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Archive for March of 2007
March 30, 2007
March 29, 2007
ant to make a bet? Twenty years from now?
Mainstream accepted historiography of this time will have almost nothing to do with what we see daily as so-called “journalism” and punditry. Even now watching the Bush regime self destruct. The same tired people who misunderstood this regime on the way up still peddle their inappropriate templates of pluralistic coalitions on its fiery crash.
The only thing worse than a biased media? A rudderless media lacking a core anchoring philosophy of its own. One at least should give Fox that. Without a conscious ideology of their own, our media still don't know in 2007 when it still stares them in the face.
Nothing unique about that obseravtion on the Intertubes. If you're here, you are likely sympathetic. So let's apply it.
hy does the Warlord stick with his lieutenants in the face of empirical evidence that they failed? Why do they then always sacrifice the smallest fish? It's not that “he's stubborn”. That merely describes a symptom — what is. A cop out for the Green Room daisy chain.
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March 27, 2007
March 26, 2007
magine yourself to be in your early thirties. You graduated from a good law school in the 1990s. But life is dull in Utah and later on Hatch's staff. You feel the pain of toiling in obscurity. Then Liz Chenney, one of your law school classmates, returns your phone call after 2000. Thanks to her, you land a plum job working first White House personnel and then with some geeky judge from Texas somewhere. Like Liz, her husband Phil and the gang, you're young, certain and besides, it's time to take back America!
ontary to what the media say about you, you're actually one of relatively bright ones around the Administration. You're an Articles Editor at the Chicago Law Review and later federal clerk. It's not hard to think, write, manipulate and scheme at the same time. No wonder you come to attention of other non-mouth breathers around, including Karl. It's also natural that you would strike up friendship with another bright, former member of the White House counsel's office — Brad Berenson — who agrees to represent you when that geeky judge boss steps on it big time.
Brad tells you to go to the Hill and tesitfy under oath; both of you are young and not even in the noontide of your careers. You have to think about your viability for the future.
Brad also confirms what your political instincts already know: those lightweights Gonzo Gonzales and Ms. Racoon Eyes? Dead in this town. History. So is the Maximum Leader. The key is to preserve access to the political chits Karl Rove carries in his pocket like loose change. They can still affect your life. You've seen it before. If Liz Cheney didn' return your phone call your claim to fame would be your golf handicap at the club back home.
Adios, Speedy! Nothing personal, strictly business. You've got ambitions and a wife to protect.
Brad's recommendation to testify under oath before Snarlin' Arlen, Schumer, Leahy et al. proves good. Together you both are smart enough to handle them. Enough chum is offered to doom Gonzales. You've earned the gratitude of the Movement easing that exit. And if necessary, you will still take a bullet. But should it come to that, do it for the real power, not doomed lightweights. You've been careful with the record that's out there — that you know about. Unlike that other rube and stooge, Monica Goodling. She needs the 5th. Another well intentioned lightweight finished.
It's all so frustrating. Sure, Brad's right that in 20 years no one will remember this episode. It'd also be nice if Brad was right that if you handle this, a federal judgeship later is still possible. Or even another stint in a future administration. But Brad never understood the true thrill of exercising Power. Brad's a loyal friend and smart lawyer but his ambitions stop with the law. He is destined always to be working for others. No reason to bring this all up now. Another shot at the brass ring is all that matters.
Just as long as you don't give up Rove.
March 25, 2007
t's a pet hobby to wonder how pop cultural artifacts offer glimpses into the American imagination. Nothing so ponderous as David Brooks' pseudo sociological mumbo jumbo. We're talking about informal observations picked up lounging in the neighbors' family room as they denounce again the local homeowners' association.
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March 23, 2007
nteresting item from Putin on EU-Russian relations
. His history is selective, naturally. The tone of the analysis is nonetheless mature. Here's one explanation for Putin's approach and why the U.S. is playing the wrong game.
ll the more interesting given the U.S. impulse to expand NATO even further eastwards to Ukraine. Russia ameliorated its position on Iran moving closer to the U.S. and EU. Via Washington Realist
, Dimitri Simes offers a glimpse of what Putin expects from Washington
March 22, 2007
itch, avec fils
, visits his posse courtesy of the Travelling Gnome
Thus, I confess to a slight lump in the throat at revisiting the area and seeing thriving, humming towns with multiplying construction sites, billboards for overseas companies, Internet cafés, and a choice of newspapers. It's even reassuring to see the knockoff “MaDonal,” with pseudo–golden arches, in the eastern city of Sulaimaniya, soon to be the site of the American University of Iraq, which will be offering not only an M.B.A. course but also, in the words of Azzam Alwash, one of its directors, “the ideas of Locke, the ideas and writings of Paine and Madison.” Everybody knows how to snigger when you mention Jeffersonian democracy and Iraq in the same breath; try sniggering when you meet someone who is trying to express these ideas in an atmosphere that only a few years ago was heavy with miasmic decay and the reek of poison gas . . .
To put it pungently, the Kurds have now stepped onto the stage of Middle Eastern history, and it will not be easy to push them off it again. You may easily murder a child, as the parties of god prove every single day, but you cannot make a living child grow smaller . . . Most inspiring of all, perhaps, is Kurdish Airlines, which can take a pilgrim to the hajj or fly home a returning refugee without landing at another Iraqi airport. Who would have believed, viewing the moonscape of Kurdistan in 1991, that these ground-down people would soon have their own airline?
here you go. A trillion dollars. Hundreds of thousands dead. Catastrophic collapse of American strategic position. And he gushes the Kurds have a MacDonalds clone and an “airline”? Once travelling in the old Soviet Union during the dark days we entered a heavy industrial city. We were startled to run across an old Brit, bowed by time. We struck up a conversation. He was an Old Time Believer probably from Spain if not before
. This sad figure enthused about the Soviet Union's progress building socialism. (This is true and not hyperbole). Surrounded by all the gray totalitarian industrial squalor and shuffling populace, the Brit did let slip one complaint: “Socialism”, he said, “still has problems getting me fresh fruit. Where is the fruit?” This one suspects will be Hitch in his twilight.
itchens' travelogue betrays whiffs of psycopathy amid the Ad Agent puffery. There's almost a manic focus on ridiculous insignificances such as a few Kurdish airplanes or a bloating feast with figurehead President Talabani. All empty totems and symbols. Nothing at all about the tidal wave of blood and violence his policies unleashed. No sense of personal responsibility. The “unpleasantness” all waved away vaguely. His final insult to the reader? A manipulative close more synthetic than nutrasweet: “However the fate of Iraq is to be decided, we cannot permit another chapter in this record of betrayal. Meanwhile, you should certainly go and see it for yourself [via Air Kurdistan? Ed.], and also shed a tear for what might have been.”
The tear, here, is not for what IS. Not for the current dead. Nor for the vast suffering. All summoned into being by Hitch. His tear is for HIS dream denied. For now, the enclave in Kurdistan has remained aloof from most of the blood bath. All should be glad for that mercy. The chances of it remaining so are dim. But I doubt many Americans would willingly go to war, suffer over 3,000 dead and 25,000 wounded, to give Kurdistan a McDonalds and an airplane.
It would not surprise the Stiftung if an aged Hitch, down the road when it all shakes out, wonders to another stranger: Why can't he get fresh fruit in Erbil?
March 20, 2007
e've been waiting for VDH's defense of '300'. Worth it? You decide. He claims the movie “gets the big ideas right”.
VDH concedes that Snyder and Miller cosmetically improved the Spartan physiques and tarted up the bad guys. Oh, and he cops to the fact that there were no rhinos or elephants at Thermopylae.
hat about the biggest idea of all in both movie and comic — that Sparta fought for 'freedom'? Here, VDH peddles the Big Lie.
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March 19, 2007
pparently the Bureau correctly took the measure of the Congress of Peoples' Deputies. Gross violations of federal statute, the Constitution, after-the-fact falsification of the records to hide the abuses warrants . . . a scolding
. Jerry Nadler alas seems to be among the few who understand what a constitutional republic is all about:
“We do not trust government always to be run by angels, especially not this administration,” Nadler said. “It is not enough to mandate that the FBI fix internal management problems and record keeping, because the statute itself authorizes the unchecked collection of information on innocent Americans.”
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March 16, 2007
oday is no different than yesterday. Our take on all the “4th Anniversay” business.
More interesting here is a larger question of accountability: who fueled the engines that made this regime possible, and more specifically, does opposition to Iraq give one a pass from that accountability?
Libertarians still frequently trot out the bromide that “War is health of the state”, etc. Iraq in this formulation is the catalyst for transgressions against civil liberties at home and imperial bloat abroad. Very basic stuff. Opposing Iraq is therefore like water on a fire that if extinguished will remove the domestic dynamic.
Buchanan Nativists and the like-minded? Temporary and convenient allies in opposing Iraq (while trying to overlook the domestic extremism there — what's a little Franco-ism among friends?). And we should not miss that small cadre of Republican and mainstream conservatives who opposed the war in public from the beginning. Theirs was the most courageous stance — deviationism merited professional extinction (recall this was 2002-2003). The smarter deviationists covered their wandering by overcompensating elsewhere with fealty to the regime's other activities.
ur take is all of the above got it wrong. Contary to Libertarian 101 maxims, the regime's radicalism was in place and unfolding before March 2003. Iraq and the war were the beneficiaries of the Statism and radicalization, not the proximate cause. In fact, most of the engines for this regime's radicalization were in place and in action before it. Ergo, even ending the war will not address the fundamental problems posed by Christian Socialist Authoritarianism. Indeed, one could make the compelling case that the war was *essential* to halting that authoritarianism by delegitimizing it.
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March 14, 2007
riefly on Valerie Plame's testimonial debut:
To quote Jpod, “Valerie Plame is a credible witness”;
Wingnut denial that she was not a clandestine officer properly covert is in tatters;
Damage assessment aside from her outting, the tragedy is that the Agency before 9/11 did not sustain enough non-official cover assets;
Plame presents a conundrum for FoxNews as she embodies phenotypically the archetype they peddle to their demo;
Do any readers want to chip in to get two one-way tickets to Santa Fe and expedite Joe Wilson's departure?
Tags: Valerie Plame, Cheney, Iraq, War, Neocons
March 13, 2007
All that, which just kills those of us who care about the Justice Department ... and what ends up getting congress whipped up is nonsense — the proper political use of a political power that the last Democratic president and Democratic Justice Department used systematically and remorselessly.
Gonzales rates being defended strictly because it would be an outrage if he lost his job over this manufactured scandal. But the president shouldn't be shocked that there isn't exactly a tidal wave rushing to the attorney general's defense.
fter gutting a felt covered stuffed mouse in search of auguries, the entrails suggest Alberto is sliding into oblivion. McCarthy speaks for an increasing chorus within the Movement heading towards punting on A.G. A.G.
The chatter we hear from contacts is similar to the cusp of the Trent Lott moment. Time and again the same refrain: Gonzales is weak, Gonzales is a non-Movement factotum, Gonzales is a reason the brown hordes dilute the Nation's purity of essence, Gonzales never believed in Will to Power. Above all? A.G. simply is a wimp.
A.G. A.G.'s screw up is a national substantive FUBAR. Lott merely stepped into a rhetorical faux pas. But recall the FREEPERs and the baby wingnut blogosphere back then pretended that dumping Lott was real outrage instead of the truth that they wanted any excuse to dump a deviationist who actually had the temerity to negotiate with Democrats. Back then it was interesting to watch some Republicans reflexively jump to Lott's defense only to be undercut themselves by the Movement's desire for retribution for weakness. We get that feel today. We laugh when we see some of the same Movement players now pretending to be outraged A.G.A.G. misled Congress. (Like they never had been mislead before under this regime).
Sununu's call for resignation is the trial balloon
but an important one. Our contacts with a variety of spectra of the base indicate that the trend is against the dig in to defend “our guy” and towards PUNT. There is a murmur that the Movement needs a “John Roberts” type to defend the Administration — a Leonidas as imagined by Miller and Snyder to withstand the
Arabs, Palestinians and State Department wimps
Democrat onslaught. It is no secret that Fred Fielding has little regard for the legal or political acumen of either A.G. A.G. or Miers.
Gonzales proves the oldest truth of the Imperial City (no not the thing about friends and getting a dog): when you have no political base of your own except the favor of your boss, your life always hangs by a thread even if you don't know it. Adding to A.G.'s possible doom is he stepped on the one thing everyone on Capitol Hill is righteous about: the rights of Congress to control, influence or direct choice perks such as U.S. attorney appointments. Some claim that this is a real test of the Democrat meme keiretsu
— with A.G.A.G. twisting in the wind, do they have what it takes to bring it all home? And are they strong enough to channel events what comes next post A.G.A.G?
Tags: Alberto Gonzales
March 12, 2007
e're all for fanning the feeding frenzy on the U.S. attorney scandal. Watching Gonzales lurch around in a wide eyed daze is a joy. His chief of staff thrown overboard as political chum adds to the pleasure. Toss in some Karl Rove involvement as spice keeps the issue vaguely familiar to the American Idol crowd.
All to the good.
The Real Issue Isn't The U.S. Attorneys
s you know, the real issue isn't Rove, Gonzales or that stuff. Or watching Pat and others defend firing people for not salvaging B-1 Bomber Dornan's sour grapes.
We've all discussed here for a long time
, the key issue is how the regime used the Patriot Act to usurp the constitutional powers of Congress (Article I) and the Judiciary (Article III)
. The politics of firing U.S. attorneys that refused to play ball with Republican agendas is clear. So are the misrepresentations made by Gonzales and DoJ staff to Congress. No one should be surprised that this most ideological of regimes tried to impose its brand of radicalization and fidelity on U.S. attorneys. The real surprise would be any restraint. Gonzales misleading Congress is a no brainer too, although it becomes totally fuzzy with him where utter cluelessness ends and mendacity begins.
The FBI abuses of National Security Letters, information sharing with other government agencies (and private contractors), this abuse of appointment powers, are all tied to the same problem: flaws in the Patriot Act. Under unified Republican Christian Socialist Authoritarianism, Congress willingly became a puppet Congress of Peoples' Deputies. We've reported here how a senior Cabinet officer told the Stiftung to our face that Congress deserved to be treated with profound contempt
A post-Republican-rubber-stamp Congress recovering a bit of spine after November 7th is not enough. The Executive branch is now saturated at all ranks with true believers in the authoritarian agenda. Trying to ferret out compliance or technically legal but perverted subversions of the Constitution such as the misuse of the Patriot Act provisions in this case will be a game of whack-a-mole.
What The Dems Should Do
emocrats would be well advised to create a master list of all legal frameworks pushed through the Congress of Peoples' Deputies that could serve to give bad faith actors in the Executive branch — any Executive, Democrat or Republican — the opportunities to subvert either the other two branches or due process and constitutional protections of citizens. And repeal them, sunset them or otherwise rescind them. The assault on separation of powers by the Bush regime was comprehensive in scope and duration. Its rollback must be equally so.
Failure to do this and go for admittedly entertaining and deserved single point issues will leave the entire framework in place. And a sign that authoritarianism is not repealed but merely dormant. Let Schumer get his TV face time (the old joke being the most dangerous place in the Imperial City is to be between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera). He's doing a fine job pushing this issue home so far.
But keep the eye on the ball. The prize really is about restoring separation of powers and the Constitution. The U.S. attorney issue is a means to that end. Put a stake in the heart of Christian Socialist Authoritarianism. Make November 7th really mean something.
, Patriot Act
, U.S. Attorneys
March 03, 2007
he Times catches up with you, Dear Reader.
ou have been helping the Stiftung and our readers follow the Conrad Black circus here for over a year. Now the curtain will rise on the big show. The Black trial — starting Wednesday — promises to be a Jerry Springer-fest for the corporate code.
When Conrad M. Black pleaded not guilty to criminal fraud charges in December 2005, a federal court in Chicago granted his request that he be defended by Edward L. Greenspan, one of the most famous criminal defense lawyers in Canada, where he is known by the nickname Fast Eddie.
Edward L. Greenspan, above, in his office in Toronto last week, will defend Mr. Black. But the court made Mr. Black sign a waiver acknowledging that he understood that his lawyer, for all his renown in Canada, does not know American law. If he loses, Mr. Black, who faces more than 90 years in jail if convicted, cannot appeal on the grounds that it was his lawyer’s fault.
“I love that I’ve been certified as stupid by the Illinois judge,” said Mr. Greenspan, who plans to frame a copy of the court document and hang it in his law office here. “So stupid,” he added, “that no matter how incompetent I might be, Conrad can’t rely on it.” . . .
In Mr. Black’s native Canada, the media attention on the trial is nothing short of gaga. The Globe and Mail of Toronto, considered Canada’s most serious newspaper, recently ran a front-page article about eating lobster dinner with Mr. Black in a restaurant; the Canadian newsmagazine Macleans published a special edition last week devoted to the “trial of the century.”
Toronto Life, a monthly magazine in the city where Mr. Black has been holed up in his mansion since his troubles began, is preparing the Web site conradblacktrial.com to follow every twist.
aybe Conrad with help like witnesses such as Henry the K and Trump can get this on American cable. “Vell, I told Conrad zat Metternich vould haf demanded a deal wif Prushians be a reverse asset backed transaction wif a credit revolver but Conrad refuzed my advize.” Toss in a wife with an Evita complex and it surely is more entertaining than Doc Blocks. A shame that Rita Cosby was let go by MSNBC. She would have been a natural.
Tags: Conrad Black
You don't say
. (Actually, the Stiftung has said this for years).
Mention the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Lawrence Eagleburger and he explodes. [A terrifying mental image - Ed.]
“I defy anyone to tell me how you can use that many people. It is nuts . . . it's insane and it's counterproductive . . . and it won't work,” says the Republican former secretary of state and member of the Iraq Study Group. “I've been around the State Department long enough to know you can't run an outfit like that.”
According to a State Department count, about 1,000 federal employees report to the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, not including hundreds of private contractors. State Department personnel are assigned to roughly half the slots in Baghdad, and the rest are reserved for an array of agencies, including about 90 from the Justice Department, 20 from the Department of Homeland Security, and four each from the Commerce Department and the Transportation Department. They are needed, officials say, to rebuild transit and mail services, to assist small businesses, to advise politicians and peasants.
The mission's closely guarded budget is a source of controversy at State, and across the federal government. At $923 million for the 2006 fiscal year, the budget was 20 times that of the Beijing embassy's that year, according to the State Department. More than two-thirds of the money pays for security. Salaries for about 600 staff from other federal agencies are not included in that figure, nor are some expenses.
“Maintaining an oversized mega-embassy in Baghdad is draining personnel and resources away from every other U.S. embassy around the world, and all for what?” said a senior State Department official, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the issue [to the Secretary of Fabulosity - Ed].
The teeming embassy masks a desperate need for civilians to aid the reconstruction effort. To lure more, federal employees are offered 70 percent more than their base salaries for Iraq service, plus overtime, or special premiums for working long hours, according to the Office of Personnel Management. It is possible for senior employees to earn more than the secretary of state, who makes $186,600 a year. Kashkett said 1,700 diplomats have stepped up for Iraq service since 2003 — about 20 percent of those eligible to go. The State Department has discussed drafting personnel.
The blunt view, from Eagleburger: “We're throwing people and money at something without estimating what the culture demands. It's hubris.” [DOH - Ed.]
eanwhile, around town the last week the Cher Condi Chorus started flocking again at receptions. They knowingly mutter to one another, chewing slightly wilted celery and other low cost finger food. On some, there's a weird rictus smile reminiscent of that Enzyte commercial. Their Gal is working it. She's the Princess of Realism don't you know. And predictably, there is the de rigeur
badmouth of another Chorus member standing a mere eight feet away.
Appalling. Shallow opportunism is a fact of life in the Imperial City. Indeed, its practice is celebrated by the WaPo as High Art. Still one can't help but recall James Garner as F. Ross Johnson in “Barbarians At The Gate” when he said, exasperated, “I gotta get out of this town.”
Of course, the thought quickly passes. Too much of a conceit to think that human nature is defined just by geography. Particularly these days of satellites. We still recall a horrific memory of waking up in Helskinki one morning hung over. We stumbled over and turned on the television. And there was CNN Headline News blaring. The banalities of the day took on Eraserhead like dimensions that day. If Krauthammer ever gets his moonbase it will be the same. One shudders to think of Nancy Grace leering out over the empty vacuum.
It's just so annoying to see in 2007 self-described Oppositionists veer like clockwork from Henny Penny alarm over the Neocon threat du jour
to smug assurance they always knew Cher Condi was a Realist in ascendancy. Year in and year out. They are now every bit as tedious, wrong, vacant and obnoxious as the Neocons and Administration they criticize. Frankly, if it takes the Bush regime's departure to end their chatter, that's double incentive to wish for 2009 to hurry up and arrive.
Tags: Condi Rice