Friday, April 27, 2007

Laura Bush On Iraq : No-One Suffers More Than The President And Me

But Bush Said He Sleeps Better Than Most Would Think

President Bush the day after his wife claimed no-one suffered more than he over the tragedy of Iraq War.

You might think that the mothers, fathers, children, wives and husbands of the more than 50,000 Americans killed and wounded, so far, in the Iraq War might be suffering more than anyone else from tragedy of the American occupation of Iraq. You'd be wrong.

Or perhaps you think that children in Iraq who've seen most of their families wiped out by American airstrikes and terrorist car bombings might be suffering even more than American military families.

Again, you'd be wrong. At least according to the First Lady, Laura Bush.

You see, nobody suffers more from the ongoing horror and tragedy of the Iraq War than George W. Bush and Laura Bush.

This is an absolutely stupifying claim to make. Nothing could show just how far removed from reality those who dwell in the White House really are than such idiocy.

Laura Bush's words might have even retained a modicum of respectful compassion had not her and her husband be then seen, less than 24 hours after the interview went to air, clowning it up on a stage during a malaria awareness function - see the above photo.

No doubt the president is suffering, and no doubt he also needs to grasp whatever moments of light-heartendess his job offers, but to claim that "nobody suffers more" from the futile waste of American lives of the Iraq War than the president is almost beyond belief.

The Iraq War was neither an emergency response a gathering threat, nor a necessity. It was a war of choice. A choice that the president made, against the wishes of most Americans, and virtually the entire world. Even his own father was against his decision to go to War On Iraq.

Be a fucking man about your mistakes, for God's sake.

And don't send your wife on TV to try and ratchet up some sympathy. You will get none, from the world, from most of America's military families and from the vast majority of the world's people.

From RawStory :
According to the first lady, when it comes to Iraq, "No one suffers more than their president and I do."

During an interview on NBC's Today show Wednesday concerning Malaria Awareness Day, Laura Bush talked to Ann Curry about "other challenges her husband is facing."

"You know the American people are suffering watching --," Curry said to the first lady.

"Oh, I know that very much," Laura Bush responded. "And believe me, no one suffers more than their president and I do when we watch this, and certainly the commander in chief, who has asked our military to go into harm's way."

Curry then asked, "What do you think the American public need to know about your husband?"

"Well, I hope they do know the burden, the worry that's on his shoulders every single day for our troops," Bush said. "And I think they do. I mean, I think if they don't, they're not seeing what the real responsibilities of our president are."

The first lady admitted that "it's absolutely hard" to watch her husband "in this."

A video clip from Laura Bush's NBC interview can be viewed at Americablog.

The Oprah-effect on full display : "You think you're suffering, hey, I'm really suffering, far more than you."

As far as President Bush suffering more than anyone else over Iraq, he sure seems to be sleeping okay, and is remarkably upbeat. Dan Froomkin supplies the reality check, in Bush's own words :
"The nation might despair, but not Mr. Bush; his presidential armor seemed firmly intact."

And, she noted: "On weeknights, the Bushes watch football or baseball on television, 'to try not to worry a little bit,' Mrs. Bush told CBS."

And at other times, Bush has made it clear that he is not overly troubled.

People magazine asked Bush in December if he had trouble sleeping. As Karen Travers blogged for ABC News, his response was: "I must tell you, I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume."

That echoed statements Bush made in June 2005 to board members of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. "I'd say I'd spend most of my time worrying about right now people losing their life in Iraq. Both Americans and Iraqis," he said. But then he added: "You know, I don't worry all that much, other than what I just described to you. I attribute that to . . . I've got peace of mind. A lot of it has to do with my particular faith, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that a lot of people pray for me and Laura . . . I'm sleeping pretty good. Seriously. I get asked that. There's times when I hadn't been. I've got peace of mind."

Fred Barnes wrote in the Weekly Standard in March: "Bush's relentlessly upbeat demeanor, which he flaunts at press conferences and other public events, infuriates his political opponents and much of the mainstream media. They want him to act like the broken man they think he should be. Sorry, but he's a healthy man, mentally and physically. He's bolstered by his religious faith, his sense of mission, his scorn for elite opinion, and what an aide calls 'his really good physical shape.' Exercise and sleep help to 'keep his spirits high,' the aide says."

This would also not be the first time that the issue of whether Bush understands the sacrifices involved in the war has come up. For instance, in a January interview with PBS's Jim Lehrer, Bush was asked about shared sacrifice and responded: "Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we've got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war."

Terror Mongering To High School Students

Bush Warns Of "Death And Destruction" In The US If Troops Pull Out Of Iraq

Within 72 hours of dozens of students and teachers being massacred at the Virginia Tech university, President Bush gave a speech in front of school students in Ohio where he warned that America would suffer "death and destruction" if he pulled troops out of Iraq.

The nation was stunned, and horrified, by the sudden, savage violence that had been unleashed upon students and teachers at Virginia Tech, but the president used the exact same kind of talk to frighten his audience. In between the jokes, of course.

For the president it was another 90 minute long rambling monologue, with only a handful of pre-arranged questions asked by students from the local schools, the chamber of commerce and military. Some of the answers Bush gave ran on for 15 or more minutes.

It was but one of a series of "backwater" speeches and Q & As Bush held last week to try and shore up public support for the continuation of the American occupation of Iraq. It doesn't seem to have made any difference, and his roadshow scored minimal coverage on American network news. Bush's latest approval is another record low : 28%.

From ThinkProgress :

Increasingly desperate, and facing broad public opposition, Bush used his last Iraq speech on Monday to stir up fear with repeated references to September 11 and dark visions of “death and destruction…here in America” if U.S. troops were to withdraw.

His message to teenagers: fear for your lives. The Detroit News reports:

White House spokesman Alex Conant said Bush will tell the audience that “the consequences of failure in Iraq would be death and destruction in the Middle East and here in America.”

Of course, Bush shouldn’t expect a particularly sympathetic audience. Even as far back as 2000, reporters noted, “Most of his high school stops have been larger rallies, shielding Bush from the often-hostile high school audiences. Nobody in the campaign could remember the last time Bush took questions from high schoolers.”

Sections of this speech scored media coverage, but only for "bizarre" and "weird" references to his marriage, to the rug he had installed in the Oval Office after he became president and "chicken plucking".

From the Ohio speech :

I wish I was traveling here with Laura. The best thing about my family is my wife. She is a great First Lady. I know that sounds not very objective, but that's how I feel. And she's also patient. Putting up with me requires a lot of patience.

And I will tell you, one reason -- this may sound counterintuitive, but a good marriage is really good after serving together in Washington, D.C. It's been an amazing experience to be a husband and then a dad as President of the United States. I emphasize, that is the priority for me as the President. It's my faith, my family, and my country.

The President of the United States rates his service to his country as third in importance behind his faith and his family? A stunning public admission of the value he places on holding the highest office in the country.

On the Virginia Tech massacre :

...the President spends time at disasters. Part of the job of the presidency is to help people heal from hurt. And the amazing thing is, though, when you go down to a scene like Virginia Tech, you can't help but be buoyed by the spirit that out of the tragedy comes a certain sense of resolve.

It really speaks to the strength of this country, doesn't it, that total strangers here in Ohio are willing to hold up people in Virginia in prayer. And I thank you for that. And my message to the folks who still hurt in -- at Virginia Tech is that a lot of people care about you, and a lot of people think about you, a lot of people grieve with you, and a lot of people hope you find sustenance in a power higher than yourself. And a lot of us believe you will.

Bush immediately jumped into a virtually incoherent spiel about how he came to replace the rug in the Oval Office when he took over the presidency, which led into September 11 and the Iraq War. Rug, 9/11, Iraq. What do you mean you can't see the connection? :

My job is a job to make decisions. I'm a decision -- if the job description were, what do you do -- it's decision-maker. And I make a lot of big ones, and I make a lot of little ones. Interestingly enough, the first decision I made happened right before I got sworn in as President. I was at the Blair House, which is across the street from the White House, getting ready to give my inaugural address. And the phone rang, and the head usher at the White House said, "President-elect Bush." I said, "Yes." He said, "What color rug do you want in the Oval Office?" (Laughter.) I said, this is going to be a decision-making experience. (Laughter.)

The first lesson about decision-making is, if you're short on a subject, ask for help. So if you're a student listening and you're not very good at math, ask for help. Don't be afraid to admit that you need help when it comes to life. I wasn't afraid to admit I wasn't sure how to design a rug, so I called Laura. (Laughter.) I said, they've asked me to design a rug in the Oval Office; I don't know anything about rug designing; will you help me? She said, of course. But I said, I want it to say something -- the President has got to be a strategic thinker and I said to her, make sure the rug says "optimistic person comes to work." Because you can't make decisions unless you're optimistic that the decisions you make will lead to a better tomorrow.

And so, if you were to come in the Oval Office, what you would see is this fantastic rug that looks like the sun. And it just sets the tone for the Oval Office.

I share that with you because I make a lot of decisions, and I'm optimistic that the decisions I have made will yield a better tomorrow. The hardest decision you make is whether or not to commit troops into combat...

Bush also made it clear why there has been such a concerted push by the NeoCon-aligned right-wing media in the US to pump up the involvement of Al Qaeda in Iraq during the current conflict. While most intelligence agencies in the United States, the UK, and across Europe agree that Al Qaeda maintains a presence in Iraq, they believe it to be a very minor one, and it's a presence that simply did not exist before the US chose to invade Iraq in March, 2003. However, Bush now uses the minor, though destructive, presence of Al Qaeda in Iraq as yet another excuse for why the American occupation must continue :

Now I say that -- preventing our enemies from establishing a safe haven from which to attack us again -- because that is their stated objective in Iraq. That's what al Qaeda says. Al Qaeda is the same group of folks that attacked us on September the 11th. They have said their objective is to drive the United States out of Iraq in order to establish safe haven. And why would they need safe haven? They would need safe haven from which to plot and plan and train to attack again. They have an objective, and that is to spread their ideology throughout the Middle East. That is what they have stated. That's their objectives.

Our objective is to deny them safe haven, is to prevent al Qaeda from being able to do in Iraq that which they did in Afghanistan, which is where they trained thousands of young men to come and kill -- to eventually kill innocent people.

And yet they -- and yet, the enemy -- and the enemy -- when I say, enemy, these are enemies of free societies, primarily al Qaeda inspired -- blew up the great religious shrine in '06, a year ago -- all aiming to create a sense of sectarian violence, all aiming to exacerbate the religious tensions that sometimes were exacerbated under Saddam Hussein, all aiming at preventing this young democracy from succeeding. And they succeeded. The enemy succeeded in causing there to be sectarian strife. In other words, the government wasn't ready to provide security. People started taking matters into their own hands. I'm going to protect myself, or
I'm going to rely upon somebody else to protect me, they would say.

...the goal is a country that is stable enough for the government to work, that can defend itself and serve as an ally in this war on terror, that won't be a safe haven, that will deny the extremists and the radicals. I happen to think there will be an additional dividend when we succeed -- remember the rug? I'm optimistic we can succeed. I wouldn't ask families to have their troops there if I didn't think, one, it was necessary, and two, we can succeed. I believe we're going to succeed. And I believe success will embolden other moderate people that said, we're going to reject extremists and radicals in their midst.

Remember the rug?

Bush also used the speech to ram home the fact, as have military leaders of recent, that a free and peaceful and democratic Iraq doesn't mean there won't be suicide bombers and car bombings.

If the definition of success in Iraq or anywhere is no suicide bombers, we'll never be successful. We will have handed al Qaeda "that's what it takes" in order to determine whether or not these young democracies, for example, can survive. Think about that: if our definition is no more suiciders, you've just basically said to the suiciders, go ahead.

And then it was time for IranIranIranIranIranIranIranIran....

Iran is influential inside of Iraq. They are influential by providing advanced weaponry. They are influential by dealing with some militias, tend to be Shia militias, all aiming to create discomfort, all aiming to kind of -- according to some -- to create enough discomfort for the United States, but in doing so, they're making it harder for this young democracy to emerge. Isn't it interesting, when you really take a step back and think about what I just said, that al Qaeda is making serious moves in Iraq, as is surrogates for Iran.

Two of the biggest issues we face for the security of this country today and tomorrow is al Qaeda and Iran. And yet their influence is being played out in Iraq. I believe that if we were to leave before this country had an opportunity to stabilize, to grow -- and by the way, I fully understand and completely agree with those who say, this is not just a military mission alone. That is too much to ask our military to be able to achieve objectives without there being a corresponding political avenue, political strategy being fulfilled by the Iraqis. I fully expect them to reconcile.

Remember the rug? Well, don't forget the oil.

Imagine a scenario where the oil wealth of certain countries became controlled -- came under the control of a radical, extremist group. And then all of a sudden you'd be dealing not only with safe haven for potential violent attack, you'd be dealing with the economic consequences of people who didn't share the values of the West, for example.

Iran wants to -- they've stated they'd like to have -- let me just say, we believe they would like to have a nuclear weapon. Part of our diplomacy is to prevent them from doing so. If the United States were to leave a chaotic Iraq, not only would the vacuum of our failure there to help this young government enable extremists to move more freely and embolden them, but I also believe it would -- it could cause the Middle East to enter into a nuclear arms race.

The scenario I'm beginning to describe to you I believe is a real scenario, a real possibility for a scenario, and I believe if this were to happen, people would look back 30 years from now, or 20 years from now, and say, what happened to them in 2007; how come they couldn't see the threat?

And after almost 50 minutes of pre-amble, it was time for the questions from the audience. Such as they were.

Q Mr. President, how would you respond to the rather mistaken idea that the war in Iraq is becoming a war in Vietnam?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, thank you. There's a lot of differences. First, the Iraqi people voted for a modern constitution, and then set up a government under that constitution. Secondly, the -- that's as opposed to two divided countries: north and south. In my judgment, the vast majority of people want to live underneath that constitution they passed. They want to live in peace. And what you're seeing is radical on the fringe creating chaos in order to either get the people to lose confidence in their government, or for us to leave.

A major difference as far as here at home is concerned is that our military is an all-volunteer army, and we need to keep it that way. By the way, the way you keep it that way is to make sure our troops have all they need to do their job, and to make sure their families are happy. (Applause.)

There are some similarities, of course -- death is terrible.

I have told people that this is a unique war where an enemy will follow us home, because I believe that. But if you give al Qaeda a safe haven and enough time to plan and plot, I believe the risk is they will come and get us. And I freely admit that much of my thinking was affected on September the 11th, 2001, and the aftermath of September the 11th, 2001. I wanted to share that with you and the American people so that they understand that when I make decisions, why I'm making decisions. I can assure you I'm not going to make any decisions in regard to anybody's life based upon a poll or a focus group.
More rambling, more questions, more increasingly strange and disjointed comments.

Q Would you speak a little bit about the support, or lack of support that we're getting from other countries, particularly those countries surrounding Iraq --


Q -- Saudi Arabia, so forth?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir. First, our mission is getting a lot of support from the Iraqis. That's the place to first look. Are the Iraqis willing to make sacrifices necessary for their own country? I think there's a lot of Americans who wonder whether or not the Iraqis want to live in a free society, and are willing to do that which is necessary to help their country succeed. If I felt they weren't, I would not have our troops in harm's way. Just so you know.

I believe they are. They have suffered unbelievable death and destruction. Yesterday's bombing -- we don't have the intel on it; I suspect it's al Qaeda. Al Qaeda convinces the suiciders to show up; al Qaeda understands the effects of this kind of warfare on the minds of not only people in Iraq, but here -- and elsewhere in the world.Q Mr. President, to kind of switch directions a little bit, illegal aliens in this country apparently are putting a lot of pressure on our social services. Could you comment on what the plans are in the future to take care of that?

Bush also took the time to provide insightful commentary on the value of polling : "polls go poof".

You know, I'm -- I've been in politics long enough to know that polls just go poof at times. I mean, they're a moment; that they are -- let me put it to you this way: When it's all said and done, when Laura and I head back home -- which at this moment will be Crawford, Texas -- I will get there and look in the mirror, and I will say, I came with a set of principles and I didn't try to change my principles to make me popular.

As I mentioned to you, this is a decision-making experience, and you cannot make good decisions if you're not making decisions on a consistent set of principles. It's impossible. Oh, you can make decisions, all right, but they're inconsistent. What I think is important is consistency during difficult and troubled times, so that people -- they may not agree, but they know where I'm coming from.

And I'll share some of the principles. You've heard one -- I believe freedom is universal. I believe that. Let me put it another way: I believe there's an Almighty, and I believe a gift from the Almighty to every man and woman and child on this Earth is freedom. That's what I believe.

Bush returned to the subject of Virginia Tech so he could warn Americans that they need to watch out for people exhibiting "abnormal behaviour".

One of the lessons of these tragedies is to make sure that when people see somebody, or know somebody who is exhibiting abnormal behavior, to do something about it, to suggest that somebody take a look; that if you are a parent and your child is doing strange things on the Internet, pay attention to it, and not be afraid to ask for help, and not be afraid to say, I am concerned about what I'm seeing.

I think there's a tendency at times for people -- and I fully understand this -- is to respect somebody's privacy, you know, and not share concerns. But some of the lessons of the shootings have been that it is -- and I don't know about this case -- and by the way, they're still digging out the facts, so I think it's very important for us not to comment until it's all said and done -- but that other cases, there have been warning signals, that if an adult, for example, had taken those signals seriously, perhaps tragedy could have been avoided.

Bush finished up his 90 minute long effort by continuing his search for an historical parallel for the 'War on Terror'. The White House and the NeoCon media have tried comparing Al Qaeda to the Nazis in the past, but that just infuriated World War 2 veterans and Nazi death camp survivors.

Bush may find himself on much safer ground in the coming months if he continues to pump the somewhat vague similarities to the "ideological struggle" of the Cold War. As Bush says himself, it's a "potential parrallel." Though it is not one that is likely to win him any more support from the American public.

It's freedom versus communism. This is a -- this is a struggle with freedom versus extreme radicalism. There have been -- how do you allow a society, or how do you encourage societies to evolve after struggle, after conflict? There are other historical parallels. My job is to continue to explain the consequences -- consequences of success, which I believe will be peace; the consequences of failure, which I believe will be creating a more dangerous situation here in the United States.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hard Times For All The President's Men...And The President

You don't hear much about President Bush in the mainstream media anymore. They'll give light coverage to his current small-town tour of trying to shore up support for the Iraq War, and re-igniting fear in the public's mind about the eternally imminent second round of major terrorist attacks on the United States, but the focus of the debate on the Iraq War, and the 'War On Terror' generally, has slewed off onto the generals and the horrors on the ground.

When coverage does circle back round to Bush, it's mostly about how is dealing with the Democrats refusal to play his ball game over funding the future of the Iraq War. For many major US journalists, when Bush opens his mouth these days, they've heard it all before. They're far more interested in the spicier action now consuming some of the president's closest friends and allies.

The mainstream media focus on Washington politics continues to centre on virtually every other senior member of the Bush administration, rather than Bush himself, as this short, but comprehensive, piece from the AFP explains :

With US President George W. Bush already facing a tough second term with a dismal approval rating hovering around 30 percent, his inner circle has been hit hard by scandals and a chorus of calls for resignations.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has faced a barrage of criticism and calls for him to step down over his handling of the firing of top prosecutors.

Bush's political guru Karl Rove, a White House aide once dubbed "Bush's Brain," has consistently been the target of animosity from the administration's harshest critics who see his hand in many scandals.

Even leaving the administration doesn't leave one safe.

World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, the former Pentagon deputy chief, is hanging on to his job by a thread amid a favoritism scandal over a hefty pay raise to his girlfriend, a bank employee.

Two of the most criticized "Bushies" -- as the president's loyal confidants are often called -- have already lost their jobs after Democrats took control of Congress from Bush's Republicans in November elections.

Donald Rumsfeld, an architect of the Iraq war, resigned as defense secretary just a day after the November 7 elections that were marked by deep voter anger over the conflict.

The next election casualty was John Bolton in December, a fellow hawk who was unable to stay on as UN ambassador as the Democratic-held Senate would have likely refused to confirm him at the post.

Is the Bush White House crumbling with two years left in his term? "In one sense, yes," said political analyst Eric Davis.

Gonzales, a longtime Bush aide who was his legal advisor during his term as Texas governor in the 1990s, was grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week to explain his role in the firing of eight US attorneys, which Democrats say was politically motivated.

A top Republican, Senator Tom Coburn, bluntly called for his resignation.

White House foes want Rove to testify about his own role in the scandal.

Wolfowitz, meanwhile, has been accused of hypocrisy after revelations that he ordered a hefty salary worth nearly 200,000 dollars for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, in 2005, while steering a controversial campaign against corruption in the World Bank's 24-billion-dollar annual lending.

A Washington Post columnist questioned if Rove, Wolfowitz and Gonzales can be trusted.

"Today's topic is credibility -- specifically, recent claims by certain high-ranking present, former and perhaps soon-to-be-former Bush administration officials," columnist Eugene Robinson wrote this week.

"The aim is to answer a simple question: Should we believe these three Bush loyalists if they tell us that rain falls down instead of up, or should we look out the window to make sure?" it said.

But as many credible Washington writers have pointed out, in the decades to come, there is likely to be scant interest in the dramas consuming Rove, Wolfowitz and Gonzales. Theirs are merely minor events in the biggest historical story of our days : Bush And Iraq.

When historians turn their attention to April, 2007, they are likely to only find an ever-growing-more-isolated Bush failing to rally support for the Iraq War, and reduced to trawling town halls and high school audiences of a few hundred carefully screened audience members. He will be cited for giving 90-plus minute long, waffle-filled, speeches, taking only a few questions at the most in what are framed as "discussions", and giving fifteen minute long answers in reply.

But then, as has been said, only the fallen can rise. And Bush has fallen mightily since his near messianic 'glory days' post-9/11, when the nation backed him to the hilt, and most of the world listened to his plans to take out Osama Bin Laden and agreed heartily.

Few seem to care these days where Bin Laden is, and what he us up to, now he has all but fallen off the face of the Earth. It's a situation that Bush himself is increasingly beginning to understand for himself.

And meanwhile, back in Iraq, more than 300 Iraqis die in just one day (April 18) and more than
30 American soldiers are killed, and dozens more wounded, in the space of only one week.

We'll take a look at some of Bush's recent speeches in the coming days...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bush : Beware Of Abnormal Behaviour

President Bush, talking about the spree killing slaughter at Virginia Tech warned that people should be on the lookout for behaviour that would be regarded as not normal :

President Bush said on Thursday that mass shootings are a reminder that people must be willing to raise a red flag about others' disturbing behavior.

"One of the lessons of these tragedies is to make sure that when people see somebody or know somebody who is exhibiting abnormal behavior, you do something about it, to suggest that somebody take a look," the president said during an appearance at a high school...

He said he didn't want to draw conclusions from the Virginia case because "they're still digging out the facts." But he suggested that concerns about privacy violations, while understandable, may be preventing people from taking needed action.

"If you are a parent and your child is, you know, doing strange things on the Internet, pay attention to it and not be afraid to ask for help and not be afraid to say 'I am concerned about what I am seeing," Bush said.

"I think it's very important for us not to comment until it's all said and done, but that other cases there have been warning signals - that if an adult for example had taken the signals seriously, perhaps tragedy could have been avoided."

Keep the laws that allow a mentally disturbed young man to buy enough guns and ammo to near effortlessly waste more than 30 students, but watch out for weird behaviour on the internet!
Bush The Dictator - The NeoCon Dream Comes Into Focus

Glenn Greenwald is a constant stone in the shoe of the President, and a writer who almost effortlessly infuriates the conservative media in the United States every single time he clatters his keyboard. He is also a great chronicler of the Bush administration, and its near ceaseless attempts to subvert the Constitution and impinge upon the rights of all Americans, beatin them over the head with a big stick called 'The War On Terror'.

'Bush The Dictator' is a vision that many on the American hard right joke about, and the fawners of the Rupert Murdoch's money pit, The Weekly Standard, often discuss in glowing terms. Not 'Bush The Dictator' as a good thing, but as a necessary thing. Which for the Weekly Standard is all but one and the same.

Greenwald, in this piece for Salon shreds Michael Golfarb from the Weekly Standard for claiming that "the framers" of the Constitution...sought an energetic executive with near dictatorial power
in pursuing foreign policy and war."

Writes Greenwald (excerpts) :
So apparently, the American Founders risked their lives and fortunes in order to wage war against Great Britain and declare independence from the King -- all in order to vest "near dictatorial power" in the American President in all matters of foreign policy and national security. And, of course, for the Michael Goldfarbs of the world, "war" and "national security" -- and the "near dictatorial power" vested in the President in those areas -- now encompasses virtually every government action, since scary and dangerous Muslims are lurking everywhere, on every corner, and the entire world is one big "battlefield" in the "War on Terrorism," including U.S. soil.

Until the Bill Kristols and John Yoos and other authoritarians of that strain entered the political mainstream, I never heard of prominent Americans who describe the power that they want to vest in our political leaders as "near dictatorial." Anyone with an even passing belief in American political values would consider the word "dictatorial" -- at least rhetorically, if not substantively -- to define that which we avoid at all costs, not something which we seek, embrace and celebrate. If there is any political principle that was previously common to Americans regardless of partisan orientation, it was that belief.

But The Weekly Standard has an agenda single-mindedly focused on the Middle East and Muslims that outweighs everything else, and nothing can impede that agenda -- certainly not something as comparatively unimportant as the American constitutional framework. That's why, to Goldfarb, there is nothing at all odd about advocating "near dictatorial power" vested in the President (at least the current President).

The notion that our Constitution vests anything like "near dictatorial power" in the President in any area -- let alone areas as broadly defined as "foreign policy and war" and "national security" -- is so utterly absurd that no response ought to be required. In his post, Goldfarb places a link over the phrase "near dictatorial power" which takes one to Federalist 70, which contains Alexander Hamilton's argument as to why powers assigned by the Constitution to the Executive ought to be vested in one individual rather than an executive council.

The fact that The Weekly Standard lies at the center of our mainstream political spectrum -- Bill Kristol's endless series of falsehoods throughout the Bush presidency and his endless calls for new wars against more countries was rewarded with a featured column in Time -- by itself explains political developments over the last six years which were previously unthinkable. The Bill Kristols are those who exert the most influence over this administration, and they simply do not believe in the defining political principles of this country.

One of the principal purposes of the Federalist Papers -- which Goldfarb obscenely cites as though it supports his twisted views of dictatorial omnipotence in America -- was to assuage widespread concerns (or, as Scalia put it, "mistrust") that the President would be, in essence, a new British King. That fear was not eliminated or even diminished, but instead was particularly pronounced, with regard to the President's role as "Commander-in-Chief," which is why there are so many safeguards in the form of Congressional powers designed to limit that role. All of this is excruciatingly basic and obvious, really not much beyond what seventh grade civics students are taught about what distinguishes a Republic from a "dictatorship."

America was founded to avoid the warped and tyrannical vision which The Weekly Standard and its comrades crave (and which they have spent the last six years pursuing and implementing). This group actually thinks that, right this very minute, we are at war with Iran and Syria -- and that the President can and should act accordingly against our "Enemies."

Theoretical disputes aside, Americans who believe in the defining political principals of this country ought to find the phrase "near dictatorial power" to be intrinsically repugnant. But The Weekly Standard and comrades don't believe in those principles, and hence can openly embrace that phrase. Although that is not exactly news, it is still always valuable to highlight when their declarations of what they really are find such explicit expression.
Perhaps The Weekly Standard abides by President Bush's own words :
If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator...
Even the most harshes of Bush's critics understand the president was joking when he said those words, back in December 2000.

The Weekly Standard seems to believe that he was not only serious, but that it should have become the president's chief reality pursuit.

The Spectacular Collapse Of The Bush Administration

Two stories about the disintegration of the Bush administration, under a hail of failure, internal corruption and fallout from the Iraq War. Bush's Attorney General is close to being forced to quit, the vice president will probably have impeachment papers filed against him in the coming days, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq appear to be going backwards, losing key allies and international support, as "surge" tactics do little to halt the horrific violence.

For the Republicans, this is the very worst of times. Eight years of Bush Co's arrogant and stubborn refusals to listen to expert advice, and the will of the people, helped to lose them Congress and now they fear an even bigger price will have to be paid.

They're growing more and more worried that the legacy of the Bush administration has already destroying their chances of keeping the White House republican in 2008, and will keep them out of the most powerful office in the land in 2012 as well.

The Democrats can't seem to do anything wrong, even though the view is widely held that their first three months in control of The Hill, has been "less than spectacular". The reason why is clear.

As Time magazine points out, a much bigger story is unfolding :

...the epic collapse of the Bush Administration.

The three big Bush stories of 2007--the decision to "surge" in Iraq, the scandalous treatment of wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for tawdry political reasons--precisely illuminate the three qualities that make this Administration one of the worst in American history: arrogance (the surge), incompetence (Walter Reed) and cynicism (the U.S. Attorneys).

Iraq comes first, as always. From the start, it has been obvious that personal motives have skewed the President's judgment about the war. Saddam tried to kill his dad; his dad didn't try hard enough to kill Saddam. There was payback to be had. But never was Bush's adolescent petulance more obvious than in his decision to ignore the Baker-Hamilton report and move in the exact opposite direction: adding troops and employing counterinsurgency tactics inappropriate to the situation on the ground.

As with Bush's invasion of Iraq, the decision to surge was made unilaterally, without adequate respect for history or military doctrine. Iraq was invaded with insufficient troops and planning; the surge was attempted with too few troops (especially non-Kurdish, Arabic-speaking Iraqis), a purposely misleading time line ("progress" by September) and, most important, the absence of a reliable Iraqi government.

Bush's indifference to reality in Iraq is not an isolated case. It is the modus operandi of his Administration.

On April 3, the President again accused Democrats of being "more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than providing our troops what they need." Such demagoguery is particularly outrageous given the Administration's inability to provide our troops "what they need" at the nation's premier hospital for veterans. The mold and decrepitude at Walter Reed are likely to be only the beginning of the tragedy, the latest example of incompetence in this Administration.

"This is yet another aspect of war planning that wasn't done properly," says Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "The entire VA hospital system is unprepared for the casualties of Iraq, especially the psychiatric casualties. A lot of vets are saying, 'This is our Katrina moment.' And they're right: this Administration governs badly because it doesn't care very much about governing."

Compared with Iraq and Walter Reed, the firing of the U.S. Attorneys is a relatively minor matter. It is true that U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President, but they are political appointees of a special sort. They are partisans, obviously, but must appear to be above politics--not working to influence elections, for example--if public faith in the impartiality of the justice system is to be maintained. Once again Karl Rove's operation has corrupted a policy area--like national security--that should be off-limits to political operators.

I've tried to be respectful of the man and the office, but the three defining sins of the Bush Administration--arrogance, incompetence, cynicism--are congenital: they're part of his personality. They're not likely to change. And it is increasingly difficult to imagine yet another two years of slow bleed with a leader so clearly unfit to lead.
In one of the most dramatic falls from grace in American presidential history, Bush has gone from an approval rating of more than 95%, post-9/11, to one that dips below 30% on a regular basis. For the Republicans who want to want to win in 2008, the unthinkable has become fact : President Bush is political poison.

From the New York Times :

Republican leaders across the country say they are growing increasingly anxious about their party’s chances of holding the White House, citing public dissatisfaction with President Bush, the political fallout from the war in Iraq and the problems their leading presidential candidates are having generating enthusiasm among conservative voters.

Republicans said they were concerned about signs of despondency among party members and fund-raisers, reflected in polls and the Democratic fund-raising advantage in the first quarter of the year. Many party leaders expressed worry that the party’s presidential candidates faced a tough course without some fundamental shift in the political dynamic.

Rick Beltram, a Republican county leader in Spartanburg, S.C., said that he found evidence of Republican despair as he sought to organize support for all the candidates as they visit his state, one of the most important in the Republican nominating process.

“I would say a lot of people are not turned on because they don’t see a lot of bright spots out there,” Mr. Beltram said. “Home prices are going down. Gas prices are going up. And the war keeps dragging on.”

Shawn Steele, the former Republican Party chairman in California, said the candidates were being dragged down by their associations with Mr. Bush as well as with the war. Mr. Steele and other Republicans argued that the candidates were in a difficult position as they tried to distance themselves from a president who is having so many difficulties, while at the same time not alienating Republican base voters and donors who remain loyal to Mr. Bush and his foreign policy.

“It’s a dying administration,” Mr. Steele said. “There’s a fatigue factor and there’s a rubbing-off when it’s not very smart to be closely associated with such low ratings.”

...even the most optimistic Republican officials said they thought Democrats were in a stronger position in a presidential race now than at any other time since 1996. They noted polls showing that an increasing number of Americans were calling themselves Democrats, as well as the fund-raising numbers from the first-quarter that showed the Democrats’ presidential field had raised $78 million, about $27 million more than the Republicans.

The biggest problem, several Republicans said, is the disparity between the level of enthusiasm on display among Democrats and that on the Republican side.

“You’re seeing a carryover of the energy and the enthusiasm and the momentum from the 2006 Democratic takeover,” said Representative Adam H. Putnam, Republican of Florida. “Momentum is an important force in sports and politics, and the momentum is clearly on their side.”

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bush Still Holds Upper Hand In Fight With Congress Over Iraq War Funding

The 'War At Home' Set To Grow Even Uglier As Bush Threatens To Veto Democrats Demands For Withdrawal Timetable

President Bush now acknowledges that Americans voted for a dramatic change in last year's mid-term elections on how the US goes about handling the war in Iraq. But Bush thinks this vote for change was answered by the "troop surge" plan first announced three months ago, which could see another 40,000 American troops mobilised and sent to Iraq within the year.

That is not exactly the kind of "change" Americans were voting for, and Bush knows it.

On Friday, during his weekly radio address, he again pummelled the Democrats over their delays in delivering the "emergency supplemental" bill to continue funding the Iraq War beyond July this year. The greatest holiday-taking president in history chastised Democrats for taking an extended Easter break and not coughing up the $100 billion of war funding fast enough.

The delay and the proposed timetables for withdrawal of American troops all play into the enemies' hands, claimed Bush, "giving our enemies the victory they desperately want."

Bush has agreed to meet with top Democrats this week to chew over the war-funding bill details, but Bush has already said he will veto any bill that includes timetables for withdrawals, or any firm markers of progress.

The president wants to keep the war money spigot turned on full, for as long as he can. The longer the money is guaranteed, the more time he has to turn around America's growing defeat in Iraq.

From CNN :
At Bush's invitation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are due at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the war, particularly a bill funding the military mission through September.

In both the House and Senate, Democrats have attached timelines for withdrawing troops to the bill containing $96 billion in military funding.

"Instead of approving this funding, Democrats in Congress have spent the past 68 days pushing legislation that would undercut our troops," (Bush) said in his weekly radio address. "They passed bills that would impose restrictions on our military commanders and set an arbitrary date for withdrawal from Iraq, giving our enemies the victory they desperately want."

In a statement, Reid, D-Nevada, responded: "Democrats are continuing to fight to fully fund our troops and give them a strategy for success worthy of their sacrifices. President Bush continues to insist that we follow his same failed strategy that has drawn our troops further into an intractable civil war."

"The longer Congress delays the worse the impact on the men and women of the armed forces will be," Bush said. "I recognize that Republicans and Democrats in Washington have differences over the best course in Iraq, and we should vigorously debate those differences. But our troops should not be trapped in the middle."

Both Bush and the Democrats have been arguing that the public is behind their position -- the president says Americans want success in Iraq, while Democrats argue voters backed an end to war when they put them in charge of Congress in the November elections.

On Saturday, the president agreed with Democrats that "the American people voted for change in Iraq." But he said that is what is happening now, under a new war plan he announced three months ago to send extra U.S. troops to Iraq to calm Baghdad and Anbar province and to install a new war commander, Gen. David Petraeus.

This Reuters report argues that the Democrats will clearly not cut off funding for America's troops in Iraq, so Bush, therefore, still holds "the upper hand" in the battle over war funding.

But Bush is running out of time to turn around the Iraq War :
Administration officials have set late summer as a possible benchmark to gauge whether 28,000 extra troops Bush has ordered to Iraq are succeeding in stemming chaos, particularly in Baghdad.

That is also a crucial time on the U.S. political calendar as candidates gear up for the 2008 election amid growing Republican fears they may face a further bruising after stinging defeats in last year's congressional races.

All three leading Republican presidential contenders, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, support Bush's Iraq policy. But McCain, struggling with sliding poll numbers and lackluster fund raising, has been the most outspoken supporter of the troop increase and appears to have paid a price.

"Bush is trying to use the bully pulpit of the presidency the way Clinton used it against the Republicans," said Stephen Wayne, professor of government at Georgetown University.

"The difference here is that public opinion is strongly formed against the war."

He said pressure on Bush to shift course on Iraq will build in coming months if signs of improvement do not materialize because more Republicans, including some of the presidential candidates, may abandon him. Eventually, this could force him to scale back the troop presence, Wayne said.

Polls show that a majority of Americans agree with Democrats that there should be a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

There are few military analysts who credibly claim that a major turnaround on the violence in Iraq will happen anytime before the 2008 presidential elections. It will take years, and no doubt dominate the first term of the next US president.

What is rarely discussed, at least openly in the media, is how the Bush administration and the Democrats, will deal with the growing anger of Americans over the continuation of the Iraq War.
It is slowly becoming a known reality to the tens of millions of anti-Iraq War Americans who voted the Dems back into control of Congress that the war will not be ending before Bush leaves the White House.

They will keep demanding their Democrat senators do something, and the senators will continue to blame Bush. But what will the American public do when they fully realise that the Iraq War will go on long after President Bush has left to open his library and work on his memoirs?

The Bush legacy on America will remain toxic for years to come, even if violence in Iraq drops substantially, and a staged withdrawal begins. It will infect and drag down the next administration, whether the president is a Democrat or Republican.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bush Ties To Osama Bin Laden, Via Bank, Examined

It's a startling claim, that there are strong ties between the Bush Dynasty and the Bin Laden empire, but it is certainly a fact that they members of both families have moved in the most elite circles of international business and influence.

The following is and excerpt from a new book called 'A Game As Old As Empire, by investigave journalist Lucy Komisar :

Now that the U.S. Congress is investigating the truth of President George W. Bush's statements about the Iraq war, they might look into one of his most startling assertions: that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

Critics dismissed that as an invention. They were wrong. There was a link, but not the one Bush was selling. The link between Hussein and Bin Laden was their banker, BCCI. But the link went beyond the dictator and the jihadist -- it passed through Saudi Arabia and stretched all the way to George W. Bush and his father.

BCCI was the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, a dirty offshore bank that then-President Ronald Reagan's Central Intelligence Agency used to run guns to Hussein, finance Osama bin Laden, move money in the illegal Iran-Contra operation and carry out other "agency" black ops. The Bushes also benefited privately; one of the bank's largest Saudi investors helped bail out George W. Bush's troubled oil investments.

BCCI was founded in 1972 by a Pakistani banker, Agha Hasan Abedi, with the support of Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi and head of the United Arab Emirates. Its corporate strategy was money laundering. It became the banker for drug and arms traffickers, corrupt officials, financial fraudsters, dictators and terrorists.

The CIA used BCCI Islamabad and other branches in Pakistan to funnel some of the $2 billion that Washington sent to Osama bin Laden's Mujahadeen to help fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. It moved the cash the Pakistani military and government officials skimmed from U.S. aid to the Mujahadeen. It also moved money as required by the Saudi intelligence services.

The BCCI operation gave Osama bin Laden an education in offshore black finance, which he would put to use when he organized the jihad against the United States. He would move money through the Al-Taqwa Bank, operating in offshore Nassau and Switzerland with two Osama siblings as shareholders.

At the same time, BCCI helped Saddam Hussein, funneling millions of dollars to the Atlanta branch of the Italian government-owned Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), Baghdad's U.S. banker, so that from 1985 to 1989 it could make $4 billion in secret loans to Iraq to help it buy arms.

U.S. congressman Henry Gonzalez held a hearing on BNL in 1992 during which he quoted from a confidential CIA document that said the agency had long been aware that the bank's headquarters was involved in the U.S. branch's Iraqi loans.

Kickbacks from 15 percent commissions on BNL-sponsored loans were channeled into bank accounts held for Iraqi leaders via BCCI offices in the Caymans as well as in offshore Luxembourg and Switzerland. BNL was a client of Kissinger Associates, and Henry Kissinger was on the bank's international advisory board, along with Brent Scowcroft, who would become George Bush Sr.'s national security advisor. That connection makes the Bush administration's surprise and indignation at "oil for food" payoffs in Iraq seem disingenuous.

Important Saudis were influential in the bank. Sheik Kamal Adham, brother-in-law of the late Saudi King Faisal, head of Saudi intelligence from 1963 to 1979, and the CIA's liaison in the area, became one of BCCI's largest shareholders. George Bush Sr. knew Adham from his time running the CIA in 1975.

Another investor was Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, who succeeded Adham as Saudi intelligence chief. The family of Khalid Salem bin Mahfouz, owner of the National Commercial Bank, the largest bank in Saudi Arabia, banker to King Fahd and other members of the ruling family, bought 20 percent to 30 percent of the stock for nearly $1 billion. Bin Mahfouz was put on the board of directors.

The Arabs' interest in the bank was more than financial. A classified CIA memo on BCCI in the mid-1980s said that "its principal shareholders are among the power elite of the Middle East, including the rulers of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, and several influential Saudi Arabians. They are less interested in profitability than in promoting the Muslim cause."

The Bushes' private links to the bank passed to Bin Mahfouz through Texas businessman James R. Bath, who invested money in the United States on behalf of the Saudi. In 1976, when Bush was the head of the CIA, the agency sold some of the planes of Air America, a secret "proprietary" airline it used during the Vietnam War, to Skyway, a company owned by Bath and Bin Mahfouz. Bath then helped finance George W. Bush's oil company, Arbusto Energy Inc., in 1979 and 1980.

When Harken Energy Corp., which had absorbed Arbusto (by then merged with Spectrum 7 Energy), got into financial trouble in 1987, Jackson Stephens of the powerful, politically connected Arkansas investment firm helped it secure $25 million in financing from the Union Bank of Switzerland. As part of that deal, a place on the board was given to Harken shareholder Sheik Abdullah Taha Bakhsh, whose chief banker was BCCI shareholder Bin Mahfouz.

Then, in 1988, George Bush Sr. was elected president. Harken benefited by getting some new investors, including Salem bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's half brother, and Khalid bin Mahfouz. Osama bin Laden himself was busy elsewhere at the time -- organizing al Qaeda.

The money BCCI stole before it was shut down in 1991 -- somewhere between $9.5 billion and $15 billion -- made its 20-year heist the biggest bank fraud in history. Most of it was never recovered. International banks' complicity in the offshore secrecy system effectively covered up the money trail.

But in the years after the collapse of BCCI, Khalid bin Mahfouz was still flush with cash. In 1992, he established the Muwafaq ("blessed relief") Foundation in the offshore Channel Islands. The U.S. Treasury Department called it "an al Qaeda front that receives funding from wealthy Saudi businessmen."

When the BCCI scandal began to break in the late 1980s, the Sr. Bush administration did what it could to sit on it. The Justice Department went after the culprits -- was virtually forced to -- only after New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau did. But evidence about BCCI's broader links exist in numerous U.S. and international investigations.

Now could be a good time to take another look at the BCC-Osama-Saddam-Saudi-Bush connection.
Certainly a challenge for the New York Times or the Washington Post, who you would expect to leap on such revelations, at least to examine them more closely, if not solely to dismiss them in virtual entirety. But you can bet the house that none of the above information will ever be followed-up by the investigative units of either of America's premier newspapers.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bush Loses Yet Another Ally

The White House Inner Circle Grows Ever Smaller

Will President Bush see out the last year of his presidency with only Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, his wife and his dogs as loyal allies?

Henry Kissinger, one of the 20th century's most hideous mass murderers, recently ducked for cover over the Iraq War, after telling Bush before and after the war began that history would view him as a great leader, a world changer, the bravest of the bravest leaders in modern history. Now Kissinger says the Iraq War "cannot be won, militarily".

While there seems to be no shortage of Republicans and NeoCon-aligned media jackals backtracking on their once utterly faithful support of the Iraq War, and now openly criticising the president for doing exactly what they wanted, cheered him, to do, it is the loss of close allies within Bush's inner circle that is doing untold damage to the president's confidence, his standing in old Washington power circles and his place in history. Historians always examine the inner circle of the leaders they're writing about, and weigh up the loyalties and commitment the core crew shows to their leader, through the good times and the bad.

The loss of key players in the Bush administration have been public, but few have come out and hit the media running hard with their criticisms writ large for all to see.

Two weeks ago, one Mathew Dowd became the latest Bush disciple to openly betray his messiah, a man he said he "fell in love with", during the early days of Bush's run for presidency in 1999. He became a key member of the Bush team "brain trust", along with Karl Rove.

It was Dowd who strategized the president's re-election campaign in 2004, and who concocted some of the most foul and odious dirty tricks of the entire campaign.

Now Dowd says, of course, that he was wrong, that his faith in the president was "misplaced". His betrayal of President Bush, in a blatantly open attempt to save what's left of his own reputation and professional life, is almost sickening to read.

But is Dowd trying to help the president by exposing the well-known fact that Bush is 'bubbled' by Cheney and Rove? Did he sacrifice his credibility to save his own skin, or to try and change the unfolding tragedy in Iraq, and in Washington?

If that was Dowd's aim, it seems to have made little difference. His very public abandonment of the sinking Bush ship caught a few headlines for a few days, but it has already been forgotten. Dowd is now just another Iraq War trumpeter who couldn't go the distance, or stay the course of his once so very strong belief, faith and admiration of President Bush.

Dowd actually claims that he considered joining anti-war marches, while he was still holed up inside the White House. The idea of a key Bush ally walking out of the White House and down to the Mall to shout 'Stop the fighting! Stop the War!" is beyond laughable, and may well be a key indicator of just how fantasy-driven his ultimate betrayal really is.

From the New York Times (excerpts) :

In a wide-ranging interview here, Mr. Dowd called for a withdrawal from Iraq and expressed his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s leadership.

He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a “my way or the highway” mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.

“I really like him, which is probably why I’m so disappointed in things,” he said. He added, “I think he’s become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in.”

In speaking out, Mr. Dowd became the first member of Mr. Bush’s inner circle to break so publicly with him.

“I’m a big believer that in part what we’re called to do — to me, by God; other people call it karma — is to restore balance when things didn’t turn out the way they should have,” Mr. Dowd said. “Just being quiet is not an option when I was so publicly advocating an election.”

Mr. Dowd’s journey from true believer to critic in some ways tracks the public arc of Mr. Bush’s political fortunes. But it is also an intensely personal story of a political operative who at times, by his account, suppressed his doubts about his professional role but then confronted them as he dealt with loss and sorrow in his own life.

In the last several years, as he has gradually broken his ties with the Bush camp, one of Mr. Dowd’s premature twin daughters died, he was divorced, and he watched his oldest son prepare for deployment to Iraq as an Army intelligence specialist fluent in Arabic. Mr. Dowd said he had become so disillusioned with the war that he had considered joining street demonstrations against it, but that his continued personal affection for the president had kept him from joining protests whose anti-Bush fervor is so central.

Mr. Dowd, 45, said he hoped in part that by coming forward he would be able to get a message through to a presidential inner sanctum that he views as increasingly isolated. But, he said, he holds out no great hope. He acknowledges that he has not had a conversation with the president.

He said he thought Mr. Bush handled the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks well but “missed a real opportunity to call the country to a shared sense of sacrifice.”

“When you fall in love like that,” he said, “and then you notice some things that don’t exactly go the way you thought, what do you do? Like in a relationship, you say ‘No no, no, it’ll be different.’ ”

He said he clung to the hope that Mr. Bush would get back to his Texas style of governing if he won. But he saw no change after the 2004 victory.

He said he came to believe Mr. Bush’s views were hardening, with the reinforcement of his inner circle. But, he said, the person “who is ultimately responsible is the president.” And he gradually ventured out with criticism, going so far as declaring last month in a short essay in Texas Monthly magazine that Mr. Bush was losing “his gut-level bond with the American people,” and breaking more fully in this week’s interview.

“If the American public says they’re done with something, our leaders have to understand what they want,” Mr. Dowd said. “They’re saying, ‘Get out of Iraq.’ ”

He added, “I do feel a calling of trying to re-establish a level of gentleness in the world.”

James Moore, of the Huffington Post, warns that Dowd should not be granted any sympathy. Moore titled his reaction to Dowd's exit this way :

'Why Dowd Is Still Scum' :
His as calculated as his decision to enlist in Bush's army of deception.

Dowd seems to believe that he can play a role in destroying families with an immoral war and then simply earn forgiveness by saying, "I'm sorry." Through two elections, he brought polling science, strategic thinking, and political advantage to a president determined to accumulate executive power by marginalizing the constitution, and now Dowd thinks expressing sensitivity and remorse in an interview with a newspaper will absolve him of his sins. It does not. And he ought not be trusted. He showed poor judgment by joining Bush and he is equally wrongheaded with his latest public admissions.

Attempting to reinvent himself through journalism, Matthew Dowd suggests he wants to be a part of "bringing gentleness to the world" and that he can see himself doing mission work in Africa or South America.

Unfortunately, he has already been a part of launching a horrific mission in Iraq and he still has not mustered the courage to work for peace.

Dowd's sudden introspection is probably a consequence of his own son's departure for Iraq as an intelligence officer fluent in Arabic. Perhaps, if Dowd and other Republicans supporting Bush's war had thought about the children of other families as much as they do their own, we might not be in Iraq.

Dowd is like every other backer of this conflict because he has not asked himself if it is important enough to risk his own child's life. If it is not a sufficiently strategically critical war to demand the service of Karl Rove's son Andrew, or Jenna and Barbara Bush, or Mark McKinnon's daughters, then it is not essential anyone else's children fight, either. Dowd finally knows this much, but too late for it to make him a man of either influence or consequence.

Dowd's attempt to portray himself as a victim of a betrayal is nonsense. He knew as well as anyone who Karl Rove and George Bush were and what was driving their vision and bipartisan cooperation was not a part of the tapestry of the tragic they were about to weave.

Bush had things to prove to his father. Rove wanted political power...Dowd was central to all of their goals. Dowd was Rove's chief lieutenant, in fact his only one, who helped Bush's Brain exploit polarization of the country for political gain. Dowd's insight was crucial in red flagging the shrinking group of independent voters and he helped create and then sharpen the wedges that Rove used to divide both the electorate and the country. Dowd is second only to Rove as a master technician pouring a poison into our democratic process.

Matthew Dowd is, after all, a pollster, and he knows what is coming. George W. Bush has destroyed the Republican Party and Rove may have inadvertently created a Democratic rather than Republican hegemony by facilitating the president's politics.

Dowd, though, is also a businessman and a consultant who has launched his own company. A Democrat turned Republican may have trouble in the political and economic climate to emerge by 2008. Dowd is doing what he and his GOP consorts have all done so well in recent years; he is positioning himself to be perceived as something other than that which he actually is in order to do well in the marketplace. Chasing after business is also exactly what he was doing when he went to work for Bush. In this regard, he is as deceitful in his mea culpa as he was when he abandoned his principles to labor for Bush.

Dowd..(cannot)...sufficiently atone for their part in our enduring domestic and international American horror. By working for this White House, they have made themselves warmongers and any apology from either of them is as self-serving as their original decisions to join the Bush team. A person does not get to set the world on fire and then drop their flamethrower and say, "I'm sorry."

They have done too much harm to expect our forgiveness.

A shattering final blow to Dowd's heart and head is served up here :

I’m tired of Republicans believing that, after destroying the country, all they have to say is “sorry” or "I didn't know Bush was such a right winger" and all should be forgiven.

Political elites who cite personal interactions with the real world as justification for their sudden reversals on issues are not sympathetic figures.

On the contrary, they only reinforce how out of touch the ruling class really is. This happens all the time, whether it is a right-wing, budget-cutting politician who suddenly becomes a passionate crusader against a disease when his family member contracts it, or whether it is a Vice President who decides that the one repudiation of his party’s right-wing will be on gay issues, now that America knows his daughter is gay.

Dowd’s mea culpa, in fact, is probably the best example. He implies that because his son, a soldier, is getting shipped off to Iraq, he now is firmly against the Iraq War. That he was for the war when the war didn’t affect his circle of friends and family suggests a sickening self-centeredness coursing through the American ruling class.

Only when elites are personally affected by their own draconian policies do we hear regret – but not a peep when those draconian policies hammer the faceless, unfamous masses.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis are killed, tens of thousands of American soldiers are killed and maimed, but Bush’s chief strategist only feels regret for the Iraq policy that he championed and that created all this bloodshed when his own son may be put on the line. Could the elitism be any more stark?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Revealed : How The NeoCons Tutor Their Most Prized Pupil

Bush's Favourite New Revisionist History Book Tells Him Violent Imperialism Is Good For America, And Good For The World

The Literary Luncheon Where The NeoCon Power Brokers Took Bush Back To School

President Bush began expressing doubts about the Project For A New American Century's (PNAC) plan to reshape the world via American militarism/imperialism when it became clear to him that the Iraq War was not working, sometime in mid-2004. Since then, it's taken a great deal of effort by key NeoCons to keep Bush on song.

PNAC was the Round Table of the NeoCons in the 1990s, and the key players went on to take key roles in the first George W. Bush administration, including vice-president and defence secretary. Other NeoCons filtered out into the media and think tanks from where they shouted down any and all opposition to the Iraq War, no matter how realistic or well-informed the opposing views were. Many of which, it should be noted, were far more accurate about how the Iraq War would turn out than the promises wailed from the rooftops by the NeoCon aligned media, and their echo-chambers across Coalition of the Willing nations.

One of the founding members of PNAC, Paul Wolfowitz, left the White House after barracking for the Iraq War and now holds an extremely influential position in global economic affairs as president of the US-controlled World Bank. He is now helping to indebt Iraqis for generations to come with a series of interest-and-conditions heavy WB loans for "development" of the oil and energy infrastructure.

The PNAC published a stream of documents and policies on how to reshape the world in America's image, and favour, during the late 1990s. There was a particular focus on ramping up defence spending to Cold War levels, so on that count the NeoCons can claim a monumental victory. Overthrowing Saddam Hussein was, of course, also one of their key plans.

So Bush did what they wanted, and what he honestly believed needed to be done, and began the Iraq War. It didn't turn out the way the NeoCons had promised him it would, and by late 2005 it was becoming clear the Iraqis were probably never going to build a statue honouring Bush in 'Freedom Square' (where Saddam's biggest statue once stood), and that the majority of Iraqis hated his guts, and blamed him for all the misery they were enduring.

Bush, as could be expected, got angry with the NeoCons and lost faith in their belief system of projecting military-backed imperialism into the heart of the Middle East. President Bush clearly believed and believes still that the world will be a better place if Iraqis are free and democratic. The NeoCons, however, never told the president the truth : it was total chaos across the entire Middle East that they were seeking; a millennial shake-up of Arab and Muslim power and influence and control of the world's most valuable fuel source.

Bush clearly believed he was doing the Right Thing in invading and occupying Iraq, and it's taken a lot of effort from the NeoCons to keep Bush away from the 'old friends' network of his father, who can see the war is destroying the United States, internally and externally. Robert Gates becoming defence secretary was a concession the NeoCons had no choice but to suffer.

To help get Bush back on the side of the NeoCons, and refocused on the PNAC view of how the 21st century should, and must, unfold, NeoCon-aligned 'historian' Andrew Roberts quickly wrote and published the book History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900.

It was the sort of book that was perfect for Bush. Straightforward, uncomplicated, lots of talk about his heroes, Churchill and Washington, and how their unshakable faith in their actions, despite the death and destruction all around, changed America and the world. For the better.

Naturally, Roberts' book got rave reviews in the hard right, ultra-conservative aligned media, which neon-signed to President Bush that this was a history book that he should take seriously. Roberts' book is a Volume-Goes-To-11 revisionist slab of NeoCon propaganda, but it said all the things that President Bush wanted to hear.

This is how Roberts himself sums up the book :
"(It) does not consider British imperialism to have been a Bad Thing, argues that the Versailles Treaty was not harsh enough on Germany, [and] defends the bombing of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki . . . . "
This article from Salon explains that President Bush took the Roberts book very seriously, and now regards it as one of his favourite historical texts. This is good news for the NeoCons, because the book helps Bush to stay focused on their plans and dreams, despite the national trauma spawned of the Iraq War. All the NeoCons need to do is remind Bush which chapter he can re-read to refresh himself on how America triumphed in its darkest days. Or at the very least, appeared to have triumphed.

President Bush liked the Roberts book so much, as the Salon article explains, he hosted a "literary luncheon" to honour the writer on February 28. The Salon article says accounts of the luncheon "really provide an amazing glimpse into the Bush mindset and his relationship with the neoconservatives."

The luncheon turned into a NeoCon One Day Refresher Course for the president. They taught him a series of Key NeoCon Lessons to bolster his faith in their plans, their ideologies and in himself. Bush must stick to the NeoCon program, and the lessons were all about reassuring him that was, and is, doing the right thing :

The most critical priority is to convince the President to continue to ignore the will of the American people and to maintain full-fledged loyalty to the neoconservative agenda, no matter how unpopular it becomes.

To do this, they have convinced the President that he has tapped into a much higher authority than the American people -- namely, God-mandated, objective morality -- and as long as he adheres to that (which is achieved by continuing his militaristic policies in the Middle East, whereby he is fighting Evil and defending Good), God and history will vindicate him...

Lesson One : "Cling to the alliance of the English-speaking people" :-

One of the key lessons is Roberts' view that the U.S. should be most concerned with its relationships with the other "English-speaking countries in the world," and not worry nearly as much about all those countries where they speak in foreign tongues.

But that "lesson" led Bush to bewilderingly wonder why there was such rising anti-Americanism all over the world, even in English-speaking countries such as England.

Anti-Americanism, the neoconservatives instructed Bush, is something he should just ignore. As long as he continues to follow neoconservatism, that is all that matters.

Nothing matters -- not the disapproval of the American people of the President's actions nor rising anti-Americanism around the world. He should simply ignore all of that and continue to obey the mandates of neoconservatism because that is what is Good and his God will be pleased.
Lesson Two : Sheer Force Of Will Can Overcome Wealth And Military Power. The Russian tsars, the Romans, a host of other rich nations collapsed under ceaseless attack because they "lacked the will to fight and survive". In the NeoCon Fantasy World Of History, it was that simple.

Lesson Three : "...intern our enemies for long, indefinite periods," because it worked during World War II, and it also worked in Ireland. The formula is First Victory, Then Release. Bush is not to worry about the fact that 'Victory', or anything even approaching it, is decades away, if it will ever be within reach at all.

Lesson Four : Appeasement is the Ultimate Evil. The enemies of the War on Terror will never be appeased, so why bother trying with negotiations, deals and diplomacy? As Metallica said 'Kill 'Em All!'

Lesson Five : Iran Iran Iran Iran Iran Iran Iran Iran :

...the neoconservatives left Bush with the overarching instruction -- namely, the only thing that he should concern himself with, the only thing that really matters, is Iran. Forget every other issue -- the welfare of the American people, every other region around the world -- except the one that matters most:

The closing note was a more serious one. Roberts said that history would judge the president on whether he had prevented the nuclearization of the Middle East. If Iran gets the bomb, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other countries will follow. "That is why I am so pleased to be sitting here rather than in your chair, Mr. President." There was no response, other than a serious frown and a nod.

Irving Kristol has written in the past about the need to exploit religious and moral concepts in order to manipulate the masses, and his intellectual North Star, Leo Strauss, has advocated -- as Strauss scholar Shadia Drury documented-- that "those in power must invent noble lies and pious frauds to keep the people in the stupor for which they are supremely fit" -- a view Kristol has endorsed.

One can see that dynamic powerfully at work in the interaction between these neoconservatives and the President. They have seized upon the President's evangelical fervor and equated his "calling" to wage war for Good in the world with the neoconservative agenda of endless wars in the Middle East.

And the more unpopular the President becomes as a result, the more of a failure these policies are, the more strongly they tell him to ignore all of that, that none of it matters, that his God and history will conclude that he did The Right Thing, provided that he continues steadfastly to pursue their agenda.

And the President believes that. That is why nothing will stop him in pursuing the path he created years ago when, in January, 2002, he became convinced to name not only Iraq, but also Iran, as standing members of the "Axis of Evil" (even though our relations with Iran were rapidly improving at the time) and cited the 9/11 attacks in order to all but vow war on those countries, despite their having nothing to do with those attacks.

The President's "lessons" at the feet of neoconservatives continue, and he is as faithful a student as ever.

Bush responded with "a frown and a nod" to a light-hearted joke about why it was good not to be in his chair. But the NeoCons built that chair for Bush, and it's getting mighty uncomfortable. You have to wonder if we're getting close to a last shake of the dice for the NeoCons influence over the Bush White House, not that there's much of it left. In days, resources, faith or allegiances.

Bush spends a lot of time thinking about his legacy. He has read three key biographies on Washington and he no doubt dreams that he will be remembered, in decades to come, as historically important as the man who defined what free America was to become. That's what the NeoCons keep telling Bush will happen to him, if only he goes all the way and finishes his part of The Plan and take out Iran.

But is Bush still listening to them? Or is he just playing the role of the attentive pupil?

The Bush Family dynasty is, or least it was, vastly bigger and far more powerful than the NeoCon movement could ever dream of being.

Yet it remains to be seen how the final act in the presidency of George W. Bush will play out. Iran will be the final show. The curtain has been raised, and the performers have taken to the stage. There will be no encore, but there will be a dramatic finale.

And that finale may well be that the Bush dynasty will crush and destroy the NeoCons, and dump the brutal, savage, insidious movement into the shit bucket of history where it belongs, well before President George W. Bush empties out the drawers of that magnificent Oval Office desk.

Recent history tells us that the destruction of the NeoCons has already well and truly begun.

The prized pupil might just have one more big surprise left for his teachers before he is done.

The Weekly Standard - The NeoCons' Pravda - Details An Extraordinary Literary Luncheon With President Bush

Sidney Bluthemal On The Lessons Bush Learned At The Roberts Luncheon

President Bush Says As Long As His Conscience Is Clear With God, It Doesn't Matter What Anybody Else Thinks