Saturday, July 16, 2005

Valerie Plame and Karl Rove go to the same Episcopal Church?! 

So says Georgia10 at Kos.

WTF? It's all making my head explode!

Like one big, and very unhappy, family...

"Creative Destruction" in the Rovian Grove 

The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed, But swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw, Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread (Milton)

Justin Raimondo (AntiWar.com) writes:
When Rove and his shills blabbed to reporters and anyone who would listen, they didn't realize that they were aiding and abetting an elaborate ploy to stick it to the CIA.

Seen against the backdrop of the fierce intra-bureaucratic war that broke out in the administration in the run-up to the Iraq war – with the CIA and the mainline intelligence and diplomatic communities pitted against civilian neoconservatives in the upper echelons of the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President – the outing of Plame and her colleagues amounts to an act of espionage committed out of a desire to exact revenge. The leakers meant to retaliate not just against Joe Wilson, through his wife, but against the "old guard" that was resisting the campaign to lie us into war. When the CIA wouldn't go along with the neocon program and "spice up" their analyses with Ahmed Chalabi's tall tales and the outright forgery of the Niger uranium documents, the War Party struck back at them with the sort of viciousness for which the neocons are rightly renowned.

The neocons had a fix on their target; now the question was how to get someone else to pull the trigger.

"they're coming after you". see earlier post below

Raimondo continues:
In his book, The Politics of Truth, Joe Wilson says as much:
"Apparently, according to two journalist sources of mine, when Rove learned that he might have violated the law, he turned on Cheney and Libby and made it clear that he held them responsible for the problem they had created for the administration. The protracted silence on this topic from the White House masks considerable tension between the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President.


Ambassador Wilson knows who his enemies are, and he pointed to them in his book and in an interview with Joe Conason in Salon:
"Gleaned from all those crosscurrents of information, the most plausible scenario, and the one that I've heard most frequently from different sources, has been that there was a meeting in the middle of March 2003, chaired by either [Cheney's chief of staff] Scooter Libby or the vice president – but more frequently I've heard chaired by Scooter – at which a decision was made to get a 'work-up' on me. That meant getting as much information about me as they could: about my past, about my life, about my family. This, in and of itself, is abominable. Then that information was passed at the appropriate time to the White House Communications Office, and at some point a decision was made to go ahead and start to smear me, after my opinion piece appeared in the New York Times."

"Salon: You mention two other names: John Hannah, who works in the Office of the Vice President, and David Wurmser, who is a special assistant to John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control and national security. Last Wednesday, their names both appeared on a chart that accompanied an article in the New York Times about the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans and the war cabal within the Bush administration. Did these people run an intelligence operation against you?"

"Wilson: I don't know if it's the same unit, but it's very clear, from what I've heard, that the meeting in March 2003 led to an intelligence operation against my family and me. That's what a work-up is – to try to find everything you can about an American citizen."


Who in the administration would've had access to the specific information regarding Plame-Wilson's role in a deep-cover CIA operation involving nuclear proliferation? Why, the man who was the State Department deputy secretary in charge of "weapons of mass destruction" – the somewhat irritable if not downright reckless John Bolton, would-be ambassador to the UN, who played a central role in promulgating the Niger Uranium Myth.

Conveniently, two of Bolton's assistants, David Wurmser and John Hannah, also worked in Cheney's office. [...]

The trail winds its way through other familiar thorny thickets... so continue reading: ...Who Leaked to the Leakers?, July 15, 2005 - by Justin Raimondo

Scooter Libby: "totally obsessed with Wilson," NY Daily News

"This fateful struggle will first be taken up with the ballot, but this cannot continue indefinitely, for history has taught us that in a battle, blood must be shed, and iron broken. The ballot is the beginning of this fateful struggle. We are determined to promulgate by force that which we preach. Just as Mussolini exterminated the Marxists in Italy, so must we also succeed in accomplishing the same through dictatorship and terror." ~ Wilhelm Frick, October 18, 1929


Friday, July 15, 2005

Frogmarch watch: Rove thinks he's winning 

How do we know?

No 5:00PM document dump!

Welcome, WaPo readers 

And a tip of the Ol' Corrente Hat to The Amazin' Froomkin for citing Tom's post.

"Sweet Jesus Christ Come On Down" 

The following is courtesy of our visiting lyric genius, MJS.

I am only posting it with the clear understanding that all of you who read it here will take yourself over to where MJS now blogs on his very own weblog, called MORTALJIVE. There you will find much to be amused by and even more to wonder at. Take your time, poke around, you'll discover, no surprise, that MJS is a powerful writer in several mediums and a wholly original presence on the web.

Enjoy him here, and then enjoy him there.


Karl Rove
Karl Rove
Deep inside his cove
Tried to play checkers with chess
To move one ahead
He left another dead
Will someone kindly clean up his mess?

Treason is hard
Treason is mean
To turn one's back on kith and kin
Jesus once said
(He was neither blue or red)
That which you do to them you do to me

Without Judas kiss
There is no Christian myth
Without Karl Rove
The future dims
Two years he had
To just say "My bad"
He's the kind that only mouths the hymns

Sweet Jesus Christ
Sweet Lord above
Redeemer for the sins of all mankind
We were so lost
And knew not the cost
Sweet Jesus Christ come on down!

Liberals deny
The true god in the sky
You can trust them to hate America
When Saddam Hussein
Lost his tyrant's reign
The liberals cried and cried and cried

Look over there
Big trouble over there
Don't wast your time looking here
We know the way
To lead the USA
Just turn that dial up on fear

When the day is done
When the light is gone
When the game has all played out
We will prevail
We will not fail
Treason is just a word that liberals shout

Sweet Jesus Christ
Sweet Lord above
Redeemer for the sins of all mankind
We were so lost
And knew not the cost
Sweet Jesus Christ come on down!

Karl Rove
Karl Rove
Deep inside his cove
Tried to play checkers with chess
To move one ahead
He left another dead
Will someone kindly clean up his mess?

Treason is hard
Treason is mean
To turn one's back on kith and kin
Jesus once said
(He was neither blue or red)
That which you do to them you do to me

Without Judas kiss
There is no Christian myth
Without Karl Rove
The future dims
Two years he had
To just say "My bad"
He's the kind that only mouths the hymns

Sweet Jesus Christ
Sweet Lord above
Redeemer for the sins of all mankind
We were so lost
And knew not the cost
Sweet Jesus Christ come on down!


P.S.: Please do not miss the Farmer's important compendium of things you need to know about Rove and Mr. & Mrs. Wilson, right below this post, just scroll or click here.

Hoist the mainsail! Raise the "implication"! 

The nondisclosure agreement signed by White House officials such as Mr. Rove states: “I will never divulge classified information to anyone” who is not authorized to receive it.


Mr. Rove, through his attorney, has raised the implication that there is a distinction between releasing classified information to someone not authorized to receive it and confirming classified information from someone not authorized to have it. In fact, there is no such distinction under the nondisclosure agreement Mr. Rove signed. [Talk Left]

Via Guardian UK:
Mr Rove told the grand jury in testimony last year that he specifically remembered Mr Novak telling him that Ms Wilson worked for the CIA, AP reported its source, identified only as a person working in the legal profession, as saying. Mr Rove told the grand jury that by the time Mr Novak had called him, he believes he had similar information about Mr Wilson's wife from another reporter but had no recollection of which reporter had told him about it first, the source said.

Mr Rove testified that Mr Novak originally called him days before Ms Wilson's identity was revealed in July 2003 to discuss another story. The conversation eventually turned to former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was strongly criticising the Bush administration's Iraq war policy and the intelligence it used to justify the war, the source said.

According to Mr Rove's testimony, Mr Novak told him he had learned and planned to report in a weekend column that Mr Wilson's wife had worked for the CIA, and the circumstances on how her husband travelled to Africa to check bogus claims of alleged nuclear material sales to Iraq.

Another journalist, Time reporter Matt Cooper, identified Mr Rove to the grand jury earlier this week as the source for his story regarding Ms Wilson. Mr Cooper refused to "scoop" himself by discussing precisely what Mr Rove told him before he can publish his story on the pages of Time. Mr Rove told the grand jury that four days later, he had a phone conversation with Mr Cooper and - in an effort to discredit some of Mr Wilson's allegations - told Mr Cooper that Mr Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, though he never used her name.

A third reporter, New York Times staffer Judith Miller, is also believed to have known Ms Wilson's identity. She is currently serving a prison sentence for contempt, after refusing to betray a journalistic confidence and testify about her source before the grand jury.

Mr Novak has refused to discuss his sources or his involvement in the investigation. - more: Guardian UK

Karl Rove's loyalists are promoting a new version of the Valerie Plame leak to the New York Times. Now, they say, Novak called Rove on July 8 and told him about Valerie Plame, and Rove merely said, "I heard that too.." - Talk Left

Confirmation confirmed?:

October 2003:
In a new column about his role in the affair, Novak said Ms Plame's unmasking was not a "planned leak". He said that her identity came in passing during a conversation with a "senior administration official".

He wrote: "It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger. When I called another official for confirmation, he said, 'Oh, you know about it'."

[Sound Familiar?] Karl Rove's loyalists are promoting a new version of the Valerie Plame leak to the New York Times. Now, they say, Novak called Rove on July 8 and told him about Valerie Plame, and Rove merely said, "I heard that too.." - Talk Left

But in July, Novak told Newsday that the sources had come to him with Ms Plame's name. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me. They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it." - [Julian Borger, The Guardian (UK), October 2, 2003 - via Lex Nex]

Newsday: Columnist Names CIA Iraq Operative, July 21, 2003.

"they're coming after you".
Wilson's credibility was attacked by allies of the administration and the Washington Post reported that the White House was livid about his article which essentially said the president had misled America. Then a friend told Wilson of a conversation he had with conservative columnist Robert Novak.

The friend had been walking along the street with Novak and casually asked him about the uranium story. "Wilson's an asshole," Novak had replied.

"The CIA sent him. His wife Valerie works for the CIA... She sent him."

A couple of days later Wilson got a call from Walter Pincus, a veteran intelligence reporter from the Washington Post, to say "they're coming after you".

The following Monday Novak wrote his now infamous column. In it he disclosed that Wilson's wife "Valerie Plame is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction." He said two senior administration officials had told him Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the uranium report.

The column brought her career of covert action over 20 years to a sudden end - and possibly compromised her sources. - [The Irish Times, July 9, 2005 - via Lex Nex]

Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer, said he was trained 14 years ago with Valerie Plame, a specialist on weapons of mass destruction,...


"She's under cover, working in a clandestine situation, and it was exposed for the sake of cheap, tawdry politics. Assessing the damage for this could be difficult and will take some time.

"I'm a registered Republican and I'm sickened by this," he added. "I've spoken with four colleagues who have since left the agency who worked with her. And they are livid." - [The Guardian (UK), October 2, 2003 - via Lex Nex]

on suspicious nature of grand jury testimony being leaked:
talk left
liberal oasis

Novak to Rove/Rove to Novak:
Think Progress.org

Scooter Libby - "totally obsessed with Wilson," NY Daily News

"Classified State Department Report Taken Onto Air Force One Thought to Be Source of Plame’s Identity": Was Ari the other leaker?


Afterborns Need not Apply 

(As noted before, my fellow Correntians have been doing a workmanlike job on the Rove-Plame story, and you can catch up by scrolling further down.)

Back in May at my own site I chronicled the tragic life of one of the many little ones who end up in the clutches of the incompetent, negligent, and malicious Florida Department of Children and Families, which has been responsible for so many murdered, maimed and missing kids during the incumbancy of Jeb Bush.

Nothing has changed:
"A 21 year old Tampa man is charged with murder after his 3-year old son was pummeled into unconsciousness and then died.
Ronnie Paris Jr. went on trial for his own life this week in a Tampa courtroom. The toddler's mother, Nysheerah Paris, testified that her husband thought the boy might be gay and would force him to box...(and) told the court that Paris would make the boy fight with him, slapping the child in the head until he cried or wet himself. She said that on one occasion Paris slammed the child against a wall because he was vomiting.
Prosecutor Jalal Harb said that in 2002, the Florida Department of Children & Families placed the child in protective custody after he had been admitted to the hospital several times for vomiting.
He was returned to his parents Dec. 14. A month later he went into a coma and was rushed to hospital. Six days later he was removed from life support and died."
Now, setting aside the question as to why DCF allowed this child to be returned to his "home", I wonder why even after his death, Florida's taxpayer-supported child welfare service, overseen by Jeb "King of the Culture of Life" Bush, still appeared to be MIA:
"Following the child's death Tampa police Detective Anthony Zambito thought there was something suspicious. He testified that he questioned both parents closely at the hospital. But it wasn't until investigators questioned them separately Feb. 1 that the boy's mother talked about the abuse."
February fucking 1st! Two months after the child was admitted to the hospital with fatal injuries, and not a word about DCF's involvement.

Now I realize that this child wasn't as cute as a fetus, and not as care-free as a blastocyst, but surely these people who have the gall to hold themselves up as paragons of moral righteousness and the keepers of the sacred flame of life might be able to find some small place in their hearts for the welfare of the helpless children already here and suffering.

(Previously posted at It's My Country, Too)


We have been experiencing some (possibly) electro-magnetic pulse-induced technical difficulties with both Haloscan and Blogger this a.m., which could presage either nuclear attack or invasion by Martians, depending on which novels you read.

Please bear with us, and contact Michael Chertoff--

The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Office of the Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Nebraska Avenue Complex
Washington, D.C. 20393

Operator Number: 202-282-8000
Comment Line: 202-282-8495

--if you have any questions.

American Psycho Redux 

(Lambert and my other blogsiblings have been doing a fantastic job tracing the developments of Rove's flame-out. Scroll down and check in.)

Nice work, all you culture-of-life-family-values fans. The current climate of wildly unregulated and unchecked weapons flow from manufacturers into the hands of criminals and terrorists gets an assist toward even greater unaccountable:
"The gun industry is likely to win sweeping protection against civil liability lawsuits in the U.S. Senate this month, reflecting a more firearm-friendly Senate after the 2004 elections, lawmakers said on Thursday.
Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig, lead backer of the legal protections bill, said he was confident it would win Senate approval with few if any unpalatable amendments."
Larry Craig has a fascinating voting record, chock full of tidbits like his votes against allowing background checks on purchasers at gun shows (twice) and against trigger locks that save kids' lives. He's a staunch ally of the NRA--that culture of life fraternity that never met a weapon it didn't want to fuck like a bunny--and he thinks the new pro-deadly weapon Congress is just the opportunity to give his brothers-in-arms what they want. On the other hand:
"Brady (Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence) center president Michael Barnes said that even in a "tougher political environment" the group hopes to rally opposition to the liability bill and attach amendments, including one to require background checks at gun shows.
The bill is a top priority for the National Rifle Association..."Unfortunately, as long as gun-ban advocates are able to burden firearm manufacturers with the costs of defending themselves in court, the entire gun industry is at risk of being eradicated," the NRA said on its Web site.
"We'd like to close loopholes that would allow criminals and terrorists to buy weapons without background checks," Barnes said, adding, "It's hard to believe that we wouldn't be able to muster a majority now" given the fears of terrorism."

Hard to believe if you're a normal, thinking person, but not hard at all if you're in love with death, as our favorite, Peggy Noonan, likes to say. Especially if terrorism isn't something you really care about except as a political straw man for leveraging your job security on the Hill. Tell me again, who is it that's pro-life around here?

For those who like their dramas poignant, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a co-author of the now-expired 1994 assault weapons ban, is trying to inject amendments into the bill that will make it at least a little less wignutty:
"For instance, instead of trying to reinstate the assault weapons ban, she said she would try to limit sales of powerful 50 caliber weapons so that they could only be sold through federally licensed dealers, not at gun shows."
Wouldn't that be special? But with these people, no regulation is acceptable. We now have a situation where nearly half the Congress is allied more or less to the wild-hair philosophies, xenophobia, and deep-rooted misanthropy underpinning American survivalism. When it's every man for himself, who cares who else dies, even in a culture of life?

It doesn't matter 

WASHINGTON - Presidential confidant Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he learned the identity of a CIA operative originally from journalists, then informally discussed the information with a Time magazine reporter days before the story broke, according to a person briefed on the testimony.
(via MSGOP)
Am I the only person who realizes that it doesn't matter how Rove found out? Rove simply shouldn't have disclosed anything at all.

His response should have been "I don't know" or "I can't comment on that." When Rove confirmed it or commented in any way, he broke the law. He disclosed it and therefore broke the law and it really doesn't matter how he found out.

It may clear his boss (Cheney) or his child (Bush) of any wrongdoing but it doesn't clear him.

This pathetic cover story is a red herring folks. It's as simple as that.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Frogmarch watch: The White House Iraq Group is the story behind the story 

Times "scoop" a distraction (naturally)
The Times doesn't have a scoop—it has a damp squib. Since Drudge was pushing it, that was obvious. At most, it means Rove and Bush are moving into the modified limited hangout stage. Yawn.

The White House Iraq Group
Billmon's right (via Armando):

By defending the Wilsons, Left Blogostan simply helps Right Blogostan keep the focus off of Rove and his White House dirty tricks operation. It boggles the mind that more than a year after Fitzpatrick subpoened the records of the "White House Iraq Group," and nearly a week after the Newsweek story highlighted the obvious connection between Plame's outing and the administration's WMD disinformation campaign, virtually nothing about this shadowy committee has appeared in the mainstream press.

Because the White House Iraq Group is where Wilson is trying to point us. Of course, he has to go to Raw Story to do it:

Raw Story: Let’s start with what your theory is on how the highly classified status of your wife as a NOC (a person of Non-Official Cover and a high level CIA asset) was leaked to others outside of the CIA. What is your theory and how have you come to it?

Wilson: Well, my view of this is based on what people have told me. It is not so much my theory but what others have told me about this.

Shortly after Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei (Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency) announced to the UN Security Council in March, 2003 that the documents that the State Department provided him were forgeries, I went on CNN and said that I thought the government new more about this than it was letting on.

My understanding is that shortly thereafter, a meeting was held - sometime in March of 2003 - in the offices of the Vice President at which it was decided to do a “work up” on me. A work up means to run an intel op to glean all the information you can about “me.” My understanding is that at a minimum, [Cheney's chief of staff] Scooter Libby was at this meeting.

But in retrospect looking at this, the natural group [of people] who would meet to discuss something like this would be the White House Iraq Group (WHIG).

Raw Story: Right, and the group includes Karl Rove as part of that main group of six.

Wilson: Yes, that would include Rove. I believe it is Rove, Karen Hughes, Libby, and others.

Raw Story: Also: Andrew Card, Mary Matlin and James Wilkinson as well as others who advised then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy Stephen Hadley.

Wilson: [The White House Iraq Group] would be the natural group because they were constituted to spin the war, so they would be naturally the ones to try to deflect criticism. Now, some of those people would have very high security clearances.

Connecting the dots
OK. Finally we've got some names. The W.H.I.G. was in charge of "fixing the facts and the intelligence around the policy." The ringleaders are Hughes, Libby, Card, Matalin, Wilkinson, and, of course, Rove.

A scenario: Wilson's Op-Ed on the fake yellowcake story appears. For once, someone tells the truth, and that throws the process of "fixing" the facts into jeopardy. So the W.H.I.G. commissions a workup on Wilson [tinfoil hat time: Using echelon intercepts obtained through John Bolton]. The work-up reveals that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was in the WMD section of the CIA. So, for W.H.I.G., it's a two-fer: Take down one truthteller, Wilson, by smearing him, saying Plame got him a choice foreign posting (to Niger?! Never mind). And take down a second truthteller, WMD expert Plame, by outing her while smearing Wilson. A classic Rovian bankshot! And a second bankshot: Rove plants the smear with some lackey in the press [tinfoil hat time: on the payroll; Ketchum? Iraqi National Congress? See below], it echoes round to Novak, Novak calls Rove, and Rove confirms it. Mission accomplished!

You lift up the rock just a little bit, and Wow! Look what scuttles out!

The connection to make here is W.H.I.G. to Colonel Gardiner's resarch (here (back) and here):

My research suggests there were over 50 stories manufactured or at least engineered that distorted the picture of Gulf II for the American and British people.

We've seen that the Bush White House has been conducting a PsyOps campaign: Information Warfare against the American people. Manipulating the terror alerts during Election 2004 was one front of the campaigm (timeline, back). Planting all those news stories (aluminum tubes, biological warfare trailers, all that crap) was another. [It felt like whack-a-mole at the time; this was the summer when we were all just starting out at Eschaton, and as soon as we'd smash one story, another one would pop right up! Well, surprise! It didn't just feel like whack-a-mole—it was! And the general in charge of both fronts? Why, Karl Rove.]

Outing Valerie Plame and smearing Joe Wilson was just one, very small W.H.I.G. operation. There are plenty more such operations to be discovered.

Follow the money?
What I would like to know—trying to think like Jeff "8-inch, cut" Guckert here for a moment—is whether any of the writers (or editors) of the 50 planted stories were actually, er, funded. Suppose W.H.I.G.—Hughes, Libby, Card, Matalin, Wilkinson, and Rove—had a $50 million slush fund to spend on "fixing the facts and the intelligence." (With over $8 billion "missing" in Iraq, certainly a slush fund of that size is quite a reasonable assumption.) If Armstrong Williams charged the going rate, $50,000,000 / $250,000 = 200, um, assets. Of course, 500 people in the Beltway control our national discourse, and that would mean that almost half of 'em were on Rove's payroll. Yeah, maybe my tinfoil hat is a little too tight... But that would explain why the role of W.H.I.G. isn't part of the story. Eh?

[repost] So Rove outed a CIA operative for political gain. What's the big deal? 

This story is now making the mainstream at Kos and Eschaton, so I figured I'd repost this repost from a week ago.

After all, Rove's boss, Dear Leader, outed a CIA mole in Al Qaeda during Election 2004 and nobody said "Boo!"

So I think everybody who's yelling "treason" should just pipe down. Our President and his wise, discerning advisors know what they're doing and we should just trust them. [Damn! Even irony makes my B.S.S. spike! Where's that damn bucket?]

Here are the relevant links from our master "Gaslight Watch" page, where we give the timeline for incidents where Bush politicized "terror" intel to win election 2004 (or, if you prefer, "win" "election" 2004):

08-06-2004 and 08-06-2004 (Bush blows an AQ mole), 08-07-2004 (the Times covers for him), ... 08-08-2004 (Kevin Drum blames liberals for panicking Bush so he outed the mole), 08-09-2004 (Condi says outing a mole is OK when you do it on background), 08-10-2004 (Condi tries to put the toothpaste back in the tube)

NOTE The stories say that "US officials" outed the AQ mole. I wrote Bush on the assumption that Bush is responsible for what his underlings do, and that in any case his underlings don't do things like reveal intelligence sources and methods without checking with their boss. And we all know how Bush feels about leaks....

NOTE Alert reader pansypoo and Google led me to Colonel Sam Gardiner. He connects a lot of the dots. A must read, since it puts Plame and the politicization of intelligence into a much broader context. I'll try to put this in context later today.

UPDATE For more on Colonel Gardiner, see here (back) and here.

Borscht, anyone? 

Froomkin's live chat:

New York, N.Y.: If you had to guess, when will Fitzgerald complete the investigation?

Dan Froomkin: When the job is done.

Hey, that's good enough for the president? Why not me?

[Rim shot. Laughter. "Hey, I just flew in from DC, and boy..."

Frogmarch watch: I never promised you a Rove garden 

Here's a straw in the wind:

"Rove is not just any White House staffer. He is the man," said Scott Reed, a Republican consultant with close ties to the White House. "They haven't named it the `Roval Office' at this point, but that's coming down the pike. At least they should call it the `Rove Garden."'
(via Chicago Tribune)

Or possibly the Larval Office...

No, but seriously foks, when "Republican consultants with close ties to the White House" start making jokes about Karl Rove, it looks to me like a sign that Rove's mojo is definitely weakening....

Alpo accounts: Not with a bang but a whimper 

Well, it looks like the Republicans won't be able to get their paws on your guaranteed retirement money after all. They're busy busy busy, and they just may not have time:

House leaders said Wednesday that they can't take up a Social Security bill before this fall, dealing a serious blow to any hope that Congress might enact an overhaul of the nation's retirement system this year.

But any House bill would have to be reconciled with any measure passed by the Senate. The House is scheduled to adjourn for the year on Sept. 30, giving it virtually no time to negotiate a final piece of legislation with the Senate.

Bush, who barnstormed [sic] across the country promoting his Social Security plan for months earlier this year [before tickets-only Republican audiences], hasn't mentioned it in more than two weeks.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan rejected suggestions Wednesday that the president was backing off. "It's a high priority for the president, and we continue to work with Congress and urge Congress to move forward to strengthen Social Security," he said.

But with a vacancy on the Supreme Court, Bush will have to focus his time and political muscle over the next two months on winning confirmation for his nominee.
(via Kansas City Star)

What a shame.

Nice to see that Beltway Dem Rapid Response Team taking credit for the victory. Oh, they're not? (And they justifiably could. The Dems did well on this one. So why not stand up for something they did right?)

Frogmarch watch: "Married to the guy with the most cigarettes" 

As in, "Karl Rove could end up in a cell, married to the guy with the most cigarettes."

Well, we can dream, can't we? Because what would America be, without dreams?

A number of legal experts, some of whom are involved in the case, said evidence that has emerged publicly suggests Rove or other administration officials face potential legal threats on at least three fronts.

The first is the unmasking of CIA official Valerie Plame, the original focus of special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald's probe. But legal sources say there are indications the prosecutor is looking at two other areas related to the administration's handling of his investigation. One possible legal vulnerability is perjury, if officials did not testify truthfully to a federal grand jury, and another is obstructing justice, if they tried to coordinate cover stories to obscure facts.

Several people familiar with the investigation said they expect Fitzgerald to indict, or at least force a plea agreement with, at least one individual for leaking Plame's name to conservative columnist Robert D. Novak in July 2003.
(via WaPo)

Frogmarch watch: Reid makes his first move 


Senate Democrats moved forcefully into the controversy surrounding Rove on Thursday, calling for legislation to deny security clearances to officials who disclose the identity of an undercover agent.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., sought to attach the proposal to a spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security, and aides said he hoped for a vote by day's end.
(via CBS)

Seems like the voice of sweet reason to me. I mean, how could even the most knuckle-dragging Republican think it was OK to have a security clearance if you blow an agent's cover? So, it should pass 100-0, right?

I'm just wild about Harry!

NOTE The lead is clear on the concept: the issue is whether Rove disclosed Plame's identity. The rest of the story confuses the issue by using the Republican talking point that Rove disclose Plame's name. Obviously, there are all kinds of ways to disclose Plame's identity without mentioning her name directly. "Joseph Wilson's wife," for example.

Die Heretic Scum! 

John McKay's comment below reminded me of this wonderful old skit from Emo Phillips:
""I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off.So I ran over and said "Stop! don't do it!"
"Why shouldn't I?" he said.
I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!"
He said, "Like what?"
I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?"
He said, "Religious."
I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?"
He said, "Christian."
I said, "Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?"
He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
He said, "Baptist!" I said, "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist church of god or Baptist church of the lord?"
He said, "Baptist church of god!"
I said, "Me too! Are you original Baptist church of god, or are you reformed Baptist church of god?"
He said, "Reformed Baptist church of god!"
I said, "Me too! Are you reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?"
He said, "Reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!"
I said, "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.""

Thanks to Sneaking Suspicions, who posted it and made it easy to find.

You Cannot Petition The Lord With Prayer 

So I suppose you could say the Reverend Pat Robertson was anticipating the future with hope when he vomited up this prayer back in July 2003:
"We ask for miracles in regard to the Supreme Court...
One justice is 83-years-old, another has cancer and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?"
But mayhaps the Old Man is not pleased with His good and faithful servant, as evidenced by this:
"U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, whose thyroid cancer has prompted speculation he might resign, was released from the hospital on Thursday after being admitted with a fever earlier this week.
Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg gave no details on the condition of Rehnquist, 80, saying only, "He's been released and he is at home."
Sometimes the main effect of having a public religion is to embarass those of its adherents who insist on making fools out of, not just themselves, but the entire theology.

The Madman Theory Of Religious Forcefeeding 

picture1 David Brooks imagines the country is on an inevitable slide towards Christian statehood, and suggests Bush not fight the feeling anymore...go ahead and give the Supreme Court nomination to someone who, in his droll opinion, has a "powerhouse" philosophical intellect, such that apologies for the maneuvering of Chistianism into the Constitution can help establish a brave new world of federally-funded parochial schools, Salvation Army shelters, and Old Testament amusement parks:
"First as a professor and now as a judge, (Michael) McConnell has outargued those who would wall off religion from public life. He's a case study of the sort of forceful advocate of ideas you have a chance to leave the country as your legacy."
As if we don't already have enough of a Bush "legacy" to mop up over the next couple decades. But this one could help install mandatory blue laws again and siphon your taxes right into the Catholic church:
"The problem with the Separationist view, he has argued in essays and briefs, is that it's not practical. As government grows and becomes more involved in health, charity, education and culture issues, it begins pushing religion out of those spheres. The Separationist doctrine leads inevitably to discrimination against religion. The state ends up punishing people who are exercising a constitutional right."
Yes, as Jon Stewart says, maybe someday we can look forward to a day when Christians can worship openly, maybe even wear small symbols of their religion around their necks...why we may even one day elect a Christian president...or 43 of them in a row!
"In another case, a physiology professor at a public university was forbidden from delivering an optional after-class lecture at the university entitled "Evidences of God in Human Physiology," even though other professors were free to profess any secular viewpoints they chose."
Imagine! Allowing a "secular" viewpoint in a science class! Truly we have become as beasts!
"McConnell argued that government shouldn't be separated from religion, but, as Madison believed, should be neutral about religion. He pointed out that the fire services and the police don't just protect stores and offices, but churches and synagogues as well."
So the solution to this thorny separation issue is to eliminate fire and police protection for sections of entire communities? And if we don't, that is somehow the logical nail in the coffin of separation of church and state? This is "powerhouse" philosophizing according to Brooks, who is well-known for his own powerhouse brand of logical reasoning, the "madman theory of how the world works". Using this logic, he soldiers on:
""When speech reflecting a secular viewpoint is permitted, then speech reflecting a religious viewpoint should be permitted on the same basis." The public square shouldn't be walled off from religion, but open to a plurality of viewpoints, secular and religious. The state shouldn't allow school prayer, which privileges religion, but public money should go to religious and secular service agencies alike."
Of course. When we start equating "secular" and "religious" such arguments make a twisted kind of sense... if you believe they are equivalent.

But they aren't. Because let's drop the codewords here, Dave. "Religion" as it is used by you hearty advocates of "religious freedom" does not mean the whole brightly colored world of religious and philosophical viewpoints. It means, and ONLY means, Christianity, as at least Roy Moore has enough scruple to be honest about. And that means, in the long run, these people intend to establish a state religion where Christianity is ascendant, and whose theology will be able to eclipse all others through the power of the state.

And that is exactly what the founding fathers guarded against when they wrote the Constitution.

The Dear Leader of the Free World 

bush vs bushCaption this:

So who or what exactly has worked Commander Mooncalf into a punchy excitable tizz? Plus, from the look in his eyes, he looks like a man with a bee up his pantleg. Is this one of those "gotta pee - gotta pee..." kind of things? Or, is Bu$h engaged in some kind of battle fabulous royale, flailing away at his own inner demons?

No one else in this photo appears to be too upset about anything. The guy in the necktie to Bu$h's left looks down right bored. The shiny headed guy to his right looks like he might be reading the Daily News.

Let's face it -- this looks like a photo of some crazy guy in a subway station. Screw loose and fancifully free. Which, to this point anyway, seems to pretty much sum up the entire G.W. Bu$hCo so called presidential reign of terra.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Frogmarch watch: Refresh my memory on that Beltway Dem Rapid Response Team? 

We do have one, right? Are they lying low? Playing rope-a-dope? Pursuing an incredibly sophisticated Fabian strategy?

I mean, the entire Republican establishment goes into radio silence for 24 hours and then emerges speaking identical talking points defending Unka Karl—none of which are on point, and all of which were settled way back in 2003 when the Plame Affair just broke. Dealing with this should be child's play for a party with a will to win.

So the Dems are where on this? Watching in awe as Meadowlark Lemon yanks their shorts down again? WTF? [Except, of course, for Howard Dean. Jeebus, I know the rehab from a spinal transplant is brutal, but does Dean really have to do everything for these guys?]

NOTE I know picturing Karl Rove as Meadowlark Lemon may be a stretch—but picturing the Beltway Dems as the Washington Generals isn't. Get it together, guys!

This picture needs a caption! 


Frogmarch watch: Bush to let surrogates do the dirty work, as usual 

Mush from the wimp:

President Bush deflected questions today about the alleged role of one of his top advisers in leaking the identity of a CIA agent, saying he would not discuss the matter until an investigation is complete.

In a brief exchange with reporters at the White House after a Cabinet meeting, Bush refused to say whether he has spoken to the adviser, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, about the leak or whether he believes Rove acted improperly.

The White House has previously said Rove was "not involved" in the leak, but an internal Time magazine e-mail shows he mentioned that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent to Time reporter Matthew Cooper before she was publicly identified by name as an operative in a July 2003 op-ed piece by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak. Rove, through his lawyer, has confirmed that he talked to Cooper but denied providing Plame's name or leaking classified information.

Asked today if he has spoken with Rove about the Plame matter and whether he believes Rove "acted improperly in talking about it with reporters," Bush said: "I have instructed every member of my staff to fully cooperate in this investigation. I also will not prejudge the investigation based on media reports. We're in the midst of an ongoing investigation, and I will be more than happy to comment further once the investigation is completed."

Pressed on the matter and asked if it was appropriate for his spokesman to deny Rove's involvement in 2003, Bush essentially repeated his previous statement.
(via WaPo)

Asked for a comment, Bush said "I'll let Ken Mehlman and the media whores that Rove still owns do my talking for me."


Not really.

It would sure be nice if the story broadened from the White House circling the wagons to the remarkably coordinated talking points broadcast by the Republican Noise Machine. Gosh, it's as if they're all reading from the same script, or something....

FWIW, I think the worm actually turned during the last light plane scare in DC. The one where Capital Hill got evacuated, the White House got evacuated, but nobody told the press, who were left to fend for themselves in the White House...


From the Netherlands trial of the murderer of filmmaker Theo van Gogh:

The Muslim extremist on trial in the slaying of filmmaker Theo van Gogh confessed Tuesday, saying he was driven by religious conviction. "I don't feel your pain," he told the victim's mother.

At one point, he addressed the victim's mother, Anneke, who was sitting in the public gallery. "I have to admit I don't have any sympathy for you," he said. "I can't feel for you because I think you're a nonbeliever."
(via AP)

Of course, that's a Muslim fundamentalist. Naturally, our own home-grown fundamentalists have very different attitudes... Right?

NOTE Oddly, the World's Greatest Newspaper omits the money quote. Maybe they're so whipped by the "Christian" right that even the prospect of angry email causes them to pull their punches?

Judge On the Warpath 

This is a story I've been following for years before blogs were ever thought of--which is not to be confused with how long the case has actually been going on, which is nigh onto 10 years--but I just thought I'd throw it in so everybody could (1) take a break from Rove Frogmarch Watch, and (2) enjoy some nice, clear, non-weaselly words from a government official:

(via WaPo)
In a scathing rebuke of the federal government's treatment of Native Americans, a federal judge yesterday ordered the Interior Department to include notices in its correspondence with Indians whose land the government holds in trust, warning them that the government's information may not be credible.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who has presided for nearly 10 years over a class-action suit on behalf of 500,000 Indians whose land the government has leased to mining, ranching and timber interests, issued one of his most strongly worded opinions on the case. [snip]

Lamberth wrote: "For those harboring hope that the stories of murder, dispossession, forced marches, assimilationist policy programs, and other incidents of cultural genocide against the Indians are merely the echoes of a horrible, bigoted government-past that has been sanitized by the good deeds of more recent history, this case serves as an appalling reminder of the evils that result when large numbers of the politically powerless are placed at the mercy of institutions engendered and controlled by a politically powerful few."

The Interior Department, in a statement, said [snip. They said "Boo hoo hoo, he's talking mean about us!"]

Yesterday, he wrote that "the entire record in this case tells the dreary story of Interior's degenerate tenure as Trustee-Delegate for the Indian trust, a story shot through with bureaucratic blunders, flubs, goofs and foul-ups, and peppered with scandals, deception, dirty tricks and outright villainy, the end of which is nowhere in sight."
Ahh. Like a cool breeze on an overheated day, ain't it? I commend these words to other members of the judiciary, who may wish to cut and save them for use in other cases in the near future.

If Only... 

If only we could get them to shut up like this the rest of the time.

If only they could be half as efficient and effective with all their Patriot Act powers and high technology as Britain is with Scotland Yard.

If only they would be honest about the impact of terrorism and what we really have to fear.

If only the President of the United States wasn't such a total embarassment to every American on earth.

The stuff of dreams.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Frogmarch Watch: The Department of Changing the Subject Swings into Action 

Yes, they're sending out for pizza in the WhiteWash House again! But where's that guy Jeff, uh, "Jeff," when we really need him?

Raw Story has the memo that gives the Republican talking points. Josh Marshall responds. (And the Beltway Dem rapid response team is... um... MIA again. WTF?)

If there was ever any doubt left in the reality-based community that there is a VRWC, the past two days have eliminated at. Yesterday, not one single Republican would say a word about Rove. Today, they're all reading from the same script. Gotta admire the discipline, though!

NOTE Thanks to alert reader gym. What, yet another substitute gym teacher?

Two tips of The Ol' Corrente Hat 

One tip to alert reader Dr. Sardonicus, for pinging Kevin Drum to put Corrente on the Washington Monthly blogroll, and tip two to Kevin Drum, for doing it.

It's always nice to know we can throw a little red meat over the high walls that surround the Beltway....

Keller to blogosphere: Drop dead! 

A nice quote from Howie:

Times Editor Bill ["Helen"] Keller, by the way, told me that criticism of [Judith "Kneepads"] Miller was "repellent" and coming from the "partisan fringe."
(via WaPo)

Look, I'm with the libertarians on legalized prostition, and it follows logically that I believe it's wrong that Judy Miller's in jail. So Keller and I are of one mind on that issue.

But if Keller's right, and only a "fringe" cares about the single-sourced Chalabi-fabricated stenography that Judy wrote on WMDs, stenography that "supplied the war" for Bush in Iraq just as surely as William Randolph Hearst supplied the Spanish-American War to Karl Rove's idol, William McKinley... Well, if Keller's right, the polity is in a lot worse shape than I thought.

But I think more people care than Keller thinks. If you care, you could drop a line to the Times ombudsman, Byron "I don't suck like Okrent" Calame.

NOTE Here are some of our posts on Judy "Kneepads" Miller, the sad state of the Times, and how the Times views the blogosphere, just in case you want some ammo in your politely worded and well-reasoned missives. 5/08/2005 (Good for a laugh; Judy Miller's employer gives lecture on blogger ethics); 4/10/2005 (Okrent preens himself for the Time's single Pulitzer on railroad accidents (!)); 10/10/2004 (Okrent seems to have a problem when the left writes in, but not when the right works the refs); 8/29/2004 (the Times doesn't want to be a newsgathering organization anymore); 5/26/2004 (Times mea culpa on war coverage somehow omits Judy Miller's name); 4/25/2004 (Okrent: The customers are wrong); 4/11/2004; (Howell Raines on our parade; mentions "unsourced rantings" of bloggers while somehow omitting to mention how the Times got punk'd by single sourced stories from Judy Miller); 3/22/2004 (Hearty laughter from readers as Times crudely buries Clarke revelations on A18, and assigns the story to Judy Miller!).

Department of Now We're Really Fucked! 

Bush Said to Be Monitoring Housing Boom.

Get out while you can!

Frogmarch Watch: SCLM worms turning? 

A very nice headline from AP:

On Rove's Behalf, the White House Issued Denials, Which Have Now Fallen Apart
(via AP)

Followed by a great lead from reporter Pete Yost:

The White House is suddenly facing damaging evidence that it misled the public by insisting for two years that presidential adviser Karl Rove wasn't involved in leaking the identity of a female CIA officer.

And good background:

Rove told Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper that the woman "apparently works" for the CIA and that she had authorized her husband's trip to Africa to assess allegations that Iraq was trying to obtain yellowcake uranium for nuclear weapons, according to a July 11, 2003, e-mail by Cooper obtained by Newsweek magazine.

And some no longer operative quotes from Scott "Sucka MC" McClellan:

It was McClellan who provided the previous assurances about no role for Rove, but he refused to repeat those assurances Monday.

"Did Karl Rove commit a crime?" a reporter asked McClellan.

"This is a question relating to an ongoing investigation," McClellan replied.

McClellan gave the same answer when asked whether President Bush has confidence in Rove, the architect of the president's successful political campaigns.

The investigation was ongoing in 2003 when McClellan assured the public Rove wasn't involved, a reporter pointed out, but the spokesman refused to elaborate.

I wonder why not?

I sense a new terra alert coming on, I can just feel it...

Science fer GOPers, part 698.054 

Sent to me by a friend, with atribution but no link. I thought it was worth passing on, especially as it came from a South Carolina red-stater:

As America continues the move to supplant Iran as the world's most populous theocracy by 2008, education, particularly in the sciences, needs to begin realignment to reflect the mandate of the 2004 elections. Post-science America will replace liberal and humanist errors with the following truths:

• "Empirical data" is one of satan's favorite playthings.
• Professors shouldn't be allowed to present the "theory" of gravity as fact.
• The federal judiciary leads the army of the anti-Christ.
• As the Bible clearly states, bread is literally Jesus' body; "bakeries" are a giant humanist hoax.
• Condoms actually help the AIDS virus by giving it a little bounce. *
• Mel Gibson was sent by God; Lethal Weapon IV contains biblical meanings. **
• Sex education should give equal time to the possibility of virgin birth; there is, after all, inerrant precedent.
• A squirt of Pat Robertson's hair tonic can cure cancer.
• Many female legislators are witches; others are lesbians; some are both.
• Geometry is just satan's way of getting children to draw his symbols.
• There are no such things as germs; "bacteria" is a secular attempt to explain away evil.
• IMAX theaters are the "satan domes" prophesied in the Bible.
• Global warming is simply a sign that God is responding to the prayers of the northern red states.
• Whenever a paleontologist "...discovers a fossil...", God gets a chuckle.
• Flowers are pollinated by angel fairies, not sexually active insects.

* Already a feature of the current administration's abstinence-based sex "education".
** Maybe not so far off. On 24 May 05, the NRP denounced the recently released Star Wars III as a thinly veiled indictment of the Bush administration.

Please feel free to add your own...

(Thanks to thesmokinggun.com, and Lloyd Dangle)

No Signs Of Life Here, Scotty 

This sort of thing makes my gorge rise:
"The number of Americans who believe the war in Iraq has made the United States less safe from terrorism spiked sharply after last week's terror attacks in London, according to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

President Bush's approval rating, meanwhile, edged up slightly, according to the poll of 1,006 Americans conducted Thursday through Sunday."
Emphasis mine.
That's right. Bush's approval rating amongst the clueless went up from 43% to 45% since he climbed on top of that pile of unfortunates who were caught in the blasts in London last week and brayed his usual empty bragadoccio. Yet fewer of these same Einsteins felt, in the same breath, that going to war in Iraq was worth it (down 2%), and more felt that the Iraq war has made us less safe (up 15%).

It's practically an axiom that when a war breaks out, leaders can get away with almost anything and still retain the faith and support of their people; it's just human nature. But it's human nature of a very primitive sort, and somehow I'd hoped we had gotten to the point where figuring out that something is bad for us is a reason to avoid it. Instead, we find ourselves trapped inside this nightmare by a vast army of our countrymen and women who would just as likely go along with a new, improved Final Solution as they would a new brand of toothpaste, so long as it comes with a cloud full of rhetorical vapor from a daddy-figure spouting the Old Testament, and the concomitant approval of the lapdog press.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Our delusional Preznit, part deux 

I seem to be spending the evening taking cheap shots at Bush.

But... But... Well, does the phrase "target rich environment" mean anything to you?

The latest, from Jesse at Pandagon:

After returning from the summit on Friday, Bush visited the British Embassy in Washington and signed a book of condolence and laid a wreath in front of the ambassador's residence.

Bush said the London attacks were a reminder of the "evil" of the Sept. 11 attacks and underscored that the United States and its allies were fighting a "global war on terror."

"We will stay on the offense, fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them at home," Bush said.

Well, leave aside the fact that Bush was just in the UK for G8 and it probably would have been a very friendly and honorable gesture to America's lone actual poodle ally to go lay the wreath in London, instead of flying back to DC and then laying the wreath at the British Embassy. Fer gawdsake. I mean, WTF? Was his ticket non-refundable or something?

But take a look again at what Bush said, at a memorial to the British dead: "We... fight the terrorists abroad [i.e., in the UK?] so we don't have to face them at home [i.e., in the US]."

I wonder how the British dead, who were "at home," would say to that, if they could still speak?

Would they say, in the words of Tonto's immortal joke, "What do you mean, we?"

NOTE The darker view? The statement is another troubling sign of Bush's sociopathy. The London dead are, to him, purely instrumental. He just isn't capable of empathy, of recognizing that other humans actually exist. (See Dear Leader's Troubling Symptoms, back.)

qWagmire: Could someone tell Bush that obeying the law is not optional? 

I understand, I really do. I mean, it's easy to see how a kid growing up in Bush's privileged position would come to think that the law was optional—the drunk driving thing, the TANG thing, Leadfoot's little episode, those lovable twins with their fake IDs, even Bush vGore—but Bush really needs to understand, now that he's an adult, that when Congress passes a law that applies to the Executive branch, he needs to remember his oath of office and carry it out.

For example: Last week, David Broder (of all people) drew our attention to this law in particular:

President Bush is facing an early legal deadline to deliver what he has been most resistant to providing: a set of specific benchmarks for measuring progress toward military and political stability in Iraq.

Under a little-noticed provision of the defense spending bill passed by Congress in May, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld has until July 11 to send Capitol Hill a "comprehensive set of performance indicators and measures of stability and security" two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
(via WaPo)

July 11? Why, that would be today! And has Bush obeyed the law? What do you think?

Kennedy protested that the Bush administration did not meet Monday's deadline for a report on the war in Iraq. In the report, required as part of a war spending bill passed two months ago, the Defense Department was supposed to update the progress of training Iraqi security forces and give Congress an estimate of how many troops will be needed in Iraq through 2006.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the report is in the final stages and that Pentagon officials are consulting with Congress about the timing for submitting it.
(via AP)

Gee, I guess I must be really confused about how our Constitutional system works.

Congress (and a Republican Congress, mind you) passes a law saying deliver a report by July 11.

So Bush (a) doesn't deliver the report on time and (b) is "consulting" with Congress about when to submit it. But the law is the law; what's to consult about? Why not just submit the report by deadline?

NOTE I love the URL that AP used for this story (which was about Bush's latest He Man speech at Quantico):

Let's get out our magic decoder rings:

Almost as if there were truth to those nasty rumors Colonel Gardiner's been floating, about a campaign of strategic deception designed to sell Americans on the war....

Our delusional Preznit 

Big words:

"[BUSH AT QUANTICO] In the face of such adversaries there is only one course of action: We will continue to take the fight to the enemy, and we will fight until this enemy is defeated."
(via AP)

Small stick:

The Army National Guard, a cornerstone of the U.S. force in
Iraq, missed its recruiting goal for at least the ninth straight month in June and is nearly 19,000 soldiers below its authorized strength, military officials said Monday.

The Army Guard was seeking 5,032 new soldiers in June but signed up only 4,337, a 14 percent shortfall, according to statistics released Monday by the
Pentagon. It is more than 10,000 soldiers behind its year-to-date goal of almost 45,000 recruits, and has missed its recruiting target during at least 17 of the last 18 months.

"The recruiting environment remains difficult in terms of economic conditions and alternatives," the Army said in a statement released Monday.
(via AP)

So, "take the fight to the enemy" with what army?

As for the Army's pitifully transparent rationale that the economy's too good for people to server their country... Did it never occur to them that the volunteers they ask to fight our wars might not like being lied to? And that they might be smart enough to figure out when that was happening?

This picture needs a caption! 



Lambert wanted stories from my trip to Ciudad de Juarez. So... I remember being about halfway across the bridge at Juarez, the big one with the commercial traffic. Usual jam-packed, bumper-to-bumper with sidewalks likewise. It’s gotta be 110 degrees. Anyway, at this halfway point, there’s a Native woman probably arrived from the interior recently—dressed that way, anyhow—and she’s hunkered down in a rare shady spot suckling a baby under her long head scarf. Three other kids of hers are hustling the slow moving traffic. They’re dressed in rags. The little girl has a toy horse. No rider, just a saddle and the horse. Like what you could buy at the dollar store for a buck, or a yard sale for 25 cents. As I was giving the lady a dollar ("por el nino), a man rolled down his window and asked the little girl how much for the horse. She held up three fingers. He gave her three bucks and she ran back to her mom with it like it was a million. The guy looked at me and said, “I just couldn’t stand it, watching her. Besides, my granddaughter will love it.” A guy I was talking to at the Mercado said that the average wage in the factories is anywhere from 3-7 dollars a DAY. The pants, boots, whatever are partially assembled in Juarez for slave wages and then shipped to El Paso where they’re “Made in the USA.” Average wage there: 7-10 dollars an HOUR. Advice, cowpokes: buy your boots in Mexico. As long as they’re under $400, no duty. And $400 will buy you custom fit boots in Mexico, where craftsmanship lives on.

I hope AMLO and his “Poor people first!” campaign takes off like wildfire and that he avoids rides in small planes. And I dream of open borders.

There are other stories—the mariachis who play beautiful sad songs for you as you sit and drink beer in the plaza. I asked one how it was making a living that way. He said, as near as I can tell with my horrible Spanish, that it’s good. He sharpens his chops, and on a good day plays from 10-8, making anywhere from $2 to $5 a song (tips). And sharp chops these guys have! Their instruments may be held together with duct tape and baling wire, but by god, well, there was one 12-string player I ended up paying twice just to hear “Para donde vas?” and “Red Rose of San Antonio.” Flying fingers and then soulful chords, and a rich mellow voice.

One day I may just sell the farm and move down south. Maybe. It ain’t paradise, but there’s a lot to learn, and a lot to be done. If nothing else, helping these poor women avoid becoming whores or corpses.

Academia and the Perils of Blogging 

I just read this post over at Kevin's blog. Go read it. (My comment to this post is here.) Oh yeah, and read this over at the Chronicle website as well.

I'll wait.

Okay. As some of you (probably a smaller and smaller number every day) may remember, I used to blog over at the History News Network a couple of years ago. (Back in those days, 3,000 visitors a day got you in the top 50 or so blogs in traffic but I digress.)

Anyway, I always swore I'd blog about this once I got tenure and promotion, so I will do so now. While it didn't cause any major problems, I believe that I have suffered at least some consequences from blogging without using a pseudonym. It was back in the spring of 2003 that I received a phone call from my chair asking me to come down to his office. When I arrived he shut the door and handed me a rather strangely-worded letter written directly to the president of my institution accusing me of antisemitism on my blog with regard to Richard Perle. (I believe it was this post that really agitated this crackpot.)

You have to remember that back in those days, wacko conservatives were accusing people of antisemitism for doing anything and this was your standard sort of letter like that. They wanted antiwar people to just shut up -- especially on the internet. This was the period of Insty's "objectively pro-Saddam" bullshit and all that.

My chair told me that the dean had requested that he make me stop blogging. My chair had flatly refused, saying this was America and there was this thing called academic freedom and freedom of speech. He told the dean he had read my blog, this was a false charge and there was nothing to to it.

At this point the dean told my chair that I had to remove my institutional affiliation from the blog page, which I did ultimately do. The folks at HNN were quite outraged by this and thought it was petty and ridiculous. This all happened just a few months before I was to go up for tenure and promotion and it did spook me quite a bit. Fortunately, it came out okay, I was promoted and tenured the next year and nothing was ever said about this incident again.

But, anyway, I guess my main point in all of this is to say that if you are on the job market in any way, you probably shouldn't be blogging using your real name, use a pseudonym. It's easy to do and that's what you should do.

I have to admit that I've applied for a select few jobs the last few years since I started blogging and haven't gotten a call one since that point. Before my HNN blog, I usually would get some sort of interview or phonecall but I don't anymore.

Of course, this all may just be a coincidence. It may be that I'm not a good candidate or, knowing the tacky nature of academia, departments generally would prefer to hire someone they can pay $28,000 per year at the assistant professor level than someone who may actually know what the hell they're doing.

However, I do have my suspicions that the blogging thing has cost me in job searches over the last few years. Heck, if you google search my name, my defunct blog at HNN still comes up as the top link.

Am I paranoid? Delusional? Or am I correct?

What do you think?

NOTE Welcome, Washington Monthly readers, to The Mighty Corrente Building.

Sticklers for the Law 

Atrios comments here about the media's obsession with the technical parsing of the law as it may apply to the Bush White House in the Plame case.

I would just add that this sudden attention to the letter of the law would be more inspiring if it had been applied half as rigorously to Paula Jones' claim of sexual harassment against then-Governor Clinton. Anyone familiar with sexual harassment law could tell right out of the box that she had no claim, no matter which one of her increasingly lurid, self-contradictory tales one chose to believe. And indeed, when the case did come to trial, it immediately ran aground on these issues. But throughout the obsessive coverage of the case in print and on TV, I don't recall once hearing anyone point this out.

Instead, the press temporarily embraced a concept of sexual harassment that resembled something the Khmer Rouge (or at least Andrea Dworkin) might come up with: any sexual contact between a nominal superior and a subordinate was ipso facto a quasi-criminal offense.

But this time only issues of national security are involved, not sex, so it's not like we need to get too bent out of shape about the larger picture.

So, what is the difference between George W. Bush and Alfred E. Neuman? 

The Repubublicans seem to think there is one, but me, I'm not so sure.


Frogmarch Watch: Previous Whitewash House denials inoperative? 

AP does a nice job of "they said then/they say now" in the lead:

For two years, the White House has insisted that presidential adviser Karl Rove had nothing to do with the leak of a CIA officer's identity. And President Bush said the leaker would be fired.

But Bush's spokesman wouldn't repeat any of those assertions Monday in the face of Rove's own lawyer saying his client spoke with at least one reporter about Valerie Plame's role at the CIA before she was identified in a newspaper column.
(via AP)

And what's with Rove's lawyer, Luskin, having expertise in money laundering (Josh Marshall)? I mean, Luskin gets paid in gold bars? WTF? Given that Coingate is screaming out to be a money laundering story (back), as is the pro-Iraq domestic PsyOps operation identified by Colonel Gardiner...)

Well, now we have an Iraq deadline: Before the 2006 midterms! 

As we said (back):
Rove's plan has two parts:
  1. Cut loose from Iraq before the 2006 elections
  2. Blame the Democrats for the ensuing clusterfuck

Part deux came into view first, as Rove rolled out his "stab in the back" rhetoric (back)

Now Part One comes into view, from yet another British memo:

The United States and Britain are drawing up plans to withdraw the majority of their troops from Iraq by the middle of next year, according to a secret memo written for British Prime Minister Tony Blair by Defense Secretary John Reid.

The paper, which is marked "Secret -- UK Eyes Only," said "emerging U.S. plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006," allowing a reduction in overall U.S.-led forces in Iraq to 66,000 troops. The troop level is now at about 160,000, including 138,000 American troops, according to a military spokesman in Baghdad.

The undated memo, which was reported in the newspaper The Mail on Sunday, stated that "current U.S. political military thinking is still evolving. But there is a strong U.S. military desire for significant force reductions to bring relief to overall U.S. commitment levels."
(via WaPo

"Strong military desire"? Because Bush broke the army....

Bush "fixed the intelligence and the facts around the policy" to get us into the war, to win the 2002 midterms, and now, to win the 2006 midterms, He's going to pull us out...

Can there be anything more shameful and disgusting?

NOTE One wonders whether the same propaganda apparatus identified by Colonel Gardiner (back) (50 planted story lines in the run-up to the war) will be used to generate the necessary "feel good" stories about Iraqi re-construction....

Is It Too Early For The Dance Of Salome? 

Now the quibbling has started, with a defense of Rove on that last refuge of the guilty: a technicality. Rove's attorney, evidently not the brightest bulb on the string in this regard, blatantly assures America that Rove may have referred to Plame, but not by name. Further, to quote this morning's WaPo article by Josh White:
"To be considered a violation of the law, a disclosure by a government official must have been deliberate, the person doing it must have known that the CIA officer was a covert agent, and he or she must have known that the government was actively concealing the covert agent's identity."
Ah what a tangled web. But don't rush for the smelling salts yet---the wheels of justice and the special prosecutor's office grind exceeding slow:
"Although the information is revelatory, it is still unknown whether Rove is a focus of the investigation. Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, has said that Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has told him that Rove is not a target of the probe. Luskin said yesterday that Rove did not know Plame's name and was not actively trying to push the information into the public realm."
Never named her, eh? But then there's this: Think Progress does such a great job of a side-by-side comparison here that I just ripped off the entire post (see the Newsweek article for further details):
"July 3, 2005: Rove’s Lawyer Lies To Bloomberg

Here’s what Karl Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin told Bloomberg News on July 3, 2005:

[Karl Rove] did nothing wrong, did not disclose Plame’s identity, and did not reveal any confidential information.

According to TIME reporter Matt Cooper’s e-mail, here is what Karl Rove told him sometime before July 11, 2003:

[I]t was, KR [Karl Rove] said, wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd issues who authorized the trip.

This was before the Novak column appeared on July 14. At that time, the fact that Joe Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA was confidential information.

(On other occasions, Luskin has said Rove never “knowingly” disclosed classified information. But he did not use that qualifier with Bloomberg News.)"
Via Buzzflash. Let's have his head now, thank you.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Border crossing 

So, I'm taking the train over the border from Canada, and the customs and immigration guys come into the car to check us all out. And who do they haul off to the cafe car to interrogate? An old Chinese guy who can't speak more than a few words of English.

And then, for good measure, they bring in a dog ("Good girl! Good girl!") to sniff his seat, presumably for bombs.

Oh, I am feeling so much safer. Actually, I'd be happy to feel 5% less safe for a 100% reduction in stupidity, annoyance, and loss of basic liberties.

A very weird transition, coming from Canada, a sane country not at war, back to the States, a crazed country at war.

Then, to top it all off, I have to take SEPTA from 30th Street Station to get home. The sounds, the sights, the smells.... Ah, Philly, an experience like no other!

"It Have Naked Chicks In It?" 

From Beyond Baghdad by Paul William Roberts, Harper's July 2003:

"'Get this motherfucker!' the first soldier shouted to no one in particular.

After the grace and concern of the Arabs, this jolt of American culture unnerved me. I removed the turban in an attempt to convince them I was friend and not foe, but the combination of tightly wound cloth and heat left my hair looking like a toupee basted in Vitalis or motor oil.

The second soldier patted me down roughly, then scrutinized my Harper's press card minutely. I had just got myself ready to defend its authenticity when he said, 'What the fuck is Harper's?'

For the first time in my life I wished I was on assignment for National Review, to which I hastily compared Harper's--inasmuch as they were both magazines with a political focus.

'It have naked chicks in it?' he asked next.

'Not as many as we'd like...'"

I love Roberts' style, which is why I'm exhorting you to get the book shown here when it comes out on October 10, 2005.

Paul William Roberts is a Canadian expert on Iraq and a maverick journalist with a black sense of humor and fluency in the Iraqi culture born of decades of intimate familiarity. While other journalists were huddling in the Palestine Hotel or traveling in relative safety as embedded mascots, Roberts was one of the few who struck out on his own and actually stayed amongst the Iraqis. His previous weblog can be found here (complete with gems like the then-home addresses of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle), and his most current website is here.

Links to previous articles, helpful in getting to know him, are here, except for the article which introduced me to him, Beyond Baghdad-Lost in the cradle of civilization, which was published in Harpers' July 2003 edition but is unavailble online. His book review in the September 28, 2003 Globe and Mail, Pax Americana and the Bush Doctrine, cannot be directly accessed except after payment, but is cached here, with some distracting HTML.

The news of his most recent book is exciting; I promise you he is a fascinating read. And the Globe and Mail has made the first chapter available online here, so you can get to know him, too, if you don't already.

Where Parody Is Possible, All Is Not Yet Lost 

That almost phantom-like figure, "The Editors" at "The Poor Man," are present today online, in yet another reincarnation.

For those of you who, like me, sometimes hesitate to click on that magic link which will transport us almost instantly to that estimable blog, for fear that yet another shock of non-recognition as to form and graphics will loose our own tentative grasp on the continuity of reality, please, do not hesitate today.

Yes, you will find yourself, once again, amidst changes, including a new blogname and format. But you will also find...a form of sublimity.

Before supplying you with the link, I owe it to all of you to provide this "Readers Advisory" as to discretion you may want to exercise in approaching your reading experience, to wit, it might be well if you set aside any libations you might be imbibing, and you would also be well advised to give your bladder an opportunity to evacuate itself.

Good. Now then, if you're ready, here is the link.

The Action Alert Of A Lifetime 

"It is vitally important that you click this link"

In case you might not take my word for it, the above is a quote from Digby at Hullabaloo.

We at Corrente endorse Digby's injunction.

I shall only add that if you fail to click here, many bad Bush-like phenomenon will continue unabated.

Not only click here, but send this vitally important link to ten friends with similar instructions, including one that they are to send this link to ten other friends, different from your list of ten.

You will be defending the value of wit, generosity, and a better world for all of us, not to mention giving credit, at last, to the originator of that invaluable term of art, "blogtopia."

Please, do not delay, and click here.

Naming the base: origins of al-Qa'ida 

I don't know for sure what the origin(s) of the name al Qaeda might truely be. But there are various theories out and about with respect to such questions and Lambert posted a link in a comment thread below which will deliver you into the hands of one Marc Perkel, who claims to be "the most dangerous mind on the internet", and who is discussing a recent BBC documentary film titled "The Power of Nightmares" which discusses such matters as the origins, impact, and even existence of al-Qaeda and how the dreaded AQ is used as a foil to scare the living shit out of just about anyone concerned. Or something like that. I haven't seen the film myself. Marc Perkel's post is here: al-Qaeda is Fiction.

By the way: I have no idea if Marc Perkel is the most dangerous mind on the internet or not... but that's besides the point, afterall, you can be whatever you want to be on the internet. If I told you that I was a sturgeon fisherman who lived in a bungalow on the shores of the Aral sea you'd pretty much just have to take my word for it. Thems is the breaks. But this isn't about me or my fondness for caviar and isinglass or even Marc Perkel's supposedly dangerous mind for that matter. This is about the BBC film noted above and some things that Marc Perkel wrote on his blog. Specifically things like this (on the origins of the name al-Qaeda):

It appears however that might have gotten it wrong on the claim that Al Qaeda was and invented term by New York Prosecutors. The article in The Nation seems to refute that premise. However the size and scope of the organization has been greatly exagerated.

On the other hand I had someone do a Lexis-Nexis search that shows the term appearing first in late 1998 at the New York trial. Nothing before that. That would indicate that the term might have been invented there. The word Al Qaeda translates into "the base" which is a generic term and because of that this issue might never be completely resolved.

Ok, got that? Issues of size and scope aside - the name al-Qaeda "might have been invented" in 1998 by prosecutor types. Plus, I'm not exactly sure who "might" have got "it" wrong (as Perkel writes above) since Perkel seems to have left out an *I* or a *they* (or any explanation of who specifically may have got "it" wrong) - and so - I'm not sure if Perkel is talking about himself getting "it" wrong or the BBC film makers getting "it" wrong. But that's not really all that important either.

What I'd like to point out is that a quick search of Lexis-Nexis will turn up at least a couple of references to al-Qaeda prior to 1998. The only catch is this: search "al-Qa'ida". Or "al Qaida". As opposed to "al Qaeda". Spelling matters this time.

Also: I haven't yet read the entire Nation article Perkel cites and links to in his post so I'm not sure what Peter Bergen has to say on the subject but you can read it here: See Peter Bergen's Beware the Holy War: The Power of Nightmares.

Further along in Perkel's post he excerpts material from the BBC documentary which offers the following:
VOICE OVER: The reality was that bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri had become the focus of a loose association of disillusioned Islamist militants who were attracted by the new strategy. But there was no organisation. These were militants who mostly planned their own operations and looked to bin Laden for funding and assistance. He was not their commander. There is also no evidence that bin Laden used the term ''Al Qaeda'' to refer to the name of a group until after September the 11th, when he realized that this was the term the Americans have given it.

What's interesting here is that one of those pre 1998 articles which mention "al-Qa'ida" (and can be found via a Lex-Nex search) includes a paragrah which suggests the possibility that Ayaman Zawahiri may have been the one who gave al-Qa'ida its name. Maybe. Perhaps even the original founder, so to speak, of al-Qa'ida (in some manner or form or another). From Al Ahram Weekly, April 14, 1994:
"I left Egypt with enormous popular and official support which was only appreciated later with shock by the regime. All the procedures were legal when I left in the middle of 1985, went to Jeddah and from there to Pakistan where I worked as a doctor with the Mujahedin," Zawahri said. When he settled in Peshawar he established, with Bin Laden's financial help, Al-Qa'ida (the base) to host Arab volunteers.

Abdullah Azam, by then living in Peshawar, also had an active role receiving volunteers through the 'Mujahedin Services' office which he ran and which was financed by Bin Laden. He used to house them in the 'Ansar' hostel and later put them through their military training in the 'Sada' camp. Sherif recalls that Azam was known to be a Muslim Brother while the Sada camp was fully sponsored by the Brotherhood.

The Ansar was not the only refuge for Egyptian-Afghans in Pakistan. When Zawahri managed to convince Bin Laden to establish Al-Qa'ida, Jihad members from a variety of Arab states came to have a hostel of their own. Adli Youssef also managed to establish a camp in 1989 with the full financial and military support of Abdel-Rasul Sayaf, an Afghani leader. This was later named after Adli's alias Abu Shuhayb, when he was killed during an operation in 1990.

Note: Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars, places Zawahiri in Peshawar, and meeting bin Laden, in 1987. Which would make sense given the timeline above.

Similarly, a 1996 article written by Carol Giacomo (Lex-Nex) which appeared in Australia's Courier Mail stated the following:
By 1985, Bin Laden had drawn on his family's wealth plus donations from sympathetic merchant families in the Gulf region to organise the Islamic Salvation Foundation, or al-Qaida. Al-Qaida recruitment centres and guesthouses in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan enlisted and sheltered thousands of Arab recruits and his foundation also funded camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the report said.

The "report" Giacomo notes is a US State Department report on bin Laden's activity and funding of different extremist operations and so on. Giacomo writes:
THE United States yesterday accused wealthy Arab businessman Osama Bin Laden of being one of the most significant financial sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world. The State Department said Ramzi Yousef, alleged mastermind of the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre, lived for three years at a Bin Laden-funded guesthouse in Peshawar, Pakistan.

So obviously the name al-Qa'ida was rattling around in the pipes years before 1998. So we can put that one to rest. But what is also interesting, as it relates to the name al-Qaida, is the mention of the Islamic Salvation Foundation. Why is that perhaps interesting you ask? (some of you probably already know why). Its interesting because of this:
In October last year, an item appeared on an authoritative Russian studies website that soon had the science-fiction community buzzing with speculative excitement. It asserted that Isaac Asimov's 1951 classic Foundation was translated into Arabic under the title "al-Qaida". And it seemed to have the evidence to back up its claims.

Huh! Whaht? The article continues:
"This peculiar coincidence would be of little interest if not for abundant parallels between the plot of Asimov's book and the events unfolding now," wrote Dmitri Gusev, the scientist who posted the article. He was referring to apparent similarities between the plot of Foundation and the pursuit of the organisation we have come to know, perhaps erroneously, as al-Qaida.

The Arabic word qaida - ordinarily meaning "base" or "foundation" - is also used for "groundwork" and "basis". It is employed in the sense of a military or naval base, and for chemical formulae and geometry: the base of a pyramid, for example. Lane, the best Arab-English lexicon, gives these senses: foundation, basis of a house; the supporting columns or poles of a structure; the lower parts of clouds extending across a horizon; a universal or general rule or canon. With the coming of the computer age, it has gained the further meaning of "database": qaida ma'lumat (information base).

Interesting isn't it? The plot thickens too. You can read the whole thing (it's a long one) at The Guardian (UK). See Review: Essay: War of the worlds, by Giles Foden, August 24, 2002.

I'm going to stop right here for now so you can read Perkel's post and what Bergen has to say in the Nation and Foden's Assimov/Foundation theory analysis as well. And then I'll finish this thing off. I have my own little theory on all of this and how it all ties together. Which is all probably complete bullshit... but whadda ya want from a cranky fish surgeon who lives in a bungalow with a couple of dangerous talking deer on shores of the Aral sea.


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