Monday, October 22, 2007

Plamegate Finale: We Were Right; They Were Wrong

Here's my last "Capital Games" column for

Four and a half years ago, after reading the Robert Novak column that outed Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA operative specializing in counter-proliferation work, I wrote an article in this space noting that this particular leak from Bush administration officials might have been a violation of a federal law prohibiting government officials from disclosing information about clandestine intelligence officers and (perhaps worse) might have harmed national security by exposing anti-WMD operations. That piece was the first to identify the leak as a possible White House crime and the first to characterize the leak as evidence that within the Bush administration political expedience trumped national security.

The column drew about 100,000 visitors to this website in a day or so. And--fairly or not--it's been cited by some as the event that triggered the Plame hullabaloo. I doubt that the column prompted the investigation eventually conducted by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, for I assume that had my column not appeared the CIA still would have asked the Justice Department to investigate the leak as a possible crime. But now that Fitzgerald's investigation is long done, the Scooter Libby spin-off is over (thanks to George W. Bush's total commutation of Libby's sentence), and Valerie Wilson has finally published her account, it seems a good time to say, I was right. And to add, where's the apology?

From the start, neocons and conservative backers of the war dismissed the Plame leak and subsequent scandal as a big nothing. Some even claimed that somehow former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and I had cooked up the episode to ensnare the White House. (Oh, to be so devilishly clever--and to be so competent.) But these attempts to belittle the affair (and to belittle Valerie Wilson) were based on nothing but baseless spin. As was--no coincidence--the Iraq war. In fact, the Wilson imbroglio was something of a proxy war for the debate over the war itself. In the summer of 2003, when the Plame affair broke, those in and out of government who had misled the nation into the war saw the need to spin their way out of the Wilson controversy in order to protect the false sales pitch they had used to win public support for the invasion of Iraq.

First they attacked Joe Wilson when he disclosed that he had gone to Niger in February 2002 for the CIA and had reported back that the allegation Saddam Hussein had been uranium-shopping there was highly dubious. Then when Valerie Wilson's CIA identity was exposed during the get-Wilson campaign, they pooh-poohed the leak. They subsequently spent years doing so. Here's a brief list of Plame attacks I've published before:

* On September 29, 2003, former Republican Party spokesman Clifford May wrote that the July 14, 2003 Robert Novak column that disclosed Valerie Wilson's CIA connection "wasn't news to me. I had been told that--but not by anyone working in the White House. Rather, I learned it from someone who formerly worked in the government and he mentioned it in an offhand manner, leading me to infer it was something that insiders were well aware of."

* On September 30, 2003, National Review writer Jonah Goldberg huffed, "Wilson's wife is a desk jockey and much of the Washington cocktail circuit knew that already."

* On October 1, 2003, Novak wrote, "How big a secret was it? It was well known around Washington that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA....[A]n unofficial source at the agency says she has been an analyst, not in covert operations."

* On July 17, 2005, Republican Representative Roy Blunt, then the House majority leader, said on Face the Nation , "This was a job that the ambassador's wife had that she went to every day. It was a desk job. I think many people in Washington understood that her employment was at the CIA, and she went to that office every day."

* On February 18, 2007, as the Libby trial was under way, Republican lawyer/operative Victoria Toensing asserted in The Washington Post , "Plame was not covert."

* In his recently published memoirs, Novak wrote of Valerie Wilson, "She was not involved in clandestine activities. Instead, each day she went to CIA headquarters in Langley where she worked on arms proliferation."

A year ago, in our book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War , Michael Isikoff and I disclosed for the first time that Valerie Wilson was operations chief at the Joint Task Force on Iraq of the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA's clandestine operations directorate. She was no paper-pusher or analyst, as Novak and others had said. She was in charge of covert operations on a critical front. (Isikoff and I detailed some of her work in the book.) As part of her job, she traveled overseas under cover. CBS News recently reported that it had confirmed she had also worked on operations designed to prevent Iran from obtaining or developing nuclear weapons. Ironic? Ask Dick Cheney.

And Valerie Wilson was not known about Washington as a spy. Though Cliff May has made this argument, in the years since the Novak column appeared, no one in Washington has come forward to say, "Oh yes, I knew about her before Novak outed her." In fact, Valerie Wilson was a mid-level, career CIA officer--there must be hundreds, if not thousands--and such people are (to be frank) not usually on the radar screen of Washington insiders. They are not known regulars on the D.C. cocktail circuit, such as it is. Ask Sally Quinn.

For her part, Valerie Wilson, who left the CIA at the end of 2005, has only recently been able to challenge the purposefully misleading descriptions of her CIA tenure. Appearing before the House government oversight and reform committee in March, she testified the she was a "covert officer" who had helped to "manage and run operations." She said that prior to the Iraq invasion she had "raced to discover intelligence" on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. "I also traveled to foreign countries on secret missions," she said under oath, "to find vital intelligence." She noted that she could "count on one hand" the number of people outside the CIA who knew of her spy work.

On Sunday, as she launched her new book, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House , she appeared on 60 Minutes and repeated her case. Though the CIA has absurdly prevented her from acknowledging that she worked for the agency prior to 2002--she started there in 1985--Wilson told Katie Couric, "Our mission was to make sure that the bad guys basically did not get nuclear weapons." After her name appeared in the Novak column, she said, "I can tell you, all the intelligence services in the world that morning were running my name through their databases to see, 'Did anyone by this name come in the country? When? Do we know anything about it? Where did she stay? Well, who did she see?'...It puts in danger, if not shuts down, the operations that I had worked on."

What damage was actually done by the leak remains a secret. On 60 Minutes , Valerie Wilson said a damage assessment was conducted by the CIA but that she never saw it. She added, "I certainly didn't reach out to my old assets and ask them how they're doing, although I would have liked to have." That damage report has not been leaked. Nor has it been a subject of congressional interest--as far as one can publicly tell. in 2003, the Democrats in Congress who cared about the Plame leak were obsessed with calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor. That fixation proved to be a mistake. A special prosecutor could only focus on criminal matters and could only disclose information necessary for a prosecution--rules that Patrick Fitzgerald would stick by. The Democrats never pushed for a congressional investigation that could have examined (and perhaps made public, even if in a limited fashion) key issues in the case, such as the consequences of the leak. Valerie Wilson said to Couric that the damage was "serious." The public ought to know if this is so. (When I once asked Senator Jay Rockefeller, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, if he had any intention of probing the Plame leak, he said he no interest in doing so.)

In trying to spin their way out of the CIA leak mess, the neocon gang made much of the fact (again, first revealed by Isikoff and me) that Richard Armitage, who was the No. 2 at the State Department and a neocon-hating Iraq war skeptic, was the administration official who initially told Novak that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. But the Plamegate deniers often ignore the inconvenient truth that White House aide Karl Rove--during the White House campaign to undermine Joe Wilson--confirmed this classified information for Novak and also passed the same leak to Matt Cooper, then of Time. (It was only because Cooper's editors at the newsmagazine did not care about Wilson's wife that Novak published the leak first.) Libby and White House press secretary Ari Fleischer also shared information about Wilson's wife and her CIA connection with reporters. This was all part of the White House effort to tarnish Wilson by making it seem as if his trip to Niger had been nothing but a nepotistic junket. And as testimony and documents presented at the Libby trial showed, Vice President Cheney had been driving the pushback effort and had early on learned about Valerie Wilson's CIA employment and then conveyed that information to Libby.

Yes, this was a case of putting politics (getting Joe Wilson) ahead of national security concerns (such as protecting the identity and operations of a CIA officer working the WMD beat).

It is true that at the end of the day, no one was charged with a crime for leaking information on Valerie Wilson. Patrick Fitzgerald decided that he could not prove in court--as he would have to under the law--that the leakers knew that Valerie Wilson was a covert officer. But Fitzgerald did pursue Libby and Rove for possibly lying to FBI agents and the grand jury investigating the leak. He nabbed Libby but, after much consideration, opted not to indict Rove.

Still, Rove was caught in a lie. Toward the start of the Plame affair, the White House declared that Rove was not involved in the leak, and Bush indicated that anyone who had leaked classified information would be dismissed. But the White House statement regarding Rove was false (probably because Rove had misled White House press secretary Scott McClellan). Bush's promise was false, too, for Rove remained Bush's master strategist even after Isikoff published an email showing that Rove had leaked classified information about Valerie Wilson to Cooper.

The bottom line: this episode demonstrated that the Bush White House was not honest (the vice president's chief of staff was even convicted of lying to law enforcement officials), that top Bush officials had risked national security for partisan gain, and that White House champions outside the government would eagerly hurl false accusations to defend the administration.

So is anyone apologizing? For ruining Valerie Wilson's career? For perhaps endangering operations and agents? For lying about the leak? For misleading the public about Rove's role? For placing spin above the truth? Armitage did apologize (via a media interview) to the Wilsons. But no one else involved has. And no one--not Bush, not Cheney, not their aides, not their neocon confederates--has admitted any wrongdoing in this saga.

It's like the war: false statements, false cover stories, and failure to concede the errors in judgment and action that have caused harm to national security. But the meta-narrative of Bush and his neoconservative allies is one of no apology, no surrender. They say and do what they must to shield themselves from the consequences of their actions. Reality be damned. What matters is what they can get away with. In the case of Valerie Plame Wilson, they did escape retribution. In the larger case of the Iraq war, they are still hoping to.

Posted by David Corn at October 22, 2007 11:52 PM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

Apology? You are asking the for more than the delusional can deliver.

Cliffy, Vicky, et al will STILL believe in their silly fantasies and live in their parallel universe where their GOP Reich will rule for a thousand years.

Nothing is beneath these slugs. Outing a bona fide CIA NOC is nothing to them - just watch how they continue to cling to their fabrications, notions and lies.

Nothing will ever change their beliefs - not a fact, not reality because belief is all they have now and they can try to run from their crimes of yellow journalism and outright lies but (as always) you nailed them on the facts and proven them to be detached from reality.

Melancholy - and bitter-sweet - the last column at the close of many years of excellent work at The Nation.

I doubt any of the examples you cite or the names you mentioned have the good character and values to admit their error and offer anything that resembles an apology. Time will certainly tell.

Thanks for all of your work. I am looking forward in your direction.


carey said...

Double Post:

We're locked inside our houses. La Jolla, so far, is still out of the woods, but the fuckers' (nine fires total at the moment--new ones keep sparking) have surrounded us. It's formed an ill-shaped semicircle around the coast. At some points it will reach the coast.

No David B., it is all around us, not well to the north. Those are the L.A. fires. It's dire as I said.

What this is David and all is a manifestation of global warming-- the bizarre weather conditions, etc. San Diego is notorious for wildfires and Santa Ana's in late October so that's normal. It's the extent of it that's caused so much trouble.

capt said...

Letting slip the drugs of war

Is the CIA helping itself to the Afghan heroin harvest?

No names, no pack drill, like we used to say in the army, but I had a client who wanted me to look into some aspects of the world heroin trade.

I googled a bit, and made a few phone calls and began to have disturbing suspicions.

Since the fall of the Taliban regime, which had seriously honoured an agreement to close down the trade, heroin production in Afghanistan has surged. In 2006 there was a 50 per cent increase in the poppy harvest and it created a new record for world production, my contact in the UN Office on Drugs and Crime told me. Afghanistan now accounts for 92 per cent of the world’s illicit production. She expected it would take another leap upwards this year.

So where is the stuff ending up? So far, not in Australia, but that’s only a matter of time. Once again, the streets of Western Europe and Russia are awash with the stuff and that fact got me thinking about the CIA.

The espionage game provides a powerful motive, superbly trained teams and the perfect cover for large-scale drug smuggling. It’s hardly a secret that, in the past, the CIA has partaken of the feast and, collectively, it couldn’t give a damn if the stuff gets dumped on the despised nations of ‘Old Europe’.

The US clandestine agencies are a sprawling brotherhood of silence and trust. And it isn’t just the huge bureaucracy of the CIA itself. Now, there’s also a freelance parallel universe of ‘special forces’ and ‘security contractors’ – created by the neocons for their War on Terror – doing everything from assassinations to ‘interrogation’. No mainstream politician wants to know what these people are doing in their name.

For security reasons these organizations are rigidly compartmentalised. Everything is on a need-to-know basis; “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is the rule. When (somewhere in the world) a Learjet from one of the CIA’s front companies rolls into the hanger at a US military airbase you just say “Hi, Raul” to the pilot and forget you saw the manacled guy being frogmarched down the steps, wearing a blindfold and earmuffs. You certainly don’t ask what those big black duffle bags might contain.

And, of course, this vast bureaucracy has a limitless appetite for money – over and above the official budget, itself often partly concealed. We’re talking about black, untraceable money. Money in quantities you can’t achieve by any means other than drugs. We’re talking hundreds of billions.

I read Amnesty International’s 2006 report on the CIA’s ‘rendition’ flights – Below the radar: Secret flights to torture and disappearance – and my suspicion deepened. Officially available flight details for known aircraft of the CIA’s clandestine fleet combined with observations by Amnesty’s global network of plane spotters reveal that these aircraft fly too often, and touch down far more often, than can be explained by the rendition of the hapless suspects they were carrying at the time. They often stopped at US air bases where the local authorities have no control over what gets loaded or unloaded.

I was musing on all this when a contact in the US emailed, drawing my attention to an 11 October piece in the New York Times.

“The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, has ordered an unusual internal inquiry into the work of the agency’s inspector general, whose aggressive investigations of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs and other matters have created resentment among agency operatives.

“A small team working for General Hayden is looking into the conduct of the agency’s watchdog office, which is led by Inspector General John L. Helgerson. Current and former government officials said the review had caused anxiety and anger in Mr. Helgerson’s office and aroused concern on Capitol Hill that it posed a conflict of interest.”

It seemed that the General Hayden’s investigation is particularly focused on complaints that the inspector general had not acted as a fair and impartial judge of CIA ops but was instead conducting a crusade against participants in controversial detention programs.

“Any move by the agency’s director to examine the work of the inspector general would be unusual, if not unprecedented, and would threaten to undermine the independence of the office, some current and former officials say.

“A CIA spokesman strongly defended the inquiry … saying General Hayden supported the work of the inspector general’s office and had ‘accepted the vast majority of its findings’.

“‘His only goal is to help this office, like any office at the agency, do its vital work even better’, said Paul Gimigliano, the spokesman.”

Yeah, I’ll bet. Given that inspector general is appointed by the president and reports to both the director of the CIA and to Congress, one would have thought that he had every right to check up on what was going on in the CIA’s gulag archipelago.

But maybe that wasn’t where he’d trespassed. Maybe, just maybe, John Helgerson, in the course of auditing the whole dirty rendition process had begun to have the same suspicions as I about an even dirtier secret.


Carey said...


Alternet is on top of things.

Firefighters Believe in Global Warming, So Why Doesn't Bush?


San Diego cannot recover from this one. It will be pieced together.

This is so not over.

capt said...

FACTBOX-Five facts about California wildfires

(Reuters) - Five facts about California wildfires:

* California's parched climate, often desiccated brush, and Santa Ana winds create the perfect recipe for wildfires. The Santa Anas begin in deserts to the east and rush erratically through mountain passes and canyons into Southern California communities.

* During Santa Ana conditions, fires can be easily ignited by nature, in the case of lightning, or by humans. Some are arson, while others can be sparked by machinery operated near dry brush, campfires or carelessly tossed cigarettes. Downed power lines also pose a fire hazard. Once the wildfires are whipped by the winds, they spread quickly and are extremely dangerous and difficult to fight.

* "Fire Season" officially begins in early summer and lasts through October, though officials say that as the state suffers through cyclical drought conditions, they consider the season to be almost year-round in Southern California.

* The worst California wildfire of the past decade was the Cedar Fire in October of 2003, which killed 15 people and destroyed more than 4,800 structures, many of them houses, as it burned nearly 300,000 acres in San Diego County.

* Earlier this year, Los Angeles firefighters battled major brush fires -- one that blackened 817 acres in the city's landmark Griffith Park and another that threatened the town of Avalon on Catalina Island, some 22 miles off the coast. The Zaca fire burned through 240,000 acres

of Santa Barbara ranchland for two months over the summer.


Carey said...


Jesus, neighborhood after neighborhood getting the reverse 911 calls to evacuate.

We're dropping like flies. I will say the amount of death has remained low.

But permanent health problems? My brother-in-law has them from his Search and Rescue efforts in the Cedar Fire.

capt said...

Bin Laden lambastes Iraqi insurgents


Hmmmm, the day before Bunnypants asks for ANOTHER $46 billion?

Seems like OBL is ALWAYS handy just when Bunnypants needs more troops or more $$$.

"Coincidence doesn't just happen"
~ Homer J Simpson

capt said...

Kucinich pushes Bush impeachment

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, weary from a dozen campaign stops in a week, sat in a small room at the Monterey fairgrounds on Sunday, but he had a look in his eyes that said he knew he wouldn't sit for long.
Still, his expression seemed to lighten as he recalled his comedic success last week as a guest on The Colbert Report, the farcical news show on "Comedy Central."

"The secret of it," he said, pausing for effect, "Don't try to be funny."

Only then did he let out a laugh.

The presidential hopeful was energized by a straw poll taken Sunday in San Mateo County, where he came in second after John Edwards as the favored Democratic candidate.

"That shows that I am electable," he said. "That was very powerful, a sign of rising support because of the stand I take for peace — including standing up against war with Iran."

He seized the moment to come out with perhaps his strongest stance to date toward impeaching President George W. Bush.

"I'm going to talk to members of Congress this week and tell them taking impeachment off the table is a big mistake," he said.

Kucinich was moved to take action, he said, in part because of Bush's recent suggestion to reporters that a world war with Iran might be imminent, leading Kucinich to wonder "whether he's playing with Armageddon or he's not well."

"The world can't countenance the president of the United States raising the specter of World War III," he said. "A president must be temperate with his words."
Kucinich was in town to introduce the political rock-reggae-hip hop of Michael Franti and Spearhead on Sunday night at the Monterey Music Summit.

"I'm here to be with my friend Michael Franti. He's one of the most exciting performers," he said. "He's thoughtful, he's deep and he's a humanitarian."

Kucinich, who announced his plans to run once more for president last December, has said he favors immediate U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, opting for a multi-national stabilization force to maintain order.

He was also in California pushing for single-payer health-care coverage.

"All other candidates want to keep our for-profit health care system," he said, while he is pushing his congressional bill HR 676, which would expand the Medicare program to cover all virtually Americans.

"These are very powerful issues for Californians," he said.

Kucinich said he was surprised by the popularity he's gained after his debut on "Comedy Central."

Hollywood actors have telephoned, he said, and videos of his performance are circulating all over the Internet.

"When people saw Colbert, they really responded," he said, "They like to think their president has a sense of perspective."

He said the appearance came off pretty well, considering that members of Congress have been warned not to appear on the show, where they're likely to face skewering by host Stephen Colbert's acid tongue.

Kucinich said it was his chaotic life that gave him a sense of humor.

"I moved around a lot, been through political ups and downs," he said. "I don't take myself seriously, but I take the issues very seriously."

Other candidates, he said, could stand to lighten up a little. Well, he didn't exactly say it that way.

"I hear one of the candidates announced they're going to be funny," he said in the deadpan style that seemed to win him fans on "Comedy Central."

On that show, Kucinich pulled off a now near-famous routine about what he carries in his pockets, because he had previously showed off his pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution on national television.

Most of the shtick was built around the fact that he reportedly also carries tea bags in his pockets.

"I usually do have a tea bag," he said, fishing through wads of business cards and few crumpled dollar bills before finally producing a bag of green tea. It was "Choice Organic Tea," according to the label.

He had already flashed his copy of the Constitution at the fairgrounds, and had pointed to the autograph of elder statesman Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., on the first page.

"Don't leave home without it," he said, sliding it into a breast pocket.

Despite tireless campaigning that now includes his wife, Elizabeth, and her mother, Julia Massey, who came out from the London area to traipse 10 days through the U.S. Southwest, in polls Kucinich has trailed well behind candidates whose campaign chests are packed much fuller.

Though he also trailed in the 2004 primaries, his numbers in online polls kept showing promise and he continued to campaign right up to the Democratic National Convention, saying he still wanted to influence the party's agenda.

In fact, he was the very last candidate to call it quits before John Kerry got the nomination. Which may say a thing or two about his tenacity, if nothing else.

He gave every indication he'll show similar determination in Campaign 2008.

"I'm in this absolutely," he said. "This tide keeps building. It's not about me. What I stand for resonates in peoples hearts."

With that, he braced for another interview before heading off to take the stage.

Julia Reynolds can be reached at 648-1187 or



Go Dennis!

capt said...

More fires, droughts and floods predicted

As temperatures rise with global warming, an increased risk of forest fires, droughts and flooding is predicted for the next 200 years by climate scientists from the University of Bristol, UK.

Despite the commitment we have already to global warming, even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases now the researchers predict that Eurasia, eastern China, Canada, Central America, and Amazonia are at risk of forest loss (up to 30% probability for a global warming of less then 2̊C and increasing to more than 60% for a warming of more than 3̊C), while the far north, Amazonia and many semi-arid regions will become more susceptible to wildfires.

Less freshwater availability, and with it more intense droughts, are likely to occur in West Africa, Central America, southern Europe and the eastern USA. Other regions, particularly areas north of 50̊N, tropical Africa and northwest South America, will be at significant risk of excessive runoff as trees are lost, increasing the chances of flooding as temperatures rise.

The researchers also found that if the temperature increase is more than 3̊C, land carbon sinks could release their stored carbon, starting a positive feedback loop that would increase atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Marko Scholze, lead author on the paper published in PNAS this week, said: “Most importantly we show the steeply increasing risks, and increasingly large areas affected, associated with higher warming levels. This analysis represents a considerable step forward for discussions about ‘dangerous’ climate change and its avoidance.”

The team from QUEST (Quantifying and Understanding the Earth System, a project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and based at Bristol University), with a colleague from the University of Southampton, quantified the risks of climate-induced changes in key ecosystem processes, using novel methods. They gathered results from more than 50 climate model simulations to calculate these risks and then grouped the results according to varying amounts of global warming: less than 2̊C, 2-3̊C, and more than 3̊C.

For each of the temperature groups they show the probability of shifts in forest cover and the areas which exceed the natural variability in wildfire frequency or freshwater supply for the coming 200 years.


capt said...

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster. Your life will never be the same again.
~ Og Mandino (1923 - 1996), The Greatest Miracle in the World

Whatever happened to kindness?

Like the concepts of peace and tolerance I hear little about the importance of simple kindness. I think there is a case that kindness should be the first most important consideration in anything we do.

Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.
~ Annie Lennox

Forget about the “God is love” saying and lets start with “God is kindness.”

The moment a person becomes less than kind they also become less than they expect from themselves. It is a loss without a corresponding gain. We all have a sense of empathy if only within the function of mirror neurons. When a person is unkind to others they feel the unkindness as if they inflicted it upon themselves.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
~ Lao-Tzu (604 BC - 531 BC.

The big lie about kindness is that kindness is weakness. That somehow being kind opens you up, lowers the defenses. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Being kind in all things and in all ways is a gift to ones self.

Kindness is a creation each of us must make for ourselves. It is not a given, a base line measure nor something constant that can be grasped and held in our attempt to reflect the best from within. Kindness is not easy nor effortless - coincidence nor accident. Kindness is a mind-set. A science of tolerance and acceptance.

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
~ Dalai Lama

All humans should use kindness as a guide in their daily lives and interactions. All institutions should have kindness as the overarching rule. Kindness should never be sacrificed or bargained in exchange for anything because genuine kindness (like love) is a priceless gift.

Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.
~ George Sand French author (1804 - 1876)

There is never a reason to be unkind because if kindness is a gift to ones self then unkindness is an insult, and injury to ones self as well.

Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else's life forever.
~ Margaret Cho, weblog, 03-11-04

capt said...

"When the President starts lying he begins to need evidence to back up his lies because in this democracy he is questioned on his statements. It then percolates down through the bureaucracy that you are helping the Boss if you come up with evidence that is supportive of our public position and you are distinctly unhelpful if you commit to paper statements that might leak to the wrong people.

The effect of that is to poison the flow of information to the President himself and to create a situation where a President can be almost, to use a metaphor, psychotically divorced from the realities in which he is acting...." : Daniel Ellsburg to the US Senate on Foreign Relations, May 13, 1970

"The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition and incompetence." : Elbert Hubbard (American editor, publisher and writer, 1856-1915)

"Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America." : Dwight David Eisenhower (American 34th President (1953-61). 1890-1969)

"America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way around. Human rights invented America." : Jimmy Carter (American 39th US President (1977-81). Nobel Prize for Peace in 2002. b.1924)


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...

Self-righteous warmongers phony patriots

You have to wonder if the whole conservative movement in the U.S. is living in a weird alternate reality in which the only thing that matters is what you say, and facts, consistency and honor mean nothing.

The recent remarks by Rush Limbaugh in which he called military men who opposed the Iraq war "phony soldiers" is another example of the strange world in which he (and a lot of neocons) exist. The reason: Limbaugh could be the poster boy of a group of war cheerleaders (including Dick Cheney, Mike Medved, Sean Hannity, Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Mike Savage, et al.) who chose to avoid military service when it was their turn. Now that the coast is clear, they've all morphed into self-righteous war boosters sitting in comfortable offices lecturing the rest of us about patriotism and duty.

Picture Osama bin Laden acting that way, relaxing in a La-Z-Boy recliner and urging his followers to do what he never did. He'd be ridiculed. And, while there is nothing to admire in bin Laden's murderous ideology, at least he actually put his money where his mouth is and fought for his cause.

Limbaugh and the far right cheerleader squad talked us into a war that likely would end overnight if they (or most of our politicians) actually had to endure any sacrifice themselves.

I guess the majority of the neocons who have been vocally supportive of the war, and so quick to insult and denigrate those opposed to it, suffer from a case of self-loathing brought on by doing nothing.

Locally, Mike Medved, our own homegrown war booster, was fond of calling decorated Gen. Wesley Clark "Weasely Clark" when he was running for president in 2004. I remember feeling angry that a Vietnam War avoider would have the gall to insult a war hero simply because he was against the Iraq war and predicted disaster. (Incidentally, Clark was obviously right.)

Limbaugh, though, may well represent the ultimate example of the far right's "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. Can a three-times-divorced, draft-dodging, Viagra-chomping guy with a drug problem really be the far right's standard-bearer?

When I served in the Navy, the code was simple: Everyone pulled their own weight, and the ship functioned because of mutual sacrifice and hard work. When it came time to play, we played hard. When we were at sea, we worked hard. The military taught me about teamwork and action, not talk.

The neocons who got us into Iraq on a huge pile of macho slogans, distortions and bravado, having skipped out on any sacrifice themselves, are not patriots. Just as the Nazi propaganda machine ended up ultimately ruining Germany, our big talkers may well represent a danger to this country every bit as real as al-Qaida. Their ability to fool people into believing what is demonstrably false and almost certainly not in our national self-interest, while hiding behind a false flag of patriotism, is proving disastrous every day.

If we choose to measure results and not talk, Limbaugh and his ilk clearly have made us less safe, aided radical Islam and bin Laden, helped keep a hopelessly inept president and Cabinet in power, and generally worked against our long-term interest. They are phony patriots.

Greg James is from Mercer Island.


capt said...

America's lost soul

The grand experiment called America is a failure

America, a once-great nation founded on a notion of freedom, has lost its way.

America is a country without a soul, controlled by leaders without conscience, fueled by political agendas without honesty and dominated by issues without purpose.

Some say the loss of soul began in 2003 when we invaded a sovereign nation without reason, using rationalizations based on lies, promoting a fear based on political expediency.

But America has been losing its grip on reality for many, many years. America is a victim of its own paranoia, driven by an outdated belief in a superiority that doesn’t exist. That egotistical belief that our way of life is the only cure for the world’s ills has led us to become a nation that attempts to export a vision of democracy that no longer exists within our own borders, to believe that our own narrow view of the world must control others peoples and other governments and that we, and only we, can develop, own and use weapons that can destroy the planet.

We decry terrorism yet we export terrorism to other countries. Our soldiers maim, kill and torture. When we run out of soldiers, our government hires mercenaries to continue our dirty work and claim all this mayhem is necessary in the name of freedom.

Whose freedom? Our own? We began losing our freedoms years ago and that loss accelerated as the smoke swirled around the remains of the World Trade Center and the gaping hole in the side of the Pentagon.

While we attached Chinese-made American flags to our car windows, our leaders deposited the Constitution into a shredder. U.S. goon squads, operating under the Germanic-sounding name of the “Homeland Security” rounded up Americans and shipped them off to foreign countries to be tortured and denied the rights that once belonged to each and every citizen of this country.

A mentally-unstable President used paranoia and fear to gain unprecedented power and bring this nation to the brink of a dictatorship. An effort by voters to restore some checks and balances to the system fell short when Democrats reneged on their promises and put political expediency above the will of the American people.

The billions upon billions spent in Iraq devastated the economy back home and we face an increasingly uncertain future.

As we head into the 2008 Presidential election season, both political parties appear destined to nominate candidates who support the status quo and offer no real return to a our forefathers’ dream of a government of, by or for the people.

Historians argue that America’s democratic republic was always more theory than reality. Those who founded this nation did so with the premise that only white, male landowners could truly be free. Blacks were slaves and women existed only to serve men.
From the beginning, our elected officials came from the ranks of the wealthy and privileged. They thought elected office should be “public service,” not a career. Today, those who aren’t rich when they come to Washington usually find wealth either in office or by cashing in when they finish their “public service.” They answer not to the people but to special interest groups with large political action committees.

So what’s the answer? I don’t have one. I wish I did. I’ve worked around the American governmental system for more than 40 years. I’ve covered it as a journalist and worked within the political system for nearly a decade. I’ve served my country. As a young reporter writing about the fall of Richard Nixon I thought America had sunk as low as it could go.

I was wrong. The sink hole deepens and more simple American values disappeared into it long ago. Too many Americans gave up too long ago on demanding honesty, accountability or solid performances from our leaders. We judge them not individually but in relation to other leaders and we forgive their failings if the other side is worse and the other side is always worse in a partisan political system.

We cannot reverse the downward slide of America through partisan politics. Both parties, in my opinion, are corrupt. Neither represents the interests of the American people nor gives a rat’s ass about the nation they claim to serve. Independent voices on both sides of the political divide can’t succeed because party leaders insist on lockstep compliance with pre-determined issues driven by special interest money and political agendas.

It may be time to start over, to rethink this grand, but failed, experiment called America.

“Democracy,” Winston Churchill once said, “is the worst form of government imaginable…except for all other forms.”

Churchill may have been right. It would be easier to judge if democracy actually existed in a place called the United States of America.


Gerald said...

Madness as Method

Gerald said...

We cannot reverse the downward slide of America through partisan politics. Both parties, in my opinion, are corrupt. Neither represents the interests of the American people nor gives a rat’s ass about the nation they claim to serve. Independent voices on both sides of the political divide can’t succeed because party leaders insist on lockstep compliance with pre-determined issues driven by special interest money and political agendas.

It may be time to start over, to rethink this grand, but failed, experiment called America.


capt said...

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