Sunday, April 30, 2006

RELEASED: Neil Young's "Living With War"

Click on the Album Cover to Listen to the album FREE!

You can also listen here at Neil's site: Neil's Garage

See also:NEIL YOUNG - Living With War
(This is an informative Blog about Neil Young).

Let's Impeach the President

Lyrics by Neil Young
Let’s impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door
He’s the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war
Let’s impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones
What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government’s protection
Or was someone just not home that day?
Let’s impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected
Thank god he’s racking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There’s lot of people looking at big trouble
But of course the president is clean
Thank God



Watergate veteran and Vanity Fair contributing editor Carl Bernstein calls for bipartisan hearings investigating the Bush presidency. Should Republicans on the Hill take the high road and save themselves come November? Read the article here.

Related articles:

The GOP Auction House

For too long, the Republican-led Congress has worshipped 'The Special Interests Gods' to our detriment. Whatever the SI Gods want, the SI Gods get:
  • Huge giveaways to big corporations and industries that do not need a handout.
  • Legislation like the energy bill that sent $8 billion to big oil while doing nothing for gas prices
  • The Medicare bill that confuses and overcharges seniors.
Under the spell of the SI Gods, Congress has neglected to pass necessary and meaningful reform to assure honesty in government.

At the SI Gods behest, the Republican-controlled Congress has turned the "People's House" into the "Auction House."

Well, folks, it is high time we took it back. Find out how bad things have become and what you can do about it here.

Meet: John Sweeney, GOP CRONY OF THE WEEK.

(Click on Photo to see how Rep. Sweney makes Congress his very own Pay-to-Playground).


WATCH Colbert Roast Bush (CSPAN Version: Parts 1-3) HERE.

Click to see Video

Click to see Video


Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Before I begin, I've been asked to make an announcement. Whoever parked 14 black bullet proof S.U.V.'S out front, could you please move them. They are blocking in 14 other black bulletproof S.U.V.'S and they need to get out.

Wow, wow, what an honor. The White House correspondents’ dinner. To just sit here, at the same table with my hero, George W. Bush, to be this close to the man. I feel like I'm dreaming. Somebody pinch me. You know what; I'm a pretty sound sleeper that may not be enough. Somebody shoot me in the face.

Is he really not here tonight? The one guy who could have helped. By the way, before I get started, if anybody needs anything at their tables, speak slowly and clearly on into your table numbers and somebody from the N.S.A. Will be right over with a cocktail. Mrs. Smith, ladies and gentlemen of the press corps,

Mr. President and first lady, my name is Stephen Colbert and it’s my privilege tonight to celebrate our president. He's no so different, he and I. We get it. We're not brain backs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the fact (police). We go straight from the gut, right sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say I did look it up, and that’s not true. That's but you looked it up in a book.

Next time look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works. Every night on my show, the Colbert Report, I speak straight from the gut, ok? I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the no fact zone. Fox news, I own the copyright on that term.

I'm a simple man with a simple mind, with a simple set of beliefs that I live by. Number one, I believe in America. I believe it exists.

My gut tells me I live there. I feel that it exte nds from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and I strongly believe it has 50 states. And I cannot wait to see how “The Washington Post" spins that one tomorrow. I believe in democracy. I believe democracy is our greatest export. At least until China figures out a way to stamp it out in plastic for three cents a unit.

In fact, ambassador, welcome, your great country makes our happy meals possible. I said it's a celebration. I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least.

And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq. I believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I believe it is possible -- I saw this guy do it once in Cirque du Soleil. It was magical. And though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be it Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe our infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe its yogurt. But I refuse to believe it’s not butter. Most of all I believe in this president.

Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us; we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.

So, Mr. President, pay no attention to the people that say the glass is half full. 32% means the glass -- it’s important to set up your jokes properly, sir. Sir, pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means its 2/3 empty. There's still some liquid in that glass is my point, but I wouldn’t drink it. The last third is usually backwash. Folks, my point are that I don’t believe this is a low point in this presidency. I believe it is just a lull, before a comeback.

I mean, it's like the movie “Rocky." The president is Rocky and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world. It's the 10th round. He's bloodied, his corner man, Mick, who in this case would be the vice president, and he’s yelling cut me, dick, cut me, and every time he falls she say stay down! Does he stay down? No. Like rocky he gets back up and in the end he -- actually loses in the first movie.

Ok. It doesn't matter. The point is the heart warming story of a man who was repeatedly bunched in the face -- punched in the face. So don't pay attention to the approval ratings that say 68% of Americans disapprove of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the job he's not doing? Think about it.

I haven’t. I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, has he stood on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she wil l always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.

Now, there may be an energy crisis. This president has a very forward-thinking energy policy. Why do you think he's down on the ranch cutting that brush all the time? He's trying to create an alternative energy source. By 2008 we will have a mesquite powered car.

And I just like the guy. He's a good Joe. Obviously loves his wife, calls her his better half. And polls show America agrees. She's a true lady and a wonderful woman. But I just have one beef, ma’am.

I'm sorry, but this reading initiative. I've never been a fan of books. I don't trust them. They're all fact, no heart. I mean, they're elitist telling us what is or isn't true, what did or didn't happen. What's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914? If I want to say it was built in 1941, that's my right as an American. I'm with the president, let history decide what did or did not happen.

The greatest th ing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday, that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change, this man’s beliefs never will. And as excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of fox news.

Fox News gives you sides of every story, the president’s side and the vice president’s side.

>> But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on N.S.A. Wiretapping or secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason, they’re super depressing.

>> And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good over tax cuts, W.M.D. Intelligence, the affect of global warms. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know fiction.

>> Because really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the white house has personnel changes. Then you write they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic. First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This ships not sinking.

This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs o n The Hindenburg...

>> Now, it's not all bad guys out there. Some heroes, Buckley, Kim Schieffer. By the way, Mr. President, thank you for agreeing to be to my show. I was just as shocked as everyone here is I promise you. How is Tuesday...tonight?

General Mosley, Air Force Chief of Staff. General Peter Pace. They still support Rumsfeld. You guys aren't retired yet, right? Right, they still support Rumsfeld. Look, by the way, I've got a theory about how to handle these retired generals causing all this trouble, don't let them retire. C'mon, we've got a stop loss program; let's use it on these guys. If you're strong enough to go on one of those pundit shows, you can stand on a bank of computers and order men into battle.

C'mon. Jesse Jackson is here. I had him on the show. Very interesting and challenging interview. You can ask him anything, but he’s going to say what he wants at the pace that he wants.

>> It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy t hat metaphor, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.

>> Justice Scalia’s here. May I be the first to say welcome, sir. You look fantastic. How are you?

>> John McCain is here. John McCain - John McCain. What a maverick. Somebody find out what fork he used on his salad, because I guarantee you it wasn't a salad fork. He could have used a spoon. There's no predicting him. So wonderful to see you coming back into the republican fold. I have a summer house in South Carolina; look me up when you go to speak at bob Jones University. So glad you've seen the light.

Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city. Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I would like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., The chocolate city with a marshmallow center. >> And a graham cracker crust of corruption. It's a mala march is what I’m describing, a seasonal cookie.

Joe Wilson is here, the most famous husband since Dezi Arnez. A nd of course he brought along his lovely wife Valerie Plame. Oh, my god! >> Oh, what have I said? I am sorry, Mr. President, I meant to say he brought along his lovely wife, Pat Fitzgerald is not here tonight?

Dodged a bullet.

And we can't forget man of the hour, new press secretary, Tony Snow. Secret service name, snow job. What a hero, took the second toughest job in government, next to, of course, the ambassador to Iraq.

>> Got some big shoes to fill, Tony. Scott McClellan too say nothing like nobody else. McClellan, eager to retire. Really felt like he needed to spend more time with Andrew Card’s children. Mr. President, I wish you hadn't made the decision to quickly, sir.
I was vying for the job. I think I would have made a fabulous press secretary. I have nothing but contempt for these people. I know how to handle these clowns. In fact, sir, I brought along an audition tape and with your indulgence, I'd like to at least give it a shot. So, ladies and gentlemen, my press conference.


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Food For Political Thought

I'd love to hear your responses to this David Brooks op ed. The proposition: we never really outgrow our high school biases, which in later years, are transmuted into our political leanings.

So put on your high school hats, kiddies, and time-travel back to your old lunch room; does your experience support Brooks' hypothesis?

Mine does.

Lunch Period Poli Sci
By David Brooks
The New York Times
College is still probably a good idea, but everything you need to know about America you can learn in high school. For example, if you want to understand American class structure you'd be misled if you read Marx, but you'd understand it perfectly if you look around a high school cafeteria.

The jocks sit here; the nerds sit there; the techies, drama types, skaters, kickers and gangstas sit there, there and there. What you see is not class in the 19th-century sense, but a wide array of lifestyle cliques, some richer, some poorer, but each regarding the others as vaguely pathetic and convinced of its moral superiority.

Similarly, when it comes to politics, high school explains most everything you need to know. In 1976, Tom Wolfe wrote an essay for Commentary in which he noted that our political affiliations are shaped subrationally. He went on to observe that especially when we are young and forming our identities, we make sense of our lives by running little morality plays in our heads in which the main characters are Myself, the hero, and My Adolescent Opposite, the enemy.

"Forever after," Wolfe writes, "the most momentous national and international events are stuffed into the same turf. The most colossal antagonists and movements become merely stand-ins for My Adolescent Self and My Adolescent Opposite.

"If My Opposite, my natural enemy in adolescence, was the sort of person who seemed overly aggressive, brutish and in love with power, I identify him with the 'conservative' position. If My Opposite, my natural enemy in adolescence, seemed overly sensitive, soft, cerebral and incapable of action, I identify him with the 'liberal' position."

And so it goes. In every high school there are students who are culturally and intellectually superior but socially aggrieved. These high school culturati have wit and sophisticated musical tastes but find that all prestige goes to jocks, cheerleaders and preps who possess the emotional depth of a cocker spaniel. The nerds continue to believe that the self-reflective life is the only life worth living (despite all evidence to the contrary) while the cool, good-looking, vapid people look down upon them with easy disdain on those rare occasions they are compelled to acknowledge their existence.

These sarcastic cultural types may grow up to be rich movie producers, but they will remember their adolescent opposites and become liberals. They may grow up to be rich lawyers but will decorate their homes with interesting fabrics from the oppressed Peruvian peasantry to differentiate themselves from their jock opposites.

In adulthood, the former high school nerds will savor the sort of scandals that befall their formerly athletic and currently corporate adolescent enemies — the Duke lacrosse scandal, the Enron scandal, the various problems that have plagued the frat boy Bush. In the lifelong struggle for moral superiority, problems that bedevil your adolescent opposites send pleasure-inducing dopamine surging through your brain.

Similarly, in every high school there are jocks, cheerleaders and regular kids who vaguely sense that their natural enemies are the brooding poets who go off to become English majors. These prom kings and queens may leave their adolescent godhood and go off to work as underpaid sales reps despite their coldly gracious spouses and effortlessly slender kids, but they will still remember their adolescent opposites and become conservatives. They will experience surges of orgiastic triumphalism when Sean Hannity eviscerates the scuffed-shoed intellectuals who have as much personal courage as a French chipmunk in retreat.

Because these personal traits are so pervasive and constant, Republican administrations tend to be staffed by people who are well-balanced but dull, while Democratic administrations tend to be staffed by people who are interesting but neurotic. Because these rivalries are so permanent, nobody has ever voted for a presidential candidate they wouldn't have had lunch with in high school.

The only real shift between school and adult politics is that the jocks realize they need conservative intellectuals, who are geeks who have decided their fellow intellectuals should never be allowed to run anything and have learned to speak slowly so the jocks will understand them. Meanwhile, the geeks have learned they need to find popular kids like F.D.R. to head their tickets because the American people will never send a former geek to the White House. (Bill Clinton was unique in that he was a member of every clique at once.)

The central message, though, is that we never escape our high school selves. Vote for Pedro.

Photo credit: David Brooks. (The New York Times)

Teachers Without Pedigrees

Mutts, those lovable, mangy pups without pedigrees often make the best pets. By the same token, the best teachers often come from less than certified backgrounds.

The teaching certificate required to become a public school teacher has been a pet peeve of mine for years. Although I have an MA degree and have taught college undergrads, I'm unqualified and unable to teach in public secondary schools or high schools, a secret ambition I've harbored for years.

Today, with the shortage of teachers, especially talented teachers, I agree with Nicholas Kristof that it makes good sense to open the doors to mid-career or retired professionals, artists, scientists, engineers, writers, and others capable of inspiring students with their passion for learning.

Opening Classroom Doors
By Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times
Suppose Colin Powell tires of giving $100,000-a-pop speeches and wants to teach high school social studies. Suppose Meryl Streep has a hankering to teach drama.

Alas, they would be "unqualified" for a public school. Elite private schools would snap them up, of course, but public schools that are begging for teachers would have to turn them away because they don't have teacher certification.

That's an absurd snarl in our education bureaucracy. Let's relax the barriers so people can enter teaching more easily, either right out of college or later as a midcareer switch.

Sure, there are lots of other problems in the U.S. education system. But this is one of the easiest to solve.

One reason to act is that the U.S. faces a growing shortage of teachers. Just to keep student-teacher ratios where they are now, we need a 35 percent increase in the number of people entering teaching.

The other problem is that the quality of teachers is deteriorating, mostly because — fortunately! — women have more career options. A smart and ambitious woman graduating from college in 1970 often ended up as a third-grade teacher; today, she ends up as a surgeon or senator.

The upshot is that between 1971 and 1974, 24 percent of teachers had scored in the top 10 percent on their high school achievement tests. Now only 11 percent have done so.

So one study after another has concluded that it is time to relax teacher certification requirements.

"Barriers to entry are too high," declared last month's final report of the Teaching Commission, a private blue-ribbon panel led by Louis Gerstner, the former I.B.M. chief. "Confusing and cumbersome procedures discourage many talented would-be teachers from entering the classroom."

A white paper from the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution urged, "Rather than dig further down in the pool of those willing to consider teacher certification programs or raise class sizes, we need to expand the pool of those eligible to teach."

In a new book called "Tough Love for Schools," Frederick Hess argues that applicants should be eligible for teaching jobs if they have graduated from a recognized college, have passed a competency test in their field and have passed a rigorous background check. Principals may prefer to hire graduates of teaching colleges, he writes, but they should have the option to hire other outstanding applicants as well.

That's the situation in some of America's most elite private high schools. Phillips Exeter Academy, for example, says that 85 percent of its faculty have advanced degrees but probably only a handful are certified. (Since it is private, it doesn't worry about certification or even keep track of which teachers are certified.)

At Exeter, for example, biology is taught by a former doctor. Japanese is taught by a former businessman who worked in Japan. And a history teacher arrived with no teaching experience but has published five books.

The idea behind teacher certification is that there are special skills that are picked up in teacher training courses — secret snake-charming skills to keep the little vipers calm. But there's no evidence this is so. On the contrary, several new programs have brought outstanding young people into teaching without putting them through conventional training programs, and those teachers have been widely hailed as first-rate.

One superb initiative for young college graduates is Teach for America, which last year had 17,000 applicants for 2,000 spots teaching in low-income schools. Among those who applied were 12 percent of Yale's senior class and 8 percent of Harvard's and Princeton's.

Teach for America participants get only an intensive six-week training session, yet they excel in the classroom. One study found that classes with a Teach for America participant learn an extra month of math over the school year, compared with classes with a traditional teacher.

Likewise, Troops to Teachers helps retiring military personnel become teachers in public schools. And I.B.M. has started a program to help executives with math or science backgrounds switch to teaching.

Granted, intellectual brilliance alone does not make a great teacher. When I think of my best teachers, like Juanita Trantina in the fifth grade, they didn't just teach us but also inspired us, humored us, tamed us and enchanted us. Maybe it helps to be brilliant and to have studied teaching, but mostly it is personality. Colin Powell, Meryl Streep and many anonymous others would dazzle the surliest student, so why continue to bar them at the schoolhouse door?

Photo credit: Nicholas D. Kristof. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

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  • Dropout Nation
    The number of high school students who leave before graduating is higher--much higher--than you think.

Frank Talk

Frank Rich is back and better than ever. This morning's NY Times op ed offers a frank assessment (pun intended) of the unravelling of the Bush Presidency. Rich likens Bush to a tragic Shakespearean figure, whose ongoing self destruction is brought on by his own lies. At this point, Rich concludes, nothing can save Bush, save the truth.

My advise to Georgie: Retire to a nice red state Christian community and pray for redemption. You're gonna need it, fella.

Bush of a Thousand Days
By Frank Rich
The New York Times
LIKE the hand that suddenly pops out of the grave at the end of "Carrie," the past keeps coming back to haunt the Bush White House. Last week was no exception. No sooner did the Great Decider introduce the Fox News showman anointed to repackage the same old bad decisions than the spotlight shifted back to Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury room, where Karl Rove testified for a fifth time. Nightfall brought the release of an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll with its record-low numbers for a lame-duck president with a thousand days to go and no way out.

The demons that keep rising up from the past to grab Mr. Bush are the fictional W.M.D. he wielded to take us into Iraq. They stalk him as relentlessly as Banquo's ghost did Macbeth. From that original sin, all else flows. Mr. Rove wouldn't be in jeopardy if the White House hadn't hatched a clumsy plot to cover up its fictions. Mr. Bush's poll numbers wouldn't be in the toilet if American blood was not being spilled daily because of his fictions. By recruiting a practiced Fox News performer to better spin this history, the White House reveals that it has learned nothing. Made-for-TV propaganda propelled the Bush presidency into its quagmire in the first place. At this late date only the truth, the whole and nothing but, can set it free.

All too fittingly, Tony Snow's appointment was announced just before May Day, a red-letter day twice over in the history of the Iraq war. It was on May 1 three years ago that Mr. Bush did his victory jig on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. It was May 1 last year that The Sunday Times of London published the so-called Downing Street memo. These events bracket all that has gone wrong and will keep going wrong for this president until he comes clean.

To mark the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion last month, the White House hyped something called Operation Swarmer, "the largest air assault" since the start of the war, complete with Pentagon-produced video suitable for the evening news. (What the operation actually accomplished as either warfare or P.R. remains a mystery.) It will take nothing less than a replay of D-Day with the original cast to put a happy gloss on tomorrow's anniversary. Looking back at "Mission Accomplished" now is like playing that childhood game of "What's wrong with this picture?" It wasn't just the banner or the "Top Gun" joyride or the declaration of the end of "major combat operations" that was bogus. Everything was fake except the troops.

"We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools," Mr. Bush said on that glorious day. Three years later we know, courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers, that our corrupt, Enron-like Iraq reconstruction effort has yielded at most 20 of those 142 promised hospitals. But we did build a palace for ourselves. The only building project on time and on budget, USA Today reported, is a $592 million embassy complex in the Green Zone on acreage the size of 80 football fields. Symbolically enough, it will have its own water-treatment plant and power generator to provide the basic services that we still have not restored to pre-invasion levels for the poor unwashed Iraqis beyond the American bunker.

These days Mr. Bush seems to be hoping that we'll just forget every falsehood in his "Mission Accomplished" oration. Trying to deflect a citizen's hostile question about prewar intelligence claims, the president asserted at a public forum last month that he had never said "there was a direct connection between September the 11th and Saddam Hussein." But on May 1, 2003, as on countless other occasions, he repeatedly made that direct connection. "With those attacks the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States," he intoned then. "And war is what they got." It was typical of the bait-and-switch rhetoric he used to substitute a war of choice against an enemy who did not attack us on 9/11 for the war against the non-Iraqi terrorists who did.

At the time, "Mission Accomplished" was cheered by the Beltway establishment. "This fellow's won a war," the dean of the capital's press corps, David Broder, announced on "Meet the Press" after complimenting the president on the "great sense of authority and command" he exhibited in a flight suit. By contrast, the Washington grandees mostly ignored the Downing Street memo when it was first published in Britain, much as they initially underestimated the import of the Valerie Wilson leak investigation.

The Downing Street memo — minutes of a Tony Blair meeting with senior advisers in July 2002, nearly eight months before the war began — has proved as accurate as "Mission Accomplished" was fantasy. Each week brings new confirmation that the White House, as the head of British intelligence put it, was determined to fix "the intelligence and facts" around its predetermined policy of going to war in Iraq. Today Mr. Bush tries to pass the buck on the missing W.M.D. to "faulty intelligence," but his alibi is springing leaks faster than the White House and the C.I.A. can clamp down on them. We now know the president knew that the intelligence he cherry-picked was faulty — and flogged it anyway to sell us the war.

The latest evidence that Mr. Bush knew that "uranium from Africa" was no slam-dunk when he brandished it in his 2003 State of the Union address was uncovered by The Washington Post: the coordinating council for the 15 American intelligence agencies had already informed the White House that the Niger story had no factual basis and should be dropped. Last Sunday "60 Minutes" augmented this storyline and an earlier scoop by Lisa Myers of NBC News by reporting that the White House had deliberately ignored its most highly placed prewar informant, Saddam's final foreign minister, Naji Sabri, once he sent the word that Saddam's nuclear cupboard was bare.

"There was almost a concern we'd find something that would slow up the war," Tyler Drumheller, a 26-year C.I.A. veteran and an on-camera source for "60 Minutes," said when I interviewed him last week. Since retiring from the C.I.A. in fall 2004, Mr. Drumheller has played an important role in revealing White House chicanery, including its dire hawking of Saddam's mobile biological weapons labs, which turned out to be fictitious. Before Colin Powell's fateful U.N. presentation, Mr. Drumheller conveyed vociferous warnings that the sole human source on these nonexistent W.M.D. labs, an Iraqi émigré known as Curveball, was mentally unstable and a fabricator. "The real tragedy of this," Mr. Drumheller says, "is if they had let the weapons inspectors play out, we could have had a Gulf War I-like coalition, which would have given us the [300,000] to 400,000 troops needed to secure the country after defeating the Iraqi Army."

Mr. Drumheller says that until the White House "comes to grips with why it did this" and stops "propping up the original rationale" for the war, it "will never get out of Iraq." He is right. But the White House clings to its discredited fictions even though their expiration date is fast arriving. There are new Drumhellers seeking out reporters each day. The Fitzgerald investigation continues to yield revelations of administration W.M.D. subterfuge, president-authorized leaks included. Should the Democrats retake either house of Congress in November, their subpoena power will liberate the investigation of the manipulation of prewar intelligence that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts, has stalled for almost two years.

SET against this reality, the debate about Donald Rumsfeld's future is as much of a sideshow as the installation of a slicker Fleischer-McClellan marketer in the White House press room. The defense secretary's catastrophic mistakes in Iraq cannot be undone now, and any successor would still be beholden to the policy set from above. Mr. Rumsfeld is merely a useful, even essential, scapegoat for the hawks in politics and punditland who are now embarrassed to have signed on to this fiasco. For conservative hawks, he's a convenient way to deflect blame from where it most belongs: with the commander in chief. For liberal hawks, attacking Mr. Rumsfeld for his poor execution of the war means never having to say you're sorry for leaping on (and abetting) the blatant propaganda bandwagon that took us there. But their history can't be rewritten any more than Mr. Bush's can: the war's failures were manifestly foretold by the administration's arrogance and haste during the run-up.

A new defense or press secretary changes nothing. The only person who can try to save the administration from itself in Iraq is the president. He can start telling the truth in the narrow window of time he has left and initiate a candid national conversation about our inevitable exit strategy. Or he can wait for events on the ground in Iraq and political realities at home to do it for him.

Photo credit: Frank Rich. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

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Wrassling Rummy

No holds barred, Maureen pins Rummy to ground:

Say Uncle, Rummy
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times
Even some State Department officials thought it was like watching a cranky, eccentric uncle with an efficient, energetic niece.

Rummy was ordered to go to Iraq by the president, but he clearly has no stomach for nation-building, or letting Condi run the show. He seemed under the weather after a rough overnight ride on a C-17 transport plane from Washington into Baghdad. And Condi's aides were rolling their eyes at the less than respectful way the DefSec treated the SecState as she tried to be enthusiastic, in her cheerful automaton way, about what she considers the latest last chance for Iraq.

A reporter in Baghdad asked Rummy about the kerfuffle when Condi talked of "thousands" of tactical errors in Iraq. Rummy later noted that "I don't know what she was talking about, to be perfectly honest" and that anyone who said that had "a lack of understanding" about warfare. She's just a silly girl, after all.

He could have taken the opportunity to be diplomatic about the diplomat, but he's incapable of that, so he just added more fuel to the fire.

"She's right here, and you can ask her," he said, pointing to Condi, who said she had not meant errors "in the military sense." She must have meant mismanagement in the civilians-mucking-up-the-military sense.

The former "Matinee Idol," as W. liked to call him, is now a figure of absurdity, clinging to his job only because some retired generals turned him into a new front on the war on terror. On his rare, brief visit to Baghdad, he was afraid to go outside Fortress Green Zone, even though he yammers on conservative talk shows about how progress is being made, and how the press never reports good news out of Iraq.

If the news is so good, why wasn't Rummy gallivanting at the local mall, walking around rather than hiding out in the U.S. base known as Camp Victory? (What are they going to call it, one reporter joked, Camp Defeat?)

In further evidence of their astute connection with the Iraqi culture, the cabinet secretaries showed up there without even knowing the correct name of their latest puppet. It turned out that Jawad al-Maliki, the new prime minister-designate, considered "Jawad" his exile name and had reverted to Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

On the cusp of the third anniversary of "Mission Accomplished," Rummy was still in denial despite the civil war, with armed gangs of Shiites and Sunnis going out and killing each other and Balkanizing whole communities.

When a reporter asked him what the U.S. had to do to get the militias under control and stop the sectarian dueling, he answered bluntly: "I guess the first thing I have to say is we don't, the Iraqis do. It's their country. It's a sovereign country. This is not a government that has an 'interim' in front of it or a 'transition' in front of it. It's a government that's in for a period of years and undoubtedly, unquestionably, will be addressing the question as to how they can best provide for the security of all of their people."

Yeah, let's leave it up to what's-his-name. We broke it. What's-his-name can fix it.

The assertions that Iraq is largely peaceful were belied yesterday by our own government. A State Department report on global terrorism counted 8,300 deaths of civilians in Iraq from insurgent attacks — more than half of all those killed by terrorists worldwide — and noted that violence is escalating. The elections have clearly not quelled the violence, and terrorists are said to be trying to turn Iraq's Anbar province into a base for Al Qaeda and other militants. (And since it's our State Department, you've got to figure it's soft-peddling things.)

April was the most lethal month for U.S. soldiers this year; at least 67 died.

The Bush II hawks were determined to restore a Reaganesque muscular, "moral" foreign policy, as opposed to the realpolitik of Bush I. But with no solution in sight, Congress is pressing for some realpolitik. With W.'s blessing, lawmakers are sending his father's old consigliere, James Baker, to Iraq to look for a way out.

As Iran vows to go ahead with its nuclear ambitions, the administration finds itself relying for help on the very people it steamrolled and undermined before the Iraq war: the U.N. and international arms inspectors.

"The Security Council is the primary and most important institution for the maintenance of peace and stability and security, and it cannot have its word and its will simply ignored by a member state," Condi said after a NATO meeting on Thursday.

Rummy may get prickly with his office niece, but who else but the automaton could make that threat with a straight face?

Photo credit: Maureen Dowd (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Tierney Short on Brain Fuel

John Tierney once again proves that he is short on long term solutions and long on hot air.

When it comes to problems, Tierney thinks short: Short sighted thinking for short sighted solutions. Which makes me exceedingly short tempered and irritable.

He's also short on empathy for those affected most negatively by gas prices. What does Tierney propose to do to help those who literally can't afford to put gas in their cars to get to and from work and have no other transportation available to them? Putting a tax on gas at the pump will sure help them get by, huh?

People living pay check to pay check already can't afford to wait for some "promised" tax refund or a deposit into a private Social Security Account. They already are paying for social security. Now you want them to pay more when they need that money to buy FOOD now?

I'm really tired of people spouting knee-jerk, half-baked political solutions to fully baked problems by sticking it to the little guy -- over and over again.

Real solutions demand real sacrifices from those who can most afford to sacrifice--like taxing the oil companies and their obscenely compensated CEO's until they begin to use some of their mulit-billion dollar a year profits to do their part to help solve the energy crisis. Long term solutions demand long term thinking like tax incentives to promote the development alternative, cleaner energies and cleaner, alternative-fuel-efficient vehicles. Like--you get the idea.

Puh-lease. Reading this guy is enough to make me rename my blog "The Unknown Suicide." Arghhhh.

Fiddling While Fuel Burns
By John Tierney
The New York Times
Congress and President Bush are promising to solve the crisis of $3-a-gallon gasoline. But before we get to their eight-point plan and other scams, a brief digression: How about trying something that works?

If your goal is to get Americans to burn less gasoline, then we've already hit on the best strategy. As long as the price of gas is high, people will drive less and buy cars with better gas mileage, just as they did during past price spikes. But there's no guarantee the price of gas won't soon plummet — unless it's propped up by a tax.

A gas tax is a far better way to encourage conservation and combat global warming than the method mentioned by Bush this week: mandating more fuel-efficient cars. A tax would work much more quickly than the mandate, since it would affect all cars now on the road, not just new ones. The tax would also cost Americans about 20 percent less to achieve the same fuel savings as the mandate would, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The fuel-economy mandate is more expedient politically because the costs are hidden in the prices of new cars instead of being visible at the pump. But automobile executives know how expensive it is to comply with those rules. They don't like advocating a gas tax on the record, but privately some of them consider it the lesser of two evils.

"There are a lot of people within the industry who would embrace a gas tax," the lobbyist for a major car company told me. "If you offered them the tax as an alternative to new fuel-economy rules, they'd jump on it."

The problem would be selling the tax to voters, but it could be phased in discreetly — say, a new dime of tax whenever the gas price declines 20 cents — with the promise that all the money would be given back. The new revenue could be evenly divvied up each year, either by mailing a check to every car owner or (my pet proposal) by putting it into a new private account for every worker now paying into Social Security.

A 50-cent gas tax would probably raise enough revenue to give each worker over $400 per year, much more impressive than the $100 checks that Republicans are now proposing to appease angry motorists this year. Instead of being a one-shot gimmick, these gifts would be an annual ritual — a chance for everyone, voters and their representatives, to congratulate themselves for another year of sensible conservation.

But I know it's naïve to think anyone in Washington really cares about sensible conservation. Both parties have been too busy this week blaming each other, demonizing oil companies and repeating the mistakes of the 1970's energy crisis.

Republicans promise the kind of investigations into "price gouging" that proved fruitless in the past. Democrats want to revive a version of the "windfall profits" tax of the 1980's, which reduced domestic oil production and increased imports of foreign oil — without even generating much revenue.

With Big Oil the new enemy, both parties want to take away some of its tax breaks, an idea that's not bad. But both parties are still determined to help out their favorite industries. And just as the 1970's energy planners lavished money on fuels of the future that turned out to be duds, Congress still seems to have a knack for backing losers.

Right now, for instance, the best alternative to gasoline is probably the cheap ethanol produced in Brazil and other foreign countries. But instead of giving drivers a chance to switch to this fuel, Congress is imposing a stiff tariff on it to protect the Midwestern farmers who produce higher-priced ethanol.

The best way to promote alternative fuels is to give them all a chance by imposing a tax on gasoline. That would give investors the incentive to find cheaper alternatives, and the market would sort out the winner — natural gas, ethanol, methanol, soy diesel, whatever works.

Now that President Bush doesn't have to worry about winning the Iowa caucuses, he could afford to give drivers a break by subjecting corn farmers to competition from Brazil. He could reduce fuel consumption and global warming with a gas tax — and maybe in the bargain leave a legacy of Social Security private accounts. But if he sticks with the 1970's tactics, he'll be remembered about as fondly as Jimmy Carter.

Photo credit: John Tierney. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

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  • Michael A. Fox | Bodies for Barrels: Betrayal and Energy Dependence
    Ohio Republican and longtime conservative Michael A. Fox has come to the realization that America's energy problems are not, as President Bush recently declared, because Americans have an "addiction to oil." Our energy problems stem from the failed leadership of two political parties - Democrats and Republicans.

BREAKING: Fitzgerald to Seek Rove Indictment

Jason Leopold writes:
"Despite vehement denials by his attorney who said this week that Karl Rove is neither a "target" nor in danger of being indicted in the CIA leak case, the special counsel leading the investigation has already written up charges against Rove, and a grand jury is expected to vote on whether to indict the Deputy White House Chief of Staff sometime next week, sources knowledgeable about the probe said Friday afternoon."
Read more

Photo credit: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove enters Federal Court in Washington, April 26, 2006. (Larry Downing/Reuters)


Peace Takes Courage

Who better understands that than Cindy Sheehan and her new young friend, Ava Lowrey. Cindy wrote an article in response to personal attacks against Ava Lowrey, a 15-year-old student and peace activist from Alabama and founder of ""Peace Takes Courage."

In July, 2005, Ava made her first anti-war animation; since then, she has since produced over 70 more.

I applaud Ava, a young woman who has succeeded in backing up her values with a creative, personal commitment to peace.

Ava, lead the way! You're an inspiration to all of us.

"The 32%" is a Must See:

Ava's newest animation is an astute, insightful response to some of the comments she has received from her critics. (We've all had our fair share of this type of "criticism.") Watch "The 32%", and see how Ava answered them.
Please help Ava get her message out by sending this link to friends, bloggers, and media contacts. You can view some of Ava's animations at the Huffington Post Contagious Festival here.

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Photo: Ava Lowrey, 15 year old student and activist from Alabama. (Peace Takes Courage)

Rove Running Scared?

The Raw Story | MSNBC reports Rove believes he is in legal jeopardy
Karl Rove has described his three and a half hour meeting with a grand jury as grueling, and is more worried about being prosecuted than ever, MSNBC is reporting.
Photo: Karl Rove (Raw Story)

Further Readings for Plamegate Connoisseurs:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

George's Titanic Gas Troubles

If Tom Friedman keeps this up, I just might become a fan. I disagree with his suggestion that we should add a gas tax at the pump in order to get the price up to $4 a gallon, and I don't concur with his premise that in order to make wind, solar and biomass more competitive, we need to artificially raise the price of gas. The bulk of the article, however, is incisive. I especially appreciate his GWB-Titanic analogy. Enjoy.

Gas Pump Geopolitics
By Thomas L. Friedman
The New York Times
In recent days critics have accused President Bush and his new chief of staff of doing nothing more than shuffling around the deck chairs on the Titanic, as they shift, hire and fire senior White House officials while the president's popularity continues to plummet. Personally, I think that is a totally unfair charge — unfair to the captain of the Titanic.

After all, he knew where he was going. His lookouts just couldn't see the iceberg spar lurking beneath the surface in their path until it was too late. This administration, and its captain, have been staring the iceberg right in the face for years — it's called dependence on foreign crude oil. It has been totally visible, for miles and miles. And yet the Bush team has just kept sailing right into it, refusing to ask the American people to do anything hard to put America on a different energy course.

What is this iceberg staring us in the face? It is the fact that energy, broadly defined, has become the most important geostrategic and geoeconomic challenge of our time — much as the Soviet Union was during the cold war — for four reasons:

First, we are financing both sides in the war on terrorism: financing the U.S. military with our tax dollars, and Islamist radicals and states with our energy purchases.

Second, continued dependence on fossil fuels is going to bring on climate change so much faster in an age when millions of new consumers in India and China are driving cars and buying homes. And that's why renewable fuels and energy-efficient cars, buildings and appliances are going to be the biggest growth industry of the 21st century. The tougher the energy-efficiency standards we impose on our own companies, the more likely it is that they will dominate this new industry.

Third, because of the steady climb in oil prices, the seemingly unstoppable wave of free markets and free peoples that we thought was unleashed by the fall of the Berlin Wall is now being stymied by a counterwave of petro-authoritarian states — like Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Nigeria and Sudan — which now have more petro-dollars than ever to do the worst things for the longest time. They will poison the post-cold-war world unless we bring down the price of crude.

Fourth, we will never plant the seeds of democracy in Iraq and the wider Arab world if we don't also bring down the price of oil. These Arab oil regimes will not change unless they have to, and as long as oil prices are soaring they won't have to. Iraq will become just another Arab state that taps oil wells instead of developing its people.

The beginning of leadership for the president is to tell the American people the truth: This is not your parents' energy crisis. The price of oil is not soaring just because of greedy oil companies. It is soaring because of structural changes in the global energy market that could have vast consequences for America and the world if we do not respond in a comprehensive manner.

Toward that end, we need a tax on gasoline at the pump that will keep prices around $4 a gallon (still roughly $1 less than most Europeans pay), or we need a tax on vehicles that will make gas guzzlers prohibitively costly and hybrids and smaller cars enormously attractive. The sooner and the more we take the price of gasoline up — and keep it there — the sooner we can bring it down forever. If we want to make wind, solar and biomass more competitive, gasoline has to cost more, not less.

The president can start by pushing the bipartisan Fuel Choices for American Security Act, now wending its way through Congress. This bill would mandate that every car sold in America would not just have seat belts, but would also be flex-fuel capable so it could run on ethanol, methanol or gasoline. It would also pave the way for the rapid commercialization of plug-in hybrid vehicles, which would combine electricity and gasoline to get 100 miles out of every gallon of gasoline consumed.

Finally, the bill would offer Detroit loan guarantees for transforming its fleets in this direction. "We're going to have to bail out Detroit anyway, so let's at least get some public benefit," the energy expert Anne Korin said.

Yes, the president has wasted so much time, but if he finally rises to this challenge, Democrats — who should have taken the lead on this issue a long time ago — have got to work with him. If the Democrats shirk this energy challenge, as the Republicans have, I'm certain there is going to be a third party in the 2008 election. It is going to be called the Geo-Green Party, and it is going to win a lot of centrist voters. The next Ross Perot will be green.

Photo credit: Thomas Friedman (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

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Incompetence has a Name.

It's George W. Bush, otherwise known as "The Crony Fairy."

A justifiably angry Krug Man points out in today's NY Times op ed that "the United States will [never] regain effective government [until] it gets a president who cares more about serving the nation than about rewarding his friends."

Ain't that the truth.

The Crony Fairy
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
The U.S. government is being stalked by an invisible bandit, the Crony Fairy, who visits key agencies by dead of night, snatches away qualified people and replaces them with unqualified political appointees. There's no way to catch or stop the Crony Fairy, so our only hope is to change the agencies' names. That way she might get confused, and leave our government able to function.

That, at least, is how I interpret the report on responses to Hurricane Katrina that was just released by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

The report points out that the Federal Emergency Management Agency "had been operating at a more than 15 percent staff-vacancy rate for over a year before Katrina struck" — that means many of the people who knew what they were doing had left. And it adds that "FEMA's senior political appointees ... had little or no prior relevant emergency-management experience."

But the report says nothing about what caused the qualified people to leave and who appointed unqualified people to take their place. There's no hint that, say, President Bush might have had any role. So those political appointees must have been installed by the Crony Fairy.

Rather than trying to fix FEMA, the report calls for replacing it with a new organization, the National Preparedness and Response Agency. As far as I can tell, the new agency would have exactly the same responsibilities as FEMA. But "senior N.P.R.A. officials would be selected from the ranks of professionals with experience in crisis management." I guess it's impossible to select qualified people to run FEMA; if you try, the Crony Fairy will spirit them away and replace them with Michael Brown. But she might not know her way to N.P.R.A.

O.K., enough sarcasm. Let's talk about the history of FEMA.

In the early 1990's, FEMA's reputation was as bad as it is today. It was a dumping ground for political cronies, headed by a man whose only apparent qualification for the job was that he was a close friend of the first President Bush's chief of staff. FEMA's response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 perfectly foreshadowed Katrina: the agency took three days to arrive on the scene, and when it did, it proved utterly incompetent.

Many people thought that FEMA was a lost cause. But Bill Clinton proved them wrong. He appointed qualified people to lead the agency and gave them leeway to hire other qualified people, and within a year FEMA's morale and performance had soared. For the rest of the Clinton years, FEMA was among the most highly regarded agencies in the federal government.

What happened to that reputation? The answer, of course, is that the second President Bush returned to his father's practices. Once again, FEMA became a dumping ground for cronies, and many of the good people who had come in during the Clinton years left. It took only a few years to transform one of the best agencies in the U.S. government into what Senator Susan Collins calls "a shambles and beyond repair."

In other words, the Crony Fairy is named George W. Bush.

So what's the point of creating a new agency to replace FEMA? The history of FEMA and other agencies during the Clinton years shows that a president who is serious about governing can rebuild effective government without renaming the boxes on the organizational chart.

On the other hand, the history of the Bush administration, from the botched reconstruction of Iraq to the botched start-up of the prescription drug program, shows that a president who isn't serious about governing, who prizes loyalty and personal connections over competence, can quickly reduce the government of the world's most powerful nation to third-world levels of ineffectiveness.

And bear in mind that Mr. Bush's pattern of cronyism didn't change after Katrina. For example, he appointed Julie Myers, the inexperienced niece of Gen. Richard Myers, to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement — an agency that, like FEMA, is supposed to protect us against terrorism as well as other threats. Even at the C.I.A., the administration seems more interested in purging Democrats than in improving the quality of intelligence.

So let's skip the name change for FEMA, O.K.? The United States will regain effective government if and when it gets a president who cares more about serving the nation than about rewarding his friends and scoring political points. That's at least a thousand days away. Meanwhile, don't count on FEMA, or on any other government agency, to do its job.

Photo credit: Paul Krugman (The New York Times)

Case for the Common Good

It's getting a bit tedious to read, much less post, David Brooks op eds. (See below). The man can put me to sleep with his pontificating quicker than a Sominex tablet.

That said, I agree with Brooks' view that it would be wise for Liberals to appeal to voters "common good." I don't necessarily think they will succeed, however.

The Republicans are sure to run on wedge issues to distract voters from bigger issues, like health care and the environment, that appeal to their common interests.

If the Democrats handle the wedge issues wisely (by taking the high road and shaming the Republicans for their divisive ploys) they will be able to keep the focus on the common issues, all the while not betraying their values on wedge issues.

If past elections are any indication, however, they will fail to do so, becoming defensive, reacting instead of leading pre-emptively, and losing their focus.

Please, may the politicians prove me wrong.

The Death of Multiculturalism
By David Brooks
The New York Times
In 1994 multiculturalism was at its high-water mark, and Richard Bernstein wrote "Dictatorship of Virtue," describing its excesses: the campus speech codes, the forced sensitivity training, the purging of dead white males from curriculums, the people who had their careers ruined by dubious charges of racism, sexism and ethnocentrism.

Then two years later, the liberal writer Michael Tomasky published "Left for Dead," which argued that the progressive movement was being ruined by multicultural identity politics. Democrats have lost the ability to talk to Americans collectively, Tomasky wrote, and seem to be a collection of aggrieved out-groups: feminists, blacks, gays and so on.

At the time, Bernstein and Tomasky were lonely voices on the left, and the multiculturalists struck back. For example, Martin Duberman slammed Tomasky's book in The Nation, and defended multiculturalism:

"The radical redefinitions of gender and sexuality that are under discussion in feminist and queer circles contain a potentially transformative challenge to all 'regimes of the normal.' The work of theorists like Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Jeffrey Weeks, Marjorie Garber and Judith Butler represents a deliberate systemic affront to fixed modes of being and patterns of power. They offer brilliant (if not incontrovertible) postulates about such universal matters as the historicity and fluidity of sexual desire, the performative nature of gender, and the multiplicity of impulses, narratives and loyalties that lie within us all."

Duberman insisted that postmodern multicultural theorizing would transform politics, but today his gaseous review reads as if it came from a different era, like an embarrassing glimpse of leisure suits in an old home movie.

That's because over the past few years, multiculturalism has faded away. A different sort of liberalism is taking over the Democratic Party.

Multiculturalism is in decline for a number of reasons. First, the identity groups have ossified. The feminist organizations were hypocritical during the Clinton impeachment scandal, and both fevered and weak during the Roberts and Alito hearings. Meanwhile, the civil rights groups have become stale and uninteresting.

Second, the Democrats have come to understand that they need to pay less attention to minorities and more to the white working class if they ever want to become the majority party again. Third, the intellectual energy on the left is now with the economists. People who write about inequality are more vibrant than people who write about discrimination.

Fourth and most important, 9/11 happened. The attacks aroused feelings of national solidarity, or a longing for national solidarity, that discredited the multiculturalists' tribalism.

Tomasky is now back with an essay in The American Prospect in which he argues that it is time Democrats cohered around a big idea — not diversity, and not individual rights, but the idea of the common good. The Democrats' central themes, Tomasky advises, should be that we're all in this together; we are all part of a larger national project; we all need to make some shared sacrifices and look beyond our narrow self-interest. Tomasky is hoping for a candidate who will ignore the demands of the single-issue groups and argue that all Americans have a stake in reducing economic fragmentation and social division.

Coincidentally, two other liberal writers, John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira, have just finished a long study that comes out in exactly the same place. Surveying mountains of polling data, they conclude that the Democrats' chief problem is that people don't think they stand for anything. Halpin and Teixeira argue that the message voters respond to best is the notion of shared sacrifice for the common good. After years of individualism from right and left, they observe, people are ready for an appeal to citizenship.

Naturally, this approach has weaknesses. Unlike in 1964, most Americans no longer trust government to be the altruistic champion of the common good, even if they wish it could. And while writers and voters talk about the common good, politicians are wired to think about their team. Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer will never ask their people to make sacrifices, but until they do, the higher talk of common good will sound like bilge.

Nonetheless, the decline of multiculturalism and the rebirth of liberal American nationalism is a significant event. Democrats are purging the last vestiges of the New Left and returning to the older civic liberalism of the 1950's and early 1960's.

Goodbye, Jesse Jackson. Goodbye, Gloria Steinem. Hello, Harry Truman.

Photo credit: David Brooks (The New York Times)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Herbert's Truth

(Click on picture for larger view)

Bob Herbert says it all and says it exceedingly well. (See op ed below). Thank God for journalists like him who reassure people like me that the entire world has not lost its mind--just Georgie and Fiends.

Fellow Americans, take note, paying special attention to Herbert's last paragraph. Then, take off your partisan hats, vote with your hearts, and vote wisely in the mid-term elections.

The only ones who can put this country back on track is us. So get involved, become an activist, write letters, fight for what you know is right and against injustices. Reject Bush's fractured vision of America and let's get back to what not so long ago made us the United States of America--working for the good of the whole.

I don't know about you, but I've had enough anger and divisiveness and lies to last multiple lifetimes. We must come together to solve our multiple looming problems. And we must start right now.

Stuck With Bush
By Bob Herbert
The New York Times
If George W. Bush could have been removed from office for being a bad president, he would have been sent back to his ranch a long time ago.

If incompetence were a criminal offense, he'd be behind bars.

But that's just daydreaming. The reality is that there are more than two and a half years left in the long dark night of the Bush presidency — nearly as long as the entire time John Kennedy was in office.

The nation seems, very belatedly, to be catching on to the tragic failures and monumental ineptitude of its president. Mr. Bush's poll numbers are abysmal. Republicans up for re-election are running from him as if he were the bogyman.

Callers to conservative talk radio programs who were once ecstatic about the president and his policies are now deeply disillusioned.

The libertarian Cato Institute is about to release a study titled "Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush." It says, "Unfortunately, far from defending the Constitution, President Bush has repeatedly sought to strip out the limits the document places on federal power." While I disagree with parts of the study, I certainly agree with that particular comment.

In the current issue of Rolling Stone, Sean Wilentz, a distinguished historian and the director of the American Studies program at Princeton University, takes a serious look at the possibility that Mr. Bush may be the worst president in the nation's history.

What in the world took so long? Some of us have known since the moment he hopped behind the wheel that this reckless president was driving the nation headlong toward a cliff.

The worst thing he did, of course, was to employ a massive campaign of deceit to lead the nation into a catastrophic war in Iraq — a war with no end in sight that has already claimed tens of thousands of lives and inflicted scores of thousands of crippling injuries.

When he was a young man, Mr. Bush used the Air National Guard to hide out from the draft in a time of war. Then, as president, he's suddenly G. I. George, strutting around in a flight suit, threatening to wage war on all and sundry, and taunting the insurgents in Iraq with a cry of "bring them on."

When the nation needed leadership on the critical problem of global warming, Mr. Bush took his cues from the honchos in the oil and gasoline industry, the very people who were setting the planet on fire. Now he talks about overcoming the nation's addiction to oil! This is amazing. Here's the president of the United States scaling the very heights of chutzpah. The Bush people and the oil people are indistinguishable. Condoleezza Rice, a former Chevron director, even had an oil tanker named after her.

Among the complaints in the Cato study is that the Bush administration has taken the position that despite validly enacted laws to the contrary, the president cannot be restrained "from pursuing any tactic he believes to be effective in the war on terror."

This view has led to activities that I believe have brought great shame to the nation: the warrantless spying on Americans, the abuses at Abu Ghraib, the creation of the C.I.A.'s network of secret prisons, extraordinary rendition and the barbaric encampment at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in which detainees are held, without regard to guilt or innocence, in a nightmarish no man's land beyond the reach of any reasonable judicial process.

The sins of the Bush administration are so extensive and so egregious, they could never be adequately addressed in a newspaper column. History will be the final judge. But I've no doubt about the ultimate verdict.

Remember the Clinton budget surplus?

It was the largest in American history. President Bush and his cronies went after it like vultures feasting in a field of carcasses. They didn't invest the surplus. They devoured it.

Remember how most of the world responded with an extraordinary outpouring of sympathy and support for America in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11?

Mr. Bush had no idea how to seize that golden opportunity to build new alliances and strengthen existing ones. Much of that solidarity with America has morphed into outright hostility.

Remember Katrina?

The major task of Congress and the voters for the remainder of the Bush presidency is to curtail the destructive impulses of this administration, and to learn the lessons that will prevent similar horrors from ever happening again.

Photo credits: (1) (2) Bob Herbert (The New York Times)

Rove Indictment Imminent?

For the fifth time, Karl Rove has been summoned by Patrick Fitzgerald to testify before the grand jury in the Plame CIA leak case. The CNN spin is that all will be resolved and Rove cleared of any wrongdoing after today's testimony.

A more reliable report comes from Jason Leopold:

Target Letter Drives Rove Back to Grand Jury
By Jason Leopold
"Karl Rove's appearance before a grand jury in the CIA leak case Wednesday comes on the heels of a 'target letter' sent to his attorney recently by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, signaling that the Deputy White House Chief of Staff may face imminent indictment, sources that are knowledgeable about the probe said Wednesday.

It's unclear when Fitzgerald sent the target letter to Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin. Sources close to the two-year-old leak investigation said when Rove's attorney received the letter Rove volunteered to appear before the grand jury for an unprecedented fifth time to explain why he did not previously disclose conversations he had with the media about covert CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who criticized the Bush administration's use of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

A federal grand jury target letter is sent to a person in a criminal investigation who is likely to be indicted. A 'target' of a grand jury investigation is a person who a prosecutor has substantial evidence to link to a crime.

Last week, Rove was stripped of some of his policy duties in a White House shakeup orchestrated by incoming Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. The White House insisted that Rove was not demoted, but insiders said the executive branch is bracing for a possible indictment against Rove.

Luskin was accompanying Rove to US District Court in Washington, DC, Wednesday morning and unavailable for comment. Rove was told by Fitzgerald's staff that his testimony could last for as long as three hours.

In an interview last week, Luskin confirmed that Rove was a 'subject' of Fitzgerald's probe. In a previous interview, Luskin asserted that Rove would not be indicted by Fitzgerald, but he was unwilling to make that same prediction again during an interview last week.

'Mr. Fitzgerald hasn't made any decision on the charges and I can't speculate what the outcome will be,' Luskin said in an interview last week. 'Mr. Rove has cooperated completely with the investigation.'
Read more.

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