Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Corruption Watch

  • Reports shed light on ties between Weldon, businesses:
    Pennsylvania Congressman Curt Weldon, under investigation for allegedly trading his influence to get lobbying business for one of his daughters, also has helped corporations that have hired another daughter, a friend and some of his former aides.
  • Businesses Seek Protection on Legal Front
    Frustrated with laws and regulations that have made companies and accounting firms more open to lawsuits from investors and the government, corporate America — with the encouragement of the Bush administration — is preparing to fight back.

    Now that corruption cases like Enron and WorldCom are falling out of the news, two influential industry groups with close ties to administration officials are hoping to swing the regulatory pendulum in the opposite direction. The groups are drafting proposals to provide broad new protections to corporations and accounting firms from criminal cases brought by federal and state prosecutors as well as a stronger shield against civil lawsuits from investors.
  • GOP Congressman Has Close Ties to Arms Contractor
    In November at the five-star Hotel Splendido overlooking the harbor in Portofino - a playground of the Italian rich - Representative Curt Weldon, (R-Pa.), was the center of attention. The second-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Mr. Weldon was a main speaker at a conference sponsored in part by the Italian military giant Finmeccanica. At the gathering of Italian, British and American political leaders, Mr. Weldon spoke on behalf of Italian arms makers who were seeking a bigger share of Pentagon contracts.
  • Money trails lead to Bush judges
    "A four-month investigation reveals that dozens of federal judges gave contributions to President Bush and top Republicans who helped place them on the bench."
  • The Worst Congress Ever
    Rolling Stone: How our national legislature has become a stable of thieves and perverts -- in five easy steps .
  • Will a shocking new GOP court victory and Karl Rove's attack on Ohio 2006 doom the Democrats nationwide?
    "With a major GOP federal court victory, the Ohio 2006 election has descended into the calculated chaos that has become the trademark of a Karl Rove election theft, and that could help keep the Congress in Republican hands nationwide.

    Through a complex series of legal maneuvers, and now a shocking new decision from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the GOP has thrown Ohio's entire process of voting and vote counting into serious disarray. The mess is perfectly designed to suppress voter turnout, make election monitoring and a recount impossible, and allow the Republican Party to emerge with a victory despite overwhelming evidence the electorate wants exactly the opposite."
  • Jefferson County Voters Continue To Raise Concerns About Voting Machines
    KFDM reported about people who had cast straight Democratic ticket ballots, but the touch-screen machines indicated they had voted a straight Republican ticket.
  • Florida ballot terminals favor Republicans
    Florida voters using electronic ballot machines are having persistent problems choosing Democrats in early elections, the Miami Herald reports.
    The touch-screen gizmos seem strangely attracted to Republican candidates. One voter needed assistance from an election official, and even then, needed three tries to convince the machine that he wanted to vote for Democrat Jim Davis in the gubernatorial race, not his Republican opponent Charlie Crist.
  • Orange County charges 11 with phony voter registration
    "Fraudulent voter registration charges were filed this week by prosecutors who said Democrats were unwittingly signed up as Republicans."
  • U.S. Drops Bid Over Royalties From Chevron
    "The Interior Department has dropped claims that the Chevron Corporation systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties."
  • The Untracked Guns of Iraq
    "About the last thing the United States ought to be doing in Iraq is funneling weapons into black-market weapons bazaars, as sectarian militias arm themselves for civil war. Yet that is just what Washington may have been doing for the past several years, thanks to an inexplicable decision that standard Pentagon regulations for registering weapons transfers did not apply to the Iraq war."
  • Data Shows How Oil Companies Could Have Cooked Gas Prices Before Election
    "New data and analysis shed some light on how big oil companies may have driven down the price of gasoline in the run up to the election in order to maintain the status quo.

    The Foundation For Taxpayer and Consumer Rights has found that the recent sharp drop in gasoline prices from this year's record highs is steeper than the drop in the price of crude oil, indicating that refiners are taking less profit in order to push the retail price lower as the election approaches.

    It is a pattern that is also evident, though less sharply, in the autumn of the last two election years, 2002 and 2004."
  • Brownout at the EPA
    "The agency shuts down five public libraries full of environmental data, and employees and activists question the Bush administration's motives."
  • Ex-White House Official to Be Sentenced
    Lawyers sought leniency Friday for a former Bush administration official convicted in a lobbying scandal. But the judge suggested he would be moved only if David Safavian expressed remorse.
  • Greg Palast | Recipe for a Cooked Election
    "A nasty little secret of American democracy is that, in every national election, ballots cast are simply thrown in the garbage. Most are called 'spoiled,' supposedly unreadable, damaged, invalid. They just don't get counted. This 'spoilage' has occurred for decades, but it reached unprecedented
    heights in the last two presidential elections. In the 2004 election, for example,
    more than three million ballots were never counted.
    Almost as deep a secret is that people are doing something about it. In New Mexico, citizen activists, disgusted by systematic vote disappearance, demanded
    change - and got it."

From The Party Of "Attack First, Talk Later."

Senator Allen's Staff Tackles Blogger

Staff members of GOP Senator George Allen of Virginia appear in a video to have physically accosted a blogger who asked questions at a rally in Virginia. The blogger, Mike Stark, says he will press charges.

Give 'Em Hell!

Kerry: “No Dem Will Be Bullied By An Admin That Has...A Stand-Still-And-Lose Strategy In Iraq”...

Photo: John Kerry. (AP/Huffington Post)

In Case You Missed It:

Pre-9/11 Administration Incompetency

  • 9/11 Panel Not Told That Tenet Warned Rice in July
    Members of the Sept. 11 commission said ... that they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a White House meeting in July 2001 [two months before the September 11 attacks] at which George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, about an imminent al Qaeda attack and failed to persuade her to take action.
  • Tenet Warned Congress in February 2001 About al-Qaeda
    In February 2001, seven months before 9/11, George Tenet, then the director of the CIA, testified before Congress and told lawmakers that the single greatest threat to the United States was Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, according to a little known copy of Tenet's Congressional testimony.

    During his report to Congress, Tenet eerily described a scenario that seven months later would become a grim reality.
  • Condi Rice, 9/11 and Another Nest of Lies
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may have committed perjury in her testimony before the 9/11 Commission in May of 2004. At a minimum, her testimony was a convenient mishmash of half-truths and omissions which served to paint the White House as innocent bystanders as the attacks of 9/11 unfolded. Certainly, her testimony omitted the fact that the two most senior intelligence officials in the nation delivered a stern warning regarding an impending terror attack two full months before 9/11.

    Sunday's edition of the Washington Post carried a story titled "Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice." The story described a desperate attempt by CIA chief George Tenet and CIA counterterrorism chief J. Cofer Black to draw Rice's attention to the looming threat of an al-Qaeda strike against the United States. Tenet and Black insisted on a meeting with Rice on July 10, 2001. This meeting was first reported by Bob Woodward in his new book, "State of Denial."
  • Rumsfeld, Ashcroft received warning of al Qaida attack before 9/11
    Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and former attorney general John Ashcroft received the same CIA briefing about an imminent al-Qaeda strike on an American target that was given to the White House two months before the attacks of September 11, 2001.

KIss Your Rights & Freedoms Goodbye

  • Fatal Vision: The Deeper Evil Behind the Detainee Bill
    Chris Floyd writes: "It was a dark hour indeed on Thursday when the United States Senate voted to end the constitutional republic and transform the country into a 'Leader-State,' giving the president and his agents the power to capture, torture and imprison forever anyone - American citizens included - whom they arbitrarily decide is an 'enemy combatant.' This also includes those who merely give 'terrorism' some kind of 'support,' defined so vaguely that many experts say it could encompass legal advice, innocent gifts to charities or even political opposition to US government policy within its draconian strictures."
  • The Death of the First American Republic
    "Bush has signed into a law a bill that guts the right of habeas corpus, legalizes the use of secret and coerced evidence, 'clarifies' the Geneva Conventions to allow torture on his command, prevents future war crimes prosecutions, and arrogates to himself the right to declare anyone - including American citizens - enemy combatants, who can be dragged from their families, thrown in any prison he chooses, anywhere on earth, for however long he chooses," writes Mark A. LeVine.
  • Journalist Jailed for Refusing to Turn Over Protest Footage
    Sarah Olson writes: "24-year-old independent journalist Josh Wolf has gone to prison protecting press freedom. At a time when the mainstream press is increasingly cowed into silence or submission by the Bush administration, and when a member of the Associated Press Board of Directors also sits on the board of Lockheed Martin, standing up for integrity in journalism is a lot for one 24-year-old to take on."
  • American Fascism Is on the Rise
    The precursors of fascism -- militarization of culture, vigilantism, masculine fear of female power, xenophobia and economic destabilization -- are ascendant in America today.
  • One Less Eye on Gender Inequality
    "The Bush administration guts another set of laws and policies that protect workplace equity for women."
  • Military Fails Another Victim of Sexual Violence
    Three years after the public and Congress demanded reform, sexual assaults remain a persistent fact of life in the military.
  • U.S. Corporations Work to Prevent Chinese Workers' Rights
    Corporations like Wal-Mart and Nike aren't just lobbying Washington against worker's rights, they're lobbying Beijing too.

Waging Illegal War

  • Cheney's Statements on Justification of War Must Be Challenged
    In a letter to Congress, signatories write: "Vice President Dick Cheney stated with little ambiguity that we would have invaded Iraq in 2003 even if we knew that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction. This statement by our nation's vice president repudiates the legal and moral principle of non-aggression that has been accepted by the international community and has won the United States international trust and respect. This repudiation must not go unnoticed or unchallenged by Congress and the American people."
  • Last Man In Jail From 9/11 Sweeps Still Uncharged
    Ali Partovi sits in a jail cell at an immigration detention center in Arizona. He is not charged with a crime, not suspected of a crime, not considered a danger to society. But he has been in custody for five years. According to the Department of Homeland Security, he is the last to be held of about 1,200 Arab and Muslim men swept up by authorities in the United States after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
  • Marine Corps Issues Gag Order in Detainee Abuse Case
    The US Marine Corps has threatened to punish two members of the military legal team representing a terrorism suspect being held at Guantanamo Bay if they continue to speak publicly about reported prisoner abuse, a civilian lawyer from the defense team said Saturday.
  • War on Iraq: Bush's Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq's Oil
    "Even as Iraq verges on splintering into a sectarian civil war, four big oil companies are on the verge of locking up its massive, profitable reserves, known to everyone in the petroleum industry as 'the prize.'"
  • Bush thinking of 'replacing' Iraqi government? [VIDEO]
    "A whole new definition of Democracy."

Iraq Fiasco

  • Republican Commission: Iraq War is Over
    We Lost
  • The Ground Truth: "Cinematic Call to Arms"
    "'The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends' takes an unflinching look at the training and dehumanization of US soldiers, and how they struggle to come to terms with it when they come back home. This film overrides familiar images of heroic soldiers in battle and their overjoyed returning faces as they reunite with their families with one effortless stroke. Instead, we see a scenario that includes illness, amputation and injury, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), of which Iraq has become a fertile breeding ground. While America's poor treatment of veterans is not news to most, 'The Ground Truth' makes it so personal and real, it is impossible to dismiss its characters simply as war statistics."

Miscellaneous Musts

  • Marc Ash Interviews Bill Moyers Part I, II & III
    "Recently I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Bill Moyers about his surprising October documentaries, the state of American journalism, and what we can all do to make a difference. Interesting stuff. "Capitol Crimes," part one of the series 'Moyers on America,' follows the Abramoff money trail. If you want to know how Abramoff did it, what part DeLay played, who's getting hurt and who profited - make sure you're sitting down, and watch 'Capitol Crimes'.... This documentary is sobering. Parts two and three of my interview ... examine the second and third broadcasts in the series, 'Is God Green?' ... and 'The Net at Risk.' - Marc Ash

Scandal Below the Surface

Kristof, in today's Times op ed, contends that the vandalism we're committing to our planet because of our refusal to curb greenhouse gases should be one of the great political issues for this century.

TimesSelect Subscribers:
Scandal Below the Surface
By Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times

Non-TimesSelect Subscribers, Ed Strong has graciously provided a reprint here.

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

How Not To Win Friends And Influence People

At one time or another, The Rove Brigade has made an art of alienating just about everyone. John Tierney explains why Rove may not be the "genius" he is so often deemed to be. (Hey, vote fraud is vote fraud; it's criminal, not genius).

When your strategy is to spin, lie, and mislead your base with promises rarely kept, it's bound to catch up with you when folks finally realize that actions speak volumes above words. (Which is why the Repugs will undoubtedly resort once again to vote fraud in order cement their power.)

Tierney's Times op ed provides an interesting Libertarian perspective on the Republican backlash he predicts will take the pickup out of Power Party.

TimesSelect Subscribers:
The Immoral Majority
By John Tierney
The New York Times

Non-TimesSelect Subscribers:
Click Here for a reprint.

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

Also See:

Monday, October 30, 2006

"The President Knows more than He Lets on"

Interview with Terror Expert Ron Suskind:
One hundred suspected terrorists from all over the world are still being held in secret American prisons. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, CIA expert Ron Suskind accuses Washington of "running like a headless chicken" in its war against al-Qaida. He reserves special criticism for the CIA's torture methods, which he argues are unproductive.

"...[P]eople in the counter-terrorism community in the United States are terrified at this point.... They wanted to send out a signal and say: "We need to have a real strategy here that is not only tactically forceful, but where the left hand of the US foreign policy doesn't undermine what the right hand is doing." Right now we often run like a headless chicken. We need a strategy. And we need it immediately because, in some ways, we are less safe then we were on Sept. 12."
"Must Read" interview here.

Photo: Ron Suskind. (Nancy Crampton/Spiegel Online)

"For years, Ron Suskind has been considered one of the best-sourced reporters when it comes to the CIA or the US government. The author and former Wall Street Journal reporter has high-level access to sources in the US administration. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his investigative reporting and his new book, "The One Percent Doctrine," has been the subject of critical praise around the world. In the book, Suskind describes how George W. Bush and his advisors completely reshaped US foreign and security policy after Sept. 11, how they hunted in vain for Osama bin Laden and turned torture into a regular part of CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists. In the exposé, Suskind also reports for the first time about terror attacks that have been successfully foiled and about one al-Qaida turncoat who served for years as an informant against bin Laden and Co. Suskind lives and works in Washington, DC."

Immigration: The Farcical Fence

The never-ending Republican campaign of lies continues wasting millions more taxpayer dollars on worthless legislation. Once more, the politics of holding onto power trumps the people's business.

NY Times Editorial -- The Fence Campaign:
President Bush signed a bill to authorize a 700-mile border fence last week, thus enshrining into federal law a key part of the Republicans’ midterm election strategy. The party of the Iraq war and family values desperately needs you to forget about dead soldiers and randy congressmen, and to think instead about the bad things immigrants will do to us if we don’t wall them out. Hence the fence, and the ad campaigns around it.

Across the country, candidates are trying to stir up a voter frenzy using immigrants for bait. They accuse their opponents of being amnesty-loving fence-haters, and offer themselves as jut-jawed defenders of the homeland because they want the fence. But the fence is the product of a can’t-do, won’t-do approach to a serious national problem. And the ads are built on a foundation of lies:
  1. Lie No. 1: We’re building a 700-mile fence.

  2. Lie No. 2: A fence will help.

  3. Lie No. 3: The Senate’s alternative bill was weak, and its supporters favored amnesty.
Read the entire Editorial here.

More Bush Lies: Future Tax Shock

NY Times Editorial:
"One of President Bush’s be-very-afraid lines this campaign season is that Democrats, if elected, will raise taxes. What he doesn’t say is that if you are one of tens of millions of Americans who make between $75,000 and $500,000 a year, your taxes are already scheduled to rise starting next year — because of laws that Mr. Bush championed and other actions he failed to take....

The president wants to push off the day of reckoning until he leaves the White House, while whipping up voter fear of future tax increases. But the reality is that he and his supporters have laid the groundwork for higher taxes and hamstrung government...."

Michael Out-Foxes Rush

Michael J. Fox shows us what real character, honest values, and true courage are in this interview with Katie Couric. MUST WATCH.

Trouble viewing this video? Click Here.

Also See:

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Why Bush Smirks

Leonard Shlain for The Huffington Post writes:
"...The next time George Bush appears on television observe the left side of his face only and you will obtain a truer picture of what is in his heart than can be garnered by taking in the gestalt of his entire face. It would appear that not only has George Bush polarized the electorate as no other president in recent history has, but he also has polarized brain hemispheres. "
You've gotta read this article .....

As a little experiment, I took the above photo of Dubya, cut his face down the middle and put the two right sides of his face together to make a face and the two left sides together to make a face. Creepy, huh?

Fed Up with Being Fed Up

In today's Times op ed, Bob Herbert sensibly sums up what should be obvious to the ever-oblivious politicians running on hate-mongering, fear-mongering, lies, and sleaze:
"...If you pay close attention to the news and then go out and talk to ordinary people, it’s hard not to come away with the feeling that the system of politics and government in the U.S. is broken. I spent the past week talking to residents in Chicago, southern Michigan and Indiana. No one was happy about the direction the country has taken, but not even the most faithful voters were confident that their ballot would make any substantial difference...."
Characteristically, Herbert cuts through the spin and taps directly into America's heart to unleash the frustration, struggle, and alienation that permeate America.

Pay particular attention to Herbert's suggestion in the last two paragraphs. It's an excellent one.

Hey, Bob, ever think of running for office?

The System's Broken
By Bob Herbert
The New York Times
Greencastle, Ind.

The middle-aged woman filling her gas tank on a day of endless rain laughed when a reporter asked her about the coming elections. “Politics,” she said, “are for silly people. Those ads come on television and I reach for the remote.”

I asked if she was planning to vote on Nov. 7.

“No,” she said. “That stuff really turns me off.”

If you pay close attention to the news and then go out and talk to ordinary people, it’s hard not to come away with the feeling that the system of politics and government in the U.S. is broken. I spent the past week talking to residents in Chicago, southern Michigan and Indiana. No one was happy about the direction the country has taken, but not even the most faithful voters were confident that their ballot would make any substantial difference.

“I vote,” said Angela Buehl, who lives in a suburb of Indianapolis, “but I don’t think anybody in Washington is listening to me.” She mimicked talking into a telephone: “Hello ... Hello ...?”

The politicians, special interests and the media are in a state of high excitement over next week’s midterm elections. They are addicted to the blood sport of politics, and this is a championship encounter. But that excitement contrasts with what seems to be an increasing sense of disenchantment and unease that ordinary Americans are feeling when it comes to national politics and government. For far too many of them, the government in Washington is remote, unresponsive and ineffective.

Voters and nonvoters alike expressed frustration with the fact that we are stuck in a war in Iraq that hardly anyone still supports but no one in government knows how to end.

Several people mentioned that their families were struggling financially at a time when the stock market had soared to all-time highs and the Bush administration was crowing about how well the economy was doing.

Nearly all said they were repelled by the relentless barrage of tasteless and idiotic campaign commercials. “Talk to me,” said a woman in Mishawaka, Ind. “Don’t assume I’m an imbecile.”

A pair of front-page articles in The Times last week showed the stark contrast in the way that insiders and outsiders view the off-year elections. Corporations, reacting to the possibility that the Republicans might lose control of one or both houses of Congress, are hedging their bets by pumping up campaign donations to Democratic candidates. One way or another, they will be in the loop. That story ran on Saturday.

A day earlier, The Times reported on Democratic concerns that black voters, disillusioned by voter suppression efforts and a pervasive belief that their votes will not be properly counted, may not turn out in the numbers that the party was hoping for.

The system is broken. Most politicians would rather sacrifice their first born than tell voters the honest truth about tough issues. Big money and gerrymandering have placed government out of the reach of most Americans. While some changes in the House are expected this year, the Brookings Institution and the Cato Institute tell us (in a joint report) that since 1998, House incumbents have won more than 98 percent of their re-election races.

Millions of thoughtful Americans have become so estranged from the political process that they’ve tuned out entirely. Voters hungry for a serious discussion of complex issues are fed a steady diet of ideological talking heads hurling insults in one- or two-minute television segments.

DePauw University held a two-day conference last week on issues confronting the U.S. I was struck by the extent to which the people who attended the forums were interested in seeking out practical, nonpartisan, nonideological solutions to the wide range of problems discussed.

The frustration with the current state of government and politics was palpable. One man, Ned Lamkin, asked me if it wouldn’t be a good idea to create some sort of national forum for a serious extended discussion of ways to fix, or at least improve, the system. He’s on to something. Among other things, I’d love to see a nonpartisan series of high-profile, nationally televised town hall meetings that would explore ways of making government and politics fairer, more open and more responsive to the will of the people.

American-style democracy needs to be energized, revitalized. The people currently in charge are not up to the task. It’s time to bring the intelligence, creativity and energy of the broader population into the quest for constructive change.

Photo credit: Bob Herbert. (The New York Times)

Poetic Economic Justice

The Krug Man discusses the bursting housing bubble, how bad it may get, and the possible political implications for the midterm elections.

Bursting Bubble Blues
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Here are the five stages of housing grief:

1. Housing bubble? What housing bubble? “A national severe price distortion [in housing] seems most unlikely in the United States.” (Alan Greenspan, October 2004)

2. “There’s a little froth in this market,” but “we don’t perceive that there is a national bubble.” (Alan Greenspan, May 2005)

3. Housing is slumping, but “despite what you hear from some of the Eeyores in the analytical community, a recession is not visible on the horizon.” (Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, August 2006)

4. Well, that was a lousy quarter, but “I feel good about the U.S. economy, I really do.” (Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, last Friday)

5. Insert expletive here.

We’ve now reached stage 4. Will we move on to stage 5?


Photo credit: Paul Krugman. (The New York Times)
TimeSelect subscribers read more here.

Non-Subscribers, click here for a reprint. (Thanks to Economist's View)

If Not Us, Who?

Nicholas Kristof seems to be the lone voice out there directing our attention back to the continuing atrocities in Darfur. His latest Times op ed offers some suggestions of what we can do to help:

If Not Now, When?
By Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times

Non-TimesSelect subscribers, click here for a reprint.

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

Brooksie's Political Theater of the Absurd Starring Rick Santorum

David Brooks states:
"The bottom line is this: If serious antipoverty work is going to be done, it’s going to emerge from a coalition of liberals and religious conservatives. Without [Rick] Santorum, that’s less likely to happen. If senators are going to be honestly appraised, it’s going to require commentators who can look beyond the theater of public controversy and at least pretend to care about actual legislation."
My reply:
The bottom line is this: If serious antipoverty work is going to be done, it will only happen if the Democrats win control of House, Senate, or preferably, both. Otherwise, Rick Santorum doesn't have any more chance in Hell of getting meaningful legislation passed than Teddy Kennedy does. If the seriousness of this election is to be honestly appraised, it's going to require commentators who can look beyond their own short-sighted interests and at least pretend to care about protecting our system of democratic government from annihilation.

Aside from the fact that Santorum does NOT live up to Brooksie's glowing description, his column is an attempt to divert voters attention away from the real issue of this election: without Democratic oversight, the Bush agenda -- all of it, including doing away with all social programs -- will be a done deal, and American democracy will become a thing of the past.

Those are the real stakes. As Paul Krugman pointed out weeks ago, the decision in this election boils down to "D" or "R," and anyone who wants to see a change for the better in this country had best vote Democratic.

Without oversight of the Executive branch, which Republicans have for six years proved themselves incapable of doing, the gulf between the upper and lower classes in this country will grow ever wider -- and no individual candidate from either side of the aisle will be able to change it.
Links to Brooksie's Times op ed follow:

Political Theater and the Real Rick Santorum
By David Brooks
The New York Times

Non-subscribers, Michael J. West's blog has a reprint as well as a feisty response to Brooksie's skewed view of Santorum.

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

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Unreported October Surprise

Thanks to E.L. for unearthing this story. Keith Olbermann, where are you? Does this not rise to a level deserving of another of your "Special Comments?"

Bush Moves Toward Martial Law :: By Frank Morales
The historic and ominous re-writing of the Insurrection Act, accomplished in the dead of night, which gives Bush the legal authority to declare martial law, is now an accomplished fact.

October 26, 2006

In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law (1). It does so by revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President's ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is seeking to undo those prohibitions.

Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner De fense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122) (2), which was signed by the commander in chief on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony, allows the President to declare a "public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

President Bush seized this unprecedented power on the very same day that he signed the equally odious Military Commissions Act of 2006. In a sense, the two laws complement one another. One allows for torture and detention abroad, while the other seeks to enforce acquiescence at home, preparing to order the military onto the streets of America. Remember, the term for putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term is "martial law."


It has become clear in recent months that a critical mass of the American people have seen through the lies of the Bush administration; with the president's polls at an historic low, growing resistance to the war Iraq, and the Democrats likely to take back the Congress in mid-term elections, the Bush administration is on the ropes. And so it is particularly worrying that President Bush has seen fit, at this juncture to, in effect, declare himself dictator.
Read the entire article and find more links here.

Also See:

Conserving That Compassion

New York Times Editorial:
"When future generations of Americans look back on the current era, they’ll puzzle over what it was about George W. Bush that made people imagine there was anything compassionate to his conservatism....


Mr. Bush and his faithful acolytes seem perfectly willing to stoke fears that create division and sorrow in a country that doesn’t need any more of either. The president has just a little more than two years left in office. You’d think that for once he’d want to consider devoting his time to making things better instead of worse."
Read the entire editorial here.

Related Articles:

Staying & Dying

A superb NY Times op ed by Frank Rich puts the major moral issue of this election front and center. Must Read:

Dying to Save the G.O.P. Congress
By Frank Rich
The New York Times
IF you happened to be up around dawn on Tuesday, you could witness the death rattle of our adventure in Iraq live on CNN. Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador, and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the American commander, were making new promises from the bunker of the Green Zone, inspiring about as much confidence as Jackie Gleason and Art Carney hatching a get-rich-quick scheme to sell a kitchen gadget on “The Honeymooners.”

“Success in Iraq is possible and can be achieved on a realistic timetable,” said Mr. Khalilzad. Iraq can be “in a very good place in 12 months,” said General Casey. Even a child could see how much was wrong with this picture.

If there really is light at the end of the tunnel, why after three and a half years can’t we yet guarantee light in Baghdad? Symbolically enough, television transmission of the Khalilzad-Casey press conference was interrupted by another of the city’s daily power failures. If Iraq’s leaders had signed on to the 12-month plan of “benchmarks” the Americans advertised, why were those leaders nowhere in sight? We found out one day later, when the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, mocked the very idea of an America-imposed timetable. “I am positive that this is not the official policy of the American government, but rather a result of the ongoing election campaign,” he said, adding dismissively, “And that does not concern us much.”

Give the Iraqi leader credit for a Borat-like candor that almost every American in this sorry tale lacks. Of course all the White House’s latest jabberwocky about “benchmarks” and “milestones” and “timetables” (never to be confused with those Defeatocrats’ “timelines”) is nothing more than an election-year P.R. strategy, as is the laughable banishment of “stay the course.” There is no new American plan to counter the apocalypse now playing out in Iraq, only new packaging to pacify American voters between now and Nov. 7. And recycled packaging at that: President Bush had last announced that he and Mr. Maliki were developing “benchmarks” to “measure progress” in Iraq back in June.

As Richard Holbrooke, the broker of the Bosnia peace accords, has observed, the only real choice left for the president now is either “escalation or disengagement.” But there are no troops, let alone money or national will, for escalation. Disengagement within a year, however, is favored by 54 percent of Americans and, more important, 71 percent of Iraqis. After Election Day, adults in Washington will step in, bow to the obvious and pull the plug. The current administration strategy — praying for a miracle — is not an option. The current panacea favored by anxious Republican Congressional candidates — firing Donald Rumsfeld — is too little, too late.

The adults in charge of disengagement will include the Bush family consigliere, James Baker, whose bipartisan Iraq Study Group will present its findings after the election, and John Warner, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, who has promised a re-evaluation of Iraq policy within roughly the same time frame. Democrats will have a role in direct proportion to the clout they gain in the midterms.

One way or another the various long-shot exit scenarios being debated in the capital will be sorted out: federalism and partition; reaching out somehow for help from Iran and Syria; replacing Mr. Maliki with a Saddam-lite strongman. There will be some kind of timeline, or whatever you want to call it, with enforced benchmarks, or whatever you want to call them, for phased withdrawal. (Read “Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now” by George McGovern and William R. Polk for a particularly persuasive blueprint.) In any event, the timeline will end no later than Inauguration Day 2009.

In keeping with the political cynicism that gave birth to this war and has recklessly prolonged it, the only ones being kept in the dark about this inevitable denouement are our fighting men and women. They remain trapped, dying in accelerating numbers in a civil war that is now killing so many Iraqi civilians that Mr. Maliki this month ordered his health ministry to stop releasing any figures.

Our troops are held hostage by the White House’s political imperatives as much as they are by the violence. Desperate to maintain the election-year P.R. ruse that an undefined “victory” is still within reach, Mr. Bush went so far at Wednesday’s press conference as to say that “absolutely, we’re winning” in Iraq. He ABC News: EXCLUSIVE:explained his rationale to George Stephanopoulos last weekend, when he asserted that the number of casualties was the enemy’s definition of success or failure, not his. “I define success or failure as to whether or not the Iraqis will be able to defend themselves,” the president said, and “as to whether the unity government” is making the “difficult decisions necessary to unite the country.”

Unfortunately, the war is a calamity by both of those definitions as well. The American command’s call for a mere 3,000 more Iraqi troops to help defend Baghdad has gone unanswered. As we’ve learned from Operation Together Forward, when Iraqis do stand up, violence goes up. And when American and British troops stand down, murderous sectarian militias, some of them allied with that “unity” government, fill the vacuum, taking over entire cities like Amara and Balad in broad daylight. As for those “difficult decisions” Mr. Bush regards as so essential, the Iraqi government’s policy is cut and run. Mr. Maliki is not cracking down on rampaging militias but running interference for their kingpin, Moktada al-Sadr. Mr. Maliki treats this radical anti-American Shiite cleric, his political ally, with far more deference than he shows the American president.

The ultimate chutzpah is that Mr. Bush, the man who sold us Saddam’s imminent mushroom clouds and “Mission Accomplished,” is trivializing the chaos in Iraq as propaganda. The enemy’s “sophisticated” strategy, he said in last weekend’s radio address, is to distribute “images of violence” to television networks, Web sites and journalists to “demoralize our country.”

This is a morally repugnant argument. The “images of violence” from Iraq are not fake — like, say, the fiction our government manufactured about the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman or the upbeat news stories the Pentagon spends millions of dollars planting in Iraqi newspapers today. These images of violence are real. Americans really are dying at the fastest pace in at least a year, and Iraqis in the greatest numbers to date. To imply that this carnage is magnified by the news media, whether the American press or Al Jazeera, is to belittle the gravity of the escalated bloodshed and to duck accountability for the mismanagement of the war. Mr. Bush’s logic is reminiscent of Jeffrey Skilling’s obtuse view of his innocence in the Enron scandal, though at least Mr. Skilling has been held accountable for the wreckage of lives on his watch.

It is also wrong to liken what’s going on now, as Mr. Bush has, to the Tet offensive. That sloppy Vietnam analogy was first made by Mr. Rumsfeld in June 2004 to try to explain away the explosive rise in the war’s violence at that time. It made a little more sense then, since both the administration and the American public were still being startled by the persistence of the Iraq insurgency, much as the Johnson administration and Walter Cronkite were by the Viet Cong’s tenacity in 1968. Before Tet, as Stanley Karnow’s history, “Vietnam,” reminds us, public approval of L.B.J.’s conduct of the war still stood at 40 percent, yet to hit rock bottom.

Where we are in Iraq today is not 1968 but 1971, after the bottom had fallen out, Johnson had abdicated and America had completely turned on Vietnam. At that point, approval of Richard Nixon’s handling of the war was at 34 percent, comparable to Mr. Bush’s current 30. The percentage of Americans who thought the Vietnam War was “morally wrong” stood at 51, comparable to the 58 percent who now think the Iraq war was a mistake. Many other Vietnam developments in 1971 have their counterparts in 2006: the leaking of classified Pentagon reports revealing inept and duplicitous war policy, White House demonization of the press, the joining of moderate Republican senators with Democrats to press for a specific date for American withdrawal.

That’s why it seemed particularly absurd when, in his interview with Mr. Stephanopoulos last weekend, Mr. Bush said that “the fundamental question” Americans must answer is “should we stay?” They’ve been answering that question loud and clear for more than a year now.

What we should be thinking about instead are our obligations to those who are doing the staying. Kevin Tillman, who served with his brother in Iraq and Afghanistan, observed in an angry online essay this month: “Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a 5-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet.”

If we really support the troops, we’ll move past Mr. Bush’s “fundamental question” to one from 1971 posed by a 27-year-old Vietnam veteran, John Kerry, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

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

Also See:

  • Ruining America by Joe Galloway
    "If President George Bush's hasty news conference on Iraq this week was the Republican October Surprise -- unveiling some sudden presidential flexibility after three and a half years of stubbornly staying a losing course -- it didn't work."

Monday Deadline: Help Push Tony over the Top!

Tony Trupiano is a true (Michigan) Progressive who is very close to winning a seat in Congress -- but he needs our help to clinch it. If Tony can raise just a bit more money before Monday, he'll be able to run a hard-hitting, push-Tony-over-the-top TV ad against his Rubber-Stamp-Bush-Enabling opponent. A few bucks could be just the nudge he needs to win. If you can give a dollar, that's great! If you can more, wonderful! Times are hard for many of us, and I know it's not always easy to give to every cause.

I have always tried to follow my late Dad's example. He almost never found a cause he could turn down; yet he wasn't a wealthy man. So he gave whatever he could afford -- a little bit to each one -- because, as he said, they were all so deserving.

The beauty of this way of thinking is, that if each of us gives just a little, it will very soon add up to a whole lot. Together, we have the power of millionaires!

Remember, this election is about taking back Congress from those who have abused our trust and let us down. That's why it is so important that we each support as many Democratic or Progressive Independent congressional candidates as possible -- no matter in what state we reside.

So dig into your hearts, people. If you can help, I know you will. Tony is committed to fighting for us; let's give him the opportunity to do just that!

If you can help, Click Here.

More About Tony:

Howie Klein of The Huffington Post reports:

We Can Bring Home A Suburan Detroit District For A Real Progressive-- Tony Trupiano

In terms of quality of candidates we've interviewed and blogged with for the Blue America series, it doesn't get any better than Tony Trupiano. Please take a look at his session over at Firedoglake. John Amato introduced Jane and I to Tony and we're as floored by his dedication and commitment to core progressive values and principles as John is.

Since that late September chat the Blue America ActBlue page has raised nearly $5,000 for Tony's campaign. Not bad for a rag tag grassroots outfit, huh? But is it enough to win him the seat? It isn't. Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC should be helping with that. They're not. Let's really help Tony win this seat.

A couple days ago one of the most impressive TV ad makers in America, Lars Sandvik , sent us an ad he had put together for Jim Webb. Only Webb isn't using it. I asked him if he could adapt it to one of the Blue America progressives. He said "yes" and, like everyone who works on Blue America, Lars has done everything pro bono and made sure everyone else involved would too. So which campaign would most benefit? John, Jane and I don't have any fancy Beltway consultants-- thank God-- but we have something way better: Markos. We got Markos to go over all the races with us and figure out which race would be most likely to benefit from this particular ad and where our limited budget would actually do enough... not just enough to send a message, but enough to swing a few points and win an election. In the end the four of us all came to the same conclusion: Tony Trupiano.

Tony's opponent is a posterboy for the whole concept of being a rubber stamp. He is one of the least independent-minded congressman in Washington, even to the point of being a bit of a laughing stock. A complete mama's boy, he became hysterical at the one debate he had with Tony and wound up making an idiot out of himself and then refusing any further debates. Since he actually gerrymandered the district for himself as a state legislator, he feels quite certain he's got this baby in the bag. He must be reading MyDD because he just gave away 80% of his campaign warchest-- all those legalized bribes for so many favors to so many corporations-- to the RNCC.

We can win this race. Tony's doing very well on a shoestring budget. Some real air time the last week of the campaign could put him over the edge of victory. And we're not just talking about a generic "Democrat" here. We're talking about someone who will fight, and fight hard, for the basic tenets of a progressive America. If Tony gets into Congress he will immediately become one of the most important and articulate champions of working men and women. And I can tell you one thing-- Tony Trupiano will never vote to sabotage habeus corpus and Tony Trupiano will not agree to throw any minorities under the bus for his own career advancement.

Look at the Blue America ActBlue page. You've raised nearly half a million dollars and every $5 and $10 and $20 donation was pure grassroots. This is probably the last time we'll come asking for help in this cycle. If you have anything left you can spare, please consider going to the Blue America PAC and donating for television time buys for Tony now. We have to pull the trigger on Monday. So whatever we can raise between now and then, we put on the air. W

Also See:

Halloween Sleaze

Man, I must be out of touch. First Bill Maher does a bit on slutty halloween costumes, now Tierney. Guess I have to get out more.

Read on:

Give the Vixens the Day Off
By John Tierney
The New York Times
In principle, I have nothing against women in vinyl thigh-high boots, leather corsets, French maid micro-dresses or dominatrix gear. If American women are determined to set aside one day a year to go public with their inner vixen, I believe it is men’s solemn duty to respect their wishes.

But should that day be Halloween?

This is the great question facing our nation now that Oct. 31 has become known as Slutoween and Dress-Like-a-Whore-Day, much to the distress of moralists on both the left and right. When I see fundamentalists and feminists jointly denouncing something, my knee-jerk libertarian response is: bring it on! If the stores are stocked with nothing but slutty costumes, this must be what customers want. The market has spoken....

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

Non-TimesSelect subscribers, click here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Whatever Happened to the High Ground?

As much as I always enjoy reading Dowd, today's Times column leaves me feeling, well, sick. It's not that MoDo isn't up to snuff; she is.

It's that, as the election approaches, the lies and sleaze are multiplying at such an unprecedented pace, the political discourse has taken a dive well below "the low ground" to an entirely new subterranean depth.

Frankly, I can't stomach it anymore. It makes me physically ill to near Post Traumatic Stress Disorder intensity.

Our kids are being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as our politicians and media playfully and dishonorably grovel in the smut.

Why resort to such tactics? According to the political experts, because they work. They give politicians a bump in the polls. They give networks ratings.

As for us? We get slimed, gypped, and misled.

As far as I'm concerned, any candidate of any party who resorts to dishonest attack ads (99 9/10% of the attack ads are 100% lies) and runs a campaign based on falsehoods should receive not even one vote.

Only when we refuse to respond to such base, insulting-to-our-intelligence tactics, only when we stop tuning into the titillating, muckraking TV shows that pass for "news," only when we turn off all of the manipulative media and political propaganda and start demanding exactly what we want from our government -- only then will this country have even half a chance of surviving in a form that remotely resembles the America we were once proud to call home.

'Brothels, Sex Kittens, Pedophilia?'
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times
Republicans panicking is not a pretty sight.

Candidates around the country have been race-baiting, gay-baiting, Michael J. Fox-baiting and Hispanic-baiting. But now it has come to this: Republicans are novel-baiting.

Still trying to recover his balance, after slipping on a macaca and admitting he was a Jewish bubba, one criticized for using racist language, displaying a Confederate flag at home and keeping a hangman’s noose at his old law office, Senator George Allen of Virginia unleashed a vicious attack on Jim Webb Thursday night. He called him a fiction writer.

Senator Macacawitz, as he is now known in Washington, sent the cyber- gossip Matt Drudge a press release called “Webb’s Weird World.” It featured racy quotes from his rival’s novels and the contention that they were “very disturbing for a candidate hoping to represent the families of Virginians.” It said Mr. Webb’s novels about the military and war portrayed women as “servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or some combination of these.”

Excerpts from Webb novels included passages in which a man performs a sexual act on his son; a “naked young stripper” performs a sexual act on a banana, and male guards at a Vietnamese prison camp perform a sexual act on each other.

“There is nothing that’s been in any of my novels that, in my view, hasn’t been either illuminating surroundings or defining a character or moving a plot,” Mr. Webb said on Washington Post radio yesterday.

Mr. Webb, a 60-year-old former Republican and Vietnam vet who was President Reagan’s secretary of the Navy, was already defending himself for a 1979 magazine article called “Women Can’t Fight,” in which he called a Naval Academy dorm a “horny woman’s dream.”

He bridled at the latest attack, snapping, “You ought to read what George Allen’s sister wrote about him if you want to read about attitudes toward females.” Mr. Allen’s younger sister, Jennifer, wrote a memoir in which she described her brother pulling a Michael Jackson and dangling her over a railing at Niagara Falls, and slamming a pool cue against her boyfriend’s head. (She later said the pool-cue story was a joke, calling the book a novelization of the past.)

So the Old Dominion race now comes down to one guy denying he’s a racist and the other denying he’s a sexist, and the supposed sexist attacking the supposed racist as a sexist. Webb’s campaign sent out a press release yesterday noting that Mr. Allen nearly joined a males-only country club in the ’90s, when he was Virginia’s governor, and opposed co-education at the Virginia Military Institute.

Women make up half of all Virginia voters, so it’s a good bet they will determine who wins the race between two candidates who “exude machismo,” as The Washington Post put it: “James Webb, the marine firing his M50 antitank rifles in the jungles of Vietnam, and George Allen, the tobacco-chewing cowboy who as governor once stirred G.O.P. delegates with this line about Democrats: ‘Let’s enjoy knocking their soft teeth down their whining throats.’ ”

The Republicans’ usual trick — having Dick Cheney terrify women into thinking that terrorists will kill their children if they vote for girly Democrats — isn’t flying this year, so now the G.O.P. is resorting to more personal, and goofy, attacks.

Senator Allen may be able to hurt Mr. Webb, especially if he prints up all the steamy quotes on fliers and puts them on the windshields of Virginia churchgoers on Sunday.

Gary Hart, who used to write novels with another former senator, William Cohen, once told me that politicians are suspicious of other pols who read novels, much less write them. “They thought I was strange,” he said, “because I was caught reading Tolstoy and Kierkegaard.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fought back yesterday by putting out excerpts from G.O.P. pulp fiction. “Brothels, sex kittens, pedophilia?” they began their sampling of Republican scribblers, including Lynne Cheney, Newt Gingrich and Scooter Libby.

The Democrats also turned up a romance novel by Susan Combs, a Republican candidate for Texas comptroller. Ms. Combs wrote “A Perfect Match” about “a freckle-faced brunette,” a cryptologist from the National Security Agency who falls for her “gray-eyed bodyguard” with his “powerful, strong arms” and his erotic pistol-cleaning technique. She desired him to “fill the aching void at her center” where a “deep heaviness throbbed in her belly.”

It’s what the Democrats’ candidate, Jim Webb, would diplomatically call “a horny woman’s dream.”

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

Good Times on Letterman Tonight

Whatever you do, check out Letterman on his CBS "Late Show" tonight for an extra, special treat.

I promise you won't be sorry. ;))))


Just saw Letterman. Must admit, it read better in the Post than it played.
Wish Letterman had really nailed him, but ....

Sorry if I over promised. Judge for yourself:

Greening the Globe for Peace

Tom Friedman's latest op ed hits on one of my pet policies, namely: "The issue that will and should unite the West is energy and all its challenges."

I'd take the vision a step further by aspiring to unite the world -- not just the West -- to positively tackle the energy challenges of our age.

Where Tom Tom thinks in terms of "strategic alliances," an idea inherently accepting of an eternally conflicted world, I think in terms of "world unification," embracing the belief that people of different cultures and colors can find positive, common goals, behind which to unite for the good of all mankind.

Overly ambitious? Perhaps. But if you never aspire to it, you'll never achieve it ... and, at the very least, you'll be that much closer for trying.

Allies Dressed in Green
By Thomas L. Friedman
The New York Times
Heidelberg, Germany

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Western allies have been asking: What will replace the threat of communism as the cement that holds together the Atlantic alliance? Some have argued terrorism, but I don’t think so. I think my German friends have the best idea: the issue that will and should unite the West is energy and all its challenges.

After all, nothing is a bigger threat today to the Western way of life and quality of life than the combination of climate change, pollution, species loss, and Islamist radicalism and petro-authoritarianism — all fueled by our energy addictions. And no solution is possible to these problems without concerted government actions to reduce emissions, to inspire green innovation and to shift from oil to renewable power.

Therefore, green is not just the new red, white and blue — the next great American national security project — it should also be the color, focus and cement of the Atlantic alliance in the 21st century. As a German official remarked to me, “The whole issue has the potential of becoming a big trans-Atlantic project at a time when we have no other good big project that [embodies] a vision.”

The intertwined environmental and energy challenges we face today are so acute that they can no longer be addressed by “virtuous individuals hopping on a bus instead of taking the car,” argued Jonathan Freedland, a columnist for the British newspaper The Guardian. “This is a job for government.”

Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, recently gave a major address on how “energy security will strongly influence the global security agenda in the 21st century.” And Britain’s foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, just delivered a speech declaring that climate change “is not just an environmental problem. It is a defense problem. It is a problem for those who deal with economics and development, conflict prevention, agriculture, finance, housing, transport, innovation, trade and health.”

The fact that the foreign ministers are making this their agendas suggests that energy will soon move to the heart of the alliance’s agenda. As Mr. Freedland put it, “If climate change is a foreign policy problem, foreign policy can surely be part of the climate change solution.”

However, for what I call “geo-greenism” — thinking about green in strategic terms — to become the new core of the alliance, European greens will have to become more “geo” and the U.S. government more “green.”

European Green parties have tended to wrap their environmentalism in a very high-minded tone that was always more moralizing than strategic. For instance, Europe’s Greens led the global campaign against genetically modified crops, which will be critically important if we want to grow more of our fuel — à la corn ethanol or soy biodiesel. The Greens in Germany also forced the previous government to agree to phase out Germany’s nuclear power plants by 2021. That would mean uninstalling 30 percent of Germany’s energy capacity. It would be great if it were all replaced by wind or solar power, but it will most likely be replaced by coal.

Jürgen Hogrefe, who was spokesman for the Green Party in Lower Saxony, Germany, in the 1980s, is today a senior executive with EnBW, a German energy company with nuclear plants.

“The Green Party has been extremely important for German society,” he said, helping to transform the post-Nazi society into a more liberal domain. But an antinuclear stance has been at the core of the party, and now that the German mainstream has embraced a green agenda, the Greens need to rethink nuclear energy. “The Green Party should redefine itself,” added Mr. Hogrefe. “In some fields they are very modern party. ... But concerning nuclear energy and ecology they are stubborn, not open enough to see what is happening around the globe.”

One reason President Bush has failed to become the leader of the West is because he has failed to lead on green, which has become so important to all our allies. I doubt that he’ll redefine U.S. policy in his last two years, but the issues around climate change and energy conservation are now rising so fast it’s impossible to imagine that his successor won’t — whoever it is. And once that happens, it is impossible to imagine that living green, instead of fighting reds, won’t become the new glue of the Atlantic alliance.

Or as Hermann Ott, head of the Berlin office of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, remarked to me, “We don’t need aliens to unite our world, we have a problem right at the center” now — and the solution is green.

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