November 16, 2005 § Leave a comment

I am getting more serious about using the link blog for morning and evening snippets from the media and other sources, conversations and books, with very short comments. More integrated thoughts and reflections will be posted here, several times a week most likely, and stillmore coherent essays at the essays link, all over on the lower right side.


Evening catch, more poltics and economics, with some personality

November 15, 2005 § Leave a comment

11/15/2005, 9:42 PM
Evening catch
A major republican senator, educated by Vietnam, speaks out. Hagel blasted the Administration for going after Iraq war critics and turning the war into a political cause.

“The Iraq war should not be debated in the United States on a partisan politicalplatform,” the Nebraska senator remarked. “This debases our country, trivializes the seriousness of war and cheapens the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. War is not a Republican or Democrat issue. The casualties of war are from both parties. The Bush Administration must understand that each
American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years. The Democrats have an obligation to challenge in a serious and responsible manner, offering solutions and alternatives to the Administration’s policies.”

His full speech is available

A squandered economy has bills to pay. Pension funds are likely, by current understanding, to be one of the victims.

Pension Agency Reports $22.8B Shortfall Marcy Gordon Washington November 15
AP – The federal agency that insures the private pensions of 44 million workers said
Tuesday that its deficit was $22.8 billion in 2005, as big airlines in bankruptcy dumped their pension liabilities. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. disclosed in its annual financial report that as of Sept. 30, it had $56.5 billion in assets to cover $79.2 billion in pension liabilities.

The results on ballot initiatives from Ohio show some highly unlikely voting patterns. This needs careful vigorous follow up.

The Free Press– While debate still rages over Ohio’s stolen presidential election of 2004, the impossible outcomes of key 2005 referendum issues may have put an electronic nail through American democracy

What is happening to Bush? This is likely to be a major complex story.

Today , Insight on the News, a Washington Times outlet with close ties to conservatives, reports that has become isolated and feels betrayed by key members of his staff. “The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.”
Needless to say, all of these stories are sourced anonymously and there’s no telling if there’s any truth to any of them. But who are these sources? At the very least,
there seem to be a fair number of people who can be plausibly labeled “insiders”
and who are gleefully passing along rumors of serious presidential angst. What’s
going on?

Torture seems to me to have missed the point: the US would be a model of respect if it had from the first day treated prisoners with deep respect, good food, medical care, and – though tight security – with genuine compassion. That we did not seems to indicate that the US is lacking in civilized education. Many histories show that in the past prisoners were treated with respect in many wars. Much better model.

THE PRAGMATIC CASE AGAINST TORTURE….I’ve long been leery of staking too much on the “pragmatic” case against torture — namely that it doesn’t work
— because it implies that if it did work then I’d be OK with it. Matt
makes a
good argument in its defense:

Rice as secretary of State. This is one example of doing well to balance the still occuring more dubious ones. Not sure where this will go, but her potential presidential aspiratins (be her or others for her) are at play.

As NSC director Rice was a disaster, but as Secretary of State she’s been surprisingly effective.
Credit where it’s due. Over at Liberals Against Terrorism, Nadezhda provides some of the backstory, including props for James Wolfensohn, who negotiated the deal in the first place. As she says, “This demonstrates the benefits of actually working the issues multilaterally rather than use the Quartet as either a fig leaf for US positions or an excuse not to act.”

The White house response to the accusation..

You can see right now the sort of ferocity and the hurricane of bamboozlement this White House is capable of unleashing when faced with a pretty much
impossible to challenge case that they misled the American people in making the
case for the Iraq war.

The Democratic plan for seeking advantage, and as we know the Dems have been so split.

This plan fails the basic test of a blueprint to engineer a change of power. Nowthe country is angry enough that it might hand the Democratic Party one or evenboth houses of Congress – but this plan bodes ill for them holding it, and
instead getting swept away by McCainites in 2008.

Instead the Democrats could have presented a simple plan which promoted the idea that the economy isn’t moving ahead because the Republicans are giving out corrupt breaks to their friends, that Iraq is more than a bad idea, it is a corrupt war
profiteering exercise. They could have presented stronger ethics rules, an end to no bid contracts and a host of other minor, but symbolic, points.

Pelosi, the Democratic Leader , explained:Today, Democrats challenge Congress and the country to renew our commitment to the public-private partnerships that will secure America’s continued leadership in innovation, and unleash the next generation of discovery, invention, and growth. In addition to laying down this challenge, we’re also laying out a series of specific goals, proposals, and timelines that, taken together, chart a clear path to a new era of American leadership and prosperity. This is our innovation agenda – our commitment to competitiveness to keep America number one.

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, NPI Fellow

Markos served in the U.S. Army and was involved in the technology community in San Francisco before founding Daily Kos on May 26, 2002 (rhymes with “prose”) and becoming a leader in the modern progressive movement and blogger community. He maintains the site from Berkeley, California. In its first year, Daily Kos attracted over 1.6 million unique visits and about 3 million page views.
Currently, it receives about 12 million unique visits per month and is the most
highly trafficked political website in the country.

How will Bush (given emotional as well as political difficulties, intertwined) respond?Wag the Dog is a possibility.

And that was when they were riding high. Imagine what they might do in
desperation. In fact, Michael Klare, author of the indispensible Blood
Oil: The
Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependence on Imported
does just that below, evaluating the various wag-the-dog scenarios this
administration might seriously consider using if its situation grows too
desperate and elections too near. Add into this formula for disaster, an
“administration” in Washington that is “uninterested in governing,” as Jonathan
Schell wrote recently in
Nationmagazine (focusing on what the post-Katrina world has revealed to us, butIraqis already knew all too well). “We all keep referring to the ‘Bush
administration,'” he added, “yet administering seems to be the last thing on its
mind… If the Bush outfit is not governing, what is it doing? The answer comes
readily: It wishes to acquire, increase and consolidate the power of the Republican Party.”

This just impressive.

Embarks On 100,000 Solar Roofs Initiative
The municipal government of Shanghai recently launched an initiative to install photovoltaic (PV) systems on 100,000 of the city’s 6 million rooftops.

As is the complex story about Google.

Google has also created a new kind of work environment. It serves three free meals a day to its employees (known as Googlers) so that they can remain on-site and spend more time working. It provides them with free on-site medical and dental care and haircuts, as well as washers and dryers. It charters buses with wireless Web access between San Francisco and Silicon Valley so that employees can toil en route to the office. To encourage innovation, it gives employees one day a week — known as 20 percent time — to work on anything that interests them.

To eliminate the distinction between work and play — and keep the Googlers happily at the Googleplex — they have volleyball, foosball, puzzles, games, rollerblading, colorful kitchens stocked with free drinks and snacks, bowls of M&Ms, lava lamps, vibrating massage chairs and a culture encouraging Googlers to bring their dogs to work. (No cats allowed.) The perks also include an on-site masseuse, and extravagant touch-pad-controlled toilets with six levels of heat for the seat and automated washing, drying and flushing without the need for toilet paper.
Sergey Brin says searching all of the world’s information includes examining the genetic makeup of our own bodies, and he foresees a day when each of us will be able to learn more about our own predisposition for various illnesses, allergies and other important biological predictors by comparing our personal genetic code with the human genome, a process known as “Googling Your Genes.”

“This is the ultimate intersection of technology and health that will empower millions of individuals,” Venter said. “Helping people understand their own genetic code and statistical code is something that should be broadly available through a service like Google within a decade.”
Google’s rapid-fire innovation and growing power pose a threat of one kind or another. Its ad-driven financial success has propelled its stock market value to $110 billion, more than the combined value of Disney, Ford, General Motors, Amazon.com and the media companies that own the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
The Google Story: An Excerpt Chapter 26: is at:

Googling Your Genes

Peter drucker, a real insider in high powered german humanist education before the fascists, had a compelx agenda, and survived financially and intellectually.

contributed much to the modern cult of the chief executive. Yet as an emigrant from Nazi Europe, he retained a lifelong distrust of charismatic leaders. “He was skeptical of hero worship,” says John Alexander, president of the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C. “He saw management as an activity rather than a heroic venture.”In response, Mr. Drucker said, “I’m not going to give you any answers, because there are always many different ways to approach problems, but I’m going to give you the questions you should ask,’ ” Mr. Lufkin says. “So we started talking in great length and depth about who we were and what we wanted to do — Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, had unconsciously divided the duties at the top of the semiconductor maker: Mr. Noyce as the public face, Mr. Moore as “a man of thought,” and Mr. Grove as “a man of action.”

And From “The Delusion of Profits,” Feb. 5, 1975, his first piece for theJournal:

[B]usinessmen owe it tothemselves and owe it to society to hammer home that there is no such thing
as “profit.”
There are only “costs”: costs of doing business and costs of staying in business; costs of labor and raw materials, and costs of capital; costs of today’s jobs and costs of tomorrow’s jobs and tomorrow’s pensions.

Books and the Internet

November 15, 2005 § Leave a comment

I read more than ever. I’ve a tablet PC with 600 books on it, and reading in the semi dark, in bed, in the back of a car, and being able to make marks, look up words, find the first or recent appearance of the same character, amazing. most of those books are classics, and I’ve gone through the standard 17, 18 and 19th century English novels. They are all for free at gutenberg.org

and you can check for example at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/ebooks/ and the reader is downloadable from there.

Another reference to world lit is (for example looking at Balzac)

All of the Greek texts (and Latin) are available clickable into an English dictionary word by word

And much Chinese including the Lao Tzu with each character clickable into an English dictionary and Chinese etemology.http://zhongwen.com/dao.htm

With all of philosophy and political science also available, it is hard not to enjoy cross referencing. And hey, if you are reading a novel and it mentions a picture, say by Caravaggio, just google it and you will find it.

Same with maps. zoom in with googlearth at http://earth.google.com/
and you can fly into the site and for example see the shadows of people standing around the Eiffel tower.

As for Proust, I can run the electronic French and English side by side.

What we need to anticipate (future of newspapers) is how this will affect research. Today the Republicans put up a video of speech excerpts from the major senators now in opposition to the war, showing their attitudes in early 2003. Excerpts, so it is necessary to recontextualize, and all that stuff is available. And we get smarter, and more gets written, some of it even good. Read ten entries from http://www.billmon.org for a language treat about the most important events.

Real letters? Go back twenty years. Child off to college, gone. Now, daily emails between kids and parents.

In 1989 i got in a cab in Washington, D.C.. “hey man, what do you do?” the driver asked, heavy southern inner city accent.’I’m a consultant.” “Hey man, everybody gets in my can is a consultant. the question is, what kind of consultant?” “i do stuff on strategy with organizations and the Internet.” “Internet. i got one of them computers. For my daughter. She’s 4.” (pause) “You know man, she feels more connected to the whole world with that thing than I ever did in my whole life. When i dropped her off at her child care this morning she said ‘daddy, you know what I’m gonna do today?”No honey, what?’ ‘I’m gonna send you an email.”

I love books, and now can spend time with a few bound in leather 300 years ago. i can write letters and pen in little drawings.

Morning catch, mostly economics

November 15, 2005 § Leave a comment

Morning catch
11/15/2005, 9:56 AM

Understanding the economics of the country – and world – is not easy. We have the testimony of the proposed head of the fed (c-span.com now) saying everything is ok and bad trends can be dealt with over time. But then we have..

A ‘fiscal hurricane’ on the horizon
Richard Wolf Washington November 14, 2005
USA Today – The comptroller general of the United States is explaining over eggs how the nation’s finances are going to hell. “We face a demographic tsunami” that “will never recede,” David Walker tells a group of reporters. He runs through a long list of fiscal challenges, led by the imminent retirement of the baby boomers, whose promised Medicare and Social Security benefits will swamp the federal budget in coming decades.
Pasted from Agonist

There is a notable lack of concern for wealth concentration and loss of purchasing power for the bottom half (80%?). Look at
Morgan Stanley’s
thoughts about the near future, and solid economic performance seems expected. This is a solid opinion and important for those who are counting on a Bush failure in the economy

The US-China symbiosis was singled out for special attention in this regard. America has cut a great deal, went the argument, and so has China — the goods-for-bonds trade was widely viewed as logical, sustainable, and in both nations’ interests. I challenged the group on this key point, underscoring the costs of this deal. From the US side, those costs are manifested in the form of record levels of household sector indebtedness, an unprecedented saving shortfall, and the mother of all current account deficits. For China, the costs of sustainability include mounting trade frictions with the US, excess credit creation (due to unsterilized currency recycling), and huge potential fiscal costs of a dollar-related depreciation of China’s official reserves.

What is horrible here is no awareness of the impact on Chinese labor.

With America’s overall national saving rate likely to fall further over the next year, the US current account deficit is likely to widen further. That means, barring a new source of capital inflows, there will be an ever-greater burden on Chinese capital to fill the void. That ups the ante on the costs of sustainability on both sides of the equation — for the US as well as for China.

With elevated oil prices triggering roughly a $300 billion revenue windfall for the Middle East oil producers

The place of character and economics is increasingly important as economic performance (in standard terms) still is taken as the major frame for judging the success of a society. The protestant reformation is a plus, by this view, for the west.

It is clear the success of Japan and the “Four Tigers” (Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) owe much to such essential Confucian precepts as self-discipline, social harmony, strong families and a reverence for education.

The master said: “He who does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”

The Republicans will use the standard techniques to keep Bush viable.

The RNC today has released a Web video which paints Democrats as hypocrites for criticizing the Iraq war after having warned about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction before the war began.
The video includes footage of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, former President Clinton, then-Gov. Howard Dean (from Canadian TV in 1998!), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Foreign Relations Ranking Member Joe Biden (D-DE), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
The video ends with an excerpt from President Bush’s Veterans Day speech in which he excoriates his Democratic opponents.
It’s an impressive collection of video and a clear sign that the RNC is prepared to do combat on Iraq not only with the newly re-assertive Democratic congressional leadership but also with several potential Democratic ’08ers.

The split in the Republican party is diven by a mixture of conservative feeling (as opposed to rhightwing ideology) and practical politics – fear of losing the Congress in the 2006 elections.

Signs are that members of Bush’s own party, at least in the Senate, are increasingly sick of the mushroom treatment — particularly when it comes to the future of American involvement in Iraq.

“The plan stops short of a competing Democratic proposal that moves toward establishing dates for a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq. But it is built upon the Democratic approach and makes it clear that senators of both parties are increasingly eager for Iraqis to take control of their country in coming months and open the door to removing American troops.”

This relates to Y2K and its real impact and internal vs external effects. We see lots of references to Y2K as a non-event. The story is more complex.

Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. Laurie has researched and written extensively on global health systems, chronic and infectious diseases, and bioterrorism. And she laid out in chilling detail the potential global repercussions of an outbreak of avian flu. The word “potential” was key to the debate that then unfolded. There was a strong sense by the assembled group that pandemics were like other macro risk factors such as debt, asset bubbles, and (gulp) global imbalances — the worrisome what-ifs that never come to pass. Or the shocks that an elastic world has handled in the past and will most assuredly handle in the future.

Further on the economy, good to see this figure. Gives a frame.

I think a lot about the so-called built-in shock absorbers of a $44 trillion global economy.

Another investor with a good read on the bond business suggested that there was no problem in attracting petro revenues into dollar-denominated fixed income instruments. Many viewed this as yet another example of an elastic world rising to the occasion and dealing with tough issues — in this case, an energy shock as well as a current account financing problem.

The final word from Lyford Cay came from another veteran who noted, “We all know these imbalances you speak of are unsustainable — we just can’t afford to focus on the endgame.” Elasticity or complacency? To me, it sounds more like the latter — and even more like denial.


Foreign Investors Losing Appetite for U.S. Treasuries
Joshua Krongold New York November 14
Bloomberg – The U.S. government is growing more dependent on investors from abroad just as their appetite for Treasury securities is waning.
Overseas investors, who own half of all U.S. government debt, bought 14 percent of the $79 billion in benchmark 10-year notes auctioned this year, down from 21 percent in 2004, Treasury Department data show. Bidders including foreign central banks purchased a smaller percentage of the $44 billion in three-, five- and 10-year notes the Treasury sold last week than they did a year ago.

On professionalization, and implicitly psychological practice.

George Bernard Shaw: “All professions are conspiracies against the laity.” Licensing doesn’t protect the public. Keeps the profession small and expensive.
Graduates not getting licenses…..When I joined the AIA board about 50% of graduates planned to seek licenses, then it dropped to 30%. Recently an outstanding architecture senior, who had decided to become a kindergarten teacher, told me her studies suggested the number was more like 12%

Just a thought

News occurs in context, the context of human nature, the flow of culture, the larger histories of nations, empires, peoples, of technology and ideas. Our ideas never grasp our own time adequately, but we can do better. It is responsible to ask, “yes, and why, and then why and why again…”

There are a number of people whose thinking continually informs what I write here. Ernst Cassirer, Jean Piaget, Erich Fromm, Louis Mumford, Kenneth Burke, Freud, Marx, Erich Voegelin, Martha Nussbaum, Theodore Zeldin, John Berger…
Eric Erkson said it was time to put society on the couch, to explore the major motives, conscious and not conscious, of social flows. Erich Fromm talked of social character, the prevalent types of people the society requires to function, and how. The founding fathers were rather Lockian oriented, and without softening influences, it turns into a Hobbesian world of all against all. Not good.

Can the United States renew itself ? Is the current US a danger to the world? I personally find it humiliating to find my citizenship here wallowed by Bush incompetence and failure of social imagination. Too close to a kleptocracy for my comfort. And too many people left too far behind. And note that use of language, as if there was a place we were getting to that is not this place. The problem is, most people live in this place and we cannot abandon it or them.

State of the newspapers

November 8, 2005 § Leave a comment

News coverage a few decades ago had more reporters on the scene, but today some of the blogs cover foreign places in more detail because bloggers are living there. It is easy to follow for example France, Italy, Israel, Brazil, Mexico, through blogs. And they are getting better fast. China and japan are much better covered in the blogs. Yes, it takes work to get them, but more of us are.

The problem of the press is that the rest of us can’t get to a positive future for the US if the US press hides.

I. The facts about the current situation. .
2. Actions already under way to get beyond the. problem.

The press is caught in a picture of the world which is an extension of the bipartisan embrace of the current economic model, neoliberal economics, which has encouraged or supported redistribution from the bottom of the economic ladder to top over the past three decades.
The following data are from the last Clinton years. The Bush years are probably worse. The wealth of the Forbes 400 richest Americans grew an average $1.44 billion each from 1997-2000 for an average daily increase in wealth of $1,920,000 per person ($240,000 per hour or 46,602 times the minimum wage).

From 1983-1997, only the top five percent of U.S. households saw an increase in their net worth, while wealth declined for everyone else. The share of the nation’s after-tax income received by the top 1 percent nearly doubled from 1979-1997. By 1998, the top-earning 1 percent had as much combined income as the 100 million Americans with the lowest earnings. The top fifth of U.S. households now claim 49.2 percent of national income while the bottom fifth gets by on 3.6 percent. Between 1979 and 1997, the average income of the richest fifth jumped from nine times the income of the poorest fifth to roughly 15 times. The average hourly earnings for white-collar males was $19.24 in 1997, up from $19.18 in 1973. These results reflect the key legislative and regulatory distributional principle guiding our current economic model .

The press does not follow this story in the detail that suggests connecting the dots to policy.
Yet this is the model our official policy insists be emulated abroad. It is creating a more extreme form of the have / have not. By the embrace of Christianity by the declining Roman Empire, the conditions were set for Mohammed, who organized the marginal poor in a simple society of justice and reward though the community conversations. The free market model forces other countries to develop a market aligned elite, and freeze out the rest – which is often the majority. In Indonesia and Malaysia I understand that about fifteen families own 60% of the national listed stocks.

It has fascinated me why the view of the world from the Times news page is that most things are working except for a few glitches, the book section gives the impression that the world is in bad shape. Why the difference? (the difference is less than it was five years ago.).

I think we are more agreeing than disagreeing about the current state of the press. The question is, ok, now what? My Daughter works for the Tampa Trib, my daughter and son in law work for the LA Times. Our local paper, owned by the NYT, does local news well because it doesn’t have to even think about the national and world.

The Tao tradition suggests that knowledge creates difficulties. If we really had an informed public, what then? Democracy says that knowledge is important, along with low economic differences between richer and poorer.

So I would say that our newspaper problem is tied to our governance and economic problems, and they are aligned in a plutocratic way bad for most of us in the short run and all of us in the long run.

Today’s most noticed

November 8, 2005 § Leave a comment


This is good background, from a very intersting list, history of diplomacy.

From: http://www.blogger.com/” Joseph Siracusa

It would be a very brave soul, indeed, who would pass on William Appleman Williams.

Williams’s general thesis that “empire is as American as apple pie” is as relevant today as it was in the 1960s. Through his frontier-expanisionistic theory of causation, which assumed that U.S.foreign policy derived rationally and logically (if routinely) from an inherently expansionist poitical economy, this native of Iowa single-handedly revived and updated an earlier economic revisionism, subsumed and moved beyond the Realist critique of his generation, and called for for the reconstruction of American national life along democratic lines, economically self-sufficient and politially free from overseas entanglements. In doing so, Williams passed on to his seminars of brilliant graduate students a basically ironic interpretation of American Diplomacy (self-defeating, hence Tragedy) which attempted to show that the more America pursued peace and prosperity through the attempted construction of a stable, freely trading open door world, the greater became the illusion of long-term prosperity and less the chance of peace.

A very interesting background essay showing tension between the religious and neocon right, and giving insight into what the sophisticated religious conservatives are thinking.

In its November 1996 issue, the journal First Things published a symposium entitled “The End of Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics.”[1]

The symposium included articles by Russell Hittinger, Robert Bork, Hadley Arkes,
Charles Colson, and Robert George, and an introductory editorial authored by Neuhaus. The symposium investigated the question of whether the consent of the
governed is compromised, or even forfeited, by a Judiciary which has “in effect
declared that the most important questions about how we ought to order our life
together are outside the purview of ‘the things of [the citizenry’s] knowledge.'” The symposiasts asked whether the Judicial usurpation of politics (i.e., the Judiciary’s repeated foreclosing on the process of legislative debate and decision through the creation of previously unrecognized constitutional rights) perhaps constituted the end of the American experiment in democracy.

In the “Introduction” to the contributed essays, Neuhaus notes that this symposium is an “extension” of a May 1996 First Things editorial, “The Ninth Circuit’s Fatal Overreach.” The “overreach” in question was the Ninth Circuit’s decision to overturn a Washington State law banning physician-assisted suicide on the grounds that the Constitution guarantees a “liberty right” to assisted suicide. The May editorial suggested that if “the Supreme Court upholds the Ninth Circuit, the battle over abortion would likely be transformed into near unconditional warfare against the arrogance of the courts that short-circuit democratic deliberation by the imposition of their moral (or grossly immoral) dictates.”[2]

On Libby inditement, (long article quoted in full)

Ron Hutcheson writes for Knight Ridder Newspapers: “The 22-page indictment against White House adviser I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby raises a host of questions that are likely to hang over the Bush administration for months, including whether Vice President Dick Cheney had a direct role in revealing the identity of a CIA employee.”

Ronald Brownstein writes in his Los Angeles Times column: “Fitzgerald presented the information he felt he needed to reach a legal judgment in the case. But he
withheld much of the information the country needs to reach a political judgment about the administration’s actions. “Indeed, in his indictment, Fitzgerald
repeatedly raises critical questions that he flatly refuses to answer. His
cautious approach may be the appropriate strategy for a criminal prosecutor, but it leaves open important issues that are likely to be resolved only through
congressional hearings, with the central figures testifying under oath.”

Among the questions Brownstein raises:

Who “told syndicated columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA”? “Did Official A tell anyone else in the White House that he had leaked the information? Did Libby? Did anyone else know that Novak planned to publish a story disclosing Plame’s name? Did anyone object?”

Brownstein also has a question about one of the hints in the indictment, in which Fitzgerald refers to a conversation on Air Force Two shortly before Libby talked to two reporters about Plame. “Why would Fitzgerald disclose such suggestive information without fully explaining it?”

Regarding that Air Force Two strategy session: Richard B. Schmitt writes in the Los Angeles Times: “Did Cheney help map out strategy with Libby during the flight? Did officials talk about Valerie Plame, the wife of the Bush critic, and that she worked for the CIA — a detail that was soon leaked to the media? . . . Did Cheney attend the meeting, or did he sit elsewhere on the plane?”

Julia Angwin writes in the Wall Street Journal: “What was the exact role of Robert Novak, the journalist whose column unmasked CIA operative Valerie Plame?”

Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel write for Knight Ridder Newspapers: “At the heart of Friday’s indictment of a top White House aide remain two unsolved mysteries. “Who forged the documents that claimed Saddam Hussein was seeking
uranium for nuclear weapons in the African country of Niger?

“How did a version of the tale get into President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address, even though U.S. intelligence agencies never confirmed it and some intelligence analysts doubted it?”

Joe Conason writes in Salon: “In the grim light cast by the indictment of Libby, the president himself should now be required to answer an updated version of the
classic Watergate question: What did he know about the national security offense and the apparent coverup perpetrated by his vice president and his chief political advisor? When did he know it? And why, with the facts laid before him, has he still done nothing about this outrage?”

Any Regrets?

One very good question for Bush and Cheney is: Do they have any regrets about what happened? The answer thus far: Yes. Apparently they regret that Libby had to resign. Here’s Bush’s statement . Here’s Cheney’s

Dana Milbank and Carol D. Leonnig write in The Washington Post: “Democrats
demanded yesterday that President Bush fire Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and
that the White House fully account for Vice President Cheney’s role in the
unmasking of CIA operative Valerie Plame, as Republicans acted to limit the
political damage from Friday’s indictment of Cheney’s chief of staff.”

Carl Hulse writes in the New York Times: “Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, called for further disclosure by the administration, focusing on Mr. Cheney and his role. The indictment against Mr. Libby alleges that Mr. Cheney was among those who provided information to Mr. Libby about Valerie Wilson’s position as a C.I.A. officer.

” ‘What did the vice president know?’ Mr. Dodd asked on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ‘What were his intentions? Now, there’s no suggestion that the vice president is guilty of any crime here whatsoever, but if our standard is just criminality, then we’re never going to get to the bottom of this.’ “In contrast, Republican allies of the administration sought to minimize the results of the investigation, noting that the accusations of misconduct were confined to Mr. Libby and that even he was not charged for revealing Ms. Wilson’s identify but instead was accused of lying to federal agents and the grand jury investigating the case.

” ‘It appears to be from the indictment a singular act by Mr. Libby,’ Senator Lindsey
Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said in an appearance on ‘Face the Nation’ on CBS.”

Ball in Libby’s Court

Lois Romano writes in The Washington Post: “No one would ruminate on the recordabout Libby’s motives, but there is speculation that perhaps Libby is falling on his sword to protect Cheney, not only his boss, but also a personal friend. The two ride into work together in Cheney’s motorcade most mornings. Although Libby testified otherwise under oath, his own notes indicate that it was Cheney who first told him that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA. What is not known is whether Cheney was aware of — or sanctioned — Libby’s effort to discredit Wilson and his wife.”

David E. Sanger writes in the New York Times: “In conversations over the weekend, administration officials and others close to the White House said President
Bush’s team was relieved that the prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case, Patrick J.
Fitzgerald, found no conspiracy. But that relief began to be tinged with a new
sense of apprehension. Partly, they say, that is because Mr. Fitzgerald made it
clear that his investigation into who blew the cover of the C.I.A. operative,
Valerie Wilson, remained open.
“But it is also partly because there is speculation about whether Mr. Libby, facing the possibility of significant prison time if convicted, may decide that even his loyaltyto the Bush-Cheney team has its limits. “While Mr. Libby said Friday, ‘I am confident that at the end of this process I will be completely and totally exonerated,’ the speculation posits that Mr. Libby may seek a plea bargain that could win him leniency and perhaps limit or sidestep jail time. In return he would have to provide something Mr. Fitzgerald says he still wants: an unobscured view into who at the White House may have signed off on revealing Ms. Wilson’s identity, in hopes of discrediting her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV. . . . “A former White House official who often worked with Mr. Libby said on Sunday evening, after talking with his former colleagues, that ‘the scenario everyone is talking about is whether Scooter explains how this all happened.’ That would include exactly what was said aboard Vice President Dick Cheney’s plane in June, just before a few reporters began to hear that Ms. Wilson worked at the Central Intelligence Agency and had played a role in dispatching her husband on a mission to Niger.”

Rove Dodges a Bullet?

Peter Wallsten and Tom Hamburger write in the Los Angeles Times: “As it came down to judgment day this week in the investigation into the exposure of a covert CIA operative, White House advisor Karl Rove braced for a possible indictment. But at the last minute, new information, reevaluation of older evidence and negotiations with Rove’s lawyers combined to spare the top White House aide for now, according to sources close to Rove and familiar with the inquiry. “As recently as Tuesday, for example, prosecutors began to focus on a 2003 e-mail exchange between Rove and a White House colleague. The exchange could be seen as supporting Rove’s contention that he had not intentionally misled investigators.
. . .
“Fitzgerald, by extending his investigation beyond the Friday expiration date of the grand jury, could still decide to charge Rove, as well as other administration officials. “But for now, Rove appeared to live up to the nickname bestowed upon him by Bush: ‘Turdblossom,’ a moniker that spoke to the strategist’s uncanny pattern of surviving unpleasant situations, and sometimes seeming to thrive on them.”

Michael Isikoff writes in Newsweek: “Two sources close to Rove who asked not to be identified because the probe is ongoing said Luskin presented evidence that gave the prosecutor ‘pause.’ One small item was a July 11, 2003, e-mail Rove sent to
former press aide Adam Levine saying Levine could come up to his office to
discuss a personnel issue. The e-mail was at 11:17 a.m., minutes after Rove had
gotten off the phone with Matt Cooper — the same conversation (in which White
House critic Joe Wilson’s wife’s work for the CIA was discussed) that Rove originally failed to disclose to the grand jury. Levine, with whom Rove often discussed his talks with reporters, did immediately go up to see Rove. But as Levine told the FBI last week, Rove never said anything about Cooper. The Levine talk was arguably helpful to one of Luskin’s arguments: that, as a senior White House official, Rove dealt with a wide range of matters and might not remember every conversation he has had with journalists.”

Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe write in Newsweek: There was relief but no joy inside the White House at these dodged bullets. ‘This is a White House in turmoil right now,’ said a senior aide, one of many who declined to speak on the record at a time of peril and paranoia. As for Rove, the aide said, some insiders believed that he had ‘behaved, if not criminally, then certainly unethically.’ ”
And Dana Milbank and Carol D. Leonnig write in The Washington Post today that “two legal sources intimately familiar with Fitzgerald’s tactics in this inquiry said
they believe Rove remains in significant danger. They described Fitzgerald as
being relentlessly thorough but also conservative throughout this prosecution —
and his willingness to consider Rove’s eleventh-hour pleading of a memory lapse
is merely a sign of Fitzgerald’s caution.

“The two legal sources point to what they consider Fitzgerald’s careful decision not to charge Libby with the leak of a covert agent’s identity, given that the prosecutor had amassed considerable evidence that Libby gave classified information, which he knew from his job should not be made public, to reporters. Another prosecutor might have stretched to make a leak charge, on the theory that a jury would believe, based on other actions, that Libby acted with bad intentions. “Another warning sign for Rove was in the phrasing of Friday’s indictment of Libby. Fitzgerald referred to Rove in those charging papers as a senior White House official and dubbed him ‘Official A.’ In prosecutorial parlance, this kind of awkward pseudonym is often used for individuals who have not been indicted in a case but still face a significant chance of being charged. No other official in the investigation carries such an identifier.”

Cheney Wounded

Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post that Bush “must consider the degree towhich Cheney has now become a liability in his efforts to recover politically. Two Republicans privately said yesterday the taciturn Cheney has become a major burden to the president, and that his association with an unpopular war and proximity to the Libby embarrassment will eat at the administration’s credibility.”

Elisabeth Bumiller and Eric Schmitt write in the New York Times: “The indictment also serves as fresh evidence to those Republicans who have known Mr. Cheney fordecades and say he has changed, and that he reacted to the terrorist attacks ofSept. 11, 2001, by becoming consumed with threats against the nation and his longtime desire to rid Iraq of Mr. Hussein.”

Fineman and Wolffe
write in Newsweek: “As he prosecutes ‘Cheney’s Cheney’ for perjury, false
statements and obstruction, Fitzgerald will inevitably have to shine a light on
the machinery that sold the Iraq war and that sought to discredit critics of it,
particularly Joseph Wilson. And that, in turn, could lead to Cheney and to the
Cheney-run effort to make Iraq the central battleground in the war on terror. .
. .
“Perhaps it’s no surprise, therefore, that at least some administration officials — speaking on background, of course — have begun retroactively to dismiss Cheney’s role. Even if they are rewriting history, the revision is politically significant — and an ominous sign for Cheney in a city where power is the appearance of power. . . . “Bush has grown more confident, aides say, having jettisoned the Cheney training wheels. ‘The president has formulated a lot of his own views,’ said an aide, ‘and has a very firm idea of what he wants to do and accomplish with his foreign policy.’ ”

The Next Three Years

Balz writes in The Post: “President Bush’s descent from the euphoria of anagainst-the-odds reelection victory one year ago this week to the currentreality of a White House in crisis has been as rapid as it has been unexpected.
Presidential advisers and outside analysts say the route back to genuine recovery is likely to be slow and difficult — and without a clear blueprint for success. . . . “One immediate question is how Bush will respond to the indictment of Libby and the still-unresolved situation of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove. His statement on Friday after special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald outlined the perjury and obstruction charges against Libby was terse and narrowly focused on Libby’s situation. Will he use the fact of an ongoing criminal proceeding to avoid offering the public a full accounting of what happened inside his own White House in the unveiling of CIA operative Valerie Plame?”

Nancy Gibbs and Mike Allen write in Time: “Top advisers have all but written off
the rest of the year as a loss. The aim is to relaunch Bush’s presidency in January with a new agenda rolled out in his State of the Union address, now that Social Security reform lies crumpled in a ditch. But to do that, he would need to adapt the style and system that served him well for four years but has now demonstrably failed; add new blood to a team that functions as a palace guard but not as an early-warning system or idea factory; and summon the charisma from his days as a candidate to reconnect with Americans in what has become his last campaign.”

Richard W. Stevenson and Robin Toner write in the New York Times: “Over time, aides and advisers said, the hope is that Mr. Bush will be able to re-establish his image as a strong leader by showing people that he has plans to address issues like high energy costs, illegal immigration and the risk of an influenza pandemic. At the same time, they said, he will try to do a better job of explaining why prevailing in Iraq is essential to defending the nation from the broader threat of radical Islam.”

Susan Page and Judy Keen write in USA Today: ” ‘A lot of the issues that we’re going to be dealing with . . . affect the day-to-day realities of people outside the Beltway,’ says Nicolle Wallace, the White House communications director. ” ‘We’ll be going around the (media) filter to communicate directly with the American people about the things they care about.'”

Poll Watch

Richard Morin and Claudia Deane write in The Washington Post: “A majority of
Americans say the indictment of senior White House aide I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby
signals broader ethical problems in the Bush administration, and nearly half say
the overall level of honesty and ethics in the federal government has fallen since President Bush took office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News
survey. . . .

“The poll, conducted Friday night and yesterday, found that 55 percent of the public believes the Libby case indicates wider problems ‘with ethical wrongdoing’ in the White House, while 41 percent believes it was an ‘isolated incident.’ And by a 3 to 1 ratio, 46 percent to 15 percent, Americans say the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush.” Here are the results. The poll also shows Bush’s approval rating at a record low 39 percent.

Susan Page and Judy Keen write in USA Today: “A USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday shows that a solid majority of Americans, 55%, now judge Bush’s presidency to be a failure. . . .

“When Gallup asked in 1993 whether the first President Bush’s tenure was a success or failure, 53% called it a success even though he had been defeated for re-election a year before. During Clinton’s presidency, a majority never called his tenure a failure. Only once, after the health care debacle in 1994, did a plurality say it was a failure, by 50%-44%.”In January 1999, after he had been impeached by the House and was awaiting a Senate trial, 71% called Clinton’s tenure a success. .
. .
“The USA TODAY poll found little optimism that Bush’s turnaround strategy would succeed. By 55%-41%, those surveyed said the remaining three years of Bush’s presidency would be a failure.” Here are the complete results .

Questions For the Press

Friday’s indictment raiseall sorts of questions for the journalists who have covered the Bushadministration for many years. But what are they?

HowardKurtz writes in his Washington Post column: “Now that an indictment has reached the highest level of the White House for the first time since Watergate, journalists face a minefield of potentially explosive questions: Are they enjoying a bit too much the spectacle of Libby, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, having to resign over the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice?”

By contrast, Paul Krugman writes in his New York Times column (subscription required) about the Bush years: “Let me be frank: it has been a long political nightmare. For some of us, daily life has remained safe and comfortable, so the nightmare has merely been intellectual: we realized early on that this administration was cynical, dishonest and incompetent, but spent a long time unable to get others
to see the obvious. For others — above all, of course, those Americans risking their lives in a war whose real rationale has never been explained — the nightmare has been all too concrete.” But, he writes, “the long nightmare won’t really be over until journalists ask themselves: what did we know, when did we know it, and why didn’t we tell the public?”


Chris Matthews has opposed the war from before the beginning. From his final column.
…this is my last column. The wisdom of middle age has taught me I can’t have — or do — it all. I remember Sen. Ed Muskie the night he won his last election back in 1976. He’d had some vodka, which I sensed he’d drunk fast — like a Russian against the winter. He said: “The only reason to be in politics is to be out there all alone and then be proven right.” That goes for good columnists, too. So I’ll say it: I hate this war that’s coming in Iraq. I don’t think we’ll be proud of it. Oppose this war because it will create a millennium of hatred and the suicidal terrorism that comes with it. You talk about Bush trying to avenge his father. What about the tens of millions of Arab sons who will want to finish a fight we start next spring in Baghdad?

From the White House Briefing quoting the new york times editorial page today, NYT,

Juan Cole writes

Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Maurice Hinchey and other Members will send the attached letter to Mr. Ahmed Chalabi asking for a meeting to discuss his role in
manipulating the intelligence that led to war with Iraq. The current list of signers (18 in all) is attached below and will be updated later today.
From Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman writes about the virtues of single-payer:

Pride, Prejudice, Insurance – New York Times: Employment-based health insurance is the only serious source of coverage for Americans too young to receive Medicare and insufficiently destitute to receive Medicaid, but it’s an institution in decline. Between 2000 and 2004 the number of Americans under 65 rose by 10 million. Yet the number of nonelderly Americans covered by employment-based insurance fell by 4.9 million

Billmon writes War Plan

Last year, U.S. intelligence agencies and military planners received
instructions to prepare up-to-date target lists for Syria and to increase their
preparations for potential military operations against Damascus.
According to internal intelligence documents and discussions with military officers
involved in the planning, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa was directed
by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to prepare a “strategic concept” for
Syria, the first step in creation of a full fledged war plan. The planning process, according to the internal documents, includes courses of action for cross border operations to seal the Syrian-Iraqi border and destroy safe havens supporting the Iraqi insurgency, attacks on Syrian weapons of mass destruction infrastructure supporting the development of biological and chemical weapons, and attacks on the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
William M. Arkin
More snippets…

Former Republican leader Trent Lott decided to help the investigation along:
Lott told reporters the information in the Post story was the same as that given to Republican senators in a closed-door briefing by Vice President Dick Cheney last week.
“Every word that was said in there went right to the newspaper,” he said. “We can’t keep our mouths shut.”….He said the investigation Frist and Hastert want may result in an ethics probe of a Senate member.
So, um, Cheney told a bunch of Republican senators about the CIA’s black sites? How did they respond to that? And who was in that meeting, anyway? Was Frist there?

Pasted from http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/>

What about Arresting Ahmed Chalabi on the Street Tomorrow at 2 p.m.? Just an Idea

Pasted from http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/>

As those of you who are TPMCafe regulars already know, we’re hosting a forum this week at TPMCafe Book Club on former Clinton National Economic Advisor Gene Sperling’s new

book, The Pro-Growth Progressive.

Pasted from http://talkingpointsmemo.com/>

“The New Progressivism”

November 8, 2005 § Leave a comment

From Washington Monthly.

offers up this quote from Franklin Roosevelt:

“The issue of government has always been whether individual men and women will have to serve some system of government of economics — or whether a system of government and economics exists to serve individual men and women.”

….Government’s task, Roosevelt argued, was to intervene “not to hamper individualism but to protect it” by helping the less powerful confront economic difficulties and abuses of the system by the powerful.

Whatever message Democrats come up with, they will continue to lose ground and be untrue to what’s best in their tradition if they fail to stand up for this affirmative government role in enhancing both individual liberty and self-sufficiency.

more at the link

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You are currently viewing the archives for November, 2005 at Reflections on GardenWorld Politics Douglass Carmichael.