The return of politics

At last, Americans are asking whether their government did enough to protect them on September 11:

“Normal service has resumed. After eight months off the air, American politics is back. Republicans are once more hurling abuse at Democrats, Democrats are slamming Republicans, while Capitol Hill and the White House have returned to their traditional posture: at loggerheads. At long last, the September 11 bubble of bipartisan consensus – in which even to question the Bush administration’s war against terrorism was seen as unpatriotic – has burst.” Guardian UK

Infiltration must end to avoid war: Powell sees a way out of crisis: ‘The secretary said he could not predict how close Pakistan and India were to war, but “what we’re trying to do is make sure they never reach that point. We are pressing President Musharraf very hard to cease all infiltration activities on the part of terrorist organizations across the Line of Control, and we are asking the Indians to show restraint until we can determine whether or not that infiltration activity has ceased”.’  Pakistan Dawn

Eminem’s Martyr Complex:

With his new album, though, that mix of social realism and hyperbole?in his hands, an original and combustible compound?has given way to the paranoid delusional. The ranting and the essaying are no longer concerned only or even mostly with the middle-school id of his alter ego, Slim Shady, or with the troubled youth of Marshall Mathers and his issues with class, race, his ex, Kim, his father, and his mother (although the album’s only knockout song, “Cleaning Out My Closet,” is a howling lament about his mom). Now it’s largely about Eminem, the pop star, who seems to have confused celebrity with political and social potency. He would have you believe?he himself wants to believe?that he has such terrifying authority among the young and restless that mainstream America has got to bring him down. Eminem’s developed a martyr complex. Slate

Defense Secretary

The peculiar duplicity of Ari Fleischer: “…(W)hat Fleischer does, for the most part, is not really spin. It’s a system of disinformation–blunter, more aggressive, and, in its own way, more impressive than spin. Much of the time Fleischer does not engage with the logic of a question at all. He simply denies its premises–or refuses to answer it on the grounds that it conflicts with a Byzantine set of rules governing what questions he deems appropriate. Fleischer has broken new ground in the dark art of flackdom: Rather than respond tendentiously to questions, he negates them altogether.” The New Republic

Nicholas Kristof:

Liberal Reality Check: “It’s time for civil libertarians to examine themselves with the same rigor with which we are prone to examine others.

As we gather around F.B.I. headquarters sharpening our machetes and watching the buzzards circle overhead, let’s be frank: There’s a whiff of hypocrisy in the air.

One reason aggressive agents were restrained as they tried to go after Zacarias Moussaoui is that liberals like myself — and the news media caldron in which I toil and trouble — have regularly excoriated law enforcement authorities for taking shortcuts and engaging in racial profiling. As long as we’re pointing fingers, we should peer into the mirror…”

NY Times op-ed

"There is a firestorm coming…

…and it is being provoked by Mr Bush”, says Robert Fisk:

So now Osama bin Laden is Hitler. And Saddam Hussein is Hitler. And George Bush is fighting the Nazis. Not since Menachem Begin fantasised to President Reagan that he felt he was attacking Hitler in Berlin – his Israeli army was actually besieging Beirut, killing thousands of civilians, “Hitler” being the pathetic Arafat – have we had to listen to claptrap like this. But the fact that we Europeans had to do so in the Bundestag on Thursday – and, for the most part, in respectful silence – was extraordinary.

I’m reminded of the Israeli columnist who, tired of the wearying invocation of the Second World War to justify yet more Israeli brutality, began an article with the words: “Mr Prime Minister, Hitler is dead.” Must we, forever, live under the shadow of a war that was fought and won before most of us were born? Do we have to live forever with living, diminutive politicians playing Churchill (Thatcher and, of course, Blair) or Roosevelt? “He’s a dictator who gassed his own people,” Mr Bush reminded us for the two thousandth time, omitting as always to mention that the Kurds whom Saddam viciously gassed were fighting for Iran and that the United States, at the time, was on Saddam’s side. Independent UK

Boomtown, U.S.A.: a portrait of the factory in McAlester, Oklahoma, where they make virtually 100% of the non-nuclear bombs in the U.S. arsenal.  Fast Company

E-Mail Scam Cites Afghanistan Soldier. Just when I was getting comfortable waiting for my money to start rolling in from ‘the Nigerian email scam’ — these days I’m responding to two or three such opportunities I’m offered every week, all from relatives of deposed multimillionaire despots or at least oil ministers! — here comes an interesting, novel twist on the con…

Peter Erlinder, law professor and former president of the National Lawyers’ Guild, says that the Patriot Act’s supposed justification is gone and calls upon Congress for its repeal. This is the least tedious offshoot of the ‘Bush knew’ debate I’ve read yet. If the attacks should not have been ‘unexpected’ with existing intelligence practices, then the Justice Dept’s vast power grab at the expense of civil liberties to prevent future terrorist attacks is based on a lie.