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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 28, 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 27, 2007
March 26, 2007
e first encountered this White House directly in 2001 and saw first hand unified uniparty government (with the brief interruption Senate-side until November 2002). Since then we have been amazed watching the liberal and moderate establishments' willful failure to understand their peril. They sat across a gloating menace devoted to their destruction, not mere defeat. Still liberals and even Republican moderates such as “The Main Street Partnership”
continued to seek understanding, compromise and traditional coalition management strategies.
The result? Disaster for them and the Nation.
Some still extend an unjustified benefit of the doubt. Harold Meyerson's column today expresses puzzlement why the Administration's recent scandals date after November's calamity
. He offers four possible alternatives: a) Republicans hope for rescue by a non-Bush, non-“insider” candidate in 2008 such as Rudy to replace Bush; (b) Republicans want to stall and run against Dems as “do nothings”; (c) they believe their own Kool Aid and FOX; and (d) they just can't help themselves.
arold, bright as he is, still doesn't fully grasp the nature of those ruling this country these past 6 years. First, the Movement continues to act in its self interest. Congressional Republicans are an after the fact consideration if not considered a nuisance. Nick Calio was essentially an appendix in the White House universe. Legislative outreach dwindled still further after his departure.
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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 15, 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 14, 2007
t walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. When is it really a kangaroo?
If you've ever seen a counterintelligence case used to promote a wider political and policy agenda, it's a familiar question. We ask today watching the continuing jousting over the Chinese threat. Not surprisingly, the DNI's overlay of bureaucracy does not alter the Community's underlying fractious institutional genetics.
e start at the beginning.
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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 10, 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
March 09, 2007
ack Balkin notes that the Administration again buries the FBI abuse story by dumping it on a Friday
Oddly for this blog, we are going to argue that the Administration for once really is not completely to blame for this situation. Beginning with the Clipper Chip push by the NSA under Bush
the Elder, the permanent National Security State Id
argued that digital technologies mandated a greater encroachment on the 4th Amendment. Now it's terrorism. Words change. The goal remains the same; escape from accountability and rule of law.
uring the Clinton Administration, National Security State Id careerists drafted and circulated several legislative proposals. These drafts evolved and in many ways became the template for the Patriot Act resubmitted immediately after 9/11.
o you recall those those days? Remember the black helicopter paranoia? Ruby Ridge, Waco and then Elian Gonzales? Vince Foster being moved around secret love nests? Janet Reno and memes of an out of control DoJ? Well, as crazy as that stuff was, it made it easier to defend the Constitution. 4th Amendment concerns united libertarians, the wingnuts, mainstream conservatives and Democrats.
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March 08, 2007
lapper as a replacement for Cambone may indeed be good news for the Community overall and the Agency
in particular. Gates actually appears to be acting on his declarations that he would reverse Rumsfeld's intelligence-related distortions
. Clapper and Gates will be sitting on over $30 billion out of the $42 billion Community budget.
ust be prepared to hear alot more what Spider Marks
asserts in the link above. First, operational/tactical battlefield commanders and their intelligence officers like Marks will always want more. Second, Marks has a special chip on this shoulder. He was about the only biped in the United States who actually took on the mission of really trying to identify and locate the WMDs before and during the war as an intelligence officer for OIF. No one else in OSD or CENTCOM could give a damn before March 2003. Even now, after the fact, poor Spider forgets about “the lie” part in Noble Lie. So he's naturally going to be gun shy, as they say.
On the other hand, Marks is really talking apples and strawberries; Rumsfeld and Cambone were not really interested in the pure battlefield tactical intelligence situation. OSD and DoD have always had that mission. And the oversight for that was already under the respective armed services committees on the Hill since 1980. They were much more interested in strategic, operational and covert action capabilities. Much of the current and future struggles will be over tasking and control of the overhead stuff. It helps that Clapper comes from there (Air Force and National Geospatial Agency) and Gates comes from where he does.
How weird to find oneself agreeing with Pete Hoekstra. Although keep in mind HPSCI is on the receiving end of potential oversight jurisdiction. So Hoekstra wanting to see this happen with no fuss, no muss is natural. So is Duncan Hunter's opposition from Armed Services. (Remember Hunter's stand against the original DNI legislation as proxy for Rumsfeld?) Although it is perhaps symptomatic that in the initial link above the reporters are still trained to call Hoekstra and Hunter for comment even though they are no longer chairs but in the minority.
It's telling. To use the Dowd bon mot
in another context, journalists embody tropism to power. The stupidity of agreeing to a debate on Fox. Sometimes we wonder if the Democrats have a suicide wish. But we digress.
In the six years since 9/11, the military intelligence community has developed a sense of bureaucratic ownership,“ said Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian. ”They spent a lot of money developing their own sources and capabilities. There will be a great deal of opposition to giving the CIA these resources.
hat's for sure. Along with an entire eco-system of private contractors and ancillary parasites dependent on the continued cash flow. Knocking over the initial ricebowls by Rumsfeld and Cambone upset enough people. The money flowing since then makes adjusting the new rice bowls even more sensitive.
Clapper gets kudos for his prior DIA service in the 1990s and his willingness to stand up to Rumsfeld and support the DNI legislation when he headed up the National Geospatial Agency (nee Defense Mapping Agency). The fact that Rumsfeld retaliated and forced Clapper out makes Clapper even more incented to support a restoration post-Rumsfeld as Cambone's replacement.
Watch this space, as they say.
March 06, 2007
ean Baudrillard passed away in Paris
one day after the Scooter verdict.
One of his better known theories postulates that we live in a world where simulated feelings and experiences have replaced the real thing. This seductive “hyperreality,” where shopping malls, amusement parks and mass-produced images from the news, television shows and films dominate, is drained of authenticity and meaning. Since illusion reigns, he counseled people to give up the search for reality.
“All of our values are simulated,” he told The New York Times in 2005. “What is freedom? We have a choice between buying one car or buying another car? It’s a simulation of freedom.”
ewis Carroll likely welcomes the company. Although many misunderstood Baudrillard (the Times unhelpfully dwells on The Matrix films), how rare it is for someone to see their theories vindicated on the world historical stage.
It's fitting that the ultimate male-bonding/romantic militarist story, Sparta's stand against the Persians comes to the screen as '300'. This doomed defiance is reverently invoked across the years, particularly from a related subset — from many in the American Movement military porn enthusiast community to the Corporal losing an entire army on Volga. Baudrillard would have appreciated transforming the already derivative comic book '300' into the completely non-existant realm of CGI effects.
00” the movie could be the apotheosis of hyperreal imagining — it's current state of the art. Kid movies aside — you know the kind — fare designed specifically to replace cell-based animation with inside jokes as a sop to adults, Hollywood's CGI worlds in general, well, suck. And it is not just the specific actors. The latest Star Wars movies are too easy to cite because they were awful in so many ways. But others have failed, too — “Sky Captain”, “Final Fantasy”, “UltaViolet”, “Aeon Flux”, the last two Matrix movies. Now matter how compelling or awesome the initial CGI visions, no matter who is acting, after about 10 minutes a weariness sets in. The imagination rebels against mere pixels. Making matters worse, CGI is now available for everything. Special effects are no longer special.
Do politics follow our social imaginations? If so, what does a CGI imaginative cul de sac presage? Perhaps it is limited to flaws in that particular tool — CGI — and not against hyperreality per se
. American Idol, for example, with its equally synthentic and hyperreal narratives remains a ratings juggernaut. As do stories about Britney's head shavings and the Anna Nicole Smith saga.
Tags: Hyper reality
, Jean Baudrillard
, Frank Miller
March 05, 2007
e defer to the professional and semi-pro Scooterologists to Tell What It All Means. We can only share with you, Dear Reader, what our take away is. And ours is a decidedly idiosyncratic view.
First things first. Here's the obligatory reference to Cheney lurking behind it all. There. Done. Let's move on.
cooter's verdict today is the latest salvo in the duel between the Agency and EOVP. And begging Pat's pardon, it remains a Mexican standoff. Earlier we wrote on this in greater detail, referring to it as a Passchendale On The Potomac (a long post)
Today we're using a nautical theme. Largely because we were reading some of the original Japanese texts that Evan Thomas uses without footnoting for his tedious retelling avec
21st century psychobabble of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
he sad truth is that much of the progressive and liberal blogosphere is and was wrong about the old Agency. They are peddling Kool Aid the same as the Administration's flacks, just of another flavor.
The Agency had become a leaky old battleship in need of renovation and drydock time. Reform indeed was urgently needed. The Community was broken. Tenet did abdicate Community management.
All that got lost in the Administration's ideological assault. To be sure, the Neocons and Cheney delivered more torpedo and bombs hits on it than the Musashi took in the Sibuyan Sea. The Agency's superstructure was blown away. The flag had to be raised elsewhere at the new DNI. Institutional damage and loss of prestige here and abroad remains significant and will outlast the Bush Administration as the Agency's reduction in status will be permanent. The new DNI apparat gets the crucial presidential face time. As a consolation, the DO gets to call itself the “National Clandestine Service”. Meh, as the kids say.
On the other hand, the Agency landed some hits itself. Cheney's seemingly impervious Wotan steel failed. Scooter's indictment tore out the EOVP's radar and gunnery support. No one can deny that Addington and Hannah are no equal replacement for Scooter. The trial also exposed the Cheney Admiral's bridge to direct enemy fire.
aking on a permanent bureaucracy like the Agency in a broadside at point blank range is always dicey. The permanent government sees Sun Kings come and go. Every Administration is brash and commanding coming in. Not infrequently they leave bowed and often indicted. For this reason, most Administrations are careful not to push matters too far. Costs and risks far outstripped any conceivable benefit.
But this regime was different. The Agency had never experienced an assault of this nature or magnitude before. As mentioned here elsewhere, the Agency is more or less a loyal dog eager to please its master (or client or customer). Presidential approval is the alpha and omega. One can agree or not agree with Edward Bennett Williams in 1980 when he told Casey “[t]he CIA is like a great dog that got hit by a car, you can only say it was a great dog until it got hit by the car.” (We happen to agree fwiw). But this regime was the first master in Agency history determined to destroy its approval-seeking dog while still demanding performance. Or at least its carcass as fall guy for the regime's recklessness. Such psychological cognitive dissonance destroyed Tenet's equillibrium in particular, given his genetic compulsion to seek approval and to get along. (A hallmark of a classic Hill staffer and not necessarily a bad thing in other times). But blame goes beyond him including McLaughlin and down the line. None of them rose to the Vernon Walters standard of resisting White House pressures.
Of course the Agency is a complex organization and elements within supported many parts of the Administration's policies and vision to various degrees. It is not accurate to say “the Agency stood up tp the Administration” and all the other black/white simplicities of the media and blogosphere. Yet the Bush regime's fury and related AgitProp fell on the entire organization like a tidal wave. If the Administration was frantically looking for scapegoats in 2003 for the WMD fiasco, the Agency was looking to deflect blame as well. The botched Goss/Foggo era was a God send to the Agency as it gave demoralized professionals a galvanizing rallying cry and gave the Agency a good guy/bad buy narrative easily understood and peddled by the media.
The permanent government bureaucracy played more than defense. Various leaks to the media about black sites, warnings from Baghdad, Chalabi's (deserved) travails, the referral to DoJ re Plame all show vigorous push back. Largely successful to boot, as we see in today's guilty verdict. True, compared to the institutional rubble in Virginia the taking down of one man seems a slight consolation. Even if that one shell hit tore the guts out of Cheney's fire control. Scooter's conviction is, however, just a down payment. The Agency and other elements in the abused Community will help shape the corporate memory of this time far beyond any Cheney memoirs written by Weekly Standard hack writer Stephen Hayes. This payback comes with an annuity plan.
e have mixed feelings about Scooterama and the denouement. Oh, not about Scooter or that stuff. It's just makes us queasy to see Tweety constantly inserting himself into the affair as if he himself was, as he put it, “under assault, under attack by the most powerful office in the land” yada yada yada. Scooter should get another guilty count for giving Tweety a further shove into delusional grandiosity. That's worth 5 years minimum, hard time.
And already we see a movie deal cut about Wilson. At least 3 if not 4 more books will come out about all this, too. Now it is certainly undeniable that Wilson, as our comments section here has noted, is ready made to piss off Neocons and Administration flacks. But he also makes us ill.
In Lord of the Rings Frodo goes back to the Shire at the end but can not find peace. The evil of the Ring can not be unmade. Some scars remain and will never be healed. Wilson will be our collective scar and burden to bear. Perhaps as a reminder of these grim times. Or perhaps another jest by the living universe, finding the laugh line in this whole sordid business.
, Scooter Libby
, Valerie Plame
March 03, 2007
ne shouldn't be surprised that hardline conservative Japanese Prime Minister Abe is rejecting moves in the U.S. Congress calling on Japan to apologize for its misuse of over 200,000 foreign women
during WW II. Abe's commitment to revive the most reactionary sentiments of Japanese nationalism is well known. In fact, the current political leadership's sentiment to re-arm and revive nationalist ideology has roots back to 1952
, if not earlier. Abe's gandfather, Kishi Nobusuke, himself a prime minister, tried to repeal the famous Article 9 (the Peace article) of the Japanese Constitution in the early 1950s as well. We've written about it before here
Specifically, regarding the wartime abuse of foreign women:
[T]here are widespread concerns that Mr. Abe and other conservative Japanese lawmakers may try to water down or reverse such public admissions of guilt [of misuse of foreign women], as part of a broader push to change the way the nation regards its wartime history.
Speaking in Japan’s parliament, Mr. Abe reiterated the position of conservative scholars here that Japanese soldiers and government officials had no hand in forcing women into brothels during the war; they say that private contractors hired by the Japan’s military were to blame.
But by insisting that the coercion in the military brothels was not the work of officials or the military, Mr. Abe is effectively dismissing as liars the aging women who have come forward with tearful testimony about their ordeals — a stance with public-relations risks of its own.
One of the women is Lee Yong-soo, 78, a South Korean who testified in the House last month that she had been kidnapped by Japanese soldiers at the age of 16 and had been raped repeatedly at an army brothel. In a news conference last week in Tokyo, she said Japanese soldiers dragged her from her home with her mouth covered so that she could not call to her mother for help. “I want Japan and the Japanese prime minister to apologize,” she said. “As a victim who was forcibly taken, as someone who lived through those events, I’m a living witness.”
laming private contractors and not the military per se
will likely be a meme Americans will become familiar with in the decades ahead. But in the Japanese case, the refusal to acknowledge the past isn't limited to “comfort women” or even refusal to acknowledge the sack of Nanjing. Abe recently pushed through revisions to the “Fundamental Law of Education of 1947” to require Japanese schools to foster “civic-mindedness [to contribute to the development of society]” and “an attitude that respects tradition and culture and love of the nation that fostered them.” Whitewashing the past as law and curriculum.
Western minds are bombarded with reminders of German atrocities 1939-45. Yet few realize the Japanese perhaps surpassed those crimes. The following article details Unit 731 and its activities in China. Even that doesn't cover the scope of what occurred. Evidence slowly emerges now 1/2 a century later only in faint remorse.
Akira Makino is a frail widower living near Osaka in Japan. His only unusual habit is to regularly visit an obscure little town in the southern Philippines, where he gives clothes to poor children and has set up war memorials.
Mr Makino was stationed there during the war. What he never told anybody, including his wife, was that during the four months before Japan's defeat in March 1945, he dissected ten Filipino prisoners of war, including two teenage girls. He cut out their livers, kidneys and wombs while they were still alive. Only when he cut open their hearts did they finally perish.
These barbaric acts were, he said this week, “educational”, to improve his knowledge of anatomy. “We removed some of the organs and amputated legs and arms. Two of the victims were young women, 18 or 19 years old. I hesitate to say it but we opened up their wombs to show the younger soldiers. They knew very little about women - it was sex education.”
apan's refusal to acknowledge the past is important because the Japanese have decided that to maintain its diplomatic and political relevance to Washington in an age of Chinese ascendancy, they must remilitarize and develop substantial force projection capabilities. Rightly or wrongly, the Japanese have concluded that this is the path that matters to a still preponderant superpower committed to force over diplomacy in international relations
To be an ally of consequence, Japan needs to remilitarize when that superpower has sidelined diplomacy to a means of last resort to solve international disputes. The US-led “global war on terrorism” is a shoot first, ask questions later operation in which multilateral diplomacy begins only when war fails, as the current situation in Iraq demonstrates. Japan's aspiration to be again a player of consequence in international affairs requires it to develop credible force-projection capability. As Japan moves to imitate US neo-liberalism in economics, it moves also to echo US militarism in international relations.
tragic development. We happen to agree with this analysis. All should all remember it wasn't just Cheney, DoD, Green, the Neocons, et al. Don't forget. Armitage and the General Jello crew also urged Japan to dump Article 9 from its Constitution and re-arm.
, Article 9
, Prime Minister Abe
, Comfort Women
You don't say
March 02, 2007
. (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
ig Harrison must be cracking a wry smile about now. We've known him for over four decades. A prolific analyst and writer on foreign affairs, he lately has focused on North Korean and subcontinent issues. Sig has been invited several times to Pyongyang for meetings at the highest levels. Back in 2004 Sig argued that U.S. intelligence claims about North Korea and their alleged uranium enrichment program were wrong
. Recall the environment — Dan Senor briefings and orange threat warnings every other day. He might as well have predicted that the then marginal cleric Moqtada Al Sadr soon would be the most powerful man in Iraq.
For nearly five years, though, the Bush administration, based on intelligence estimates, has accused North Korea of also pursuing a secret, parallel path to a bomb, using enriched uranium. That accusation, first leveled in the fall of 2002, resulted in the rupture of an already tense relationship: The United States cut off oil supplies, and the North Koreans responded by throwing out international inspectors, building up their plutonium arsenal and, ultimately, producing that first plutonium bomb.
But now, American intelligence officials are publicly softening their position, admitting to doubts about how much progress the uranium enrichment program has actually made. The result has been new questions about the Bush administration’s decision to confront North Korea in 2002.
“The question now is whether we would be in the position of having to get the North Koreans to give up a sizable arsenal if this had been handled differently,” a senior administration official said this week.
The disclosure underscores broader questions about the ability of intelligence agencies to discern the precise status of foreign weapons programs. The original assessment about North Korea came during the same period that the administration was building its case about Iraq’s unconventional weapons programs, which turned out to be based on flawed intelligence. And the new North Korea assessment comes amid debate over intelligence about Iran’s weapons.
e always were persuaded by Sig. To see it confirmed more sad than anything. It's not just Cheney et al., either. That $30 billion plus? 0 for 2
in the clutch. The Administration turned the U.S. into something worse than a rogue power — a stupid one.