Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Quote of the day

If Iraq destroyed the Republican Party, Iran will destroy the Democrats.
-Scott Ritter
(h/t MaxSpeak)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reggie Watts - Out of Control

Who's the Lamb?

Tom Schaller at TAPPED, echoed by Bernhard at MoonOfAlabama, speculates that the Libby trial will be the last hurrah for the Vice President. Tom says:
Cheney is the final sacrifice -- the last layer between Bush and the disapproving public, the skeptical media, and the angry Democrats. In one sense, having him there has always provided Bush a human (and humanizing-by-contrast) buffer against the hordes who oppose him and his policies. To sacrifice Cheney is therefore to have sunk to but one level above the very bottom, the core of the presidency itself. When Cheney goes on television, as he did last week with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, proclaiming the Iraq war a success, he demonstrates that he is either (a) unhinged from reality; or (b) playing a willing role in his own, inevitable discrediting and marginalization.
Apart from the laughter provoked by 'angry Democrats', I tend to see this another way, Bush is the buffer, Cheney is the leader. The beauty of having Feckless Leader in front of the cameras and Cheney watching from above is that the role-reversal insulates Cheney from responsibility, while allowing him to run the 'deep-state' with all the resources of the presidency.

I replied to Bernhard's post in a comment:
I don't doubt that the Libby trial is an attempt to bring down Cheney before it's really too late. The odds of its succeeding are problematic, at best. Certainly, he shows no sign (from his last belligerent interview) that he could be convinced to step down for 'health' reasons. An indictment is another matter, but it would take a brave prosecutor to tackle that. Could that be one of the reasons for the removal of many US Attorneys?
A question that needs to be answered by those predicting that Cheney will be sacrificed is this, sacrificed by whom? Bush? Don't make me laugh (again). Rice? Beyond laughter. The only one who can sacrifice Cheney is Cheney himself.

If you're looking for a sacrificial lamb, there is a perfect candidate. I'll leave it up to you to guess who.

Monday, January 29, 2007


"To look at the world, no longer from the heights as Æschylus, Plato, Dante and Goethe did, but from the standpoint of oppressive actualities is to exchange the bird’s perspective for the frog’s.”
-O. Spengler, The Decline of the West

Saturday afternoon I spent some time looking at coverage of the protests in Washington and elsewhere. One thing I noticed was that none of the photos of the protest that I found contained any attempt to look at the crowd in its entirety, or even a large part of the crowd. I would expect that either a overhead shot, or a shot from the podium looking out at the crowd would have sufficed to get a measure, if not a count.

I sent an email about this to Michael Shaw of BagnewsNotes, which specializes in the use of images by the press, he's got a humorous post up that discusses the coverage.

This technique is becoming more and more standard in the media, and not just for news events. Sports coverage on television, especially that of baseball, rarely shows any perspective of the crowd or the field, closeups of the players, the managers, and faces in the crowd fills up the time between pitches which is usually a shot of just the pitcher and the catcher.

What is the purpose of this lack of perspective? It is a way to control the audience. Lacking perspective makes the audience dependent upon other techniques, in baseball the announcers, in the news the captions or the stories themselves. The size of the Washington protest was usually described as being either in the 'thousands' or 'tens of thousands'. Both, of course, are accurate, but so would be 'hundreds'; you the reader are not allowed to make a judgment on the size of the event.

So the bird's perspective is denied us, we are shown the view of the frog, and the pieces that are too far above our heads are given or denied according to the purposes of the press.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Denial is a feature, not a river

Paul Rogers points out how current US policies toward Iran and Syria are strengthening the hand of Russia and China.

One of the features of the Cheney administration, from day one, has been their inability/unwillingness to talk to anyone they deem 'evil'. Since war is their goal, it even makes sense, and should be regarded as a feature, not a bug.

That wars don't always go well, even when run by the mightiest of the mighty, and can lead to situations where one's pig-headed principles can injure your country very badly is countered by the Cheney administration by placing their fingers in their ears and shouting 'WAWAWAWAWA' for as long as it takes.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Our good buddy

The Asia Times remains one of the best places on the web for in-depth analysis of global events, and it is refreshingly lacking in the Euro-American-centric lens that mars the US and British press.

There, M K Bhadrakumar has an analysis of the current maneuvers to bring Pakistan into a more prominent role in the region by giving them more leeway in Afghanistan, and by promoting Musharraf as an essential partner in the GWOT.

It takes a good amount of double-think to make any sense of the US policy, as the article makes clear, but I suspect that this is the 'strategy':

1. Use Pakistan as part of the Sunni alliance against Iran.

2. De facto recognition of a role for the Taliban, provided they skip their spring offensive, possibly including them in a share of the 8 billion dollars heading to Afghanistan.

3. Keep Musharraf in power by reducing political tensions in Pakistan over the repression in the tribal areas on the border.

As the article notes, developments are proceeding at an elevated level in these days. Operation Iran is getting closer, quickly.

Friday Cassie Blogging

Meantime life outside goes on...

in the Balkans. One of the features of our current excellent adventures is how the rest of the world gets a break from the attention of the US. But changes are going on anyway, reported or not, and it's good to remove our blinders now and then and look around. Chris Deliso's article 'Russia Gets Its Warm Water Port' takes us back to the Balkins and points out that the results of Clinton's excellent adventure are not always what we're told they are.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Petraeus and the Press

Some individuals in the public eye seem to move with 'winged feet' for a finite period of time, usually only one of these fortunates occupy the spotlight at any given moment. General Petraeus, with his new command in Iraq, is now in that particular position, lauded from all sides, thrust before the cameras to push for the newest path to victory in Iraq.
He plays the part well, the press has given him all the support they can muster, but can any of that change the unfolding disaster in Iraq?
How long until the General's golden moment ends?

Petraeus and the Pledge

Signs that some Republican lawmakers have sworn off the kool-aid and are questioning both the wisdom and need for the 'surge', the right-wing blogosphere has been mobilized to hit them where it hurts the most, the pocketbook. By taking the Pledge, unanimity will be enforced in the GOP.

The authority for the pledge, oddly enough, comes not from Feckless Leader, or Darth Cheney, but from the new poster boy of our excellent adventure, General David Petraeus who agreed with Joe Lieberman's question that opposition to the increase would 'encourage the enemy', though he kindly gave his permission to Congress to discuss such treason.

In my view, it's unfortunate that General Petraeus does not understand his role in a democracy, such as it is, and lends his voice to quelling dissent. If he really believes that the Iraqis that risk their lives fighting the US are going to be encouraged or discouraged by this bullshit surge, and isn't just toadying up to his masters, he's dangerously delusional and unfit for command. But let's face it, getting ahead in the army means lying on command.

Gen. Petraeus is bound to go far.

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post on the Pledge.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Onward Judeo-Christian soldiers...

The chorus is about to be joined by the orchestra, my friends. Republican and Democrat, all of God's children are going to be calling for war on Iran, and no, nothing the Iranians say or do will have the slightest effect, or be accurately depicted in the press.
You remember Iraq, don't you, it's going to be the same thing all over again, just way worse.
I'd really like to be wrong here, and I'd suffer the catcalls and abuse with a smile.
(h/t Laura Rozen)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

You just lost me...

John Edwards. Not that I was a convinced supporter, but an economic populist (or one who claims to be) is refreshing in our Donald Trump worshiping country.
But Big John just paid a satellite visit to a 'Israel national security' conference, AKA, let's bomb Iran ASAP. Edwards said he was signed up for the program led by the worst people in both the US and Israel, i.e. the psychotic gang that runs both countries. No talks, lie about the facts, cherry pick 'intelligence", it's the same drill AS IRAQ AND THE FUCKING DEMOCRATS ARE LINING UP TO ENLIST! HILLARY, PELOSI, NOW EDWARDS, STOP IT YOU DUMB SHITS!

Signs and Symbols

As the attentive reader may have noted, it's my view that most of what actually motivates change in our political system is hidden from sight. This tendency has grown stronger and more impervious since WWII and the rise of the national security state. The newspapers and the media present only what is necessary to mold public opinion and actions, national and international conflicts are presented in the same light, while the real struggles go on behind the scenes. Even when the press becomes aware of behind the scenes actions, they refrain from reporting it until the necessary conditions arise (as in Presidential wiretapping).

Seen in that light, I believe we have been non-spectators in a battle for power over the US government, and its policies at home and abroad. VP Cheney, working with a select group of media owners and their lackeys, oil industry figures, bureaucrats, judges, and politicians has for the past six years been working to create a 'deep state', basically unknown to the public, unreported for the most part, and capable of guiding US policy behind the structures of the institutions. Domestic wiretapping has nothing to do with 'terrorists', and everything to do with blackmail, black-ops, and the deep state.

This plan has been opposed by some of those who know about it. The CIA and the State Department, and perhaps even the Department of Justice have shown signs that there are people in those institutions that are using their power to resist this 'deep state' process. They represent, I suspect, the old school of consensus by the elite, hardly less secretive than the Cheneyites to the public, but who still recognize the need for compromise and discussion.

After the complete victory by Cheney in the ISG affair, another chapter in this battle for supremacy is now underway in a courtroom in Washington. Libby's trial is now striking directly at the VP. As Digby noted, the chattering class is chattering:
Norah O'Donnell is asking Andy Card and Leon Panetta if the president is going to have to ask Dick Cheney to resign as a result of what's being alleged at the Libby Trial.
On the other hand, maybe Cheney will ask Bush to resign, or persuade him in another fashion. We may be at the moment when the knives come out.

Digby also says this in another post:
I suspect that when the history is written we will find more and more proof that Vice President Cheney has been running a shadow government from the very beginning and that much of the malfeasance of this era is a result of incompetent and competing power centers vying for supremacy. It begins to explain the unprecedented level of faulty reasoning and epic mistakes coming from the one administration.
Here I disagree to an extent. Certainly in the early days there were people such as Richard Clarke and others who tried to sway Bush away from Cheney. But Rice was and is a nonentity, while Powell lacked to balls to take a stand, so Cheney has been running things his way in the White House. The battle is outside the White House, and it could get bloody very soon, both figuratively and factually. Or, of course, health problems might intervene and make everything wrap up nice and neatly.

In any case, we readers of signs and symbols have our work cut out for us in the upcoming days.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Cassie Blogging

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"Woof", says Blair.

I call to your attention two interesting and complementary posts on a major speech by Tony Blair on January 12. Paul Rogers explores the policy implications of Blair's speech, in short, Bush's favorite poodle is pushing for a long term commitment to the GWOT, to be implemented by massive increases in 'defense' spending, including:

The first is familiar: the decision to replace the Trident nuclear force with a new system, setting Britain as a nuclear-armed power for thirty-five years or more (see "Nuclear weapons: the oxygen of debate", 29 December 2006).

The second is the extraordinary plan to build two massive new aircraft-carriers. These, each weighing 65,000 tons and deploying the new and hugely expansive US F-35 joint strike fighter, will be far larger than any other warship ever deployed in the Royal Navy's history - three times the size of the current Invincible-class and much larger even than the battleships of the global 1939-45 war (see "British sea power: a 21st-century question", 13 July 2006).

It's hard for me to believe that Blair is really that insane, to bankrupt one's country to be the number two policeman on the global beat is beyond stupid. Does Cheney have some kind of evil hold over Blair?

The second article is at UNSPEAK, and explores his use (or misuse) of language in the speech. Blair is once again shown to have become the child of the Cheneyites, their disdain of logic, clarity and their audience is the hallmark of their speech. Another example from today, here's our own Attorney General, Abu Gonzales:

Specter: Now wait a minute, wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in the case of invasion or rebellion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus?

Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Baker's failure

Sidney Blumenthal has an interesting article about the behind the scenes attempt by James Baker to change Feckless Leader's Iraq policy. He attempted to use Condi's supposed influence over FL to do that, and needless to say, the effort failed. Oddly, the article is titled 'Washington's political cleansing', though it describes a failed cleansing, and the continued domination of policy by the Vice President and his crew.

Baker's use of Condi seems desperate to me, she was, is, and always will be a lightweight in every sense of the word. This passage is emblematic:

Rice's turn appeared to be reflected in a speech delivered at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on 15 September by Philip Zelikow, her counsellor, closest aide and friend, who had served with her under Scowcroft on the elder Bush's National Security Council. Well publicised in advance, he asserted that "some sense of progress and momentum on the Arab-Israeli dispute is just a sine qua non for their ability to cooperate actively with the United States on a lot of things that we care about."

Immediately, Zelikow came under fierce criticism from vice-president Cheney's office and Rice publicly rebuked him, which provoked his abrupt resignation. In a 27 November letter to her, he wrote that he had "some truly riveting obligations to college bursars" for his children's tuition and instantly had to return to his professorship at the University of Virginia.

If Condi would throw Zelikow under the train, she was not going to stand up to Cheney for Baker. Despite its hopelessness, I guess there was no one else who could penetrate the cordon set up around Bush.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I find myself coming to a conclusion that departs radically from the wisdom of most the left-wing bloggers, and certainly will never be mentioned in the MSM.
Basically, the conclusion is this: there is NO WAY that Cheney's cabal is going to give up power at the next presidential election.

Just to clarify, my take on the American political power structure is that money has always been (in modern times) the bottom line, there has always been an understated or unstated consensus, based on money, that animates the two political parties, the differences have always been overstated and used to control the points of political discourse.

Now, I believe, that consensus has been broken, not from the Democratic or the Republican parties, but on the part of a relatively small slice of the Republicans, and a smaller one of the Democrats.

Under the guidance of the Vice President, they have consistently worked to undermine the institutions of the Federal bureaucracy, the courts, and the media. They now have people in key positions in all of those areas.

The doctrine of unbridled executive power has been the main facilitator of this process, and it's clear that this power now remains dependent on just one event, the presidential election. The election, if allowed, could put someone outside the cabal in the position of unchecked power that the cabal has created.

The Cheney cabal has roots in the past, linked other episodes of executive lawbreaking: Iran-Contras, the other dirty wars in Central and South America, Vietnam, Cuba, the deep states in Turkey, Italy and other countries. Many of the same actors in these previous acts of lawbreaking are back. In the past, they went underground and waited for a new opportunity. The consensus exonerated them after some hand-slapping, they were useful after all. This time though, the mechanisms are so huge, the lawbreaking so blatant and so obviously contrary to the above mentioned consensus that is dependent on the rule of law (through money), that there is no going back, no more going underground.

We've almost two years left with the illusion of a republic to be maintained. Congress, the courts and the media are all desperately hiding their eyes from the spectacle to come, and if they can maintain the illusion through this next election it will be the greatest feat of legerdemain in the history of that art.

I don't think it can be done.

Friday, January 12, 2007


The morality of breeding, and the morality of taming, are, in the means they use, entirely worthy of each other: we may proclaim it as a supreme principle that to make men moral one must have the unconditional resolve to act immorally. This is the great, the uncanny problem which I have been pursuing the longest: the psychology of the "improvers" of mankind. A small, and at bottom modest, fact — that of the so-called pia fraus [holy lie] — offered me the first insight into this problem: the pia fraus, the heirloom of all philosophers and priests who "improved" mankind. Neither Manu nor Plato nor Confucius nor the Jewish and Christian teachers have ever doubted their right to lie. They have not doubted that they had very different rights too. Expressed in a formula, one might say: all the means by which one has so far attempted to make mankind moral were through and through immoral.
-F. Nietzsche - Twilight of the Idols

Friday Cassie Blogging

Shadow Cassie sniffs giant Dillon Beach phallus.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

...get set...

When two of the more 'sane and sober' voices in the Blogosphere pick up on something, it's time to wonder if the time isn't very close for some serious shit hitting a great big fan.
Josh Marshall and Steve Clemons are both hearing voices that say that war is not just coming with Iran (and Syria as an afterthought), but that the war just might have already begun, the orders issued and actions underway.

The US raid on the Iranian consulate in Irbil (or Arbil or Erbil) seems pretty provocative, especially since it reportedly led to a guns cocked standoff between the Americans and the Kurds, our erstwhile allies.


This has got to go down as one of the most ridiculous statements of all time, from none other than Peter Beinart, a 'scholar' with the Council on Foreign Relations and a 'liberal' who has pushed the war from the beginning.
Peter Beinart: "Media reaction to Bush's speech will be intriguing and important. Usually, networks and newspapers provide two opinions on a subject, Democratic and Republican, and make no value judgment between them.
From Dan Froomkin.

They're so impartial that none of the networks would broadcast the Democratic reply.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Shorter Feckless Leader Speech

"I don't want to be here."


Today being the day that the Deciderer (AKA Feckless Leader) will hit us with the New Plan for Iraq. Of course, for the last week we've had every hack reporter with a line to the White House tell us all about the plan already, but FL will spell it out for us, and WE WILL KNOW.
Sadly No has a nice checklist that you might want to have on hand for the speech, just to make sure that everything is going according to script, and you can note any surprises there.
BTW, sorry for not blogging at you phantoms lately, work is a bitch.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Good Lackey

One of the administration's most reliable stenographers on Iraq is the NYT's Michael R. Gordon.

A perfect example of his work has just been posted there, "A New Commander, in Step With the White House on Iraq" that says the the new commander in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus (who also get a sycophantic bio in the same article) , wholeheartedly backs the addition of 5 combat brigades. While admitting that Gen. Petraeus has not actually said that, Gordon points out that he just wrote the new Army counter-insurgency manual. Now I doubt that the manual has anything specific about more troops in Iraq, and our stenographer cites no other source in the entire article to justify his knowledge that the General backs 0, 3, 5, or 17 more brigades. In fact, no one to my knowledge has done more than speculate that Feckless Leader will send 5 combat brigades to Iraq, but someone told Gordon to say that, and to say that Petraeus supports it. Like a good lackey, he repeats it all.

Friday Cassie Blogging

To the sea!

One of my faithful readers called me on the Hipphone today to ask, "Why, when we are fighting two land wars in Asia, will Feckless Leader (Bush, to you uninitiated) appoint an admiral to be the head of CENTCOM?"
The obvious answer, "Global warming is going to put large parts of Iraq under water any day now .", sprang to my lips and I left it at that, sending faithful reader upon his merry way.
Truth is, I didn't want to alarm the poor soul by saying that when the attack comes against the Iranians the big action is going to shift to the Persian Gulf. Yep, all those soldiers and marines are going to be little more than bystanders to the real action, if they're not out and out hostages or worse.
More later.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Deciderer...

... hasn't decided, says CNN, he's 'driving toward' a new Iraq plan, according to 'sources' who seem to be 'officials', at least in the headline.
This pathetic rejoinder to the BBC article mentioned below is the next drop in the trickle that will soon be a flood, I'll wager that the NYT and WAPO will be coming up with more 'authoritative' versions of the build-up to the 'surge'.
Do you wonder if these 'journalists' ever get tired of being administration lackeys?
Simple answers to simple questions: "No".

Harvard Summers

The departure of Larry Summers from Harvard has been attributed, in all of the press that I've read, to his assertion that women didn't show up more in the sciences because of an innate disposition to prefer bearing children. The Fox News types found it fodder for their 'liberal/islamist/socialist/wiccan people are running the universities these days' bullshit, and so, they opine, an eminent academic gets canned for running afoul of the PC tyranny.
It seems there were other fish in the fryer:

A capsule description: as a young assistant professor in 1979, Summers befriended Andrei Shleifer while the teen-age Soviet émigré was a Harvard undergraduate. A vivid intellectual collaboration ensued. A decade later, Summers arranged for Shleifer, by then a professor at the University of Chicago, to return to Harvard; then, as Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, Summers helped arrange for him to direct an advice-giving mission to Russia on behalf of the US government, after the Soviet Union collapsed.

After the US Agency for International Development fired Shleifer in 1997 for investing in Russia while dispensing supposedly disinterested advice, Summers stood by, first as Treasury Secretary, then as president of the university, while Harvard, expensively and ultimately unsuccessfully, defended his friend against a government suit for fraud. At one point, the newly-installed president urged Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Jeremy Knowles to take pains to keep Shleifer at Harvard.

What do you know? Could it be that whole PC story was just a smokescreen?
(h/t maxspeak)

Feckless Leader has decided...

... to send more troops to Iraq, says the BBC. They add that there will be a speech to announce the decision. I'm not usually one to subject myself to the shocking words and demeanor of FL, but this speech could prove interesting, in build-up, presentation, and content.
Funny that this came out though the BBC.