Saturday, October 04, 2003

The OxyContin Blues Part 1  

Dave Neiwert gives the definitive take on Limbaugh's remarks while hosting an ESPN football broadcast. He is an "ignoramus," says Dave. Alas, Limbaugh's ignoramus-osity is not confined to sports or race, as Limbaugh himself is learning the hard way right now. Atrios with his usual brilliant speed at nexis/lexis/google search has uncovered Limbaugh's opinion of drug abusers.
I know every expert in the world will disagree with me, but I don't buy into the disease part of it. The first time you reach for a substance you are making a choice. Every time you go back, you are making a personal choice. I feel very strongly about that.
This is simply not so. Every expert in the world disagrees with Limbaugh for a reason: addictive drugs undermine personal choice. That is why they are called addictive in the first place.

There is plenty of nonsense about drug abuse out there - for example, contrary to popular opinion, only about 23% of heroin users become addicts (also see here for an abstract of "The Clinician's Illusion" - I'm trying to get a link to the entire article!). But what is indisputable is the neurobiology of addiction, revealed in study after study after study. There is considerable evidence that the brain of a drug addict is profoundly changed by the experience of drug abuse:

(Picture from Frontline . For a somewhat more technical article on the neurobiology of cocaine addiction go here.)

There is also considerable evidence to support the notion that there is a genetic pre-disposition towards addiction, but the genetic picture is complicated by other factors, including environmental ones.

Naturally, the notion of "complication" is anathema to a man like Limbaugh, and not only because of his considerable intellectual limitations (which, of course, have nothing to do with his addiction). Ideologically, the idea that problems might have many causes, some of more or less influence on the result, is a repellent one to some people. Unfortunately for their world view, the cause of nearly everything that happens is the result of many variables. That the world is so is, naturally, no reason to avoid tackling complex problems. But they have to be approached with an appropriate awareness of what is involved. A disorder like drug addiction is not reducible to a single factor, even the gross changes in brain chemistry that are readily apparent. But a viewpoint that minimizes the profound neurological changes in the addict's brain that can influence free will is an ignorant and foolish one even when it is held, as it is by Limbaugh, with someone who has direct experience with addiction.

In short, there is nothing whatsoever to support Limbaugh's simple-minded thesis. Drug addiction may be more of a syndrome than a disease, but choice is only one part, far from the only part, of an effective treatment for many people. In the case of an extremely addictive substance like OxyContin, the one Limbaugh abused (and may still be abusing) and which has much more addictive potential than heroin, choice alone is not going to work.

Limbaugh has apparently gone twice into rehab and relapsed. It is quite possible that he will spend the rest of his life on and off Oxy because those unlucky enough to relapse twice often continue to relapse. A "cure" must include some kind of neurological intervention as well as the psychological "will" to stop. Most likely, if such a cure is found for Limbaugh's particular addiction, it will be a chemical substance similar to methadone. At present, however, no medication is available that treats OxyContin addiction.

In part 2 of The OxyContin Blues, I will talk a little more about addictions in general. I'll also tell a few relevant anecdotes from my younger years dealing with what it is like to stop illegal drug and tobacco use from the viewpoint of someone who does not have a classic addictive personality (WARNING - My experiences with dope are, for anyone but rightwing prigs, quite prosaic and not at all titillating. It is useful only as an example of what a non-addict goes through. If you want to read an amazing account of drug abuse, pick up Naked Lunch).

Most people in my social and cultural milieu used drugs when they were young, but incredibly, very few will admit that they did today. Now look: as a conservative congressman once famously said, if you didn't smoke pot in the 60's, you weren't alive in the 60's. If nothing else, now that Limbaugh has been outed, it really is long overdue to talk openly about the wide continuum of experience with illegal drugs, without romanticising the experience or demonizing it (which is essentially the same thing). Only by being upfront can we find effective ways to contol its use and minimize its harmful effects on those who suffer the most: the addicts and their immediate families and relationships. Limbaugh, if he chooses to be honest - highly unlikely, given his serial mendacity - could do the world a heap of good by making his experience public.

In any event, to get a sense of what Limbaugh is up against in trying to kick OxyContin, pick up the excellent Pain Killer by Barry Meier. It reads like a thriller and it is a harrowing story. You may despise Limbaugh mightily - I most certainly do - but only a very hateful individual would wish upon even him the hell he will be living in for the rest of his life.

Re Brooks. Another Letter To The Times.  

To The Editor,

I have just finished a careful reading of David Brooks' recent column, Hummers to Harleys. For the life of me, I cannot find a single idea or observation that is based on consensual reality.

Apparently, Brooks believes that indulging in a cone of New York Super Fudge Chunk is a symbolic protest against government torture and abuse. He divines an epochal sea-change in American culture from the gentrification of the Manhattan meat-packing district. He conjures up great portent - of exactly what is unclear- in the indisputably trivial fact that two small tv stations are headquartered in an ancient biscuit maker's warehouse.

His column is prima facie evidence that David Brooks is not merely a neo-conservative propagandist of mediocre talent. He is, first and foremost, an idiot.

Diplomacy, Bush Style  

Guess they don't wanna play with Bush's rules.
Bush administration officials reacted with dismay on Friday to Secretary General Kofi Annan's reluctance to play a supporting role in the Iraqi political transition. His position emboldened critics of the United States' approach and jeopardized the draft of a Security Council resolution on Iraq's future.

Mr. Annan spoke once Friday with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and twice with John D. Negroponte, the United States envoy here.

Mr. Powell later told reporters that he had tried to assure Mr. Annan that Washington's approach would lead to a quick transfer of authority back to Iraqis. "We are anxious to remove the burden from ourselves," Mr. Powell said.
No, duh. Now why would the UN be most reluctant to get involved more intensely in Bush's folly?

Just a guess here, but it just might have to do with the fact that UN has already suffered horribly in Iraq and for no good reason.

And given all the grief Bush caused the UN for over a year, and that you, Mr. Powell, lied to them for hours upon hours, you expect them to help you and your boss? Forget it. They wont say so, but the UN doesn't want to deal with Bush. Neither does France, or Germany really, or any other self-respecting country's leaders. Australia and the UK's government might support him now, but when elections roll along, let's see how that plays with those who foot.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Perhaps A Second Genuine Bush Accomplishment?  

Recently, a blogger - sorry, I forget who - challenged the world to come up with three indisputably positive Bush accomplishments. After a lot of head scratching, one of his commenters opined that Bush had united and energized the Democrats against him. To date that ranks as his only real achievement for the good of the country. Salon, however, points out the possibility of another, namely the abandonment of the near lockdown of the military as a Republican voting bloc.
G.I.'s speaking out, angry vets signing petitions, generals attacking him. George Bush's once-rosy relationship with the military is turning sour.

Nader, You Idiot! Announce NOW That You Won't Run.  

That's it. I'm buying a Pinto.

No WMD Found  

Headline says it all:1,200 weapons inspectors spent 90 days in Iraq. The exercise cost $300m. And the number of weapons found? 0

Will they find any? Who knows? The important point is that Bush doesn't care one way or the other. Mission accomplished. What was the mission? An alleged call from God.

Schwarzenegger Admired Hitler  

And he was friends with Kurt Waldheim.

And folks, his name when he's politicking is "Schwarzenegger", not "Arnold" which is perfectly fine for showing affection for an actor. To call politicians by their first names or their nicknames is so far from fair or balanced that it should be stopped. The name is "Bush" not "Dubya," for example, which humanizes him.
ABCNEWS obtained a copy of an unpublished book proposal with quotes from a verbatim transcript of an interview Schwarzenegger gave in 1975 while making the film Pumping Iron.

Asked who his heroes are, he answered, 'I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it.'

He is quoted as saying he wished he could have an experience, 'like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium. And have all those people scream at you and just being total agreement whatever you say.'

The author of the book proposal, Pumping Iron's director, George Butler, told ABCNEWS today that the quotes needed to be seen in context, and that Arnold never said anything anti-Semitic.

'I cannot remember any of these,' Schwarzenegger told ABCNEWS. 'All I can tell you is that I despise everything Hitler stood for. I despise everything the Nazis stood for, everything the Third Reich stood for."

It Hasn't Dropped Enough  

Poll Shows Drop in Confidence on Bush Skill in Handling Crises

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Limbaugh's Drug Addiction  

Rush Limbaugh has a substance abuse problem. (Thanks to Atrios for the link.)

If ever anyone has tempted the Great Dragon of Schadenfreude to lay waste to his life and reputation, it is Rush Limbaugh, that arrogant, pompous, ignorant, and hypocritical ass. Limbaugh has done a great deal of harm to this country for years and years and years. Oh yes, I'm part of the chorus of voices raised in outrage that this pathetic man would dare to criticize others for a mote in the eye while ignoring the many, many beams in his own. It is my fervent hope that - finally - his career and his ugly, powerful influence on American political and cultural life may be coming to an end.

Now, let's talk about his addiction.

Hopefully, Limbaugh's case will attract attention to the awful problem of oxycontin abuse, aka "oxy", aka "hillbilly heroin." Limbaugh most certainly is a scoundrel of the first rank, but to paraphrase what Al Franken said when Limbaugh announced his encroaching deafness, I wouldn't wish oxycontin addiction on anyone, not even Rush Limbaugh. (I'll be blogging about what oxy abuse is all about in the near future; it is not pretty.)

To those of us who have been among the most victimized by Limbaugh - liberals - I suggest a rather unusual tactic in dealing with Limbaugh's drug addiction. I suppose some of my fellow libs might misundertstand this as "going easy" on Limbaugh. It is not. I propose torturing him with kindness. The type of kindness that liberals, better than anyone, know how to practice. The kindness that results from truly understanding a problem, truly understanding the suffering of a real sufferer, and the understanding that solutions may be difficult and tragically less than perfect.

The cognitive dissonance Limbaugh and his followers will experience - that we were right all along and they were wrong all along - will be excruciating. But it will only work if it is consistent with our deeply held values.

(Conservatives, please note: To recognize and discuss the value of using compassion and kindness as a tactic on an enemy in order to ruin that enemy's effectiveness is not, as you may decide to charge, hypocrisy. It is simply one more application of non-violence, a civil rights tactic that you wrongly confuse with appeasement or liberal wuss-osity. Non-violence eschews physical violence for tactical reasons only: violence rarely provides desired results. However, non-violence is VERY aggressive, as it needs to be when dealing with social forces as ugly as the ones currently at play in the US.)

Despite Limbaugh and his army of dittoheads, with their vicious putdowns of our values, our self-perception is accurate. Our minds are indeed open to studying a difficult problem, understanding it, and coming up with effective ways to grapple with it. Unlike Limbaugh, liberals are usually quite reluctant to inveigh against someone's alleged "weak moral fibre". Rather, we tend to set our own personal moral judgements to one side so that we can examine an issue - say, oxycontin addiction - and suggest solutions based on their utility, not upon their conformity to an arbitrary, and usually irrelevant, code of behavior.

As liberals, we can do our cause no better service than to treat Limbaugh's addiction with the understanding which he smugly denies to others, including ourselves. If ever there was an example where turning the other cheek could be the most effective strategy to implement changes, Limbaugh's addiction is it.

Am I suggesting we ignore Limbaugh's idiotic and malicious pronouncements? Hell, no! Let's research everything he said on addiction, throw it in is face and conjure up, for all his friends to imagine, the horribly grotesque image of Rush Limbaugh in withdrawal, shivering uncontrollably in Burroughs' junk-sick dawn. But let us refuse to smirk at the image or laugh at him. Limbaugh is obnoxious. When it comes to his addiction, however, he is merely physically sick. It is nothing to laugh at. Okay, I'll say it: It is politically incorrect to laugh at Limbaugh's addiction. We should not give him the pleasure of seeing us lower ourselves to act as he, with his narrow little mind, would act himself.

Guaranteed: if we indulge in it, he will turn our schadenfreude against us. If we consistently attack Limbaugh's ideas and express nothing but understanding for the seriousness of his illness, if we refuse to characterize the illness as a moral failing (but not the hypocrisy, which IS a moral failing), he will be far more humiliated than if we taunt him over it.

Look, we know what Limbaugh would say if Tom Daschle had a drug problem. The best way to prove both Limbaugh's politics wrong and guarantee that his career is destroyed for good is to act as liberals towards him, with compassion for his human problem. And with withering contempt for the bankruptcy of his ideas and his destructive actions towards liberals and every other group that had the unfortunate habit of being totally right about themselves while Limbaugh was totally wrong about them AND himself.

In short, in reacting to Limbaugh's addiction, don't play his game. Don't play by his rules. Let's play by our rules. If we do, we stand a chance to destroy his influence for good (for real good, as we all know). In addition, we convincingly demonstrate both the immorality of his values and the virtues of our own.

(To be continued.)

Hypocrisy Has A Synonym  

October 4, 1997. CNN’s “Evans & Novak.”

The issue was allegations of fundraising violations by Al Gore:

ASHCROFT: The truth of the matter is that if the law's been violated, we should be able to ascertain that.

We can, if we have an independent person without a conflict of interest…

ROWLAND EVANS: …The attorney general has shaved down all the allegations that Vice President Gore apparently down to one single allegation -- which telephone he used to make these fundraising calls from.

Do you really think that alone is worthy of a special prosecutor?

ASHCROFT: …you know, a single allegation can be most worthy of a special prosecutor.

If you're abusing government property, if you're abusing your status in office, it can be a single fact that makes the difference on that.

So my own view is that there are plenty of things which should have caused [Attorney General Janet Reno], a long time ago, to appoint a special prosecutor, an independent investigator.

We asked for that on March the 13th of this year in letters from Republican members on the Judiciary Committee. And she's in a bad position…

…The man who signs her check is the man that she's investigating, and she hasn't been very aggressive about it.
via LiberalOasis

Three More Dead In Iraqmire  

Dead US soldiers aren't getting the front page treatment anymore.

Good Riddance  

Limbaugh Resigns From ESPN's N.F.L. Show

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

A Solemn Vow  

This latest travesty is not the worst crime of the Bush administration. The Bush invasion and conquest of Iraq is, well, at least it is to date. Plamegate, however, is simple enough, and vicious enough for everyone to understand that whatever else is going on in DC, it is NOT compassionate conservatism. Plamegate is also the straw that broke the camel's back.

So here's the vow.

Given the plain and simple facts -that Bush has started at least one unnecessary war; that Bush has wrecked the economy to enrich his pals; that Bush has started to systematically and unilaterally suspend various civil liberties; and so on:

If the Democrats cannot put forward candidates who will win either the Senate, the House, or the Presidency in 2004, I will never vote for a Democrat again.

I will then seek a legitimate second party to oppose Republican and right wing domination of this country.

I will remain independent, as I am now. But if the Dems can't win, given all THIS, I will not vote for a Dem again.

Open Letter To The LA Times  

Dear Editor,

Ask Schwarzenegger what he thinks about PlameGate. Ask follow up questions.

PlameGate, Obviously  

Obviously, reporters should refuse to divulge their sources, to the point of going to jail.

Obviously, Bob Novak should be fired. What he did was a cheap Republican partisan smear that happened to be illegal. It was not legitimate journalism.

Obviously, every official at the White House (including Bush) should be forced to tell what they know under oath until the perpetrators are uncovered. If necessary, immunity and plea bargains should be used to find out who ordered this leak.

Obviously, these extreme measures should only be used for leaks of this magnitude and with these kinds of intentions, not to shut up the next Colleen Rowley.

Arguing With The Right: "Would You Have Left Saddam In Power?" Revisited  

Kynn at Shock and Awe tackled the infamous question "Well, would you have left Saddam in power?" which Billmon discussed a while ago and which I also discussed here. This expands slightly on the comments I left for Kynn on his blog.

"Well, would you have left Saddam in power?"

Bottom line: the question is so loaded it should not ever be answered. To respond directly to a question like that is to have the right wing set the agenda for you, always a Very Bad Thing to do. You are then playing on a badly tilted rhetorical playing field where you are being set up to lose.

In this case, the question (a variation of the Straw Man) can only be answered by making you look foolishly inconsistent - the "no" response - or cruel and uncaring when faced by an atrocity - the "yes" response. A "yes, but..." or "no, but..." to explore the nuances is for all intents and purposes rhetorically excluded by the framing of the question itself. Should you answer, you've unintentionally accepted the right wing's bipolar world. Whether or not you want to, you are then compelled by the unconscious rhetorical devices at work to play by those same bipolar rules.

Never, ever, let the right wing frame the issues! When we get thrown a question like "Well, would you rather have had Saddam remain in power?" we should reframe it immediately in a more objective fashion. Because then the answers becomes obvious and the stupidity and mendacity of the question is exposed. (BTW, if you take the trouble to look, you'll notice that right wing conservatives rarely respond directly to an objective question; they invariably recast them to their advantage. Thus "Do you support affirmative action?" often gets reframed as "You are asking, Do I believe in special privileges for the few? Absolutely not." Which is, of course, a totally different question.)

The Saddam question, as it really should have been framed a year plus ago, is this:

What alternatives does the United States, and by extension, the world have in dealing with the dangerous and tragic situation posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq?

And the answer is obvious. There were plenty of alternatives, of which the worst was pre-emptive invasion and conquest.

We Owe David Corn Big Time  

...for being the first to point out the importance of the PlameGate story. To show your thanks, buy his new book now. It's called The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception.

Must Viewing  

Larry Johnson, who trained at CIA with Valerie Plame, and media critic Tom Rosenstiel speak the truth here. To say the least, they are furious, at the administration and at Novak. Via Kevin Drum. The transcript is available here but here's a brief excerpt:
This is not about partisan politics. This is about a betrayal, a political smear of an individual with no relevance to the story. Publishing her name in that story added nothing to it. His entire intent was correctly as Ambassador Wilson noted: to intimidate, to suggest that there was some impropriety that somehow his wife was in a decision making position to influence his ability to go over and savage a stupid policy, an erroneous policy and frankly, what was a false policy of suggesting that there were nuclear material in Iraq that required this war. This was about a political attack. To pretend that it's something else and to get into this parsing of words, I tell you, it sickens me to be a Republican to see this.

Doonesbury On The Money  

Go now! And thanks, Seraphiel!

Is PlameGate Worse Than Watergate?  

The question was put to RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie by Chris Matthews on September 30, 2003.

Gillespie, when pressed, said yes. But, in truth, it's a, um, tricky question to answer.

1. Strictly speaking, PlameGate is worse than Watergate (outing Plame could lead to the unintentional (or otherwise) physical harm of agents or assets; the Watergate break-in was merely part of a plot to subvert the American electoral process, not kill anyone.)

2. Compared to what Watergate was really about - a president and administration run entirely amok - Plamegate is relatively minor.

3. Compared to what PlameGate is really about - a president and administration run entirely amok, coupled with their delusion that they have been chosen by God to do whatever they wish, whenever they wish, wherever they wish, and to whomever they wish - Plamegate is easily worse than what Watergate was really about.

[UPDATE] An earlier draft, with some reasonong behind these conclusions, was posted entirely by error. It has been deleted. Anyone who really cares to read it can email me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003


Karl Rove Frog March via Open Source Politics

And for those really into frogs a cd called Sounds Of North American Frogs is one of my favorites. I had it as a boxed set when I was a kid. Now, often my daughter goes to sleep to it.

Iraqmire Continues  

One more US soldier, at least, dead. Bring 'em on indeed:
Guerrilla fighters ambushed two U.S. convoys in the troubled Euphrates River region west of Baghdad on Monday, sparking one of the heaviest engagements yet in an area known for its deep resentment of the U.S.-led occupation — an eight-hour battle in which the Americans unleashed heavy weapons and helicopters.

At least one U.S. soldier was killed and two were injured, according to a military spokesman in Baghdad. One civilian also was killed, and witnesses and news reports said that at least a dozen Iraqis were taken prisoner. The soldier who died was from the 82nd Airborne Division.

Why I Am A Republican  

TBOGG's readers give many good reasons. Here are but a few:
I don't read the papers because they have "opinions" and stuff, and my objective handlers told me to be a Republican.- victor

Well, after the head injury, i just don't understand them democrats...- chris

Because my illegal Mexican pool boy doesn’t pay enough taxes- Michael

I am a Republican for many reasons - I believe in self-reliance, (like our fine president who is a self-made man), I believe in the infallibility of the free market (because we can trust big companies to police themselves), and I believe that God Hisself has blessed this fine nation (through his son Jesus Christ, whom all good people love and accept as their Savior). But mostly because I hate gays and darkies. – Maureen

I'm a Republican because.... I'm sorry, do I know you? I mean, I don't recognize you, are you even in The Club? Because if you're not in The Club, you know, I'm really not even supposed to be talking to you.- paul

Because my heart is a small, dark hole from which nothing, not even light or human emotion, can escape.- gunther

Independent Investigation Is A Must  

Atrios has this great excerpt from the Star Tribune that explains why:
On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that an “administration official” told its reporters “two White House officials leaked the information (on Plame) to selected journalists to discredit Wilson.” The Post also said that, according to “White House aides,” Bush had no intention of asking his senior staff about the leak.

So now you’ve got both Novak and the Washington Post saying that two senior administration officials were the leakers and Bush refusing to take it seriously.

The Justice Department has responded affirmatively to Tenet’s request for an investigation. But get this: When Justice informed the White House of the investigation Monday evening, it said it would be alright if the staff was notified Tuesday morning to safeguard all material that related to the case. The staff had all night to get rid of anything incriminating.

That incredible tidbit supports calls by Democrats and a slew of others for Attorney General John Ashcroft to appoint a special counsel to investigate this case. They’re right: Ashcroft has no credibility in this, and neither does the White House, given its habitual effort to spin information, mislead the American people and smear anyone who disagrees with it.

Weapons of Mass Deception... the name of a very interesting book by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber about Bush's use of propaganda. In this brief excerpt from an interview, one of the authors, Rampton, describes the reason for the spectacular failure of Charlotte Beers, an advertising exec who came up with the truly awful Radio Rawa which had zero or even negative effect on Arab public opinion:
Charlotte Beers' work was a good example of the limits of propaganda as a form of communication. It's one of the myths about propaganda that it's some all-powerful force that can hypnotize people into accepting things that they wouldn't otherwise believe.

Propaganda is sometimes successful at deceiving people, but oftentimes it's much less successful at influencing its target population than it is at helping the propaganda team deceive themselves. I think Charlotte Beers' campaign is an example of that.

Every quantitative indicator that anyone has shows that her campaign, rather than helping, probably contributed to the decline of public opinion regarding the United States. Several of her campaigns became objects of ridicule.

The approach of her campaign -- that you can "brand" America -- is something that's bound to attract resentment. It contains a number of undemocratic assumptions about how communication should happen...

Overall, the idea that people who are deeply wounded and offended by their personal perception of U.S. policy and the role of it in their lives -- the idea that those people can be completely turned around with pop music, advertising and third-party experts ... just shows the hubris of the U.S. governmental approach to public opinion outside the United States.
Oh, and Tom Tomorrow did the nifty cover.

They're A Little, Um, Different Down In Texas  

Very different:
A high school band director has apologized for a halftime performance that included Adolf Hitler's anthem "Deutschland Uber Alles" and a student running across the field with a Nazi flag.

Charles Grissom, Paris High School's band director, said his intention was to have a historical performance featuring the flags and music of the nations that fought during World War II...

Grissom said he never intended to offend anyone, and he apologized repeatedly.

"We had an error in judgment," Grissom told The Dallas Morning News in an interview published Tuesday. "Our intent was never to cause any harm."
Of course not. Of course not. He only thought Hebrews might get a little miffed. Who could imagine that normal Americans might object to flying a Nazi flag? What's their problem?

More On Chait And Brooks  

Care of the Howler, who says that Chait handed Brooks his own head on a silver platter, not to mention the head of every liberal who expresses disgust with Bush:
And one more key point: Completely predictably, Brooks makes a tool out of Jonathan Chait, who ran to hand his head to the cons with last week’s ill-advised New Republic piece. In fact, Chait’s the most popular “good guy” in town for his gift to conservative spinners. Conservative spinners wanted to say that these liberals crazily hate George Bush. Chait couldn’t wait to oblige them.

Chait begins his piece in a merry way. “I hate President George W. Bush,” he proclaims. “There, I said it.” That’s right, readers—Chait has said it. And so will every conservative spinner from now until Kingdom Come. Where on earth do we get these lads, who run to surrender your interests to men? Conservative spinners prayed for this column. Chait couldn’t wait to provide it.

People For The American Way Petition For Independent Investigation  

Go here. In regards to PlameGate, of course.

A Few Obs And A Modest Proposal  

First of all, it "sounds" as if the White House is cooperating. And that's all that matters. Because if nothing happens to break the story in the next few days, that's all most folks will remember of it. Somebody leaked some info that may or may not have been serious, about someone who worked for the CIA but wasn't a spy, and the White House said they weren't involved, they cooperated and that's that.

The only to way to prevent the story from tanking is to hold everyone's feet to the fire for as long as it takes. And that, of course, will be next to impossible. It will probably depend upon how hard Tenet wants to press this thing. It may be that he feels that he's already scared enough daylights out of Rove and that everyone in the White House has learned not to mess around with Tenet. In which case, this thing will be dropped. OTOH, if Tenet goes for the jugular, it will not be pretty.

But I think the ball may be mostly in Tenet's hands right now. Why?

I really don't think the press can drive this story as much as they presume they can. After all, no one in the press wants to go first and blow a source's identity. That means the press has a lot to lose should they decide to up the ante and out the sources themselves. Also, the White House is on precarious grounds: a couple of wise guys are looking at some serious jail time if things don't work out. The only player who doesn't have a thing to lose is Tenet. Therefore, he has the most options as to how this will play out.

Of course, this thing could be cleared up in 20 minutes via a plea bargain structured something like this: Justice offers full immunity for any charges stemming from this leak. In exchange, the leakers publically admit what happened and they resign immediately and are barred from working for the government or lobbying the government, etc for life. However, if the leakers try to brazen this out, or pretend that they didn't leak Plame's name, the book gets thrown at them.

Don't count on it. I fear that unless there is more pressure put on them than we currently know about, Tenet will conclude his point was made and he will consider it wise to back off. And so the identities will never be known, at least when it meant something to know them.

Flashback: When PlameGate Broke  

Here's my post, from July 17, 2003. Kudos to those who saw its importance that day, especially David Corn and Kevin Drum, and who alerted the rest of us.

Novak Then And Now  

Newsday July 22, 2003:
Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."
Crossfire Sept. 29, 2003
Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July, I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing.
Okay, so the phone call came from Novak, and the topic of the phone call was something else. Big deal.

As Novak himself said, THEY thought it was significant, which implies they brought the topic of Wilson's wife up. And THEY gave him her name, which may be a felony.

And as others have pointed out, if Novak was not called and if, as the WaPo story states, the two officials made at least 6 phone calls to different journalists, that means that at least 7 sources received the information from the administration.

My feelings are mixed here. I share Jeanne d'Arc's schadenfreude in spades. But, like Kevin Drum, it makes me sick that a US president's office would behave like this towards other Americans. I wish it weren't true.

But it is and Bush has to go. No, he won't resign. No, he won't be impeached. He will have to be defeated in 2004.

Quote of the Day  

From Krugman: "Optimists who expect the administration to get its Iraq policy on track are kidding themselves."

Oh, And One More Thing About Brooksie's Column  

Who is David's villain? A warrior. He uses the word seven times, all but once disparagingly.

Since the only genuine warriors in the 2004 race are Democrats, this is a clumsy rhetorical attempt to contemptuosly dismiss two of the Dem frontrunners as too aggressive, namely Clark and Kerry. He also says these warriors are "ignorant."

And they pay David to write this utterly untruthful tripe. So much for the liberal New York Times.

The Shrill David Brooks  

He seems to be, um, unravelling:
Have you noticed that the furious arguments we used to have about cultural and social issues have been displaced by furious arguments about the current occupant of the Oval Office?
No, David, I have not. Read this blog where you will find plenty of social and cultural argument.
The quintessential new warrior scans the Web for confirmation of the president's villainy. He avoids facts that might complicate his hatred. He doesn't weigh the sins of his friends against the sins of his enemies.
First, here's the challenge, David, as some blogger famously posed a few months ago:

Name three objectively positive achievements of George W. Bush while in office. The only one I can think of is that he has reignited the fervor of the Democrats.

Second: Point to a column of yours that weighs the sins of Bush equally with the sins of Tom Daschle.
The fundamental argument in the presidency wars is not that the president is wrong, or is driven by a misguided ideology.
You're wrong. The fundamental argument is that Bush is incompetent.
Many conservatives believed this about Clinton. Teddy Kennedy obviously believes it about Bush. Howard Dean declares, "What's at stake in this election is democracy itself."
Uh, David? That sounds like a culture war, something which you say isn't happening a few scant sentences back.
It doesn't matter that Clark doesn't yet have policies.
That is a lie. Read this.
To the warrior, politics is no longer a clash of value systems, each of which is in some way valid.
There is no validity to Bushism. Its elitism, secretiveness, cronyism and unilateralism both abroad and domestically is not equivalent in terms of value with democracy.
[I]t's the Florida post-election fight over and over, a brutal struggle for office in which each side believes the other is behaving despicably.
List the despicable acts of Al Gore during the Florida post-election fight.
The warriors have one other feature: ignorance. They have as much firsthand knowledge of their enemies as members of the K.K.K. had of the N.A.A.C.P.
That is a scurrilous comparison. I am not a bigot and the Bush administration is not fighting for equal rights for anybody.
And for those who are going to make the obvious point: Yes, I did say some of these things during the Clinton years, when it was conservatives bashing a Democrat, but not loudly enough, which I regret, because the weeds that were once on the edge of public life now threaten to choke off the whole thing. 
Once again, David, you follow the new Republican maxim: better to apologize than ask permission.

By the way, I've read the column several times now. I can't find a single disputation of a single criticism of Bush. He just doesn't like the fact we're criticizing him so vigorously.

You should be too, David. Opposition to Bush has long past the point where it should be a partisan issue. He is an incompetent and it's time for sensible Republicans to cast him and his awful administration overboard.

Bush Must Be Proud Of This Statistic  

Because it wasn't released on a Friday:
The number of people without health insurance shot up last year by 2.4 million, the largest increase in a decade, raising the total to 43.6 million, as health costs soared and many workers lost coverage provided by employers, the Census Bureau reported today.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Novak Wont Be Jailed, Nor Should He  

But for Ashcroft to be consistent he would have to. Although if I were Bob Novak, I'd worry. Apparently jailing journalists happens only when there's a GOP president.
The case of a reporter jailed Friday for refusing to give her research to federal prosecutors has raised concerns that Attorney General John Ashcroft is reversing a policy that gives journalists wide latitude in protecting confidential sources and unpublished information.

At the Justice Department's request, a federal judge jailed freelance writer Vanessa Leggett for refusing to turn over notes, tape recordings and other material made while researching a book on a murder case.

The Justice Department last had a reporter jailed in 1991 when four South Carolina journalists were jailed for eight hours when they refused to testify at a corruption trial of a state senator.

Possible Distractions From PlameGate  

1.Terrorist alert (too obvious).
2. North Korea dust up (possible).
3. Laci Petersen (those who care don't care).
4. bin Laden killed (Seems like a pretty good time to tell us).
5. Saddam killed (see previous entry).
6. Iraq breakthrough. (unlikely)
7. Afghanistan breakthrough. (ditto)
8. Democratic scandal (won't work).
9. The Kay Report actually lists wmd and they were just sandbagging (highly unlikely).

Me, I'm betting on something terrorist related, probably good news that was held back for a time when it would be needed. But I won't take bets on whether there will be a wag the doggie. That would be like taking candy from a baby.

Admitting Errors Part Deux  

My Smart Spouse wrote about my earlier post regarding liberal hawks admitting the errors of their way:
[T]here is room (though you probably won't agree) for folks to believe that overthrowing saddam was the right thing. Did we do it the right way? No. Is it an outrage that Bush et al lied as they did? Absolutely. I haven't read Chait's piece, so i won't defend or not defend. But I don't think it was wrong per se (or required drinking kool-aid) to favor the overthrow.
And of course she's right. If I haven't addressed the issue directly before, here goes.

Very few have ever argued for leaving Saddam alone. And everyone I know wanted him out. Some people focused on the unfairness and ineffectiveness of the sanctions more than on removing Saddam, but the idea all along - since Clinton declared "regime change" as our national policy towards Iraq - was to make his life hell in order to drive him out of power.

The main point of the previous post was this: not a single liberal hawk saw removing Saddam as an issue requiring imminent attention until Bush set the agenda. They were right not to think of an invasion as the solution to Iraq. But then Bush worked his wicked mojo, somehow, and their brains melted. Indeed, it was an incredibly stupid mistake to acquiesce even to consider Bush's ideas seriously, because Bush frames foreign policy issues (and much else) so badly that any solution will almost inevitably fail miserably.

An analogy. Everyone agrees, even far-right conservatives, that there are people of different ethnic groups in this country all with equal right to call themselves American. How to discuss the problems of a multi-ethnic America, which are legion? Well, one can do so with some interest and fruitfulness within the context of responsible spokespeople - roughly Steele to Jackson (although some might feel that one or the other of these is too extreme, I won't argue the specific names too closely but propose the continuum provisionally in order to make the next point).

However, it is pointless to enter into a discussion of ethnicity with, say, Leonard Jeffries, David Duke, John Ashcroft, or Ann Coulter. None of these people is capable of framing the issues in a way that is productive. The outcome of such a discussion might be a lot of telegenic fireworks, but nothing else. Sensible people of both the left and the right wince when these folks talk. Most responsible spokesmen, for example, wont give people like Coulter even the commonest courtesy.

George Bush falls easily within this latter category, as do the architects of Bush/Iraq. He is, has always been, a right wing nut. Now the argument has been advanced that until his assumption of the White House, Bush portrayed himself as more of a moderate than an extremist, or that everyone was blinded by 9/11 trauma. Neither argument is tenable.

During his campaign and during his first nine months, Bush made it clear over and over again just how radical and dishonest he was. And there were plenty of us who woke up on September 12 quite devastated but nevertheless quite rational. We knew that a response to bin Laden had to be carefully crafted and that Bush was the last person on earth capable of doing such a thing. Unfortunately, we couldn't get to an effective enough microphone in time, and even more unfortuately, we were right.

(I mean that sincerely. Contrary to right wing accusations that "liberals" want Bush to fail, no one really wanted Bush to fulfill the dire prophecies of incompetence touted by someone like myself. In truth he has far exceeded them.)

The riposte is, of course, is that sometimes radical extremists have good points. But frankly, I've never heard or read sensible arguments from genuine radical political or radical religious extremists. In other areas, such as art, however, radicalism is typically a genuine virtue. And sometimes, commonsensical views, like gay marriage, sound radical for a while. But those who hold such views are not genuine wingers like the ones mentioned above, in whose thoroughly deluded company Bush, Perle, and Wolfowitz most certainly belong.

It's a strange world indeed where being willing to entertain the ideology of the John Birch Society circa 1964 is considered a litmus test of open-mindedness.

More Patriot Act Abuse  

Now they're subpoeaning reporters to get at a ''white hat" hacker.
Frequent readers of this space know that I am no apologist for hackers like Adrian Lamo, who, in the guise of protection, access others' computer systems without authorization, and then publicize these vulnerabilities.

When Lamo did this to the New York Times , he violated two of my cardinal rules: Don't make enemies with people appointed for life by the President of the United States; and don't make enemies of people who buy their ink by the gallon.

Now, in the scope of prosecuting Lamo, the FBI is doing the hacker one better by violating both of these precepts in one fell swoop.

The Bureau recently sent letters to a handful of reporters who have written stories about the Lamo case -- whether or not they have actually interviewed Lamo. The letters warn them to expect subpoenas for all documents relating to the hacker, including, apparently, their own notes, e-mails, impressions, interviews with third parties, independent investigations, privileged conversations and communications, off the record statements, and expense and travel reports related to stories about Lamo.

In short, everything.

The notices make no mention of the protections of the First Amendment, Department of Justice regulations that restrict the authority to subpoena information from journalists, or the New York law that creates a "newsman's shield" against disclosure of certain confidential information by reporters.

Instead, the FBI has threatened to put these reporters in jail unless they agree to preserve all of these records while they obtain a subpoena for them under provisions amended by the USA-PATRIOT Act.

Bev Harris On Voting Machines  

An excellent compendium of information on one of the strangest, most troubling stories out there.
BUZZFLASH: You have charged that the owners of some of these companies have close connections with the Republican Party. The head of Diebold, for instance, publicly vowed to do everything possible to see that Bush wins in Ohio in 2004. Are you concerned that the Republican Party affiliation of some of these companies could result in voting results skewed toward the GOP, in short, as a result of manipulating the software?

HARRIS: It’s a conflict of interest, just as having military defense contractors involved in our voting system is a conflict. “Conflict of interest” provides a motive to do something impure. Allowing secret code and combining it with conflict of interest is just playing with electoral fire.

IEEE Voting Machine Meeting Roundup  

Salon has the skinny:
Two years later [after the group was formed], however, the IEEE group charged with drafting a voting machine standard is paralyzed by bitter infighting. Members of the body can't agree on the substance of a proposed standard for voting machines, nor can they even come to a consensus on a fair process for determining such a standard.

The parties involved are arguing about big things -- about whether, for instance, electronic voting machines should be required to produce a "voter-verifiable" audit trail, which many security experts say is the only way to guarantee security in electronic systems -- and tiny things, such as the order in which topics are discussed in the meetings they hold. To hear members of the committee tell it, the whole process has become a circus -- a circus that illustrates how difficult it might be to eventually create a national standard for voting systems.

Advocates of the audit-trail requirement claim that the IEEE standards group has been hijacked by a "cabal" representing the voting equipment industry; this industry coalition has systematically attempted to "disenfranchise" its critics by abusing technicalities in the meeting bylaws, these activists charge.

"I think they do want to prevent stronger security methods from going into the standard," says David Dill, a computer scientist at Stanford who is one of the leading advocates of verifiable ballots in electronic systems. "I feel that we are being deliberately shut out of the process..."

On Sept. 16, the committee held an acrimonious conference call in which it was decided, over the vociferous objections of a minority, that a draft of the voting machine standard was ready for members to vote on. The voting was kept open for a week, and the draft standard, which did not include a requirement that electronic machines print out a verifiable paper trail, did not pass (13 people opposed the standard, six were in favor). But activists calling for tough security in voting systems say that they only narrowly averted disaster -- the committee came very close, the activists insist, to passing a weak standard. And because the IEEE sits on a federal committee charged with deciding a national standard for electronic voting machines, a weak IEEE standard would have led to unsafe machines all over the country, the activists say.

Proponents of a paper trail are now calling for broad public involvement in the standards group. Many members who felt spurned by leaders of the committee have gone to the Electronic Frontier Foundation with their complaints; Cindy Cohn, the EFF's legal director, has lobbied the IEEE's support staff on behalf of these members, and the EFF posted a petition on its site urging the IEEE committee to clean up its ways...

One member of the group -- who asked not to be identified because he feared antagonizing the more established members -- exhorted Salon to make this article a call to arms for all computer scientists interested in voting security. If the people who are wary of the electronic machines can effectively stack the committee, the voting company officials will have to yield, this person reasoned. The call may work; David Dill's online petition calling for verified voting systems has garnered hundreds of the most well-respected people in computer science.

But participating in the IEEE is hard work, and it's not clear if many people would put up with the tedium of the process. Still, says David Aragon, the executive director of Votermarch, a Web-based voting rights group, this standard could be pivotal for the future of voting. "It should be made less like a circus," he says. "But I do think that's important. There is no other national standard for voting systems, and when the time comes this one is going to be the one that matters."

The committee's next meeting is in Austin, Texas, in late October.

I Gotta Try This Sometime  

Courtesy Slashdot, comes instructions on how to measure the speed of light with chocolate and a microwave. Now if you try this and blow up your chinchilla in the process, don't come a'looking for me, ok? There's some interesting background but here's the skinny:
The only equipment you need for this experiment is a microwave, a ruler and chocolate, cheese or any other food that melts. Remove the turntable from the microwave and replace with chocolate on a plate (so the plate does not rotate), and heat until it just starts to melt - about 20 seconds, depending on the power of the oven. There will be some melted hot spots and some cold solid spots in the chocolate. The distance between the hot spots is half the wavelength of the microwaves, and the frequency of the microwaves will often be printed on the back of the oven. The speed of light is equal to the wavelength multiplied by the frequency of an electromagnetic wave (microwaves and visible light are both examples of electromagnetic waves)...

A full wave is shaped like a “sine function” going from zero to a maximum back through zero to a negative maximum and back to zero again - like the second harmonic in the figure on this page. So you can see that the distance between the maximum displacements of the wave is one half the wavelength.

The electromagnetic field inside the microwave behaves in roughly the same way – except the vibrations are in “the electromagnetic field”. Where the vibrations are greatest (the anti nodes), you will see the greatest heating, but at the nodes, the chocolate will only melt slowly as heat diffuses into those areas.

Thus, the distance between the melted regions (x) is equal to the distance between the antinodes, and equal to half the wavelength (λ)!

So, the detailed calculation to find the speed of light (c) is:



Ever eager to confirm things for himself, your guide conducted this experiment in his kitchen. In order to protect my microwave, I took the probably unnecessary (but I would recommend doing this to everyone) precaution of placing a half glass of water in the microwave – if there is insufficient material in a microwave, you can blow the internal fuses, rendering the microwave inoperable. However, as the microwave then had to heat the water as well, the melting process took almost two minutes, rather than twenty seconds.

Once I took the chocolate out of the microwave (not have access to Milky Way Stars, I used a block of Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate – a solid block of chocolate conducts heat along its length more than a collection of small chocolates, so I would recommend using some sort of chocolate chips when you do this your self) I measured the distance between the melted points from my sample was 6cm.

As my microwave didn’t have a frequency reading on the back, I will use the 2.5GHz “typical” value I found after a brief web search.

Thus: the wavelength is .06m x 2 = 0.12m Then the speed is 0.12m x 2.5 x 109 /s = 3x108m/s, which is a pretty good estimate! If you want to do better, you can try repeating the measurement many times (and making very accurate measurements) and applying statistics to get an average, and an estimate of how much uncertainty you have.

Lewis "Job" Black Talks To God  

This is immortal.

Atrios on the Radio  

Let the man himself tell you when and where. And next week, J.D. Salinger is interviewed by the blogosphere's very own Isabella v. Topic? Why, the Princess Anastasia, of course.

Bob Somerby Howls Away On Wilsongate  

He's completely right.
But don’t miss the remarkable back-story here—the amazing silence of the Washington press corps over the past three months. This story broke in Robert Novak’s July 14 column, in which Novak said that “two senior administration officials” had called him to out Wilson’s wife. Because this startling report came from Novak, it plainly wasn’t a case of the heinous “Bush-hating” that has Americans so deeply troubled. And it was obvious that these “senior officials” may have committed a serious crime. But over the course of the past three months, have you seen a word—have you seen one word—from Washington’s pundits about this story? Of course not! Instead, pundits did what they do best—they hid beneath their mahogany desks, pretending not to have heard this report. Did any pundit ask for a probe? Did any major Washington pundit try to keep this story alive? Your pundit corps was quite expert at gimmicking up Clinton-era pseudo-scandals. But when this highly credible report appeared, bearing Novak’s imprimatur, all of Washington’s brave, brave scribes knew they should head for the hills. By the way: Even in this morning’s New York Times, this story is given secondary status, folded into another story. It doesn’t even rate its own headline.

The Derivation of Frogmarch  

So now you'll know.

Ari Must Be Grateful He Left When He Did  

Which was the day Valerie Plame was outed. Scott McClellan meets the with the sheep with shark teeth. Of course I think this is not so much great news as simply the way the press should function in a democracy. One wonders why they didn't question the government so carefully during the runup to the war, esp. when they had a chance to ask the president a thing or two about his reasons and motives just before the invasion started.

One more other good thing. The press corps is trying to wrap this around Bush. Which is exactly where it belongs. The buck stops there, buckaroos.

Admitting Errors  

I finally had the chance to read the famous/infamous Jonathan Chait article in The New Republic (you need a subscription to read it online so I won't bother linking). Yes, he says a lot that is true and I will rise mightily to Chait's defense in front of the mildest of his right wing detractors, but he was too kind to Bush by half. That's because Chait still thinks the conquest of Iraq was a Good Thing.

The logic of this position genuinely escapes me. Yes, Saddam was bad (insert boiler plate here with words like "monster" "Hitler-like", "obscenely corrupt" and insert words to the effect that I never needed Bush to remind me). But was invading Iraq to free the suffering Iraqis even on Chait's radar prior to Bush's obsessing over it post 9-11? I sincerely doubt it. And let's not forget that Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. And let's not forget that invading and conquering an Arab country is just about the dumbest thing one can do if the security of the American people is in the Top Ten of one's priorities.

Since Chait insists that Bush/Iraq was worth doing, he can dislike Bush's swagger and his phony ranch all he wants, and who cares? He's still bought into the koolest of the kool-aid the Bush administration ladled out this year.

Chait has yet to grapple with the fundamental fact that Bush bamboozled him and all the other liberal hawks into supporting a genuinely insane policy and one they hadn't seriously considered until Bush set the agenda.

A fool begins his journey along the road to Enlightenment by first admitting s/he was a fool. Bush certainly whipped out the big propaganda guns to hype his war so just maybe, if one is being extra compassionate, the American hoi polloi can be forgiven for being taken in. But a professional political journalist? That's pretty heavy, man, as we used to say.

For I keep on coming back to the terrifying insight that if a fellow as profoundly ignorant as I was of all this stuff knew beforehand, with a certainty beyond all doubt, that Bush was lying through his teeth and that Bush/Iraq would go down in history as one of the most idiotic actions ever undertaken by an American president, how come Chait couldn't see it? Or David Remnick? How come Frances Fitzgerald actually gave a speech praising Bush for his multi-lateralism in the months following September 11 when a total naif could easily distinguish between real multi-lateralism and what Bush was up to, namely crude playground bullying and bribing? How come the New York Times waited until days before the war to squeak up in opposition to the war?

Face it, ye liberal hawks. You wuz had. Better to admit it than to continue to pretend it was a good idea and you were right to support this ridiculous invasion. For if you can't admit to your mistakes and move on, how do we know that you won't make similar mistakes in the future and cling to them long past the point that they've been proven wrong? How can we trust your opinions haven't been tempered by genuine insight into bitter experience? And perhaps most importantly:

If you can't admit your blatantly obvious errors, why should we take what you write or say seriously?

In Preparation For The Kay Report, We Learn That...  

Of course it was useless intelligence:
An internal assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that most of the information provided by Iraqi defectors who were made available by the Iraqi National Congress was of little or no value, according to federal officials briefed on the arrangement.

In addition, several Iraqi defectors introduced to American intelligence agents by the exile organization and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, invented or exaggerated their credentials as people with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its suspected unconventional weapons program, the officials said.

The arrangement, paid for with taxpayer funds supplied to the exile group under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, involved extensive debriefing of at least half a dozen defectors by defense intelligence agents in European capitals and at a base in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil in late 2002 and early 2003, the officials said. But a review early this year by the defense agency concluded that no more than one-third of the information was potentially useful, and efforts to explore those leads since have generally failed to pan out, the officials said.

Mr. Chalabi has defended the arrangement, saying that his organization had helped just three defectors provide information to American intelligence about Iraq's suspected weapons program, and that two of them had been judged to be credible.

But several federal officials said the arrangement had wasted more than $1 million in taxpayers' money and had prompted them to question the credibility of Mr. Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress. Both have enjoyed powerful backing from civilian officials at the Pentagon and are playing a significant role in the provisional government in Baghdad.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Rumsfeld Update  

He's nuts:
Iraq's stubborn guerrilla war, electrical blackouts, looting and chaos were born in Washington -- as US officials missed cues and battled over ideology, said a report.

'What do we mean by 'regime change,' anyway?' military commander Tommy Franks asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- in the midst of the war, according to the issue of Newsweek that goes on sale Monday.

Franks and most of the Pentagon were focused on winning the war, which they did. But, the newsweekly said, the occupation was a second thought.

One example is the Coalition Provisional Authority.

'CPA stands for the Condescending and Patronizing Americans,' a Baghdad diplomat told Newsweek.

'So there they are, sitting in their palace: 800 people, 17 of whom speak Arabic. One is an expert on Iraq.'

What happened to the Iraq experts? According to Newsweek, Rumsfeld ordered 16 of the 20 Pentagon staffers picked to go to Baghdad be cut because they were 'Arab apologists,' had positive opinions of the United Nations (news - web sites) or other opinions not acceptable to the neo-conservatives running the US government.

Rumsfeld's interference 'got so bad that even doctors sent to restore medical services had to be anti-abortion,' a member of the original team said.
[emphasis added]

Diebold Update  

In a day when so much attention has been over the Plame affair, Kos has some info on the Maryland study of the Diebold voting machines. Apparently, the state discovered an uncomfortable potential conflict of interest. Someone is a lobbyist for both Dieblod AND SAIC, the company that investigated Diebold and declared the problems with Diebold products that could lead to vote tampering were serious but fixable. Weird.

What's even weirder is that Steven Hatfill (the "person of interest" in the anthrax investigation) worked for SAIC. This is from the Washington Post
He took a consulting job with the behemoth government contractor Science Applications International Corp., better known as SAIC. With a sprawling campus in McLean, it did work for a multitude of federal agencies. Many projects were classified, and SAIC's tight relationship with the CIA had led to a standing one-liner: 'What is SAIC spelled backwards?'

At SAIC, Hatfill designed and taught bioterror preparedness courses, but his responsibilities also included 'black,' or classified, biowarfare projects. One of Hatfill's major roles was working with the Joint Special Operations Command, which handled U.S. military counterterrorism operations.

Marchers Worldwide Demand Iraq Pullout : Marchers Worldwide Demand Iraq Pullout

CNN Poll  

Go now!
Do you agree with Wesley Clark that Americans are 'embarrassed' by the Bush administration's leadership?

The Bush Motto  

Better to apologize than ask permission.

And Futhermore  

Josh Marshall brings up the point that someone who shouldn't have told anyone at the White House had at their fingertips the info that Wilson's wife was CIA undercover and they told the White House. Isn't that what the Limbaughs, etc, were screeching about with the Clintons and the FBI files, the one difference being that the Bushites actually used the information?

This stinks. And let's not forget: the Diebold voting machines are also in the queue.

Links To The Valerie Plame Affair  

Jeanne d'Arc rounds up the links so I don't have to. All the kids are furious about it in the blogosphere. And, as Atrios says, the press knows who the 6 reporters are. And the White House knows who the 2 officials are who made the phone calls. It's only a matter of time until someone fesses up.

Since this story broke a while ago, it's always struck me that there's something particularly unpatriotic -in a very deep way- about blowing the cover of a CIA agent as a way to wreak revenge and plug future whistleblowers.

But then again, there are so many other incidents. Atrios in high sarcasm mode sez, "for some reason [the White House] didn't feel that committing felonies disqualified you from serving in top sensitive positions in the US government." This, of course, is not news, as Elliot Abrams and John Poindexter, both of them Iran/Contra thugs, worked in the Bush II administration. And L. Jean Lewis, the perjurer that touched off Whitewater, just landed a $100,000 plus job at defense.

The question is: Is the blogosphere right? Will this story stick? So far, it was barely mentioned on the two talk shows that I watched. Although, as Jeanne in the link above makes clear, apparently Condoleeza Rice is did her best Sergeant Schultz imitation on Fox today.

While You're At It, Look At How Christian Chaplains Are Chosen As Well  

So the Gitmo Muslim chaplain scandal is sparking an investigation. Well it should, but some of us remember the disgraceful behavior during the early days of the Bush/Iraq war of the slimeball Christian chaplain who demanded filthy soldiers listen to sermons and get baptized before they could get a bath from his copious supply of fresh water. Strikes me the whole system of how these guys get let loose among the Army needs to be investigated.

I No Longer Feel So Lonely  

Before the inevitable became all too apparent to even the whitest of the mouth foamers that supported Bush, I spent most of every day in a state of despair. Don't they see how stupid this is? How dangerous? How it can't possibly work out? And I felt a near total disconnect with the party politicians.No longer.:
[Wesley] Clark, 58, told reporters that the American people are 'really embarrassed' by the administration's leadership.

'We're in there without a strategy to win, and without a strategy to exit properly, and now the president's asked for $87 billion to prosecute it,' said Clark.

'I think the reality is really striking the American people that this is an administration that doesn't have an effective foreign policy, and it doesn't have an effective strategy for prosecuting the war on terror,' he added.
If this keeps up, Bush won't stand a chance. One hopes, however, that should Bush be removed in 2004, the sclm will make the point that this definitively discredits the right wing extremists from serious consideration for a major voice in American politics. For too long, they have been given a free ride.

Surprise, Surprise  

That's why I'm against it.
The Bush administration, which calls the USA Patriot Act perhaps its most essential tool in fighting terrorists, has begun using the law with increasing frequency in many criminal investigations that have little or no connection to terrorism.
Why? It's not because one shouldn't vigorously enforce the law.

It's because sooner or later, some Bushite will decide that being a Democrat really is as treasonous as Coulter says it is, and use this stuff for political purposes. Oh, wait. They already have.

Bombshell: White House Revenge On Joseph Wilson Blows Up  

One of the most egregious of Bush's actions comes back to haunt him.
The intentional disclosure of a covert operative's identity is a violation of federal law.

The officer's name [wife of Yellowcakegate whistle blower Joseph Wilson] was disclosed on July 14 in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak, who said his sources were two senior administration officials.

Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. Wilson had just revealed that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account touched off a political fracas over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

Sources familiar with the conversations said the leakers were seeking to undercut Wilson's credibility. They alleged that Wilson, who was not a CIA employee, was selected for the Niger mission partly because his wife had recommended him. Wilson said in an interview yesterday that a reporter had told him that the leaker said, "The real issue is Wilson and his wife."

A source said reporters quoted a leaker as describing Wilson's wife as "fair game."

The official would not name the leakers for the record and would not name the journalists. The official said there was no indication that Bush knew about the calls.

It is rare for one Bush administration official to turn on another. Asked about the motive for describing the leaks, the senior official said the leaks were "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."

Wilson, while refusing to confirm his wife's occupation, has suggested publicly that he believes Bush's senior adviser, Karl C. Rove, broke her cover. Wilson said Aug. 21 at a public forum in suburban Seattle that it is of keen interest to him "to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs."

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday that he knows of no leaks about Wilson's wife. "That is not the way this White House operates, and no one would be authorized to do such a thing," McClellan said. "I don't have any information beyond an anonymous source in a media report to suggest there is anything to this. If someone has information of this nature, then he or she should report it to the Department of Justice."

McClellan, who Rove had speak for him, said of Wilson's comments: "It is a ridiculous suggestion, and it is simply not true." McClellan was asked about Wilson's charge at a White House briefing Sept. 16 and said the accusation is "totally ridiculous."

Administration officials said Tenet sent a memo to the Justice Department raising a series of questions about whether a leaker had broken federal law by disclosing the identity of an undercover officer. The CIA request was reported Friday night by Administration sources familiar with the matter said the Justice Department is determining whether a formal investigation is warranted.

An intelligence official said Tenet "doesn't like leaks."

The CIA request could reopen the rift between the White House and the intelligence community that emerged this summer when Bush and his senior aides blamed Tenet for the inclusion of the now-discredited uranium claim -- the so-called "16 words" -- in the State of the Union address in January.

Tenet issued a statement taking responsibility for the CIA's approval of the address before it was delivered, but made clear the CIA had earlier warned the White House not to use the allegations about uranium ore. After an ensuing rush of leaks over White House handling of intelligence, Bush's aides said they believed in retrospect it had been a political mistake to blame Tenet.

The Intelligence Protection Act, passed in 1982, imposes maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines for unauthorized disclosure by government employees with access to classified information.

Members of the administration, especially Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, have been harshly critical of unauthorized leakers, and White House spokesmen are often dismissive of questions about news reports based on unnamed sources. The FBI is investigating senators for possibly leaking intercept information about Osama bin Laden.

The only recipient of a leak about the identity of Wilson's wife who went public with it was Novak, the conservative columnist, who wrote in The Washington Post and other newspapers that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, "is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction." He added, "Two senior administration officials told me that Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger..."

[Wilson]said that if Novak's account is accurate, the leak was part of "a deliberate attempt on the part of the White House to intimidate others and make them think twice about coming forward."
Exactly. It was meant not only to exact financial retribution on Wilson's family (and inadvertently to endanger the life of his wife and their mutual friends), but to prevent others from coming forward in the future.

George's Deli  

NY Times: Conspiracy Theorists  

When the Times worries, I think we should too:
...a long-sought, hard-right G.O.P. agenda has been quietly progressing. Proposals dear to the Republican leadership that would undermine gun controls, women's reproductive freedom, a citizen's right to seek court redress, and a vital array of other constitutional bulwarks are moving slowly toward what in some cases seems like almost certain passage.

In past years of split-party control of the Capitol, such a wish list represented the dark side of political grandstanding, scraps of meat for the conservative electoral base more than imminent possibilities. This year, however, the G.O.P. wields majority power, along with an intense desire to rally that base for the 2004 elections.
There is one hint of a wrong assumption here, namely that Bush is pandering to right wing extremists. No, Bush IS a right wing extremist. He is simply doing what he wants to do.

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