Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mike Gravel Would End The War On Drugs If Elected

Here (or here!) is Mike Gravel, from last Thursday's Democratic Presidential debate, explaining his position on the War on Drugs.

Nobody wants to say it out loud, but it seems to me that the so-called "War On Drugs" is not an honest attempt to eradicate "recreational" drugs and those who use them. It looks a lot more like a turf war: an attempt to eradicate those who make a lot of money on the global drug trade without being connected to the CIA.

But nobody wants to say so, lest they be found to have committed suicide by multiple gunshot wounds to the head. So instead the people who oppose the war on drugs, like Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul (to name the three major-party candidates who are campaigning against it), are forced to attack it on other grounds. And there are plenty of those to go around.

It's sort of like some other issues, where telling the whole truth is not seen as politically viable. But in this case, half-truth is more than enough.

At least that's how it seems to me, and of course I could be wrong.

What do you think?

Eleven Reps Now Say 'Impeach Cheney'

Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio now has ten co-sponsors for his bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.

The most recent to line up in support of impeaching his snarling highness include Keith Ellison and Hank Johnson.

Ellison, of Minnesota, is the first Muslim elected to Congress, and at this rate he's never going to convince the wingnuts that he's not a terrorist.

Johnson now holds the seat formerly held by Cynthia McKinney, who was defeated in one of the strangest primaries ever. But then Johnson and McKinney are from Georgia, where the electoral mess is even worse than the national ab-norm.

"I believe it was time to send a message to the Vice President and to the Executive Branch as a whole," said a statement released by Johnson's office.

Yes, sir, it certainly was. And a long time ago, too. Ms. McKinney would be right behind Dennis Kucinich, if not out in front of him. But thanks for not waiting any longer.

Johnson's statement continued: "I have certainly been displeased with the operations of the Executive Branch, particularly with regard to the secrecy, the incompetence, and the lack of cooperation that is coming out of the Vice President’s Office. I think the response to the subpoenas was the last straw."

Ahh, the subpoenas. We discussed them three weeks ago, and the president's reaction to them just yesterday.

I also have been displeased with a great many of their operations -- including fomenting terror, setting up death squads in Iraq, running black ops out of the Pentagon rather than the CIA in order to avoid oversight, and a great number of other offenses against America and mankind -- so it is difficult for me to argue with Rep. Johnson on this point. I can go along with him on the secrecy. I'd say "lack of cooperation" is a very gentle euphemism for "open defiance". And I would suggest that what appears to be incompetence is something else altogether. More on that in a moment if we're lucky.

But in the meantime it's nice to know there are still "last straws", and camels whose backs are still capable of breaking. Is it too little, too late? Is something better than nothing? Is it just another act in the endless meaningless public drama? Another sleight-of-hand that conceals more than it reveals? Or is Hank Johnson simply a pragmatic Democrat who can see what direction the ship is sinking?

Matthew Cunningham has more details on the move to impeach at Atlanta Progressive News.

On a related subject -- the same subject, actually -- your chilled scribbler can't help but wonder whether Hank Johnson has seen this passage from the Washington Post series that started last weekend:
In a bunker beneath the East Wing of the White House, Cheney locked his eyes on CNN, chin resting on interlaced fingers. He was about to watch, in real time, as thousands were killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Previous accounts have [...] not detailed his reaction [...] when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

"There was a groan in the room that I won't forget, ever,"
one witness said. "It seemed like one groan from everyone" -- among them Rice; her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley; economic adviser Lawrence B. Lindsey; counselor Matalin; Cheney's chief of staff, Libby; and the vice president's wife.

Cheney made no sound. "I remember turning my head and looking at the vice president, and his expression never changed,"
said the witness, reading from a notebook of observations written that day. Cheney closed his eyes against the image for one long, slow blink.

Three people who were present, not all of them admirers, said they saw no sign then or later of the profound psychological transformation that has often been imputed to Cheney. What they saw, they said, was extraordinary self-containment and a rapid shift of focus to the machinery of power.
I added the emphasis, and resisted the urge to add a roar like a hundred freight trains and the sound of thousands of people screaming. But maybe we need the silence to appreciate (if that's the world) what we're reading here.

Not even a groan -- just "one long, slow blink" ... followed by "a rapid shift of focus to the machinery of power".

To catalog the abuses of power which have occurred since that time -- less than six years ago -- is no small task, but Bruce Fein had a go at it, in a piece published by Slate and quoted by Digby:
  • The vice president asserted presidential power to create military commissions, which combine the functions of judge, jury, and prosecutor in the trial of war crimes.
  • The vice president initiated kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture in Eastern European prisons of suspected international terrorists.
  • The vice president has maintained that the entire world is a battlefield. Accordingly, he contends that military power may be unleashed to kill or capture any American citizen on American soil if suspected of association or affiliation with al-Qaida.
  • Mr. Cheney has championed a presidential power to torture in contravention of federal statutes and treaties.
  • He has advocated and authored signing statements that declare the president's intent to disregard provisions of bills he has signed into law that he proclaims are unconstitutional,
  • The vice president engineered the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic surveillance program targeting American citizens on American soil in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
  • The vice president has orchestrated the invocation of executive privilege to conceal from Congress secret spying programs to gather foreign intelligence, and their legal justifications.
  • Cheney scorns freedom of speech and of the press. He urges application of the Espionage Act to prosecute journalists who expose national security abuses, for example, secret prisons in Eastern Europe or the NSA's warrantless surveillance program. He retaliated against Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, through Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, for questioning the administration's evidence of weapons of mass destruction as justification for invading Iraq.
Digby points out that Bruce Fein is no lightweight -- he was an official in the Department of Justice during the Reagan presidency.

Digby also says
... nobody should be surprised by this when you consider how this lawless cabal took power in the first place. They showed very early on that they would let nothing stand in their way and from their first moments in office they governed as if their institutional power meant they had a mandate to enact their entire agenda by any means necessary. (Bush like to call it "political capital" --- I suspect Cheney just called it raw power.)
And she has me nodding all the way, till this:
I think the most amazing thing about all that is that 9/11 was just frosting on the cake for these guys --
they were prepared to do all this stuff anyway.
Anyway? What do you mean, "anyway"?
Cheney said he'd taken office with the intention of "restoring" presidential power. The GWOT made it easier to do the national security stuff, but he would have done it anyway.
Ahhh! So the argument runs: the hinge made the door easier to open, but Cheney would have come through the door anyway!

This is a man whose naked lust for power has been public knowledge for a long time, whose plan to take over the world beginning with the Middle East has been in clear view for more than a decade.

This is a man who has assured us endlessly that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden belonged in the same sentence because 9/11! Iraq! And when he's pressed to back up his insinuation, he claims he never insinuated anything, but as soon as the pressure's off, he goes back to doing it.

This is a man who couldn't even bother to feign surprise when the South Tower disintegrated. (Some say "collapsed", but that's not the right word, is it?) No sadness, no profound transformation -- not even a groan!

He was coming through that door, whether we like it or not, but the hinge just happened to appear, is that right? I think that's what Digby's saying.

It's almost as if Digby's saying 9/11 didn't matter because Cheney was planning a power-grab in any case. Or maybe that's exactly what she's saying. I can't tell.

But 9/11 did matter, because it enabled the power-grab. It put the American people into a frame of mind in which they could be manipulated with the greatest of ease. And at the same time -- with a little anthrax assist -- the media went as soft as possible.

Speaking of which, Glenn Greenwald interviewed Helen Thomas on Thursday and she had this to say about that:
Reporters, after Watergate, realized that we had let so much go by us. They got much tougher when President Ford took over. It wasn't animosity. It was anger that we hadn't asked the right questions. And the press became tougher.

But they really went soft after 9/11. Reporters, I'm assuming, did not want to be called unpatriotic and un-American when we were in a national crisis.

And I don't think the corporate heads exactly wanted anyone to rock the boat at that time.

But I kept asking questions about the validity of going to war against a country that had done nothing to us.
Certainly nobody wanted to be called "unpatriotic" for trying to prevent the country from suffering its coup d'etat in silence, and of course corporate heads can always be counted on to steady the boat, but I would have been a lot happier if Glenn Greenwald had asked Helen Thomas "Which country?" as in "Which country did we go to war against that had done nothing to us?"

It's a vital question. Is she talking about Afghanistan, or Iraq, or both? Here's a hint: if the meant both, she would have used the plural.

Here's another hint: If she was talking about Iraq, that war didn't even start until a year and a half after 9/11. But it was the most brain-damaged 18 months in American history. The media went soft on 9/11 and it stayed soft. That's even more important, in my view.

Here's another hint: Dick Cheney didn't have to knock down the door, because, just when he needed one, a hinge appeared! Isn't it amazing how often these guys get lucky?

And here's the final hint: Why do we believe him when he sits down -- behind closed doors, not under oath, with no notes allowed, and no transcripts -- and tells us who installed that hinge?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Dear Pervez: Beware The Mangoes Of July!

General-President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan appears to be riding two horses going in different directions; you have to wonder how long he can stay upright.

A few days ago Carlotta Gall reported on one of the dangers he faces:
Speculation has been rife in political circles for three months that Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, may not survive his wrangle with the chief justice and hold on to power. But a great silence emanates from the one place that may count the most: the barracks and the mess halls of the armed forces, the other great part of Pakistan's ruling equation.

What the army thinks about the political logjam and what it decides to do in the event of continuing stalemate, instability or violence will be the defining factor in Musharraf's future, most commentators agree.

If and when the army feels it is being damaged by its association with Musharraf, and his insistence on retaining the dual posts of president and chief of army staff, it will act to safeguard the reputation of the army, they say.

Historians and columnists have been outlining the precedents, recalling how Pakistan's three previous military rulers exited from power. None were under happy circumstances, and none bode well for Musharraf.

The longest-ruling general, Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, who seized power in 1977, died in 1988 in a plane crash, the cause of which remains a mystery. The strongest possibility is that the plane was sabotaged, possibly by a bomb - or even, according to one theory, by a knockout gas - hidden inside crates of mangoes, a gift that was put on board the presidential plane at the last minute.

This being mango season, the old story has gained a lot of currency lately. "He either goes the mango crate way or he goes gracefully," as one serving military officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The General-President understands the power of the army and he's not usually very subtle about it.
Well aware of the importance of backing within the army, Musharraf called a meeting of his Corps Commanders and principal military staff earlier this month, apparently to ensure their support. The military public relations service issued an unusually long press release in that vein. "The Corps Commanders and Principal Staff Officers of the Pakistan Army affirmed to stand committed for the security of their country under the leadership and guidance of the President and the COAS," it read, referring to the chief of army staff.

Issuing such a statement is unusual and brings to mind the vote of confidence that often presages the end for a cabinet minister, or, in sports, for a manager or coach. In effect, several former members of the army said, such assurances only underscore the general's insecurity.
Of course. He's so insecure he's trying to round up all the friends he can coerce.

Musharraf also understands the power of the media. And he's not too subtle about that, either. According to Dawn:
President Pervez Musharraf said that the media has a vital role to play in protecting and promoting national interests and responsibility towards safeguarding national sovereignty, integrity and security.

Speaking at the conclusion of first National Media Workshop organized by the National Defence University here Friday, the President warned that any effort to damage integrity, security and sovereignty of Pakistan would be countered massively.

How well will this approach work?

Dawn also reports on the aftermath of the monsoons that have been pounding large areas of the country:
QUETTA, June 28: As heavy to moderate rains continued to lash different parts of Balochistan on Thursday, nine people died in Harnai and Turbat. The rainfall hindered a massive rescue and relief operation launched by the army and the Frontier Corps in worst-affected areas.

Provincial Home Secretary Tariq Ayub said that over 400,000 people had been displaced by this week’s cyclone and flash floods. Troops were carrying out rescue and relief work in the affected areas and helicopters were moving the marooned people to safe places.

Hill torrents triggered by torrential rain wreaked havoc in Chagai and Naushki districts, disrupting rail and road communications between Quetta and Zahidan and causing breaches in the main railway line.

Local officials confirmed the death of three people in Harnai when the Nari River devastated the downstream area in the Kachhi plains, mainly in Jhal Magsi and Jaffarabad.

The Mula River was also in high flood following intermittent rains in its catchment area of Khuzdar and Kalat districts. Paddy and cotton crops were under more than two feet of water in Jhal Magsi and Jaffarabad. Some breaches have occurred in the Right Bank Outfall Drain, damaging crops in the area.

Local people themselves plugged some of the breaches and the government machinery was nowhere to be seen, a local resident told this correspondent.

The worst-affected area is Turbat and district Nazim Mir Abdul Rauf Rind confirmed six deaths on Thursday. More rain has been forecast for the region.
USA Today is also reporting about the aftermath of the monsoons, with a special emphasis on rioting in southwestern Pakistan.

According to Zarar Khan of the AP,
TURBAT, Pakistan — Hungry victims of monsoon-spawned floods in southwestern Pakistan rioted Friday, protesting slow, meager aid reaching their marooned villages where many feared the receding waters would yield numerous bodies.

Police fired tear gas and shots into the air but failed to disperse a crowd of several thousand villagers who broke into and ransacked the mayor's office in this city in southwestern Pakistan ringed by floodwaters.

The widespread flooding struck after Cyclone Yemyin dumped torrential rains on the area Tuesday.

Protesters said they had waded through chest-deep water from outlying areas to voice their anger about the dearth of relief aid. Only packets of biscuits and bottles of water had been received, they said.

"Every family is looking for one or two members. They are all missing," said Chaker Baloth, who walked more than 25 miles through the night to reach this city of some 150,000. Others feared they would never see their missing family members again.

The government said the official death toll in Baluchistan province was 14, with more than 24 missing, although local media reported much higher numbers.

Khubah Bakhsh, the relief commissioner for Baluchistan, estimated that 200,000 houses had been destroyed or damaged.

In one of the hardest-hit areas — Turbat city and surrounding villages — the first relief supplies only began arriving Thursday, about 48 hours after the cyclone hit, driving the mayor to resign and angry residents to protest.

"We have been saved from the flood, but we may die of starvation," said Mohammed Kash, a teacher at a rural school.

From a helicopter, an Associated Press reporter saw only the tops of palm trees protruding from vast sheets of water in some areas.

People, cows and goats were stranded on rooftops without water or food, in sweltering 109-degree heat.
As far as I can tell, Dawn hasn't said anything about the rioting, and I was just wondering whether this has anything to do with the General-President's speech.

Perhaps nobody wants to find out what Musharraf means when he says "massively".

But perhaps this has more to do with mangoes.

Gandhi: Revolt Of The Journos?

Here's an interesting observation from my down-under friend:

(can't see the video? click here)
Mika's not the only pissed journo in Bush's USA today. The LA Times' Managing Editor has abruptly quit the paper, saying he "would like to return to being a reporter."

And Wall Street Journal reporters across the country chose not to show up for work [June 28], citing threats to their independence and credibility.
He may be right, you know: The Revolution May Be Televised After All ...

... especially if our "suits" get a sniff of this!

Tom Toles: Trinkets!

Apropos of one thing or another, here's Toles with another beauty.

Meanwhile, over at Consortium News dot com, Bob Parry has more on this very point. Not enough for me, because Parry refuses to discuss certain topics, but certainly enough to put Cheney in lemon-chicken-land for the rest of his miserable life.

Great Big Surprise! Bush Stonewalls On Subpoenas

President Bush has refused to comply with the subpoenas issued by two Congressional committees, but that's not a big surprise. We can even expect more of the same soon.

Will the Congress bare its teeth? Now that's a much more interesting question! Here's Sheryl Gay Stolberg in the New York Times:

Bush Asserts Executive Privilege on Subpoenas
President Bush moved one step closer to a constitutional showdown with Democrats on Thursday, as the White House asserted executive privilege in refusing to comply with Congressional subpoenas for documents related to the dismissal of federal prosecutors.

The move prompted Democrats to accuse the White House of stonewalling, and seemed to put the legislative and executive branches on a collision course that could land them in court.
... unless the Democrats decide to cave in before then. They would call it a "compromise", of course. And the Republicans are urging them to compromise, for the good of the country, of course.
On Thursday morning, the White House counsel, Fred F. Fielding, telephoned the Democratic chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, which had issued the subpoenas, to inform them of Mr. Bush’s decision. The president also intends to invoke executive privilege to prevent two of his former top aides, Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, and Sara Taylor, the former political director, from testifying, officials said.
It's lovely when the President gets to decide which laws apply to which individuals. That makes us all so happy, because it is exactly at those moments that we can see most clearly that we are living in one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. And that may be only an intangible benefit, but it certainly makes it easier for us to enjoy our spacious skies and amber waves of grain.
“With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path,” Mr. Fielding wrote in a letter to the committee chairmen, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan. He said the committees had issued “unfettered requests.”
The "respect" Mr. Fielding shows for Senator Leahy and Representative Conyers is very small indeed.
Mr. Conyers, in a telephone interview, called the letter “an appalling response to a reasonable question,” adding, “This is reckless; it’s a form of governmental lawlessness that is really astounding.”
Come again? Astounding lawlessness? I'd have thought that he -- John Conyers, of all people -- would be used to it by now. And maybe he is. But I suppose he has to say something!

Omens for the immediate future are ominous but not entirely unexpected:
The letter seemed to lay the groundwork for how the administration will respond to a separate, unrelated, round of subpoenas, issued by the Senate panel Wednesday to the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and the Justice Department for information about the domestic eavesdropping program run by the National Security Agency.

Administration officials said they had not decided how to respond to those demands, but experts said it seemed clear that the White House would refuse to comply there, too.
Well of course they will fail to comply. They will fail to comply with every request that threatens them in the slightest, although they always pretend to offer something:
The White House offered lawmakers access to certain documents as well as private interviews — not under oath, and without transcripts — with top aides to Mr. Bush, including Ms. Miers, Ms. Taylor and Karl Rove, the chief political strategist. The Democrats, demanding formal testimony under oath, rejected the offer.
And of course the Democrats rejected the offer -- who running an investigation would ever accept such conditions on the questioning of witnesses -- let alone suspects?

And although government lawyers try to portray this investigation as a case with very limited ramifications, it actually threatens their bosses in a very serious way.

So ... can you spell "stonewall"? You'll be seeing that word a lot soon.
“Given the way in which both the U.S. attorney matter and the N.S.A. matter are now percolating through committees, I would be very surprised if there were not a major showdown over executive privilege,” said Peter M. Shane, a law professor at Ohio State University and an authority on executive privilege. “It might not get to court, but there will have to be some very high pressure negotiations at a very late stage to avoid that.”
Those favoring a government of laws must be hoping there won't be any late negotiations, since the pressure will undoubtedly be great and the Democrats' track record under pressure has been atrocious.

As always, the result of the dispute is going to depend in no small part on how the issues are framed, and Sheryl Gay Stolberg portrays this case as a small one:
The clash pits the Congressional right to conduct oversight — in this case, an investigation into whether the Justice Department allowed partisan politics to interfere with hiring and firing of federal prosecutors — against the president’s right to unfettered and candid advice from his top aides.
But the Congressional investigation is about much more than whether partisan politics was allowed to interfere with hiring and firing. It's really about whether (that is to say the extent to which) the Justice Department has become an instrument of partisan politics. Or at least one would hope so.

The possibilities are endless.

For instance, one relatively unexplored line of questioning goes like this: Suppose it turns out that -- as it currently appears -- eight of 93 U.S. attorneys were fired for not exerting sufficient pressure on Democratic candidates at election time. What does that say about the other 85, the ones who kept their jobs?

Stolberg sidesteps this hot potato and continues:
The next step is for Democrats to decide whether to try to negotiate with the White House or to vote on a contempt resolution, a process that could take months and would lay the groundwork for sending the matter to court. Democrats did not say Thursday how they intended to proceed, although by the sound of their comments, negotiations did not seem likely any time soon.
Personally I prefer to live in a nation of laws and therefore I hope the Democrats do not decide to negotiate at all. They should just vote the contempt resolution and be done with it. So this is probably a very unlikely outcome.

I had to laugh at a comment by Senator Leahy:
“This is a further shift by the Bush administration into Nixonian stonewalling and more evidence of their disdain for our system of checks and balances,” Mr. Leahy said.
Sorry, Senator, but they've gone way beyond Nixonian. Even Spiro Agnew didn't tell any Senators to go f-ck themselves.

Nonetheless, the scent of Watergate is now in the air, and this sets up a some very interesting possibilities. As Larisa says, "I would like to officially welcome you to Watergate..."

And in some ways her analogy is a good one. But this is different.

First of all it's a very different Congress, one divided against itself in a very different way than the population is divided. In the electorate, most people, including many nominal Republicans, oppose this President, his wars of choice, and his quest for unfettered power. But in the Congress, some (many!) nominal Democrats actually support the president and the war, and would have it last for decades, if it were their call. So they may choose to support the commander-in-chief for the duration, and all of this might be moot. We'll have to wait and see.

Second, Nixon was losing it! He was going to pieces right in his own office, pacing the floors, talking to dead presidents, praying with his accomplice in war crimes, Henry Kissinger (who couldn't wait to get out of there, especially if he had a hot date). But Bush? No problem. The Decider rocks on!

Nixon was terminally frightened of losing another election -- this fear motivated many of his excesses. So he was devastated by the loss of support from the Congressional Republican heavies. But what does Bush care? He doesn't have to stand for election again. And anyway, the electoral system is now taken care of. Bush and his friends have assurances that Richard Nixon never even hoped for.

Does any of this matter? Probably not. If the removal of eight U.S. attorneys at the same time were a routine procedure, and if everything had been done above-board, if there weren't millions of e-mails missing and stories floating around about serious attempts to subvert what remains of our Constitutional republic, there would be no need to put restrictions on Congressional oversight, and there would be no reason why administrative aides could not testify in public, with oaths and transcripts and everything else that people do in civilized countries, because the administration would have nothing to hide.

But -- even more so than the Nixon administration -- this bunch has nothing to show! So they have to resist every attempt at transparency. Of course this doesn't prevent them from howling at other governments for not being sufficiently "democratic". And only Nixon could go to China.

Even if the USA is no longer the world's greatest democracy, even if it is no longer be a democracy at all, surely it doesn't anymore matter as long as we remain the world leader in at least one equally important category. And beyond any doubt, such is the case: the USA is now -- and has been for at least six years -- the world's greatest hypocrisy!

How about that?

We're number one! We're number ONE! WE'RE NUMBER ONE!!!

Can You Imagine The Horror? -- Or Are You Out Of Touch?

Can you imagine ... how horrible you would feel ... if you found out ... your mother ... was ... your father?


How embarrassing it would be! How unsettling! Can you imagine?

But it's not possible!

If you don't think it would be horrible for you, think how horrible it would be for your kids!!

But that doesn't make any sense! There's no way my --

What's the matter, don't you love your kids? That's it, isn't it? How can I even talk to a man who doesn't love his kids?

But it couldn't happen! It would violate all the laws of biology!!

You don't love your kids at all, do you? You don't even care -- how horrible it would be for your kids, if they found out their grandmother was their grandfather!

But it could never happen! Why should I worry about something that could never happen?

Oh, come on! What have you been smoking?

Have you been under a rock for the past six years?

That's September 10th thinking, buddy. You're as out of touch as the mayor!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Stuff From All Around

Just in case you have nothing to read ...

Isabel Kershner, NYT: Israel Drops Rape Charges as President Agrees to Quit:
The Israeli government has dropped rape charges against President Moshe Katsav in exchange for his agreement to step down and to plead guilty to lesser charges, the attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, announced Thursday.

Mr. Katsav, 61, will receive a suspended sentence and will pay a total of $11,695 in compensation to two of the women who accused him, Mr. Mazuz said. One of them had worked for Mr. Katsav when he was tourism minister in the late 1990s; the other worked in his office in 2003 and 2004. Mr. Katsav will plead guilty to committing indecent acts without consent, sexual harassment of the two women and harassing a witness.

He is expected to resign on Friday. His seven-year term as president, a largely ceremonial post, was to end in July. Shimon Peres is expected to take office as president on July 15.
Here's a letter to the editor of the Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin: Kevin Barrett on the "leftist" media's freeze-out of 9/11 truth. Well ... at least they published it.

At ABC's Political Punch blog, Jake Tapper wonders whether the media were unfair to Ann Coulter when they used an out-of-context sound-bite -- in which she was misquoting somebody else!

At Wired dot com, there's a commentary from Bruce Schneier which I like quite a bit; it's called "Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot" and it's definitely worth a read. If you start clicking Bruce's links you could be there for quite a while -- and that wouldn't be bad thing.

Last and definitely not least, how about this story? ABC News: Man With Headache Finds Bullet in Head
A woman was arrested Tuesday after her husband woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible headache and later learned he had a bullet lodged in his head.
Regular service will resume shortly.

Spinning The Deadly Tale: Now Even Anti-Terrorists Are Al-Q'aeda

The beautiful thing about the big lie -- the molded reality -- the political truth -- is that you can bend it and shape it however you please, provided of course that you have the means to catapult the propaganda. And the simpler the story you tell, the easier it is for regular folks to take it all in -- once they absorb enough of your story, they can start telling it all by themselves. So the political truths that emerge from a molded reality tend to be very simple.

Do you believe me? There are dozens -- if not hundreds -- of small disconnected terrorist groups all over the world, but we only ever hear about one of them. Can you guess which one? Yes, I knew you could! It's so much easier to wage war against the terrorists if you can lump them all in together like that. And very messy otherwise.

Here's another example: the internal politics of Iraq have always been a good deal more complicated than the Shia-Sunni-Kurd triangle we've been spoon-fed forever. But even after all these years, most of us still don't get it.

Half the time we don't even remember whether we're fighting "Shi'ite militias and Sunni insurgents" or "Shi'ite insurgents and Sunni militias". And what about the Kurds? Do they not have any militias or insurgents? Maybe they have both and we don't even know it. For that matter, what's the difference between a militia and a group of insurgents? And if you really want to get technical, what's the difference between Sunni and Shi'ite?

Here's the rub: We don't know -- or at least, most of us don't know, and most of us don't really care either. The tale is too complex for most of us to digest, so it just sits there, like a lump in our stomachs, making us cranky and miserable -- and this, quite naturally, interferes with our will to succeed in Iraq.

But success in Iraq is indispensable, and the alternative is unthinkable. So the Pentagon, in its infinite yet five-sided wisdom, has started making things a lot easier now, by describing all of its victims as "al-Q'aeda in Iraq". This change will make future "news" reporting a good deal easier for everyone, since "reporters" will know quite a bit about the victims before they are actually killed. They can simply fill in a few blanks -- date, place, number of aQiI fighters killed, name of the coalition unit credited with the glorious victory -- and their day's work will be finished! Their readers will benefit as well, being spared the embarrassment of not knowing, or caring, anything at all about who's being killed, maimed, tortured, widowed, orphaned ...

But that's not even the best part! Here's a bonus: the phrase "al-Q'aeda in Iraq" provides the slam-dunk link between Iraq and 9/11 which Dick Cheney has always sought, so each time we utter the phrase, we further "legitimize" a war crime of incredible dimensions. And not only that: every time we kill some "al-Q'aeda in Iraq", we lend support to the notions that we're "winning" (whatever that means), and that the "surge" is working (and I'm referring to the troop surge, not the steadily increasing flow of refugees making their way out of their country -- although if the people who are leaving are also "al-Q'aeda in Iraq", maybe the refugee surge is working too...)

It's a lovely story, or at least it would be, if even a little bit of it were true. Instead of course the truth is the exact opposite. In a particularly egregious example, coalition forces in Iraq have recently slaughtered Iraqi civilian anti-terrorists, then reported that the dead were "al-Q'aeda in Iraq".

Let that sink in for a minute.

Americans, of course, can wallow in political truth, but as Chris Floyd points out:
... Iraqis have to deal with the brutal reality of the war. And they know that everyone killed there by the invading forces is not "al Qaeda." They know that many Iraqis being killed by the Anglo-American coalition are innocent civilians. And they are increasingly embittered at the American slander of their dead.

This slander is being applied even to those Iraqis who have taken up arms against the very "al Qaeda" terrorists that the American military is purportedly protecting them from, Iraqis who are cooperating with the American-backed government and its American-trained military and security forces. The BBC reports about an horrific massacre of Iraqi civilians last week – an air attack with missiles and gunships that literally ripped to shreds the bodies of village guards who had just returned from a raid with Iraqi government forces on a suspected terrorist hideout. These men were then accused of being "al Qaeda gunmen" in Pentagon press releases trumpeting this magnificent feat of arms – accusations then duly (not to mention dully) parroted in the press.
Chris quotes the BBC report as saying:
On 22 June the US military announced that its attack helicopters, armed with missiles, engaged and killed 17 al-Qaeda gunmen who had been trying to infiltrate the village of al-Khalis, north of Baquba, where operation "Arrowhead Ripper" had been under way for the previous three days. The item was duly carried by international news agencies and received widespread coverage, including on the BBC News website.

But villagers in largely-Shia al-Khalis say that those who died had nothing to do with al-Qaeda. They say they were local village guards trying to protect the township from exactly the kind of attack by insurgents the US military says it foiled...
which encapsulates the entire bogus agenda of these bogus clowns who now control our bogus government.

And this is just one massacre, one village, one instance where corporate media did a bit of digging and brought us a vital truth about a shameful escapade.

How many times have similar things happened and gone unreported?

And how much more of this will we allow?


Chris Floyd: Slandering the Dead: The American Massacre at al-Khalis

BBC News: Village disputes story of deadly attack

What's The Angle? Is The WaPo Cheney Series Ace Journalism, Or Subtle Psy-op?

The Washington Post has been a bit more interesting than usual lately, with an epic four-part series by Barton Gellman and Jo Becker about Dick Cheney and how he has changed the role of "Vice" President.

I've been reading and reading and my eyes are going wonky and I'm still trying to decide what to make of it. Is it "Pulitzer-quality journalism", as Gandhi suggests? Is it really as "breathtaking" as Larisa Alexandrovna thinks?

Or is it just another dose of the usual Bush-administration bunk, spun through an exceptionally clever filter: yet another limited hangout, slightly damaging but not really all that bad, something the spin-meisters think they can contain with a barrage of falsehoods which in turn will serve as a platform for further lies? At this point the jury's still out, in my estimation. (Your mileage may vary and vive la difference!)

Some passages in the series just beg to be highlighted. This passage grabbed Gandhi by the throat:
In a bunker beneath the East Wing of the White House, Cheney locked his eyes on CNN, chin resting on interlaced fingers. He was about to watch, in real time, as thousands were killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Previous accounts have described Cheney's adrenaline-charged evacuation to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center that morning, a Secret Service agent on each arm. They have not detailed his reaction, 22 minutes later, when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

"There was a groan in the room that I won't forget, ever,"
one witness said. "It seemed like one groan from everyone" -- among them Rice; her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley; economic adviser Lawrence B. Lindsey; counselor Matalin; Cheney's chief of staff, Libby; and the vice president's wife.

Cheney made no sound. "I remember turning my head and looking at the vice president, and his expression never changed,"
said the witness, reading from a notebook of observations written that day. Cheney closed his eyes against the image for one long, slow blink.

Three people who were present, not all of them admirers, said they saw no sign then or later of the profound psychological transformation that has often been imputed to Cheney. What they saw, they said, was extraordinary self-containment and a rapid shift of focus to the machinery of power.
Let that sink in for a moment, will you? Why not just hang around and let that gun smoke awhile?

Larisa quotes the same passage as well as the following:
While others assessed casualties and the work of "first responders," Cheney began planning for a conflict that would call upon lawyers as often as soldiers and spies."
I would suggest that the word "began" in the previous sentence is misleading. But whatever the case,
"In expanding presidential power, Cheney's foremost agent was David S. Addington, his formidable general counsel and legal adviser of many years. On the morning of Sept. 11, Addington was evacuated from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House and began to make his way toward his Virginia home on foot. As he neared the Arlington Memorial Bridge, someone in the White House reached him with a message: Turn around. The vice president needs you.

Down in the bunker, according to a colleague with firsthand knowledge, Cheney and Addington began contemplating the founding question of the legal revolution to come: What extraordinary powers will the president need for his response?

Before the day ended, Cheney's lawyer joined forces with Timothy E. Flanigan, the deputy White House counsel, linked by secure video from the Situation Room. Flanigan patched in John C. Yoo at the Justice Department's fourth-floor command center. White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales joined later.

Thus formed the core legal team that Cheney oversaw, directly and indirectly, after the terrorist attacks."
Larisa highlights it differently but she has this to say about it:
This is still September 11, 2001 remember and seemingly - although I may be reading this wrong - still during daylight hours, that is to say, in the process of the attacks. You will recall that building 7 did not collapse until around 5 PM EST. So we don't know who attacked us (we suspect), we don't know what the security breach was (how they boarded the planes, how many there were, etc.), in fact, at this point - and this I remember very well - there are still rumors that the Empire State building had a bomb in it, that the Holland tunnel had a bomb in it, and that there was still a 20th hijacker somewhere out there. I remember too a flight in Cleveland being suspected and grounded, and all major cities being evacuated. In fact, I remember that day from my vantage point almost play by play, where I was, how the day progressed, what the various threat alerts coming in were. It was chaos and confusion and no one knew if the country was secure, that is, if the attacks were over, for what appeared to be an eternity.

Yet as this is going on, Cheney's concern is not making sure the country was secure, or making sure that he knew - as best as could be known at the time - what the damage was, etc. His concern was a power grab? On 9/11, during the attacks, he calls in lawyers? This is horrifying to me because it shows a man so emotionally vacant that his reaction to horror is to figure out how it best benefits him?
I really don't see what the big surprise is here. Is it such a stretch -- especially given Norman Mineta's testimony -- to understand why Cheney didn't bother trying to find out whether the attacks were over? Or who was behind them?

Larisa finds it horrifying that a power grab was Cheney's immediate reaction.

But what if it wasn't a reaction at all? How horrifying is that?

To speak plainly: on this particular point I do not get Larisa. She's been dogging these guys for years; she knows how they operate; she has excellent sources; she's a fine investigator and a very capable tactician. And there was already plenty of evidence on the table suggesting that Cheney was not the slightest bit surprised -- or appalled -- by anything that happened on 9/11.

Obviously Larisa didn't know who attacked us, or what the security breach was, or the source or veracity of the rumors about the bombs in the Holland Tunnel and the Empire State Building, or anything about the other threat alerts that kept coming in all day long, or whether the country was secure, that is, whether the attacks were over.

Not that there's anything wrong with not knowing! There would in fact be something wrong with knowing!

None of us knew, except whoever planned the attacks. But if somebody did know, it would explain why he might not have been concerned with the answers to any of these questions, and it would also explain why he might show no sign of surprise or sadness -- not even a groan -- nothing but "extraordinary self-containment and a rapid shift of focus to the machinery of power".


Let us now turn to one of the results -- some would say the defining result -- of Cheney's rapid shift of focus to the machinery of power. Larisa said this made her skin crawl:
Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden "torture" and permitted use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.

No longer was the vice president focused on procedural rights, such as access to lawyers and courts. The subject now was more elemental: How much suffering could U.S. personnel inflict on an enemy to make him talk? Cheney's lawyer feared that future prosecutors, with motives "difficult to predict," might bring criminal charges against interrogators or Bush administration officials.

Geneva rules forbade not only torture but also, in equally categorical terms, the use of "violence," "cruel treatment" or "humiliating and degrading treatment" against a detainee "at any time and in any place whatsoever." The War Crimes Act of 1996 made any grave breach of those restrictions a U.S. felony. The best defense against such a charge, Addington wrote, would combine a broad presidential directive for humane treatment, in general, with an assertion of unrestricted authority to make exceptions.
I agree about the skin crawl but unfortunately I no longer see any of this as a reaction.

Unfortunately? Well, it's unfortunate for me, because it makes my internal organs crawl too.

As far as the series is concerned, I'm still reading, and thinking ... and trying to figure out what has happened here. If this is for real, it's a big step forward -- especially for the Washington Post. And that's why I don't trust it.

But if it's a psy-op then it's a subtle one. I know, I know, psy-ops can be exceptionally subtle, and I can be exceptionally dense. But in my opinion, if it's a psy-op then it would likely be one of two kinds.

There's the all-discrediting psy-op in which somebody spots a flaw (or an alleged flaw) in one paragraph of one article and uses it to allegedly discredit the entire series, as well as the real-life story on which it is based (thus Rather-gate; in this instance it would be used to "legitimize" Cheney's every illegal action). I don't see that happening in this case but it's still early and I wouldn't eliminate the possibility just yet.

Then there's the thin-edge-of-the-wedge, limited-hangout approach which we noted quite recently, where everything turns out to be worse than it was originally portrayed. If this is the case here, there are going to be a lot of spontaneous human cranium implosions, even among the most jaded analysts. On the other hand, this is one of the administration's favorite tactics, so I'll be having my skull reinforced, and as soon as possible.

There are other kinds of psy-ops as well, of course, so it could very well be something else ... if it's a plant.

If it's real, we get a whole 'nother set of questions, like: What does it all mean?

I think Larisa has it right when she says:
I am not a legal scholar, but it appears there has been a coup and no one told the President about it.
That's pretty clear, in my opinion. Or at least the first half of it is. Perhaps they told him but he didn't get it. Or maybe they told him but he doesn't care. Or maybe they told him but there's nothing he can do about it. I don't know. How can anyone really know things like this?

And what can we say about the Washington Post's role in support of real journalism (if that indeed is what this is)?

Would it signify a revival in American journalism? Or just a speed-bump on the road to hell?

And where did all this inside information come from? And why is it all coming out now?

On this question, Larisa has an idea I find quite intriguing:
I get the sense now that Bush's family is hitting back via the WaPo piece, likely bringing in all of their contacts and former officials from the Bush 41 administration to castrate Cheney as all other measures appear to have failed, including the Iraq Study Group, Gates at DOD, and Negroponte at State.
We'll see ...

On a possibly related note, why has the CIA released so much incriminating information all of a sudden?

TIME Magazine's Robert Baer says it's an attempt to send a message to the White House:
Hayden's plan is not only to draw a line under the past but make a point to this and future White Houses: Politicize intelligence and you'll find your name on the front page of the newspaper.
But when is intelligence not politicized? When is the President's name not on the front page of the newspaper?

So why else would could it be? It couldn't possibly be an attempt to draw attention away from the WaPo series on Dick Cheney, could it?

Nah! I didn't think so either.

So I'll leave you with one more good quote from Larisa:
I am starting now to believe that the President of the United States and the Vice President did likely have an agreement, described by Cheney as "an understanding," in part one of the WaPo series. Bush wanted the office and title, Cheney wanted the power. If this is in fact the agreement, then the public is owed an explanation and the Congress needs to take a look at the legality of such an agreement. Would a Cheney-Bush ticket have won do you think? Would anyone have elected Dick Cheney as President of the United States? Never.
We didn't elect George Bush, either. Never. But in a sense Larisa is still right: if the ticket had been Cheney/Bush, neither "election" -- 2000 or 2004 -- would have been close enough to steal.

Nonetheless I think Larisa is right when she says:
Cheney needed Bush to get elected it appears and to mislead the public as to who the actual President would be. That is my sense after reading the first two parts of this series.

Someone needs to ask the President (if we only had a press corps) if he agreed to abdicate his role as President to Dick Cheney before the election... not in title, but in authority. If not, then someone needs to ask the President if he minds that there has been a coup in his administration.
David Horsey has it right, too:

VIDEO: Mike Gravel Explains ROCK And FIRE To Dim-Witted Journalist

In answer to questions asked previously on this very page, here's former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, via YouTube.

It's hilarious! It's beautiful! "Rock" may not be winning Mike Gravel any numbers in the polls, but it is getting him meetings with dim-witted journalists! Who could ever ask for more?

Can't see it? Click here!

For more about Mike Gravel click here, and/or here.

And a tip of the frozen cap to Jeff Hoard at News Bloggers dot AOL dot com!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wingnut Spinmeisters Sharpening Their Knives For 'Sicko'

In yet another fine piece at Bob Parry's Consortium News, guest essayist Jay Diamond writes:
Do a search on "Hannity Sicko" or "Romney Sicko" on any search engine and you will find an assortment of YouTube excerpts of Sean Hannity recycling talking points off the panicked presses of the Heritage Foundation, CEI, AEI, Manhattan Institute, etc., bearing dire warnings of the health care terror Michael Moore and other evil progressives are preparing to inflict on America.

But in all their truculent and fear-mongering invocations of the purported evils of "socialized medicine," there is curiously something that Romney, Hannity, and all the other American rightists consistently omit; and in that deliberate omission is an important lesson in the way America's hard right works their deceptions.

They never mention that there are more individuals right here in the United States who receive their health coverage on what you call "socialized medicine" than there are people in the entire country of France.

Add up all the people on Medicare and the Veterans Administration.

Hey Sean, Hey Mitt, Did you forget about those interesting little nuggets....Medicare and the VA ?

Or is it that you repeat the brainlessly transparent talking points your handlers stuff in your hands assuming nobody will realize that salient fact?

If right-wingers love the troops so much, why do they pick them specifically to be tormented with this horrible "socialized medicine"?

Why do rightwingers hate our punish them in such an evil fashion...putting them at risk of the evil "socialized medicine"? Why, Why?
There's more. And it's good. Hint, hint.

Ronald Swerlein Free On Bail; Court Date Set For Pending Explosives Charges

Ronald Swerlein is not due in court again until July 12; until then he's free on bond and can return to his home, but he's going to have to clean up the damage from the tear gas if he wants to enjoy living there.

Swerlein was arrested ten days ago at his home in Longmont, Colorado, where he has said he was testing various chemicals for possible use in rocket fuel.

Police armed with tear gas and a search warrant found and confiscated thousands of dollars worth of laboratory glassware and an estimated 400 different chemicals, including half a pound of nitroglycerin, which they detonated in Swerlein's driveway. The rest they took with them.

Swerlein has since been charged with ten counts of possession of explosives and one count of drug possession, and is now free on bail pending his next court appearance, which is scheduled for July 12 in Boulder County Court, according to the most recent reports from Longmont and Boulder.

Even seen from this distance, it's a case full of contradictions. (We've been following the story since last Wednesday, with articles Friday and Saturday as well).

Early reports from the local newspaper mentioned Swerlein's claim that he was making rocket fuel, not bombs, but seemed to discredit his story.

For instance, on June 20, Pierrette J. Shields and Rachel Carter reported in the Longmont Daily Times-Call:
Warren Musselman, a board member of the Northern Colorado Rocketry Club, said on Tuesday that the explosive chemicals police have identified from the home are not components of fuels used in model rocketry.

“Our stuff burns at a predictable rate and creates a lot of gas,” he said. “Explosives don’t burn. They detonate.”

Musselman said chemicals like PETN and sodium azide are dangerous and are simply not model rocket fuel ingredients.

“Explosives of any kind don’t have anything to do with the rocketry hobby,” he said.
So the case against Ronald Swerlein looked open and shut at that point, but -- guess what?? -- it turned out that things are a lot more complicated than Mr. Musselman would have us believe.

There's a very fine and fuzzy line between explosives and non-explosives (and some common household items are explosive under certain conditions), and there's also a very fuzzy line between garden-variety hobbyists and experimental high-performance rocket fuel researchers (who certainly do use explosives in their fuels).

My previous articles in this series can now be seen in all their naked ignorance; on the other hand these facts surely matter much more to Ronald Swerlein, since his future may hinge on whether or not a jury considers his story plausible.

Ronald Swerlein is a former electrical engineer with a number of patents to his credit. He retired after a car accident in 2004, and he says he's been spending his time and money building (and using) a fairly sophisticated chemistry set.

Unfortunately for Swerlein, he had no better place to experiment than his garage, and every now and then one of his fuel mixtures would explode. After a while the neighbors began to figure out where the sudden noises were coming from, and they complained to the police.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Longmont, a scattering of small bombs appeared in the parking lot of a medical clinic. The miniature bombs were just shells stuffed with gunpowder, but they could have caused some damage if somebody had stepped on or driven over one, and on the first weekend of June, the police sent out a plea for information.

Less than two weeks later -- Tuesday, June 12 -- something went BOOM in the Swerlein garage, and the next day one of the neighbors called the police.

On Friday, June 15, after sifting through enough of the Swerleins' garbage to find some evidence that the man inside was potentially dangerous, police obtained a search warrant. Then they came back, surrounded the house, and asked the Swerleins to step outside. They didn't respond, and police fired seven canisters of tear gas into their home -- including one through the plate glass window in their living room -- before they changed their minds.

Taken to a local park, Ronald Swerlein was stripped and given a medical gown, so police could search his underwear! Eventually, having found no indication of violent intent, police released the Swerleins, who were free to go but not back home, where police were just beginning a series of searches and seizures that would last for five days.

Swerlein waited a while but then attempted to re-enter his home on Sunday, June 17, but the police were still in possession, and Swerlein was arrested. He was released Tueday, June 19, on $50,000 bond, and a short item appeared on the UPI wire, the only "national" coverage this story has ever received.

In fact, the UPI report was carried in a couple of American dailies (the Houston Post-Chronicle and the Washington Times) but it didn't appear anywhere else, other than the Republic of Georgia. Otherwise, there has been no national coverage, and only a few newspaper articles about this case have been published outside Colorado.

Despite the lack of national exposure, Swerlein's attorney has been complaining of what he calls a "media circus", and he has requested a publication ban in this case. The timing of his request may be a shade unfortunate for his client, not because this cold blogger has come to see Swerlein's story as entirely plausible, but -- even more importantly -- because the first detailed and sympathetic coverage of Swerlein's side of the story has finally appeared in print.

As Christine Reid reports, in the (subscription-only) Boulder Daily Camera:
Swerlein has not talked publicly about his case. His attorney, Jeffrey Larson, says people should wait until all the facts are out and not jump to conclusions.

Swerlein's statements to police reveal that he sees himself as a "nerd" who is interested in rocket-fuel technology and teaching himself how to make it in small doses in his garage.

Swerlein has graduate degrees in physics and electrical engineering. He was an engineer and scientist at Hewlett-Packard, which later became Agilent Technologies, in Loveland.

He retired in 2004 after a serious car accident that almost took his life and has since been a recluse. Swerlein said he worked long hours and fell asleep at the wheel one night, colliding head-on with another car.

He still takes pain medication for the serious leg injuries he sustained in the crash.

Police reported finding crushed-up pills in his pockets when they arrested him. Swerlein told them he snorted the prescription drugs to make them work more quickly and last longer.
So there's the drug charge.

Swerlein told police he was looking for hobbies to take up in his spare time and got interested in thermites, mixtures of aluminum powder and metal oxides used in welding. He said when they were lit, they would make a "whoosh" sound.

Sometimes he would stand 5 feet away and ignite the chemicals using a wire hooked to a battery. Sometimes he would use a lighter.

He told police that when he began experimenting about a year ago, he "lost containment" with a couple of projects.
The neighbors began to notice him about a year ago.
Swerlein told police that he dreamed of improving rocket fuel. He wanted to be able to walk into rocketry groups and contribute his knowledge.
And that explains why
Warren Musselman, a board member of the Northern Colorado Rocketry Club, said ... people in the small rocketry community don’t remember Swerlein attending any meetings or events.
He wasn't ready -- he simply had nothing to show them yet.

As for the tests in his garage,
He knew it could be "violent," so his tests were done with 3 to 5 grams of chemicals at a time. He surrounded chemicals with tires to absorb the blows.

He made the nitroglycerin and P.E.T.N. himself from chemicals he bought over the Internet. He told police he was proud of his accomplishments — including once firing a homemade rocket with homemade fuel over his house.
Swerlein even seems oblivious to what the neighbors were thinking -- and that fits the profile of a scientist to a tee!
Swerlein said his neighbors may have been angry with him because, about eight months ago, he had a laser light that may have disturbed some of them. He said he had been shining it on a tree because it looked "neat," police reported, but he stopped after realizing it was bothering people.
He didn't realize they were a lot more concerned about the loud noises -- most of which occurred between 11PM and 3AM, according to reports the police had on file. OOPS! Sorry about that!!
Swerlein admitted to police that there were explosives in his home, but he said he didn't want to use the word "explosive" because they were looking for a bomb-maker.
Ok, then. Semi-oblivious.
Police going into his home were safe, he said, as long as they didn't open the bottles.
But that didn't stop them, as Christine Reid reported that they took two small samples from each bottle and destroyed the rest.

Most of the chemicals they destroyed are not regulated; Swerlein had every right to own them. He must be very upset. But the police are not concerned about sending him back into the neighborhood. In fact they've held a public meeting to convince the other residents that everything is safe and there's no need to worry.

From the little I happen to know about the case, I tend to agree with the police that the neighbors are not likely in any danger, and not only because the police have all his chemicals (or at least the samples they haven't destroyed) as well as the weapons, ammunition and other items that were confiscated from the Swerlein house.

But also -- and this appears to be a key factor in the story -- Ronald Swerlein has never expressed any animosity toward anyone, and as police phrase it, he has not "chosen a target". In other ways he seems to fit the profile of an amateur scientist much better than the profile of a mad bomber.

In addition, he appears to have bought all his supplies openly, through internet supply stores sending UPS shipments to his house -- not the pattern a furtive bomb-maker would follow.

And clearly, if he wanted to hurt people, he had no need to keep tinkering around in his garage. The homemade nitroglycerin the police detonated in his driveway would have made a fine car-bomb, or could have taken a chunk out of a building. And that wasn't the only explosive compound the police found -- clearly he could have taken several chunks out of several buildings. But Ronald Swerlein doesn't appear to have been thinking in those terms at all.

In the canse of the bombs in the parking lot, police say they do not consider Swerlein a suspect. It's hard to imagine that stuffing gunpowder in brass shells would seem very exciting to a guy who can make his own nitroglycerin. Still, I give the police credit for not trying to hang the parking-lot bombs on Swerlein. Surely Police Sgt. Tim Lewis would love to solve both cases. But clearly he realizes that the only way to do so is to find the other guy, too.

Further details may be forthcoming -- especially if no publication ban is enforced -- and I will endeavor to keep you posted.

But at this point we're left with a seemingly endless series of unanswered questions, among them: What is Sgt. Lewis dealing with? Two bombers in one small city? Or one bomber and an amateur rocket-fuel chemist?

At the moment, my money is on the latter. But we shall see ...

[all the recent links]

Boulder Daily Camera:
Swerlein armory baffles neighbors

Longmont Daily Times-Call:
Longmont Explosives Investigation
Ex-engineer faces 10 counts for possession of explosives
'I am not sure I feel all that safe’

Rocky Mountain News:
Longmont man in court today in explosives raid

Casper (Wyoming) Star Tribune:
Bombmaker free on bail

KKTV News (Colorado Springs / Pueblo):
Longmont Man Charged Over Explosives

CBS4 (Denver):
Longmont Man Charged With Possessing Explosives

FOX-31 (Colorado):
Longmont Man Charged With Possessing Illegal Explosives

KJCT (Grand Junction / Montrose):
Longmont man charged with possessing illegal explosives

9 NEWS (Colorado):
Man charged after explosives pulled out of home

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Searching For Richard Reti? See Floyd On Horton On Siegelman/ Simpson/ Alabamagate

Chris Floyd has just posted a fine pointer to a great essay by Scott Horton -- a you-must-read-it-all piece about Karl Rove's most recent shenanigans in Alabama, in a case involving Don Siegelman and Dana Simpson, featuring all the usual "sleaze, graft and criminal conspiracy" (in Floyd's phrase), punctuated by a whistle-blower's house burning down. How quaint.

I was especially struck by this part of Floyd's comment, which makes a lot of sense even if you haven't yet read Horton (emphasis and space added):
As the Bush gang's tenure in office nears its end, the frantic thugs will face the possibility of prosecution for a number of high crimes, and they will resort increasingly to physical intimidation to cow or silence witnesses.

Does that sound far-fetched? Then consider this: at every single point, the Bush Administration's depradations have turned out to be even worse than originally thought.

For example, the "bad apples" of the "incident" at Abu Ghraib turned out to be the products of a deliberate, knowing, thorough-going, worldwide system of torture formally created and officially approved by the White House itself.

The "investigation" of 9/11 -- which had to be forced on the Bush gang in the first place -- turned out to be an ludicrous whitewash, directed by a close colleague of Condi Rice who later went on the State Department payroll.

The "shaky evidence" for launching a war of aggression against Iraq turned out to be a pack of falsehoods that were known to be falsehoods by the war's perpetrators, just as the "unforeseen chaos" that erupted in the wake of the invasion turned out to have been predicted beforehand with remarkable precision by government agencies.

The illegal wiretaps on "foreign terrorists" turned out to be part of a secret nationwide system of domestic espionage that has caught untold millions of innocent Americans in its web.

The "routine firing" of a few federal attorneys turned out to be the tip of a vast iceberg of legal and judicial corruption.

The "all clear" on deadly chemicals at Ground Zero in the days following 9/11 turns out to have been a deliberate deceit that has already killed many selfless rescue and reconstruction workers, and will kill many more in the years to come.
As a long-suffering chess-player I have always admired the writings of the long-ago grandmaster Richard Reti (1889-1929) [photo]. Apart from the charming wit that pervades his writing, there's also a remarkable pattern in the content: again and again Reti saw previously undocumented truths about the game, some of which had been lying in plain sight for years, and he expressed them in such a way that everyone who read him came away thinking "Well, of course! It's obvious, isn't it?" But it wasn't obvious until Reti said so.

What Chris just said is obvious, and has been for a long time. I've grown to expect it. As Ali led with a killer jab, Rove leads with a limited hangout. It's a signature in the M.O. -- plain as day. It's always worse than they lead us to believe in the beginning. It's a tactic that works and Rove is nothing if not pragmatic: we can expect to see the tactics that work again and again and again.

I say all this now in a jumble of words that flow freely: ah yes! It's so obvious, isn't it?

But have I ever had the presence of mind to say so before? No! I haven't even had the clarity of vision to formulate the thought!

As a young man I used to think they broke the mold when they made Richard Reti. But that was before I started reading Chris Floyd.


Scott Horton: Justice in Alabama

Go ahead. Click.


A Tragic Lunacy: Avoiding The Obvious Fact Leaves A Hole No Words Can Fill

I sat on my hands when Chris Floyd replied to a post by Paul Curtis regarding an excerpt from Glenn Greenwald's soon-to-be-published book, "A Tragic Legacy".

I was thinking "If this were hockey, Chris would be gone!" It is, after all, the third man jumping into a fight who opens up the potential for a brawl.

But this wasn't really a fight at all, and as I continued to sit on my hands while more words flew, it dawned on me that there had never been any danger of a fight. And that's how I knew it wasn't hockey, by the way. Chris came to see it as something akin to rowing; in his view, we're all pulling together, even if we each see the course a bit differently. And I was still content to watch.

But that only lasted so long, and all of a sudden I can't restrain myself; now in addition to demanding a spot in the boat I also insist on standing, as the live-action photo at the top of my sidebar attests. You may salute now and later. But please don't drop your oars in the water while doing so...

The full title of Glenn Greenwald's book is "A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency". Much of the discussion which I intend to quote here swirls around the purported physical basis of that mentality -- what Greenwald calls a Manichean world-view.

I'm such a political know-it-all that I actually had to look it up: I learned that Manicheanism was an ancient Persian religion and then of course it was obvious: clearly 'twas an old Middle Eastern religion that "destroyed" the Bush presidency! The Iranians were behind it -- of course. Glenn nails it again!

But unfortunately it's not that simple. Glenn Greenwald is not attempting to pin all the horrors of the past six years on the ancient Persians after all. He's merely using the name of their religion to evoke its dualism, its view of the world as divided into two fundamental (and fundamentally opposed) concepts (such as Good and Evil) as well as, of course, the physical, spiritual and other manifestations of same.

Glenn Greenwald writes:
One of the principal dangers of vesting power in a leader who is convinced of his own righteousness -- who believes that, by virtue of his ascension to political power, he has been called to a crusade against Evil -- is that the moral imperative driving the mission will justify any and all means used to achieve it. Those who have become convinced that they are waging an epic and all-consuming existential war against Evil cannot, by the very premises of their belief system, accept any limitations -- moral, pragmatic, or otherwise -- on the methods adopted to triumph in this battle.

Efforts to impose limits on waging war against Evil will themselves be seen as impediments to Good, if not as an attempt to aid and abet Evil. In a Manichean worldview, there is no imperative that can compete with the mission of defeating Evil. The primacy of that mandate is unchallengeable. Hence, there are no valid reasons for declaring off-limits any weapons that can be deployed in service of the war against Evil.
He has much more to say about this, including:
Equally operative in the Manichean worldview is the principle that those who are warriors for a universal Good cannot recognize that the particular means they employ in service of their mission may be immoral or even misguided. The very fact that the instruments they embrace are employed in service of their Manichean mission renders any such objections incoherent. How can an act undertaken in order to strengthen the side of Good, and to weaken the forces of Evil, ever be anything other than Good in itself? Thus, any act undertaken by a warrior of Good in service of the war against Evil is inherently moral for that reason alone.

It is from these premises that the most amoral or even most reprehensible outcomes can be -- and often are -- produced by political movements and political leaders grounded in universal moral certainties. Intoxicated by his own righteousness and therefore immune from doubt, the Manichean warrior becomes capable of acts of moral monstrousness that would be unthinkable in the absence of such unquestionable moral conviction. One who believes himself to be leading a supreme war against Evil on behalf of Good will be incapable of understanding any claims that he himself is acting immorally.
Later Greenwald says:
The president has been able to engage in this conduct because the country collectively accepted the dualistic framework with which he views the world, whereby the goal of "protecting" ourselves from the "forces of Evil" outweighs every other consideration and justifies every means employed in service of this battle. When President Bush acts in the name of fighting The Terrorists, with the goal of battling Evil, what he does is by definition justifiable and Good because he is doing it.

This absolutist Manichean mind-set venerates physical safety above all else. When President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act into law in October 2006, he dismissed objections to its Draconian and tyrannical provisions with one very simple and straightforward argument (emphasis added):
Over the past few months the debate over this bill has been heated, and the questions raised can seem complex. Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat? Every member of Congress who voted for this bill has helped our nation rise to the task that history has given us.
That paragraph summarizes the Bush movement. Because the threat posed by The Evil Terrorists is so grave, maximizing protections against it is the paramount, overriding goal. No other value competes with that objective, nor can any other value limit our efforts to protect ourselves against The Terrorists.
Glenn Greenwald may say "Manichean" in other parts of his book -- and if so he may indeed blame the "destruction" of the Bush presidency on ancient Persians and/or current-day Iranians. I don't know; I certainly hope he doesn't and I assume we'll all find out shortly.

In the interests of showing due diligence if nothing else, I have quoted all the occurrences of "Manichean" in the excerpt published by Salon. I've chosen these excerpts not only because they contained the word I had to look up, but also -- more importantly -- because they embody Greenwald's argument very well -- if (and in my mind that's a big if) the Salon excerpt is representative of the entire tome.

From the ensuing multi-way conversation, I gather that in some way it isn't; and for some reason it strikes me as strange (to say the least) that we're off on this particular tangent. And yet here we are: Glenn Greenwald and Paul Curtis and Chris Floyd and What am I even doing on this list? Yet I insist on standing up in the middle of the boat, which we are supposedly all rowing along together.

Paul Curtis is saying:
Greenwald's critique is tremendously important. Right-wing Manicheanism has taken over the national debate on security matters, operating as a literally totalitarian thought system, in that it subsumes all discourse into its own unanswerable internal logic. We've become familiar with the notion of framing in political discourse: well, this is the meta-frame. It quashes every attempt by liberals and moderates to raise rational points and does tremendous damage to constitutional liberties, the national interest, and global well-being.

It's a sort of cousin to the most disastrous forms of secular utopianism history has seen, echoing the logic that drove the Khmer Rouge and the Cultural Revolution, and if saying this means I've blown completely by Godwin's Law, so be it -- we're talking about the governing philosophy of the world's sole superpower, and the stakes really are that high. Moreover, as Greenwald points out, it's un-American:
But our entire system of government, from its inception, has been based upon a very different calculus -- that is, that many things matter besides merely protecting ourselves against threats, and consequently, we are willing to accept risks, even potentially fatal ones, in order to secure those other values. From its founding, America has rejected the worldview of prioritizing physical safety above all else, as such a mentality leads to an impoverished and empty civic life. The premise of America is and always has been that imposing limitations on government power is necessary to secure liberty and avoid tyranny even if it means accepting an increased risk of death as a result. That is the foundational American value.
Because it is a totalitarian framework of logic, the only way to defeat it is to attack it at its foundations, to root out its very premise, as Greenwald is doing. Conservatives have often gained the advantage in American public discourse because they build and re-enforce these meta-frames with great care; for liberals to bring reason back to the debate we'll need to do a considerable amount of foundational work of our own. This means, in the present case, repeatedly making the argument that Manicheanism is foolish and destructive, that we cannot afford to make policy according to a worldview defined by a simpleminded division of Good v. Evil.

When we make this case, we'll be accused of "moral relativism," which argument is the meta-frame's self-defense mechanism. But the point, of course, is that moral relativism is actually the product of the Manichean worldview, because it permits its adherents to justify any action -- no matter how depraved -- as taken in the service of "Good."

We've already seen that the current crop of Republican presidential contenders are holding tighter than ever to the Manichean frame, desperate as they are to win support from the right on war and terror, since there is nothing else on which the GOP can run. They're betting that liberals will be unable to destroy that meta-frame. Greenwald has the right idea: let's get started on destroying it. Now.
Chris Floyd has added some historical context to the discussion, an excerpt from which follows:
when has a strict Manicheanism not "taken over the national debate on security matters"? The "simpleminded division of Good v. Evil" reigned in all-triumphant glory throughout the decades of the Cold War, as anyone who was there for all or most of it can readily attest. Anything that could remotely be associated with "communism" (however plausibly or implausibly) was irredeemably evil; anyone who opposed communism -- by whatever draconian or murderous methods -- was on the side of the "good." This "meta-frame" also struck a deep chord in vast swathes of the public, which is why it was so effective in militarizing our republic and its economy over the course of half a century -- a process that James Carroll's remarkable Pentagon history, House of War, chronicles so well.

If anything, the Cold War "division of Good v. Evil" was far more "simpleminded" than what we see today. Imagine a Cold War president stating in public that Communism was a worthy doctrine, dedicated to human betterment, but had unfortunately been hijacked by extremists and rogue states, etc. Yet Bush has consistently made such remarks about Islam (for public consumption, at least). And of course, many of his allies in his "Terror War" are Muslims: the Saudis, the Pakistanis, the Egyptians, the Kurds, the militant Shiite factions he has empowered in Iraq, the warlords and drug kings and woman-hating clerics he has empowered in Afghanistan, etc. While in no way defending Bush's policies, his alliances or his murderous Terror War, there is simply no way that this murky, chaotic, shifting miasma can be compared, ideologically, to the rigid fault lines of the Cold War. (I'm speaking here of those who are actually in power, making policy, not the innumerable bootlickers, sycophants, extremists, cranks and idiots on the ideological right, who are cynically used -- and occasionally dropped -- by the power-players as needed.)

The point here is not that Greenwald or Curtis are wrong in asserting that "Right-wing Manicheanism has taken over the national debate on security matters." Of course it has. They are entirely right about this, and Greenwald especially has done great work in delineating the deeply sinister effects and implications of the Bush gang's thuggish rule. But the fact is, such Manicheanism has been long been operative in American history.
Since those words were written, Paul and Chris have had an interesting exchange of ideas full of flickering glimpses of our history through the Cold War and now into the War on Terror, well-documented at Empire Burlesque and worthy of a read.

I don't imagine I'll have more than one chance -- or one urge -- to stand up in the middle of such a distinguished boat, so I'll cut straight to the core of my argument:

I keep reading all these fine writers -- good thinkers, too -- and I can't imagine why nobody has asked the question that's been bouncing around inside my frozen little brain since I first saw the title of Glenn Greenwald's book:

How a What Destroyed the Come-Again???

The obvious implication in Glenn Greenwald's title is that there was originally something of value in Bush and his administration which was capable of being destroyed -- some potential treasure that was lost when this particular president was -- what? suddenly? inevitably? understandably? post-9/11? infected with a dangerously simplistic world view of Good vs Evil, Us vs The Terrorists...

I'm sorry, but I'm not buying it. In my opinion, to subscribe to such a view -- to even consider allowing a phrase such as "How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency" on the front cover of one's book -- displays either an acute case of Head-In-Sand Disease or a degree of moral corruption I do not care to contemplate.

Let us instead contemplate a question that may indeed be pivotal:

What If It's All A Lie?

What if the whole thing -- the entire national swill -- 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, the entire GWOT -- is a deliberate, pre-fabricated, mass-murdering, war-mongering lie?

What if the government -- the Bush administration -- the Cheney-Rove-Bush axis-of-evil-propaganda machine -- the authors of the "Manichean" talking points which dominate our national swill ... What if they know, as surely as you and I do, but in much more detail, that 9/11 was an inside job?

They do know that, you know! How could they not know?

Otherwise, why did they refuse to testify under oath? Why did Bush refuse to testify without Cheney? Who did they think they were fooling, appointing Henry Freaking Kissinger to chair the sham "investigation"?

For that matter, how could they get the PATRIOT Act written and presented to Congress so soon after 9/11, if 9/11 was so unexpected? Why were they so ready to bomb and invade Afghanistan that they could initiate offensive operations in-country less than a month later? Why were the bin Laden family flown out of the country so fast, and who chartered the plane they flew on? And is the FBI's ObL "WANTED" poster really "out-of-date", or does it merely reflect a reality that relatively few Americans -- even among those who position themselves as implacable foes of the current administration -- are willing to examine, lest the truths they discover should become too obvious to ignore any longer, while their implications remain too painful to accept?

What if? Guess what!

What if the Manichean world-view of Good vs Evil upon which rests the entire foreign and domestic policy agenda of the Bush administration -- what if that world-view was in fact chosen for bureaucratic reasons?

What if, like the "weapons of mass destruction" that didn't exist in Iraq, the "terrorist organizations of global reach" against whom we are supposedly fighting have no basis in reality independent of all the usual suspects, and merely represent the most plausible lie that happens to be available?

What if this lie is not only the most plausible lie available, but also the most powerful? What if it was chosen -- and therefore made available -- for the very reason of its power? For who could dare to stand -- even against creeping tyranny, even against a plan to unleash death and destruction on the rest of the world -- knowing he will be accused of aiding the terrorists who "want to kill us all"?

The power of the lie is such that whoever owns it can have anything else he wants.

What if this is why it was chosen?

It's not as if it doesn't matter. It's not as if anyone could even semi-plausibly pretend it doesn't matter. Every single issue under debate on the national scene -- or not! -- now and back in time nearly six years -- has been touched by the War on Terror. We don't have any money for anything else because of the War on Terror. We have to give up some of our civil liberties because of the War on Terror. We have to do anything possible to keep our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan -- against the will of the vast majority of the electorate -- because of the War on Terror. The president is commander-in-chief until he says otherwise because of the War on Terror.

We have devoted all the resources of our society to a war against "terrorist organizations of global reach" even though it is more true than ever before that no terrorist organization of global reach can possibly exist -- much less operate -- without the knowledge and consent -- not to say the active cooperation -- of the CIA and the NSA and all their friends in high places, like MI6 and ISI.

And still we have supposedly meaningful debates on such topics as whether the president should be able to detain indefinitely those whom he designates "enemy combatants", "unlawful" or otherwise.

Knowing what we do know about the illegitimacy of the official 9/11 conspiracy theory, how can we possibly sit and debate such a thing? Prior to the Bush administration, such a debate would have been unthinkable.

Reasonable people would have said, "the President cannot possibly make such a designation; besides, there's no such thing as "an unlawful combatant"! And we don't hold people indefinitely without trial or hearing, no matter what they're called! This is America, remember?"

But instead we now live in what appears to be almost like a dictatorship except that the rules are a little bit fuzzy. So now it's a matter of (a) If you don't think the president should be able to detain indefinitely those whom he designates "enemy combatants" then you must be a terrorist, or at the very least a terrorist sympathizer, and assuming that maybe you're not one or the other but merely terminally un-serious if not mentally ill, (b) If not indefinitely, then how long should the president be able to detain those whom he designates "enemy combatants"?

To his credit, Glenn Greenwald usually lands on the right side in such debates; he makes his points very clearly and he documents them very well. But what exactly is he saying? And what impression is he conveying by debating these issues from inside them, rather than stepping back -- out of the meta-frame and into full-bore reality -- and calling them what they are: bogus?

It seems to me that the daily swill which passes for national discourse often boils down to this question:
"Is the GWOT the correct response to 9/11, and if not, what kind of WOT would be the correct response to Islamofascist terrorism?"
And while Glenn Greenwald does a fine job arguing that the GWOT is not the correct response, he never stops and says:
Hey! Wait a minute!!

The correct response would be to investigate 9/11!!

We always act as if 9/11 were a legitimate event and the only possible questions now involve the correct response to that "act of war", that awesome manifestation of unprovoked Evil. But what if there was nothing legitimate about 9/11? What if it was never properly investigated? What if the official story doesn't even make any sense? How can we even speak of waging war in response -- let alone two of them? Let alone actually doing it!

As a matter of strict semantics, Islamofascism is a contradiction in terms. As a matter of political reality, Christofascism appears to be something of a threat. And yet we're devoting all we've got -- all we are -- to a fight against a made-up word that appears to be mostly meaningless! What is wrong with this picture?
Many supposedly dissident authors who wish to be considered "serious" persist in ignoring -- or dismissing -- or banning! -- such questions, declaring that there's no evidence to support the lunatic fringe notion of 9/11 as anything other than whatever the government said it was according to its most recent report, which may very well be obliterated by its next one, in the same way that the previous one was.

But that's all ok with them, and they don't talk about the PNAC, and they don't talk about how the "path of action" taken by the Bush administration prior to 9/11 shows clearly that it was preparing for war -- endless, limitless, unrestrained war against the rest of the world -- as well as unprecedented secrecy and an attempt to concentrate all power in the Oval Office. They may admit that these things are happening, and they may wail bitterly against them, but do they ever suggest that these abuses of power were not simply a reaction to 9/11 -- but the plan all along? They don't talk about the abundant and very clear evidence that our electoral system is an obvious fraud. They don't talk about false-flag terror in any meaningful way. And they certainly don't talk about 9/11.

It's not hard to see why. There are rafts of reasons why one might choose such a course; to be as charitable as possible I'll single out those who believe there's been enough malpractice in the Bush regime that there's no need to speak of deliberate malfeasance -- and that to appeal to a much more narrowly-held view -- to admit in public what everybody seems to recognize in private: that the Bush regime has never even meant well -- would be bad tactics.

In my view, it is not, nor can it ever be, bad tactics to write the truth -- regardless of how obvious it is, regardless of how appalling it is, regardless of the number of people who already believe it. Only dead fish move with the current.

But it is bad tactics to ignore the truth, if for no other reason than this: the most honest among your potential readers -- i.e. the great unwashed, who are not yet cleansed of their "lunatic fringe" ideas and scented with the poison of "political truth" -- will spot your omission instantly and avoid your work like leprosy.

And when you inscribe your massive tome with an enormous lie on the cover so that the great unwashed can see from a distance -- without even reading about the Manicheans -- that you're dismissing, or deliberately hiding, or otherwise lying to yourself about the single most significant geopolitical event of our collective lifetimes, well then I'm sorry, Charlie, but the great unwashed will choose to remain at a distance.

No matter how well-inscribed the rest of your tome may be, every now and then one of the cold and filthy ones will stand up in the middle of the boat and call you a shameless opportunist, for ignoring or hiding the most basic truths of your generation, in order to better insinuate yourself into the mainstream of American swill.

You'll have other critics, of course. The more generous among them may assume that for whatever unfathomable reason you have chosen to be utterly oblivious to the fact that our lives have all been changed -- significantly and for the worst -- by the single most deadly sleight of hand in the history of the world.

But none will dispute that the changes that followed this most appalling magic trick -- malignant and repulsive and everywhere, as so thoroughly and cogently documented by Greenwald himself -- are rapidly becoming permanent, and will certainly be permanent unless people such as Glenn Greenwald start acknowledging what the rest of us -- all us so-called "B bloggers" who are busting our asses every day to tell the truth to a few hundred people at a time, lest it die out entirely -- already know.

And when the lunatic fringe truth-seekers -- those people who cannot bring themselves to hide or ignore or dismiss the shameful truth -- when these miserable souls, tormented by their inability to forget about simple little things like appearance and reality and unable to shake their personal observations about how things are and how they got that way -- when one of those people stands up in your boat and looks you in the eye and says "How could you... ? How could you expect any of us to take you seriously, when you refused to acknowledge the most basic fact of all?"

What will you have to say then? What else could anyone possibly say, but "Oh yeah? Well how fast is your hit counter spinning?"

The sad fact remains that there are quite a number of supposedly dissident websites where 9/11 and false-flag terror in general are never discussed, where impeachment is never on the table and election fraud is never among the topics of the day, where everything that matters comes down to Democrats against Republicans, and where the webmaster sees more visitors before breakfast on a slow day than I have seen ever since I started blogging. Make of that what you will.

For me, it says that the truth -- the obvious, transparent, in-your-face-every-day truth -- a truth which I barely even approach here, even on my best days -- is far too awful for the vast majority to bear. So they go back to discussing just how long the president should be able to hold those whom he labels "enemy combatants". Two years? Three years? Four? What do you think?

As I was saying, not having read Glenn Greenwald's novel, I cannot begin to critique it. Judging the book by its title, and the excerpt provided by Saloon, may be less than fair.

Still it would not be possible to draw such an excerpt -- let alone such a title -- from any book which I personally would consider reading -- much less buying.

It pains me to see that one of the "leading lights" of the blogosphere can be so dim. It pains me even more to say so.

It pains me to see that none of the critics I've been reading and quoting has ventured anywhere near the point that seems to me central, and vital, and utterly bloody obvious -- at least not so far -- not in this conversation. And it pains me even more to say that.

I don't mean to demean the work of any other blogger; if I didn't respect them, I wouldn't even read them, much less write about them. Nor do I mean to insist that every conversation must revolve around 9/11. Certainly Chris Floyd has had plenty to say about it, although not in this conversation.

And I will freely admit that 9/11 is not the be-all and end-all of 21st century American politics. But surely no analysis of the Bush administration can afford to ignore it -- and the possibility that -- like everything else -- they are lying to us about who was behind those attacks.

And I always get uncomfortable standing up in a boat, but I believe that one cannot advance the cause of truth unless one is willing to stand up and speak it -- even in the middle of an unsteady boat, and especially when the light is dim. As Thomas Paine so aptly wrote:
"He who stands [up] now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."