Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Posts like this from TalkLeft make my blood boil. I can only call it closet racism, hiding behind what is supposed to be 'interesting food for thought'. Disgusting.
TalkLeft should go back to following big issues like JonBenet.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Which Congress?

Glenn Greenwald points out today that Congress should have to give their seal of approval to military action against Iran. This is definitely 'old school' thinking, Bush himself must feel that his powers include that of making war, and he's not amenable to having his feelings disputed.
Still, it would look better to all involved if there is some kind of approval from Congress, there is still the small matter of funding this new adventure. So far, Bush has not claimed the power to allocate moneys from the federal budget (though he could take what's left in the Iraq kitty, and challenge Congress to let our soldiers starve), so I think some Congressional action is called for, even in our brave new world.
There's not too much time before the election. Is the administration willing to wait until a new, possibly Democratic, Congress is seated? I'm not saying that they couldn't be bulldozed, it's just that is would complicate things and Bush likes to keep things simple (like this blog).
So, are we going to see a resolution presented in Congress before the election? I think yes, but I have been wrong several times before.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Where's Judy Now?

An excellent post (as usual) by emptywheel at The Next Hurrah about the Iran saber rattling in the new report by the House Intelligence Committee. In the comments emptywheel notes that not having a reporter like Miller on board means the dissemination of disinformation is not as effective as it was for Iraq. Certainly, today's article in the NYT 'Some in G.O.P. Say Iran Threat Is Played Down' is fairly even-handed in its approach. It will be interesting to see what further steps the administration will take to get the major media on board.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Rummy Agonistes?

Laura Rozen asks "Has Bush called some people to inquire if they would be willing to replace Rumsfeld? In the past ten days?".
This after Sy Hersh's article where he wrote:
Some current and former intelligence officials who were interviewed for this article believe that Rumsfeld disagrees with Bush and Cheney about the American role in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. The U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said that "“there was a feeling that Rumsfeld was jaded in his approach to the Israeli war."” He added, "“Air power and the use of a few Special Forces had worked in Afghanistan, and he tried to do it again in Iraq. It was the same idea, but it didn't work. He thought that Hezbollah was too dug in and the Israeli attack plan would not work, and the last thing he wanted was another war on his shift that would put the American forces in Iraq in greater jeopardy."
There's a lot more about Rumsfeld there, it might be a good time to review it.

In any case, if what Laura says is true, there could be other factors involved, one being the situation in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad. Surely one of the few effective things we've done in Iraq is to make sure that it is practically impossible to know what is going on, but I think there is a breakdown in security in Baghdad that goes beyond the sectarian violence, and is starting to get people really worried about the Green Zone. Thinking this way, that might the real reason for the reinforcements by the Stryker brigade and operation 'Together Forward'.
If the disaster in Iraq starts to show up in the media again, it might be necessary to sacrifice someone, and who better than the Secretary of Defense?

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Timing is Political

Craig Murray, British ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan, follows up on his earlier Liquid Bomb Scare article (link) with a new one in the Guardian. Also, the Register has an informative and funny look at the difficulties of mixing liquid bombs on board an airplane.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Condi's Follies

Billmon points out the blatant lie that leads off Condi's op-ed in the Washington Post.

Condi is the perfect Secretary of State for the administration. She's willing to play the fool for those with half a brain or more, and the lighting rod for the bullshit artists for the brain-dead. In her role as a homely, apparently sexless clotheshorse, she can shuttle at her master's whim to befuddle the poor diplomats who are forced to waste time with her. Meanwhile Bolton is off threatening and blustering to give the real message, "Fuck you, bitches, we do what we want."

What's next?

A federal judge in Detroit has ruled that the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping is unconstitutional and has enjoined it. I assume that the administration will appeal, but their actions to be able to continue wiretapping should prove interesting. If they appeal, would the courts ruling be immediately suspended? If not, would they defy the order?
Bush has asserted his right to do whatever he deems necessary for national security, including violating the law, and while the adminstration has avoided direct confrontation with the courts (as with Padilla), there might come a time when they will put their money where their mouth is. Is this that moment?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ducks in a row

Juan Cole, who you should read every day, today has embedded an article by Ray Close describing why he thinks war with Iran is on the launching pad. It is frightenly plausable. Take your hypertension meds and then read it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Good neighbors?

The Leonards filed their case in October in U.S. District Court in Southern Mississippi. It was the first to be heard among the hundreds of other Katrina-related cases against insurers, which have argued that they are not responsible for reimbursing homeowners for flood or wind damage.
What does hurricane coverage cover then, lost cats?

The Power of the Press

We’ve just finished, mostly, another press extravaganza with the liquid bomber scare (LBS). That makes it a good time to analyze the features of a genuine press campaign, why it is effective, and what are the mechanisms it uses to succeed, as the LBS undoubtedly did.

I’m going to concentrate on the print media as available on the internet, my fragile psyche isn’t ready for the hours of Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN that would be necessary to tackle the tube, and Google is a great resource for the analyst.

So, what happened?

Thursday, August 10, the British Home Secretary, John Reid announced the arrests. The threat level was raised to critical. The police said that the plot would have caused ‘mass murder on an unimaginable scale.

Air travel in Britain came to a halt that in America was severely impacted as liquids were banned.

Headlines were loud and basically unanimous, a dire threat had been averted due to the vigilance of British, American and Pakistani law enforcement. Air travel was frustrating when possible at all, but travelers were convinced that the measures were necessary and kept their upper lips properly stiff. The nefarious plotters had been about to strike, police had heard alarming ‘chatter’ that forced them to round ‘em up. It all would have happened in ‘a few days’.
A supplementary slew of articles ‘analyzed’ the discovery of a new threat to air travel. The article ‘Plot highlights vulnerability of aviation security’ was the McClatchy version; AP had ‘Terrorist have sniffed out our weak spots’.

Sufficiently terrorized by the news, we were now softened up for the politicians and pundits. August 11 DHS supercop Chertoff went on O’Reilly, killing two birds with one stone. Guiliani said that ‘we will be attacked’.

As stated by many, the foiled attacks showed that ‘we were still at war’, presumably on ‘terror’. Bush, of course, linked it to the war in Iraq, the war in Lebanon, the war in Afghanistan, and our need to be ever vigilant and to promote ‘freedom’. He moved the term ‘Islamic fascist’ out of the closet into the spotlight.

So what were the elements of the LBS?
  1. Public announcements by law enforcement.
  2. Severe restrictions on travel.
  3. Media overwhelming repeating the above, with analysis of the ‘new’ danger.
  4. Politicians and pundits tell us how we’re in danger, the war on terror is still being fought, and we need new ‘tools’ to counter the threats.
  5. This is a confirmation of the GWOT worldview, the lens that everything needs to be examined under. I couldn’t find any mainstream press that could dispute that. The right-wing blogs trumpet it, the left-wing moderates agree, though they still cannot figure out what Iraq has to do with it.
It’s five days later now, and thing are returning to ‘normal’. The CNN front page tells us the good people of the Gulf Coast are screwed (hurricane insurance covers wind, not water), Barbaro’s on the comeback trail, and we’re told why Oprah and Superman are dogged by gay rumors. If you dig further, you can find out that the terror alert has been reduced but not removed.

So what happened?
  1. Some people got arrested.
  2. This caused a terror alert.
  3. End of story.
It’s the ending that’s really the kicker. It all just peters out. But, whatever the results of the investigation into the alleged terrorists, the effect will be the same: heightened fear, public acquiescence to further restrictions, political exploitation by those in power.

No one ever asks in the media, "Did it have to be done this way? Why was it done this way?". Well, my answer, as you may have guessed, is that it’s done that way to maximize the effect on the public. To that end, the press campaign is a necessary tool of power, especially in western democracies. It is necessary, now and then, to drown out other voices and other thoughts. So run along now.

Seal off Syria?

RAW STORY reports that late yesterday Bush called for the sealing off of Syria's borders and ports. I can't find any confirmation of this, which would be alarming to say the least. The final paragraph of the story:
"The United States and ally nations plan to call for UN troops to seal off Syrian borders and ports soon after the Hezbollah resolution is considered."
is not clear to me. Are there plans for a new resolution?.

Monday, August 14, 2006

What do you believe?

Me, your Preznit, or someone's lying eyes.
So, it looks like the big pre-ceasefile offensive was just more bombing and little else, done for the benefit of Bush and Olmert. It looks like it's too late for Olmert, the knives are out and he'll be lucky to keep his hide, much less his office. Is this going to be Bibi's big moment to be a real man (they go Tehran, you know)?

Be afraid, please.

Via lenin, an interesting look at the latest 'terror plot' by the UK's ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray.

The Real War?

Robert Fisk, in Lebanon, says the real war will now begin. If so, for the Israelis it is an inauspicious start as their troops are low on food and water, and have been empowered to break into Lebanese shops and take what they need.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lebanon Follies

Sy Hersh's new article in the New Yorker says that the US was involved in the planning of Israel's attack on Lebanon. The attack would serve as a prelude to an attack on Iran since it would remove the threat of Hezbollah retaliation, and demonstrate the effectiveness of air power in destroying hardened fortifications.
It would be some comfort that the mayhem has helped prevent a larger disaster, but that supposition relies on the quaint idea that the Cheney administration can learn from mistakes. Wishful thinking I fear.


Being a simple person, I hereby start a simple blog, "Blog Simple". Welcome all.