Saturday, April 22

I used to be a Centrist

and proud of it. No, not that wish-washy kind of person who couldn't take a stand on a particular issue. A genuine Centrist who believes that the root of many evils is blind faith in any specific ideology - particularly when it overrides fact and reality.

My view was that you had to look at each situation with new eyes and avoid oversimplification or over association with past events.

A couple years ago I took the Political Compass test and came out almost dead center.

The other day I took it an my score was about (-6.38, -5.49) right around Ghandi position -- did I change or did the world change around me?

Most of the questions that are now on the test are vastly different from what I remember. Nationalist questions of America always being "right" no matter what it does. Questions about Military Action compared to International Law, whether our Civil Liberties are being curbed by Counter-terrorism efforts, questions about the gay adoption...

All of these are taken from relatively recent headlines and topics. They didn't ask this stuff three years ago -- but now, because of a massive difference in the questions, in the position of the world - my answers put me in the deep left, rather than in the center.

Have I become an ideologue? Part of the Mary Scott O'Connor brand of "Angry Left?"

Or is there a difference between ideology and values? I've always had values that guided my life, and they've mostly been based on a sense of balance. But Ideology? Not so much.

My values have been the same as those of the Founding Fathers I always thought, that the key role of government is to protect us primarily from government's own tendency to encroach on our rights - and secondarily to protect us from each others tendency to do the same - both as individuals and corporations.

In my view, all corporations aren't bad - they have the potential to be - but they aren't automatically. It's only through a combination of government oversight to set and enforce public safety standards, consumer protections that don't bring an industry to it's knees, coupled with an alert an active populace who takes the initiative to vote with their dollars that responsible businesses flourish and irresponsible ones are rightly punished. I see government regulation as exactly as neccesary as other forms of law enforcement. Neither should be oppressive, but neither can we afford to do away with either of them completely.

Just as our three branches of government, executive, legislative and judicial, all act as counterbalances against possible abuses by one or two of the others -- our overall society has to balance between governmental, personal and corporate concerns. We have to have all three, and we have to protect ourselves from the potential abuses of all three, an authoritarian and oppressive government, individuals who are greedy and violent, as well as corporations who exploit their workers and dupe their customers with overpriced, unneccesary and/or dangerous products.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm still dead in the center -- I view both government, private individuals and corporations with equal amounts of hope that they live up to their potential and fear that they might not.

I don't believe in A magic bullet solution, that either government, the wonderful "free market" or individuals can face all the challanges before us on their own. It takes all three, working together.

But the world has twisted and contorted beneath that position. A tectonic shift has occured.

Now, if you aren't a total free-marketeer -- you're a dirty leftist commie.

If you don't think Manditory Minimums and Capitol Punishment are effective as deterents or have never been unjustly applied - you're a wimp and a pussy. You might as well put on a dress - Fag.

If you don't think the government should take each and every step possible to capture and contain terrorism, even including violating international law, the geneva conventions, U.S. Law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the U.S. Constitution - you're a traitor.

I used to not want to be labelled or Pigeon-holed. Marginalized. Stuck in a box that limited the validity of my ideas as being my own, rather than simply ideological talking points. I wanted my ideas and views to stand on their own merits. So I didn't want to be called - "Liberal". But that time has changed.

Glenn Greenwald has done some excellent work describing how being "Liberal" isn't about policy anymore - it's become a measurement of how strongly one supports - or doesn't support - one person. George W. Bush.

Leftists have been discounted - as MSOC was by the Washington Post - for being "too angry". Full of hate at Bush. Suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome.

I've never been one of these. Yes, I've been angry. I think justifiably so. If this Administration hasn't made you Angry, you're either deliberately not paying attention or a dullard. But I've never seriously thought that it was personally about Bush himself. I don't hate George Bush - he seems like a nice enough guy to pop back a beer with (if he'd admit to doing that on occasion) and catch a ball-game.

I oppose his policies.

I oppose bankrupting the nation with unneccesary and gratuitous tax cuts - in the middle of a War. I oppose abstinence-only sex education which has clearly been shown to fail for over 80% of those who "take the pledge" at preventing teenage sex. I oppose the criminal bungling, nepotism, cronyism, graft and incompetence that has devestated both Iraq and the American Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina.

It's his actions - and sometimes lack of action - that have made me angry, particularly when I think about how damaging they've been to the U.S., the World and the future.

I used to be a Centrist - I used to seek the middle ground because I didn't trust the extremes, either of them. But now, simply standing up for the "Rule of Law" makes one an extremist, simply expecting that the President is required by the Constitution to obey the law makes one part of the "Loony Leftist Society". A Moon-Bat.

So I'm a Centrist no longer - I'm a Fucking-A Commie-Pinko Liberal and Proud of it.

So Say We All.

Crossposted on Dailykos.

Vyan

Friday, April 21

Re-examining the INR Document

For many long months, even years, during the Plame-gate investigation there have been allegations that the source of Valerie Plame-Wilson's identity escaped the halls of the CIA and reached the White House via a classified INR memo sent to then Secretary of State Colin Powell on Air Force One.

Last week the New York Sun obtained and published redacted versions of those very documents from June 10th and July 7th.

The Right-wing has used the fact that the document does not mention Valarie Wilson's status as a NOC -- never mind the fac that that was supposed to be a Secret -- to point out that anyone reading this memo would not have realized this, and therefore anyone revealing this information would not have done so while knowingly violating the Intelligence Identifies Protection Act.

But what's really interesting about this document is what the Right-wing isn't telling you...

Authored by our good friend Carl W. Ford Jr (the man who told the Senate John Bolton was a "Serial Abuser"), it's interesing to note that the entire document is marked "Secret/Orcon/Noforn" (indicating that the Contents - all of them - are protected and specifically to be kept under the Organization that orginated them -ORCON- and Not for Release to Foreign Nationals -NORFORN- as it contains nuclear design information or foreign intelligence) it's reasonable to assume that revealing anything within it would do "Harm to the United States" and should be considered a crime and Teason for disclosing classified information (Y'know, the kind of of Pultizer Prize Winning "Treason" that Bill Bennet like to complain about so much?)

Valerie Plame-Wilson's CIA NOC status would have been classifed at an even higher level than this, either Top-Secret or compartmentalized within a SAR (Special Access Required) designation. From my own experience with Classified documents and SAR environments (12 years with Defense Contractor Northrop-Grumman) my best guess is that the claim in the INR memo that Mrs Wilson was "A CIA WMD managerial type" was a mistake on the part of the INR analyst who simply wasn't aware of her NOC status, and was making an assumption. It's second hand sourcing - the INR talking about what someone at CIA (The CPD Reports Officer who according to both Wilson and the CIA wasn't in the room at the time) said about Wilson's trip. Just as he assumed that she in a managing position and could or would make decision on who would take the trip to Niger. IMO Fitz probably realizes this was a mistake that originated deep in the bowels of INR and eventually led to the creation of this document, therefore he isn't going to persue violations of the IIPA on this basis. But Treason, Perjury and Obstruction - based on the release of selective information from this document - well, that's another matter. Hence we have the latest reports that Karl Rove will soon be roasting on a spit.

The next thing about this memo, which has been noted on Firedoglake, is that the document does a great deal of damage to the claims that the Niger-Iraq Uranium intelligence was clear and decisive, and that the President declassifying and authorizing Scooter Libby to "clarify the record" on the Niger issue is anything more than desperate spin.

On January 12, 2003, INR "expressed concerns to the CIA that the documents pertaining to the Iraq-Niger deal were forgeries." The conclusion, may, however, have been reached and communicated for the first time, somewhat earlier: the record is not clear on this point. After considerable back and forth between the CIA, the Department, the IAEA, and the British, Secretary Powell's briefing to the UN Security Council did not mention attempted Iraqi procurement of uranium "due to CIA concerns raised during the coordination regarding the veracity of the information on the alleged Iraq-Niger agreement."

But wait, it gets worse...

The impetus for the Ambassador's demarches in this period (Tabs 2 and 3), and the investiatives trip by Joe Wilson (Tab 4 is the CIA Account of his trip findings) was a "report of questionable credibility from a foreign service." This was INR's conclusion in an assessment of March 1, 2002. entitled "Niger: Sale of Uranium to Iraq is Unlikely"

The Niger allegations were included but did not figure prominently in the 90-page October 2002 NIE on "Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction." The major point of contention in differing judgements about the likelyhood of Iraqi nuclear weapons program reconstitution efforts centered on thh CIA's assesment that Iraq was bent on acquiring aluminum tubes to produce parts for a gas centrifuge uranuim enrichment plant. In a lengthy dissent entitled "INR's Alternative View: Iraq's Attempts to Acquire Aluminum Tubes." INR notes "... the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious."

Basically the memo establishes that INR had no direct contact with Wilson - yet seemed to have independantly come to a very similar conclusion to his, that Iraq had not tried to get Uranium from Niger.

Valerie Wilson's involvement was tangential at best, and according to both the CIA and Joe Wilson are highly exaggerated in this document.

So why is it that this is what the Right-Wing focuses on? Why is it they wish to treat Wilson's Trip as something his wife asked him to do after taking out the garbage - ("Honey, could you stop by Niger on the way to the recycling bin? Thanks - Luv ya!") when the INR had basically made the exact same arguements in the NIE?

The very same NIE that President Bush unilaterally declassfied on the very same day that Scooter Libby talked to Judith Miller about "Wilson's Wife sending him to Niger"... but didn't bother mentioning that the State Department, Energy Department and CIA director George Tenet all agreed that the Niger claims were most likely bogus.

Because they can. And because they can get away with it.

Unless we stop them in November.

Vyan

Thursday, April 20

Truthout ; Fitz to seek Rove Indictment

The latest from Jason Leopold is that Fitz has asked his new grand jury to look at evidence implicating White Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and to return an indictment against him.

Just as the news broke Wednesday about Scott McClellan resigning as White House press secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove shedding some of his policy duties, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the CIA leak case and introduced additional evidence against Rove, attorneys and other US officials close to the investigation said.


The grand jury session in federal court in Washington, DC, sources close to the case said, was the first time this year that Fitzgerald told the jurors that he would soon present them with a list of criminal charges he intends to file against Rove in hopes of having the grand jury return a multi-count indictment against Rove.

In an interview Wednesday, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove remains a "subject" of Fitzgerald's two-year-old probe.

"Mr. Rove is still a subject of the investigation," Luskin said. In a previous interview, Luskin asserted that Rove would not be indicted by Fitzgerald, but he was unwilling to make that prediction again Wednesday.

"Mr. Fitzgerald hasn't made any decision on the charges and I can't speculate what the outcome will be," Luskin said. "Mr. Rove has cooperated completely with the investigation."

Fitzgerald is said to have introduced more evidence Wednesday alleging Rove lied to FBI investigators and the grand jury when he was questioned about how he found out that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA and whether he shared that information with the media, attorneys close to the case said.

Fitzgerald told the grand jury that Rove lied to investigators and the prosecutor eight out of the nine times he was questioned about the leak and also tried to cover-up his role in disseminating Plame Wilson's CIA status to at least two reporters.

The core of the charges seem to be coming from the disconnect between what Rove told investigators and the previous grand jury and emails sent between Rove and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

Rove's story began to unravel when Fitzgerald discovered the existence of an email Rove sent to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley after he spoke with Cooper on July 11, 2003.

Rove did not disclose the existence of the email during his first two appearances before the grand jury. Rove testified that he found out about Plame Wilson after her identity was disclosed in several news stories.

"I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote in the email to Hadley immediately following his conversation with Cooper. "Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he's got a welfare reform story coming. When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn't this damaging? Hasn't the president been hurt? I didn't take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn't get Time far out in front on this."

With Rove's White-House roll already cut-back to focusing on the November elections - and indictment handed down against him would most likely force him to resign as did Libby, which politically could in itself be consider a major victory for the Democrats. Although signs are strong that Dems will be able to take back control of one or more chambers of Congress at the end of this year - the removal of Rove himself as chief strategic architect (and dirty tricks master) would go a long way to ensuring those chances are derailed at the last minute.

Vyan

Operation: Hey - Look Over There!

Is it just me, or is the right wing getting even more bat-shit crazy than usual lately?

First you've got Michelle Malkin, whom reading is generally like taking a bath in a bucket of bile putting up the home phone numbers of some anti-war demonstrators, and then refusing to take them down after these people have received death threats.

There is a good reason that using the power of mass media to expose individual citizens' private lives to abuse and threats is considered unethical: It represents unchecked and abusive power. No one interested in holding the public trust should either want or seek it.

Yet this, of course, is exactly what Malkin did this week in publishing, on her blog, the home phone numbers of three students who led anti-military protests on the campus of UC-Santa Cruz.

Predictably, the students were deluged with hate mail and phone calls, including a number of death threats.

Malkin not only refused to take the numbers down -- in response, she reverted to her timeworn victimization schtick, posting some of the nasty e-mails she received in return and pretending there was nothing wrong or unethical in her behavior.

We're all too familiar with this routine. After all, it's what the entirety of her book Unhinged was predicated upon. Malkin, as I said then, is like the lunatic who walks around the public square and pokes people in the eye with a sharp stick, and then is shocked, shocked, that anyone would respond with anger and outrage.

Yeah, it's a trick that Louis Farrakhan has elevated to an art form, only Farrakhan is better at it than Malkin. I do wonder however, since free speach does not extend to threatening someone life - and can sometimes corral the involvement of the FBI, is Malkin potentially criminally liable as an knowing aidder and abetter to those who would commit this crime? Just of the top of my head, I'd say - HELL YES.

Next we have Michael Savage who had a bit of blue moment recently.

On April 17, nationally syndicated radio host Michael Savage called for "kill(ing) 100 million" Muslims and referred to the woman who alleged she was raped by members of Duke University's lacrosse team as a "drunken slut stripping whore."

On his radio show, Savage told listeners that "intelligent people, wealthy people ... are very depressed by the weakness that America is showing to these psychotics in the Muslim world. They say, 'Oh, there's a billion of them.' " Savage continued: "I said, 'So, kill 100 million of them, then there'd be 900 million of them.' I mean ... would you rather us die than them?" Savage added: "Would you rather we disappear or we die? Or would you rather they disappear and they die? Because you're going to have to make that choice sooner rather than later."

Savage also referred to the alleged Duke rape victim as "a drunken slut stripping whore accusing men of raping her when there is absolutely no evidence of such a rape other than what comes out of that filthy mouth of hers." He later asked: "What kind of system do we have that anyone can scream rape and not have to show her face?" adding, "This is all the product of the out-of-control lesbian feminist movement." Echoing previous comments he has made about the alleged rape victim, Savage said, "The Durham dirt-bag case disgusts me to my core."
I admit I haven't been rapt by the Duke rape case, but I will point out that nobody has alledged that the Duke victim was "Drunk" or for that matter a "Slut". But even if she was -- even Drunken Sluts Strippers get to say "STOP"! What this has to do with feminism is mystery to me. No, instead it has to do with male machismo run amok, with more than a extra dash of rich white-kids gone wild!

I have to say that even though I've long considered right-wing radio and the blog counterparts among the 101 Fighting Keyboardists to be a total cess-poll - even I'm taken aback.

Especially when you can hear some of the same anti-feminist, men-have-no-responsibility-for-their-own-actions BS coming from the Washington Post.

Third we have Bill Bennet, who says we shouldn't have handed out Pulitzers to Joe Risen and others for their stories exposing the Secret Detention Centers and Illegal NSA Wiretap program - we should have handed out indictments for Treason instead. He claims that now that the evildoers know or "playbook" our efforts at anti-terrorism are hampered. Never mind the fact that our biggest problem isn't that the terrorist may now have confirmation of what the mini-series "Sleeper Cell" assumed as a given -- we've got a boob like Michael F-Ing Chertoff calling the plays. Let's take a little trip through Bennet World Fantasy Theater (Courtesy of Bill in Portland Main)

Bennett World Fantasy Theatre:

[Rrrring!!]

Terrorist 1: Hey-lo??

Terrorist 2: Hey, it's me! I thought we'd talk about our next bombing target against the American pigdogs!

Terrorist 1: Great! I have the secret plans right here.

Terrorist 2: So...what are we going to blow up today?

Terrorist 1: I thought we would... [Click] Hey, did you hear that?

Terrorist 2: I think so.

Terrorist 1: Do you think the Americans are monitoring our calls?

Terrorist 2: Ha ha, no! You're crazy! Wouldn't we have read about such a surveillance program in a major American newspaper? We are perfectly safe on this landline. Now, about our secret attack...

[Ding Dong!] [Ding Dong!]

Terrorist 1: Hang on, someone's at the door.

Terrorist 2: Someone's at my door, too! Aeiiiiiii!!! American pigdog Michael Chertoff!! How did you know of our location?

Michael Chertoff [in white hat, chaps and spurs; pokes finger in terrorist's chest]: Because, you terrorist scum, we have a little thing called the NSA. We've been monitoring your phone lines for days. It's a...a little secret of ours. And now, I think you and your terrorist friend on the other end `o the line are gonna spend the rest of your days in...

Terrorist 1: Don't say it...!

Chertoff: The POKEY. Book `im, Danno.

Terrorist 2: Damn you, George Bush and your secret eavesdropping program that we knew nothing about until just now! Damn you!!

Join us next time for another episode of...Bennett World Fantasy Theatre!

Maybe they just can't take the pressure now that 5 more Retired Generals have joined General Zinni in a chorus calling for the firing of Don Rumsfeld. 3 of whom have direct command experience under Rumsfeld in Iraq - and should know what they're talking about.




Meanwhile we have the not-so-musical chairs games behind played at the White House. Andy Card is out. Josh Bolten is In. Scott McClennan is out. Karl Rove is being dedicated toward the 06 Elections (look out for some massive dirty-tricks this November) ... they've shifted around some Deck Chairs on the Titanic- some of the Rats are getting life-preservers, but Rummy isn't going anywhere. Sure Brownie is gone, but Chertoff isn't gonna budge.

We continue to stare into the abyss of three more years of George Bush, and that abyss beginning to stare back at us.

A Crisis Almost Without Equal

Republicans and Democrats alike are starting to face the prospect of what it means to have George W. Bush as their commander in chief for another 33 months -- in a time of war, terrorism, and nuclear intrigue. How can the press contribute to confronting the crisis? First: recognize it exists. Thomas Friedman started to do that today.

By Greg Mitchell

(April 19, 2006) -- No matter which party they generally favor or political stripes they wear, newspapers and other media outlets need to confront the fact that America faces a crisis without equal in recent decades.

Our president, in a time of war, terrorism and nuclear intrigue, will likely remain in office for another 33 months, with crushingly low approval ratings that are still inching lower. Facing a similar problem, voters had a chance to quickly toss Jimmy Carter out of office, and did so. With a similar lengthy period left on his White House lease, Richard Nixon quit, facing impeachment. Neither outcome is at hand this time.

The alarm should be bi-partisan. Many Republicans fear their president's image as a bumbler will hurt their party for years. The rest may fret about the almost certain paralysis within the administration, or a reversal of certain favorite policies. A Gallup poll this week revealed that 44% of Republicans want some or all troops brought home from Iraq. Do they really.

....... “I look at the Bush national security officials much the way I look at drunken drivers. I just want to take away their foreign policy driver's licenses for the next three years. Sorry, boys and girls, you have to stay home now -- or take a taxi. ... You will not be driving alone. Not with my car.

The problem -- the crisis -- is that Bush and Co. likely WILL be driving the “car” for 33 more months.

So, while Bennet, Malkin and Savage continue to scream THEATER in the midst of raging Bonfire of Failures and bad policy by the right -- the Bush Administration churns on... and on... and on. Oblivious and Imperious.

And to cap things off we have this months Rolling Stone Cover Article - Worst. President. Ever.

President Bush Photo

George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.
I don't think it's a question - I think it' s a SLAM DUNK.

Now, though, George W. Bush is in serious contention for the title of worst ever. In early 2004, an informal survey of 415 historians conducted by the nonpartisan History News Network found that eighty-one percent considered the Bush administration a "failure." Among those who called Bush a success, many gave the president high marks only for his ability to mobilize public support and get Congress to go along with what one historian called the administration's "pursuit of disastrous policies." In fact, roughly one in ten of those who called Bush a success was being facetious, rating him only as the best president since Bill Clinton -- a category in which Bush is the only contestant.
The only contest he could win - is one where he only competes with himself. Classic.

Vyan