July 11, 2004

Blair Agonistes

and Ecce Nader

I turned on CSPAN2 -- a tremendous resource, one of the only good channels out of a hundred -- and there was Tony Blair. He was being grilled by the British House of Commons Liaison Committee. Whew! They don't mess around. They had the gloves off. There was Blair having to deal face to face with these elected officials. They were asking very direct, pointed questions, and he was having to answer them.

No, he did not answer them directly. He sidestepped, evaded, blabbered nonsensical doctrine that fell flat. But it was impressive just that he had to face them. Can you imagine Bush having to do that in front of the whole world?

While the British governmental proceedings, at least in the House of Commons, lack the pomp and the blustery pretension of the US Congress, it's actually both more civil and more civilized. It's also clearly more democratic. There were more checks and balances in that room than I've seen in 20 years in the United States.

Blair looked haggard, 20 years older than I remember him. No doubt he is under tremendous pressure, in a sense perhaps more from within than from without. He is now forced to justify this catastrophe that is ongoing in Iraq. It's bad enough the blunders and misjudgments that brought us to this point, but it's not over. Almost nothing bad about it is over. There's been a phony handover, which means nothing. And Blair is forced to constantly justify himself in a way that Bush never is.

And it's hurting him in another way that it doesn't hurt Bush, because he does seem to have a conscience, which Bush is utterly devoid of. And he still has a smidgen of intellectual integrity, which Bush does not know the meaning of.

He is now forced to continually justify the unjustifiable, to rattle off this doctrine about weapons of mass destruction and how Saddam Hussein once had them anyway we know and it's all getting so old and tired. Surely Blair is intelligent enough to know the hollowness of those arguments now. And the dissonance set up between what he knows in his heart and mind and the fraud he is forced to perpetrate is toxic. You can see him aging.

If he never did another thing, he would still be guilty of starting this thing that no one will be able to stop for a long time, a war of mass carnage on a false pretense. And even if the war were not ongoing and the bloodshed unstoppable, he would still have to live forever with the legacy of being the British prime minister who led Britain into an illegal invasion of a sovereign country that posed no threat to Britain or the U.S. He will be the diametric opposite of Churchill. He will be the PM who sided with the fascists.

The only justification he delivers with any passion, probably because it's the only one that is true, is that he did it to preserve his special relationship to the United States. In this case the big guy turned out to be a bully and a thug who does not respect the law or the rights of others. Blair aligned himself with that and the choice turned out to be a bad one. Where does he go from here? How could he ever correct his legacy now? He is stuck with that place in history and he hasn't even finished the torment of having to live it out.

And the there was Nader ... and ... Howard Dean?

Soon after the Blair thing Howard Dean debated Ralph Nader, and the thing that made it a worthwhile event was that the issue they were debating was the only one that has any relevance for a discussion between Dean and Nader: third party candidacies and their meaning in the 2004 election.

It was an asymmetrical confrontation because Nader is running for president and Dean isn't. Nader was presenting his pitch as a presidential candidate, and kept going back into that mode, as if you pushed a button and the process began again, often repeating almost the same ideas over and over. And also repeating a lot. It was a sales pitch, and normally the other candidate is engaging in something similar, and the multiplied effect of them all doing that is pretty nauseating.

But Dean wasn't promoting himself as a candidate, he wasn't selling his positions. He acknowledged that he agreed with most of Nader's positions, perhaps even more of them than he agrees with Kerry on. He praised Nader's career of doing many things that have helped the lives of many people. And he said, we need you on our side, Ralph.

Dean was very hard hitting on his particular point. He accused Nader of being disingenuous in saying that he wouldn't help the Republicans and how he was accepting help from radically right people. But the context was set by Dean's one single point: Having the Bush administration in power is a national emergency and all reasonable people have to join together to get them out.

Dean is the pragmatist. Nader was abstract. Kept returning to his litany about all the horrible things that are a result of corporate influence on the whole political system, Democrats and Republicans. Dean was just saying, yes, you are right. And I can tell you even more about what the Bush administration is doing right now that we have to stop. We have a better chance of achieving the kind of reform we need if Kerry is elected than Bush. Simple. But Nader didn't address it. He was fighting a different fight. But there was no opponent in the room. It was a little crazy.

Dean gives the impression of being here right now. He's a bottom line man. He gets to the heart of an issue quickly and he is about the strategies to get things done. Nader has achieved some great things, but in the world of electoral politics he is just a philosopher spouting his beliefs. And he's right that a majority of Americans agree with his positions. But in terms of political reality, he is working against his own cause. And why he can't see that, or won't acknowledge it is a mystery. It looks like ego. It might be just that he's a little out of synch with the real world he inhabits, but may not see so clearly any more. He's a bit robotic in his relentless struggle right now. A little Quixote-like. What does he really hope to accomplish?

He referred a lot to the future: Rome wasn't built in a day, we are looking beyond November. But unfortunately right now it is very hard to see any hope beyond November if the Bush administration holds on to the power it wrested illegitimately in the first place and then proceeded to abuse daily. Seeing him on CSPAN only solidified my previous take on him. RALPH!!! WAKE UP!!! But much more important, citizens wake up! Ralph is sleepwalking. He's right about what needs to be changed, but his presence in the race helps George W. Bush stay in office.

July 11, 2004

Opening Salvo

  • While Bush plays the evangelical fanatic and babbles about a Constitutional amendment to "save marriage" from the assault of the barbarian homosexual hordes, Kerry has aimed a precise assault at the heart of Bush's credibility and the justification of his invasion of Iraq.

    According to the Boston Globe, Kerry and Edwards "accused the Bush administration of misleading the nation and manipulating intelligence analysts to win support for the invasion of Iraq, though both senators stood by their votes authorizing the war."

    This opening salvo signalling the battle has begun in earnest now that Edwards in on board comes just after the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that glossed over the lies and manipulations of the administration to fool the country into an unnecessary war and put all the blame for the fiasco on the CIA.

    The Globe reported: "Edwards said Vice President Dick Cheney likely pressured the Central Intelligence Agency to skew its work in support of the war. 'We know that Dick Cheney spent significant amounts of time at the CIA. We know that the administration was aware, because all of us were becoming increasingly aware, of the problems within the intelligence community,' he said.

    "Kerry said Bush personally misled him into casting his vote supporting the war by indicating that the administration would exhaust diplomatic options before using force. In fact, Kerry said several Middle Eastern leaders, including the Saudis, told him the Bush administration was committed to war more than a year before the actual invasion. But he chose to set aside his concerns after receiving assurances from President Bush.

    "'The president went back on his word,' said Kerry. 'I take that personally.' He added: 'Evidence is mounting significantly that they made a decision then framed an argument to support it. I think there are very serious questions about that that remain to be answered.'"

    Kerry: "If someone had told me it was Mr. Chalabi and his crowd, I would have discounted by exponential factors what I was hearing and had a very different set of reactions. I believe that the evidence is mounting that this administration made a decision to go to war and then fashioned a support structure for that decision."

    July 8, 2004

  • Bush buddy "Kenny Boy" Lay indicted for robbing millions. CTV
  • Kenny Boy and George -- "For those who cannot quite recall the specifics of Ken Lay and Enron, a bit of background is in order. Lay, along with Andrew Fastow, Jeffrey Skilling and some dozens of other high-flying bosses from Enron, are accused of insider trading, securities fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, manipulation of earnings reports to hide the fact that Enron was hemorrhaging cash from every pore while they reaped massive salaries and bonuses, and finally, manipulation of the California energy market for no other reason than to wring pin money out of grandmothers who were forced to live in the dark because they couldn't afford to pay their Enron-inflated energy bills." Truthout
  • The Final Solution -- Charming Troglodyte Bill O'Reilly referred to Iraqis in Fallujah as a "prehistoric group" and said the U.S. should "bomb the living daylights out of them." He said the U.S. should "level" Fallujah and said, "We know what the final solution should be." Consortium News
  • Osama Photo Op -- The Bush administration is pressuring Pakistan to capture or kill Osama bin Laden during the Democratic convention, according to The New Republic
  • Born Again Bush Cusses Like A Sailor -- Cheney is not the only foul mouth in the administration. According to US News & World Report, "Dick Cheney doesn't own the market on swearwords like the F-bomb he dropped on Patrick Leahy. Turns out Bush has quite the mouth, following in a rich tradition of cussing presidents. 'He uses the 'F' word as an adjective, a verb, and a noun,' says one adviser. Ditto for the 'S' word.'"
  • 9/11 Panel Challenges Cheney Assertion of Al Qaeda-Saddam Link -- So now Cheney's spokesman says there is no conflict between his story and theirs and that Cheney is happy to "put a nonstory to rest." Read the nonstory at the NY Times
  • Soldiers Being Pushed to Breaking Point -- AP
  • Poll Shows Big Margin -- According to the Center for Public Opinion and Democracy, "The Democratic challengers could win the 2004 presidential election in the United States, according to a poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates released by MSNBC. 49 per cent of respondents would vote for the eventual Democratic ticket of Massachusetts senator John Kerry and North Carolina senator John Edwards, while 41 per cent would support Republican incumbents George W. Bush and Dick Cheney."
  • Buck Stops Somewhere Down Below -- According to a Senate report, it was the CIA's fault the US went into a bad war, not the commander in chief, even though the CIA warned Bush not to use the information he used in his state of the Union address months before. USA Today
  • The Empire Strikes Out -- village voice

    July 9, 2004

  • The Pentagon says Bush's military records were ... destroyed. New York Times
  • Point By Point -- Citizens for Legitimate Government founder Michael Rechtenwald takes on critics of Fahrenheit 9/11.
  • World Court rules Israel's wall illegal. Reuters
  • Here comes that election-stopping terror attack -- "This is sobering information about those who wish to do us harm," Ridge said. "But every day we strengthen the security of our nation." Uh huh. The CIA, FBI and other agencies "are actively working to gain that knowledge," Ridge said. Oh that's very reassuring, since the CIA's alleged ineptitude is supposed to be the reason our brave leaders led us into a phony war. (ABC) Bush is the sadistic parent who says, "I'll give you something to cry about..." The Republicans have said they believe a terror attack will help Bush. This means that as Bush's standing in the polls continues to go down, he and his regime must choose between protecting the country, or holding on to power. Which do you expect them to choose? When have they ever chosen principle over power and personal gain?
  • And what a shame, Ridge's warning just happened to make oil prices rise.


    July 10, 2004

  • Half the Story -- Senator Durbin: "The [Senate intelligence committee] report tells only half of the story. What's missing is the ways intelligence was used, misused, misinterpreted or ignored by administration policymakers in deciding to go to war and in making the case to the American people that war with Iraq was necessary. The intelligence committee leadership chose to defer these issues to a second report - one that will not be released until after the November elections. While failures by the CIA and other intelligence agencies are a significant part of the problem identified in this inquiry, the responsibility - and the blame - for the prewar intelligence debacle is much broader than described in today's report. Senior decision makers throughout the executive branch must bear responsibility as well."
  • It Was Wrong -- A Senate panel chaired by Kansas Republican Pat Roberts released a report saying the administration's justification for war against Iraq was wrong. According to seattlepi, "For the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the intelligence mistakes rank 'among the most devastating losses and intelligence failures in the history of the nation,' making the United States 'more vulnerable today than ever before.' Rockefeller said, 'We in Congress would not have authorized that war ... if we knew what we know now.'"
  • CIA: Body With No Head -- The Senate Intelligence Committee said the Central Intelligence Agency "greatly overestimated the danger presented by deadly unconventional weapons in Iraq because of runaway assumptions that were never sufficiently challenged," according to the NY Times. "In a long-awaited report that goes to the heart of President Bush's rationale for going to war and is certain to intensify political debate on Iraq, the committee said that prewar assessments of Saddam Hussein's supposed arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, and his desire to have nuclear weapons, were wildly off the mark. 'Today, we know these assessments were wrong, and as our inquiry will show, they were also unreasonable and largely unsupported by the available intelligence,' Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who heads the panel, said at a briefing on the 511-page report."
  • Apartheid Walls Are Wrong -- "In a sharply worded advisory opinion - far harsher than Israel expected - the International Court of Justice said Israel should compensate Palestinians harmed by the structure and return property confiscated for its construction." Bush, of course, denounced the ruling.
  • Who Cares What You Think? Israel "rejects" the ruling of the world court that its 25-foot, 425 mile wall is illegal and should come down.
  • Visible from Outer Space? "The concrete Wall, now present in Qalqiliya, parts of Tulkarem and East Jerusalem, is 25 feet high twice the height of the Berlin Wall - with armed watchtowers and a "buffer zone" 100-300 feet wide for electric fences, trenches, cameras, sensors, and military patrols. In other places, the Wall consists of layers of razor wire, military patrol roads, sand paths to trace footprints, ditches, surveillance cameras and in the middle a 10 foot tall electric fence."
  • Ken Lay: The Price of Greed -- UK Times
  • The House of Alien Killer Clowns defeated a bill to stop the Justice Department from being allowed to routinely search bookstore records and library records of anyone they want without a warrant. Those animals!!! Washington Post
  • Celebs for Kerry. MLive
  • New films: The Heat is On. Belfast Telegraph

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