The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Frank Rich - Someone Tell the President the War Is Over

The New York Times
August 14, 2005
Someone Tell the President the War Is Over

LIKE the Japanese soldier marooned on an island for years after V-J Day, President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over. "We will stay the course," he insistently tells us from his Texas ranch. What do you mean we, white man?

A president can't stay the course when his own citizens (let alone his own allies) won't stay with him. The approval rate for Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq plunged to 34 percent in last weekend's Newsweek poll - a match for the 32 percent that approved L.B.J.'s handling of Vietnam in early March 1968. (The two presidents' overall approval ratings have also converged: 41 percent for Johnson then, 42 percent for Bush now.) On March 31, 1968, as L.B.J.'s ratings plummeted further, he announced he wouldn't seek re-election, commencing our long extrication from that quagmire.

But our current Texas president has even outdone his predecessor; Mr. Bush has lost not only the country but also his army. Neither bonuses nor fudged standards nor the faking of high school diplomas has solved the recruitment shortfall. Now Jake Tapper of ABC News reports that the armed forces are so eager for bodies they will flout "don't ask, don't tell" and hang on to gay soldiers who tell, even if they tell the press.

The president's cable cadre is in disarray as well. At Fox News Bill O'Reilly is trashing Donald Rumsfeld for his incompetence, and Ann Coulter is chiding Mr. O'Reilly for being a defeatist. In an emblematic gesture akin to waving a white flag, Robert Novak walked off a CNN set and possibly out of a job rather than answer questions about his role in smearing the man who helped expose the administration's prewar inflation of Saddam W.M.D.'s. (On this sinking ship, it's hard to know which rat to root for.)

As if the right-wing pundit crackup isn't unsettling enough, Mr. Bush's top war strategists, starting with Mr. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, have of late tried to rebrand the war in Iraq as what the defense secretary calls "a global struggle against violent extremism." A struggle is what you have with your landlord. When the war's über-managers start using euphemisms for a conflict this lethal, it's a clear sign that the battle to keep the Iraq war afloat with the American public is lost.

That battle crashed past the tipping point this month in Ohio. There's historical symmetry in that. It was in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, that Mr. Bush gave the fateful address that sped Congressional ratification of the war just days later. The speech was a miasma of self-delusion, half-truths and hype. The president said that "we know that Iraq and Al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade," an exaggeration based on evidence that the Senate Intelligence Committee would later find far from conclusive. He said that Saddam "could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year" were he able to secure "an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball." Our own National Intelligence Estimate of Oct. 1 quoted State Department findings that claims of Iraqi pursuit of uranium in Africa were "highly dubious."

It was on these false premises - that Iraq was both a collaborator on 9/11 and about to inflict mushroom clouds on America - that honorable and brave young Americans were sent off to fight. Among them were the 19 marine reservists from a single suburban Cleveland battalion slaughtered in just three days at the start of this month. As they perished, another Ohio marine reservist who had served in Iraq came close to winning a Congressional election in southern Ohio. Paul Hackett, a Democrat who called the president a "chicken hawk," received 48 percent of the vote in exactly the kind of bedrock conservative Ohio district that decided the 2004 election for Mr. Bush.

These are the tea leaves that all Republicans, not just Chuck Hagel, are reading now. Newt Gingrich called the Hackett near-victory "a wake-up call." The resolutely pro-war New York Post editorial page begged Mr. Bush (to no avail) to "show some leadership" by showing up in Ohio to salute the fallen and their families. A Bush loyalist, Senator George Allen of Virginia, instructed the president to meet with Cindy Sheehan, the mother camping out in Crawford, as "a matter of courtesy and decency." Or, to translate his Washingtonese, as a matter of politics. Only someone as adrift from reality as Mr. Bush would need to be told that a vacationing president can't win a standoff with a grief-stricken parent commandeering TV cameras and the blogosphere 24/7.

Such political imperatives are rapidly bringing about the war's end. That's inevitable for a war of choice, not necessity, that was conceived in politics from the start. Iraq was a Bush administration idée fixe before there was a 9/11. Within hours of that horrible trauma, according to Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies," Mr. Rumsfeld was proposing Iraq as a battlefield, not because the enemy that attacked America was there, but because it offered "better targets" than the shadowy terrorist redoubts of Afghanistan. It was easier to take out Saddam - and burnish Mr. Bush's credentials as a slam-dunk "war president," suitable for a "Top Gun" victory jig - than to shut down Al Qaeda and smoke out its leader "dead or alive."

But just as politics are a bad motive for choosing a war, so they can be a doomed engine for running a war. In an interview with Tim Russert early last year, Mr. Bush said, "The thing about the Vietnam War that troubles me, as I look back, was it was a political war," adding that the "essential" lesson he learned from Vietnam was to not have "politicians making military decisions." But by then Mr. Bush had disastrously ignored that very lesson; he had let Mr. Rumsfeld publicly rebuke the Army's chief of staff, Eric Shinseki, after the general dared tell the truth: that several hundred thousand troops would be required to secure Iraq. To this day it's our failure to provide that security that has turned the country into the terrorist haven it hadn't been before 9/11 - "the central front in the war on terror," as Mr. Bush keeps reminding us, as if that might make us forget he's the one who recklessly created it.

The endgame for American involvement in Iraq will be of a piece with the rest of this sorry history. "It makes no sense for the commander in chief to put out a timetable" for withdrawal, Mr. Bush declared on the same day that 14 of those Ohio troops were killed by a roadside bomb in Haditha. But even as he spoke, the war's actual commander, Gen. George Casey, had already publicly set a timetable for "some fairly substantial reductions" to start next spring. Officially this calendar is tied to the next round of Iraqi elections, but it's quite another election this administration has in mind. The priority now is less to save Jessica Lynch (or Iraqi democracy) than to save Rick Santorum and every other endangered Republican facing voters in November 2006.

Nothing that happens on the ground in Iraq can turn around the fate of this war in America: not a shotgun constitution rushed to meet an arbitrary deadline, not another Iraqi election, not higher terrorist body counts, not another battle for Falluja (where insurgents may again regroup, The Los Angeles Times reported last week). A citizenry that was asked to accept tax cuts, not sacrifice, at the war's inception is hardly in the mood to start sacrificing now. There will be neither the volunteers nor the money required to field the wholesale additional American troops that might bolster the security situation in Iraq.

WHAT lies ahead now in Iraq instead is not victory, which Mr. Bush has never clearly defined anyway, but an exit (or triage) strategy that may echo Johnson's March 1968 plan for retreat from Vietnam: some kind of negotiations (in this case, with Sunni elements of the insurgency), followed by more inflated claims about the readiness of the local troops-in-training, whom we'll then throw to the wolves. Such an outcome may lead to even greater disaster, but this administration long ago squandered the credibility needed to make the difficult case that more human and financial resources might prevent Iraq from continuing its descent into civil war and its devolution into jihad central.

Thus the president's claim on Thursday that "no decision has been made yet" about withdrawing troops from Iraq can be taken exactly as seriously as the vice president's preceding fantasy that the insurgency is in its "last throes." The country has already made the decision for Mr. Bush. We're outta there. Now comes the hard task of identifying the leaders who can pick up the pieces of the fiasco that has made us more vulnerable, not less, to the terrorists who struck us four years ago next month.

Exposing the Plame case mistake

Exposing the Plame case mistake

# The pundits say the law that protects covert agents' identities won't put anybody away in this investigation. Here's why they're wrong.

By Elizabeth de la Vega

PUNDITS RIGHT, left and center have reached a rare unanimous verdict about one aspect of the grand jury investigation into the Valerie Plame leak: They've decided that no charges can be brought under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 because it imposes an impossibly high standard. Christopher Hitchens, for instance, described the 1982 act as a "silly law" that requires that "you knowingly wish to expose the cover of a CIA officer who you understand may be harmed as a result." Numerous other columnists have nodded their heads smugly in agreement.

Shocking as it may seem, however, the pundits are wrong, and their casual summaries of the requirements of the 1982 statute betray a fundamental misunderstanding regarding proof of criminal intent.

Do you have to intend to harm a CIA agent or jeopardize national security in order to violate the Intelligence Identities Protection Act? The answer is no.

Before presenting any case, a prosecutor like special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in the Plame case has to figure out "the elements of the crime." Parties can argue about whether the elements have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, but neither side can add, delete or modify the elements even slightly to suit their arguments. Why? Because they come from the exact wording of the statute.

This is what the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 says:

"Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the U.S. is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the U.S." shall be guilty of a crime.

So what, exactly, does the prosecutor have to prove about the defendant's state of mind under this law? Simply break down the run-on sentence. The defendant must "intentionally disclose" the information. To determine what "intentionally disclose" means, you must follow some basic rules of statutory construction. First, you look to see if the word is specifically defined within the statute itself. For example, the term "disclosed" is defined in the act to mean "communicate, provide, impart, transmit, transfer, convey, publish or otherwise make available."

The word "intentionally" is not defined in the statute, so you have to turn to the second rule of statutory construction, which is to see if it is defined or interpreted in applicable case law.

There is little case law on the statute itself. But there's a wealth of case law interpreting the term "intentionally" because it is a term of art found in nearly every criminal statute. Its meaning is well-established and straightforward. It simply means "on purpose, not by mistake or accident." So if someone runs off the bus and accidentally leaves behind papers that expose an undercover CIA agent's identity, no crime has been committed because Element 2 can't be proved.

Nowhere does this statute require proof that the defendant "wished to harm" an undercover agent or jeopardize national security. The reason why someone disclosed the information — whether for revenge, to prevent the publication of a story or to harm the U.S. — is an issue of motive, not intent.

Merely semantics, you say? In criminal law, it's nonetheless a key distinction. Motive is why someone acts; intent is the person's purposefulness while doing so. If you accidentally take home your neighbor's Gucci bag from the block party, there's no crime because you didn't act intentionally. (You do have to give it back, though.) If you grab your neighbor's bag on purpose, you've acted intentionally and you could be guilty of theft. It matters not a whit whether your motive was to get revenge on your neighbor for making too much noise or to get extra cash to hand out to the poor.

There are two other elements in the statute that relate to state of mind: The prosecutor has to prove that the defendant knew the information he or she was disclosing "identifies" the covert agent and that the U.S. was taking affirmative measures to conceal that agent's intelligence relationship to the U.S.

What does "identify" mean in this statute? Well, there is no specific definition and no case law to look to. So you turn to the third rule of statutory construction, which simply says that you apply the everyday meaning of the word. Perhaps, in a through-the-looking-glass world, someone could decree that to identify means to "name" and nothing else, but the statute doesn't say that; nor is that how ordinary people would use the word. There are obviously myriad ways to identify a person besides naming them, but unless a man were a polygamist, a reference to his wife would certainly suffice.

NONE OF US can presume to know the universe of facts that have been uncovered in the Fitzgerald investigation. On the contrary, at the risk of sounding like Donald Rumsfeld, we can be quite sure that there is much that we do not know, and that some of what we think we know is wrong. It would be presumptuous to declare that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act is definitely still under consideration in the grand jury proceeding. But it is equally presumptuous — and illogical — to declare that it is not under consideration, especially when the opinion is based solely on mistaken assumptions about the requirements of the law.

ELIZABETH DE LA VEGA recently retired after more than 20 years as a federal prosecutor in Northern California. A longer version of this article is appears on,0,78486.story

Friday, August 12, 2005

Arianna Huffington - Cindy Sheehan Steps Into the Leadership Void

Cindy Sheehan Steps Into the Leadership Void
by Arriana Huffington

During my many years as a writer, I’ve interviewed hundreds of people. But talking with Cindy Sheehan this morning was unlike any conversation I’ve ever had. Even though we were talking via cell phone -- and had a crummy, staticky connection at that -- her authenticity and passion reached through the receiver and both touched my heart and punched me in the gut.

She spoke with a combination of utter determination, unassailable integrity, fearlessness, and the peace of someone who knows that their cause is just. Her commitment was palpable -- and infectious. It reminded me an old quote about the great Greek orators: “When Pericles spoke, the people said, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march!’”

That’s the feeling I got from this former Catholic youth minister. She of the floppy hat and the six foot frame (though she’s standing even taller than that these days). A woman driven by faith and conviction who used to think that one person couldn’t make a difference and is learning otherwise. Her humanity stands in stark contrast to the inhumanity of those who refuse to admit their mistakes and continue to send our young men and women to die in Iraq.

She may not be the kind of media figure the cable news channels would order up from newsmaker central, a la Natalee Holloway. But she is the kind of unexpected leader I’ve been writing about for years. One who springs not from the corridors of power, but from among the people. One who may come from Vacaville, California, but who makes nonsense of red state/blue state distinctions.

The time has passed when we can stand around waiting for a knight on a white horse to ride to our rescue. We’ve got to look to ourselves -- to the leader in the mirror. Our elected officials have woefully failed to provide the leadership needed on this most vital issue of our time. And stepping into that void is Cindy Sheehan. Inspiring us. Touching our conscience. Calling forth our courage and our commitment. Focusing our outrage. And acting as a catalyst for the tens of millions of Americans who know that the war in Iraq is a disgrace.

Who knows, her example might even be just the thing to give Hillary and Harry and the rest of the Democratic leaders the spine transplant they so desperately need. But don’t hold your breath. Instead, use it to show your support for Cindy Sheehan -- and for our troops.

Suzyq and DelicateMonster Take on Cindy's Chickenhawk Critics

Suzyq at dailykos has this to say:

I've answered the last troll post on a Cindy Sheehan thread. I've had it with you, and the Republican spin machine trying to tear Cindy down.

It must feel nice to be on the side that attacks grieving mothers as hard as it attacks quadraplegic veterans who hold key senate seats. Real brave and honorable of you.

But enough of the cheap shots. I need to address your arguments on their merits.

1. Cindy is disrespecting her son

The premise here is that Casey went to war in full support of the mission. We don't know that, actually. Casey is dead and cannot speak for himself. His mom knew, however. From what she has said, he supported the war when we attacked Afghanistan, but began to seriously question our efforts when we invaded Iraq and certainly as the occupation dragged out.

But let's say he died believing 100% in what he was doing. Should we respect that? Certainly. Should we continue in Iraq just to "honor" Casey's service? Well, don't we have to use some other, more objective criteria for determining whether to spend more lives and treasure on this enterprise? To do less than that is to engage in superstition. Now, I know many of you right-wing nut cases are into "intelligent design" and other superstitous ruses. But it's been my experience that superstition makes for lousy policies. Staying in Iraq doesn't bring Casey back. And then, there's my mom's admonishment that "two wrongs don't make a right." Listen to mom.

2. Cindy is "politically motivated."

OK. What the hell does that mean? She's not running for office. She's not profiting from this. If you think she is, the onus is on you to prove it. She's politically savvy. Good for her. It's her right as an American citizen to speak up for what she believes. Now why should we be any more critical of Cindy than we are of our own elected and 100% accountable President? Was the invasion of Iraq and subsequent massive loss of life politically motivated? I think it is and I don't need to re-state the incredible amount of evidence that backs that up. You can read the other diaries yourselves. There's a Downing Street Memo you can start with.

3. Cindy's relatives are against her.

This is my favorite one of all. Please show me the extended family of in-laws, outlaws, aunts, uncles, teens and tots that are all in complete agreement and harmony with each other and I'm sure it's because they're all dead. Living relatives are often a source of embarrassment, disagreement, but rarely, accurate information about you or me. I could give a rip about Cindy's relatives.

4. Cindy is being disrespectful to the President."

Ok all you Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson wannabes. (I mistakenly caught a piece of Gibson's radio show subbing for O'Reilly today. He attacked a veteran who thought the war in Iraq was wrong. "What about Saddam Hussein?" Gibson asked.

The vet replied "We managed to control the Soviet Union for 40 years without invading them and they had nuclear weapons."

How did Gibson respond? By saying the guy was an idiot and questioning his military credentials. Gibson, ye of no military credentials whatsover:


Sorry for digressing. Why should we respect the President? Millions of you felt no qualms about disrespecting Bill Clinton after he had some sort of sex in the Oval Office with an intern. Where was the respect for the office five, six years ago?

Well I've got news for all of you. I have lost all of my respect for a President who would ignore the real threats and enemies to this nation in favor of going after a nation that posed no threat to us whatsoever.

He either did this because he is stupid or because he has other designs and motives in the Middle East that he's just not sharing with the rest of us.

I was scared shitless on 9/11/01. I was depressed for weeks about the future of our country. Now I'm angry because my President told me he'd keep us safe and bring the perpetrators to justice. No justice has been served. He started a discretionary war and plenty of young American men and women are dying because of it. And an entire nation of innocent people is decimated.

I am to respect that?

Hell no.

While DelicateMonster had this to say:

run in with a troll. He said that...

"Being in the military I can tell you a very small minority of relatives (parents, spouses, etc.) hold her views, and even fewer would vocalize them the way she has for fear of destroying the very principles and goals our soldiers are fighting for"

I responded like so:

What exactly are the principles and goals you reference in your statement? Sounds really, really important, but you never bother to mention them. You don't lay those out, and that's exactly the problem. Cindy's question is exactly that: what is the noble cause for her son's death?

Since you don't seem able to articulate anything thoughtful on this, let me help you out with some guesses as to what you might be thinking...

Guess number 1 ....Democracy?
Hmmm. So we invade a sovereign nation to bring it Democracy? Geez, we've only got China and most of the rest of the non-Western world left. Oh, and word has it we did our best to throw that last Iraqi election. Maybe we should start Democracy improvement at home, first? Start working on those diebold machines and the like.

Guess number 2.... Freedom?
Oh that word just fills me with joy. I hear Rocky's theme whenever a rightwinger ennunciates it with all the adoration and piety of a true believer. FREEDOM! Tra lalala! Only, rightwingers apparently mean something like freedom to make money by snookering poor folk. That other stuff, freedom of press, freedom of speech, privacy, that's just terroristic ammo, that is, we've got to limit that. Keep those prisoners in Gitmo without trial! Why? To protect our 'Freedom'! Drop cluster bombs on Baghdad. Why? To protect our Freedom! Torture and murder innocents in Bagram and Abu Ghraib. Why? Protect our Freedom!

What utter horseshit.

As to 'freedom' in Iraq...

Let's ask how many Iraqis feel free enough to walk their own streets? Are you in Iraq? Do you feel free enough to walk anywhere outside the Green zone? Furthermore, freedom to do what? Have your newspapers confiscated? Have your homes broken into and your brothers and husbands dragged away? Have the honor of sucking down some of our DU powder? Maybe have the honor of electing a slimy US handpicked crony? Have the honor to be unemployed? Be hungry, thirsty and ill educated? Oh please, spare me your dimwitted cross-eyed freedom speech. Your the kind of low life hierarchial honoring suck up who will lick Bush's ass, throw innocents in jail all over the world, shut down presses in Iraq, and talk about 'freedom' because we imprisoned Saddam Hussien--whom, by the way, we actually helped to create. Maybe we should focus a bit more on not fucking so much up, first, eh, before we provide all this high minded 'freedom' that tends to kill a disproportionate number of brown Iraqis. Liberating souls from bodies is what McKinley did in the Philipines. Let's not try to match his stupidity and cruelty in Iraq.

Guess number 3... Free Market Capitalism?
Sure, as long as the fat contracts go to the Americans and our 'coalition of the willing(ly duped)'. This feature, however, is otherwise known as crony capitalism, in which, I must say, this administration is amazingly successful.

Guess number 4....WMD?
Um, no. Can we lay that to rest now?

Guess number 5....Stop Terrorism?
Chuckle. I know, you didn't dare to bring that one up... Because, of course, far from stopping terrorism, it's increased it dramatically and Iraq is on its way to becoming a failed state in the middle of a vicious civil war precisely because -- precisely because -- we invaded it. In short, even if these were our noble goals (and they weren't) they've made matters significantly worse, not better.

Now, here's what I think the nobel cause was--strategic positioning of military bases in the Middle East to ensure control of Middle Eastern Oil. We got kicked out of Saudi Arabia, so we needed to hang our hat somewhere else. Plus, of course, jr had a hard on for Saddam since before 9/11. In fact, the plans for Gulf War II had been drawn up and -- from Bush and the neocon's perspective -- 9/11 was just a 'happy accident' that allowed the neocon's dirty little war to go forward. If you bothered to read the Downing Street Memo, you'd realize the Brits knew this and tried to talk Bush and company out of rushing illegally into the Iraqi war. But thanks to boneheaded cheerleaders like yourself, the US went anyhow. People who think the way you do really ought to put your lives where your mouths are and sign up for Iraq and leave it at that. You can serve quietly and valiantly and when you die,we'll miss you and say what a nice if gullible guy you were, but don't come crying to me about your boneheaded ideas and how a mother's protest is going to "destroy the very principles and goals our soldiers are fighting for" You apparently don't have a clue what we're fighting for. You're just doing talking points stenography, that's all. If you actually thought through what we're supposedly fighting for, I suspect you wouldn't like it anymore than Cindy Sheehan does.

But let's move along. You mention this:

"It is curious that you bring up Rosa Parks, because her act, while individual in nature, was the result of a greater movement of which she was a part."

I read a little while ago a brief remark on Powerline and Paul was going on about how 'one protestor' is insignificant. What the right, and in particular the Republican right don't understand--and I think the Democrats don't understand either sometimes, nor you either,apparently --is that at bottom, our lives matter more than the politician's lives. The politicians are OUR servants. They work for US. Cindy is dead right because she understands that the correct relationship between constituent and politician is employer to employee. BUSH and this utterly dysfunctional congress are supposed to be in our employ. Yikes. What a bunch of thugs we've hired, eh? I certainly wouldn't have an employee who starts a war, sends my kid to die, than decides to vacation for a month.

Yet, Cindy is the first one to really call him on it. To crystalize what everyone on this site is feeling. And in addition to the majority of the people in this country who now oppose the war, we have the support of the rest of the world. Bush and his cronies cannot indefinitely ignore the 10 million people who protested around the world on February 15 2003.

Just the act of a single protestor? Not hardly. The expression of 10 million people who opposed this war and continue to oppose this war, more like it. Cindy makes that protest human.

Howard Zinn in the Guardian said:

"There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at points in history and creating a power that governments cannot suppress."

Cindy Sheehan is not acting alone. She's acting for all of us--you included, like it or not.

Bart Whiteman: Bush Backs Down From Encounter With Mrs. Sheehan

Bart Whiteman: Bush Backs Down From Encounter With Mrs. Sheehan -
(Chattanoogan, TN)

posted August 11, 2005

Bart Whiteman

Cindy Sheehan is conducting a personal vigil at the end of the driveway to George W. Bush’s sprawling 1,600-acre Texas residence. She wants an audience, and she wants it now, with George W. to ask him a few questions and to engage in a polite discussion about the cause and effect of his Iraq War. To date, George W. has been a no-show.I am always puzzled by big tough guys who claim to want to teach all the bad guys of the world a lesson, but at the same time they shrink from a meeting with an unarmed, middle-aged woman sitting in the shade on a hot August day in a folding chair and wearing culottes. If this menace scares them so much, what would happen if they really had to go toe-to-toe with a very, very bad guy not so delicately dressed? George has avoided using the driveway since the vigil began. Fortunately, he has a personal helicopter to make trips to the drug store and to sign mega-bucks bills related to oil and transportation that are not likely to help the average consumer at all in the near future, but will put gobs of bucks in the hands of his corporate cronies in a hurry. Let’s see, is there a tie between oil and transportation? Oh, I get it.

George can peer down at Mrs. Sheehan from the chopper and wish that she would go away. So much for the average citizen’s right to have a face-to-face with their elected officials. Once some people get elected in this country they start acting like they had some divine right to hold the position.George W. can probably safely duck one woman for awhile, maybe forever. But what if another mother with a son killed in the Iraq War joins Cindy Sheehan? What if two join? Three? Four? Five? Six? What if some children whose fathers aren’t coming back join the crowd? What if all the people in Iraq who have needlessly had family members killed by George’s actions find a way to get to Texas? Crawford could start looking like a big city.What if the father of an American daughter killed in Iraq joins the growing metropolis? George might consider moving to New Mexico.So far, George's attempts to console the grieving have been about as lame as they come. It would appear that he has never suffered a moment of grief in his entire life, which may be true. The thin consolation he offers is becoming less palatable with each passing day. Fewer and fewer people are going to accept his sad testimony as a reason to just keep on going and add to the body count and add to the grief. He will have to offer more. He may even have to meet with all the Mrs. Sheehans at the end of his driveway. What a sacrifice he will have made. Meanwhile, Bush is willing to meet with his dwindling crew of supporters to decide what to do next. Somehow, no one in his camp has had a quiet moment to sit with him during the past few years to say: “Look, George, forget about an exit strategy for the war. What about an exit strategy for yourself? You have walked into a boxed canyon. No one made you do it. You did it all by yourself.”What is sadder than our President’s pattern of avoidance is the word that somehow Mrs. Sheehan’s vigil is “waking up the national media” to the fact that maybe this infernal war should be questioned. Where have these idiots been? Who robbed them of their eyes and ears? Are they that in love with the corporate trough that supplies their feeding tubes that they have chosen to overlook the obvious waste from the beginning of the war that has not abated an iota since? What will it take to wake this legion of passionless automatons?Iraq is supposed to have a constitution in four days. Ours, with a few amendments, a few dings, and a ton of argument has lasted over two hundred years. Not bad. The tires aren’t even worn out yet. What are the bets that the similar Iraqi product makes it down the road that far? We have approached its creation like it was a middle school civics class project. It was an assignment by a teacher you don’t particularly like or care for. You type it up the night before it’s due and hope for the best. Now, I know a few people who could ace that scenario every time. I just don’t see them sitting in the Iraqi general assembly. In the meantime, I hope someone will offer Cindy Sheehan some lemonade. Maybe it will takes a mother’s love and logic to break the headlock that has gotten this country into its least enviable position perhaps ever.


Cindy Sheehan: This is George Bush’s Accountability Moment

Cindy Sheehan: This is George Bush’s Accountability Moment

Thu Aug 11, 4:56 PM ET

This is George Bush’s accountability moment. That’s why I’m here. The mainstream media aren’t holding him accountable. Neither is Congress. So I’m not leaving Crawford until he’s held accountable. It’s ironic, given the attacks leveled at me recently, how some in the media are so quick to scrutinize -- and distort -- the words and actions of a grieving mother but not the words and actions of the president of the United States.

But now it’s time for him to level with me and with the American people. I think that’s why there’s been such an outpouring of support. This is giving the 61 percent of Americans who feel that the war is wrong something to do -- something that allows their voices to be heard. It’s a way for them to stand up and show that they DO want our troops home, and that they know this war IS a mistake… a mistake they want to see corrected. It’s too late to bring back the people who are already dead, but there are tens of thousands of people still in harm’s way.
There is too much at stake to worry about our own egos. When my son was killed, I had to face the fact that I was somehow also responsible for what happened. Every American that allows this to continue has, to some extent, blood on their hands. Some of us have a little bit, and some of us are soaked in it.

People have asked what it is I want to say to President Bush. Well, my message is a simple one. He’s said that my son -- and the other children we’ve lost -- died for a noble cause. I want to find out what that noble cause is. And I want to ask him: “If it’s such a noble cause, have you asked your daughters to enlist? Have you encouraged them to go take the place of soldiers who are on their third tour of duty?” I also want him to stop using my son’s name to justify the war. The idea that we have to “complete the mission” in Iraq to honor Casey’s sacrifice is, to me, a sacrilege to my son’s name. Besides, does the president any longer even know what “the mission” really is over there?

Casey knew that the war was wrong from the beginning. But he felt it was his duty to go, that his buddies were going, and that he had no choice. The people who send our young, honorable, brave soldiers to die in this war, have no skin in the game. They don’t have any loved ones in harm’s way. As for people like O’Reilly and Hannity and Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh and all the others who are attacking me and parroting the administration line that we must complete the mission there -- they don’t have one thing at stake. They don’t suffer through sleepless nights worrying about their loved ones.

Before this all started, I used to think that one person couldn’t make a difference... but now I see that one person who has the backing and support of millions of people can make a huge difference.

That’s why I’m going to be out here until one of three things happens: It’s August 31st and the president’s vacation ends and he leaves Crawford. They take me away in a squad car. Or he finally agrees to speak with me.

If he does, he’d better be prepared for me to hold his feet to the fire. If he starts talking about freedom and democracy -- or about how the war in Iraq is protecting America -- I’m not going to let him get away with it.

Like I said, this is George Bush’s accountability moment.

Cinday Sheehan - The Rosa Parks of the New Anti-War Movement

Check out this diary at dailykos for a massive roundup of stories, editorials, op-ed pieces etc. from around the country discussing Cindy Sheehan's vigil and the thousands of American citizens who are dropping everything to join her in Crawford, TX.

From the Chattanoogan of TN:

George W. can probably safely duck one woman for awhile, maybe forever. But
what if another mother with a son killed in the Iraq War joins Cindy Sheehan?
What if two join? Three? Four? Five? Six? What if some children whose fathers
aren't coming back join the crowd? What if all the people in Iraq who have
needlessly had family members killed by George's actions find a way to get to
Texas? Crawford could start looking like a big city.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The pilgrims flocking to see her, some driving hundreds of miles after
hearing one of the 200 interviews she has conducted this week, are different
from the usual suspects who have been protesting the Iraq war for more than two

There's Rick Green, a 28-year-old trucker from Moody, Texas, who
isn't sure about the war but lost his 13-year-old boy last year. There's
Jonathan Read, a retired hotel executive from Arizona who ditched three days of
golf to come here, donated $4,000 and then offered to pick up all of Sheehan's
meals. There's Tiffany Strause, a 29-year-old computer consultant who arrived
Tuesday from San Diego because it was time to "do something."

Unlike the bullhorn-wielding activists marching down Market Street in San Francisco or the armchair activists on, Sheehan is connecting with many Americans on the most human level.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"We're all Cindy Sheehan," said [Lietta] Ruger, [from Bay Center, WA] who
plans to stay at the makeshift encampment until Monday. "When I left Seattle
yesterday my 5-year-old grandson said, 'Grandma's going to talk to the president
so Daddy doesn't have to go away again,' " said Ruger, whose son-in-law and
nephew have already served in Iraq.

About 30 people gathered at the Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle Wednesday evening to support Sheehan's demand to speak with Bush and to protest the war. "This mother has called (Bush) on (his reason for going to war) and we need to support her," said protest organizer Judith Shattuck, a member of Progressive Democrats for America. That organization called for solidarity protests nationwide on the eve of when it thinks Sheehan will be removed from her roadside vigil, Shattuck said.

Teri Barclay, a Duvall mother who works in Seattle, said her son served two tours
with the Marines in Iraq before he was discharged in September 2004. She's been
against the war from the beginning but has grown increasingly angry that U.S.
troops have not had the equipment and supplies they need to protect themselves,
and that the Department of Veterans Affairs has not had the money to properly
help them when they return home. Barclay was especially upset that Bush has gone
on vacation while the nation is at war and men like her son are dying in Iraq.
"Our sons have sacrificed a lot, and where is his sacrifice? Where is his
support?" Barclay asked.

Sheehan's support includes a caravan of people who left Wednesday from Houston to join her roadside encampment near Waco. And some Swedes have even donated portable toilets that were set up outside the Peace House in Crawford.

Kos - The conservative elite versus Cindy

The conservative elite versus Cindy
by kos
Fri Aug 12th, 2005 at 08:43:21 PDT
I link to this not because it's a conservative blogger taking on his own side, but because it is the best explanatioon of why the attacks on Cindy Sheehan are so outrageous.

The essence of the right-wing smear machine's "outing" of Cindy Sheehan is
her supposed flip-flop from supporting President Bush in 2004 to disapproving of
him in 2005. As details of this have become clearer, it's obvious the flip-flop
is nothing more than a canard. But setting aside the Sheehan story for a moment,
have any of the shameless smearsters seen the public opinion polls recently?
Here's some breaking news for them: a whole lot of Americans who supported Bush
a year ago---including an increasingly large part of his "base"---have turned
against him. And that includes many millions of people who haven't lost a
parent, child, or sibling in Iraq.
There are so many side issues of
shamelessness and crass opportunism in this story it makes my head spin. Think
about the gall of a political and media machine "accusing" a private citizen of
changing her mind (imagine that!) about an elected and supposedly accountable
public official. When did a private citizen supposedly changing her opinion
about something rise to the same level as a flip-flop about firing anyone
involved in the leaking a CIA agent's name? At what point did the ability to
change one's mind about a politician become something to be ridiculed and
accused of instead of cherished as a basic right? And it's not as if in the past
year we haven't learned anything about the pre-war manipulation of intelligence,
as well as the incompetent planning, that resulted in the death of Cindy
Sheehan's son and thousands of others like him.

Something else about this story that infuriates me is the vision of
feckless, smarmy smearsters and cowards hiding behind keyboards in cities like
Washington and New York (and yes, Miami), punching out electronic missives in a
pathetic and desperate attempt to impugn the integrity of a woman sitting in the
dust and August heat of Texas---a woman who, along with her dead son, embodies
everything that's right about this country. The growing division between the
professional class of spinning punditry and the vast expanse of Middle America
that actually does the working, the fighting and the dying so the pundits can
spend their time chattering has never been more clear than with this
story. (

The Right pretends to side with "middle America" against the "coastal elites", but the denizens of the Right Wing Spin Machine all live in the coasts, well-heeled members of the intellectual elite. They are everything they claim to despise.

And to them (and the 101st Fighting Keyboardists, who aspire to membership in the punditry class), everything is partisan politics. Everything. The elephant flies higher than the Stars and Stripes. CIA agent outed? To the barricades! Must protect the leakers at all costs! A grieving mother protests the circumstances of her son's senseless death? To the barricades! Tear her apart! Make an example out of her - anyone who dare criticize Bush or any of his actions must be destroyed!

Sometimes, an event is simply apolitical. Bush could've difused this early with a gracious 30 minute meeting with Sheehan. Instead, he losed the attack dogs on her. Every attack on Sheehan from the Right is a reflection of their moral decay, their unamerican disdain for her right to protest her son's death, and yet more evidence of Bush (and Rove's) tacit endorsement of the politics of personal destruction -- even when the target is a grieving mother.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Mother of All Anti-War Protests

Despite an all-out "Swift-Boat" type campaign to smear her, Cindy Sheehan continues her patriotic vigil outside of King George's Crawford palace.

In the latest outrage, fascist skankbag Michelle Malkin (the woman who wrote a book defending the mass internment of Japanese Americans during WWII) has publicly chastized Ms. Sheehan in the name of her own son:

I can't imagine Army Spc. Casey Sheehan would stand for his mother's crazy accusations. . . . I can't imagine Army Spc. Casey Sheehan would stand for a bunch of strangers glomming onto his mother's crusade and using him to undermine the war effort
Sheehan responded today:

I didn’t know Casey knew Michelle Malkin…I’m Casey’s mother and I knew him better than anybody else in the world…I can’t bring Casey back, but I wonder how often Michelle Malkin sobbed on his grave. Did she go to his funeral? Did she sit up with him when he was sick when he was a baby?

Speaking of Michelle Malkin, let us not forget that it was she who publicly floated the story that John Kerry's Vietnam wounds were self-inflicted in order to bolster a later political career:

From Hardball:

MATTHEWS: Did he shoot himself on purpose.

MALKIN: Some of the soldiers have made allegations that these were self-inflicted wounds.

MATTHEWS: No one has ever accused him of shooting himself on purpose.

MALKIN: That these were self-inflicted wounds.

MATTHEWS: You're saying there are -- he shot himself on purpose, that's a criminal act?

MALKIN: I'm saying that I've read the book and some of the...


MATTHEWS: I want an answer yes or no, Michelle.

MALKIN: Some of the veterans say...

MATTHEWS: No. No one has every accused him of shooting himself on purpose.

MALKIN: Yes. Some of them say that.

MATTHEWS: Tell me where that...

MALKIN: Self-inflicted wounds -- in February, 1969.

MATTHEWS: This is not a show for this kind of talk. Are you accusing him of shooting himself on purpose to avoid combat or to get credit?

MALKIN: I'm saying that's what some of these...

MATTHEWS: Give me a name.

MALKIN: Patrick Runyon and William Zaladonis.

MATTHEWS: They said -- Patrick Runyon...

MALKIN: These people have...

MATTHEWS: And they said he shot himself on purpose to avoid combat or take credit for a wound?

MALKIN: These people have cast a lot of doubt on whether or not...

MATTHEWS: That's cast a lot of doubt. That's complete nonsense.

MALKIN: Did you read the section in the book...

MATTHEWS: I want a statement from you on this program, say to me right now, that you believe he shot himself to get credit for a purple heart.

MALKIN: I'm not sure. I'm saying...

MATTHEWS: Why did you say?

MALKIN: I'm talking about what's in the book.

MATTHEWS: What is in the book. Is there -- is there a direct accusation in any book you've ever read in your life that says John Kerry ever shot himself on purpose to get credit for a purple heart? On purpose?


MATTHEWS: On purpose? Yes or no, Michelle.

MALKIN: In the February 1969 -- in the February 1969 event.

MATTHEWS: Did he say on it purpose.

MALKIN: There are doubts about whether or not it was intense rifle fire or not. And I wish you would ask these questions of John Kerry instead of me.

MATTHEWS: I have never heard anyone say he shot himself on purpose.

I haven't heard you say it.

MALKIN: Have you tried to ask -- have you tried ask John Kerry these questions?

MATTHEWS: If he shot himself on purpose. No. I have not asked him that.

MALKIN: Don't you wonder?

MATTHEWS: No, I don't. It's never occurred to me.

Roy, It's Hot Outside

11 August, 2005

Representative Roy Blunt

Northpark Mall
101 Rangeline
, Missouri 64801

Dear Representative Blunt:

As local temperatures hover near 100 degrees for weeks on end, as our cornfields turn brown, wither, and die under the relentless heat, as all-time high temperature reports roll in from all around the globe, I thought you might want to reconsider your ungenerous comments about Al Gore’s speech on global warming from your press release of January 15th, 2005. I believe you said:

It is fitting that Gore chose one of the coldest days of the year to spread false information about the Bush Administration's record on global warming. Mother Nature didn't agree with his message and neither do I. Al, it's cold outside

Well Roy, it’s hot outside---and according to a report released on August 11th, 2005, it may be getting much, much hotter in the years ahead. An article appearing in the UK Guardian reports that:

Researchers [from Oxford University and Tomsk State University of Siberia, reporting in the prestigious journal New Scientist] who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures.

As anyone with even a modicum of understanding of climatology understands, a cold day in New York during the winter does not refute the mountains of data compiled by the world’s scientists on global warming. Your response to Gore---repeated by your media allies at the Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Fox News---was disappointing, to say the least, for this constituent.

I have no illusions that you and I will ever agree on anything, but I appeal to your conscience and ask that you review the enclosed article. Will you dismiss it as more lies and fabrications from the loony left?

Roy, it's hot outside.


Joplin, MO 64804

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Warming hits 'tipping point'

Warming hits 'tipping point'

Siberia feels the heat It's a frozen peat bog the size of France and Germany combined, contains billions of tonnes of greenhouse gas and, for the first time since the ice age, it is melting

Ian Sample, science correspondent
Thursday August 11, 2005
The Guardian

A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today.

Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

Article continues
The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures.

The discovery was made by Sergei Kirpotin at Tomsk State University in western Siberia and Judith Marquand at Oxford University and is reported in New Scientist today.

The researchers found that what was until recently a barren expanse of frozen peat is turning into a broken landscape of mud and lakes, some more than a kilometre across.

Dr Kirpotin told the magazine the situation was an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming". He added that the thaw had probably begun in the past three or four years.

Climate scientists yesterday reacted with alarm to the finding, and warned that predictions of future global temperatures would have to be revised upwards.

"When you start messing around with these natural systems, you can end up in situations where it's unstoppable. There are no brakes you can apply," said David Viner, a senior scientist at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

"This is a big deal because you can't put the permafrost back once it's gone. The causal effect is human activity and it will ramp up temperatures even more than our emissions are doing."

In its last major report in 2001, the intergovernmental panel on climate change predicted a rise in global temperatures of 1.4C-5.8C between 1990 and 2100, but the estimate only takes account of global warming driven by known greenhouse gas emissions.

"These positive feedbacks with landmasses weren't known about then. They had no idea how much they would add to global warming," said Dr Viner.

Western Siberia is heating up faster than anywhere else in the world, having experienced a rise of some 3C in the past 40 years. Scientists are particularly concerned about the permafrost, because as it thaws, it reveals bare ground which warms up more quickly than ice and snow, and so accelerates the rate at which the permafrost thaws.

Siberia's peat bogs have been producing methane since they formed at the end of the last ice age, but most of the gas had been trapped in the permafrost. According to Larry Smith, a hydrologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, the west Siberian peat bog could hold some 70bn tonnes of methane, a quarter of all of the methane stored in the ground around the world.

The permafrost is likely to take many decades at least to thaw, so the methane locked within it will not be released into the atmosphere in one burst, said Stephen Sitch, a climate scientist at the Met Office's Hadley Centre in Exeter.

But calculations by Dr Sitch and his colleagues show that even if methane seeped from the permafrost over the next 100 years, it would add around 700m tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year, roughly the same amount that is released annually from the world's wetlands and agriculture.

It would effectively double atmospheric levels of the gas, leading to a 10% to 25% increase in global warming, he said.

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said the finding was a stark message to politicians to take concerted action on climate change. "We knew at some point we'd get these feedbacks happening that exacerbate global warming, but this could lead to a massive injection of greenhouse gases.

"If we don't take action very soon, we could unleash runaway global warming that will be beyond our control and it will lead to social, economic and environmental devastation worldwide," he said. "There's still time to take action, but not much.

"The assumption has been that we wouldn't see these kinds of changes until the world is a little warmer, but this suggests we're running out of time."

In May this year, another group of researchers reported signs that global warming was damaging the permafrost. Katey Walter of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, told a meeting of the Arctic Research Consortium of the US that her team had found methane hotspots in eastern Siberia. At the hotspots, methane was bubbling to the surface of the permafrost so quickly that it was preventing the surface from freezing over.

Last month, some of the world's worst air polluters, including the US and Australia, announced a partnership to cut greenhouse gas emissions through the use of new technologies.

The deal came after Tony Blair struggled at the G8 summit to get the US president, George Bush, to commit to any concerted action on climate change and has been heavily criticised for setting no targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.,12374,1546824,00.html

But fear not! The Washington Times, Fox News, and our own beloved Roy Blunt are fighting the good fight to make sure we are not snookered by this so-called "global warming" nonsense. From The Daily Howler:

GLOBAL CLOWNING: Don’t worry—Dennis Miller will recite this one too. In this morning’s Washington Times, James Lakely engages in consummate clownistry as he “reports” Gore’s address on global warming:

LAKELY (pgh 1): Former Vice President Al Gore delivered a speech on the theory of global warming yesterday, the coldest day in New York City in decades, calling President Bush a “moral coward” for adhering to policies that put the planet in catastrophic peril of overheating.

(2) The speech, sponsored by the liberal advocacy group, came when the mercury was expected to dip to minus 1 in New York City, shattering a record low temperature that has stood for 47 years, and notching just a few degrees higher than the coldest day ever recorded there.

Pitiful, isn’t it? Nothing about global warming theory says there will be no cold days in New York. But Lakely throws dim-witted feed to the herd. Can’t you hear what he’s actually saying? We think we can hear him: Hey, rubes!

Indeed, Lakely gives a perfect example of the conservative press corps’ rapidly evolving, propagandistic style of “reporting.” He quotes two experts on global warming—both of whom say what a Big Nut Gore is. After that, he quotes a major pol. And he’s been to Clown College too:

LAKELY: House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said it was “fitting that Mr. Gore chose one of the coldest days of the year to spread false information about the Bush administration's record on global warming.”

“Mother Nature didn’t agree with his message, and neither do I,” the congressman said. “Al, it’s cold outside.”
Don’t worry: In Hollywood, Miller is honing the message. After all, he even saw Brit recite it last night. Yep! A Pander Bear was going polar on last evening’s Special Report:
HUME: In a case of unfortunate timing, former Vice President Al Gore was in New York City today attacking the Bush administration’s policies on global warming. Gore called President Bush, quote, a “moral coward on the environment.” He said evidence of the warming problem is undeniable.

GORE (on tape): I really don’t think there is any longer a credible basis for doubting that the earth’s atmosphere is heating up because of global warming.

HUME: As Gore spoke, New Yorkers were freezing in 18-degree weather with a wind chill of one degree. And forecasters were saying that tonight could be the coldest January 15 in 47 years.

That was Hume’s entire report! Increasingly, your discourse is managed by clowns. Disaster is one sure result.

AP: GOP Busted on "No Voter Suppression" Pledg

AP: GOP Busted on "No Voter Suppression" Pledge

Thu Aug 11th, 2005 at 02:39:17 PDT

Cross-posted at Booman Tribune

Thought I'd post a "head's-up" to someone more up on the history of this particular GOP criminal act than I. Found this AP story over at the Guardian.

First, Ken Mehlman's "solemn word":

Earlier this week, RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, the former White House political director, reiterated a "zero-tolerance policy" for any GOP official caught trying to block legitimate votes.

"The position of the Republican National Committee is simple: We will not tolerate fraud; we will not tolerate intimidation; we will not tolerate suppression. No employee, associate or any person representing the Republican Party who engages in these kinds of acts will remain in that position," Mehlman wrote Monday to a group that studied voter suppression tactics.

That carefully worded bold section does not bind their hands, however, in paying the legal bills for someone who did engage in one of these activities.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Despite a zero-tolerance policy on tampering with voters, the Republican Party has quietly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide private defense lawyers for a former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire.

James Tobin, the president's 2004 campaign chairman for New England, is charged in New Hampshire federal court with four felonies accusing him of conspiring with a state GOP official and a GOP consultant in Virginia to jam Democratic and labor union get-out-the-vote phone banks in November 2002.

A telephone firm was paid to make repeated hang-up phone calls to overwhelm the phone banks in New Hampshire and prevent them from getting Democratic voters to the polls on Election Day 2002, prosecutors allege. Republican John Sununu won a close race that day to be New Hampshire's newest senator.

There's a pattern emerging here. More and more, we see what look like just plain, old dirty tricks.

There's an old word in the political lexicon for this sort of behavior: Nixonian. And the GOP machine is run by Nixon alum. Karl Rove is a protégé of Donald Segretti, a dirty trickster paid by Nixon's re-election campaign.

And as with that classic tale of corruption from yore, there's a simple rule to which one should adhere:

Follow. The. Money.

Again, from the AP story:

Paul Twomey, a volunteer lawyer for New Hampshire Democrats who are pursuing a separate lawsuit involving the phone scheme, said he was surprised the RNC was willing to pay Tobin's legal bills and that it suggested more people may be involved.

"It originally appeared to us that there were just certain rogue elements of the Republican Party who were willing to do anything to win control of the U.S. Senate, including depriving Americans of their ability to vote," Twomey said.

"But now that the RNC actually is bankrolling Mr. Tobin's defense, coupled with the fact that it has refused some discovery in the civil case, really raises the questions of who are they protecting, how high does this go and who was in on this," Twomey said.

People already have a bitter taste in their mouth about the performance of the GOP since last November's election. Time to show that the rotten fruit is merely a symptom of a corrupt and decayed root.

The GOP is the Party of Corruption.

Pass it on.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


James Wolcott: Nothing Honors the Dead like an Old-Fashioned Hoedown

Nothing Honors the Dead like an Old-Fashioned Hoedown
Posted by James Wolcott

When one thinks of the great showmen and impresarios who have brought to world so much culture and entertainment, certain names step to the fore.

Diaghilev. P.T. Barnum. Billy Rose. Mike Todd. Sol Hurok. Ed Sullivan.

Now add another name to that illustrious roster.

Secretary of Defense and future host of the Grand Ol' Opry, Donald Rumsfeld.


WASHINGTON - The Pentagon will hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of 9/11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an unusual announcement tucked into an Iraq war briefing yesterday.

"'This year the Department of Defense will initiate an America Supports You Freedom Walk,' Rumsfeld said, adding that the march would remind people of 'the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation.'

"The march will start at the Pentagon, where nearly 200 people died on 9/11, and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black."

Rumsfeld was disappointed that famed documentarian Leni Riefensthahl will be unable to film the event for posterity because, well, she's dead. But he's pleased as punch ("you bet!") that he'll be able to duet with Clint Black as they perform Rumsfeld's original honkytonk composition "It Takes Big Feet to Fill Big Boots (and I'm in the High Teens, Baby)."

Steve Gilliard said this showbiz/military exploitation of 9/11 will provoke a "shitstorm" of indignation and it will and it should.

But it also strikes as incredibly...pathetic. Lame. Desperate. Even the name--America Supports You Freedom Walk--sounds tonedeaf and klutzy, like a bad charity fundraising walkathon through the park.

Also, Rumsfeld says this year's event will "initiate" the America Supports You Mill Around on the Mall commemorative.

Does that mean this madman intends it to be an annual travesty of the tragedy of 9/11? Whose crackpot idea was this, his, Karen Hughes'? Will Bush himself be in attendance, pumped after his five weeks of brush-clearing in Crawford, Texas?

If nothing else, this is a delicious gift to Maureen Dowd, providing MoDo (who returned to her Times op-ed spot today) with column after column of sumptuous copy.

Sheehan and Shakespeare

Cindy Sheehan's brave campaign to speak truth to power got me thinking about a great scene from Shakespeare's Henry V.

Many of us who teach literature have been pointing out eerie similarities between Dubya and Prince Hal, the drunken wastral who idles his life away in the shadow of his father, King Henry IV, before eventually emerging as a warrior king in the play Henry V.

What I thought of today was the great scene from Henry V (Act 4, scene 1) in which the king gets more than he bargains for from a common soldier.

In the camp before the battle of Agincourt (a battle in which a severe shortage of English troops looks dire)the king dons a disguise and goes amongs his men to learn what they really think of him and his war.

When he encounters one such soldier, a man named Williams, he hears this:

'. . . if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection.'

Later in the same act, King Henry (in true Dubya fashion) reveals himself to Williams and upbraids the latter for 'speaking truth to power,' despite the fact that man was simply giving an honest answer to the king's own question.

But Williams will not relent. He points out the King's dishonesty in using the diguise to eavesdrop on his own men:

"Your Majesty came not like yourself. You appear'd to me but as a common man; witness the night, your garments, your lowliness; and what your Highness suffer'd under that shape, I beseech you take it for your own fault and not mine. . ."

Then when the King decides he likes Williams moxie and attempts to buy him off with a glove filled with coins, Williams turns from the king in disgust and says:

"I will none of your money."

Today when I thought of Cindy Sheehan's brave vigil, I thought of that brave, truth-speaking soldier---and how much they have in common.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Bob Kerr: Paying the price for the man at the top

[Note: Paul Teverow sent this to me. It was published in the Providence (RI) Journal]

Bob Kerr: Paying the price for the man at the top
01:00 AM EDT on Friday, August 5, 2005

All that training. All that hard, snarling removal of your soft civilian ways. All those predawn runs followed by long days of pushing and pushing and coming so close to collapse that you aren't really sure how you make it to the blessed refuge of your rack at night.

Sometimes, you're too tired to be scared. You just keep moving because there is nothing worse than doing what your body tells you and dropping to the ground.

You come out of Parris Island or San Diego or Quantico in the best shape of your life. You feel stripped down to the essentials. You've taken the leap, left the easy comforts and learned surprising things about yourself.

Then you look all the way up the chain of command, all the way to the commander in chief. And he seems, at a very brief first glance, to be the right man to be there. He is trim and fit and you hear how he runs and bikes and lifts weights to a degree that makes you wonder how he has time to make all those important decisions.
And he has that shoulder-swinging strut when he walks. It seems just the thing for reviewing the troops.

He's the man who will decide how you get to use all the hard-earned lessons of boot camp. Sure, day to day it will be a noncommissioned or commissioned officer who issues the orders.
But in the end, it will be a civilian who is not one of you. He passed up his generation's war in the National Guard.

And he has taken all you have learned, all the storied history of the Marine Corps, and put it in a place where the Marines can't be the Marines. In his rush to have a war all his own, he has failed to cover the basics -- to understand the enemy before sending in the troops.

And 14 Marines were killed Tuesday when their vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb in Iraq. They never got to face the enemy. They were targets.

There's no way to be angry enough. I read the headlines on page one on consecutive days -- 7 Marines killed; 14 Marines killed. And what makes it worse is how little it will register, how slight a ripple it will cause outside the place where the dead Marines are from in Ohio.

All that training. All that rich tradition that seems to follow recruits over the obstacle course and down the road and onto the rifle range. It's all been wrapped up and fed into a meat grinder that grows more obscenely misguided by the day.

There's just no way to know. A young man or woman sees those dress blues and thinks about what it could mean to be a Marine, how it could lift him or her out of a life too predictable and ordinary.

So the agreement is signed and that first dark morning in the company of a frightening person in a Smokey-Bear hat signals the beginning of a very different life.

And all they and their families can hope for is that their sacrifice won't be wasted and won't be betrayed.

But it has been.

The Marines in Iraq have held up their end of the deal. They always do. But they have had the misfortune to wear the uniform at a time when the man at the top hasn't a clue. He has sent them to war for phony reasons and now he can't even decide what exactly to call this mess he has started and can't stop.

And when the bodies come home, he does not attend the funerals. As a famous American writer points out, he does not know how to mourn.

This week, the commander in chief started a five-week vacation in Texas. It will be one of the longest vacations a person in his position has ever taken.

Bob Kerr can be reached by e-mail at bkerr [at]