Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Taste Of Victory


The photo, Sept. 24: part of the massive turnout for the three-day D.C. antiwar mobilization. Posted by Picasa

To see into impermanence, to actually see impermanence...this is the mind which determines that I must wake up for the benefit of all beings.

---Dogen, describing his experience as a small boy

The center is everywhere. Bent is the path of eternity.

---Friedrich Nietzsche

I cannot come nearer to God and Heaven
Than I live to Walden even.
I am its stony shore,
And the breeze that passes o'er;
In the hollow of my hand
Are its water and its sand,
And its deepest resort
Lies high in my thought.

---Henry David Thoreau

Since Mr. Gore, in a political panic, was denied the presidency, many in the United States have worked tirelessly---and with increased vigor this past year, as Mr. Kerry found himself in a sort of rerun---to point out errors and alleged crimes that initiated and have carried on our horrifying decline. Obviously some of us have lost sleep (it's 3AM) over stupefying Yankee blindness. My own writings have become increasingly aggressive, and I have lost favor with some...who prefer my essays about Nature and humorous reminiscences. I haven't kept up with editing my online logs as I used to, but what has piled up here http://www.newciv.org/nl/newslog.php/_v63 , http://www.upsaid.com/jazzolog/ or http://jazzolog.blogspot.com/ may provide some kind of record at least of one family's re-involvement with American grassroots political process. Sometimes lately I have felt the hopelessness of despair that the real promise and hope of the United States has been lost forever in the decay and fall of another Western civilization. And worse, I have feared we're taking the planet with us. Crash, explode and burn is a popular deathwish. Here in the countryside rarely does an evening pass by anymore that some neighbor or another isn't out on his hillside target-shooting with an automatic weapon.

But despite the new study that shows there'll be no ice in the Arctic by the end of the century http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20050928/arctic_sea_ice_050928/20050928?hub=CTVNewsAt11 , in the past week there has been some evidence that American know-how and a spirit that built our system of Justice may pull us out of this slump yet. I don't have a nourishing and nutritious banquet of victory before me, but there is a whiff maybe of something cooking in the kitchen. A summary of good news was sung to us yesterday by our burgeoning young writer William Rivers Pitt. If you remember the tune, do sing along~~~

Hey, Hey, Woody Guthrie, I Wrote You a Song
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t Perspective

Wednesday 28 September 2005

I'm out here a thousand miles from my home, Walkin' a road other men have gone down. I'm seein' your world of people and things, Your paupers and peasants and princes and kings. Hey, hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song 'Bout a funny old world that's a-comin' along. Seems sick and it's hungry, it's tired and it's torn, It looks like it's a-dyin' an' it's hardly been born.

-- Bob Dylan, "Song for Woody"

The unbelievably arrogant and power-mad GOP Representative from Texas, Tom DeLay, got a taste of the whip hand on Wednesday. Indicted on a charge of conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, DeLay has been forced to step down as Majority Leader in the House. There is no telling how long it will take for the case to wend its way through the courts, but informed opinion puts the time frame at about a year or so. If Tom gets convicted, however, we will never again see his political face. One hopes he saved his bug exterminator equipment. Perhaps, in his new career, he can disprove that old chestnut about not being able to go home again.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is staring down the barrel of an SEC charge that he dumped stock based on insider information. The stock he owned was from HCA, Inc., a company his family founded. Almost immediately after Frist dumped his stock, the value of those holdings dropped nine percent. "If there is really any evidence of insider trading, then he's in very serious trouble, and so is his party,'' said Gary Jacobson, professor of political science at the University of California in San Diego. "It adds another brick to Democrats' argument that Republicans are corrupt.'' Is it possible that Frist could have been given insider information on a company his own family started? Do the math, and then subtract from Frist's chances of being President in 2008.

A little more than a week ago, the White House's top federal procurement officer, David Safavian, was arrested - not accused, not indicted, but actually slapped with the bracelets - for lying and obstructing a criminal probe against super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Safavian is part of a larger investigation surrounding Abramoff's indictment on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. The names flying around these charges include GOP Rep. Robert Ney of Ohio, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. Had Safavian not resigned his White House post on the day he was arrested, they would have clapped him in irons right there inside 1600 Pennsylvania. Sic semper moral majority.

Oh yeah, and there's still that pesky matter of the investigation into an outed CIA agent floating around. According to a variety of reputable and rock-solid sources, folks in the White House are decidedly unhappy and nervous about this one. What on earth is the world coming to? These guys control the government, right? They control all the agencies responsible for these kinds of investigations. Despite that, DeLay and Frist and Safavian and Abramoff and Lord only knows who else are getting a crash course in the Justice system.

And how is Mr. Bush coping through all this? One answer can be found in this week's Newsweek, which describes George watching Hurricane Rita like a hawk after the Katrina debacle. "His eyes," reads the Newsweek piece, "were puffy from lack of sleep (he had been awakened all through the night with bulletins), and he seemed cranky and fidgety. A group of reporters and photographers had been summoned by White House handlers to capture a photo op of the commander in chief at his post. Bush stared at them balefully. He rocked back and forth in his chair, furiously at times, asked no questions and took no notes. It almost seemed as though he resented having to strike a pose for the press."

Rocked back and forth? Furiously at times? Sounds like a pathological response. I guess 40% approval ratings across the board will do that. These guys are sharp, though. They'll dig their way out. Or will they? On Monday, just before the DeLay indictment came out, the White House released a statement of support. "Majority Leader DeLay is someone the president considers a friend," read the statement. "The president looks forward to continuing to work closely with the majority leader to get things done on behalf of the American people." Oops. Keep rocking, George.

The Washington Post's Terry Neal published an article titled "Echoes of 1994 with Current Scandals?" on Tuesday. "Is it 1994 all over again?" asked Neal. "Dark and ominous clouds are gathering over the Republican Party these days, with a series of ethical and legal scandals that threaten to further damage a White House and Congress already reeling from a sharp drop in public approval ratings. On top of all of that, a special prosecutor and grand jury continue to investigate what, if any, role White House officials may have played in the leaking of the name of a covert operative to reporters. And the White House has come under increasing scrutiny, in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina fiasco, for rampant cronyism in its appointments to top level jobs, including director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and nominees for head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and deputy attorney general, among others."

Somewhere close to a half million people showed up in Washington last weekend to shout the White House down. A variety of organizations, such as Progressive Democrats of America, held conventions to plan their electoral strategies for 2006. On Monday, hundreds of activists swarmed House offices on Capitol Hill to demand an exit from Iraq. The anti-war movement, dismissed as non-existent by the GOP, has gained strength and speed with the actions of heroes like Cindy Sheehan, who got herself arrested on Monday for praying in front of the White House.

Woody Guthrie used to paint "This Machine Kills Fascists" on his guitars. I think he'd be pleased to see how fast the rock has started rolling down the hill.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/092805Q.shtml
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

And more good news: it's raining in Southeast Ohio at last.

8 comments:

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jazzolog said...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The New York Times
September 29, 2005

After the Love Is Gone
By NORA EPHRON

I broke up with Bill a long time ago. It's always hard to remember love - years pass and you say to yourself, was I really in love or was I just kidding myself? Was I really in love or was I just pretending he was the man of my dreams? Was I really in love or was I just desperate? But when it came to Bill, I'm pretty sure it was the real deal. I loved the guy.

As for Bill, I have to be honest: he did not love me. In fact, I never even crossed his mind. Not once. But in the beginning that didn't stop me. I loved him, I believed in him, and I didn't even think he was a liar. Of course, I knew he'd lied about his thing with Gennifer, but at the time I believed that lies of that sort didn't count. How stupid was that?

Anyway, I fell out of love with Bill early in the game - over gays in the military. That was in 1993, after he was inaugurated, and at that moment my heart turned to stone. People use that expression and mean it metaphorically, but if your heart can turn to stone and not have it be metaphorical, that's how stony my heart was where Bill was concerned. I'd had faith in him. I'd been positive he'd never back down. How could he? But then he did, he backed down just like that. He turned out to be just like the others. So that was it. Goodbye, big guy. I'm out of here. Don't even think about calling. And by the way, if your phone rings and your wife answers and the caller hangs up, don't think it's me because it's not.

By the time Bill got involved with Monica, you'd have thought I was past being hurt by him. You'd have thought I'd have shrugged and said, I told you so, you can't trust the guy as far as you can spit. But much to my surprise, Bill broke my heart all over again. I couldn't believe how betrayed I felt. He'd had it all, he'd had everything, and he'd thrown it away, and here's the thing: it wasn't his to throw away. It was ours. We'd given it to him, and he'd squandered it.

Years passed. I'd sit around with friends at dinner talking about How We Got Here and Whose Fault Was It? Was it Nader's fault? Or Gore's? Or Scalia's? Even Monica got onto the list, because after all, she delivered the pizza, and that pizza was truly the beginning of the end. Most of my friends had a hard time narrowing it down to a choice, but not me: only one person was at fault, and it was Bill. I drew a straight line from that pizza to the war. The way I saw it, if Bill had behaved, Al would have been elected, and thousands and thousands of people would be alive today who are instead dead.

I bring all this up because I bumped into Bill the other day. I was watching the Sunday news programs, and there he was. I have to say, he looked good. And he was succinct, none of that wordy blah-blah thing that used to drive me nuts. He'd invited a whole bunch of people to a conference in New York and they'd spent the week talking about global warming, and poverty, and all sorts of obscure places he knows a huge amount about.

When Bill described the conference, it was riveting. I could see how much he cared; and of course, I could see how smart he was. It was so refreshing. It was practically moving. To my amazement, I could even see why I'd loved the guy in the first place. It made me sadder than I can say. It's much easier to get over someone if you can delude yourself into thinking you never really cared that much.

Then, later in the week, I was reading about Bill's conference, and I came upon something that made me think, for just a moment, that Bill might even want me back. "I've reached an age now where it doesn't matter whatever happens to me," he said. "I just don't want anyone to die before their time any more." It almost really got to me. But then I came to my senses. And instead I just wanted to pick up the phone and call him and say, if you genuinely believe that, you hypocrite, why don't you stand up and take a position against this war?

But I'm not calling. I haven't called in years and I'm not starting now.

Nora Ephron is a writer and director.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/29/opinion/29ephron.html?th&emc=th

jazzolog said...

As you probably have noticed, The New York Times now offers an online subscription service in order to read the major op-ed writers...unless of course you buy the paper somewhere. Well, all the free stuff on the Internet certainly has been a gift from the start, so I don't begrudge them. Newspapers really have to scuffle to stay alive in this country these days---or go bellyup into the pocket of a rich conservative magnate. However, some of our liberal splinter groups are putting up the columns still...and with some guilt I read them, and even pass them on.

For instance, you can't miss Frank Rich's column over the weekend for the most concise summary I've seen of the various crimes and indictments facing the Bush regime. TruthOut has it, and here's a taste~~~

"This is the culture that has given us the government we have. It's a government that has spent more of the taxpayers' money than any since L.B.J.'s (as calculated by the Cato Institute, a libertarian research institution), even as it rewards its benefactors with tax breaks and corporate pork. It's a government so used to lying that Mr. DeLay could say with a straight face that the cost of Katrina relief could not be offset by budget cuts because there was no governmental fat left to cut. It's the government that fostered the wholesale loss of American lives in both Iraq and on the Gulf Coast by putting cronyism above patriotism.

"The courts can punish crooks, but they can't reform democracy from the ground up, and the voters can't get into the game until 2006. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the key players both in the White House and in the leadership of both houses of Congress are either under investigation or joined at the hip to Messrs Rove, DeLay, Abramoff, Reed or Norquist. They seem to be hoping that some magical event - a sudden outbreak of peace and democracy in Iraq, the capture of Osama bin Laden, a hurricane affording better presidential photo ops than Rita - will turn things around. Dream on."

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/100205F.shtml

jazzolog said...

Since NY Times now charges to read the columnists, I don't always see the articles right away. I depend on somebody else to put them up...and sometimes I get despondent and lazy and all that. So I nearly missed this beauty from last week, prompted by Bush's extraordinary urging upon us to conserve gas~~~

Dancing in The Dark
Maureen Dowd
The New York Times, September 28, 2005

http://fbihop.blogspot.com/2005/09/dancing-in-dark.html

I can't wait to see what's next.

Dick Cheney carpooling downtown with Brownie? Rummy Rollerblading down
the bike path to the Pentagon? Condi huddling by a Watergate fireplace
in a gray cardigan?

Maybe now that our hydrocarbon president is the conservation president,
he'll downgrade from Air Force One to a solar-powered Piper Cub as he
continues to stalk the Gulf Coast towns and oil rigs like Banquo's ghost.

The once disciplined and swaggering Bush administration has descended
into slapstick, more comical even than having Clarence Thomas et al. sit
in judgment as Anna Nicole Smith attempts to get more of the moolah of
her late oil tycoon husband.

We've got the clownish Brownie still on FEMA's payroll, giving advice on
cleaning up the mess he made. ( Let's hope the White House is paying him
only long enough to buy his good will, not to take any of his bad advice.)

We've got two oilmen in the White House whose administration was built
on urging us to consume and buy as much oil and energy as possible. Now
they're suddenly urging us to conserve. (Since Mr. Cheney considers
conservation a "personal virtue," at least he'll get some virtue.)

The president called on Americans to drive less, and told his staff
members to turn off their computers at night, turn down the
air-conditioning, form carpools and take the bus.

At the same time, he set a fine example by wasting gazillions of gallons
of fuel with all the planes and Secret Service vans and press motorcades
and police escorts that follow him around every time he goes on one of
his inane photo-ops from the Colorado bunker to what's left of the
Mississippi Delta and the Bayou. He did his part by knocking off a few
cars from his motorcade on his seventh trip to the gulf yesterday - but
if residents had hoped he'd bring them some water, they went thirsty.

"Even so," as The Times's Elisabeth Bumiller wrote, "security dictated
that Mr. Bush's still-impressive caravan pick him up at the base of Air
Force One in Lake Charles, La. - and drop him off just yards away for a
meeting with local officials at an airport terminal."

Noting that the Bush administration has proposed new fuel economy
standards that critics say could make huge S.U.V.'s and pickups even
more popular, Reuters published some arithmetic about the president's
notorious fuel inefficiency.

Air Force One costs $83,200 to fill up and more than $6,000 per hour to
fly. Then there's the cost of helicopters and a 2006 Cadillac DTS limo
that gets less than 22 miles per gallon.

Karen Hughes, the Bush nanny who knows nothing about the Muslim world
and yet is charged with selling the U.S. to it, wasted even more fuel
this week flying to Saudi Arabia to tell women covered from head to toe
in black how much she likes driving even though they can't.

She knows so little about the Middle East that she looked taken aback
when some Saudi women told her that just because they could not vote or
drive did not mean that they felt they were treated unfairly.

One thing Saudi women like even less than not having certain rights is
to have hypocritical Americans patronize them.

The moment when America should have used its influence to help Saudi
women came on Nov. 6, 1990, as U.S. forces gathered in the kingdom to go
to war in Iraq the first time. Inspired by the U.S. troops, including
female soldiers, 47 women from the Saudi intelligentsia took the wheels
from their brothers and husbands and drove until the police stopped them.

They were branded "whores" and "harlots" by Saudi clerics, had their
passports revoked, and were ostracized from society for a dozen years.
Even their husbands suffered.

The experience made them more angry at the U.S. than at their own
rulers. They feel that the Bushes play up the repression of women in the
Middle East when it suits their desire to bang the war drums, but do not
care what happens to women once the ideological agenda has been achieved.

They feel the administration and the American media have emphasized the
repression of Saudi women post-9/11 as a way to demonize Saudi Arabia
and paint Saudi men as bullies and terrorists.

When Ms. Hughes goes to Saudi Arabia to introduce herself as "a mom" and
to talk about Americans as people of faith, guzzling fuel all the way in
a country getting flush selling us oil, I think we can consider it
taxpayer money well spent.

W. doesn't really need to worry about turning down the lights in the
White House. The place is already totally in the dark.

jazzolog said...

To Sir, with Love
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times

Wednesday 12 October 2005

W. was the best Harry ever had.

"You are the best Governor ever - deserving of great respect!" gushed Harriet Miers, then the Texas Lottery chief, to George W. Bush in 1997. The belated birthday card she sent her boss with a sheepishly eager puppy poking his head up and a poem that read: "This is the wish/That should have been sent/Before your birthday/Came and went."

According to a cache of mash notes released by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in response to formal requests from The Times and other news organizations, Ms. Miers also told W. that he was "cool" and "the best!"; that he and Laura were "the greatest"; that Texas was "in great hands"; and that the governor should "keep up the great work. Texas is blessed."

Since there is no breathtaking Miers judicial record to pore over, I was eager to read more breathless Miers missives to a president she describes as the most brilliant man she has ever met. How could I get the notes from the White House, given how opposed Mr. Bush is to leaks? I called Scooter and Karl and they sent the secret documents right over.

August 2001 "Thank you so much for letting me bundle up and drag away the brush that you cut down today. And if I might add, Sir, I've never seen a man wield the nippers so judiciously. It was awesome! You are the best brush cutter ever!!"

September 2001 "I found out today that you handed down a decision for the White House mess to offer three different kinds of jelly with its P.B.&J. sandwiches. Sweet!! As you know, I'm the only member of the staff who eats three meals a day in the mess. Now I get to have a different type of jelly at every meal! The mess is blessed to have a president who cares so much. I know I'm probably just flattering myself, but I like to think that you are thinking of me, also. (Smile.)

"P.S. Can you believe Condi cares more about W.M.D.'s than P.B.&J.'s?"

April 2002 "I was worried that it could go unstated in the rush of business around here, but I just wanted to pause and say how amazing it is that, after doing so much for the American people already, you keep showing up for work most days. We have to come, but you choose to. You're the hardest-working president ever!!"

October 2002 "I'm not sure Condi has made the time to thank you herself, so I just wanted to say how much we appreciated the tickets to 'Madame Butterfly' on Saturday night. I wore my long black robe - I mean, opera cape. I just wish it had had that song from 'The Sound of Music' - I know you love it, too - 'Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels. ...' You're one of my favorite things, sir!"

January 2003 "Just a quick note to say how cool it is that you picked Brownie to head FEMA. There's nothing like having someone you know and trust in a top job. Your gut is the best judge ever!!"

April 2004 "There is no other president who would have had the courage to allow torture, dude! (It's only too bad that Abu Ghraib rules out Alberto's chances of getting on the Supreme Court.) You are the best torturer ever!! xo, H."

June 2005 "Make sure you take a good, long vacation this summer! Last year, you only took two weeks. You are pushing yourself way too hard, Sir!!"

August 2005 "I've half a mind to come down there myself and chase that witch, Cindy Sheehan, off your property with an injunction!! Yours, with you in Christ, Harriet."

September 2005 "In all this fuss about that bad-girl buttinsky Katrina, no one else seems to have noticed - not even Karen - that you've achieved your bold vision of losing that seven pounds. That extra week of mountain biking was so much more important than people realize. You're the most chiseled commander in chief ever, and the most rad guitar player ever!!"

October 2005 "How can I thank you, Sir? I never, ever expected the Supreme Court. Phat! I hope Clarence doesn't make me watch 'Debbie Does Dallas' again. That movie is so anti-Texas! I miss you already!!

"But now I will be able to serve your interests - and those of your family - forever and ever. If there's another recount you need help with, count on me. They say I don't have experience, but I've had the experience of polishing the boots of the wisest ruler since Solomon. I may not know stare decisis, but I know when to be starry-eyed. I await your instructions, Master."

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/101205E.shtml

jazzolog said...

I'm at your service, Mr. DeLay
--A word of advice from a friend: If your GOP pals turn on you, take them down with you.

Garrison Keillor, Salon, October 12, 2005
http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2005/10/12/keillor/

My Dear Mr. DeLay:

I have been waiting two weeks for one Republican to leap to your defense and express outrage at a grand jury so callous as to indict a virtuous man, and nobody has. They've all been coy and cautious and whispering to
the press that you are not their favorite guy in the whole world, so I am going to stand with you, sir, and cover your back. I don't like to see a man abandoned that way. When you're a Jet and the spit hits the fan, you've got brothers around. You're a family man. I am an old liberal and if we had a Hammer, we would support him in the morning, and in the evening, all over this land. You are the greatest political fundraiser since William Marcy Tweed, sir, and that Texas grand jury is trying to referee a football game by the rules of badminton.

Corporate money not used for political campaigns? The thought is preposterous on its face. Any schoolchild knows that politics is not about highfalutin debates and policy papers; it is about putting the screws to the fat cats and squeezing them until they squeak and then hiring agents to level your hapless opponent with a barrage of rotten fruit and dead cats as you yourself stand above the fray, Bible in hand, your arm around some orphans, eyes upraised to Old Glory, your face nicely lit. And you win the race and go to work flogging your timid colleagues and raising truckloads of dough and building your war chest and scaring the bejeebers out of people. That's how it's done.

This country was not built by nervous Nellies and Sunday school teachers but by bold marauders, dodgers, Sooners, buffalo hunters, forty-niners -- people who saw what they wanted and took it. You're one of them.
Politics is about power. You grabbed hold of it and became King of the Republican Hill, a majority leader who knows that one can never have too much majority. I am disappointed by your attempts to beautify yourself.
It's pitiful, sir, and demeaning to blow-dry your hair and try to project warmth through those drill-sergeant eyes and belt-sander voice. You're the man, sir, who redrew the map of Texas to squeeze more Republican congressmen out of it, and got Indian tribes to pay for you and yours to fly to Scotland first class and play golf, and who paid his wife as a consultant, etc., etc., etc. Personal warmth was not what got you to the dance. The rest of us tiptoe through the tulips, fearful of giving offense, but you, sir, are one brass monkey.

But politics is treacherous. Those Republicans who kiss your ring at prayer breakfasts and wave the flies away from your plate -- if they should sense that you are a wounded elephant, they will throw you out the window without blinking. Count on it, Mr. Leader. Behind those bland faces are neural synapses making intricate calculations. Don't worry about the Democrats, they are harmless, shaking their pointy heads and waving their small, plump hands. It's your friends who will do you in. Look at Julius Caesar. Look at Richard Nixon.

Nixon was done in by the ginks who forgot to burn the tapes, and so a great statesman suffered the ultimate humiliation of being quoted accurately when he was talking like a drunken bus driver about Jews and liberals. You, too, could be sandbagged by your pals, who may suddenly find it convenient to distance themselves from you as if you were not their daddy but just some stranger who came around every month and paid the bills and petted the dog.

Your best strategy is to Instill Fear Among the Flock. Yes, you've done certain things that don't look good to grand juries and Unitarian schoolmarms and amateur bird-watchers, but so have your fellow Republicans. They have shoved old ladies down the stairs and feathered their own nests, and you know it, and they know that you know it, and now you need to demonstrate that you will not bend one iota, no mea culpas and don't weep for me Argentina. You did not have sex with that woman, and you intend to go on Hammering, and if they let you down, you will sing like a canary and take those clowns with you.

Meanwhile, sir, I am at your side, your loyal pal and obedient servant.

- Garrison Keillor's “A Prairie Home Companion” can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.

jazzolog said...

William Rivers Pitt just gets better and better this morning as he looks at the Republican disaster~~~

Punxsutawney Karl
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 14 October 2005

Let's take a look at some numbers, shall we?

"For the first time," reports the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, "more people say George W. Bush's presidency will be judged as unsuccessful than say it will be seen as a success, a poll finds. People were inclined to say Bush's policies have made things worse on a wide range of issues such as the federal budget deficit, the gap between rich and poor, health care, the economy, relations with US allies, the tax system and education. Republicans give the president mixed reviews in many of these areas. Almost half of Republicans said Bush's policies have made the deficit worse and just 12 percent say he has improved that situation."

That last bit about Republicans giving Bush mixed reviews is especially unnerving for the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania, and is buttressed by a poll conducted by, of all things, the FOX News Channel. "As has been the case for much of his presidency," reports FOX, "Bush's approval rating shows a huge partisan gap; however, this is the first time of his presidency that approval among Republicans has dropped below 80 percent."

When GOP partisans start walking away from this administration, as they seem to be for the first time, you can almost hear the Fat Lady working her way through the do-re-mi's.

Whole swaths of the electorate are abandoning this White House en masse. The single most profound swing comes within the African-American community, which gave Bush a 51% approval rating in the months after 9/11. Well, you can take those chips off the felt. "In what may turn out to be one of the biggest free-falls in the history of presidential polling," writes Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post, "President Bush's job-approval rating among African Americans has dropped to 2 percent, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. The drop among blacks drove Bush's overall job approval ratings to an all-time low of 39 percent in this poll. By comparison, 45 percent of whites and 36 percent of Hispanics approve of the job Bush is doing."

Two percent. That's within the margin of error, so it is entirely reasonable to suspect that not one single African American in the country approves of the job Bush and his crew are doing. For an administration that had been attempting to make electoral inroads into this voting bloc, and had spent a good deal of money and time to do so, that tiny little number represents a staggering body blow.

There are a pile of reasons for this meltdown. The nomination of Harriet Miers to a Supreme Court post has ripped the conservative community right down the middle. Bush partisans, who would likely approve of the nomination of Ba'al if Bush tapped him and said nice things about him, are standing pat. But the old-schoolers are experiencing a crisis of confidence. Conservative columnists David Brooks and George Will have been especially enthusiastic with the whipping stick. They see this nomination for what it is: a sure-fire "Yes" vote for Bush on any case that comes to that high bench, despite the fact that Miers has never served as a judge and has all the apparent intellectual incisiveness of a cucumber sandwich.

"I don't know if by mere quotation," wrote Brooks on Thursday, after reviewing some of Miers written work, "I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers's prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. It's not that Miers didn't attempt to tackle interesting subjects. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things. Throw aside ideology. Surely the threshold skill required of a Supreme Court justice is the ability to write clearly and argue incisively. Miers's columns provide no evidence of that."

Throw aside ideology? In a fight over a Supreme Court nominee? When Republicans start talking like that, there is blood on the moon.

It is even within the realm of possibility that Ms. Miers will withdraw her nomination entirely. If she decides to sit down before the Senate, it is probable that she will be asked a number of questions on the minutiae of constitutional law. This nominee, who has no experience in the law whatsoever, will come across as being as bumbling and uninformed as the lamest first-year law student in the country. Who wouldn't want to do that before a bank of cameras?

There is Katrina and its aftermath. There is Majority Leader Frist under investigation, and former Majority Leader DeLay under indictment. There is Iraq, which grinds on interminably and which killed three more American soldiers on Friday. There is the coming winter and the looming explosion of heating prices; reports suggest that heating costs will increase by 70% as the snow starts to fall, translating into about an extra $350 on bills for anyone with natural gas heat, with similar bad news for anyone who has oil or electric heat. On top of that is the rise of the I-word: "US consumer inflation surged at the fastest pace in more than 25 years in September, rising a steeper-than-expected 1.2 percent, the Labor Department said Friday," reports Agence France-Presse.

After all that, or course, is the giant hammer hanging over the White House. Punxsutawney Karl stepped out of the Grand Jury room on Friday and saw his shadow, so it looks like we will have at least six more weeks of scandal. The inquiry into the deliberate outing by administration officials of a covert CIA agent as a means to effect political revenge, according to the New York Times, "has swept up a dozen or more other officials who have been questioned by investigators or have testified before the grand jury, and, should it lead to the indictment of anyone at a senior level, it has the potential to upend the professional lives of everyone at the White House for the remainder of Mr. Bush's second term."

"The result, say administration officials and friends and allies on the outside who speak regularly with them," continues the Times, "is a mood of intense uncertainty in the White House that veers in some cases into fear of the personal and political consequences and anger at having been caught in the snare of a special prosecutor. And given how badly things have been going for Mr. Bush and his team on other fronts - a poll released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center put his approval rating at 38 percent, a new low - they hardly have deep reserves of internal enthusiasm or external good will to draw on."

They're scared. They should be.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/101405Q.shtml

jazzolog said...

I nearly subscribed to NYTimes Select yesterday or shelled out the 5 bucks to read the paper off the stand just to get my hands on Frank Rich's article. He sets out his case against merely settling for Rove and Libby, when clearly Bush and Cheney are behind the whole mess. No, he doesn't mean just outing Valerie Plame. He means lying us into Iraq...and beyond. However, TruthOut got the piece online by late morning...and I hope you read it all (and send a couple bucks to TruthOut too)~~~

It's Bush-Cheney, Not Rove-Libby
By Frank Rich
The New York Times

Sunday 16 October 2005

There hasn't been anything like it since Martha Stewart fended off questions about her stock-trading scandal by manically chopping cabbage on "The Early Show" on CBS. Last week the setting was "Today" on NBC, where the image of President Bush manically hammering nails at a Habitat for Humanity construction site on the Gulf Coast was juggled with the sight of him trying to duck Matt Lauer's questions about Karl Rove.

As with Ms. Stewart, Mr. Bush's paroxysm of panic was must-see TV. "The president was a blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts," Dana Milbank wrote in The Washington Post. Asked repeatedly about Mr. Rove's serial appearances before a Washington grand jury, the jittery Mr. Bush, for once bereft of a script, improvised a passable impersonation of Norman Bates being quizzed by the detective in "Psycho." Like Norman and Ms. Stewart, he stonewalled.

That stonewall may start to crumble in a Washington courtroom this week or next. In a sense it already has. Now, as always, what matters most in this case is not whether Mr. Rove and Lewis Libby engaged in a petty conspiracy to seek revenge on a whistle-blower, Joseph Wilson, by unmasking his wife, Valerie, a covert C.I.A. officer. What makes Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy that was not at all petty: the one that took us on false premises into a reckless and wasteful war in Iraq. That conspiracy was instigated by Mr. Rove's boss, George W. Bush, and Mr. Libby's boss, Dick Cheney.

Mr. Wilson and his wife were trashed to protect that larger plot. Because the personnel in both stories overlap, the bits and pieces we've learned about the leak inquiry over the past two years have gradually helped fill in the ├╝ber-narrative about the war. Last week was no exception. Deep in a Wall Street Journal account of Judy Miller's grand jury appearance was this crucial sentence: "Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group."

Very little has been written about the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG. Its inception in August 2002, seven months before the invasion of Iraq, was never announced. Only much later would a newspaper article or two mention it in passing, reporting that it had been set up by Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff. Its eight members included Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby, Condoleezza Rice and the spinmeisters Karen Hughes and Mary Matalin. Its mission: to market a war in Iraq.

Of course, the official Bush history would have us believe that in August 2002 no decision had yet been made on that war. Dates bracketing the formation of WHIG tell us otherwise. On July 23, 2002 - a week or two before WHIG first convened in earnest - a British official told his peers, as recorded in the now famous Downing Street memo, that the Bush administration was ensuring that "the intelligence and facts" about Iraq's W.M.D.'s "were being fixed around the policy" of going to war. And on Sept. 6, 2002 - just a few weeks after WHIG first convened - Mr. Card alluded to his group's existence by telling Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times that there was a plan afoot to sell a war against Saddam Hussein: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."

The official introduction of that product began just two days later. On the Sunday talk shows of Sept. 8, Ms. Rice warned that "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud," and Mr. Cheney, who had already started the nuclear doomsday drumbeat in three August speeches, described Saddam as "actively and aggressively seeking to acquire nuclear weapons." The vice president cited as evidence a front-page article, later debunked, about supposedly nefarious aluminum tubes co-written by Judy Miller in that morning's Times. The national security journalist James Bamford, in "A Pretext for War," writes that the article was all too perfectly timed to facilitate "exactly the sort of propaganda coup that the White House Iraq Group had been set up to stage-manage."

The administration's doomsday imagery was ratcheted up from that day on. As Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus of The Washington Post would determine in the first account of WHIG a full year later, the administration's "escalation of nuclear rhetoric" could be traced to the group's formation. Along with mushroom clouds, uranium was another favored image, the Post report noted, "because anyone could see its connection to an atomic bomb." It appeared in a Bush radio address the weekend after the Rice-Cheney Sunday show blitz and would reach its apotheosis with the infamously fictional 16 words about "uranium from Africa" in Mr. Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address on the eve of war.

Throughout those crucial seven months between the creation of WHIG and the start of the American invasion of Iraq, there were indications that evidence of a Saddam nuclear program was fraudulent or nonexistent. Joseph Wilson's C.I.A. mission to Niger, in which he failed to find any evidence to back up uranium claims, took place nearly a year before the president's 16 words. But the truth never mattered. The Bush-Cheney product rolled out by Card, Rove, Libby & Company had been bought by Congress, the press and the public. The intelligence and facts had been successfully fixed to sell the war, and any memory of Mr. Bush's errant 16 words melted away in Shock and Awe. When, months later, a national security official, Stephen Hadley, took "responsibility" for allowing the president to address the nation about mythical uranium, no one knew that Mr. Hadley, too, had been a member of WHIG.

It was not until the war was supposedly over - with "Mission Accomplished," in May 2003 - that Mr. Wilson started to add his voice to those who were disputing the administration's uranium hype. Members of WHIG had a compelling motive to shut him down. In contrast to other skeptics, like Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency (this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner), Mr. Wilson was an American diplomat; he had reported his findings in Niger to our own government. He was a dagger aimed at the heart of WHIG and its disinformation campaign. Exactly who tried to silence him and how is what Mr. Fitzgerald presumably will tell us.

It's long been my hunch that the WHIG-ites were at their most brazen (and, in legal terms, reckless) during the many months that preceded the appointment of Mr. Fitzgerald as special counsel. When Mr. Rove was asked on camera by ABC News in September 2003 if he had any knowledge of the Valerie Wilson leak and said no, it was only hours before the Justice Department would open its first leak investigation. When Scott McClellan later declared that he had been personally assured by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby that they were "not involved" with the leak, the case was still in the safe hands of the attorney general then, John Ashcroft, himself a three-time Rove client in past political campaigns. Though Mr. Rove may be known as "Bush's brain," he wasn't smart enough to anticipate that Justice Department career employees would eventually pressure Mr. Ashcroft to recuse himself because of this conflict of interest, clearing the way for an outside prosecutor as independent as Mr. Fitzgerald.

"Bush's Brain" is the title of James Moore and Wayne Slater's definitive account of Mr. Rove's political career. But Mr. Rove is less his boss's brain than another alliterative organ (or organs), that which provides testosterone. As we learn in "Bush's Brain," bad things (usually character assassination) often happen to Bush foes, whether Ann Richards or John McCain. On such occasions, Mr. Bush stays compassionately above the fray while the ruthless Mr. Rove operates below the radar, always separated by "a layer of operatives" from any ill behavior that might implicate him. "There is no crime, just a victim," Mr. Moore and Mr. Slater write of this repeated pattern.

THIS modus operandi was foolproof, shielding the president as well as Mr. Rove from culpability, as long as it was about winning an election. The attack on Mr. Wilson, by contrast, has left them and the Cheney-Libby tag team vulnerable because it's about something far bigger: protecting the lies that took the country into what the Reagan administration National Security Agency director, Lt. Gen. William Odom, recently called "the greatest strategic disaster in United States history."

Whether or not Mr. Fitzgerald uncovers an indictable crime, there is once again a victim, but that victim is not Mr. or Mrs. Wilson; it's the nation. It is surely a joke of history that even as the White House sells this weekend's constitutional referendum as yet another "victory" for democracy in Iraq, we still don't know the whole story of how our own democracy was hijacked on the way to war.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/101605Z.shtml