freedom of the press the way the New York Times has. Is this what we can expect in the future, no more whistleblowers because they will not be protected? Corporate America and our present government must be jumping for joy, less people than ever now to catch their dirty tricks.
I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat.
There’s an anecdote a priest tells President Bartlett in Take This Sabbath Day: “You know, you remind me of the man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. And that all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, ‘I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.’ The waters rose up. A guy in a row boat came along and he shouted, ‘Hey, hey you! You in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.’ But the man shouted back, ‘I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.’ A helicopter was hovering overhead. And a guy with a megaphone shouted, ‘Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety.’ But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety. Well… the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter, he demanded an audience with God. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘I’m a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?’ God said, ‘I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?”
On the one hand, these Bush supporters are passionately committed to the vision that victory in Iraq means a free stable democracy, not a theocracy or a replacement dictatorship or a failed state. They say they want “the success of the mission” - they say the war in Iraq is the main front in the War on Terror, and therefore it must be won.
On the other, any attempt by anyone but Bush (or another loyal member of his administration) to suggest ways and means of accomplishing this - which necessarily involves pointing out that Bush administration methods aren’t working, and why they’re not - is greeted with contumely and rejection. They don’t want the radio report: they don’t want the rowboat: they don’t want the helicopter. They’re good Republicans, they vote, they pray - Bush loves them and Bush will save them.
When a speech like Senator Hagel’s can be decried as “sourpuss lamenting” and dismissed because of its “lack of ideas”, it’s clear that the problem is not what Hagel said - it’s that Bush didn’t say it, or anything like it.
U.S. troops and others could work harder to train local militias in small Iraqi towns to help identify and take on insurgents. Allies who don’t want to enter Iraq could help patrol its borders, blocking terrorists from entering the war-torn country. The training of Iraq’s military and military police should be accelerated immediately.
Middle Eastern nations should become more engaged, he said, but it doesn’t help when administration officials criticize Egypt and Saudi Arabia for not moving quickly enough toward democratic practices.
Hagel said he shaped his views after many talks recently with senior U.S. military officials; foreign policy experts; Brent Scowcroft, who was the first President Bush’s national security adviser; and others. He plans to share his views with the current president and his team and says he feels an urgency he hopes they will share.
The United States has only about six more months to begin to turn things around in Iraq, he said.
“I believe that there can be a good outcome in Iraq,” he said. “I also believe there could be a very bad outcome for Iraq. I believe we have a very limited time for that good outcome.” link via Daily Kos
Contrast what Bush said with what Hagel said or what Kerry said. Who would you rather was running this war?
What the hell are you doing here?
Glimmers of Hope
Tonight I enjoyed two instances of the best we can hope for from our fellow Americans.
First, I caught Howard Dean on Hardball. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the blunt honesty that Dr. Dean has introduced to American politics, but he seems so much more self-assured now.
Second, I was treated to David Stacy’s journey on 30 Days. A Christian from West Virginia, MBA, devout Christian, happily married father with a two year old, goes to live with a Muslim family in Dearborn, MI for a month. His pre-conceptions were challenged, he seems to genuinely see the world through fresh eyes. For me, the greatest gift was his reminder to me that good hearted people ARE open to other cultures, other religions, other ways of looking at the world. I don’t often think that of religious people. It was refreshing and good to see his journey.
Nothing profound here, yet there is hope for the years ahead in these two straightforward, blunt men. It’s time we talk about the things that divide us. It’s time we confront all of the PR and gloss and misconceptions and prejudices on ALL sides. As human beings, we need to sit down at stranger’s tables all across this country and learn to talk.
I was feeling a strong sense of despair after Bush’s speech last night, but these little glimmers of hope will sustain me another day.
Anyway, consider this an overnight open thread.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
This is a quick vehicle to alert people who may be interested that Dean will be on MSNBC’s Hardball today, with Tweety.... the teaser Tuesday night said he will talk about the Pretzeldent and his war. Ok, should be good:
Let ‘er rip Howard!
A couple more tid bits:
this is a good round up piece on the Democratic insider troubles that have been swirling about Dean for a good month (uh, well, forever really!) ... and I will snip from within the article, Gagging Dr Dean, some excellent quotes on political parties, drawn from the remarkable political writer, Walter Karp, whom I read for many years in Harper’s.
As I look around ‘’bloggerie smoggerie’’ Karp’s commentary on parties remains astute. Who knew I’d run into ward politics, ward heelers and all, in the ‘’new’’ medium (is still the massage).
"Insofar as a...party is controlled at all, the sole abiding purpose, the sole overriding interest of those who control it, is to maintain that control. This, not election victory, is the fundamental and unswerving principle of party politics in America."
Party organizations are neither malevolent nor benevolent; they are self-interested.... In holding elected officials accountable to them, they will see to it that no laws are passed which might weaken the [party] organization; that no public issues are raised which might strengthen the chance of insurgents and independents; that special privileges are not stripped away from special interests that have been paying the organization heavily for protecting those privileges.
They use their power continually to maintain their control over patronage, over campaign funds, over nominations, over the avenues to public renown, over the whole arsenal of political rewards and punishments without which the organization would collapse in a trice....
And most interesting at the moment:
The grassroots political activity of the citizenry and its inseparable adjunct, the entry into public life of non-organization politicians, is a constant threat to party organizations. It spurs political ambitions outside their control. It opens new avenues to public renown. It encourages outsiders to enter party primaries and gives them a chance to win. It opens to officeholders themselves the opportunity to win public support on their own and thus render themselves independent of the organization. It is therefore the perpetual endeavor of party organizations to discourage and even squash grassroots movements.
And this, from the author of the article rather than from Karp, is a succinct, ah, swipe…
To suppose that these people are acting in anything like the best interest of the Democratic Party, you must buy the perennial shibboleth that Democrats refuse to tack left because it’s a losing strategy.
This is ridiculous on its face. If there is one score on which modern Democrats have proven themselves absolutely intrepid, it’s losing. They have watched their share in Congress diminish by degree for more than a decade without so much as a serious feint at moving in a different direction.
They have followed the curse of Clintonian triangulation-- we’re like them, except we care more [that is the modern Dems post Clinton LOL]--even though there is no reason to think Clinton himself would have won the 1992 election with it but for the unique situation posed that year by the Ross Perot wild card.
And last, a great snip from Dem Fest via LA Weekly:
a woman!, a Latina!, and a lesbian! who won the run for sheriff in a red area of Texas!. By 18,000 votes, when the previous win had been by 300 votes… A DFA candidate… not everybody is afraid of the grass roots… BRAVA!!
AUSTIN, TEXAS â€” Had Lupe Valdez bet on the Kentucky Derby, chances are she wouldâ€™ve let it ride on 50-1 longshot Giacomo . . . and won bigtime. Valdez knows how to beat the odds. As a triple threat â€” female, Latina, lesbian â€” sheâ€™s overcome a lot more than the historically Republican voting population of Dallas County, Texas, who ceded the sheriffâ€™s seat to Valdez, a Democrat, in last fallâ€™s election. But her ability to win one for the blue team deep in red territory is what packed the tent at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, where roughly 2,000 Deaniacs, lefties and aspiring grassroots politicos gathered last weekend, in near-100-degree temperatures, for DemocracyFest 2005. The three-day slate of speeches, pep rallies and campaign-management workshops was hosted by the local chapter of Howard Deanâ€™s Democracy for America.
Very cheering: GO HOWARD! and GO LUPE!
I was in Canada last weekend and it was so good to be there. Now we get NEWS that makes me wish I was going again.
Canada’s parliament has approved a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage, despite strong opposition from conservative MPs and religious groups. The bill was supported by 158 lawmakers in the 308-seat House of Commons, with 133 MPs voting against.
Same-sex marriage is already legal in several Canadian provinces, but the bill has caused huge controversy. The move makes Canada only the third country after the Netherlands and Belgium to allow gay marriages. The bill still needs to be approved by the Liberal-dominated Senate to become a law. The bill was drafted by Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Liberal minority government.
So it looks like the Senate will approve this and Canada will join Holland and Belgium. How long before France, Denmark, Norway and Sweden join them? Things are looking up and the news for us in the US is very good. Having a neighbor be one of three nations to approve Gay Marriage is wonderful news indeed. Gay Canadians will do us proud and I predict will have a lower divorce rate than Heterosexual Americans. Take that Rick ‘Man on Dog’ Santorum.
American Nosedive (Cont): Every Banker But Greenspan Is Sweating
The 105 year old lacky to the Bush family is increasingly out of step with his colleagues in the central-banking profession. Most of them - okay, all of them - are wanting to see actual ACTION on the global imbalances to replace the present increasing sense of drift.
In the Financial Times today the governor of Canada’s Central Bank is the latest central banker to let fly. Much as I am glad to see an emphasis in the G8 group on global warming and Africa, those imbalances really should be Job #1. Or there won’t even be a Job #2, #3, #4 and #5…
Next week’s Group of Eight summit should focus on the threat to global prosperity from economic imbalances rather than Africa and climate change, David Dodge, the governor of Canada’s central bank, said on Tuesday.
The rising economies of China, India and Brazil meant the G8 was no longer the right forum to deal with big economic issues, Mr Dodge added. He called for a new institution, expanded to include these countries and South Africa. â€œThe [G8] summit should be focusing on the issue of how in the medium-term we are going to address global imbalances and how we will work with systemically important players in other parts of the world to deal with this issue.â€?
Mr Dodge’s comments..... came a day after the Basel-based Bank for International Settlements, the central bankers’ bank, also warned that time was running out to prevent economic imbalances leading to an economic and financial crisis.
His remarks chime with those of other central bankers who privately complain about the way Britain has chaired the G8, with its focus on Africa and climate change.
Many economists fear that the growing external debts of the US, mirrored by weak consumption elsewhere, risk triggering an economic crisis. One of the difficulties in pursuing the right policies, Mr Dodge said, was that an appropriate forum for discussions did not exist......
Yeah. Right. An appropriate forum. And appropriate people with appropriate knowledge and appropriate mindsets would be nice too. Daily I think: the monkeys really are running the zoo.....
Abu Khaleel is signing off
For several months, I have enjoyed posting on this site. But the time has come to say goodbye. Exile_lsf is gearing itself for the coming mid-term elections and has to concentrate on more domestic issues. I have no desire to be in the way.
I would like to thank Exile_lsf for generously hosting me.
I would like to thank my fellow-posters for their support.
And I would like to thank regular readers for putting up with my ravings.
I will still be fighting for my own street on my own blogs.
Thank you all, and goodbye.
"I Am Become Death ...
... the Destroyer of Worlds.”
It’s oft repeated, that recitation by J. Robert Oppenheimer of a misquotation from the Bhagavad Gita. At the end of the second World War, he may very well have been describing the United States Government, not just the development of one weapon. It certainly seems that way, here in the blastwave from a bloody last half of the 20th Century, of wars raged for nebulous reasons in Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Latin American and the Middle East.
One couldn’t help but wonder, watching a deeply corrupt and bloodthirsty President give yet another self serving speech about how Iraq is part of the “War on Terror”, a war that serves only to keep Death continuously fed; what will it take for us to stop ourselves, for us to stop our leaders? Will that only happen with blood in our streets, are we only able to make a change when we’ve fallen into an abyss?
Why do we do this, over and over again? It’s not new, of course, and not unique to the United States, but the sheer amount of damage we deliver can be truly stunning. Can such a willingness to feed so many, so thoughtlessly, into the maw of Death be anything other than some weird love for it, a strange Xtian embrace of helping others “cross over”?
Anwaar Hussain was reminded of the same verse when he wrote a report on Fallujah in November of last year:
Fallujah has been laid waste. It has been bombed, re-bombed, its citizens gunned down, its structures devastated by powerful weapons. It is a hell on earth of crushed bodies, shattered buildings and the reek of death. In addition to the artillery and the warplanes dropping 500, 1000, and 2000-pound bombs, 70-ton Abrams Tanks and the murderous AC-130 Spectre gunship that can demolish a whole city block in less than a minute, the Marines had snipers crisscrossing the entire town firing at will at whatever moved outside the buildings. For those inside, the US troops were equipped with thermal sights capable of detecting body heat. Any such detection was eagerly assumed to indicate the presence of â€œinsurgentsâ€? inviting a deadly salvo.
No body has an accurate idea of how many Iraqisâ€”combatants and noncombatantsâ€”have been killed by the thousands of tons of explosives and bullets let loose upon the city. Mortuary teams collecting the dead rotting in the city streets are fighting the wandering dogs that are busy devouring their former masters. The hundreds buried beneath the rubble and debris will be dug out later. A US marine spokesman, Colonel Mike Regner, estimated 1,000 and 2,000 Iraqis dead. The world is awaiting the toll from more reliable sources with a wincing anticipation.
One battle, over half a year ago. So many sacrificed. So many of our own soldiers, ordered to carry out this destruction, based on a pack of lies given by an administration wholly owned by dreamers of empire, war profiteers and end-times fanatics. Soldiers delivered themselves unto the death they deal out, on orders from above. Marching into that black light.
Bush stands up there, talking about freedom and democracy as he continues to order death and tyranny. Can you see the glint in his eye, that loving gaze when he loses his place and his mind fills only with thoughts of his power and mission and the glorious sacrifices he offers up to Death on the altar stolen from Mammon?
They say when one marries one’s beloved, you become a single heart. You become each other.
Can you see the love?
note: Image of Thanos w/ Death by Jim Starlin “borrowed” from Starlin’s Explorations of Mortality, part of an interesting series of pieces on the portrayal of death in comics.
Gold Star Mothers to Admit Non-Citizens
Ann Herd is no longer the president of the Gold Star Mothers, the group that refused admittance to a Filipina mother whose son was killed while serving our country in Afghanistan. You may remember this story in which Ann Herd was quoted as saying that they couldn’t change the rules “whenever the wind blew...” which is one of the most disrespectful things one could say when referring to someone else’s child dying in combat. Ann Herd… another traitor, and of course a huge Bush fan.
Yesterday the group (now led by Judith Young) unanimously voted to change its outdated rules and allow membership to non-citizens.
Ligaya Lagman is in, and rightly so.
The 1929 charter of American Gold Star Mothers had prevented foreign citizens from joining. Earlier this year, the organization’s 12-member executive board voted against changing the rule.
That prevented Ligaya Lagman, of Yonkers, N.Y., from joining, although she is a legal resident and her son, 27-year-old son Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagman, was a U.S. citizen. After hearing about her interest in joining, New York Gov. George Pataki and other lawmakers urged the group to change its rules.
“Quite simply, the loss a mother endures when her son or daughter makes the ultimate sacrifice for our nation â€” is no less honorable or admirable because of her citizenship status,” Pataki said Monday.
The change was approved unanimously Monday during the American Gold Star Mothers’ annual convention in the Dallas area.
“This change to our constitution was the right thing to do, but we had to make the change the right way,” said Judith Young, the group’s new president.
The wind has blown, Ann.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
The other H
I mutilated a book; ripped its guts right out.
So Bush is being questioned. So the media are finally asking him hard questions. So he’s going on TV tonight to save his sorry skin, dragging out the final acts of his miserable presidency, final acts which will be further dragged out as the media plays out their storyline, rehearsed already with Clinton.
So the Downing Street Memo is getting more attention. So we’ve passed some sort of invisible tipping point, some broad flat top of a plateau that now heads downward, downward.
Well, this is not all about George W. Bush, and there is no victory, only more destruction ahead. And a rant, by me.
While all this barely concealed anticipation is mounting over Bush’s speech, I read a highly disturbing late update to the local news. Well, after Sherrill v. OIN, it surely didn’t take long for the courts to move in for the kill on the rest of the Haudenosaunee. The landless Cayuga Nation’s land claim, which lies to the west of my location, has just been overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals, leaving them with nothing. Having shredded the Oneidas, to the east of me, the powers that be are now turning on the rest of the Haudenosaunee (and probably America’s other Indians as well) with snowballing ferocity, using Sherrill as their justification. (Oh, and the Doctrine of Discovery, as well.)
In between the Oneida and Cayuga lands are the Onondagas; “my” Indians, as you may recall; the ones who were asking for acknowledgment of title, tax-free status, and the thorough cleanup of our poisoned Onondaga Lake; the ones who believe that casinos are soul-corrupting madness. I have written on the Treaty of Canandaigua (the basis for these claims, and one of America’s oldest diplomatic agreements under the Constitution) at some length and won’t repeat here. But frankly, short of a miracle, the Onondaga Nation’s land rights action has only a very short time before it too is crushed, along with the treaty, the hope that the Americans would finally honor their own word; a word which these people trusted in for 200 years, the oldest fairly negotiated treaty we ever had with Indian nations. The writing is on the wall. Soon the last ember of hope for justice in this treaty may go out for these brave and humane people (all of them, not just any particular leadership or group). The shreds of treaty cloth they still receive will no longer have any meaning.
Tipping point? What tipping point? I don’t see any tipping point. And Kelo v. New London? The white folks’ version of what is and has been going on. This is cause for celebration? Because I don’t feel terribly hopeful; I feel the exact opposite.
What I feel is hatred.
Soon after I learned this news, the power went out for the third time in two weeks, plunging us into inescapable sticky 93 degree heat. Powerless. I wandered up to my bookcase and, upset, grabbed a book. It happened to be a book I never particularly liked, a Christian book called Hearing God which was given to me as an idle gift by a friend I haven’t seen in years (who wasn’t particularly Christian himself). I never liked it because it was clearly written from the Baptist point of view; the clappy-happy emphasis was all over the pages, the dumbed-down talk about the devil and about “trusting God’s word.” Enraged, I decided then and there to finally rid myself of this irritating book. Should I rip it in half? It would feel so good.
However, my wimpiness made me stop once the book proved too hard to tear. I felt guilty. I opened the book and searched for anything to clarify the situation, make me cease and desist. So what did my eye fall on? Some shitty Old Testament passage about God granting someone this land. Which made my mind immediately flash back to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s disgustingly medieval invocation of the Doctrine of Discovery. Wrong answer, Baptist God! WRONG ANSWER!
I’d had enough. RRRRRRRIP. The book went into the trash. And I’m not sorry.
Yes, the Cayugas trusted in the treaty. They trusted in George Washington and all the George Washingtons who were later president of this country. They trusted in the rule of law. Just as we trusted in our Constitution, slowly being chipped away whether George W. Bush serves for 12 terms or two. Just as our soldiers trusted their commander in chief not to lie to them. Just as we trusted our media to speak for us, trusted John Kerry to be John Kerry and speak the truth at the critical juncture…
So Bush is in the doghouse. The “tide” has turned, the media are preparing their “new story” about the lame-duck president, the gleeful salivation just a hint of glinting at the jaws. Big deal. Where is the victory? In the background, the destruction of everything that’s still good about our nation continues apace, even picking up momentum. I still see only defeat for people who don’t deserve it, and dishonor for our country and the rule of law, and when I look at my bookshelf I see only spiritually dead Christian churches claiming they’re persecuted, and I see no reward for honesty, real courage, real humanity. Decent people are slandered; old treaties are given the final choking throttle; innocent people are tortured; faithful soldiers are led to slaughter by lies upon lies upon lies. All while the prosperous look on approvingly, planning for tomorrow’s feast.
I confess: Not only did I destroy a Christian book that was designed to bring me peace, but when I heard that that Wal-Mart boy was tragically killed in yet another Obscenely Rich Millionaire Dies in Toy Plane Accident (sorry, JFK Jr), I shed no tears, and failed to shed them “with extreme prejudice.” Have I been hanging around certain militaristic blogs too long?
You know and I know that there is a hollowness in the Democratic Party, in the loyal opposition. There is no real change, no hope articulated by anyone in charge. When is this hollowness going to be filled, and with what?
The other H?
Even before the major cleanup effort has begun, a fish habitat study being conducted by SUNY ESF has found something in Onondaga Lake they didn’t expect, abundant numbers of cold water sport fish. Nets placed around the lake have caught large and healthy numbers of brown trout and walleye, species which require cold water with plenty of oxygen. Scientists say it’s an indication the lake has managed to recover from decades of pollution on its own.
I desperately want to believe in the trout.
I don’t know if I can.
Give Truth a Chance
John Kerry, in a New York Times op-ed piece titled "The Speech the President Should Give," really doesn’t offer anything of the kind. Instead he runs through, once more, the laundry list of complaints against the way the Iraq invasion’s been handled. Oh, he suggests here and there a variance to the current approach, but nothing the President most likely hasn’t considered and rejected. With all due respect to the Senator, I’d like to suggest something a bit different.
The point of the President’s speech tonight is to improve his ratings, especially with regard to the Iraq war, but his overall ratings as well (given he essentially ran for re-elections on the issue). The point of his speech tonight is to try to rally the nation around the cause again. Paradoxically, however, the nation is not who he should address in his speech. The speech the President should give should be directed to the men and women serving in our armed services. A blunt, heart-to-heart dose of truth in the form of an explanation of how he’s going to ensure that everything humanly possible is done to bring them home safely and soon. If he can accomplish that, he’ll get the other results he seeks. Why? Because what’s ailing the nation (and Bush’s ratings) is not how long the war is or how hard it is, but the disconnect between what we’re hearing from friends and family in Iraq and what we hear from the White House. More than that, though, regardless of how many times the President insists he’s proud of our troops, his role as Commander in Chief, as the head of the military, is to maintain the organization’s commitment to, indeed absolute need for, honesty and integrity. It’s built on an honor system. It breaks without those.
Most experts I’ve read or seen on TV agree that discussing the details of our exit strategy at this point is foolish, so I’ll take it on faith that the President can’t share that (assuming he knows what it is), but there’s a more fundamental bit of information our troops need to know: that we haven’t abandoned them.
Despite what Rumsfeld said on the Sunday Morning talk shows, there are very strong indications that our Army is indeed breaking, if not broken. The other guest op-ed in The New York Times today is by Lucian K. Truscott IV, a novelist and screenwriter who’s spent time talking with our troops in Iraq, and who is the son of General Lucian K. Truscott Jr., the Commanding General Northern Landing Force in North Africa in WWII. In his piece on why the alumni of West Point are exiting the Army in droves, he nailed the essence of the nation’s malaise:
In the fall of 2003 I was embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in northern Iraq, and its West Point lieutenants were among the most gung-ho soldiers I have ever encountered, yet most were already talking about getting out of the Army. I talked late into one night with a muscular first lieutenant with a shaved head and a no-nonsense manner who had stacks of Foreign Affairs, The New Yorker and The Atlantic under his bunk. He had served in Bosnia and Afghanistan, and he was disgusted with what he had seen in Iraq by December 2003.
"I feel like politicians have created a difficult situation for us," he told me. "I know I’m going to be coming back here about a year from now. I want to get married. I want to have a life. But I feel like if I get out when my commitment is up, who’s going to be coming here in my place? I feel this obligation to see it through, but everybody over here knows we’re just targets. Sooner or later, your luck’s going to run out."
The most reprehensible part of what Rumsfeld made known the other day (see von’s post on it here) is that without allowing our troops to take the leading role in defeating the insurgency, the coalition troops are indeed just sitting ducks. Without being on the offensive, with their superior training and equipment, they’re just targets trying to outrun time and fortune. Nothing Rove can spin or hand to Rumsfeld or Bush as talking points will convince the troops that this is not true. Indeed, as Truscott notes, only the truth will help them now:
When members of the West Point class of 1969 and other young officers resigned nearly en masse in the mid-1970’s because of Vietnam, Washington had a fix. Way too late, and with no enthusiasm, the politicians pulled out of Vietnam, ended the draft and instituted the "all volunteer" military, offering large increases in pay and benefits. Now, however, the Pentagon has run out of fixes; the only choices appear to be going back to the draft or scaling back our military ambitions.
The problem the Army created in Vietnam has never really been solved. If you keep faith with soldiers and tell them the truth even when it threatens their beliefs, you run the risk of losing them. But if you peddle cleverly manipulated talking points to people who trust you not to lie, you won’t merely lose them, you’ll break their hearts.
So, no more spin Mr. President. Our troops deserve the truth. Spin won’t get your numbers back up, and, more importantly, it won’t help our men and women over there. When running for office in 2000, you said the principles you would use in deploying troops include the following:
It must be in the national interests, must be in our vital interests whether we ever send troops. The mission must be clear. Soldiers must understand why we’re going. The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well-defined.
With all due respect, Mr. President, you seem to have lost your way on most of those. Start with helping the soldiers truly understand why we’re there and how the mission is going to be accomplished. You’ll see a ripple effect in your ratings as they report home that things are getting better, or at least that they feel better about what they’re doing there. The Army will see a ripple effect as officers decide to remain in the service and young Americans decide to enlist. The truth is the way out of this mess, Mr. President. You’ve tried everything else. Give it a chance.
Cross posted on Obsidian Wings
Monday, June 27, 2005
theoriart: rebels and flesh
Many of you have seen these photos before, but I’ve created a new portfolio interface to go with the new design. A convenient excuse, basically.
NOTE: Reqiures Flash Player
Have a lovely day.
Quick Reminder, Karl: Al-Qaeda is the Enemy!!!Generally speaking I donâ€™t like to publish stuff when Iâ€™m â€˜angry.â€™ My angry writing tends to be inarticulate, profanity laced, and not exactly my proudest stuff. I originally wrote this after reading Karlâ€™s comments regarding liberals. Now itâ€™s been a couple of days, Iâ€™ve read it again, and I still think itâ€™s good. I know itâ€™s dated, and I considered just letting it go, but then I decided I wanted people to see this, so here it is:
This is another one of those moments where I canâ€™t believe I need to explain this to my former Republican brethren. But, okay, I guess I do. Here goes:
AL-QAEDA IS THE ENEMY!
Not the Democrats. Not the ACLU. Not PBS. Not Al Franken. Not Bill Moyers. Not â€˜all Muslims.â€™ Not Iraq. Not homosexuals. Not evolution. Not the French. Not the filibuster. Not the mainstream media. Not Harry Reid. Not Ted Kennedy. Not even Hillary Clinton.
AL-QAEDA IS THE ENEMY!
See, this is why youâ€™re losing the war, Republicans. Because you forgot who the enemy was. The enemy went from being the people who actually killed Americans to being anyone who disagrees with them. For the record, guys, if I disagree with you, I am not the enemy. I only become the enemy when I try to kill you. Once againâ€¦
AL-QAEDA IS THE ENEMY!
I have no problem with Karl Rove saying Democrats were soft on terrorism after 9/11. But thereâ€™s one thing youâ€™re going to have to do, Karlâ€”Youâ€™re going to have to PROVE IT! Show me where most Democrats said â€œyou know whatâ€¦those terroristsâ€¦they really need some therapy.â€? Show me where any Democrat said that indictments needed to be handed down. Tell me who it was who said â€œmoderation and restraintâ€? were needed to defeat Al-Qaeda. Whoever these people are, I will gladly join you in calling for their resignation.
Oh, and do be sure to include examples from the first couple weeks of September, 2001. You did, after all, say that being a pussy was the immediate reaction of the Democratic Party. Donâ€™t go running around saying â€œJohn Kerry questioned the War in Iraq!â€? Thatâ€™s changing the subject. Just tell me which policy-setting Democrats were supporting the terrorists at the expense of the American public immediately after 9/11.
Allow me to offer some proof that you are full of shit. The resolution for Bush to bring down Al-Qaeda passed the senate 98-0, and passed the house 420-1. The resolution did not include the words â€˜therapyâ€™, â€˜warrants,â€™ â€˜moderation,â€™ or â€˜restraint.â€™ They did include the words â€œby any means necessary,â€? which to me sounds pretty unequivocal. But Iâ€™m interested to see your proof.
I know, I know, you guys always get all bent out of shape when youâ€™re criticized. Anyone who disagrees with your failed strategy is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. I think itâ€™s more likely your failed strategy is what is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Itâ€™s not the people saying that you didnâ€™t have a plan. Itâ€™s the fact that you didnâ€™t have a plan. Whatâ€™s worse, now that youâ€™re caught with your pants down you donâ€™t even have enough common sense to pull them back up. Instead you accuse those who are pointing at you of not supporting the troops.
Well hereâ€™s a piece of advice, Karl. If youâ€™re going to hide behind the troops, maybe you could be bothered to buy them some armor first. Itâ€™s in your own best interest. Maybe that "frame" will get our guys the protection they need.
Since it seems unlikely that you can substantiate any of your allegations, then I must respectfully ask for your resignation. Youâ€™ve got plenty of money, and can pretty much retire wherever you like. In fact, why donâ€™t retire to Gitmo? You guys seem to love it there. Enjoy the rice pilaf (now with TWO kinds of fruit)! I hear the â€˜glo-stickâ€™ classes are a real hoot. I also hear that when youâ€™re beaten to death while being questioned, they put your name on a bronze plate and nail it to the bar. Kind of like a â€˜Ring of Honor.â€™ Youâ€™d best take it, too, because it seems highly unlikely youâ€™re going to be offered a position on anyone elseâ€™s Ring of Honor.
Sometimes I joke about how I left the Republican Party too early. â€œLeaving in 2004 was crappy timing, I should have waited until 2006!â€? the joke goes. Reading Roveâ€™s comments reminded me that I picked the perfect time to leaveâ€”right before the wheels go flying off. Republicanâ€™s donâ€™t even know who theyâ€™re fighting anymore. They certainly donâ€™t remember who the bad guy is.
Reclaiming Our Base
â€œThere is a clear message from the women we spoke to: never stand between a woman and her desire to protect and care for her family,â€? said EMILY’s List President Ellen R. Malcolm. â€œRepublicans will continue to lose women if they fail to respect that women see themselvesâ€”not government or politiciansâ€”as the arbiter of family values. From the intrusion of government into private family decisions, the risk created by efforts to privatize Social Security, and the â€˜my way or the highwayâ€™ foreign policy of the Bush administration—the Republicanâ€™s own agenda has worked to turn women away from that party.â€?
Women may be showing signs of “turning away” from the Republicans, but will the Democrats give them a party to turn toward, or will we continue to follow the demands of the center/right, DLC, “third way” Democrats and merely continue to turn our party into a nicer shadow of the Republican Party?
That question isn’t limited to women voters, but also to other traditional constituencies, as Garance Franke-Ruta reports in the American Prospect:
The frustration of some black and Latino operatives raises the question: How much longer can Democrats count on historic loyalties?
In May of 2004, Paul Rivera had an idea. His proposal, based on his experience working in three previous presidential contests: Put staff in every market where Hispanic and African American voters were important and spend $1 million to test different base-vote mobilization strategies so that by July, the best one could be implemented and carried out as part of the overall ï¬?eld operation. Rivera, a Puerto-Rican Democratic operative from the Bronx who was the highest-ranking Latino in John Kerryâ€™s campaign, took the plan up the ladder.
But Mary Beth Cahill, Kerryâ€™s campaign manager, let the proposal die on the vine. Her intentions may have been understandable—she wanted to run a streamlined, centralized ï¬?eld operation, say insiders, not a bunch of different projects—but the net result of the strategy she oversaw was an election-day shocker for the Kerry campaign. Not only did Kerry win a smaller fraction of the Hispanic vote than any Democratic presidential candidate in recent history; he lost a couple of points with black voters, too. And, unlike Bill Clinton in 1996, Kerry lost white women voters, who have by and large remained loyal to the Democratic Party even as their husbands, boyfriends, and brothers grew into a core Republican constituency over the past 40 years.
â€œOne of the biggest problems with the Democratic Party is we donâ€™t know how to speak to the people we claim to represent,â€? Rivera told me in late May over a plate of mini-burgers and parmesan onion curls at hip downtown D.C. eatery Matchbox. â€œIf we say blacks are for Democrats, Hispanics are for Democrats, women are for Democrats—the data donâ€™t show that any more.â€?
This is a growing problem, but not beyond repair—yet. However, if we continue to parrot Republican talking points then we fail to offer a true alternative. The “third way” is a way leading to continued political disaster. Minority voters were shown how little value they held with the party in the aftermath of the last two Presidential elections. Now, we are demonstrating, by championing candidates who are hostile to women’s control of their own bodies, candidates like Casey & Langevin, that we are willing to abandon women too.
Some would ask how we can ignore the impact of “moral values” on the last election. As Emily’s List reports:
While Republicans have benefited from perceptions that Democrats are the party of big government, their positioning on issues of intrusion is eroding that edge. Twenty percent of women are uncomfortable with abortion rights and believe that abortion should be legal only in extreme cases or not at all, but are also uncomfortable with government intrusion into moral decisions. These voters, who chose Bush over Kerry by eight percentage points, have fallen precipitously in their Republican allegiance. Now 38% plan to vote Democratic for Congress and only 30% plan to vote Republican, a 20-point shift toward the Democrats.
We can protect abortion as a medical procedure without “celebrating” it, as the Republicans, and sadly too many Democrats, distort a very principled stand. It is time to take principled stands. Fuzzy consensus is not a position. For some time, DC was mired in a sort of policy ennui, until the Reagan campaign showed that political power could be gained by claiming to fight for a vision of the future. THAT is the secret of their success, and in response the Democratic Party has offered only muttered lists of policy positions and spineless echoes of Republican distortions.
It is time for the Democratic Party to tap into the very thing that makes us a truer reflection of 21st Century America—diversity. There is an enormous pool of talent and passion for us to tap, and to empower. Sadly, we fail to do so over and over again, as described by Franke-Ruta:
Those structural problems led to a kind of strategic blindness to the importance of minority-voter contact and outreach. Kerry spent less on paid media in Hispanic markets than Gore did in 2000, despite spending more than twice as much overall. Indeed, Kerry spent less on targeted Hispanic media—$3 million—than he did on political strategist and consultant Bob Shrum.
In the Democratic Party, ensuring minority turnout has always been seen as something best solved through the traditional transactional political relationships that have characterized the Democratic Partyâ€™s approach to minorities for decades. Transactional politics means, essentially, that weâ€™ll give you X in return for Y—the â€œyouâ€? often being a high-ranking ï¬?gure in a given community who can be counted on to deliver votes. Itâ€™s a top-down model, and itâ€™s the one the Kerry campaign emphasized, turning to prominent minority leaders to help it out, just as Democratic presidential campaigns have done for decades.
But even in the African American community, where the model was developed, times have changed. During the general election, the campaign had the Democratic National Committee (DNC) pay $86,000 to race-baiter Al Sharpton, who at most can move 140,000 voters in midnight-blue New York City, as well as substantial sums to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, an aging civil-rights leader whose currency among younger black voters is open to question (and whose organization, Rainbow/PUSH, was recently ï¬?ned by the Federal Election Commission for campaign-ï¬?nance rule violations during the 2000 election). What that campaign got in exchange for this was an electorate that was just as white as in 2000, even as the country became more diverse.
The transactional modelâ€™s opposite is a ground-up operation that involves more direct outreach and ï¬?nancial support for local get-out-the-vote efforts and ethnic media, and a recognition that in immigrant communities, there may not be a leadership or organizational infrastructure capable of moving and turning out voters, no matter how well they are cultivated. The Republican Party, truth be told, recognizes this more than the Democrats do, which has led some younger Democrats to feel that the party is either out of touch or taking minority votes for granted. â€œThere are Democratic decision-makers who ask, â€˜How little can I spend on these voters to get them to shut up?â€™â€? Rivera says.
In May, Rivera, along with Navarro and three other high-ranking former Kerry campaign and DNC Hispanic political operatives, sent the Democratic leadership and potential â€™08 candidates a biting 13-page memo. â€œInstead of developing strategies and political capacity in communities of color to increase the number of voters and votes, the Democratic Party is steeped in token commercial relationships and unaccountable voter-contact methods,â€? they wrote. â€œIf the Democratic Party does not improve its performance with Latinos, it is doomed.â€? The memo, which grew out of a series of meetings of more than 30 elected and appointed Hispanic Democratic leaders, as well as political operatives, in November and March, has been understood within the party as the shot across the bow. Nonetheless, there are still those who ask, says Rivera, â€œHow little can I spend on communities of color?â€?
If we continue to listen to corporatist beltway insiders who have offered bi-partisan cover for policies that damage our country, the Democratic Party will continue to founder and lose. The Party, in fear of the Republicans hanging distortions of policies from the seventies around the neck of the Democrats, continues to fail to offer a true alternative. Merely being “nicer” Republicans is not a recipe for party health. As Emily’s List concludes their report:
The Future for Democrats
Overall, this survey contains three central lessons for Democrats. First, Democrats have an enormous opportunity in 2006 to expand their base, particularly among women, but they can do more to solidify these advantages. Womenâ€™s mood for change, combined with their focus on domestic issuesâ€”leading with Social Securityâ€”has resulted in defections of up to 20 points in some cases, in their support of Bush from just six months ago.
Second, any debate between the primacy of values and economics is irrelevant in reaching women who care about both and combine the importance of both in considering their familiesâ€™ futures. Democrats need an agenda that addresses poignant economic insecurities among women, but that does so with due respect for the centrality of families and
care giving in their values system.
Finally, in recognizing the centrality of families and care giving, Democrats can take advantage of Republicansâ€™ overreaching on issues of intrusion. While Democrats do not have the advantage on values that they do on a prospective economic agenda, Republicans have promoted defections by appearing to endorse government intrusions into family privacy.
Democrats must be the party of change and hope. They also need a clear agenda that makes families more secure and must develop language that respects families and care giving to take full advantage of the opportunity that they have been granted. While women voters have lost confidence in President Bush and the Republicans, Democrats have not
yet closed the deal with women voters.
"Democrats must be the party of change and hope" Yes, and to that I would offer Democrats must be the party of INCLUSION. The Republicans are making the argument that they are the more inclusive party, and it’s very easy for us to chuckle at that, but at least they are out there listening and courting voters:
â€œTower introduced me to Ronald Reagan,â€? during the Senate race, recalls Sosa. â€œHe was governor at the time. I explained to him what I was trying to do. He said, â€˜Thatâ€™s going to be real easy.â€™ I said, â€˜Why do you say that?â€™ He said that â€˜Hispanics are Republicans; they just donâ€™t know it.â€™â€? Reagan then explained that Hispanic families were taught to value family, faith in God, hard work, and personal responsibility, and to believe that America is the greatest country of all. Those, Reagan told Sosa, are Latino values and Republican values. â€œI was just astonished that in 30 seconds, he gave me the strategy, and I have followed it ever since,â€? Sosa says.
Democrats often attribute the GOPâ€™s gains among Latinos to such factors as homophobia and anti-abortion sentiment. But in fact, such explosive personal issues are rarely discussed or even mentioned in GOP media for Hispanics (whether outside groups do so is another question). Those subjects, explains Bendixen, are so taboo in traditional Hispanic cultures that when he conducted focus groups to gauge Latino opinions on gay marriage (among other issues), more than 70 percent of one group said afterward that this was the ï¬?rst time they had ever discussed homosexuality with another person in their lives.
Thus, in 2004, Bush ads aimed at Latino voters showed pictures of college students graduating, prosperous-looking families with four kids laughing, and well-to-do-looking Hispanics at the ofï¬?ce, while a very sentimental, specially composed Spanish song played in the background. Ads proclaimed that America is our country and Bush is our president. The message: Nos conocemos. We know each other. All told, Bush spent about $5.5 million on uplifting, aspiration-based emotional appeals in Spanish-language media in 2004—a small cost, due to the inexpensive nature of the media markets in Hispanic battleground states—with a tremendous bang for the buck. The GOP increased its Hispanic margin by 10 percent in the states where 79 percent of Hispanic voters reside and where Democrats declined to target them, and overwhelmed ethnic media markets in battleground states. In New Mexico, which Gore won in 2000 and where Bush won in 2004 by less than 6,000 votes, Hispanics provided his margin of victory; Democratic targeting in the last few weeks before the election simply came too late.
In other words, the Republicans offer visions of hope, while the Democrats offer ... what? To fight for people’s votes? To cross the aisle and protect the “right” of usurers to bankrupt American families? To continue to promote free trade over fair trade? To abandon American citizens, especially women, the dying and the sick to intrusions into their personal medical decisions? Too many “Democrats” support these Republican policies, PUSH these policies. Yes, they are Republican policies, but the Republicans do a masterful PR job of putting a happy face on those policies, while at the same time pointing out that Democrats believe them too. No wonder we continue to lose as a political party—we offer NOTHING if we continue to follow the prescriptions of the party leaders who continue to betray large swaths of our voters.
It is important that we support the progressive reformers in the Democratic Party, and the efforts of Howard Dean to tap into the enormous well of talent and passion in our natural constituencies.
In response to the dissatisfaction of minority communities, the DNC, under Chairman Howard Dean, is revamping the Clinton-era minority political desk system and plans to make voter targeting, including of minorities, a much more central aspect of the committeeâ€™s ongoing get-out-the-vote and ï¬?eld operations. Dean has won praise for his hiring practices, appointing the ï¬?rst black director of polling in party history, Cornell Belcher of Brilliant Corners Research and Strategy; a female political director, Pam Womack; and a mixed-race communications director, Karen Finney, who had previously worked for Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards. Finney speaks of a â€œparadigm shiftâ€? and vows that from here on out, â€œWe will not take a single vote or a single voter for granted. That is a mistake we will not make again.
It’s going to take action, not just promises, to rebuild a coalition to the future. Continuing to echo the distortions of the right will only drive members of our coalition out of politics, or into the arms of our opposition. Expanding the big tent so far to the right that it leaves women & their doctors, the poor and American workers out in the rain will serve only to continue our string of losses.
The Democrats have to remake themselvs as a party of hope and diversity, in opposition to the Repulican Party of intrusion and irresponsibilty.
(note: kudos to Ramsey’s diary on Wednesday at dailyKos for the excellent summary of the Emily’s List report that brought it to my attention.)
Sunday, June 26, 2005
"It's not Vietnam, there is no jungle..."
I caught that phrase, It’s not Vietnam, there is no jungle, spoken in the summer of 2003 by some DC pol. At that moment, it referred to Iraq. The same summer, those DC pols began to use another phrase, Failure is not an option. Both phrases are all about, and only about, death.
This tattered round up piece on (’’there is no jungle’’ Afganistan:
KABUL (Reuters) - A total of 178 Taliban fighters were killed and 56 captured in three days of fighting in south Afganistan, one of the group’s bloodiest setbacks since their 2001 overthrow, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
But senior Taliban commanders thought to have been in the area of the U.S.-backed operation, in the region where the provinces of Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul meet, escaped, ministry spokesman Mohammad Ishaq Paiman said.
They tell us who got away, seeding their names in our media. Perhaps to be chased forevermore:
The Defense Ministry said on Thursday that Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Brother, members of the Taliban leadership council led by the elusive Mullah Mohammad Omar, were surrounded in the operation, but Paiman said they had apparently escaped.
“If they had been killed, we would have found their dead bodies; if they had been arrested, we would recognize them,” he said. “It means they have escaped.”
U.S. and Afghan forces have reported killing more than 200 insurgents in the past week alone and more than 300 since March in their drive to protect Sept. 18 parliamentary elections.
While the latest losses will have been a blow to the Taliban, the insurgency has grown stronger since the end of the winter and analysts say it has drawn hundreds of new recruits from Pakistan and elsewhere.
And in case you are overwhelmed by the dead, the dying and the three card monte, they recap for you,
U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban government after it refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, but 3-1/2 years on, they have been unable to subdue the insurgency or catch bin Laden.
CNN has recently been running a self promotion ad, in which the face of Saddam floats very near a photographic evocation of Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath. Capture the above small paragraph. It is “rarespeak”.
A month-long voter registration period began on Saturday, but U.N. Special Representative to Afghanistan Jean Arnault, briefing the U.N. Security Council on Friday, said worsening security made it necessary to attack the insurgents’ financing, safe havens and support networks as well as use military force.
Oh well, just an election run up, why fuss so very much. I am worried about the voter rolls in Mississippi. Those few bloody Freedom Summers are too long ago and Killen in prison is not enough. I watched him lash out, over and over with his claw-like white hands, as they wheeled him away after the verdict. And they call the left soft. Democrats are afraid of the left, because the left will risk and, in point of fact, will risk everything, if they must. I am not a Romantic.
Analysts say the key to success at the polls will be Pakistan, the Taliban’s main backer before joining the U.S. led war on terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
Hell’s bells. Look at that, Musharraf holds the damned keys to so much, including success at the polls… who is whose poodle? George lusts for Pervez’s uniform.
Afghan and U.S. officials have accused Pakistan of failing to act against guerrilla safe havens and the Taliban have claimed responsibility for several recent attacks on poll workers and candidates.
No shit. I recall reading in Harper’s, months before we officially invaded Iraq, that the Taliban were barely off the radio after our retaliation. For a scant two months we knocked them off the radio. Which would correspond wth the December ‘01/January ‘02 Anaconda campaign when it is generally assumed that maven of the mountain caves, OBL, slipped away. If you are on the radio, you are up and running in the modern stateless wars. In the end, it is their territory and they are holding on....
As I read the print media about Iraq (and the all but narco-state Afganistan) the past few days, it is clear, there is panic and dissemble (and ‘’disassemble’’ too) in the administration. Rove pointed fingers all week lest we pay attention. But, really, what does it mean?
We are engaged, more fully vested than ever, in what I call the Global War of Acquisition...something that literally embarked on a scorched earth, road warrior-like global sweep post 9/11, but is not new. The Crusade aspects ramped up, that was one change.
And remember: failure is not an option. We won’t be giving up any ground we have taken. Not any time soon. As much as there should be a draw down, or at the least a fall back (and there may be some, as mollification) we are in this for many, many years.
The dead are gone forever. They lay their faces down in the sand, the hard scrub or the filth of the cities and towns we have destroyed - and are gone from us.
The war goes on. There is no John McCain III on night patrols and security sweeps in the Western Desert. A young volunteer, who sacrificed a sports contract to go to war in perceived defense of America, Tillman met his American fate on foreign soil, from friendly fire. The administration, who lied to his family, is not ashamed, not troubled. Americans are not registering the dead, not fully.... This warfare is absolutely straightforward, it is human sacrifice. This is not sacrifice for the harvest, not precisely, but too many of us quietly, and swiftly, conspired to sacrifice these men and women (and Iraqis and Afganis) for our future prosperity.
I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with Blood.