"If they’re resorting to blatant distortions and untruths this quickly they must not have a good defense."

Josh Marshall reflects on Cheney’s rejoinder to Clarke’s allegations. I agree, it is more of an indictment of the administration than a defense. Cheney, on Rush Limbaugh’s show, claims that Clarke was ‘out of the loop’ on counterterrorism, having moved over to cyberterrorism, one of his pet projects. Cheney conveniently neglects to tell us that it was not until after Sept. 11th that this happened. But let’s ignore this for a moment. As Marshall points out, Clarke was counterterrorism coordinator at the NSC and, if he was ‘out of the loop’, that says something pretty profound about the failure of interagency communication in the Bush dysadministration. The closer we look, the more corroboration there is for the thesis I keep reminding you Seymour Hersh first laid out around the Uraniumgate lies that laid the groundwork for the Iraq invasion — that the Bush team, and particular Cheney’s office, were so intent on hearing what they wanted to that they intimidated, marginalized, ignored and supplanted the entire intelligence analysis apparatus of the country, and ever since then have been scapegoating the ‘faulty intelligence’.

By the way, Marshall does not comment on the other discrediting strategy that is evident in Cheney’s counterattack:

“…the only thing I can say about Dick Clarke is he was here throughout those eight years going back to 1993, and the first attack on the World Trade Center in ’98 when the embassies were hit in east Africa, in 2000 when the USS Cole was hit, and the question that out to be asked is, what were they doing in those days when they — when he was in charge of counterterrorism efforts?”

So now they can neatly have it both ways. Clarke doesn’t know what he’s talking about regarding counterterrorism, and he is responsible for its earlier failures. C’mon, Dick, wouldn’t it have been easier to manufacture evidence that says Clarke was fully ‘in the loop’ but blames him for being alseep at the wheel? That shouldn’t be too hard for a man with your capacity to distort the truth.

And, as Marshall also points out, who at the New York Times must the Bush Leaguers have in their pocket to insure that Judith Miller would do their coverage of Clarke? She misstates Clarke’s thesis, devotes little space to the particulars, and gives free rein to White House counterstatements.

Miller hasn’t been publishing as much of late. And someone needs to clue her into the revised rules. It’s been at least a few months since reporters have willingly published demonstrably false statements from administration officials and spokespersons.

Ask Bush to Stand Up to a Real Debate

“In the face of an extremely negative campaign, Senator Kerry has asked President Bush to engage in a series of monthly debates on the country’s future — debates on the real substance of the issues that face us. It’s a simple proposal that could elevate the campaign and truly educate the country about the positions and records of each candidate. But President Bush’s campaign brushed off the suggestion with a snide remark. That’s why we’re asking:

‘President Bush, please stand up to real debates on the issues that face our country.’” —MoveOn

Crawford Do’s and Don’t’s

Protests, Even Buttons, Verboten: “If you’re ever thinking about going down to Crawford, Texas, to protest against Bush, beware.

The police do not take kindly to demonstrators there–or legal observers, for that matter.

And even if you’re just wearing an anti-Bush button, you could get arrested.

That’s the message a local jury sent last month.” —Alternative Press Review

Pouring Gasoline on the Fire

“Israeli aircraft attacked and killed Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader and founder of Hamas and Israel’s top target, as he was pushed in a wheelchair from morning prayers at a Gaza City mosque early Monday, according to announcements blared over mosques across the city.

…Israeli AH-64 Apache helicopters fired three missiles at Yassin just outside the mosque, killing the partially blind and paralyzed Hamas leader, along with seven other people, including three bodyguards…” —Washington Post Commentators left and right state that this is ‘the end of the peace process’. Pardon me, but what peace process is that? It is arguable that, relative to the Hamas fanatics, Ahmed Yassin was a moderate, restraining their fury, which will henceforth be unbounded. But Sharon has been spoiling for that…

The Ring of truth

“Sagas are back – if they ever went away. The National Theatre has a sell-out on its hands with an adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials; Peter Jackson’s film trilogy of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has won record audiences and Oscars; and on Friday night at London’s Coliseum, there wasn’t an empty seat for English National Opera’s performance of Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold.

We are rediscovering the compelling attraction of those alternative, mythical universes peopled by demons, pagan forces of awesome power, warrior armies of mutant human beings, spells and curses against which the heroes battle.

The English tradition, exemplified by Tolkien and Pullman, is one where, on the whole, we know good will finally triumph over evil and whatever the tribulations, the identifiable hero or heroine will win in the end. This is the reason video-game software writers find such literature a treasure trove.

But Wagner doesn’t do good and evil quite so easily; he both revolts and attracts simultaneously, although even his sternest critic has to acknowledge that he is the composer of some of the most transcendent and original music ever written. Yes, he is quarrying the same mine of myth as Tolkien and Pullman; Das Rheingold ‘s characters could have come straight from Northern Lights or the Two Towers. But there are no forces of unambiguous good or bad. Every character is compromised by some combination of lust, quest for power and uncertainty about its moral compass…” —Guardian.UK

What Went Wrong?

“The son of a prominent Boston doctor, David Arndt was on his way to becoming a leading surgeon in his own right when a bizarre blunder interrupted his climb: He left his patient on the operating table so he could cash his paycheck. A series of arrests followed, exposing a life of arrogance, betrayal, and wasted promise, leaving only one question left to answer: What Went Wrong?” Less interesting for me than the (actually prosaic) story of Dr. David Arndt’s downfall is the stab at placing it in this context:

“This is not a great time to be a doctor. More than 40 percent of physicians surveyed in 2001 said they wouldn’t go into medicine if they had to do it over again. With increased productivity demands and a tightening financial squeeze, doctors are under tremendous stress, and more of them are turning to drugs and alcohol for relief. An estimated 8 to 14 percent of physicians have a substance abuse problem. In Massachusetts, surgeons are among the most affected.

Fromson ticks off the warning signs: verbally abusive behavior, tardiness, unexcused absences, inappropriate sexual behavior. The signs of strain tend to come first in a doctor’s personal life. ‘When things happen at the workplace,’ he says, ‘usually they have been going on for a long time.’ Even then, he says, the problem may not be confronted, because most doctors are self-employed and only loosely supervised, and hospital management is often hesitant to call doctors on questionable behavior for fear that they will take their patient base to a hospital across town.

All of this means a doctor’s substance abuse problem can go unchecked and then trigger a downward spiral.” —Boston Globe Magazine

Howard Zinn’s History Lessons

Michael Kazin in Dissent, on A People’s History of the United States: “Zinn’s big book is quite unworthy of such fame and influence. A People’s History is bad history, albeit gilded with virtuous intentions. Zinn reduces the past to a Manichean fable and makes no serious attempt to address the biggest question a leftist can ask about U.S. history: why have most Americans accepted the legitimacy of the capitalist republic in which they live?

His failure is grounded in a premise better suited to a conspiracy-monger’s Web site than to a work of scholarship. According to Zinn, ’99 percent’ of Americans share a ‘commonality’ that is profoundly at odds with the interests of their rulers. And knowledge of that awesome fact is ‘exactly what the governments of the United States, and the wealthy elite allied to them-from the Founding Fathers to now-have tried their best to prevent.’

History for Zinn is thus a painful narrative about ordinary folks who keep struggling to achieve equality, democracy, and a tolerant society, yet somehow are always defeated by a tiny band of rulers whose wiles match their greed. He describes the American Revolution as a clever device to defeat ‘potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership.’ His Civil War was another elaborate confidence game. Soldiers who fought to preserve the Union got duped by ‘an aura of moral crusade’ against slavery that ‘worked effectively to dim class resentments against the rich and powerful, and turn much of the anger against ‘the enemy.”

… From the 1960s onward, scholars, most of whom lean leftward, have patiently and empathetically illuminated such topics-and explained how progressive movements succeeded as well as why they fell short of their goals. But Zinn cares only about winners and losers in a class conflict most Americans didn’t even know they were fighting.”

You can save the endangered midlist author

‘Jane Austen Doe’ in Salon: “If you’re outraged because you’d rather live in a world of farmer’s markets and local bookstores than a world of Wal-Marts and Bland & Ignoble superstores, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Patronize independent bookstores. They sell online too. To find and/or order from the nearest one, go to Booksense. What you ‘save’ at chain and online bookstores isn’t worth what you lose.
  2. Read, buy, and tell your friends about non-blockbuster books. Attend readings by non-blockbuster authors.
  3. Encourage the institutions you deal with — schools, churches, book groups, professional organizations — to buy books from independent bookstores. Most offer substantial institutional discounts, and all of them — unlike Amazon and other online product pushers — pay taxes in your community.
  4. Read. Think. Enjoy and create culture. Encourage your friends, children, and politicians to do the same.
  5. 5. Support funding for the arts; fight like hell when moves are made to axe what little of it is left.”

The Anxiety of (Sexual) Influence

Laura Kipnis, author of Against Love: A Polemic, considers the Wolf-Bloom brouhaha and asks, “Are onetime “unwanted advances” really a feminist issue? …unwanted advances often border on the ridiculous. In lieu of these damsel-in-distress narratives, how about laughter? A little ridicule goes a long way. The power actually doesn’t flow in only one direction in these encounters, nor does the vulnerability, even when the professional roles are—gasp!—asymmetrical. Sisters are powerful too, even more so when armed with a sense of humor.” —Slate