Friday, October 29, 2004

A Divided Nation, United In Shame

It's funny how these things work. The culpability of the Administration for failing to secure an Iraqi weapons depot has been conclusively established by videotape taken by an ABC news affiliate on April 18, 2003. After all the swift boat and national guard and "flip-flop" nonsense, this story that wasn't even on the radar until 8 days before the election will follow voters into the booth and confirm all their suspicions that the Administration's mulish refusal to send enough troops to Iraq permitted the rise of the insurgency and caused the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops. The belated disclosure of this consequence of Administration incompetence, a misdemeanor on a bill of particulars against this Administration bulging with capital offenses, will defeat the Deserter and deliver us from evil.

But the real scandal, the one that has inexorably built since the first bomb was dropped on Baghdad, will have negligible impact on the election and cause barely a ripple in the public consciousness. The real scandal is not the incompetence, but the policy that sought to subdue a popular insurgency by means of terror and mass aerial slaughter. A Johns Hopkins School of Health study concluded that 100,000 or more civilian Iraqis have been killed in the 18 months since the beginning of the war, most since "mission accomplished", most as a result of aerial bombardment. As I've noted before, the targeting may have been precise, but the blast radius was deadly. The Iraq/Vietnam analogy is now undeniably apt in one respect. The killing of 100,000 innocent people in 18 months is a rate of carnage that matches the barbarity of the "Rolling Thunder" that devastated Vietnam during our last descent into national insanity.

Is the killing of 100,000 innocent people justified by the risk that a country that had never threatened us might one day threaten us? Is it any better if the 100,000 are buried separately rather than in "mass graves"? Is the killing of 100,000 innocent Iraqis justified by the fact that we deposed a dictator who killed 100,000 innocent Iraqis more than a decade ago? If so, does it matter that there was no evidence of an ongoing atrocity in Iraq at the time we began bombing Baghdad? 100,000 deaths later, can one still maintain that the invasion of Iraq had anything to do with our concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people?

I will no longer volley idiocies such as the argument that it doesn't really matter if Iraq had the capacity to threaten us. I will no longer indulge in refutations of the rationalizations of our aggression offered by my wingnut friends. There are 100,000 innocent people who are dead because we deluded ourselves into believing that precise targeting or our innate humanity or putative good intentions could mitigate the effects of dropping bombs the size of SUVs on areas as densely populated as Manhattan and northwest D.C. There is too much of the element of sport in our little scrums now. Our effete, bloodless debates demean the enormity of this catastrophe.

I beg those of my wingnut friends who applauded the torture at Abu Ghraib and urged the levelling of Fallujah to show a little respect and restrain your delight at the Iraqi toll and your pride in the proficiency of our death machines. The 100,000 may have been Iraqis and muslims, and therefore presumptively terrorists in your eyes, but they were humans before we rained death upon them and reduced the vessels of their souls to carrion.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

This Is Important

I would ask my 'pub friends to read the following, and then answer these questions:

1. Do you believe the meeting took place?
2. Do you believe a decision by Jeb Bush to implement the flawed "felon purge list" is defensible, or is it evidence of an attempt by the Governor of Florida to improperly influence the election?
3. Is this something that needs to be investigated, and if it is, can the investigation wait until after Nov. 2nd?
4. Why should I trust the election results that come out of Florida in 16 days?

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune is in possession of a May 4, 2004 e-mail in which a State of Florida tech-type working on the infamous Florida "felon purge list" informs a colleague that the top tech-type in FL had advised Jeb Bush in May that the purge list had the problems that ultimately led to it being junked in July, after the problems were publicly disclosed, but that Bush ordered that the purge list be nonetheless implemented. Just this morning Jeb Bush denied that any such meeting ever took place.

This is how the AP reported it:
The e-mail said state election officials "weren't comfortable with the felon matching program they've got," but added, "The Gov rejected their suggestion to pull the plug, so they're 'going live' with it this weekend."
The writer of the e-mail identified the person who informed him of Jeb's decision as Paul Craft, the FL dept. of state's top computer expert. When the Sarasota H-T attempted to contact Craft by telephone, Craft hung up. If the meeting between Bush and Craft didn't take place, why didn't Craft say so? If the meeting didn't occur, why didn't Craft explain that the e-mail writer was mistaken? It's not clear why Craft didn't debunk the meeting story, but it's perfectly understandable why he would hang-up. Mr. Craft must realize that his job, and more, is on the line if he crosses the Bush family.

It is apparent that Jeb Bush was informed in May that the voter purge list would purge large numbers of black voters (who tend to vote dem) but almost no hispanics (who tend to vote 'pub in FL), because the purge list methodology required a perfect match between the race designation on the criminal record and the race designation on the voter registration records. The problem is that one or the other set of records (I forget which) generally didn't have a "hispanic" category, while the other set of records did, and accordingly in most cases hispanics were categorized as caucasians in one set of records. That's not a match, and accordingly hispanics weren't being included on the purge list and therefore would remain on the voter rolls even though they plainly should have been purged. Jeb Bush was informed of this in May 2004 according to this e-mail, but ordered that the purge list be implemented anyway.

This is precisely the kind of circumstance that obtained so often during the Clinton blow job scandal. Credible information confirming the culpability of an elected official would be presented, and frequently corroborated by documentary evidence (such as the May 4, 2004 e-mail detailing the meeting with Jeb), and yet the party faithful would stand by their man out of blind partisanship, at grievous cost to political comity and therefore our democracatic processes. I found the evidence of Clinton's deceit credible, and repeatedly called on Clinton to come clean, present his case to the public and trust the good judgment of the electorate. Clinton, rather than lying about Monica, should have said "yeah, I was blown by this girl - I fucked up, but the 'pubs aren't gonna lynch me." My 'pub friends similarly demanded the truth. It is time again for them to demand the truth. The integrity of our democracy is at stake. If this meeting took place, and Jeb nonetheless ordered the implementation of this defective purge list, it is imperative that we begin planning immediately for independent oversight of the election in Florida.

I don't want to hear the spin, or the Jeb Bush defense counsel response. It's time for my 'pub friends to step up, just like they did when credible evidence of Clinton's deceit was produced. I really want my 'pub friends to explain to me why I should trust the election results that come out of Florida in a few weeks, and why I should trust the Governor of Florida. I want my 'pub friends to explain to me why Jeb Bush should not be forced to resign from office today. This is no time for the usual partisan bullshit. I want someone to convince me that the democracy incessantly invoked by our president to justify the sacrifice of our troops' lives in Iraq is not being systematically subverted by his brother and his party.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

What A Dick. What A Lynne.

Our rightwing friends have been shouting at me through their cable news megaphones all day, telling me that John Kerry's reference to Mary Cheney was part of a sleazy campaign agenda, a cynical ploy to crudely exploit a sensitive issue for political gain.

Part of a campaign agenda? Exploitative? Cynical?

Let me tell you about cynical and exploitative. Cynical is proposing an amendment to the constitution to ban gay marriage, in full knowledge that it cannot pass, dividing the nation with a vulgar and meretricious appeal to prejudice for nothing more than partisan political gain. Exploitative is pursuing Rove's grand scheme to inflame that part of your base that considers homosexuality an abomination, and, unlike John Kerry, considers homosexuals children of a lesser god.

I want to be clear on the difference between an amendment to the Constitution and legislation, such as the Defense of Marriage Act. Legislation evinces the will of the majority, the exercise of the political will of the people at a given moment in time, as inconstant and ill-advised as such will may be. But an amendment to the constitution elevates issue to principle, and renders it beyond the ambit of the rabble, the majority be damned. Thus is your right to freedom of speech imbued with constitutional inviolability, even if every son of a bitch in the country disagrees with what you have to say, as long as five of nine old bastards in black robes can still glean the plain import of the 45 words of the First Amendment.

But what is an amendment that, rather than gaurantying a right to all (and most significantly, to the minority), enisles a minority and refuses it a right granted to all others? Man, that's as profound a stigma as the polity can attach to a minority. The proposal to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage said, in effect, "the union of two of the same gender is such an affront to decency that it is forbade, even if every living soul in a state desires passionately to grant such union the imprimatur of that state." This is no mere pruning of the "full faith and credit" clause, such as that effected by the lamentable Defense of Marriage Act. This pernicious amendment proposed by our President and his party would accord the stigmatization of homosexuals the same dignity as the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage. This amendment would smuggle into the noblest document yet conceived by man a low and invidious "right" that cheapens the constitutional rights consecrated by blood at Gettysburg, Normandy, Khe Sanh and Baghdad. I would sooner put Saddam's lapidary likeness on Mount Rushmore than so defile the Constitution.

Lynne found John Kerry's remarks about her daughter, in which Kerry counted lesbians among "all god's children", to be "cheap and tawdry." You want cheap and tawdry? Cheap and tawdry is our President treating the Constitution of the United States as toilet paper, a cheap prop in his farcical campaign, and wiping his Texan ass with the sanctified parchment - our Constitution - just so he can scare up a few more votes from the haters.

That's cynical and exploitative. That's cheap and tawdry.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Cheney Of Fools

For much of the day the lead story at the websites of the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC and CNN has been Bremer's less than earthshaking admission that there weren't enough troops in Iraq to secure the country.

I suppose they would justify the prominent play given the Bremer story by arguing that this is the first acknowledgment from anyone affiliated with the Administration that what has been so obvious for so long is, in fact, true. However, it's clear to me that the huge coverage of Bremer's truthful indiscretion is attributable to the "naked emperor" effect: the Deserter's manifestly delusional depiction of Iraq has rendered him without his raiments and, given his naked deceit, it is now permissible to observe the obvious.

Like liberated genies and discharged toothpaste, you can't undo this. The revelation that the our top man in Baghdad deemed troop deployments insufficient will require yet another lie from Cheney tonight. How many can he squeeze into 90 minutes before good Americans are filled with revulsion?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The First Article Of Impeachment

It reads like a brief in support of an article of impeachment. From today's New York Times:

"On Sept. 13, The Times made the first public mention of the [aluminum] tubes debate in the sixth paragraph of an article on Page A13. In it an unidentified senior administration official dismissed the debate as a "footnote, not a split." Citing another unidentified administration official, the story reported that the "best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the C.I.A. assessments."

"As a senior Oak Ridge official pointed out to the Intelligence Committee, "the vast majority of scientists and nuclear experts" in the Energy Department's laboratories in fact disagreed with the agency. But on Sept. 13, the day the article appeared, the Energy Department sent a directive forbidding employees from discussing the subject with reporters."
There were two assessments. One was crafted to Administration specifications and conveniently reached the Administration's desired conclusion. The other assessment contradicted the Administration's assessment and dismantled the Administration's case with devastating efficiency. The contrary assessment was confirmed on January 10, 2003 when U.N. weapons inspectors found the very same variety of tubes in Iraqi rockets - the likely intended use cited by the contrary assessment. The Administration nonetheless continued to rely on the discredited assessment and took us to war. The contrary, and accurate, assessment was muzzled.

The Administration will explain to us that there are always different analyses, different assessments. The Administration will imply that the choice of one or the other is arbitrary, and that there is no basis for judging the relative merits of two widely varying assessments. The Administration will not acknowledge that one assessment was objectively flawed.

Finally, the Administration will not acknowledge that yet again the assessment they relied upon was wrong, was never credible, was denounced by the nation's foremost experts and, all in all, constituted another fraud perpetrated on the American people.

I urge everyone to read the NYT article. A heinous crime has been committed, and we (as well the Iraqi people) are all victims.