Jump to navigation
Archive for December of 2005
December 31, 2005
December 30, 2005
Happy New Year! We offer this. From Fusebox Galleries in the Imperial City
. (Recommended). As a means of cleansing the palate and renewal.
Because 2006 is likely going to be a bitch. The year Reality starts the trek home to roost. And it won't be pretty.
David Ignatius in WaPo can be surprising. Sometimes he serves up (inadvertantly?) some interesting observations. It's 30-70 with him we find. A good one is here
He notes that in 2005 the Administration's incompetence resulted in further de-legitimization of institutions. And loss of faith in their capacity to have positive impact.
The United States was a prime example of this global failure of governance. If we had a parliamentary system, George Bush's government might well have fallen in 2005. The administration struggled to cope with rising dissent on Iraq, on its response to Hurricane Katrina, even on its signature issue of the war on terrorism. Republicans in Congress, sensing Bush's unpopularity, began running for cover.
Unfortunately, Ignatius stops there. Perhaps he quails at the inexorable next steps of his diagnosis. So, Dear Reader, we carry it forward for you. What are the implications for the United States? Given the Administration's mobilization of the basest forms of emotion - fear, prejudice and hatred - in its politics? Delegitimation and the gasoline of mass anger and prejudice unleashed since 2001. Potentially explosive.
Post-Bush America's form is still up for grabs. One path a Post-Bush could take can be glimpsed here in this item from the Financial Times.
Anger and delegitimation combined.
Mr Kvachkov [a former KGB apparatchik and now member of the Duma], who called the attack on Mr Chubais the “first act of armed force in a national liberation war”, belongs to a militant nationalistic movement, backed by several political parties. After the attack on Mr Chubais, members of a similar radical party were charged with an explosion on a train from Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, to Moscow.
Not possible here? Not yet. But the Administration has created the space for this possibility. The mass — and base — emotions mobilized by the Administration's perpetual war of wedge politics will not go quietly into the night on their own. This is the supreme challenge for those who work, dream and fight for Regime Change here at home.
How to usher out this irresponsible and cancerous Presidency? To ensure its rejection and defeat are undeniable to the world. But also to preclude 'stab in the back' memes from widespread acceptance — to send the Administration to the ash heap of history *and* retire the politics of Irrational Belief and Emotion.
Because if Bush is not defeated, but merely replaced, (by either Party), he will have fullfilled his ultimate destiny as a transitional figure. The precursor. Let's deny him that legacy.
P.S. Pat Buchanan's brown shirt instincts come to fore yet again. On MSNBC this morning, he comments on and seemingly celebrates the process of delegitimation. Because he knows that this only helps his cause. And makes space available for his toxic authoritarianism.
As an aside, here's the WaPo item on DeLay and Abramoff's milking of foriegn (in this case Russian) money. As you know, the WaPo is not the Stiftung's favorite paper. But this is good, hard work. Check it out.
December 23, 2005
'Intelligent Design' and the Administration's Mainstreaming
of Radical Thought
How Creation of Doubt is the Wedge to Overthrow Reason
Celebrating Festivus in a bunker is always problematic. Although HDTV satellite helps. A bit.
So the Stiftung spent part of the holiday season reading all 139 pages of the Kitzmiller
federal district court decision. The Kitzmiller court recently rejected
the Dover County School Board's efforts to install 'Creationism' (remarketed as 'Intelligent Design') into school science classrooms.
What else does Kitzmiller
say about other trends in America 2001-2005? Is there any broader applicability?
Undoubtedly. The decision is a road map for how fringe ideologies seek to worm their way into mainstream discourse, hijack the meaning of words, and subvert institutions. As such, the decision is about more than 'Creationism'/'Intelligent Design'. It explains in a microcosm much that has occurred in America from 2001-2005.
The decision is rightly praised as well-written. Its constant reliance on the ample factual record makes it virtually appeal proof. This is no activist judge. The court lays bare in gory detail the complicity, duplicity and outright perjury by the School Board's militantly religious members. The facts linking the Board, the Thomas More Legal Center and the Discovery Institute in a broad and disingenous, covert religious agenda are clear.
But more is at play.
The court spent considerable time explaining “how” 'Intelligent Design' (ID) sought to undermine the meaning of the word 'science'. How the Discovery Institute seeks to turn words understood by the lay public to mean one thing upside down. And that attack, that methodology is not limited to ID. It is the same methodology all around us since the Administration claimed “9/11 changed everything”.
Negative Implication And Fringe Ideologies
The Discovery Institute's long planned attack on “science” uses the same techniques that the Administration and its water carriers employ on their attacks on skeptical “mainstream” media and “mainstream” government institutions. At core is the technique of 'negative implication'.
How negative implication works is laid out in detail throughout the Kitzmiller
decision. The record reveals how 'Creationism'/'ID' was designed to attack evolution. How it was planned to insinuate itself into the mainstream. The same technique is used daily by the Administration.
A 'negative implication' attack has three stages. At the initial stage, ID proponents seek to identify (or as the Court found, fabricate) gaps in the factual scientific record or evolutionary theory itself. Second, from these gaps, ID propnents create doubt by asking questions and placing the onus of refutation on others. Third, and finally, from those questions, proponents bootstrap ID as therefore an equally plausible explanation.
The goal is relativism. As any fringe ideological movement throughout history has found, it wins when the 'negative implication' trick escapes notice. Then the fringe ideology can be placed on an equivalent footing with the belief system it seeks to overthrow and destroy. (And yes, Dear Reader, ID proponents want to overthrow evolution, science and reason).
Read more »
December 21, 2005
“Isn't he the coolest Emperor ever ?!”
Imperial City conventional wisdom doesn't get it. Look at Marshall Whitman.
He continues to believe that the NSA surveillance issue will backfire on Administration critics. The claim? Americans will choose fear over constitutional niceties.
We have been sold this over and over again. Especially since the hapless Kerry campaign. Americans will embrace the “strong” President. And forgive overzealousness. Americans will only punish weaklings [insert Democrats, gratuitous Michael Moore reference, civil libertarians] and those who oppose in this case, extra-legal activity. In fact, all those stuck in “pre-9/11 thinking” and speak out on this will likely suffer according to the CW.
The NSA surveillance issue is, however,just the tipping point. The proverbial straw and the camel.
The overacrhing theme is the growth of an increasingly unaccountable Executive.
And what its proper role is in a state of semi-permanent threat. And how Congress should fullfill its constititonal duties for effective oversight. In the face of 45 years of Soviet threats and subversion, we did not blink. We did not surrender the Constitution. We shouldn't do so now. And well past time to ignore the Marshall Whitman-neo-cons lite.
Read more »
December 19, 2005
22.12.05 See item below fold - Hagel Takes A Stand.
1) Dover Decision Routing Intelligent Design Fraud
2) Rule of Law is the New Black!
3) Patriot Act Getting Bi-Partisan Scrutiny
Thank you Senators Feingold, Craig and others.
4) NYT Finally Coughed Up NSA Special Collection Story
5) CIFA at DoD Under Review
6) Americans are Talking About the Constitution Again!
7) O'Reilly Caves and Says “Happy Holidays” Is 'Okay'
War on Christmas truce declared! O'Reilly Wonderwaffen
Freedom as an Alternative Fuel Gives 50 mpg!
9) The Fourth Circuit Takes A Stand Against the Administration re Padilla
It's the Constitution, not the bad actor Padilla.
10) Or Maybe You Have Your Own Private Joy!
Whether it is Fiztmas, Judy's walk of shame, Jack Murtha, Woodward exposed, as the kids say, “It's all good!”
Read more »
December 16, 2005
Gonzales channels Harriet Miers? He is saying something today that is astounding. Most charitably, Gonzales is repeating arguments crafted by others he doesn't understand. He said
There were many people, many lawyers, within the administration who advised the president that he had inherent authority as commander in chief under the Constitution to engage in this kind of signals intelligence of our enemy,“ Gonzales said in an interview with CNN.
[Stiftung note: ”within the Administration“ telling 43 what he wanted to hear. ”Many, many“ within makes it extra ”legal, legal“, in Gonzale's world. And note, we are talking about eavesdropping on American citizens. So drop the ”enemy“ stuff]
”We also believe that the authorization to use force which was passed by the Congress in the days following the attacks of September 11th constituted additional authorization for the president to engage in this kind of“ electronic surveillance, he said.
So to Gonzales, the congressional authorization to use military force against the Taliban was an ”Enabling Act“. This document gave the President, who Gonzales said, already claimed he had the authority to suspend the Constitution, what? ”Super duper“ grants to the President? What would the Harriet Miers phrase be? ”Way more cool power?"
Read more »
December 16, 2005
Details below the fold . . .
Read more »
December 12, 2005
One more dose
Surprise? Not really. The NSA has always circumvented the ban on domestic spying, as many know. Before, they at least pretended to obey the law and civil rights. One mechanism was the infamous “Mid Atlantic Swaps” with GCHQ in the UK. It is so widely known that commentators as diverse as Juan Cole
and those worried about Echelon, etc.
have now stumbled onto it. The swap allows each institution to trade intercepts on each other's domestic citizens.*
The practice has been in force for decades. It has been an open secret for at least half as long. Although many are distrubed that the NYT sat on this new story for “a year.”
There is something delicious about having this highly politicized Department of “Justice” fumble the ball. Even this clique could not hide completely the furtive and abusive practice from that eunuch of civil liberties, the FISA Court. (In fairness, the FISA Court showed surprising (and unprecedented) pulses of independence before being cut off at the knees in 2002. [Edit: Typo- 2001 corrected]
The Stiftung just notes in passing that the Court was largely a rubber stamp for most of its existance).
How far from the Republic have we gone in 5 short years? The obvious connections are there: the National Security Letters, sneak and peek, CIFA spying on Quakers of all people as terrorist threats, secret laws and regulations revealed by John Gilmore's lawsuit
, Liberty Group and so on.
But a larger phenomenon is at work. (The Democrats' inability to articulate these larger issues amounts to seppuku
. Their failings threaten us all now).
To: Professor Leo Strauss
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2005 4:39 PM
Subject: Re: An Empire of Men . . .
Hi Thanks for that.... obviously I cant say in what capacity I worked , but I think its all gone wrong regards [deleted]
Read more »
December 12, 2005
From the National Journal, a snapshot . . .
December 11, 2005
One of the more bemusing aspects about the faux reality conjured by the Administration and its apologists is the myth of Condoleeza Rice as a competent and first rate intellect. In fact, her career is a monument to how adriot careerism and use of race and gender stereotypes can propel a mediocre mind into the uppermost echelons of American national security power structures.
Two friends of the Stiftung have written excellent pieces about Miss Foreign Affairs, Condi Rice. Sid Blumenthal's item in Salon, Condi's trail of lies
, discusses Condoleezza Rice's contradictory, misleading and outright false statements about the U.S. and torture, [which] have taken America's moral standing — and her own — to new depths.
Leon Hadar's piece, Condi Please Call Home
reveals the calculated manipulation behind Rice's image, noting “But it seems that P.R. has become an end in itself as far as Condi and the State Department are concerned. In fact, the State Department has emerged as a huge P.R. machine, according to a recent piece in the New York Times, 'The Man Behind the Secretary of State Rock Star Image.'
As Leon notes, it is dangerous to criticize Rice as one would any other public figure. To do so automatically triggers axiomatic charges of (x) racism; (y) sexism; (z) hatred of piano players and all the other aspects of her carefully burnished “Life Story” (tm). And so Rice has gotten a free pass. The Stiftung has experienced this first hand from Ditto Heads of both genders. The ferocity of the attacks in defense of the Rice myth is eye opening.
She is undeniably an incompetent manager, having spectacularly bungled her role and purpose of national security advisor. (This despite her laughable claim to the 9/11 Commission that she was an expert on organizational change). One need not embrace the increasingly erratic and volatile claims of Larry Wilkerson in their entirety to know that he speaks truth about her failures.
Both Sid Blumenthal and Leon make the case for cutting her down to size. The Stiftung would like to add to this worthwhile and long overdue effort. There are some additional data that could and should be added that will add color, texture and flavor to how truly mediocre she is. But, we are working on a project at the moment that hopefully will send Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and Bill Kristol into paroxyms of embarrassed rage, if we can pull it off.
And the thought of their sputtering incoherence warms our hearts in this Festivus season. So cher
Condi, we leave you to the capable scalpels of Sid Blumenthal and Leon Hadar. Until we get free and can pile on.
December 08, 2005
Via Kevin Drum and Atrios, this article
about John Gilmore's lawsuit against the Feds requiring ID to board a plane. As Drum notes, most Americans would not object to showing ID nor be all that sympathetic to a lawsuit challenging it.
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals seemed skeptical of the Bush administration's defense of secret laws and regulations but stopped short of suggesting that such a rule would be necessarily unconstitutional.
“How do we know there's an order?” Judge Thomas Nelson asked. “Because you said there was?”
Replied Joshua Waldman, a staff attorney for the Department of Justice: “We couldn't confirm or deny the existence of an order.” Even though government regulations required his silence, Waldman said, the situation did seem a “bit peculiar.”
“This is America,” said James Harrison, a lawyer representing Gilmore. “We do not have secret laws. Period.”
The Justice Department has said it could identify the secret law under seal, which would be available to the 9th Circuit but not necessarily Gilmore's lawyers. But any public description would not be permitted, the department said.
This is the real essence of the lawsuit for the Stiftung. The Bush Administration is arguing that it is entitled to enforce secret laws and/or regulations on American citizens that citizens and the judicial system have never seen. Nor be required to show the laws and/or regulations to the judicial branch, except in camera.
Atrios is actually too kind. It is not “kafka-esque”. This is not George Samsa waking up, but one of the real and alarming consequences of 'Bushism'. The gradual destruction of liberal democracy by the Macht Stat
. Part and parcel of the Patriot Act expansion and extension this year, CIFA at the Pentagon, the Liberty Group, etc.
This morning on Tweety's circle jerk, Howard Fineman was magnificently wrong again, saying that “Bushism will be defined by the Middle East and America's role in the Middle East”. Fineman has the cart before the horse. 'Bushism' is about the corrossive and permissive environment created for the Macht Stat
. Dick Cheney's Middle East “excellent adventure”? A symptom, a by product. The unilateralism of 2001-2005 and Sovietization of American power around the world? Same.
And as mentioned earlier, the Stiftung believes at this time, 'Bushism' will be viewed as a transitional phenomenon, an enabler, for What Comes Next. And we ask yet again, “When will they wake up?”
December 07, 2005
The United States took another step towards being a conscious Power State (the MachtStat
) today. The Patriot Act is now out of conference between House and Senate. Ready for presidential signature. [Edit: See Comments - Reader MC-A correctly notes that the Conference Report must still be ratified by each chamber. My point was that it is all but a foregone conclusion.]
A chance at restoring a balance between security and civil liberties has been lost. UPDATE 09.12.05
Conference report text is here
Radicalization abroad of American foreign policy (and covert activity) inevitably drives and feeds off of radicalization of the home front. History teaches us it is ever so.
The EOVP's imposition of revised torture directives on the US government and then taint by complicity those involved is part of the tapestry of foreign radicalization having a domestic counterpart.
Now the expansion of the Patriot Act. The Republican Party used to espouse a belief in limited government. Dick Armey, former House Majority Leader, placed sunset provisions in the original Patriot Act. Armey and others worried about civil liberties. He required that 1/10th of the Act's 150 provisions would sunset by December 31, 2005.
Yet today, 6 Republican senators signed off on the Conference Report that will send the Patriot Act renewal to both Houses, presumably then to Presidential signature. This renewal will make it nearly impossible to challenge “National Security Letter” gag orders, affirm that the FBI does not need any connection between a subject it chooses to investigate and terrorism, and extends outward a 7 year provision for surveillance powers.
More in the jump.
(1) New art to replace the Yagoda/National Security Letter graphic; (2) Russ Feingold is threatening a fillibuster
. Larry Craig and John Sununu are said to oppose, too.
Oh it gets worse. It seems that Cheney intervened to get the conference report signed. “The vice president helped out a little yesterday and after a lot of haggling, I signed the conference report at 9:00 p.m.,” Specter said in a statement sent to CNET News.com. “They brought it to my house.”
One can see the scene:
Cheney: “These aren't the civil liberties you're looking for . . .”
Specter: “. . . these aren't the civil liberties . . .”
Cheney: “The FBI can go about its business . . .”
Specter: “. . . they can go about their business. . .”
Cheney: “Move along”
Specter: “ . . . move along . . .”
Addendum: 11:00 PM — National Journal is reporting details that Leahy is pushing a plan to extend the December 31, 2005 sunset provisions by 4 months. This would allow the Senate more time to consider the Conference Report rather than be forced in approving bad legislation by the arbitrary December 31, 2005 deadline. (Subscription required, sorry).
Read more »
December 06, 2005
From the mouths of babes . . .
Israel: We prefer Assad
Israel told the United States it fears the outcome of regime change in Syria.
At a strategic-dialogue meeting this week among senior officials, Israel laid out for the United States three scenarios if Bashar Assad is toppled: chaos, an Islamist regime or another strongman from Assad’s minority Alawite sect. Israel fears all those options, saying Assad provides a measure of stability.
U.S. officials told their Israeli counterparts that toppling Assad could be “transformative” and dismissed concerns about an Islamist regime taking his place. Israel and the United States favor pressure on Syria to force it to stop hosting Palestinian terrorist groups and supporting Hezbollah, a Lebanese terrorist organization.
Interestingly, the Israelis may not fully grasp the full dimensions of their erstwhile colleagues in and around the Imperial City. Syria is very 2004 as they say. The topic du jour
with that set
is now Riyadh.
Oh the irony of having the Israelis utter the dreaded Scowcroft “stability” word to the New Centurions in the Administration. Who said God doesn't have a sense of humor?
But one can understand the Israelis' fears. According to reports quoting the Financial Times
. . . the Bush administration is already discussing who should replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with the White House leaning toward sponsoring an internal military coup. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley—the fellow who brought us the Niger-Iran uranium fairy tale—is in charge of the operation.
Read more »
December 05, 2005
A new site went live today, a blog by Leon Hadar. His blog is “Global Paradigms”
. Leon wears a number of hats which helps lend his analysis and commentary rare perspective and trenchant bite.
First, the bio. He is a research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, which is a D.C.-based think tank with a libertarian reputation. His specialties are the Middle East and East Asia. (See his book on the side bar to the left. As the Amazon reviews make clear, his work reflects thorough research and is also accessible to the non-specialist). Leon also works as a journalist, having been the former United Nations bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post. Currently, he is the Washington correspondent for the Singapore Business Times.
Second, now the good stuff. Leon leads off today comparing the Bush Administration's “Empire” ethos with the Democrat's “Empire Lite”
. His observations and conclusions are sobering for those who revel in 43's collapsing public opinion standing. The alternative waiting in the wings may be right out of the coda to that overplayed Pete Townshend anthem from Who's Next
Check out “Global Paradigms” — if you add it to your RSS feed, you will be in for a treat.
UPDATE: 06.12.05 6:00 PM
I think Leon has adjusted the blog since this post. The link above now refers readers to his excellent “Washington in Lucid Dreamland” post instead.
December 04, 2005
Tis the season to be jolly. And John Negroponte, the head of the Office of the erstwhile new National Director of Intelligence (OenNDI), is finding lumps of coal in his stocking.
Two tests are being watched. Each is being used to determine how effective he will be controlling the fractious intelligence community. The grumbling within the Community and on the Hill indicates he is running out of time.
The Stiftung believes he is likely to pass these particular tests. The question is, at what price?
, Negroponte seeks to exert control over the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and its satellite procurement for the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA). FIA is the NRO's effort to design and deploy our next generation of imagery satellites. The selling point for this multi-multi-billion dollar initiative was that FIA would be cost-effective and give the U.S. more capable imagery satellites this decade.
In September 2005, Negroponte decided to switch contracts awarded to Boeing, CA as the prime contractor to Lockmart. Boeing, he decided, was performing badly. FIA is already $4 to $5 billion over budget.
A change of this magnitude naturally pits Boeing, its industry allies and those in Congress and in the bureaucracy against Negroponte. It is unlikely that Boeing can reverse this decision now. But Negroponte may pay for this decision via the Hill starting with authorization bills in January. Watch this space.
lump of coal, as written up by UPI's Shaun Waterman
, involves Negroponte's choice for General Counsel for the OenNDI, Benjamin Powell. Senator Carl Levin has put a “senatorial hold” on the nomination, requesting that the Administration provide Congress information about detainee interrogation.
Read more »
December 01, 2005
The rumor continues to swirl around the Imperial City that Senator Joe Lieberman is slated to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Andrew Sullivan gave voice to it again this morning on Tweety's bleat-fest talk show.
Who knew the “secret” annex to the White House “National Plan for Victory in Iraq” was to carpet bomb the insurgents with some white phosphorus Joementum?
This move, if it happens, makes sense, of course. When Manstein was relieved, the words were “the time of grand maneuver are over”. The regime replaced him with the Models and the Schorners. They were commanders whose main qualifications were Belief in Victory and commitment to Fanatical Resistance.
This rumor has been resurrected many times over the past year. What gives it new life? Lieberman's fullsome embrace of the “Plan for Victory” this past week.
Harry Reid on Joementum: “I’ve spoken to Joe Lieberman and he knows he’s out there alone. I mean, literally alone. Joe is a fine man, he has strong feelings, but he’s just alone. Even Republicans don’t agree with Joe.”
Via James Wolcott
, an interesting discussion — what will the exit/drawdown/retreat/victory/bugout by the American expeditionary forces in Iraq look like? He cites Martin Van Creveld
, the justly respected Israeli military historian (and intellectual antidote to the Victor Davis Hanson fluff so rampant in EOVP and elsewhere).
Van Creveld's graf cited by Wolcott:
Whereas North Vietnam at least had a government with which it was possible to arrange a cease-fire, in Iraq the opponent consists of shadowy groups of terrorists with no central organization or command authority. And whereas in the early 1970s equipment was still relatively plentiful, today's armed forces are the products of a technology-driven revolution in military affairs. Whether that revolution has contributed to anything besides America's national debt is open to debate. What is beyond question, though, is that the new weapons are so few and so expensive that even the world's largest and richest power can afford only to field a relative handful of them.
Therefore, simply abandoning equipment or handing it over to the Iraqis, as was done in Vietnam, is simply not an option. And even if it were, the new Iraqi army is by all accounts much weaker, less skilled, less cohesive and less loyal to its government than even the South Vietnamese army was. For all intents and purposes, Washington might just as well hand over its weapons directly to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Read more »