Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Perhaps I should just let Keith Olbermann fill this space, instead of blathering on the way I do with my own thoughts and ramblings. After all, Keith's cogent essays and occasional rants are bound to be superior to my own childish castigations of the current maladministration and its tantrum-throwing, pants-wetting Criminal-in-Chief. To prove my point, I am once again going to reprint an Olbermann piece here in its entirety, not just because I'm lazy (even though I am), but because it bears repeating, and should be disseminated to the widest audience possible. (There's another essay that I'd like to run as well; instead, I'll just provide you with the link to it and recommend it highly.)

Here's the man himself:

A textbook definition of cowardice
Keith Olbermann comments on Bill Clinton's Fox News interview
By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'

The headlines about them are, of course, entirely wrong.

It is not essential that a past president, bullied and sandbagged by a monkey posing as a newscaster, finally lashed back.

It is not important that the current President’s portable public chorus has described his predecessor’s tone as “crazed.”

Our tone should be crazed. The nation’s freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much damage as al Qaida; the nation’s marketplace of ideas is being poisoned by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit.

Nonetheless. The headline is this:

Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done in five years.

He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.

"At least I tried," he said of his own efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. "That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried."

Thus in his supposed emeritus years has Mr. Clinton taken forceful and triumphant action for honesty, and for us; action as vital and as courageous as any of his presidency; action as startling and as liberating, as any, by any one, in these last five long years.

The Bush Administration did not try to get Osama bin Laden before 9/11.

The Bush Administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors.

The Bush Administration did not understand the Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S."

The Bush Administration did not try.

Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest “pass” for incompetence and malfeasance in American history!

President Roosevelt was rightly blamed for ignoring the warning signs—some of them, 17 years old—before Pearl Harbor.

President Hoover was correctly blamed for—if not the Great Depression itself—then the disastrous economic steps he took in the immediate aftermath of the Stock Market Crash.

Even President Lincoln assumed some measure of responsibility for the Civil War—though talk of Southern secession had begun as early as 1832.

But not this president.

To hear him bleat and whine and bully at nearly every opportunity, one would think someone else had been president on September 11th, 2001 -- or the nearly eight months that preceded it.

That hardly reflects the honesty nor manliness we expect of the executive.

But if his own fitness to serve is of no true concern to him, perhaps we should simply sigh and keep our fingers crossed, until a grown-up takes the job three Januarys from now.

Except for this.

After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts—that he was president on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s.

Of course he is not honest enough to do that directly.

As with all the other nefariousness and slime of this, our worst presidency since James Buchanan, he is having it done for him, by proxy.

Thus, the sandbag effort by Fox News Friday afternoon.

Consider the timing: the very weekend the National Intelligence Estimate would be released and show the Iraq war to be the fraudulent failure it is—not a check on terror, but fertilizer for it.

The kind of proof of incompetence, for which the administration and its hyenas at Fox need to find a diversion, in a scapegoat.

It was the kind of cheap trick which would get a journalist fired—but a propagandist, promoted:

Promise to talk of charity and generosity; but instead launch into the lies and distortions with which the Authoritarians among us attack the virtuous and reward the useless.

And don’t even be professional enough to assume the responsibility for the slanders yourself; blame your audience for “e-mailing” you the question.

Mr. Clinton responded as you have seen.

He told the great truth untold about this administration’s negligence, perhaps criminal negligence, about bin Laden.

He was brave.

Then again, Chris Wallace might be braver still. Had I in one moment surrendered all my credibility as a journalist, and been irredeemably humiliated, as was he, I would have gone home and started a new career selling seeds by mail.

The smearing by proxy, of course, did not begin Friday afternoon.

Disney was first to sell-out its corporate reputation, with "The Path to 9/11." Of that company’s crimes against truth one needs to say little. Simply put: someone there enabled an Authoritarian zealot to belch out Mr. Bush’s new and improved history.

The basic plot-line was this: because he was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11.

The most curious and in some ways the most infuriating aspect of this slapdash theory, is that the Right Wingers who have advocated it—who try to sneak it into our collective consciousness through entertainment, or who sandbag Mr. Clinton with it at news interviews—have simply skipped past its most glaring flaw.

Had it been true that Clinton had been distracted from the hunt for bin Laden in 1998 because of the Monica Lewinsky nonsense, why did these same people not applaud him for having bombed bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and Sudan on Aug. 20, of that year? For mentioning bin Laden by name as he did so?

That day, Republican Senator Grams of Minnesota invoked the movie "Wag The Dog."

Republican Senator Coats of Indiana questioned Mr. Clinton’s judgment.

Republican Senator Ashcroft of Missouri—the future attorney general—echoed Coats.

Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter questioned the timing.

And of course, were it true Clinton had been “distracted” by the Lewinsky witch-hunt, who on earth conducted the Lewinsky witch-hunt?

Who turned the political discourse of this nation on its head for two years?

Who corrupted the political media?

Who made it impossible for us to even bring back on the air, the counter-terrorism analysts like Dr. Richard Haass, and James Dunegan, who had warned, at this very hour, on this very network, in early 1998, of cells from the Middle East who sought to attack us, here?

Who preempted them in order to strangle us with the trivia that was, “All Monica All The Time”?

Who distracted whom?

This is, of course, where—as is inevitable—Mr. Bush and his henchmen prove not quite as smart as they think they are.

The full responsibility for 9/11 is obviously shared by three administrations, possibly four.

But, Mr. Bush, if you are now trying to convince us by proxy that it’s all about the distractions of 1998 and 1999, then you will have to face a startling fact that your minions may have hidden from you.

The distractions of 1998 and 1999, Mr. Bush, were carefully manufactured, and lovingly executed, not by Bill Clinton, but by the same people who got you elected President.

Thus, instead of some commendable acknowledgment that you were even in office on 9/11 and the lost months before it, we have your sleazy and sloppy rewriting of history, designed by somebody who evidently read the Orwell playbook too quickly.

Thus, instead of some explanation for the inertia of your first eight months in office, we are told that you have kept us "safe" ever since—a statement that might range anywhere from zero, to 100 percent, true.

We have nothing but your word, and your word has long since ceased to mean anything.

And, of course, the one time you have ever given us specifics about what you have kept us safe from, Mr. Bush, you got the name of the supposedly targeted Tower in Los Angeles wrong.

Thus was it left for the previous president to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be a textbook definition, Mr. Bush, of cowardice.

To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past.

That was one of the great mechanical realities Eric Blair—writing as George Orwell—gave us in the book “1984.”

The great philosophical reality he gave us, Mr. Bush, may sound as familiar to you, as it has lately begun to sound familiar to me.

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power...

"Power is not a means; it is an end.

"One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

"The object of persecution, is persecution. The object of torture, is torture. The object of power… is power."

Earlier last Friday afternoon, before the Fox ambush, speaking in the far different context of the closing session of his remarkable Global Initiative, Mr. Clinton quoted Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union address from 1862.

"We must disenthrall ourselves."

Mr. Clinton did not quote the rest of Mr. Lincoln’s sentence.

He might well have.

"We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country."

And so has Mr. Clinton helped us to disenthrall ourselves, and perhaps enabled us, even at this late and bleak date, to save our country.

The "free pass" has been withdrawn, Mr. Bush.

You did not act to prevent 9/11.

We do not know what you have done to prevent another 9/11.

You have failed us—then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.

You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.

And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.

And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture which doesn’t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate.

And there it is, Mr. Bush:

Are yours the actions of a true American?

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

Friday, September 15, 2006


Not so you'd notice so much, what with the sporadic posting and long lengths of silence here lately, but I'm going away for the next week, and won't be posting anything here or looking at my email or anything. Nothing. That's what I'll be doing: Nothing.

Oh, except fish. And sit around nightly campfires. And relax.

Back around the 26th, see ya!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Happy Hours with the BARBARians

It's that time again! The BARBARian Blog announces not one but TWO get-togethers in the coming month. The first will be at Zeitgeist in San Francisco this Saturday, Sept. 16th, starting at 2:30 in the afternon, and the other will be at the site of the original BARBARian gathering Thursday, October 19th at 6-ish. I should definitely be able to make the October one; this Saturday is dicey for me, though I'll try to put in a token appearance at least.

I encourage all of you who are able to attend if you can. Especially you readers out there -- we need more reader representatives at these things! Come on out and get your beer on with the bloggers!

Couple of Links

A long post from Amy and David Goodman over at The Agonist details just how insidious this Bush maladministration is, and how far they -- and the complicit American media -- have gone to keep this country dis- and misinformed, and the consequences of our allowing it to happen. Hey, let's all buy a loaf of bread and go to the circus! Everything is swell!

I'm sure many of you have seen this SNL skit with Al Gore, but it bears repeating. In fact, maybe we should all watch it once a month or so, just to remind ourselves of how different our world is today and what it could have been if only... if only... ah, screw it. We're all doomed. Let's go to the circus! Wonder Bread is on sale!

Keith Olbermann's 9/11 Commentary

I know this is all over the internets right now, and can be accessed many places besides my little fever-swamp corner, but I thought it was good enough and important enough to reprint here in its entirety (emphases mine). You go, Keith!


And lastly tonight a Special Comment on why we are here. Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space.
And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

And all the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and - as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul - two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me... this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.
And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft", or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here - is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante - and at worst, an idiot - whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.
However. Of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast - of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds... none of us could have predicted... this.

Five years later this space... is still empty.
Five years later there is no Memorial to the dead.
Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.
Five years later this country's wound is still open.
Five years... later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later... this is still... just a background for a photo-op.
It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial - barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field, Mr. Lincoln said "we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled
here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow - this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck-pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing - instead of doing any job at all.
Five years later, Mr. Bush... we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir - on these 16 empty acres, the terrorists... are clearly, still winning.
And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation.
There is its symbolism - of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it... was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.
Those who did not belong to his party - tabled that.
Those who doubted the mechanics of his election - ignored that.
Those who wondered of his qualifications - forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government, by its critics.
It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.
Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.
The President - and those around him - did that.
They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused; as appeasers; as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."
They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken... a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated Al-Qaeda as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into
supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do'
with 9/11, is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase, is "impeachable offense."

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space... and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.
Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible - for anything - in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced - possibly financed by - the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only
How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death... after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections... how dare you or those around you... ever "spin" 9/11.

Just as the terrorists have succeeded - are still succeeding - as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero...
So too have they succeeded, and are still succeeding - as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.
This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."
In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm.

Suddenly his car - and only his car - starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on.

As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced.
An "alien" is shot - but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help.

The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen, manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight.
"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of men.
"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own - for the children, and the children yet unborn."

When those who dissent are told time and time again - as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus - that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...
When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:
Who has left this hole in the ground?
We have not forgotten, Mr. President.
You have.
May this country forgive you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Caption Contest

On a lighter note, and since there was no Random Flickr Blogging this week, how about a caption contest? This picture just screams out for... well, something to be said. Any of you readers out there want to say it?

We're All Screwed

Over at Eschaton, Atrios' home base, guest blogger Attaturk had something to say today that I think needs to be disseminated on a wide basis. Despite that fact, I'm reprinting it here for my small coterie of readers. You go, Attaturk:

Neither party has the guts to stand up and truly inform the public on the general "ineffectiveness" and weakness of terror groups. Anyone who actually said so would have the bodies of innocent civilians thrown at their feet and the "fear" words would come in a Katrina-level deluge...

What is not needed, are needless wars and the inflating of the threat into one that can topple our nation and our government. That is something we can ONLY do to ourselves. Osama "may" aspire to it, but only we, ourselves, have the means. If this situation isn't confronted, as much as Bush and the GOP need to be replaced, the Democrats that follow them will only be better by degree, the bromides will just take a slightly more moderate phrasing and a more tolerable mode. But the cancer will remain -- keeping you shitting your pants will be the Republican method of politics, keeping you angst ridden and afraid you'll shit your pants will be the Democratic mode.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. How about someone out there on the political landscape with the courage to really tell the truth?

Naaaah. It's like coming out against the War on Drugs. Ain't gonna happen, not in my lifetime or yours. More's the pity, too.

Friday, September 08, 2006

No Connection? No Duh!

Well, here's a surprise -- or it might be to fans of the Limbaugh-Coulter-Little Green Footballs crowd -- a Senate report released today (and why do these sorts of things always get released on a Friday, when there's little chance of them getting the media coverage they deserve? I wonder...) concludes that there was NO -- none, zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing, not one -- connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda. No connection between Saddam and Zarqawi. No capacity for nuclear weapons or other WMD (despite what Senator Man On Dog Santorum and a few other wingnutty Congressfolks recently claimed about "chemical weapons being found, proving the administration right"). In other words, no justification whatsoever for the bloody war and continuing occupation of Iraq.

Are we surprised? Are we shocked and awed? Not me. I'm sad and cynical and bitter, just like I was when the shooting began, only more so now that it's become the costly debacle it is today.

Jesus H. Mahoney, what will it take for the American people to wake up, for the Democrats and the public to rise up against the Criminal in Chief and his malicious cronies and demand that they be brought to justice? ITMFA. Impeach the mother fucker already.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

David Horsey from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

(Thanks to my pal Pete for this.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies and a New Disney World Order

Tell ABC to tell the truth about 9/11 - A project of

Here's a chance to let the Mickey Mouse network know how you feel about their plans to broadcast a Republican-written, inaccurate and inflammatory account of the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks. In this version, it's all Bill Clinton's fault that we were attacked, and George Bush is blameless (and a hero, to boot). Unless your only source of information for the past five years has been Rush Limbaugh and Little Green Footballs, you know that's not what happened. Sign the petition and pass the word. You can also call ABC directly at 212-456-7777.

***UPDATE*** Naturally, the inimitable Glenn Greenwald has a piece up this morning delineating exactly how the ABC program gets it wrong in so many ways. Here are just two relevant paragraphs:

The revisionism at the heart of the praise which Bush supporters are lavishing on this mini-series is manifest. The notion that Republicans wanted a stronger and more aggressive approach to terrorism than the Clinton administration took is pure fantasy. During Clinton's second term, Republicans were focused on Monica Lewinsky, not Osama bin Laden. When Clinton was President, and during the Bush presidency prior to the 9/11 attacks, Bush supporters couldn't have cared any less about Islamic terrorism. Even Clinton's attacks on Al Qaeda were immediately used as a tool to focus more attention on Ken Starr's investigation.

All "docudramas" dramatize and even fictionalize part of what they depict, but it is hard to imagine a more inappropriate venue for fictionalizing events than a film which purports to document the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks and assign blame for those attacks. It becomes particularly egregious when it is claimed -- falsely -- that the film is based upon the bipartisan 9/11 Commission Report, rather than a highly partisan and factually false rendition of events.
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