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10 November 2007

GALLUP: Bush Finally Tops Nixon -- In Unpopularity -- As Call for Iraq Pullout Hits New Peak

by E&P Staff [That is, Editor & Publisher. Clearly, with impeachment being a political process, these abysmal ratings shouldn't encourage anyone to actually impeach and try to save the republic! Of course not -- ask the Democratic "leadership." Gee, Clinton's inversely high ratings didn't stop the Republicans, did it? I mean, to say nothing of the relative seriousness of the charges. To all those who want to wait 15 months: how many deaths will that be? How many new wars? How much more damage? The best "public diplomacy" we could do, as a nation, is to impeach these criminals pronto. I introduce a new label below, "Spineless Democrats." Won't bother back-labelling; it'd take forever.]

Published: November 06, 2007 2:50 PM ET

NEW YORK For almost two years, President Bush has been threatening to unseat Richard M. Nixon as the most unpopular president in the history of the Gallup poll, and it finally happened this week.

The latest USA TODAY/Gallup survey finds Bush with a 31% approval rating -- and for the first time ever in the polling history, 50% say they "strongly disapprove" of a president.

The previous high (or low?) was a 48% strong disapproval rating for Nixon at the worst moments of Watergate in 1974.

The telephone survey of 1,024 adults was conducted last Friday through Sunday.

Meanwhile, ABC News relates today, "Recent reports of fewer casualties in Iraq haven't altered most Americans' perceptions of the war: Fifty-nine percent still don't think the United States is making significant progress restoring civil order there, and a record six in 10 want the level of U.S. forces reduced.

"Those results in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll seem to reflect a continued hardening of attitudes on Iraq. Views on progress are unchanged from early September, and they haven't been positive since December 2005, shortly after the Iraqi elections."

09 November 2007

Kucinich on Impeachment, Democracy Now!

And on many other issues, like the Peru "free trade" agreement.

08 November 2007

Blair 'knew Iraq had no WMD', Sunday Times of London

According to Robin Cook, foreign minister at the time, from his diary of events at the time.

But I'm sure Blair never breathed a word of it to Bush, Cheney, et al. Blair ought to be brought to justice, if such still exists in the UK. Seems like there's none in the US -- Kucinich is just a loony UFO-watcher with a hot wife and a giant ego. Cheney, who has enjoyed single-digit poll ratings for ages, is somehow sacrosanct. Lunacy.

Full Livni Article Inexplicably Absent from Haaretz Site

Promised in this article to be extended in the 10/26/07 Friday magazine; click above and tell me whether you can find it. I can't find any mention on Google or Google News, either; just two versions of the same article linked in the previous sentence.

It may only be in the Hebrew version, of course. This is not unheard of: certain things must be kept from American Israel-backers. Like the truth.

Kucinich Reads Articles of Impeachment for Cheney on House Floor

Watch it here, via C-SPAN. Here are the articles themselves.


Click above to sign; information below copied from page linked above in the title. Couldn't be more important. The number of submissions below updates automatically; refresh the page in your browser to see a change. On Facebook, it's already well over 100,000, with 99% in favor.

The Facebook Version of this petition...


In a stunning development on Nov 6th, 2007, a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives refused to kill the privileged resolution to impeach Cheney brought by Dennis Kucinich.

Instead it was referred to the Judiciary committee, which is exactly where we want it to really build our momentum.


Recognizing the gravity of the increasingly loud drumbeats for more war coming from the Vice President's office, last week Dennis Kucinich [MP3 Audio Clip] made good on his promise to force the House of Representatives to take up the issue of impeachment, by bringing it as a privileged resolution.

Each and every member of the House must be called to account at this moment in American political history, by the demands of you, their constituents, whether they will stand up for the Constitution and stop Dick Cheney's delusional march to Iran . . . or not.

The one click form below will send your personal message to all your government representatives selected below, with the subject "Support H. Res 333 To Impeach Cheney", including the House Judiciary Committee and Nancy Pelosi. At the same time you can send your personal comments only as a letter to the editor of your nearest local daily newspaper if you like.


My God! Dick Cheney Was Right!
Crooks and Liars Video
Dick Cheney's top aide: 'We're one bomb away' from our goal
by Glenn Greenwald, salon.com
The Untold Story of the Cheney 'Quagmire' Video
Washington Post
Dick Cheney '94: Invading Baghdad Would Create Quagmire
Youtube Video
Prelude to an Attack on Iran
by Robert Baer, Time Magazine
Impeaching Cheney
by Leonard R. Jaffee, Professor of Law Emeritus
Impeach Cheney
by Bruce Fein
The Imperial Vice Presidency
by Sidney Blumenthal
Hersh: Bush And Cheney's Wet Dream Is Hitting Iran
ThinkProgress.org (video)
Countdown: Above The Law
Keith Olbermann (video with Dana Milbank)
Cheney Is Trying to Silence The Star Witness to His Felony
by Bob Fertik
No Veep is an Island
Los Angeles Times Editorial
Maureen Dowd: A Vice President Without Borders, Bordering on Lunacy
Report: Cheney Exempted His Office From Executive Order Protecting Classified Information
Agency Is Target in Cheney Fight on Secrecy Data
By Scott Shane
Official: Cheney Urged Wiretaps
By Dan Eggen, Washington Post Staff Writer
Cheney Attempting to Constrain Bush's Choices on Iran Conflict
by Steve Clemmons
Fitzgerald Again Points to Cheney
By Dan Froomkin
Impeachment Proceedings
by Cindy Sheehan
How to Create a Congressional District Impeachment Committee
by Bob Fertik

Cheney mulled Israeli strike on Iran: Newsweek
Leahy: Cheney Told GOP-Led Congress It Was ‘Not Allowed To Issue Subpoenas’
Cheney urging strikes on Iran
By Warren P. Strobel, John Walcott and Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newsp4apers
Cheney Pushes Bush to Act on Iran
Cheney Urging Strikes on Iran
By Warren P. Strobel, John Walcott and Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers
Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency (4 part series)
by Barton Gellman and Jo Becker Washington Post Staff Writers
The Misunderestimated Mr. Cheney
by John W. Dean
Countdown: Dick's World - Fun With Dick And Dick
by Keith Olberman (video)
Rep. Jim McDermott Wants Cheney Impeached
The Bush Administration's Dilemma Regarding a Possible Libby Pardon
by John Dean
Cheney Power Grab: Says White House Rules Don't Apply to Him
by Justin Rood
King Cheney
by David Corn
Cheney Defiant on Classified Material
By Peter Baker, Washington Post Staff Writer
OVP: Our Fourth Branch of Government?
Keith Olbermann (video with Richard Wolffe)
America's Most Dangerous Unindicted Criminal / Dick Cheney
by Allen L. Roland
Cheney Rules
New York Times Editorial
Cheney and Iran
by Kevin Drum, CBS News
Democrats in Washington Want To Keep Impeachment Off the Table
by Steven Thomma
Will They or Won't They? Last Chance for Democrats
by David Swanson
Want to End the War? Ask for Investigations!
by AfterDowningSt.org

“Shock Doctrine” Author Naomi Klein on State-Sanctioned Torture and Disaster Response for the Chosen

"State-sanctioned torture" = the approval of Mukasey for AG. Thank you, Democrats. Think we'll see a principled filibuster? Nah. More on the confirmation of Mukasey here.

The rest is vintage Klein, a woman who knows what the hell is going on. Another person who does is David Harvey -- read his A Short History of Neoliberalism for the big picture. Here's a repeat (for this blog) of Harvey's appearance on Conversations with History: third one down. He has interesting observations on postmodernism from a very unlikely angle, as well.

07 November 2007

Kucinich: Republicans 'didn't call my bluff' on Cheney impeachment

Good for Kucinich; yet more craven stupidity from the Democrats. The Republicans? What can you say about the second coming of the Spanish Falange?

The Enemy Within: Finding American Backs to Stab

By William J. Astore

William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF), earned a doctorate in modern history from the University of Oxford in 1996. He has taught military cadets at the Air Force Academy and officers at the Naval Postgraduate School, and now teaches at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. His books and articles focus primarily on military history and include Hindenburg: Icon of German Militarism (Potomac Press, 2005). He may be reached at wastore@pct.edu.

The world's finest military launches a highly coordinated shock-and-awe attack that shows enormous initial progress. There's talk of the victorious troops being home for Christmas. But the war unexpectedly drags on. As fighting persists into a third, and then a fourth year, voices are heard calling for negotiations, even "peace without victory." Dismissing such peaceniks and critics as defeatists, a conservative and expansionist regime -- led by a figurehead who often resorts to simplistic slogans and his Machiavellian sidekick who is considered the brains behind the throne -- calls for one last surge to victory. Unbeknownst to the people on the home front, however, this duo has already prepared a seductive and self-exculpatory myth in case the surge fails.

The United States in 2007? No, Wilhelmine Germany in 1917 and 1918, as its military dictators, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and his loyal second, General Erich Ludendorff, pushed Germany toward defeat and revolution in a relentless pursuit of victory in World War I. Having failed with their surge strategy on the Western Front in 1918, they nevertheless succeeded in deploying a stab-in-the-back myth, or Dolchstoßlegende, that shifted blame for defeat from themselves and Rightist politicians to Social Democrats and others allegedly responsible for losing the war by their failure to support the troops at home.

The German Army knew it was militarily defeated in 1918. But this was an inconvenient truth for Hindenburg and the Right, so they crafted a new "truth": that the troops were "unvanquished in the field." So powerful did these words become that they would be engraved in stone on many a German war memorial.

It's a myth we ourselves are familiar with. As South Vietnam was collapsing in 1975, Army Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr., speaking to a North Vietnamese counterpart, claimed the U.S. military had never lost a battle in Vietnam. Perhaps so, the NVA colonel replied, "but it is also irrelevant." Summers recounts his conversation approvingly, without irony, in his book On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War. For him, even if we lost the war, our Army proved itself "unbeatable."

Though Summers' premise was -- and remains -- dangerously misleading, it reassured the true believers who ran, and continue to run, our military. Those military men who were less convinced of our "unbeatable" stature tended to keep their own counsel. Their self-censorship, coupled with wider institutional self-deception, effectively opened the door to exculpatory myths.

A New American Stab-in-the-Back?

Warnings about a new stab-in-the-back myth may seem premature or overheated at this moment in the Iraq War. Yet, if the history of the original version of this myth is any guide, the opposite is true. They are timely precisely because the Dolchstoßlegende was not a post-war concoction, but an explanation cunningly, even cynically, hatched by Rightists in Germany before the failure of the desperate, final "victory offensive" of 1918 became fully apparent. Although Hindenburg's dramatic testimony in November 1919 -- a full year after the armistice that ended the war -- popularized the myth in Germany, it caught fire precisely because the tinder had been laid to dry two years earlier.

It may seem farfetched to compare a Prussian military dictatorship and its self-serving lies to the current Bush administration. Yet I'm not the first person to express concern about the emergence of our very own Iraqi Dolchstoßlegende. Back in 2004, Matthew Yglesias first brought up the possibility. Last year, in Harper's Magazine, Kevin Baker detailed the history of the stab-in-the-back, suggesting that Bush's Iraqi version was already beginning to germinate early in 2005, when news from Iraq turned definitively sour. And this October, in The Nation, Eric Alterman warned that the Bush administration was already busily sowing the seeds of this myth. Other Iraqi myth-trackers have included Gary Kamiya at Salon.com, and Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith at Commondreams.org. Just this August, Thomas Ricks, Washington Post columnist and author of the bestselling book, Fiasco, worried publicly about whether the military itself wasn't already embracing elements of the myth whose specific betrayers would include "weasely politicians" (are there any other kind?) and a "media who undercut us by focusing on the negative."

Is an American version of this myth really emerging then? Let's listen in on a recent Jim Lehrer interview with Senator John McCain, who, while officially convinced that the President's surge plan in Iraq was working, couldn't seem to help talking about how we might yet lose. His remarks quickly took a disturbing turn as he pointed out that our Achilles' heel in Iraq is… well, we the people of the United States and our growing impatience with the war. And the historical analogy he employed was Vietnam, the catalyst for the deployment of the previous American Dolchstoßlegende.

While the Vietnam War was disastrous, McCain conceded, our military had -- he argued -- turned the tide after the enemy's Tet Offensive in 1968 and the replacement of Gen. William Westmoreland with Gen. Creighton Abrams as commander of our forces there. Precisely at that tipping-point moment, he insisted, the American people, their patience exhausted, had lost their will to win. For McCain, there really was a light at the end of that Vietnamese tunnel -- the military saw it, yet the American people, blinded by bad news, never did.

In today's Iraq -- again the McCain version -- Gen. David Petraeus is the new Abrams, finally the right general for the job. And his new tactic of protecting the Iraqi people, thereby winning their hearts and minds, is working. Victory beckons at the end of the "long, hard path" (that evidently has replaced the Vietnamese tunnel), unless the American people run out of patience, as they did back in the late 1960s.

McCain is no Hindenburg. Yet his almost automatic displacement of ultimate responsibility from the Bush administration and the military to the American people indicates the traction the stab-in-the-back myth has already gained in mainstream politics. For the moment, with hope for some kind of victory, however defined, not quite vanquished in official circles, our latest dagger-myth remains sheathed, its murderous power as yet unwielded.

Then again, perhaps that's not quite the case, even now. In The Empire Strikes Back, young Luke Skywalker asks Yoda, his wizened Jedi Master, whether the dark side of the Force is stronger than the good. No, Yoda replies, just "easier, quicker, more seductive" -- an accurate description of the dark power of the stab-in-the-back myth. Politicians sense its future power and alter their positions accordingly. For example, no leading presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, dares to be labeled "defeatist" by calling for a major withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2008. Exceptions like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, or even Bill Richardson only prove the rule -- with support in the low single-digits, they risk little in bucking the odds.

Fear of being labeled "the enemy within" is already silently reshaping our politics as even decorated combat veterans like Congressman (and retired Marine Corps colonel) John Murtha are not immune from being smeared for criticizing the President's war. Politicians recognize that, in a campaign, it's well-nigh impossible to overcome charges of weakness and pusillanimity. Senator Hillary Clinton senses that she may be unelectable unless she argues for us to continue to fight the good fight in Iraq, albeit more intelligently. In fact, if you're looking for significant changes in troop levels or strategy there, better hunker in for Inauguration Day 2009 -- and then prepare to wait some more.

Of Myths and Accountability

McCain's comments did echo a Clausewitzian truth. In warfare, the people's will is an indispensable component of a nation's warfighting "trinity" (that also includes the government and the military). It's exceedingly difficult to prevail in a major war, if a leg of this triad is hobbled. By choosing not to mobilize the people's will, by telling us to go about our normal lives as others were fighting and dying in our name, the Bush administration actually hobbled its own long-term efforts. Now, they are getting ready to claim that it was all our fault. We were the ones who lost our patience and will to victory. This is rather like the boy who killed his father and mother, only to throw himself on the mercy of the court as an orphan.

Back in 2002-2003, with an all-volunteer military, a new Blitzkrieg strategy, and believing God to be on their side, it appears Bush and Company initially assumed that broader calls for support and sacrifice were militarily unnecessary -- and unnecessarily perilous politically. Now, despite dramatic setbacks over the last four years, they still refuse to mobilize our national will. Their refusal reminds me of the tagline of those old Miller Lite beer commercials: Everything you always wanted in a war, and less -- as in less (or even no) sacrifices.

So let me be clear: If we lose in Iraq, the American people will not be to blame. We cannot be accused of lacking a will that was never wanted or called upon to begin with. Yet the stab-in-the-back myth gains credibility precisely because so few high-level people either in government or the military are being held accountable for failures in Iraq.

In World War II, Thomas Ricks reminds us, our military relieved seventeen division commanders and four corps commanders of duty. With the possible exception of Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski of Abu Ghraib infamy, has any senior officer been relieved for cause in Iraq? Since none apparently has, does this mean that, unlike the spineless American people, they have all performed well?

To cite just one typical case, Major General Kenneth Hunzeker served as the commanding general, Civilian Police Assistance Training Team, from October 2006 to July 2007 in Iraq. Surely, this was a tough job, especially for a man with no proficiency in Arabic. Yet, by all accounts, Iraqi police units to this day remain remarkably corrupt, militia-ridden, and undependable. Does this mean Hunzeker failed? Apparently not, since he was promoted to lieutenant general and given a coveted corps command. Interestingly, his most recent official biography fails to mention his time in Iraq leading the police assistance team. Even if Hunzeker was indeed the best man for the job, what kind of progress could have been possible in a ten-month tour of duty? By the time Hunzeker learned a few painful lessons, he was already jetting to Germany and command of V Corps.

If no one is held accountable for failed policies, if, in fact, those closest to the failures are showered with honors -- as was, for instance, L. Paul Bremer III, who headed the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad for the President from May 2003 to June 2004 -- it becomes easier to shift blame to anyone (or everyone). Here, German precedents are again compelling. Because the German people were never told they were losing World War I, even as their Army was collapsing in July and August 1918, they were unprepared for the psychological blow of defeat -- and so, all-too-willing to accept the lie that the collapse was due to the enemy within.

This is not to say that today's military has been silent. To cite three examples, retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez recently criticized the surge strategy and called the Iraq war "a nightmare with no end in sight." Another perspective came from 12 Army captains formerly stationed in Iraq, who, writing in the Washington Post, also rejected the surge and called for rapid withdrawal as the best of a series of bad options. Finally, seven NCOs in the elite 82d Airborne Division (and then still in Iraq) offered graphic illustrations (on the op-ed page of the New York Times) of the one-step-forward, two-steps-back nature of "progress" on the ground in Iraq.

Think of these as three military perspectives on a disastrous war. But even they can serve as only a partial antidote to the myth that some kind of victory is inevitable as long as we, the American people, remain supinely supportive of administration policy.

Blaming You

Given the right post-war conditions, the myth of the stab-in-the-back can facilitate the rise of reactionary regimes and score-settling via long knives -- just ask Germans under Hitler in 1934. It also serves to exonerate a military of its blunders and blind spots, empowering it and its commanders to launch redemptive, expansionist adventures that turn disastrous precisely because previous lessons of defeat were never faced, let alone absorbed or embraced.

Thus, the German military's collapse in World War I and the Dolchstoß myth that followed enabled the even greater disaster of World War II. Is it possible that our own version of this, associated with Vietnam, enabled an even greater disaster in Iraq? And, if so, what could the next version of the stab-in-the-back bring in its wake?

Only time will tell. But consider yourself warned. If we lose Iraq, you're to blame.

Copyright 2007 William J. Astore

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
October 3, 2007
6:00 PM
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
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Stephen Walt
Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
John Mearsheimer
Wendell Harrison Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
Bruce Riedel
Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution

Stephen Walt: Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Stephen Walt at the Kennedy School of Government

John Mearsheimer: Wendell Harrison Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago

Bruce Riedel: Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution
Riedel's Brookings website

The authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy caused a sensation on the Beltway and on campuses across the U.S. Here they walk a respectful MIT audience through their argument that Israel does not deserve unconditional support from the U.S.

Stephen Walt builds a case that a special relationship exists between the U.S. and Israel, involving billions of dollars’ worth of economic and military aid. This support, amounting to $500 per year for each Israeli citizen, comes even when Israel is doing things the U.S. opposes. Walt claims this relationship derives primarily from the influence of a powerful, pro-Israel lobby -- a loose coalition of individuals and groups, he is careful to say, not a cabal. This lobby functions openly to influence U.S. policy to favor Israel and has enough clout, he says “to help drive politicians from office who are considered ineffective” on Israel issues, as well as “shape public discourse so Israel is viewed favorably by most Americans.” Critics of Israel’s actions typically find themselves branded anti-Semitic “and marginalized in the public arena.” Walt points out various examples of blackballing, including abrupt cancellations in his own book tour, as evidence of the lobby’s impact.

This U.S.-Israel relationship, says John Mearsheimer, threatens the national interest of both nations. Hostility toward the U.S. among Arab states has only deepened since the 1967 war, as the U.S. protects Israel in the U.N., and ignores Israeli expansion on Palestinian lands. This resentment is fueling terrorism, including 9/11, Mearsheimer claims. Bin Laden was “deeply concerned with the plight of Palestinians since he was a young man. …The notion of payback for injustices suffered by the Palestinians is powerfully recurrent in his speeches.” Now, the Iraq war -- “one of the worst strategic blunders in American history,” says Mearsheimer -- has helped solidify anger against the U.S. and Israel among Arab nations. Mearsheimer believes that along with Washington’s neoconservatives, “Israel and the lobby were two of the main driving forces behind the decision to invade Iraq.” It’s time for the U.S. to treat Israel like other democracies, and to reward Israel when it behaves “in ways consistent with the U.S. national interest,” and to “use leverage to change Israel’s behavior…”

Respondent Bruce Riedel believes these arguments “oversimplify complex situations.” As a confessed member of the Israel lobby, as well as an intimate party to several rounds of Middle East peace talks, Riedel asserts that “neither Israel nor its supporters in the U.S. were a juggernaut always getting what they wanted nor unconditional help.” In particular, he disputes that Israel pushed for a war with Iraq: “Israel stood on the sidelines and said you got the wrong ‘IRA’ country, you should go after the other one.” He also says that while Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians have alienated most of the Muslim world, the policy issue for these countries is not how much of Gaza or the West Bank Israel should give back, but American support for the very existence of Israel.

Video length is 1:37:39.

Richard Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for International Studies, MIT, introduces the forum and the speakers.

At 2:57, Stephen Walt begins.

At 20:15, John Mearsheimer begins.

At 39:54, Bruce Riedel begins.

At 57:13, Samuels invites audience questions.

At 1:37:01, Samuels draws the forum to a close and thanks the speakers and organizers.

The information on this page was accurate as of the day the video was added to MIT World. This video was added to MIT World on 2007-10-27.

Olbermann on Bush, Waterboarding, and the Obvious "Criminal Conspiracy" Underway

As good as it gets in mainstream -- in fact, any -- media. Transcript below.

It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.

All the petulancy, all the childish threats, all the blank-stare stupidity; all the invocations of World War III, all the sophistic questions about which terrorist attacks we wanted him not to stop, all the phony secrets; all the claims of executive privilege, all the stumbling tap-dancing of his nominees, all the verbal flatulence of his apologists...

All of it is now, after one revelation last week, transparently clear for what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the refocusing of our entire nation, toward keeping this mock president and this unstable vice president and this departed wildly self-overrating attorney general, and the others, from potential prosecution for having approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the name of this country.

"Waterboarding is torture," Daniel Levin was to write. Daniel Levin was no theorist and no protester. He was no troublemaking politician. He was no table-pounding commentator. Daniel Levin was an astonishingly patriotic American and a brave man.

Brave not just with words or with stances, even in a dark time when that kind of bravery can usually be scared or bought off.

Charged, as you heard in the story from ABC News last Friday, with assessing the relative legality of the various nightmares in the Pandora's box that is the Orwell-worthy euphemism "Enhanced Interrogation," Mr. Levin decided that the simplest, and the most honest, way to evaluate them ... was to have them enacted upon himself.

Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be waterboarded.

Mr. Bush, ever done anything that personally courageous?

Perhaps when you've gone to Walter Reed and teared up over the maimed servicemen? And then gone back to the White House and determined that there would be more maimed servicemen?

Has it been that kind of personal courage, Mr. Bush, when you've spoken of American victims and the triumph of freedom and the sacrifice of your own popularity for the sake of our safety? And then permitted others to fire or discredit or destroy anybody who disagreed with you, whether they were your own generals, or Max Cleland, or Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, or Daniel Levin?

Daniel Levin should have a statue in his honor in Washington right now.

Instead, he was forced out as acting assistant attorney general nearly three years ago because he had the guts to do what George Bush couldn't do in a million years: actually put himself at risk for the sake of his country, for the sake of what is right.

And they waterboarded him. And he wrote that even though he knew those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die - still, with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terror screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which is at the core of each of us, the entity who exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and name and family and love, he could not convince his being that he wasn't drowning.

Waterboarding, he said, is torture. Legally, it is torture! Practically, it is torture! Ethically, it is torture! And he wrote it down.

Wrote it down somewhere, where it could be contrasted with the words of this country's 43rd president: "The United States of America ... does not torture."

Made you into a liar, Mr. Bush.

Made you into, if anybody had the guts to pursue it, a criminal, Mr. Bush.

Waterboarding had already been used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed and a couple of other men none of us really care about except for the one detail you'd forgotten - that there are rules. And even if we just make up these rules, this country observes them anyway, because we're Americans and we're better than that.

We're better than you.

And the man your Justice Department selected to decide whether or not waterboarding was torture had decided, and not in some phony academic fashion, nor while wearing the Walter Mitty poseur attire of flight suit and helmet.

He had put his money, Mr. Bush, where your mouth was.

So, your sleazy sycophantic henchman Mr. Gonzales had him append an asterisk suggesting his black-and-white answer wasn't black-and-white, that there might have been a quasi-legal way of torturing people, maybe with an absolute time limit and a physician entitled to stop it, maybe, if your administration had ever bothered to set any rules or any guidelines.

And then when your people realized that even that was too dangerous, Daniel Levin was branded "too independent" and "someone who could (not) be counted on."

In other words, Mr. Bush, somebody you couldn't count on to lie for you.

So, Levin was fired.

Because if it ever got out what he'd concluded, and the lengths to which he went to validate that conclusion, anybody who had sanctioned waterboarding and who-knows-what-else on anybody, you yourself, you would have been screwed.

And screwed you are.

It can't be coincidence that the story of Daniel Levin should emerge from the black hole of this secret society of a presidency just at the conclusion of the unhappy saga of the newest attorney general nominee.

Another patriot somewhere listened as Judge Mukasey mumbled like he'd never heard of waterboarding and refused to answer in words ... that which Daniel Levin answered on a waterboard somewhere in Maryland or Virginia three years ago.

And this someone also heard George Bush say, "The United States of America does not torture," and realized either he was lying or this wasn't the United States of America anymore, and either way, he needed to do something about it.

Not in the way Levin needed to do something about it, but in a brave way nonetheless.

We have U.S. senators who need to do something about it, too.

Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee has seen this for what it is and said "enough."

Sen. Schumer has seen it, reportedly, as some kind of puzzle piece in the New York political patronage system, and he has failed.

What Sen. Feinstein has seen, to justify joining Schumer in rubber-stamping Mukasey, I cannot guess.

It is obvious that both those senators should look to the meaning of the story of Daniel Levin and recant their support for Mukasey's confirmation.

And they should look into their own committee's history and recall that in 1973, their predecessors were able to wring even from Richard Nixon a guarantee of a special prosecutor (ultimately a special prosecutor of Richard Nixon!), in exchange for their approval of his new attorney general, Elliott Richardson.

If they could get that out of Nixon, before you confirm the president's latest human echo on Tuesday, you had better be able to get a "yes" or a "no" out of Michael Mukasey.

Ideally you should lock this government down financially until a special prosecutor is appointed, or 50 of them, but I'm not holding my breath. The "yes" or the "no" on waterboarding will have to suffice.

Because, remember, if you can't get it, or you won't with the time between tonight and the next presidential election likely to be the longest year of our lives, you are leaving this country, and all of us, to the waterboards, symbolic and otherwise, of George W. Bush.

Ultimately, Mr. Bush, the real question isn't who approved the waterboarding of this fiend Khalid Sheik Mohammed and two others.

It is: Why were they waterboarded?

Study after study for generation after generation has confirmed that torture gets people to talk, torture gets people to plead, torture gets people to break, but torture does not get them to tell the truth.

Of course, Mr. Bush, this isn't a problem if you don't care if the terrorist plots they tell you about are the truth or just something to stop the tormentors from drowning them.

If, say, a president simply needed a constant supply of terrorist threats to keep a country scared.

If, say, he needed phony plots to play hero during, and to boast about interrupting, and to use to distract people from the threat he didn't interrupt.

If, say, he realized that even terrorized people still need good ghost stories before they will let a president pillage the Constitution,

Well, Mr. Bush, who better to dream them up for you than an actual terrorist?

He'll tell you everything he ever fantasized doing in his most horrific of daydreams, his equivalent of the day you "flew" onto the deck of the Lincoln to explain you'd won in Iraq.

Now if that's what this is all about, you tortured not because you're so stupid you think torture produces confession but you tortured because you're smart enough to know it produces really authentic-sounding fiction - well, then, you're going to need all the lawyers you can find ... because that crime wouldn't just mean impeachment, would it?

That crime would mean George W. Bush is going to prison.

Thus the master tumblers turn, and the lock yields, and the hidden explanations can all be perceived, in their exact proportions, in their exact progressions.

Daniel Levin's eminently practical, eminently logical, eminently patriotic way of testing the legality of waterboarding has to vanish, and him with it.

Thus Alberto Gonzales has to use that brain that sounds like an old car trying to start on a freezing morning to undo eight centuries of the forward march of law and government.

Thus Dick Cheney has to ridiculously assert that confirming we do or do not use any particular interrogation technique would somehow help the terrorists.

Thus Michael Mukasey, on the eve of the vote that will make him the high priest of the law of this land, cannot and must not answer a question, nor even hint that he has thought about a question, which merely concerns the theoretical definition of waterboarding as torture.

Because, Mr. Bush, in the seven years of your nightmare presidency, this whole string of events has been transformed.

From its beginning as the most neglectful protection ever of the lives and safety of the American people ... into the most efficient and cynical exploitation of tragedy for political gain in this country's history ... and, then, to the giddying prospect that you could do what the military fanatics did in Japan in the 1930s and remake a nation into a fascist state so efficient and so self-sustaining that the fascism would be nearly invisible.

But at last this frightful plan is ending with an unexpected crash, the shocking reality that no matter how thoroughly you might try to extinguish them, Mr. Bush, how thoroughly you tried to brand disagreement as disloyalty, Mr. Bush, there are still people like Daniel Levin who believe in the United States of America as true freedom, where we are better, not because of schemes and wars, but because of dreams and morals.

And ultimately these men, these patriots, will defeat you and they will return this country to its righteous standards, and to its rightful owners, the people.

06 November 2007

"We Are The Patriots," Gore Vidal, The Nation, June 2, 2003

I belong to a minority that is now one of the smallest in the country and, with every day, grows smaller. I am a veteran of World War II. And I can recall thinking, when I got out of the Army in 1946, Well, that's that. We won. And those who come after us will never need do this again. Then came the two mad wars of imperial vanity—Korea and Vietnam. They were bitter for us, not to mention for the so-called enemy. Next we were enrolled in a perpetual war against what seemed to be the enemy-of-the-month club. This war kept major revenues going to military procurement and secret police, while withholding money from us, the taxpayers, with our petty concerns for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But no matter how corrupt our system became over the last century—and I lived through three-quarters of it—we still held on to the Constitution and, above all, to the Bill of Rights. No matter how bad things got, I never once believed that I would see a great part of the nation—of we the people, unconsulted and unrepresented in a matter of war and peace-demonstrating in such numbers against an arbitrary and secret government, preparing and conducting wars for us, or at least for an army recruited from the unemployed to fight in. Sensibly, they now leave much of the fighting to the uneducated, to the excluded.

During Vietnam Bush fled to the Texas Air National Guard. Cheney, when asked why he avoided service in Vietnam, replied, "I had other priorities." Well, so did 12 million of us sixty years ago. Priorities that 290,000 were never able to fulfill.

So who's to blame? Us? Them? Well, we can safely blame certain oil and gas hustlers who have effectively hijacked the government from presidency to Congress to, most ominously, the judiciary. How did they do it? Curiously, the means have always been there. It took the higher greed and other interests to make this coup d'état work.

It was Benjamin Franklin, of all people, who saw our future most clearly back in 1787, when, as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia, he read for the first time the proposed Constitution. He was old; he was dying; he was not well enough to speak but he had prepared a text that a friend read. It is so dark a statement that most school history books omit his key words.

Franklin urged the convention to accept the Constitution despite what he took to be its great faults, because it might, he said, provide good government in the short term. "There is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other." Think of Enron, Merrill Lynch, etc., of chads and butterfly ballots, of Scalia's son arguing before his unrecused father at the Supreme Court while unrecused Thomas sits silently by, his wife already at work for the approaching Bush Administration. Think, finally, of the electoral college, a piece of dubious, antidemocratic machinery that Franklin doubtless saw as a source of deepest corruption and subsequent mischief for the Republic, as happened not only in 1876 but in 2000.

Franklin's prophecy came true in December 2000, when the Supreme Court bulldozed its way through the Constitution in order to select as its President the loser in the election of that year. Despotism is now securely in the saddle. The old Republic is a shadow of itself, and we now stand in the glare of a nuclear world empire with a government that sees as its true enemy "we the people," deprived of our electoral franchise. War is the usual aim of despots, and serial warfare is what we are going to get unless—with help from well-wishers in new old Europe and from ourselves, awake at last—we can persuade this peculiar Administration that they are acting entirely on their vicious own, and against all our history.

The other night on CNN I brought the admirable Aaron Brown to a full stop, not, this time, with Franklin but with John Quincy Adams, who said in 1821, on the subject of our fighting to liberate Greece from Turkey, the United States "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy." If the United States took up all foreign affairs, "she might become the dictatress of the world. She would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit," her own soul.

Should we be allowed in 2004 to hold a presidential election here in the homeland, I suspect we shall realize that the only regime change that need concern our regained spirit—or soul—is in Washington.

President Adams is long since dead. And we have now been in the empire business since 1898: We had promised to give the Filipinos their independence from Spain. Then we changed our mind, killing some 200,000 of them in the process of Americanizing them.

A few years ago there was a significant exchange between then-General Colin Powell and then-statesperson Madeleine Albright. Like so many civilians, she was eager to use our troops against our enemies: What's the point of having all this military and not using it? He said, They are not toy soldiers. But in the interest of fighting Communism for so long, we did spend trillions of dollars, until we are now in danger of sinking beneath the weight of so much weaponry.

Therefore, I suppose it was inevitable that, sooner or later, a new generation would get the bright idea, Why not stop fooling around with diplomacy and treaties and coalitions and just use our military power to give orders to the rest of the world? A year or two ago, a pair of neoconservatives put forward this exact notion. I responded—in print—that if we did so, we would have perpetual war for perpetual peace. Which is not good for business. Then the Cheney-Bush junta seized power. Although primarily interested in oil reserves, they liked the idea of playing soldiers too.

Last September Congress received from the Administration a document called the National Security Strategy of the United States. As the historian Joseph Stromberg observed, "It must be read to be believed." The doctrine preaches the desirability of the United States becoming—to use Adams's words—dictatress of the world. It also assumes that the President and his lieutenants are morally entitled to govern the planet. It declares that our "best defense is a good offense." The doctrine of preemption is next declared: "As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed." (Emphasis added.) Doubtless, General Ashcroft is now in Utah arresting every Mormon male before he can kidnap eight young girls for potential wives.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution says that only Congress can declare war. But Congress surrendered that great power to the President in 1950 and has never taken it back.

As former Senator Alan Simpson said so cheerily on TV the other evening, "The Commander in Chief of the military will decide what the cause is. It won't be the American people." So in great matters we are not guided by law but by faith in the President, whose powerful Christian beliefs preach that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

In response to things not seen, the USA Patriot Act was rushed through Congress and signed forty-five days after 9/11. We are expected to believe that its carefully crafted 342 pages were written in that short time. Actually, it reads like a continuation of Clinton's post-Oklahoma City antiterrorist act. The Patriot Act makes it possible for government agents to break into anyone's home when they are away, conduct a search and keep the citizen indefinitely from finding out that a warrant was issued. They can oblige librarians to tell them what books anyone has withdrawn. If the librarian refuses, he or she can be criminally charged. They can also collect your credit reports and other sensitive information without judicial approval or the citizen's consent.

Finally, all this unconstitutional activity need not have the slightest connection with terrorism. Early in February, the Justice Department leaked Patriot Act II, known as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, dated January 9, 2003. A Congress that did not properly debate the first act will doubtless be steamrolled by this lawless expansion.

Some provisions: If an American citizen has been accused of supporting an organization labeled as terrorist by the government, he can be deprived of his citizenship even if he had no idea the organization had a link to terrorists. Provision in Act II is also made for more searches and wiretaps without warrant as well as secret arrests (Section 201). In case a citizen tries to fight back in order to retain the citizenship he or she was born with, those federal agents who conduct illegal surveillance with the blessing of high Administration officials are immune from legal action. A native-born American deprived of citizenship would, presumably, be deported, just as, today, a foreign-born person can be deported. Also, according to a recent ruling of a federal court, this new power of the Attorney General is not susceptible to judicial review. Since the American who has had his citizenship taken away cannot, of course, get a passport, the thoughtful devisers of Domestic Security Enhancement authorize the Attorney General to deport him "to any country or region regardless of whether the country or region has a government." Difficult cases with no possible place to go can be held indefinitely.

Where under Patriot Act I only foreigners were denied due process of law as well as subject to arbitrary deportation, Patriot Act II now includes American citizens in the same category, thus eliminating in one great erasure the Bill of Rights.

Our greatest historian, Charles Beard, wrote in 1939:

The destiny of Europe and Asia has not been committed, under God, to the keeping of the United States; and only conceit, dreams of grandeur, vain imaginings, lust for power, or a desire to escape from our domestic perils and obligations could possibly make us suppose that Providence has appointed us his chosen people for the pacification of the earth.

Those Americans who refuse to plunge blindly into the maelstrom of European and Asiatic politics are not defeatist or neurotic. They are giving evidence of sanity, not cowardice, of adult thinking as distinguished from infantilism. They intend to preserve and defend the Republic. America is not to be Rome or Britain. It is to be America.

05 November 2007

A "Paper Coup," and Blackwater Eyes Midtown Manhattan, Naomi Wolf

I have argued that in the closing stages of a `fascist shift', events cascade. I am hearing about them, even across the globe.
Exactly right.

Pakistan’s Musharraf Gets U.S. Backing for Crackdown Just Days Before Court Decision on Case Challenging His Rule

No comment necessary: just watch. Another step in the direction of a much wider war in the region. So Rice is full of shit? No kidding.

Impeach Cheney Now!


Congressman Dennis Kucnich, whose bill to impeach Cheney has 22 sponsors, will introduce a resolution on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6. Another congress member will move to table (kill) the resolution. The vote will come on the 6th, 7th, or 8th. We need you to ask your representative to vote No on tabling, Yes on giving impeachment a chance. Those who vote Yes to table cannot use the excuse that "We don't have the votes," since others will at that same instant with exactly the same exertion be voting No. Please scroll down to contact Congress and the media right away! Spread the word with these flyers.

Watch Dennis in a short video.

Dennis Kucinich will be on the phone, Monday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET, 6:30 CT, 5:30 MT, 4:30 PT. If you want to listen, call (641) 715-3300 The access number is: 324341# This is a one-way call with no restriction on the number who are on the line to listen. Please get everybody together and put it on a speaker phone!

ImpeachCheney.org is a Project of AfterDowningStreet.org
54% of Americans want Cheney impeached, and 64% of Vermonters.
H. Res. 333, Articles of Impeachment Against Dick Cheney, is sponsored by the following Members of Congress: Jan Schakowsky, Maxine Waters, Hank Johnson, Keith Ellison, Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee, Albert Wynn, William Lacy Clay, Dennis Kucinich, Yvette Clarke, Jim McDermott, Jim Moran, Bob Filner, Sam Farr, Robert Brady, Tammy Baldwin, Donald Payne, Steve Cohen, Sheila Jackson Lee, Carolyn Kilpatrick, Ed Towns, Diane Watson. Please thank them and encourage them to whip their colleagues.

See the video:
Impeach Cheney High-res Quicktime version to show at events.

1. Ask your Congress Member to support impeachment proceedings against Cheney. Rep. Dennis Kucinich wants to put the name of everyone who supports Dick Cheney's impeachment in the Congressional Record! The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session and is fully searchable. Every day that Congress is in session, Rep. Kucinich will submit 5 single-spaced pages of names with states, which is the daily limit under House rules. To be included, all you need to do is submit this petition. (After you Email them, you might also want to send them a letter like this one.)

And lobby them in person.

Here's a chart of all members of Congress, where they stand on impeachment, and what their constituents are doing about it. Submit updates and corrections here. (Because we want real updates and not spam, we require that you log in. In order to log in, you must register.)

2. Ask members of the House Judiciary Committee and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

3. Contact the media.

4. Contact the pollsters.

5. Print out postcards to mail to Congress Members. We have three versions in three formats contributed by three people. Use a simple PDF, or a simple Word doc, or, a two-sided card: front jpg, back jpg.




Noam Chomsky: Issues Raised in "Hegemony or Survival"

Professor Noam Chomsky speaks on U.S. foreign policy for the annual dinner of the Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (LEPOCO), March, 2006.

04 November 2007

Experts: No evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons program

From McClatchy Newspapers...

Again: no shit!

Waterboarding is torture - I did it myself, says US advisor, The Independent

No shit?