Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Playing Whack-a-Mole with a Nutjob Broadcaster

Talk Radio Network
P.O. Box 3755
Central Point, Oregon 97502

Dear Sirs:

I have no idea who Michael Savage is, nor what dubious qualifications, if any, he possesses for propounding his poisonous and dictatorial views on the air under color of a public license. I have (mercifully) never heard of him, nor before this evil day had I ever listened to him, in my life.

But as the father of young children I was appalled, nauseated and outraged by the torrents of filth coming out of his (no doubt pustulent and carious) mouth at 570 kHz on the radio at about 7:15 pm Eastern time on Wednesday 30 November while I was on my way home from work.

I gather he makes what can only be a miserable, malicious and misanthropic living in radio. Thus, in addition to documenting his abhorrent spewage for the broadcaster and advertisers, I took notice of his repulsive antics to the FCC, where that nice young President of ours has appointed a new Chairman. My FCC obscenity complaint number is FORM475B: 05-WB11242121.

What grabbed my attention was when Savage was describing the plight of some decent young woman who happened to find herself pregnant outside marriage. He stated that it was “perverted,” to use his odious term, to believe that she required the normal, civilized amount of modest privacy in which to deal with her condition. Neither I nor my pastor can see that her father or mother have any need or duty to breach her privacy in the matter — unless Savage was suggesting that either or both of the parents were present at the inception of the pregnancy, in which case the parental fates can be determined by the normal, severe action of the criminal law.

Once sensitized to Savage's prurient, squalid and salacious imagination, I then heard him speak the psychological term “homosexual” as though it were in quotation marks. I couldn’t be sure over the radio, but I rather fancy they are the same quotation marks with which the late, unlamented Dr. Josef Goebbels of the Reich used to surround the anthropological term “Jew.”

The reason I make the connection is that the squinting, disgusting, spittle-encrusted hatred with which Savage and Goebbels pronounce the two terms is identical, and clearly Savage wants to have the same effect that Goebbels, prior to being hanged, intended. What a dismal joke in that Savage sounds so very Jewish and homosexual himself! Or perhaps it is only that he is from New York. But in either case one would think he would be better educated, and certainly more well brought-up, than he demonstrably is.

All this calamity befell me because I misprised the schedule and tuned in for Capitals hockey on what turned out to be a day early! Well, I am at least content to have done a spot of civic duty by reporting Savage's verbal sewage to the proper authorities, who I hope will suppress him from the public airwaves on account of his rampant sexual indecency, as they seem to have done to that Harold Sterne fellow. You never hear him on the radio anymore, you know, and I trust Savage will soon be joining him in a perpetual, penurious and pluperfect public silence. I shall pray for his despicably slime-encrusted soul, of course, but truly, being conclusively an imbecilic scatmonger, he must not henceforth be allowed out in civilized society.

Kindly have him expunged from your lineup immediately, as you would remove the rotting corpse of a dead raccoon or other rank and deliquescent vermin from your driveway.

Faithfully yours,

The Slangwhanger-in-Chief
Three Thousand Word-Equivalent Refutation of Bush's Annapolis Bluster
Thanks to the blessed, wicked Wonkette, whose item the below is in its entirety, we have The President's Evolving Vision
May 2003:
October 2005:
At a speech next month, the President hopes to announce he's been "brainstorming" about victory in Iraq.
A Salmagundi of Torture, Bad Prose, Suppressed Documents, and Public Psychoanalysis

In lieu of writing a few thousand heartfelt words on "How Tony Kornheiser's Lame, Interminable Shtick Epitomizes Everything That's Wrong with the Washington Post," the Slangwhanger-in-Chief would like to direct your attention to several variously useful, insightful, and witty pieces from the newspaper.

That newspaper would not be the Post, which is marginally useful (in a sausage-grinder's- special kind of way,) rarely insightful, and never, ever by any chance witty. Not even in "Style" or the sports pages. Wouldn't know what wit was, really. Can't seem to squeeze it in amongst all the breathless self-seriousness, laborious irony, and shameless sarcasm. No, the newspaper commended to you in this case would be the Guardian, a British institution for which, alas, there is no exact US parallel.

Item one comes from the Guardian's Backbencher column today, a weekly report on Parliament (not to be confused with the Parliamentary Sketch, nor with Prime Minister's Questions, nor yet with Yesterday in the House of Commons. In an institutional, dot-all-the-i's-and-cross-all-the-t's-of-legislation kind of way, they take its doings rather more seriously in the press over there than we take Congress over here.)

BAWL AND CHAINS -- The Backbencher is pleased to pass on an important message from the American forces in Cuba. "Media stories about the detention facility [at Gitmo] and the men held here routinely are accompanied by photographs or video footage shot at Camp X-Ray, a temporary facility hastily erected to deal with enemy combatants captured in the first days of operations in Afghanistan," complained a press release yesterday. "Images of orange-suited detainees blindfolded and handcuffed and kneeling in a line inside a chain-link enclosure have become iconic. The problem is that Camp X-Ray closed in early 2002 and hasn't been used since. Since then, detainees have been housed in more modern, comfortable facilities, and improvements continue." As the accompanying pictures show, nowadays detainees who are deemed to have cooperated with the government wear white suits and can walk around inside a chain-linked enclosure most of the time. When you're being detained without charge and without prospect of a civil trial, these things matter, and the Backbencher hopes the UN -- which was grouching today about Washington's refusal to let its human rights experts talk to the inmates -- gets the message.

Item two is, well, not so serious. Or is equally serious, but in a non-political, non-human-rights way. Although many think it ought to be a human right to be able to read sensual prose that is not embarrasingly, um, well, wankeresque. "Stiff Competition for 'Bad Sex' Award" was the Guardian Book Section's rampant headline yesterday. Sample statement: "...organizers call it Britain's 'most dreaded literary prize...'" And here are the rigid, turgid prose passages themselves. Among those in the rutting, er, running for the prominent, pointed award: John Updike, Marlon Brando (and a co-author), Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Paul Theroux... In an uncharacteristically un-British omission that almost constitutes a tacit betrayal of essential Anglo-Saxon cultural values and which will disappoint pert blogista Wonkette no end, there are no butt-fucking descriptions whatsoever. Meantime, the Ol' Perfesser reminds one of a timeless example of the true, the blushful Hippocrene of genuinely erotic prose:

"But what were [the Indians] like to be with?"

"It's hard to say,"Nick Adams said. Could you say she did first what no one has ever done better and mention plump brown legs, flat belly, hard little breasts, well holding arms, quick searching tongue, the flat eyes, the good taste of mouth, then uncomfortably, tightly, sweetly, moistly, lovely, tightly, achingly, fully, finally, unendingly, never-endingly, never-to-endingly, suddenly ended, the great bird flown like an owl in the twilight...

- - E. Hemingway, "Fathers and Sons" in Snows of Kilimanjaro (1936)

Item three continues the saga of the attempted suppression of the minutes of the meeting in which Prime Minister Blair talked President Bush out of Bush's plan, desire, or intention to bomb the neutral-country facilities of Arab TV news network Al Jazeera. This is from Christopher Reed at CounterPunch:
The case has even turned some of the war's proponents into doubters. Witness the pre-court performance of Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, known in the satirical magazine Private Eye as Boris the Menace, a voluble Conservative Member of Parliament, editor of the right-wing Spectator magazine. Johnson, who supported the Iraq invasion, is so incensed about the now enforced secrecy on the Al Jazeera memo that he [...] airs the lamentations he and his fellows feel so keenly these days. "I would love to think," he writes, "that Dubya was just having one of his little frat-house wisecracks, when he talked of destroying the satellite TV station. Maybe he was only horsing around. Maybe it was a flippant one-liner, of the kind that he delivers before making one of his dramatic exits into the broom-closet. Perhaps it was a kind of Henry II moment: you know, who will rid me of this turbulent TV station? Maybe he had a burst of spacy Reagan-esque surrealism, like the time the old boy forgot that the mikes were switched on, and startled a [radio audience] with the announcement that he was going to start bombing Russia in five minutes." Boris asks: "Who knows? But if his remarks were just an innocent piece of cretinism, then why in the name of holy thunder has the British state decreed that anyone printing those remarks will be sent to prison? If there is an ounce of truth in the notion that George Bush seriously proposed the destruction of Al Jazeera, and was only dissuaded by the prime minister, then we need to know, and we need to know urgently."
As a follow-on to item three, last week the Slangwhanger-in-Chief was shocked, shocked and amazed, that Washington Post Media columnist Howard ("Still Shills") Kurtz could be all "I'm sorry, but it just doesn't add up," over a case where the Brits have invoked their Official Secrets Act to suppress a memo. The Brits might be a few teacups short of a party when it comes to official paranoia, but they don't usually go so far as to suppress non-existent memos. (The bending of the reality-field that it takes to disappear the already invisible is real expensive, and the Brits are notoriously parsimonious about that kind of spending.) Kurtz's unwillingness to believe the absurd, childish, self-destructive, nationally-dangerous depths to which our crippled-adolescent Commander-in-Chief habitually, continually, irrepressibly and automatically descends shows a touching faith in officialdom that would be embarrassing to a real reporter. Not that ol' Howie would understand that...
Finally, item four takes us mercifully away from the Post and back to the Guardian, where they actually have a weekly column entitled "Ideas." What a radical notion! It's an interview with Jacqueline Rose, whose book, The Question of Zion, uses the tools of psychoanalysis to try to understand the activities of modern Israel. In the interview she notes that
Psychoanalysis says if you have a rigid symptom the symptom will end up being too psychically or economically expensive, as it were, and will cease to be viable. In my book on Zionism one of the things that really made me very happy to discover, like a coral at the bottom of a pool, was this extraordinary tradition of dissent inside Israel.

Of course, the biggest disservice to Israel that the United States has recently perpetrated has been the war in Iraq, which has recruited more anti-Semitic suicide bombers than the intifada itself. As my Texican Media Cousin observes,
It has seemed to me for years that a) one of the root causes of violence in the Middle East is how Israel treats Palestinians and how the U.S. supports that treatment, and b) you can't criticize or even question Israel without leagues of partisans jumping up and hollering about anti-Semitism. Indeed they have so appropriated the word Semite that they don't want the Arabs to be regarded as Semitic, though racially they are all related. Nothing was more emblematic of this hollering than their reaction to Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of Christ. As the title suggests, the story was about the the late J. Christ, but so many people so stridently complained that it 'might' cause an anti-Semitic reaction that it was laughable. Everything has to be about them? It's refreshing to see a Jewish author like Jacqueline Rose take an even-handed approach. One of our Jewish friends is a successful photographer. Her family came from Russia, and she produced a book about Russian Jews emigrating to Israel. She was astonished to find out how badly they were treated in Israel, how much like third-class citizens, and again, there was no legal recourse and no questioning allowed. Kind of like how the Bushies want things to be here!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How Unlike the Home-Life of Our Own Dear Queen
Or so a Victorian complacently remarked who understood, and disapproved of, the sensuality and marital irregularity of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. The Mother of Parliaments at Westminster is customarily supine and submissive, a place whose lockstep fealty to the government of the day makes the current Republican House majority look fractious (oh, wait...) Yet following the Blair government's unprecedented defeat on police 90-day detentions for terrorism, another substantive debate has erupted during the last week.

The Slangwhanger-in-Chief earlier posted a link to the Congressional Record giving the individual speeches in the Iraq debate that followed Rep. John Murtha's volte face statement on the war, which he also posted together with a biting anti-Cheney speech by Sen. Robert C. Byrd. The speeches are well worth reading during the Congressional recess which effectively lasts until the New Year. The TV heads and print columnists are not likely to surface any new arguments, so the Congress, normally behind the curve of public perception, is for once a proper storehouse for the current state of the public mind.

Since the debate, the Administration has agreed to shoot itself in the fork by proclaiming, "Why, yes, we'll bring home many troops (totally coincidentally in time for the 2006 Congressional elections) just as soon as we have asserted a sufficient number of times that the Iraqi Army and police forces are capable of preventing civil war there."

Well, let's see. The US spent ten years preparing the South Vietnamese. It took South Vietnam two years to collapse after we left. On a similar calculus, we've been preparing the Iraqis for a year, so it should take 20% of that time for Iraq to collapse after we leave, which would be about two and a half months. That means we have to be out by mid-August for the Administration to try to make the disaster happen after the elections. The Bushies are trapped by events and that's all there is to that.

Meantime we are being put to shame by Her Majesty's Government, which staged a 5-hour Parliamentary debate last week on the most difficult part of the Northern Irish peace agreement. The bill being debated sets up special Northern Irish courts to deal with the cases of those "on the run" for crimes before Good Friday 1998. Tony Blair is getting a lot of stick for this as being a "side deal" with the IRA, but it was clearly signalled as necessary from the beginning of the peace process. Most of the objections imply that special courts are in some way un-British, whereas in plain fact special courts and procedures for Ireland began with the invention of the Special (Irish) Branch in the 1890s and proceed through the continued existence of Diplock courts today.

What is encouraging is seeing a wounded government, as Blair's is, go ahead and push for a politically costly measure simply because, in agreement with the Irish government and not with the IRA, it said it would. Regardless of its other immeasurable follies, the Blair government is committed to moving the peace process forward in Northern Ireland and its steadfastness in the face of Unionist and Conservative misrepresentation, in addition to Labor backbench doubt, is astonishing.

Northern Ireland, like Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, is a case study showing that under televised conditions empires cannot defeat guerrillas. Northern Ireland is the granddaddy of all insurgencies in point of duration. Any remote dose of hope arising amid "the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone" as in 1914 Churchill called that sadly misgoverned province (for whose institutionalized misgovernment he bears a dishonorable responsibility) must be both acknowledged and encouraged.

Lest the Slangwhanger-in-Chief be accused of Blairite sympathies in general, you are reminded that historically the scale of the Blair government's sellout of progressive values matches the Clinton Administration's. Meantime, a Labor backbencher has introduced a bill to require release of the Blair/Bush discussion minutes in which Bush called for bombing a neutral country in order to take out Al-Jazeera. Though not expected to succeed, the measure will help keep the heat on the issue.

But Blair deserves credit on Northern Ireland. He has now maneuvered the Unionists into either restoring the devolved local government institutions (in which the Rev. Ian Paisley refuses to participate despite voluntary destruction of IRA weapons,) or accepting continued direct rule from London in a way, as Gerry Moriarty reports for the Irish Times, that Paisley and the Unionists find odious.

The predicament at the end of guerrilla situations is that the guerrillas become the government, and the former terrorist forces suddenly become the Army and the police. This is the reward their people receive for resistance . It was just such a transformation that led the Committees of Safety, famous for practicing ethnic cleansing of British Loyalists, to become the Continental Congress.

Three hundred fifteen years after the military subjugation of Catholic Ireland by Protestant Britain at the Battle of the Boyne, and seven years after the beginning of a peace process in Northern Ireland, the British Government is finally able to promote local government institutions which will eventually render its occupation of Northern Ireland, already hideously expensive, completely anachronistic. It is taking incredibly hard political slogging to get this done.

The dismal and dispiriting lesson for us is that there is absolutely no reason to think the US government capable of, interested in, or aiming toward such political labor in Iraq in the next eight and a half months. And lamentably one must recall that it has taken the Brits 79.5% of the time since the death of Shakespeare to get this far in Northern Ireland...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Snarky Brit Wit

While the British Government invokes the Official Secrets Act to prevent disclosure of the transcript of a discussion between Prime Minister Blair and President Bush in which Bush evidently advocated bombing the Al-Jazeera headquarters on allied territory, another revelation is all too public. Here are the first and last paragraphs of Mark Lawson's Guardian view of a shameful spectacle (namely so-called reality TV.)

Almost 15 years to the day since Margaret Thatcher spilled one bodily liquid live on television - blubbing as she left No 10 - Carol Thatcher this week unleashed a stream from the other end, becoming, on I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here!, the first British prime minister's child to urinate during a TVshow.


In general, though, Carol T's appearance on the show demonstrates the efficiency of British democracy. In this country the rather lost and dotty child of a former leader eats slugs in a TV reality show. In America he becomes president.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Megan's Precedent

There are certain pusillanimous and weasel-tongued Congresscritters who actually pretend to imagine that such experiments in social engineering as Megan's Law are not only legitimate public policy but constitute an active improvement in civil life. This is the law that says if you are a convicted sex offender who has served your time you must still register your name and likeness with the local constabulary.
These guardians of public order, in contrast to their normal practice, then communicate this information to any concerned or inquiring citizen who happens to show up and ask. Instead of the pitiful scenes this doubtless causes in real life -- worried young mother consults bored and resentful police officer -- somehow, I can just imagine a Jonathan Winters bit where he's dressed up as Maudie Frickert and asks an uncharacteristically congenial and helpful gendarme, "Can I see the pictures of the sex offenders? Reeeeeally? Addresses too? Oooh. Don't want any old ones though. Might wear them out."
Now, our particular land of the free and home of the brave has never had any trouble in publicly identifying undesirable social elements. If you were female, black, Hispanic, Asian, Southern European, Jewish, Arabic, homosexual or even, within living memory, Irish, you didn't need any yellow Stars of David or pink triangles sewn on your clothes for the police, bankers, school administrators, bill collectors, and petty functionaries of church, state and corporations to recognize you. The system of English accents cemented the caste divisions of Great Britain. Ethnic origins and sexual preferences did a similar separative service in America. And anyone who thinks this kind of thing is safely over and done with and consigned to the dustbin of history either hasn't been paying attention or actively doesn't want to know.
Comes now the misnamed Christian right whose leadership certainly, and much of whose membership probably, is busy stoking up their reward-fires for the next life. I can imagine the view from the verandah of heaven, looking down on the fried souls of Babdist real estate agents, like mounds of hot popcorn shrimp, jumping off the devil's griddle to be served to the decent underprivileged masses lined up behind St. Peter.
But that serene and pleasant vista is not yet part of my experience. Instead, we have things like Megan's Law, intended to reassure the right that those evil prisoners (who have somehow cheated the law, doubtless through the fault of weak liberal judges, into releasing them from incarceration just because their sentences have been fully served) will still be subject to public inquisition and social ostracism. As if the dismal and inescapable penury of the post-incarcerated weren't enough.
Well, perhaps the anxious glare of neighborhood scrutiny is a sovereign remedy for more than one ill. Let's try it out in another field. Let's try it out in health care. Specifically, let's try it out on the tobacco industry.
That's a few more folks than we normally like to think. All of them guilty as hell of trying to kill people. Just because they figured out how to get paid for killing them, and because it doesn't automatically kill all of them, and takes quite awhile to kill the ones it does, and has moreover always been done this way, they imagine that killing people isn't their business. But it is. On a daily basis.
We can see the problem a lot clearer in defense spending because we've been thinking about public deprivation by soldiers since Lexington and Concord. But those in uniform, behind desks, engineering and selling and flying and building the implements of mass destruction can all console themselves with the thought, "Well, we only kill people when we have to and when we're ordered to by the whole nation through lawfully constituted authority."
On the other hand, tobacco manufacturers, farmers, packagers, lawyers, advertisers, advertising media, scientists, universities, lobbyists, known paid Congresscritters, and all their wives, children, girlfriends, boyfriends, brothers and sisters, and aged mothers are profiting from and are sustained by causing death on the installment plan, every single second.
The perniciousness of Megan's Law in a civil liberties sense is that, while parolees are still technically in custody, those who have served their sentences are theoretically as free as if they had never committed a crime. Unless the crime is sexual and child-related, in which case they have to report to the police and keep a current photo on file for public inspection. I don't remember seeing that footnoted as an exception in the Constitution, myself, but maybe my eyesight isn't as good as that of the strict-constructionist, original-intent-of-the-Founding-Fathers-as-we-conveniently-imagine-it-to-be Republican majority in Congress.
A tobacco scientist may look like anyone else, have the same middle-class preoccupations, have innocent children and an infirm parent to look after. Yet, if a tobacco scientist, then a paid liar. (Not that that ought to be punishable in itself. Some have even taken so much leave of their senses as to claim that journalists are well-paid liars. This claim is, of course, only partially correct.)
Similarly a tobacco farmer, frugally husbanding his federal crop allotments and price supports while loudly (and possibly correctly) proclaiming himself to be one of the few remaining American family farmers, may seem to be an innocuous enough figure. Yet, if a tobacco farmer, then a slow assassin.
Now, lobbyists are special case. Some call for branding all of them, others for castration first. It's a difficult decision. Not whether to do something like that, but which one -- if not both.
As it happens my neighborhood is crawling with lobbyists of one sort and another. I've met a lot of them, been friends with a few. And surprising as it seems, they are not all creeps and scumbags. Of course, I could be wrong about that. After all, I could smell Bob Strauss from all the way across the room... And don't forget, tobacco lobbyists include not only individual tobacco company shills, the Tobacco Institute, and the entire auto racing infrastructure, but the constellation of Libertarian conservative rights-for-corporations hacks.
The advertising industry, both those who create ads and those in whose pages or on whose airwaves or billboards or other signage it appears, must be firmly included in any tobacco malefactor identification program. Naturally this has to include the billboard scum like Ted Turner. Certainly all employees of the major advertising agencies who have tobacco accounts must be included, as well as subsidiaries in the packaging, trucking, and retailing industries.
Children have to know if their parents got tainted money. People in school communities need to know what kind of dire social influences are being exerted by the offspring of social criminals.
Because so many undesirables are involved as tobacco sellers, we need a technological answer here. Badges? We don't need no stinking badges. Implants is the answer. Little satellite locator implants. Make 'em in the form of earrings that give off a green glow and also communicate with nearby TVs, cellphones, and computers. Update the ancient lepers' bellringing and cry of "Unclean! Unclean!"
Child rapists, tobacco sellers. All the same thing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

No Exit

No, indeed, let there be no timetable for withdrawal of the American military presence in Iraq. It is a truism that events no more conform to the calendar than emotions do to the clock. Consequently there is both public and bipartisan agreement that the US needs an acknowledged set of objectives that, when met, constitute an exit signal.

On the part of a US administration wholly subjugated to presidential satrap Karl Rove there is much coyly felt, if blusterously delivered, resistance to any formula that might specify its future actions. After all, if they are no better at predicting the future than they have been at justifying their past military adventurism, they may never find a set of circumstances allowing our departure.

But if this war weren’t about oil, the US could say it will leave when the Iraqi water, sewage, telephone, media, medical, police, and fire services, together with the industrial, land transport, shipping and educational systems, are restored to the level of the day prior to the US invasion.

When the US gets Iraq back to the worst of how Saddam left it, Iraq will have improved substantially beyond its existing state. On present calculations of the current rate of restoration, the above measurements will be attained somewhere about the middle of Senator John McCain’s first presidential term, say 2010.

However, the US may not have that much time. Commonly forgotten is that it left Vietnam because, or at least after, some battalions refused to march, some bombers refused to fly, and the naval lack of enthusiasm for a land conflict reached proportions unplumbed since the Indian wars. The US departure had everything to do with the officer class’s justifiable fear of loss of control of the military machine, while the only connection with civilian opinion was that both voters and dogface soldiers had come to agree that this cause was, ultimately, not worth dying for.

Granted, it only took a few battalions, bombers, and gunboats in a posture, if not of mutiny, at least of dumb insolence, for unindicted war criminals former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and President Richard M. Nixon to get the message. But even they finally did.

In a surprisingly quick falloff after the 1972 elections, by 1973 the Republican policy -- of hiding imperial intentions behind the bodies of US soldiers while simultaneously attacking the patriotism of the Democrats -- had descended from being unsuccessful to being unpopular. That point has been reached with Iraq; the identical policy remains in force; and the end for the US on the ground is well visible and abruptly approaching closer.

The notion that, once committed, the national army must be supported because it has already been committed is wonderfully circular. Stumped by circumstances, Constitutionally-responsible officials such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President George W. Bush have each backslid into the rhetorical quagmire so well lamented by WWI doughboys: “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here.”

Or perhaps, like President Lyndon B. Johnson before them, the Rove administration draws its pugnacious validation from a misremembering of William Faulkner’s Appendix to The Sound and the Fury (1929):
"Jackson: An old duellist, a brawling lean fierce mangy durable imperishable old lion who set the wellbeing of the White House above the nation and the health of his political party above either and above them all set not his party's honor but the principle that honor must be defended whether it was or not because defended it was whether or not."
This is a case where the statement of the principle is far more attractive than how it works out in real life. The way the Faulkner misquotation puts it sounds remarkably like an intellectual and moral benchmark. In private life, of course, such infuriatingly hypocritical intransigeance would get you divorced or fired. In public practice, it eventually, inevitably, and irretrievably alienates an administration from its own countrymen, as both Jackson and Johnson discovered to their cost.

Rumsfeld may huff, as he did in June, that public opinion is being driven away from the war, inferrentially by the excessively civilized such as the educated portion of the media and similarly overcultured members of both parties in the Senate. But the gross reality is that the results of the war verifiable by US citizens include: $50 gallon oil on its way to $60, a quadrupling during the Rove years. 2,097 US dead and 34,000 reliably certified civilian Iraqi dead. No conceivable connection to 9/11 and no WMD. No sustainable democracy over there, no political integrity over here.

Meanwhile only the simian shrug of incomprehending irresponsibility emerges from the Rove White House.

The US can continue to pay these prices as they continue their ineluctable rise. Or it can set a limit as to when it will stop paying them. But the limit needs to be behavioral, rather than chronological.
Chemical Shame

Even the major media have noticed that the use of white phosphorous (WP) weapons by US troops against Falluja was not only bad PR but possibly a war crime. Many have explored the Army's policies on the subject. The canard that WP is legal against soldiers but not against civilians is now, however, exploded.

George Monbiot in the Guardian finds that "In the Battle Book, published by the US Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, [it says,] "It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets." Monbiot, whose beat is usually the environment, takes up the use not only of WP against civilians but of a particularly vicious form of "fuel-air" explosive as well.

He concludes, "is there any crime the coalition forces have not committed in Iraq?" Well, gee, we don't seem to be using rape as an instrument of policy...
Iraq Debate Original Sources

It took all of last weekend but the Congressional Record finally put up the transcript of the Iraq debate in the House last Friday. Owing to the peculiar system used by the Library of Congress to serve web searches, the index page that would let you search by speaker can't be saved as a link. Well, it can, but the link expires, so it's no good. Here then is the PDF of the beginning of the House debate on Congressional Record page H11005. You can follow it forward with your browser.

Also now available is the thrashing given by Sen. Robert C. Byrd to Vice President Cheney on the subject of telling the truth to the American people about the war in Iraq. Byrd was, to my knowledge, the first Senator to come out against the war, and he did so before it even started. The PDF of his speech is at Congressional Record page S13309.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Post Drivels While Iraq Burns

In yet another infuriating example of public evil perpetrated by Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of the Washington Post, Sunday's prissy lecture gets so many things wrong you'd think a corporate shill wrote it. Oh, wait... Calling the posititions of both parties in Friday's House Iraq debate "irresponsible," the Post loftily admonishes both Republicans and Democrats for, in its view, seeming to choose election victory in 2006 over military victory in Iraq.

The rest of the editorial laboriously works out the consequenses of this imputed dichotomy, in prose displaying all the forcefulness of piss dribbling down a drunk's leg. But here's the deal, Fred. No white people are ever going to win in Iraq. The more of them (and Iraqis) you kill trying, the worse the defeat when it comes. (Not to slight the contributions of US non-white soldiers, but in the eyes of those they fight against they are collectively, as described in Little Big Man, "the black white people.")

Being a former career Marine, Rep. John Murtha has the primary lower-rank military virtue of recognizing things as they are, not as pride or hope would have them be. Contrary to chicken-hawks, chairborne warriors, and most politicians or editorialists, real military men and women count the cost to their uniformed buddies of every action, and weigh the probable results against the certain cost. That calculus is how the young West Point majors such as John Paul Vann worked out our then-forthcoming defeat in Vietnam faster than the generals did.

Despite the bland dismissiveness of the Post, determining how we got into the war in 2002 is crucial to determining what ought to be done about the war in 2005 and 2006. If, as is now being conclusively demonstrated, the war was sold to the American people on the basis of dishonesty, chicanery, misrepresentation, and outright suppression of contrary intelligence, the sale was invalid. As a nation, we now get to consider whether, having been tricked into an unwinnable war, we ought to pretend not to have been tricked and that the war is winnable.

Yes, there very well might be an Iraqi civil war if the US withdraws in six months. But in the normal course of events, there was probably going to be one when Saddam died or was overthrown other than by the US anyway. Yet there will certainly be one whenever the US finally withdraws, however far into the future that might be. No regime fatally compromised by its establishment by a foreign power long survives the repatriation of foreign troops. Just ask the South Vietnamese refugees in Arlington, Houston or Seattle.

Meanwhile, it is impossible to smear Dick Cheney or anyone else by telling the truth about them. However, the Post has smeared John Murtha by telling the lie that his truth about Cheney's deferments constitutes a smear.
It's a sad day for public discourse when, as in this case, the Post's editorial page resorts to Nixonian rhetorical tricks. At least the Post was consistent by doing it in such an ignoble cause. The Post's is the "shameful exercise in demagoguery."

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Delayed Debate Finally Detonated

When House Armed Services Committe baron Rep. John Murtha shocked official Washington and its media satellites Thursday by coming out against the war, Editor & Publisher called it "a Cronkite moment," referring the radicalization of the former CBS anchor during a trip to Vietnam. Subsequently President Lyndon Johnson lamented, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost the public." The Post's E. J. Dionne said Murtha caused "a political thunderclap."

Bush lost the public on the war some time ago; but now the saner hawks, such as Murtha, are trying to salvage something from the debacle caused by Bush's following Rummy's insane "combat-lite" military theories. This movement, on purely practical grounds, away from the Democrats' previous policy of "continue the war only in a better way" will eventually force the Democratic leadership to catch up with the people in outright opposition to the war.

Here is the speech that set off a scramble to debate Iraq in the House on Friday, an effort discredited by Republican partisan maneuvering. Nevertheless, as many have said, it was the debate on the war the House should have had three years ago...

Statement of The Honorable John P. Murtha
November 17, 2005

War in Iraq
Washington D.C. - The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy.”

For 2 ½ years I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait – the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction – but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We can not allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S.

Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” We must rebuild our Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being “terrified” about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the conditions on the ground. Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included the Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have now received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.

I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

Pounding the AP

E-mail to AP-

Your editor failed his/her reporter in the below story, just as the reporter failed his/her public. Let me count the ways.
"Republicans seek vote on Iraq withdrawal proposal
"Friday, November 18, 2005; Posted: 3:29 p.m. EST (20:29 GMT)

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans sought a showdown Friday with Democrats on a proposal by one of their most senior members to force an end to the U.S. deployment of troops in Iraq.

"Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, offered the resolution demanding a pullout. The GOP-run House was expected to reject it -- and make a prominent statement about where Congress stands on Iraq -- as the chamber scurried toward a Thanksgiving break.

"'We'll let the members debate it and then let them vote on it,' said Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, the acting majority leader."
Your first sentence has the actors reversed. The proper order would be to say that "House Democrats were denied a showdown Friday with Republicans on a proposal by a senior Democratic member to force an end to the U. S deployment of troops in Iraq." But then, in order to describe the actual parliamentary situation as known at 3:00 PM or so, you would need to add, "Republican leaders balked at letting the chamber vote on the Democrat's wording and instead substituted their own resolution."

Your second paragraph leads with a true statement about Murtha. But the second sentence incorrectly says that "The GOP-run House was expected to reject it...." Rather, it should read that "The GOP-run House was not expected to be allowed to vote on it." This is a crucial distinction, elided by your reporter, in that legislative bodies cannot reject a measure they do not vote on. Therefore the same sentence's parenthetical clause about Congress "mak[ing an Iraq war] statement" with this vote is blunted and ought to be taken out entirely. Redolent of rodentia as it is, "scurried" is a good term to describe Congress leaving town, so the final phrase can stand.

While I do not dispute the accuracy of the Blunt quote in the third paragraph, it should have been preceded by a sentence noting that "Unlike the Murtha text, the Republican substitute resolution called for an 'immediate' troop withdrawal." When followed by the Blunt quote, this sentence would make it clear that the "debate it" and "vote on it" of which Blunt spoke applied to the Republicans' own resolution, not the Murtha resolution.

Doubtless the most that can be expected is that you will just kill the story (which was still up eight hours after it was posted, and four hours after the procedural vote was completed that set up the later vote on the spurious text.) But I suggest to you that an actual correction is in order. The AP is where most people get their news, and it is disheartening when it cannot be trusted on one of the simplest, most straightforward parliamentary dodges in the books. When the leadership won't let a resolution come to a vote, but instead substitutes its own version, anyone with legislative experience knows there's been dirty work at the crossroads.

Clearly it was haste that did your reporter in, not animus or incompetence. But the good faith of the error does not expunge its ill effects. Yes, the Republican leadership spent the day dithering about how to get back at Murtha and the Democrats. Even though they only came up with their own resolution at the last minute, it was clear from the start that they were not going to allow a vote on Murtha's language. Your reporter should have both known and reported that.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Certified Al-Qaeda Recruiter

Photo: US Army . . . . . . . .Caption: The Primal Screed

Pert blogista Wonkette stabs hack Bob Woodward through his weasel heart...

DailyKos expert skewermeister Hunter notes Woodward's Fitzgerald grand jury testimony can't help White House, mainstream media speculation flood to the contrary notwithstanding...

Operose, farraginous SFGate columnist Morford exults in expressing well-wrought pre-post-Bush schadenfreude...
Bush’s Face Unsaved at Summit

South Korea has 3,600 troops in Iraq, the third largest contingent after the US and Great Britain. Surprisingly for such a supine ally, it turns out there’s some South Korean government opposition to renewing its full strength for next year. The South Korean Defense Department has just announced plans to bring a third of the troops home when legislators vote on reauthorizing support for the US war in the next few months. (Full BBC story here.)

In a conversation on Morning Edition with host Steve Inskeep, NPR’s David Greene reported that President Roh Moo-hyun had allowed word of the move to surface during the Asian Summit when he could just have well suppressed the news for another week. Though Roh was reported not to have raised the issue in face-to-face discussions with President Bush, Greene observed that maybe Roh wanted to send Bush a message.

In a very precise use of a piece of 1970s hepcat talk, the Slangwhanger-in-Chief was moved to remark to his car radio, “No shit, Sherlock.”

Meanwhile, over on BBC Newshour, one of several thousand Korean farmers demonstrating outside the summit was interviewed by a correspondent whose name cannot be commended because it was not heard by a certain embarrassed blogger. The farmer the BBC reporter enterprisingly sought out said, “How can we with our small farms compete against huge machines? After we are all driven out of business, is the US going to feed us?”

Well, no, of course not. The Slangwhanger-in-Chief reminds all US allies that our policy for friend and foe alike is, Work or Die. Or Inherit Stocks and, Especially, Bonds.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Voter Demands "Ferocity" from Dems

The Ol’ Perfesser and the Slangwhanger-in-Chief went to the same high school and university long ago, though we were not fellow-students. I call him after baseball’s legendary Casey Stengel not because his grammar is inchoate – far from it. No, it's because he is not only a genuine professor (teaching vastly more important things than how to get Billy Martin to bunt) but also a legend, however localized. He graced the Master Teacher’s Chair of English that is (totally coincidentally) named after my grandmother, whence he repeatedly and continually demonstrated – here’s the kicker – an ability to interest Southern Catholic high school boys in the novels of Henry James! This is, to my mind, a far superior level of teaching skill than that shown by "driving Euclid into tender heads to toughen them." So this week I got into an e-mail discussion with the Ol’Perfesser, who is far harsher than I am about the Democrats’ activities.

The Slangwhanger-in-Chief said:
Kerry rips Bush a new one. Kerry's doing his job better than Bush is doing his... (and forwarded him the Kerry speech that begins this blog.)
The Ol' Perfesser said:
Thanks. But, tell me, other than this Democratic (Kerry's) plan to withdraw from the war, what other specific solutions to the other several problems (environment, taxes, etc.) has the Party put forward? To me, the Democrats seem very active in condemning Republican moves – and rightly – but this, Kerry's plan to get us out of Iraq, is the first sign I have seen that they have specific plans to correct the rest of the mess the nation is now suffering.
The Slangwhanger-in-Chief said:
Both the rightwing Republican media (Faux, MSNBC), the regular Republican media (Houston Chronicle, Wall Street Journal), as well as the respectabilist corporate media (networks, Washington Post, NY and LA Times), have all been selling the story, "the Democrats have no ideas," when what they mean is, "the Democrats' ideas have been undervalued, especially in the media." As they always have, the Democrats stand for keeping Social Security healthy, not turning it over to the stock market. The Democrats stand for funding public schools, not private academies. The Democrats stand for paying living wages, not outsourcing jobs abroad. The Democrats stand for upholding pension law, not letting corporations hide behind bankruptcy. The Democrats stand for wage equality for minorities and women, not white male economic supremacy. The Democrats stand for caution on the Iraq war, not recklessness. The Democrats stand for less taxation of the middle class and more taxation of the rich, while the Republicans fight the latter and neglect the former. The time for fuller development of Democratic alternatives is as we approach 2006, so that when people vote next year, they know that not only will Democrats not repeat Republican mistakes, they will begin rebuilding from the ravages the Christian-Taliban anti-taxers have enforced. So it is right to be negative now, and to move forward in the next year toward more positive positions. Pelosi in the House and Reid in the Senate are on the right track, although handicapped by the traditional institutional caution of Democrats in Congress, which has seen Congressional Democrats trail far behind their constituents’ more civilized attitudes for at least as long as it has been since the Vietnam war split the Congressional wing of the party away from the rest of us. They are finally beginning to oppose Republican lunacy with Democratic common sense. They have begun, and will continue. As for plans, I would cite about "Dems on the Offensive" where they note that “House Leader Pelosi and the House Democrats have unveiled The Innovation Agenda. A direct hit on the right wing message machine's meme that Democrats have no ideas (even while they steal them), the agenda ties together support for higher education, small businesses, scientific and technological research and development, energy independence, and access to telecommunications infrastructure in one package designed ‘to ensure that America remains the world leader’ in business and technology.”
The Ol' Perfesser said:
2006 is hard upon us. How much closer need we come to it before the Democrats begin to state positively and with the greatest ferocity – and widest publication – exactly what we intend to do. (I know what they stand for; but in all of the blasts against the Republicans, I don't see or hear specific positive plans for its application.) I have before me the recent plea for funds from Pelosi which – finally on page 3! – does get about as specific as one can get about positives without precising bills to effect them. Good. But the Pelosi letter has no provision for making donations by internet! And where are the ads on TV and radio, and in paid advertisements in newspapers on these very points, paid for by the DNC? We Democrats have been called whining wimps -- with more justification than I am inclined to admit publicly.
And there he had me. I know we are spending on targeted ads for various schwerpunkten into the enemy lines but unless you happen to be in one of those markets, or spend too much time in the campaign- junkie blogosphere, you'd never know. And he's right about direct mail not colocating with internet appeals. But I nonetheless take it as a good sign that a regular Democratic red-state voter is eager, impatient and full of urgency that the national party make a better public case for itself than it has been doing.
Hiding Behind the Soldiery Again, a Lying Sack of Excrement

VP Dick Cheney continues polluting the public discourse with lies, damned lies, deliberate lies, lies aforethought, casual lies, strategic lies, and just plain old "putting the lie in unreliability." He has an habitual approach to mendacity that would be excessive in the average New York or Los Angeles PR handler. All the while he claims only to defend our men and women in uniform overseas whose obscene and unnecessary deaths he both caused and shelters behind. Yet it is important to recall exactly how believable a source he is. Below is an excerpt of a 20-month-old Democratic Congressional attempt to keep the record relatively straight.

Vice President Cheney

Vice President Cheney made 51 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 25 separate public statements or appearances.

Of the 51 misleading statements by Vice President Cheney, 1 claimed that Iraq posed an urgent threat; 22 exaggerated Iraq’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons; 7 overstated Iraq’s chemical or biological weapons capacity; and 21 misrepresented Iraq’s links to al Qaeda. Some of the misleading statements made by Vice President Cheney included the following:

• “[W]e do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.”114

• Saddam Hussein “had an established relationship with al Qaeda.”115

• “[W]e believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”116

114 Meet the Press, supra note 38.
115 White House, Remarks by the Vice President to the Heritage Foundation (Oct. 10, 2003).
116 Meet the Press, supra note 20.


Thanks to for enabling me to find the original Waxman report.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

There's No Success Like Failure

The smallest American defeat we can attain in Iraq begins tomorrow. The longer we wait to declare defeat and leave, the worse it gets.

It will be a defeat that is 187 times worse if we declare it a year from tomorrow. It will be 25,464 times worse if we declare it in two years. (This is a fanciful rather than a proper geometric progression, but then neither, on this particular subject anyway, is the Pentagon any good at forecasting.)

In the current instance of the projection of American military power in Iraq, it is already inevitably, irretrievably, unmistakably, irreversibly, wholly, completely and totally a defeat, and nothing else, which is not even upcoming but has already transpired. Why? Because a political defeat is always a military defeat, however well and nobly the soldiery fought.

There was a ferocious and appalling argument among progressives during Vietnam, even prior to the late 1969 conversion to the antiwar camp of the Washington Post and the New York Times editorial pages from supine, if lethargic, supporters of the war. This divide was sold, or reported, at the time as a confrontation between the realists and the idealists.

In 1968 the contrasting progressive positions were that of Senators Robert F. Kennedy and George McGovern (and labor) versus that of Senator Eugene J. McCarthy and the Rev. Martin Luther King (and the universities and churches.) Kennedy and McGovern "realistically" thought the war was still winnable though mistaken. McCarthy and King "idealistically" said that it was immoral from the beginning, even if winnable -- but also not winnable.

Under televised conditions, empires don’t defeat guerillas. Excruciatingly learned by the Russians in Afghanistan and Chechnya, and by the Americans in Vietnam and now Iraq, that’s about as firm a reality-based rule, or observation, as that of the Book of Job 5:7, “Mankind is born to have trouble, in just the same way that sparks fly upward.” You can argue all you want that it shouldn’t be that way, or that sometimes it doesn’t have to be that way, or that you can construct conditions under which it is not that way, but the fact remains, statistically that’s the way it almost always is.

In Iraq as in the earlier struggle in Vietnam, the alleged idealists have all the solid facts, while the alleged realists have all the airy theories.

A harsh and inexorable Spanish proverb has it that “War begets poverty; poverty, peace.” This used to be the result of an intractable, frustrating material problem. When invading armies lived off the land, by the time you had enough troops to occupy the place successfully, what with the defeated army you had more mouths to feed than the peasantry could support. When food got scarce and scanty, the allegedly victorious armies had to move on, singing songs of praise to the Deity at hand as if successful, but eating better upon their return to home base --unless they stayed and became the government, always another indigestible handful of nettles.

Air and sealift logistics have supposedly removed material constraints on warfare; US forces can conduct invasions in lands the most inhospitable, at distances the most unimaginable, for periods far exceeding the abilities of local economies to support them. Yet since the Clausewitzian axiom has yet to be repealed, even a spectacular military victory that is unsubstantiated, unaccompanied, unsupported, and unimplemented by diplomatic and political success afterward is not a military victory within the meaning of the act.

It is just such a non-triumph that we have achieved, are achieving, and will continue to achieve in Iraq. No matter how many US war aims are scaled back, troops reinforced and resupplied, and diplomatic and constitutional initiatives pursued, the conditions precedent to victory were destroyed by the very act of our going to war in that sad and maltreated land. An Arab populace, no matter how divided, is never going to accept a government or system that appears to have been imposed by an American invasion, no matter how often it is asserted to have been so altruistically.

Again as in Vietnam, up until very recently most of the Congress has cheerfully been completely irrelevant to the necessary public discussion of how soon to end the war. Almost all the real activity is taking place outside our elected institutions, which have failed. Again a blinded and headstrong Presidency is the culprit, and short of the forthcoming compulsion of humiliation, cannot allow itself to be part of the solution at all.

In his 1964 speech nominating Senator Hubert Humphrey for Vice President in Atlantic City, McCarthy excoriated Republican Presidential nominee Senator Barry Goldwater for living in a world in which “the clocks have no hands, the glasses have no lenses, and the pale horse of death and destruction is indistinguishable from the white horse of victory.” That is the world which the Republican and Democratic supporters of the Iraqi war stubbornly, if unsuccessfully, persist in inhabiting.

Failure is no dishonor; persistence in it is.
Here We Go

Initializing blog now. Sending emails full of smart remarks to my friends is old technology. Posting smart remarks, if any, is at least efficient and possibly less intrusive.

Let's start with Sen. John Kerry's speech Monday. My only smart remark was, "Kerry rips Bush a new one..."

(Below link to GPO's PDF of the Congressional Record pages may or may not work.)

Congressional Record
Monday, November 14, 2005
(pp. S12737-8

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The Senator from Massachusetts.

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I thank the managers, particularly Senator Graham and Senator Levin.

Veterans Day is a very special day in our country's history. There are a lot of veterans who believe Veterans Day is just plain sacred--a lot of families, Gold Star mothers, wives for whom it is a day set aside to memorialize the unbelievable sacrifice of generations of Americans who have given themselves for our country. Veterans Day is sacred. It is a day to honor veterans, not a day to play attack politics. The President, who is Commander in Chief, should know and respect this.

Veterans Day originally marked the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the guns of World War I, the war to end all wars, finally fell silent. Instead of honoring that moment, instead of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington, instead of laying out a clear plan for success in Iraq, the President laid into his critics with an 11th hour rhetorical assault that I believe dishonors that day and does a disservice to veterans and to those serving today. He did so even as he continued to distort the truth about his war of choice.

Perhaps most striking of all is that his almost desperate sounding Veterans Day attack on those who have told the truth about his distortion was itself accompanied by more distortion. Does the President really think the many generals, former top administration officials, and Senators from his own party who have joined over two-thirds of the country in questioning the President's handling of the war in Iraq--are they all unpatriotic, too? This is America, a place where we thrive on healthy debate. That is something we are trying to take to Afghanistan and Iraq. It is something we are trying to export to the rest of the world. The President does not have a monopoly on patriotism, and this is not a country where only those who agree with him support the troops or care about defending our country.

You can care just as much about defending our country and have just as much support for the troops by being a critic of policies. No matter what the President says, asking tough questions is not pessimism, it is patriotism. And fighting for the right policy for our troops sends them exactly the right message that all of us here take very seriously the decision to put them in harm's way and that our democracy is alive and well.

Ironically, the President even used the solemn occasion of Veterans Day to continue his campaign of misrepresenting the facts and throwing up smokescreens. His statement that Democrats saw and heard the same intelligence he did is just flat-out untrue, unless, of course, the President and the administration did not do their job and study the additional intelligence given only to them and not the Congress.

As the Washington Post said on Saturday, Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than lawmakers who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. But that whole discussion is nothing more than an effort to distract attention from the issue that matters most and can be answered most simply: Did the administration go beyond what even the flawed intelligence would support in making the case for war? Did they use obviously inaccurate intelligence, despite being told clearly and repeatedly not to? Did they use the claims of known fabricators and rely on those claims of known fabricators? The answer to each and every one of these questions is yes. The only people who are now trying to rewrite that history are the President and his allies.

There is no greater breach of the public trust than knowingly misleading the country into war. In a democracy, we simply cannot tolerate the abuse of this trust by the Government.

To the extent this occurred in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, those responsible must be held accountable. That is precisely why Democrats have been pushing the Senate Intelligence Committee to complete a thorough and balanced investigation into the issue. When the President tried to pretend on Friday that the Intelligence Committee had already determined that he had not manipulated intelligence and misled the American public, he had to have known full well they have not yet reported on that very question. That is precisely why Democrats were forced to shut down the Senate in secret session and go into that secret session in order to make our colleagues on the other side of the aisle take this issue seriously.

When the President said his opponents were throwing out false charges, he knew all too well that these charges are anything but false. But the President and the Republicans seem far more interested in confusing the issue and attacking their opponents than in getting honest answers.

Let's be clear, Mr. President, let's be clear, my fellow Americans: There is no question that Americans were misled into the war in Iraq. Simply put, they were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction when he did not. The issue is whether they were misled intentionally.

Just as there is a distinction between being wrong and being dishonest, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and making statements that you know are not supported by the intelligence.

The bottom line is that the President and his administration did mislead America into war. In fact, the war in Iraq was and remains one of the great acts of misleading and deception in American history. The facts are incontrovertible.

The act of misleading was pretending to Americans that no decision had really been made to go to war and that they would seriously pursue inspections when the evidence now strongly suggests that they had already decided as a matter of policy to take out Saddam Hussein, were anxious to do it for ideological reasons, and hoped that inspections, which Vice President Cheney had opposed and tried to prevent, would not get in their way.

The President misled America about his intentions and the manner in which he would make his decision. We now know that his speech in Cincinnati right before the authorization vote was carefully orchestrated window dressing where, again, he misled America by promising, "If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible, we will plan carefully, and we will go with our allies.'' We did not take every precaution possible, we did not plan--that is evident for every American to see--and except for Great Britain, we did not go in with our allies.

The act of misleading was just going through the motions of inspections while it appears all the time the President just could not wait to kick Saddam Hussein out of power. The act of misleading was pretending to Americans the real concern was weapons of mass destruction when the evidence suggests the real intent was to finish the job his father wisely refused and remove Saddam Hussein in order to remake the Middle East for modern times.

The act of misleading was saying in a Cincinnati speech that "approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable,'' when the evidence suggests that all along the goal was always to replace Saddam Hussein through an invasion. For most of us in Congress, the goal was to destroy the weapons of mass destruction. For President Bush, weapons of mass destruction were just the first public relations means to the end of removing Saddam Hussein. For most of the rest of us, removing Saddam Hussein was incidental to the end of removing any weapons of mass destruction. In fact, the President was misleading America right up until 2 days before launching his war of choice when he told Americans that we had exhausted all other avenues.

The truth is that on the Sunday preceding the Tuesday launch of the war, there were offers of Security Council members to pursue an alternative to war, but the administration, in its race and rush to go to war, rebuffed them, saying the time for diplomacy is over.

By shortcutting the inspections process and sidestepping his own promises about planning, coalition building, and patience, the President used WMD as an excuse to rush to war, and that was an act of misleading contrary to everything the President told Americans about the walkup to war.

The very worst that Members of Congress can be accused of is trusting the intelligence we were selectively given by this administration and taking the President at his word. Imagine that, taking a President of the United States at his word. But unlike this administration, there is absolutely no suggestion that the Congress intentionally went beyond what we were told by the facts. That is the greatest offense by this administration. Just look at the most compelling justification for war: "Saddam's nuclear program and his connections with al-Qaida.''

The facts speak for themselves. The White House has admitted that the President told Congress and the American public in his State of the Union Address that Saddam was attempting to acquire fuel for nuclear weapons despite the fact that the CIA specifically told the administration three times in writing and verbally not to use this intelligence. Obviously, Democrats did not get that memo. In fact, similar statements were removed from a prior speech by the President, and Colin Powell refused to use it in his presentation to the U.N. This is not relying on faulty intelligence as Democrats did, it is knowingly and admittedly misleading the American public on a key justification for going to war.

This is what the administration was trying so desperately to hide when it attacked Ambassador Wilson and compromised national security by outing his wife. It is shameful that to this day, Republicans continue to attack Ambassador Wilson rather than condemning the fact that those 16 words were ever spoken and that so many lies were told to cover it up.

How are the same Republicans who tried to impeach a President over whether he misled a nation about an affair going to pretend it does not matter if the administration intentionally misled the country into war?

The State of the Union was hardly an isolated event. In fact, it was part of a concerted campaign to twist the intelligence, to justify a war that had already been decided was more preferable. Again playing on people's fears after 9/11, the administration made statements about the relationship between al-Qaida and Iraq that went beyond what the intelligence supported. As recently reported by the New York Times in the Cincinnati Address, the President said, We have learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in bombmaking and poisons and deadly gases, despite the fact that the Defense Intelligence Agency had previously concluded that the source was a fabricator.

The President went on to say that Iraq has a growing fleet of unmanned and manned aerial vehicles that could be used to disburse chemical or biological weapons, despite the fact that the Air Force disagreed with that conclusion. As the Wall Street Journal reported: The Air Force dissent was kept secret, even as the President publicly made the opposite case before a congressional vote on the war resolution.

That is two more memos that the Congress never got. In fact, when faced with the intelligence community's consensus conclusion that there was no formal relationship between Saddam and al-Qaida, the administration then proceeded to set up their own intelligence shop at DOD to get some answers that were better suited to their agenda. Again, there is a fundamental difference between believing incorrect intelligence and forcing or making up your own intelligence.

Where would the Republicans and the President draw the line? How else would 70 percent of the American public be led to conclude that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11? That was not an accident. In fact, I remember correcting the President of the United States at our first debate when he said to America it was Saddam Hussein who attacked us.

Why else did Vice President Cheney cite intelligence about a meeting between one of the 9/11 hijackers and Iraqis that the intelligence community and the 9/11 Commission concluded never took place? Why else make false statements about Saddam's ability to launch a chemical or biological weapon attack in under an hour without ever clearing that statement with the CIA, which in itself mistrusted the source and refused to include it in the National Intelligence Estimate? Why else would they say we would be greeted by liberators when their own intelligence reports said we could be facing a prolonged and determined insurgency? Why else tell Americans that Iraqi oil would pay for the invasion when they had to know that the dilapidated oil infrastructure would never permit that to happen?

What about the President's promises to Congress that he would work with allies, that he would exhaust all options, that he would not rush to war? If the President wants to use quotes of mine from 2002, he might just look at the ones that were not the result of relying on faulty intelligence and trusting the President's word. As I said in my former statement before the authorizing vote--I wish the President had read this--if we go it alone without reason, we risk inflaming an entire region, breeding a new generation of terrorists, a new cadre of anti-American zealots, and we will be less secure, not more secure, at the end of the day. Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has proven not possible.

In my speech at Georgetown on the eve of the war, I said: The United States should never go to war because it wants to. The United States should go to war because we have to. And we do not have to until we have exhausted the remedies available, built legitimacy, and earned the consent of the American people.

We need to make certain that we have not unnecessarily twisted so many arms, created so many reluctant partners, abused the trust of Congress, or strained so many relations that the longer term and more immediate vital war on terror is made more difficult. I say to the President, show respect for the process of international diplomacy because it is not always right but it can make America stronger, and show the world some appropriate patience in building a genuine coalition. Mr. President, do not rush to war.

Today, our troops continue to bear the burden of that promise broken by this administration. We need to move forward with fixing the mess the administration has created in Iraq. I have laid out in detail on five or six occasions my views about exactly how we can accomplish that and how we can get our troops home within a reasonable period of time.

But that does not excuse our responsibility to hold the administration accountable if they knowingly misled the country when American lives were at stake. We need to do both.

Those colleagues on the other side of the aisle need to stop pretending that it does not matter if the administration stretched the truth beyond recognition and they need to start working to find out the real answers that the country deserves and the real leadership that our troops in Iraq deserve. They deserve it from a Commander in Chief, not just a "campaigner in chief.''