What a dark place your world must be, Mr Gingrich. Where the way to save America is to destroy America. I will awaken every day of my life thankful I am not with you in that dark place. And I will awaken every day of my life thankful that you are entitled to tell me about it. And that you are entitled to show me what an evil idea lurks there and what a cynical mind. And that you entitled to do all that thanks to the very freedoms you seek to suffocate."Link.
And finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment about free speech, failed speakers, and the delusion of grandeur.
"This is a serious long term war," the man at the podium cried, "and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country."
Some, in the audience, must have thought they were hearing an arsonist give the keynote address at a convention of firefighters.
This was the annual Loeb First Amendment Dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire — a public cherishing of Freedom of Speech — in the state with the two-fisted motto "Live Free Or Die."
And the arsonist at the microphone, the former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, was insisting that we must attach an "on-off button" to Free Speech.
He offered the time-tested excuse trotted out by our demagogues, since even before the Republic was founded: widespread death, of Americans, in America, possibly at the hands of Americans.
But updated, now, to include terrorists… using the internet for recruitment… end result, quote "losing a city."
The Colonial English defended their repression with words like these.
And so did the Slave States.
And so did the policemen who shot strikers.
And so did Lindbergh's America-First crowd.
And so did those who interned Japanese-Americans.
And so did those behind the Red Scare.
And so did Nixon's Plumbers.
The genuine proportion of the threat is always irrelevant.
The fear the threat is exploited to create… becomes the only reality.
"We will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find," Mr. Gingrich continued about terrorists formerly Communists formerly Hippies formerly Fifth Columnists formerly Anarchists formerly Redcoats.
"….to break up their capacity to use the internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech."
Mr. Gingrich, the British 'broke up our capacity to use free speech' in the 1770's.
The pro-slavery leaders 'broke up our capacity to use free speech' in the 1850's.
The FBI and CIA 'broke up our capacity to use free speech' in the 1960's.
It is in those groups where you would have found your kindred spirits, Mr. Gingrich.
Those who had no faith in freedom, no faith in this country, and, ultimately, no faith even in the strength of their own ideas, to stand up on their own legs, without having the playing-field tilted entirely to their benefit.
"It will lead us to learn," Gingrich continued, "how to close down every website that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear and biological weapons."
That we have always had 'a very severe approach' to these people is insufficient for Mr. Gingrich's ends.
He wants to somehow ban the idea.
Even though everyone who has ever protested a movie or a piece of music or a book has learned the same lesson:
Try to suppress it, and you only validate it.
Make it illegal, and you make it the subject of curiosity.
Say it cannot be said - and it will instead be screamed.
And on top of the thundering danger in his eagerness to sell out freedom of speech, there is a sadder sound, still — the tinny crash of a garbage can lid on a sidewalk.
Whatever dreams of internet-censorship float like a miasma in Mr. Gingrich's personal swamp, whatever hopes he has of an Iron Firewall, the simple fact is — technically, they won't work.
As of tomorrow they will have been defeated by… a free computer download.
Mere hours after Gingrich's speech in New Hampshire, the University of Toronto announced it had come up with a program called "Psiphon" to liberate those, in countries in which the internet is regulated…
Places like China, and Irahn, where political ideas are so barren, and political leaders so desperate, that they put up computer firewalls to keep thought and freedom out.
The "Psiphon" device is a relay of sorts that can surreptitiously link a computer user in an imprisoned country to another in a free one.
The Chinese think the wall works, yet the ideas — good ideas, bad ideas, indifferent ideas, pass through anyway.
The same way the Soviet Bloc, was defeated by the images of Western Material Bounty.
If your hopes of thought-control can be defeated, Mr. Gingrich, merely by one computer whiz staying up an extra half hour and devising a new "firewall hop," what is all this apocalyptic hyperbole for?
"I further think," you said in Manchester, "We should propose a Geneva convention for fighting terrorism, which makes very clear that those who would fight outside the rules of law, those who would use weapons of mass destruction, and those who would target civilians are in fact subject to a totally different set of rules, that allow us, to protect civilization by defeating barbarism…"
Well, Mr. Gingrich, what is more 'massively destructive' than trying to get us, to give you our freedom?
And what is someone seeking to hamstring the First Amendment doing, if not "fighting outside the rules of law"?
And what is the suppression of knowledge and freedom, if not "barbarism"?
The explanation, of course, is in one last quote from Mr. Gingrich from New Hampshire… and another, from last week.
"I want to suggest to you," he said about these internet restrictions, "that we right now should be impaneling people to look seriously at a level of supervision that we would never dream of if it weren't for the scale of the threat."
And who should those "impaneled" people, be?
Funny I should ask, isn't it, Mr. Gingrich?
"I am not 'running' for president," you told a reporter from Fortune Magazine. "I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."
Newt Gingrich sees, in terrorism, not something to be exterminated, but something to be exploited.
It's his golden opportunity, isn't it?
'Rallying a nation,' you might say, 'to hysteria, to sweep us up into the White House with powers that will make Martial Law seem like anarchy.'
That's from the original version of the movie "The Manchurian Candidate" - the chilling words of Angela Lansbury's character, as she first promises to sell her country to the Chinese and Russians, then reveals she'll double-cross them, and keep all the power herself, waving the flag every time she subjugates another freedom.
Within the frame of our experience as a free and freely argumentative people, it is almost impossible to conceive that there are those among us, who might approach the kind of animal-wildness of fiction like that — those who would willingly transform our beloved country into something false and terrible.
Who among us can look to our own histories, or those of our ancestors who struggled to get here, or who struggled to get freedom after they were forced here, and not teer up when we reed Frederick Douglass's words from a century-and-a-half ago: "Freedom must take the day"?
And who among us can look to our collective history, and not see its turning points — like the Civil War, like Watergate, like the Revolution itself — in which the right idea defeated the wrong idea on the battlefield that is the marketplace of ideas?
But apparently there are some of us who cannot see, that the only future for America is one that cherishes the freedoms won in the past, one in which we vanquish bad ideas with better ones, and in which we fight for liberty by having more liberty, not less.
"I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."
What a dark place your world must be, Mr. Gingrich, where the way to save America, is to destroy America.
I will awaken every day of my life thankful I am not with you in that dark place.
And I will awaken every day of my life thankful that you are entitled to tell me about it.
And that you are entitled to show me what an evil idea it represents — and what a cynical mind.
And that you are entitled to do all that, thanks to the very freedoms, you seek to suffocate.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
The Bush administration is re-evaluating its efforts to unite Iraq's fractious sectarian and political factions in an attempt to preserve U.S. options in Iraq no matter what happens, officials familiar with an internal administration review of Iraq policy said Friday.Link.
Can't re-evaluate without having had evaluated first, huh? I suppose question is when did Our Leaders evaluate?
Thursday, November 30, 2006
What do you call a problem like escalating sectarian violence in Iraq?Link.
“A civil war,” said Matt Lauer on the Today show on Nov. 27.
“To be honest with you, I think it’s a political statement, not a news judgment,” said Rome Hartman, the executive producer of the CBS Evening News.
Gee, fighting among different religio-ethnic groups: Nope, that's not civil war....
And they can't figure out why their audiences are shrinking. How can you get meaningful reporting from such clueless people? Answer: You can't and you don't.
Universal Music Group Chief Executive Doug Morris said on Tuesday he may try to fashion an iPod royalty fee with Apple Computer Inc. in the next round of negotiations in early 2007.Link.
Of course they're in trouble. No focus. easier and cheaper than ever for an act to go straight into distribution. And what does a label do? Marketing -- really lousy marketing. How much new music do you hear? I don't mean the same old acts' new tracks, I mean really new music. So what do the labels have to offer? Less and less.... Getting a licensing fee on MP3 players....
And, hey, look, her' one of the RIAA's priorities...!
An elderly survivor of Hurricane Rita, Ms. Rhonda Crain, has been sued by the RIAA in Beaumont, Texas, in SONY v. Crain.
Iraq hasn't just gone on longer than WWII (but less than 'Nam -- losing always takes more time) but it must have long ago established a record for longest time at war without the formulation of a warplan.November 29, 2006
Text of U.S. Security Adviser’s Iraq Memo
Following is the text of a Nov. 8 memorandum prepared for cabinet-level officials by Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and his aides on the National Security Council. The five-page document, classified secret, was read and transcribed by The New York Times.
We returned from Iraq convinced we need to determine if Prime Minister Maliki is both willing and able to rise above the sectarian agendas being promoted by others. Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq? If so, is he able to curb those who seek Shia hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power? The answers to these questions are key in determining whether we have the right strategy in Iraq.
Maliki reiterated a vision of Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish partnership, and in my one-on-one meeting with him, he impressed me as a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so. Maliki pointed to incidents, such as the use of Iraqi forces in Shia Karbala, to demonstrate his even hand. Perhaps because he is frustrated over his limited ability to command Iraqi forces against terrorists and insurgents, Maliki has been trying to show strength by standing up to the coalition. Hence the public spats with us over benchmarks and the Sadr City roadblocks.
Despite Maliki’s reassuring words, repeated reports from our commanders on the ground contributed to our concerns about Maliki’s government. Reports of nondelivery of services to Sunni areas, intervention by the prime minister’s office to stop military action against Shia targets and to encourage them against Sunni ones, removal of Iraq’s most effective commanders on a sectarian basis and efforts to ensure Shia majorities in all ministries — when combined with the escalation of Jaish al-Mahdi’s (JAM) [the Arabic name for the Mahdi Army] killings — all suggest a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad.
While there does seem to be an aggressive push to consolidate Shia power and influence, it is less clear whether Maliki is a witting participant. The information he receives is undoubtedly skewed by his small circle of Dawa advisers, coloring his actions and interpretation of reality. His intentions seem good when he talks with Americans, and sensitive reporting suggests he is trying to stand up to the Shia hierarchy and force positive change. But the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action.
Steps Maliki Could Take
There is a range of actions that Maliki could take to improve the information he receives, demonstrate his intentions to build an Iraq for all Iraqis and increase his capabilities. The actions listed below are in order of escalating difficulty and, at some point, may require additional political and security resources to execute, as described on Page 3 of this memo. Maliki should:
¶Compel his ministers to take small steps — such as providing health services and opening bank branches in Sunni neighborhoods — to demonstrate that his government serves all ethnic communities;
¶Bring his political strategy with Moktada al-Sadr to closure and bring to justice any JAM actors that do not eschew violence;
¶Shake up his cabinet by appointing nonsectarian, capable technocrats in key service (and security) ministries;
¶Announce an overhaul of his own personal staff so that “it reflects the face of Iraq”;
¶Demand that all government workers (in ministries, the Council of Representatives and his own offices) publicly renounce all violence for the pursuit of political goals as a condition for keeping their positions;
¶Declare that Iraq will support the renewal of the U.N. mandate for multinational forces and will seek, as appropriate, to address bilateral issues with the United States through a SOFA [status of forces agreement] to be negotiated over the next year;
¶Take one or more immediate steps to inject momentum back into the reconciliation process, such as a suspension of de-Baathification measures and the submission to the Parliament or “Council of Representatives” of a draft piece of legislation for a more judicial approach;
¶Announce plans to expand the Iraqi Army over the next nine months; and
¶Declare the immediate suspension of suspect Iraqi police units and a robust program of embedding coalition forces into MOI [Ministry of the Interior] units while the MOI is revetted and retrained.
What We Can Do to Help Maliki
If Maliki is willing to move decisively on the actions above, we can help him in a variety of ways. We should be willing to:
¶Continue to target Al Qaeda and insurgent strongholds in Baghdad to demonstrate the Shia do not need the JAM to protect their families — and that we are a reliable partner;
¶Encourage Zal [Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador] to move into the background and let Maliki take more credit for positive developments. (We want Maliki to exert his authority — and demonstrate to Iraqis that he is a strong leader — by taking action against extremists, not by pushing back on the United States and the Coalition.);
¶Continue our diplomatic efforts to keep the Sunnis in the political process by pushing for the negotiation of a national compact and by talking up provincial council elections next spring/summer as a mechanism for Sunni empowerment;
¶Support his announcement to expand the Iraqi Army and reform the MOI more aggressively;
¶Seek ways to strengthen Maliki immediately by giving him additional control over Iraqi forces, although we must recognize that in the immediate time frame, we would likely be able to give him more authority over existing forces, not more forces;
¶Continue to pressure Iran and Syria to end their interference in Iraq, in part by hitting back at Iranian proxies in Iraq and by Secretary Rice holding an Iraq-plus-neighbors meeting in the region in early December; and
¶Step up our efforts to get Saudi Arabia to take a leadership role in supporting Iraq by using its influence to move Sunni populations in Iraq out of violence into politics, to cut off any public or private funding provided to the insurgents or death squads from the region and to lean on Syria to terminate its support for Baathists and insurgent leaders.
Augmenting Maliki’s Political and Security Capabilities
The above approach may prove difficult to execute even if Maliki has the right intentions. He may simply not have the political or security capabilities to take such steps, which risk alienating his narrow Sadrist political base and require a greater number of more reliable forces. Pushing Maliki to take these steps without augmenting his capabilities could force him to failure — if the Parliament removes him from office with a majority vote or if action against the Mahdi militia (JAM) causes elements of the Iraqi Security Forces to fracture and leads to major Shia disturbances in southern Iraq. We must also be mindful of Maliki’s personal history as a figure in the Dawa Party — an underground conspiratorial movement — during Saddam’s rule. Maliki and those around him are naturally inclined to distrust new actors, and it may take strong assurances from the United States ultimately to convince him to expand his circle of advisers or take action against the interests of his own Shia coalition and for the benefit of Iraq as a whole.
If it is Maliki’s assessment that he does not have the capability — politically or militarily — to take the steps outlined above, we will need to work with him to augment his capabilities. We could do so in two ways. First, we could help him form a new political base among moderate politicians from Sunni, Shia, Kurdish and other communities. Ideally, this base would constitute a new parliamentary bloc that would free Maliki from his current narrow reliance on Shia actors. (This bloc would not require a new election, but would rather involve a realignment of political actors within the Parliament). In its creation, Maliki would need to be willing to risk alienating some of his Shia political base and may need to get the approval of Ayatollah Sistani for actions that could split the Shia politically. Second, we need to provide Maliki with additional forces of some kind.
This approach would require that we take steps beyond those laid out above, to include:
¶Actively support Maliki in helping him develop an alternative political base. We would likely need to use our own political capital to press moderates to align themselves with Maliki’s new political bloc;
¶Consider monetary support to moderate groups that have been seeking to break with larger, more sectarian parties, as well as to support Maliki himself as he declares himself the leader of his bloc and risks his position within Dawa and the Sadrists; and
¶Provide Maliki with more resources to help build a nonsectarian national movement.
• If we expect him to adopt a nonsectarian security agenda, we must ensure he has reasonably nonsectarian security institutions to execute it — such as through a more robust embedding program.
• We might also need to fill the current four-brigade gap in Baghdad with coalition forces if reliable Iraqi forces are not identified.
We should waste no time in our efforts to determine Maliki’s intentions and, if necessary, to augment his capabilities. We might take the following steps immediately:
¶Convince Maliki to deliver on key actions that might reassure Sunnis (open banks and direct electricity rebuilding in Sunni areas, depoliticize hospitals);
¶Tell Maliki that we understand that he is working his own strategy for dealing with the Sadrists and that:
• you have asked General Casey to support Maliki in this effort
• it is important that we see some tangible results in this strategy soon;
¶Send your personal representative to Baghdad to discuss this strategy with Maliki and to press other leaders to work with him, especially if he determines that he must build an alternative political base;
¶Ask Casey to develop a plan to empower Maliki, including:
• Formation of National Strike Forces
• Dramatic increase in National Police embedding
• More forces under Maliki command and control
¶Ask Secretary of Defense and General Casey to make a recommendation about whether more forces are need in Baghdad;
¶Ask Secretary of Defense and General Casey to devise a more robust embedding plan and a plan to resource it;
¶Direct your cabinet to begin an intensive press on Saudi Arabia to play a leadership role on Iraq, connecting this role with other areas in which Saudi Arabia wants to see U.S. action;
¶If Maliki seeks to build an alternative political base:
• Press Sunni and other Iraqi leaders (especially Hakim) [Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Maliki rival] to support Maliki
• Engage Sistani to reassure and seek his support for a new nonsectarian political movement.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich yesterday said the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism.Link.
Almost makes one think that what this country needs is some good, old-fashioned late 19th century anarchy....
So what do we do about it? That's the question Bush says he'll put to Maliki Thursday. "My questions to him will be: What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence? I will assure him that we will continue to pursue al-Qaida to make sure that they do not establish a safe haven in Iraq. I will ask him: What is required and what is your strategy to be a country which can govern itself and sustain itself? And it's going to be an important meeting, and I'm looking forward to it."Link.
Rush Limbaugh said: "[W]ell, let's just have them. Let's just have the civil wars ... because I'm just fed up with this." Limbaugh then asserted: "Fine, just blow the place up. Just let these natural forces take place over there instead of trying to stop them." Additionally, Limbaugh claimed: "[E]verbody comes to us. ... So we go and try to fix it and our own people, Democrats and the left in our country do their best to sabotage our efforts, and then we get blamed for trying to clean up the messes that these people start."Link.
We invaded a country for no reason whatsoever -- greed for oil or an animus just aren't good reasons -- and make things far worse than they were. Our Leaders base on the country's leader being a mass murderer; our excursion has caused the deaths of far more than the prior regime.
Simple solution: Give Rush and the other lying, pandering hate talkers to Islamofascist terrorists....
A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutionally vague, according to a ruling released Tuesday.Link.
The Humanitarian Law Project had challenged Bush's order, which blocked all the assets of groups or individuals he named as "specially designated global terrorists" after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
"This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists," said David Cole, a lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Constitutional Rights that represented the group. "It was reminiscent of the McCarthy era."
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Fact: Olbermann is MSNBC's sole ratings success.
The insinuation that he's a radical left nutjob is, well, something that can just as well be thrown at Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and Big Media generally from the other perspective.
Except Olbermann attracts an audience while the others are, in their cowtowing to the right, are alienating readers and viewers. They're giving their audiences what they want to give them, not what the audience wants. (And note that this does not involve objective, necessary news; it's rather a matter of an unwanted bias, slant and spin.)
In other words, Big Media, with their rightwing bias, are alienating their audiences.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Look here for an overview and here's a a bunch of links where there may be clues.
JFK warned that these policies and practices gave aid, comfort and strength to Soviet communists who prayed on misery, exploitation and corruption.Link.
"Misery, exploitation and corruption" is what we brought or amplified with the Iraq invasion.
That simple? That simple.
And are we dealing with it? Even assuming stuff goes on in Iraq that is unreported, there's still no reason to believe anything significant is occurring to deal with those root problems.
And Our Leaders, really, are incapable of dealing with those kinds of problems.
On top of that, the infitidah, for has proven that this kind of insurgency doen't burn out but lasts as long as the root causes -- misery, exploitation and corruption -- go untreated or ignored.
Or, for another example, you can maybe look at Vietnam.
A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.Link.
Such holiday cheer....
Updated: And her neighbors do love her, or at least have the appropriate holiday cheer: a daily fine. Allegedly they don't think peace is a Christian concept (but the great thing about Christianity is that just about everything this side of child molestation -- maybe -- can be the Christian thing to do, certainly under certain circumstances -- and specially OK if one asks for forgiveness).
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Ken Adelman, a onetime Reagan Administration official and “onetime member of the Iraq war brain trust,” who has fallen out with Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, and who told the Post that “the President is ultimately responsible” for the “debacle” in Iraq.Link.
Adelman's hypocrisy is stunning. In 2002 it was he who famously predicted that American forces would enjoy “a cakewalk” in Iraq, and during the run-up to the invasion he derided war critics for their stupidity and naiveté. “There's always the chicken littles, running around and saying 'oh my God, it's terrible,'” he said on Hardball, six days before the war began, when asked about the possibility that things might not go as smoothly as he and his fellow-hawks had predicted.
The following month, he was gloating to the New York Times that his “cakewalk” prediction had been remarkably prescient. Adelman, according to the story, “scorned recent complaints by retired generals and military analysts that the Pentagon had deployed too few troops” to Iraq. “I always thought that was ridiculous,” Adelman told the newspaper. “It turned out they were factually wrong. I never understood what having three times as many troops would have done.”
But what's most astonishing about Adelman's current criticism of the Bush Administration is that he argued for a “stay the course” approach long after it became clear that the war was a burgeoning disaster. He paid no mind to the idea that Iraqis were growing uneasy with the American presence, and said that although the administration was doing its best, more needed to be done in terms of generating employment and economic opportunities. “There were possibilities in the beginning, but they were all [floundering] for some reason or other,” he told MSNBC in June of 2003.
Here's a reason: Adelman and other war proponents were dead wrong when they envisioned a post-war scenario in which Iraqis greeted American troops with flowers and Iraq became a model democracy.
The following month, back on Hardball, Adelman—by now a regular on the talk show circuit—blandly stated that there was absolutely no need to put more U.S. troops on the ground, despite the complete failure of American forces to establish any type of order. “I would not go reinforce the troops,” he stated confidently. “I would accelerate the Iraqization of security.”
In September, during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Adelman once again went after war critics. “The war has been over, just, what is it, five months or something like that? And it takes a long time to rebuild a country,” he said. “The big problem has been not the war [in] Iraq, but the big problem has been twenty years of Saddam Hussein . . . They ran down everything about that country, so that we have to have time.” He derided the comments of another guest, Jessica Stern, of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, who said that the war was creating anger in the Arab world and generating future jihadists. “We've heard the same thing before we went into Iraq . . . that the Arab street was going to rise up,” said Adelman. He went on to claim that the polls Stern cited were probably unreliable.
By April of 2004, it was no longer possible for Adelman to deny the unraveling situation in Iraq, but nothing, he argued, was fundamentally wrong with the Bush Administration's strategy. In an op-ed that month in USA Today (“Don't change course now”), he acknowledged a few minor problems with the hawks' prewar statements. “Those of us who championed Iraq's liberation were way too sanguine,” he wrote. “We were wrong about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. Wrong about Iraqis cooperating fully after Saddam Hussein was deposed. And probably wrong about close ties between Saddam's henchmen and Al Qaeda's fanatics.”
But they were right about everything else, he maintained, and he added that “panicky cries for a change of course must be rejected. . . . Calling for a new U.S. approach, for its own sake, risks undermining this battle.” Indeed, said Adelman, “Iraqis can't defeat us. Only USA Today editorials and similar worrywarts can defeat us.”
Now, after all this, Adelman would have us believe that he has absolutely no responsibility for the Iraq disaster? His breaking point on Iraq, he told the Post, was Bush's decision to award Medals of Freedom to Paul Bremer, General Tommy Franks, and George Tenet. “The three individuals who got the highest civilian medals the President can give were responsible for a lot of the debacle that was Iraq.” Adelman sounds jealous, not righteous. It's too bad there’s no medal for being a whining, war-promoting hypocrite.
Key: The turkey is in the center.