Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Keith Olbermann’s brilliant philippic

Mr. Olbermann delivered a broadside against the Bush administration this evening. Delivered with all of the anger and passion of a man who loves his country and freedom, and who sees them under attack, it bears watching.

Video-WMV Video -QT (H/T: Crooks and Liars)

Herewith a transcript:

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable comments to the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday demand the deep analysis - and the sober contemplation - of every American.

For they do not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty — of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land; Worse, still, they credit those same transient occupants – our employees — with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile… it is right — and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For, in their time, there was another government faced with true peril - with a growing evil - powerful and remorseless. That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the secret information. It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s - questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted policies, conclusions - and omniscience — needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all - it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile – at best morally or intellectually confused. That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History - and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England - taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty - and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy. Excepting the fact that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute - and exclusive - in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis. It is the modern version of the government… of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscients. That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused… is simply this:

This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such, all voices count — not just his. Had he or his President perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience - about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago - about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago - about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago - we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris. Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelope this nation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have – inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emperor’s New Clothes.

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised?

As a child, of whose heroism did he read?

On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight?

With what country has he confused… the United States of America?

The confusion we — as its citizens - must now address, is stark and forbidding. But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note - with hope in your heart - that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light… and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this Administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism." As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that — though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed, “confused” or “immoral.”

Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full:
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954.

“We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men;

“Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular.”
Good night. And good luck.

Thanks, Keith.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What do the Anchorage Daily News and the Socialist Worker have in common?

As I documented in Seeing is believing, one unfortunate Lebanese woman has been seen on the pages of various publications, returning to her various homes, and finding each of them destroyed. In two of the pictures, she is wearing the same distinctive clothing, and in yet a third, her distinctive scars are visible. I asked, "How much suffering can this poor woman endure?"

Sad to say, as of that writing, I was unaware of the full extent of her misfortune. Now, in addition to being on the cover of the Anchorage Daily News, she has managed to be on the cover of the Socialist Worker. bewailing the loss of still another home.Those who would like to see a clearer picture can pick up the July 22nd issues of the The Spectator (London), which featured her on the cover. The lead article begins, "Truth is generally the first casualty in war."

Here's how that picture was described on Zombie Time:
A close-up of the somewhat low-resolution image appears to faintly show the distinctive scar on the woman's left cheek, confirming it is her despite the different outfit. As [one ZombieTime reader] writes, "Once again we see the -- unmistakable -- eyebrowless Wailing Woman coming home only to find her third Beirut apartment destroyed. Different location of course, and this time she is wearing an up-market outfit: aqua silk scarf, checked coat, sling bag over her shoulder and holding car keys. She has apparently just got out of her car, seen the damage, slung the bag over her shoulder -- as you do when you discover your apartment is no more -- and gone for it, the double hand Heavenwards Wail."

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, August 25, 2006

The very definition of crazy

There’s a new definition over on Urban, “Katherine Harris crazy.” It roughly translates to “batshit crazy.” Why is there no entry for “Ann Coulter crazy,” which can be used whenever, “psychotic to the nth power,” is too awkward?

Over on Crooks and Liars, you can see a video of Ann Coulter saying that “Osama is irrelevant. Things are going swimmingly in Afghanistan,” on Hannity & Colmes. When confronted with reality, she freaks out and nearly walks off the set.

You may recall the kid-glove treatment she got on Jay Leno. The audience was clearly not your typical west coast lefty audience that one would expect in Studio City. They cheered wildly for some of her more bizarre blathering. Then, her book shot to the head of the Amazon list, which also strikes me as strange. Could it be that purchases on Amazon were manipulated to give her screed the buzz?

Something is crazy here. I mean, besides Ms. Coulter. Normally people that crazy are placed in straight-jackets. Why is she on the cover of Time Magazine?

Start with asking, ‘Who benefits?’ Well, obviously it is the right wing of the Republican party. But how? After all, nobody with the brains that God gave animal crackers believes that Osama is irrelevant or that things are going well in Afghanistan.

Think back, if you are old enough, to the time when they showed a cartoon before the movies. Sure, Betty Boop had some creative horsepower behind it, but it was not what brought people into the theaters week after week. What the cartoons did was this: they shifted the boundaries of reality. Theater, including cinema, requires that the folks in the audience willingly suspend disbelief. For something like a cartoon, it is an easy sell, because they are comedic. Then, when the main feature comes on, the shift is toward a more real representation, and so, the movie is more emotionally engaging.

Ms. Coulter is the Daffy Duck of political discourse. When she speaks, you shake your head and wonder if you really heard what you thought you heard. Then when someone on Faux News comes on and says, “we must fight the terrorists in Iraq, so we don’t fight them here,” it sounds like the voice of sweet reason. Compared to daffy Ann Coulter, it is so much easier to accept the talking head, who in this analogy might be compared to, say, Orson Wells, War of the Worlds.

Why the War of the Worlds? Because some people believe it and do batshit crazy stuff.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More from the left-wing so-called “mainstream media” (and the ultra-left-wing blogosphere.)

Today, Eric Boehlert, author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush reveals on the Huffington Post that “New York Times’ Eavesdropping Story Wasn’t The Only One Squashed For Bush During the 2004 Campaign.”

Boehlert documents how the main-stream media sat on stories such as Rove outing Valerie Plame Wilson to Joe Cooper (Cooper did not ask Rove for a waiver of confidentiality until after the election because the story was too “explosive” in an election year.)

In the same vein, NBC revealed two days after the election that “U.S. military officials have said for some time that they were putting off any kind of major offensive operation in [Fallujah] until after the U.S. elections, for obvious political reasons,” according to Jim Miklaszewski. Should voters have known that Bush planned to escalate the war right after the election? NBC doesn’t report, so you can’t decide.

Over on CBS, News president Andrew Hayward thought it would have been “inappropriate to broadcast [Ed Bradley’s 30 minute report debunking administration claims about Saddam’s nuclear weapon capabilities] so close to the presidential election.” [Emphasis added.] How close was it? The election was six weeks away at the time of the unusual announcement. That swift-boating of Dan Rather worked!

For Big Mitch, the most interesting part of the HuffPo note was that the New York Times sat on the story of the Bush bulge.

You may recall that during the presidential debates, many attentive viewers noted a bulge under Dubya’s jacket. He passed it off as the work of a “badly tailored suit,” and said that the presidential tailor had been fired. Surprise, surprise! Bush was lying.

The Times quashed a story of a NASA scientist who used the same techniques that are used to analyze photos from space to sharpen photos from the debate. These enhanced photos clearly showed that Bush could not be trusted.

Boehlert continues:
According to the reporting of David Lindorff, writing for Fairness and Accuracy in Report’s Extra!, Nelson was told by a Times reporters that the bulge article, complete with his compelling imagery, would run Oct. 28, five days before the election. Instead, on the night of Oct. 27 the story was killed. In an email the next day, one of the Times reporters apologized to Nelson: “Sorry to have been a source of disappointment and frustration to you.” Two months later, executive editor Keller explained, “In the end, nobody, including the scientist who brought it up, could take the story beyond speculation. In the crush of election-finale stories, it died a quiet, unlamented death.”
Why was this so interesting to Big Mitch? Because of one little-bitty parenthetical remark that Boehlert includes:
(The bulge was later confirmed to be a bullet proof vest.)
According to the Houston Independent Media Center, Dubya was “wearing a medical device for persons at risk of cardiac arrest.” It is a LifeVest wearable defibrillator. He started using it sometime after his January 2002 fainting spell, which was attributed to choking. Based on photos showing him wearing the device, one can conclude the fainting was due to atrial fibrillation (AF), which his father also had. His father’s AF was caused by Graves hyperthyroidism, which his mother also has. Bush likely has AF and less likely Graves’, based on his family history and symptoms. The AF may have caused a stroke or TIA (mini-stroke), of which physicians watching the debates detected symptoms. Observers have noted psychological symptoms consistent with this and with Wernicke-Korsakoff disease.”

Here’s another picture showing the device under Dubya’s tee-shirt.

People pretty much knew that Bush was a liar before the debate. I can only wonder if, in an election so close, it would have made a difference to know that the man who was one fluttering heartbeat away from the presidency was fellow heart–patient Dick Cheney, a man who’s warmth and popularity can be compared to that of body lice.

“… and tell ‘em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Seeing is believing

It is impossible not to feel the pain of the poor Lebanese woman pictured on Page 1 of the August 15th edition of the Anchorage Daily News, under the heading “Lebanese Return Home to Find Devastation.” Credit is given to Ben Curtis of the Associated Press for putting a human face on the suffering.

She is seen standing in front of a building apparently destroyed by Israeli bombers, in that country's efforts to rid Southern Lebanon of the terrorists who killed over two hundred U.S. Marines, bombed our embassy, and, who, by the way, were lobbing missiles at civilians in Israel.

How much has suffering can this poor woman endure? She is seen here lamenting the loss of a different house in a suburb of Beirut on August 5, 2006 in a photo taken by Hussein Malla for A.P.

As if that weren’t enough suffering for this poor woman, it must be recalled that she also lost a different home in Beirut proper on July 22, 2006, as evidenced by this photo, captured by Issam Kobeisi for Reuters:

As they say, seeing is believing.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dubya responds to terrorist plot!

In The Ignorer-in-chief, I mused, “We will see if King George can extend his incredible string of ignoring problems, while there is still brush to be cleared in Crawford. I am betting he can.”

Today, I found the answer in AHN Newservice:
Crawford, TX (AHN) - President George W. Bush helps Republicans raise big money by headlining a barbecue at a ranch near his Crawford, Texas vacation home.

Kathy and Stan Hicky own the Broken Spoke Ranch, where the event took place. The fundraiser has been held annually since the start of Bush's presidency. The barbecue attracted 350 people, and raised $750,000 for the Republican National Committee.

The money will be given to Republican candidates on the ballot this fall. Only donors who had contributed at least $15,000 in the past were invited. They were treated to a spread of beef, ribs, turkey, pinto beans and potato salad.

As the president’s motorcade drove to the fundraiser, he passed anti-war protestors linked to Cindy Sheehan. They held signs, including one saying “WMD Lies Lost Lives.”
Of course, King George would argue that shaking down multi-millionaires for campaign donations is a critical element of the War on Terror. After all, if Democrats are elected, the terrorists will have won. At least that’s the import of the comments of Dick Cheney, and Tony Snow.

If this is to be his defense, I must say, it leaves me breathless. I wonder how Bush would answer the answer the underlying accusation that he is the Ignorer-in-chief, in light of this revelation from AP:
WASHINGTON - While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology.

Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of steps by the Homeland Security Department that has left lawmakers and some of the department's own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies.
Republicans want to run on their record on terrorism? Bring it on!

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Two reasonable questions

Terrorists were planning to blow up as many as ten trans-Atlantic airliners. Scotland Yard estimates that there were 50 individuals involved, of whom fewer than half have been taken into custody.

The White House is hoping that this will “play big” as a political opportunity, according to the Huffington Post. Let’s examine What we know so far …

The terrorists who were arrested were British born men of Pakistani extraction. We are told that Pakistan’s intelligence services provided crucial help to the Brits. I am not an intelligence analyst, but it seems to me that some part of the plot took place in Pakistan.

The plot involved pairs of terrorists boarding airplanes with innocuous liquids, which when combined form a peroxide explosive. These explosives were to be ignited with a flash from a disposable camera. If ten airliners blew up, the number of deaths involved would be multiples of the number who perished on 9-11.

This plot is identical to another one broken up in 1995, called Operation Bojinka, which was the brainchild of Kahlid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 9-11. The British plot had other ear-marks of al-Qaeda, for example, the element of numerous coordinated targets. Of course, al-Qaeda has been promising a big operation for some time now.

Most of all, there is the Pakistan connection. MSNBC is reporting that the mastermind of the operation is believed to be hiding in Pakistan. Osama Bin Ladin is also believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

Osama Bin Ladin is a name I have not heard in all of the coverage of the spoiled terror plot. For those who may have forgotten, King George, in a moment of macho enthusiasm promised to get Osama Bin Ladin “dead or alive.” One of those who apparently have forgotten is Dubya, who in a candid moment, admitted he doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about him.

A reasonable question to ask is this: “Why is that son-of-a-bitch, Bin Ladin, still alive?” The answer, of course, is that it is because of the incompetence of this administration at every level.

When the Presidential Daily Briefing said that Bin Ladin was determined to strike in America, the National Security Advisor considered it historical information, which was not actionable. She was later promoted to Secretary of State.

The Defense Department apparently lied to the 9-11 Commission to make it seem that they were more competent on that dreadful day than the newly released information indicates. (I wrote about it here.)

When we thought Bin Ladin was in Afghanistan, we pulled troops out of there to fight a war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.

The head of Homeland Security is the same guy who was in charge of Homeland Security a year ago, when Hurricane Katrina brought their incompetence into sharp focus.

Here’s another reasonable question: How in the world can the White House think that this record of incompetence can “play big” as a “political opportunity.”

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Cheney, Dick—Head cheerleader for Leiberman.

Today, Dick Cheney held a press conference via conference call because, as he said, “It’s suggested I chat with you a bit just for a couple of minutes here about the Connecticut Democratic primary yesterday …”

The Veep praised Joe Lieberman:
I think we can look at it on a personal basis and say I think he’s a good man. And if he were to leave the Senate, that would be a loss to the Democrats.
But then, as if he had caught himself being solicitous of Democrats,
But we’re not embracing Joe Lieberman’s candidacy.
Without actually embracing Joe Lieberman, he did manage to put forth the idea that a vote against Lieberman was a vote in favor of al-Qaeda and an invitation for another 9-11. This is how Republicans campaign; they sow fear, because fear has a well-documented capacity for over-coming reason. Witness this comment from Lieberman’s sub rosa supporter, Dick Cheney:
The thing that’s partly disturbing about it is the fact that, the standpoint of our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the al Qaeda types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.
Obviously, he’s on the same page as Tony Snow. Bush’s mouthpiece was in front of the podium yesterday. As he put it, Lieberman’s defeat was ratification of “one of the approaches [which] is ignore the difficulties and walk away.”
Now, when the United States walked away, in the opinion of Osama bin Laden in 1991, bin Laden drew from that the conclusion that Americans were weak and wouldn't stay the course, and that led to September 11th.
Here's a question for Tony Snow: If you believe that, what do you have to say about America’s walking away from Saudi Arabia, 17 months after the 9-11 attack? Here’s how it was reported in The Telegraph of Great Britian:
America began a historic reshaping of its presence in the Middle East yesterday, announcing a halt to active military operations is Saudi Arabia and the removal of almost all of its forces from the kingdom within weeks.

The withdrawal ends a contentious 12-year-old presence in Saudi Arabia and marks the most dramatic in a set of sweeping changes in the deployment of American forces after the war in Iraq.

Withdrawal of “infidel” American forces from Saudi Arabia has been one of the demands of Osama bin Laden, although a senior US military official said that this was “irrelevant.”
Since the Republicans control all branches of government, and most of the mass media, it follows that any encouragement that al-Qaida has received is their responsibility. So how is King George reacting to the news that an al-Qaeda planned to bomb as many as 10 trans-Atlantic flights, and that of the estimated 50 terrorists involved, less than half have been arrested?

He’s ignoring it and walking away to Crawford, where there is brush to be cleared.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

The Ignorer-in-chief

Tony Snow, the White House mouthpiece, had this to say at his daily press briefing.
And the real question for the American people to ask themselves is, do you take the war on terror seriously, with all the developments going on around the world? And, if so, how do you fight it to win? There seem to be two approaches. And in the Connecticut race one of the approaches is ignore the difficulties and walk away.

Now, when the United States walked away, in the opinion of Osama bin Laden in 1991, bin Laden drew from that the conclusion that Americans were weak and wouldn't stay the course, and that led to September 11th.
The thing that leaps out is that it was Ronald Wilson Reagan who pulled our troops out of Lebanon. (This was the point made by Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann.)

I was drawn to the unstated alternative in the false dichotomy. Snow’s comment was that there were two approaches. What is the alternative to ignoring the difficulties and walking away? Funny you should ask: It is the policy of King George and Joe Lieberman, rejected by the Democrats of Connecticut and by 60% of Americans.

This policy – call it “faith-based foreign policy,” if you will – retains the element of ignoring the problems. In place of “walking away,” it introduces two different elements, namely, getting killed, and making matters worse.

For example, the war has already cost the U.S. treasury $302 billion dollars. Some would say deficits are a problem, but not the boys in the White House.

The Republicans have adopted a theory of economics, formerly known as voodoo economics, but now resurrected as faith-based economics. It is summed up in the words of Dick Cheney to former Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill: “Deficits don’t matter.”

But ignoring the difficulties caused by deficits is child’s play compared to ignoring the whole difficulty of the civil war in Iraq. Nobody was better prepared for the work of ignoring it than George W. Bush. According to Raw Story, “Former Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith is claiming President George W. Bush was unaware that there were two major sects of Islam just two months before the President ordered troops to invade Iraq.”

Dubya has been busy ignoring sectarian violence as it descends into a civil war, and as he likes to remind us, “It is hard work.” He takes his information from his Generals.

Recently, as reported on Think Progress “Gen. John Abizaid, the Commander of the U.S. Central Command, raised the prospect that Iraq could be sliding toward civil war. Abizaid said, ‘I believe that the sectarian violence is probably is as bad as I’ve seen it in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war.’ Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, ‘I believe we do have the possibility of that devolving to a civil war.’”

How can Dubya ignore that?. Here’s the Decider at work:
You know, I hear people say, “Well, civil war this, civil war that.” The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box.
Since that election, our military has sustained 1,155 deaths, and perhaps as many as ten thousand wounded. But Dubya has taken a firm stand in favor of ignoring their deaths. Not only has he boycotted their funerals, he wants you to ignore them, too. He has forbade any pictures of coffins coming home.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have marched under banners that said, “Bush and Saddam: Two sides of the same coin.” Who could ignore that? Bush is who! He is scheduled to begin a 10-day vacation in Crawford.

As I write these words, NBC News is announcing that a Scotland Yard has detected an Al Quaeda plot to blow-up trans-Atlantic flights to the United States. Twenty-one British born terrorists have been arrested. The threat level is ‘critical’ in Britain, and elevated to ‘Red’ in the U.S.

We will see if King George can extend his incredible string of ignoring problems, while there is still brush to be cleared in Crawford. I am betting he can.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of the State of Israel

CORRECTION: I originally published this speech under the note The following is a speech of Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, published in Ma'ariv on Monday, July 31, 2006.

Subsequently I learned that although it may sound to some people like the kind of "tough talk" speech Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert might deliver to explain what Israelis are fighting for in their battle with Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, it's actually a case of someone's putting into the Prime Minister's mouth the words he wishes the Israeli leader would say.

This "speech" was an opinion piece created by Ben Caspit, a journalist writing for Israel's Ma'ariv newspaper, who expressed his viewpoint in the form of a "Suggested Speech for Prime Minister Olmert." Caspit's editorial has since been translated into English and widely circulated via e-mail, losing its original attribution in cyberspace and creating the impression that it is the text of a speech actually delivered by Prime Minister Olmert.

Nevertheless, it bears reading.

Ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world, I, the Prime Minister of Israel, am speaking to you from Jerusalem in the face of the terrible pictures from Kfar Kana. Any human heart, wherever it is, must sicken and recoil at the sight of such pictures. There are no words of comfort that can mitigate the enormity of this tragedy. Still, I am looking you straight in the eye and telling you that the State of Israel will continue its military campaign in Lebanon.

The Israel Defense Forces will continue to attack targets from which missiles and Katyusha rockets are fired at hospitals, old age homes and kindergartens in Israel. I have instructed the security forces and the IDF to continue to hunt for the Katyusha stockpiles and launch sites from which these savages are bombarding the State of Israel. We will not hesitate, we will not apologize and we will not back off. If they continue to launch missiles into Israel from Kfar Kana, we will continue to bomb Kfar Kana. Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Here, there and everywhere.

The children of Kfar Kana could now be sleeping peacefully in their homes, unmolested, had the agents of the devil not taken over their land and turned the lives of our children into hell. Ladies and gentlemen, it's time you understood: the Jewish state will no longer be trampled upon. We will no longer allow anyone to exploit population centers in order to bomb our citizens. No one will be able to hide anymore behind women and children in order to kill our women and children. This anarchy is over. You can condemn us, you can boycott us, you can stop visiting us and, if necessary, we will stop visiting you.

Today I am serving as the voice of six million bombarded Israeli citizens who serve as the voice of six million murdered Jews who were melted down to dust and ashes by savages in Europe. In both cases, those responsible for these evil acts were, and are, barbarians devoid of all humanity, who set themselves one simple goal: to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the earth, as Adolph Hitler said, or to wipe the State of Israel off the map, as Mahmoud Ahmedinjad proclaims.

And you - just as you did not take those words seriously then, you are ignoring them again now. And that, ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world, will not happen again. Never again will we wait for bombs that never came to hit the gas chambers. Never again will we wait for salvation that never arrives. Now we have our own air force. The Jewish people are now capable of standing up to those who seek their destruction - those people will no longer be able to hide behind women and children. They will no longer be able to evade their responsibility. Every place from which a Katyusha is fired into the State of Israel will be a legitimate target for us to attack. This must be stated clearly and publicly, once and for all. You are welcome to judge us, to ostracize us, to boycott us and to vilify us. But to kill us? Absolutely not.

Four months ago I was elected by hundreds of thousands of citizens to the office of Prime Minister of the government of Israel, on the basis of my plan for unilaterally withdrawing from 90 percent of the areas of Judea and Samaria, the birth place and cradle of the Jewish people; to end most of the occupation and to enable the Palestinian people to turn over a new leaf and to calm things down until conditions are ripe for attaining a permanent settlement between us. The Prime Minister who preceded me, Ariel Sharon, made a full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip back to the international border, and gave the Palestinians there a chance to build a new reality for themselves. The Prime Minister who preceded him, Ehud Barak, ended the lengthy Israeli presence in Lebanon and pulled the IDF back to the international border, leaving the land of the cedars to flourish, develop and establish its democracy and its economy.

What did the State of Israel get in exchange for all of this? Did we win even one minute of quiet? Was our hand, outstretched in peace, met with a handshake of encouragement? Ehud Barak's peace initiative at Camp David let loose on us a wave of suicide bombers who smashed and blew to pieces over 1,000 citizens, men, women and children. I don't remember you being so enraged then. Maybe that happened because we did not allow TV close-ups of the dismembered body parts of the Israeli youngsters at the Dolphinarium? Or of the shattered lives of the people butchered while celebrating the Passover seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya?

What can you do - that's the way we are. We don't wave body parts at the camera. We grieve quietly. We do not dance on the roofs at the sight of the bodies of our enemy's children - we express genuine sorrow and regret. That is the monstrous behavior of our enemies. Now they have risen up against us. Tomorrow they will rise up against you. You are already familiar with the murderous taste of this terror. And you will taste more.

And Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza -- what did it get us? A barrage of Kassem missiles fired at peaceful settlements and the kidnapping of soldiers. Then too, I don't recall you reacting with such alarm. And for six years, the withdrawal from Lebanon has drawn the vituperation and crimes of a dangerous, extremist Iranian agent, who took over an entire country in the name of religious fanaticism, and is trying to take Israel hostage on his way to Jerusalem - and from there to Paris and London. An enormous terrorist infrastructure has been established by Iran on our border, threatening our citizens, growing stronger before our very eyes, awaiting the moment when the land of the Ayatollahs becomes a nuclear power in order to bring us to our knees. And make no mistake - we won't go down alone. You, the leaders of the free and enlightened world, will go down along with us.

So today, here and now, I am putting an end to this parade of hypocrisy. I don't recall such a wave of reaction in the face of the 100 citizens killed every single day in Iraq. Sunnis kill Shiites who kill Sunnis, and all of them kill Americans - and the world remains silent. And I am hard pressed to recall a similar reaction when the Russians destroyed entire villages and burned down large cities in order to repress the revolt in Chechnya. And when NATO bombed Kosovo for almost three months and crushed the civilian population - then you also kept silent.

What is it about us, the Jews, the minority, the persecuted, that arouses this cosmic sense of justice in you? What do we have that all the others don't? In a loud clear voice, looking you straight in the eye, I stand before you openly and I will not apologize. I will not capitulate. I will not whine. This is a battle for our freedom. For our humanity. For the right to lead normal lives within our recognized, legitimate borders. It is also your battle.

I pray and I believe that now you will understand that. Because if you don't, you may regret it later, when it's too late.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Republicans taking hostages?

On Meet the Press today, Condaleeza Rice was asked directly if the U.S. would allow a mass emigration of Cuban Americans back to their native land, given that Castro’s health problems may present an opportunity for a transition to democracy in Cuba.

Her response was as straightforward as Dr. Rice is capable of being: “We are not going to do anything to stoke a sense of crisis” in Cuba. This is her way of saying “No way, Jose!”

Why should we? Well, for one thing, a cadre of people with a strong history of democracy can only assist in the island nation’s transition, if that is to occur. Additionally, capital may leave with these emigrants but if it is used to establish a prosperous trading partner 90 miles off the Florida coast, it is a good thing, is it not?

Call it xenophobia, or worse, but it must be admitted that within the Republican Party there exists a significant contingent that has deep concerns about preserving “American culture.” A couple of hundred thousand fewer Latinos in Florida couldn’t hurt their cause.

So why didn’t Dr. Rice say, “Hey, it’s a free country! If people want to leave, we don’t keep them here like they did in the bad old days of East Berlin. We wish them well, and we offer whatever help we can give in their noble efforts to establish a democracy in Cuba?”

The answer is that Cuban-Americans are, in Lincoln’s phrase, “not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it,” specifically, in Florida. While Cuban-American voters often split their votes between the two major parties in local or state elections, they tend to vote overwhelmingly Republican in presidential races, by margins that have fluctuated between 75 and 85 percent, making them perhaps the most solidly Republican ethnic bloc in the country. Without the support of Cuban Americans in Florida, Dubya would have lost both elections by margins too large to cover over with shenanigans.

Think about it! Cuban Americans being held hostage, kept in Florida against their will, so that Republicans can win elections. It is further proof, as if we needed any, that Republicans will stoop beneath dirt, to win elections. But don’t be so sure that Cuban-Americans will not see through this, and turn on the Republicans.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”


Susan Butcher (1954-2006) Four-time Iditerod champion.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Seven Days

From 1998 to 2001, there was a show named “Seven Days” on network TV. It is now in syndication, and my teenage daughter loves it. The premise of the show is that the hero, Frank Parker, works for a secret government agency that has the capability to send him back in time one week, so that he can undo whatever the evil villains have done to us.

The pilot episode aired last week. It showed how Jack was recruited (from a mental hospital) to travel seven days back in time. And what was the horror he had to literally undo? Someone had taken an airplane and flown it into the White House.

All of which set my mind to thinking. It made me recall a time in 2004, when, in response to pressure from the families of 9-11 victims,* the White House reversed its policy and allowed Condoleeza Rice to testify before the Independent National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, commonly referred to as the 9-11 commission. She reiterated her previous statement that: “No one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile.”

Maybe so, but 6 years earlier, someone had imagined them taking a plane and slamming it into the White House, using a plane as a missile.

As I pointed out in Cheney admits guilt, I consider it an admission of guilt when someone charged with planning for contingencies fails to imagine outcomes. This rule applies with equal force when the outcome is flying planes into the WTC, levees breaching, or levels of violence in Iraq, to name three examples where the administration has used this lame excuse. It also applies when the government we installed in Iraq, dominated as it is by Shi’ites, forms a military alliance with Shi’ite Iran, as I reported here.

Here’s the bottom line, the current administration is weak – hell, I’d go all the way to incompetent – when it comes to national security. The irony is not that King George ostensibly succeeded in an election by running on this issue. Rather, it is that Karl Rove still thinks Republicans can win on it in 2008.

Of course, the evidence I have submitted here relies on recognizing the failures of imagination as incompetence. But as it turns out, there is evidence beyond what is in the re-runs of Seven Days, that there actually was no failure of imagination.

On September 11, 2001 many branches of our defense community were engaged in exercises, a fact which figures prominently in the several conspiracy theories that have emerged since that dreadful day.

One of those exercises was a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building. This exercise was not being coordinated by first responders nor even by some agency like FEMA. Rather it was being conducted by the CIA. They’re the guys who are tasked with assessing and responding to international threats.**

But worse, this week, Vanity Fair reported on 30 hours of never-before-released tapes from the control room of NORAD's Northeast headquarters. What is revealed is confusion and chaos, perhaps not entirely surprising considering the circumstances, but very much at odds with the story told by NORAD to the 9-11 Commission.

This week the Ed Schultz radio show had one of the 9-11 commissioners, Richard Benviniste as a guest. Here’s some of my unofficial transcript:
Question: Do you believe there was a deliberate effort to mislead the commission on exactly what actions took place at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001?

Benveniste: Let me respond this way: The initial account which was provided to us in our first hearing was inaccurate in important aspects. We had to divert attention and investigative efforts (which was precious to us because of the time constraints under which we were operating) to get the correct story. And we increased our staffing from one person to seven in order to go out into the field and get the NORAD records, which challenged and conflicted with the initial story we had received.

Question: Did they lie to you?

Benveniste: That implies that there was a deliberate effort to mislead. I am not going to cross that bridge at this moment. They certainly provided a story that was inexact, it was incorrect in many important aspects.

That story, I think, had its genesis in an initial press release that came out of the Defense Department. And it would seem to me, if I were a betting person, that the initial press release then dictated how the public affairs people and then the leadership at NORAD responded to official inquiries about their actions. That was a terrible mistake from the standpoint of those who were investigating this, and I think the reputations of those involved.
Mr. Benveniste went on to say that the matter was referred to the Inspector Generals of the Defense Department, in the case of NORAD, and the FAA.
We now know the story. We don’t know why we got an inconsistent version. NORAD went so far as to publish a book, entitled, I think it was, Air War over America in which they recounted this bogus story of how they were tracking the two flights and how they were ready to shoot them down. That never happened. So I think they went ahead and tried to burnish their reputation by suggesting facts that didn’t exist.
I could tell you that no one could have imagined that the government would have lied to us or engaged in a cover-up of its own incompetence. But as Nixon once famously said, “It would be wrong.”

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

*Which, by the way, is why a certain witch named Ann Coulter subjected them such a venomous attack.

**When the AP reported this story, it said that the simulation was of a civilian aircraft “accidentally” crashing into the building after a mechanical failure.