Thursday, July 26, 2007

More on "No End In Sight"

Salon has an interview with filmmaker Charles Ferguson that is worth a read. Ferguson confirms, I think, the perspective I saw behind his film -- he (a) supported the decision to go to war in Iraq, and (b) thinks failure was not inveitable.

As mentioned in my review below, I think he makes a strong case for (b). I also think his initial support for the war goes a long way toward explaining his lack of interest in questioning (a).

See the film, and draw your own conclusions. And share your thoughts here, why doncha?

Update: My prognostiscope seems to be fully functional. Just as I predicted in Meme on Film, here is Hullabaloo's Tristero teeing off on "No End In Sight."

I will happily concede that there is an "angels-on-pinheads" aspect to the question of whether the odds of success (whatever that means) were 1 in a billion or zero in a billion. But I am reminded of a line from the Daily Show about how where most of us have gray matter, neocons have black-and-white matter.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Three for Helen Thomas

Documents contradict Gonzales' testimony

WASHINGTON - Documents show that eight congressional leaders were briefed about the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program on the eve of its expiration in 2004, contradicting sworn Senate testimony this week by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The documents, obtained by The Associated Press, come as senators consider whether a perjury investigation should be opened into conflicting accounts about the program and a dramatic March 2004 confrontation leading up to its potentially illegal reauthorization.

A Gonzales spokesman maintained Wednesday that the attorney general stands by his testimony.

At a heated Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Gonzales repeatedly testified that the issue at hand was not about the terrorist surveillance program, which allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on suspects in the United States without receiving court approval.

Instead, Gonzales said, the emergency meetings on March 10, 2004, focused on an intelligence program that he would not describe.

Gonzales, who was then serving as counsel to Bush, testified that the White House Situation Room briefing sought to inform congressional leaders about the pending expiration of the unidentified program and Justice Department objections to renew it. Those objections were led by then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey, who questioned the program's legality.

"The dissent related to other intelligence activities," Gonzales testified at Tuesday's hearing. "The dissent was not about the terrorist surveillance program."

"Not the TSP?" responded Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. "Come on. If you say it's about other, that implies not. Now say it or not."

"It was not," Gonzales answered. "It was about other intelligence activities."

A four-page memo from the national intelligence director's office shows that the White House briefing with the eight lawmakers on March 10, 2004, was about the terror surveillance program, or TSP.
The Bush Administration is composed of two classes of people: those who, whether due to fear of being caught or some vestigial moral sense prefer not to lie under oath and thus choose contempt (Miers, Bolton), and those who, whether due to omertà or a surfeit of sociopathy, lie under oath the way most of us buy gasoline -- whenever we feel the need, and without a shred of guilt (Gonzales, Lurita Doane).

We know that what Gonzo does is fully embraced by his boss. But I'd like to see him do so explicitly. So if Fearless Leader ever holds another press conference, I'd like to see an actual reporter (that is, Helen Thomas) ask him the following:

"Do you believe that members of your administration have an obligation to tell the truth when testifying under oath?"

"And do you believe that they should be prosecuted for failing to do so?"

And finally:

"Would you pardon a member of your administration convicted of perjury?"

We know what the behind-closed-doors answers are. But I want it on the record.

Update: The Anonymous Liberal points to questioning of Gonzo from DiFi that goes a good ways toward what I am looking for:

FEINSTEIN: Let me ask you this: If the president determined that a truthful answer to questions posed by the Congress to you, including the questions I ask here today, would hinder his ability to function as commander in chief, does the authorization for use of military force or his asserted plenary powers authorize you to provide false or misleading answers to such questions?

GONZALES: Absolutely not, Senator. Of course not.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you. I just asked the question. A yes or no...

GONZALES: Nothing would excuse false statements before the Congress.

OTOH, if Bush said "Lie, Fredo, lie," he would feel perfectly free to say what he believed lying is inexcusable even if it was, you know, a lie.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Meme on Film

In a country riven by dissent and angry partisanship, there are very few subjects about which there is broad consensus. One of the very few things our “uniter, not a divider” President has managed to bring the vast majority of American together on is the conclusion that the Iraq war has been badly mismanaged. Charles Ferguson’s important and powerful new documentary, “No End in Sight,” provides the evidence to support that belief, and does it so well that it should be embraced by all the constituents of that consensus. Yet I predict it will be very controversial.

(In one of the few “perks” ever offered to me as a blogger, I was sent a pre-release review copy. The film opens in select theaters on July 27th.)

The movie is thoroughly professional, well-written and produced, and should be seen by anyone who takes our country and its foreign policy seriously. But I’m no Gene Siskel, so you aren’t going to get a real movie review out of me. I’d rather talk about the political implications.

For the pro-Bush “dead enders,” the movie will be anathema, of course, but it is just another fire hose spewing inconvenient facts into what has become a flood of them; the people who most need to hear this message will shut it out. But by now that is a small group. There are now large numbers of Republicans and other former backers of the war who may be more receptive to Ferguson’s film. What may shock and awe them is not the film’s thesis itself, but the extraordinary access Ferguson got to the dramatis personae of this ongoing tragedy. It did not really sink in for me until after I had watched the film how remarkable it is that any senior members of the Bush team gave on-camera interviews for this movie, let alone the long list that wound up doing so. Recall that message discipline was until only recently the signal attribute of this White House; remember that more than 150,000 troops remain in Iraq. Yet Richard Armitage, Generals Jay Garner and Paul Eaton, former Ambassador Barbara Bodine and several other players at the center of the decision-making process freely confirm the cosmic stupidity driving every decision about the Iraq war. It is now to be expected that such finger-pointing will become public years after the smoke has cleared; for these people to offer their damning insights while bullets still fly is an indication of just how disgusted these career soldiers, diplomats and politicians have become with the men at the top.

I opposed the war from the outset. And I have been steadfast in my belief that the biggest in the constellation of tragedies was the belief that it could have turned out any differently. (A close second is the belief that we had the right to impose our will and topple the very regime we once supported, but leave that aside for a moment.)

For me, the most thought-provoking aspect of the film is the evidence Ferguson presents that could be seen as supporting the proposition that it might have been possible for things to have gone very differently. The film strongly suggests that, had even a few of the opportunities to do something – anything – right been taken, the Iraqi military could well have worked to maintain order, sources of national pride like the National Museum of Iraq might have been preserved, and the sickening sectarian violence might never have gained such horrifying momentum.

I’m not saying I’m convinced. The idea that the experts could have done it right but for the incompetence of the Administration is obviously a seductive one for those very experts, and in “No End in Sight” we do not hear from anyone who argues that the enterprise was doomed from the start. The film has a clear point of view, even if that point of view is presented by the actors (in the political sense) as much as by the director. But the movie is compelling and thought-provoking even for those of us who are familiar with its subject, and that is high praise indeed for any documentary.

I am wary of what Sam Rosenfeld and Matthew Ygelsias called the “incompetence dodge” – the way in which so many cheerleaders for this war have seized upon the mismanagement of the war as a way of avoiding responsibility for their blind, jingoistic enthusiasm for the decision to go to Iraq in the first place. And so I fully expect the Andrew Sullivans of our world to seize upon this documentary as a form of vindication. That worries me – there are fundamental questions outside the scope of this film that are vital, and if the movie gets the audience it deserves, I can imagine that those questions will be banished from “serious” discourse. The Wise Men have already started to congeal around the view that their beautiful war was a good idea badly executed. They will eagerly embrace anything that will help them to avoid the deeper questions that could bring down the larger evil of which they are a part.

But we should not commit the mirror-image mistake of refusing to entertain the possibility that some of our assumptions might be open to question, too. Our certainty that chaos was inevitable ought to be subject to examination, too. Iraq was, despite its underlying ethnic divisions, a country. It was run by a ruthless dictator, to be sure, but can we really say with certainty that once that one finger was forcibly removed from the dike, the deluge was coming no matter what? That dictator relied upon an elaborate mechanism to keep order, and to keep ethnic tensions in check. I think we have to admit that there is at least some possibility that those forces might have served another master well enough and long enough to prevent the death spiral that now prevails.

I would have opposed the war even if you could have assured me a priori it would have led to a “good” outcome. In my view even success would not have made it right. And success might, paradoxically, have made our own slow descent into a police state faster or harder to unwind. So conceding Ferguson’s point – that it might have turned out differently – does not absolve the war’s supporters of their own grave errors.

This country desperately needs a robust debate about how and why the decision to go to war in Iraq was made, and about the limits and uses of our military power. But it no longer needs a debate about the stunning incompetence with which the occupation of Iraq was executed. “No End in Sight” is overwhelming and dispositive, making further discussion about that subject superfluous. As Ferguson shows, literally every decision – every decision – was seemingly calculated to achieve maximum chaos. The sooner the country acknowledges these inarguable failures, and moves on to ask why, the sooner we can try to begin repairing the damage – not to Iraq, which I suspect is a problem we can have no role in improving, but at home, where the damage might still be salvageable.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Mustache of Freedom

Tom Tomorrow so nails Tom Friedman.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Don't take my word for it...

Thom Hartmann began his program on Thursday by reading from a new Executive Order which allows the government to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with its Iraq policies.

He then introduced old-line conservative Paul Craig Roberts -- a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan who has recently become known for his strong opposition to the Bush administration and the Iraq War -- by quoting the "strong words" which open Roberts' latest column: "Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran."

That's at least two Reagan officials calling for impeachment (Roberts and Bruce Fein) and another in the growing list of conservatives echoing my prophesies about Iran and fascism.

I just read the Executive Order Roberts references. I'd say we are well on the way to that police state. Our Founding Fathers would recognize the powers it purports to exercise, but only because they would immediately be reminded of the powers their King George exercised and that lead directly to our revolution.

(This is a secondary objection, but think about the absurdity of the order for its announced purposes -- stopping the violence in Iraq. Most of that violence is caused by suicide bombers. How much of a deterrent is loss of property to someone who is willing to blow himself up for his cause? The order is obviously aimed at someone else. Care to venture a guess who?)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


This morning I had CNN on and it took a Herculean effort to resist throwing something heavy at the screen. As others have documented, press coverage of the Senate Iraq debate has been shocking in its bias. CNN never used the word filibuster. It positioned the whole thing as a Democratic stunt, and parroted the new line that the ordinary course in the Senate is that bills require 60 votes to pass.

My local paper was just as bad, running an appalling AP hatchet job. Here is the letter I just sent to the paper:

I learned some fascinating things from the AP story you titled "Serious Senate slumber party on Iraq" about the debate in the Senate.

I learned that when Democrats sought to block confirmation of conservative judicial nominees in 2003, that was a "filibuster." I learned that when Republicans sought to block a vote on a bill that would end the Iraq war, that tactic must be something different entirely, because the word "filibuster" did not appear once in reference to what the Republicans are now doing.

I learned that now that it is Republicans who refuse to allow a vote, Democratic attempts to force a vote are instead an "attention grabbing marathon." In other words, I learned that when Democrats were in the minority, blocking an up-or-down vote was obstruction, but when Republicans are in the minority, seeking an up-or-down vote is "maneuvering."

And finally, I learned that, despite Knight-Ridder's well-deserved reputation as one of the few news sources to properly question the Administration's mythology justifying the invasion of Iraq, Administration spin can still make it into the Mercury News unmolested.

The next time you receive your talking points memo from the Republicans, please do us all a favor -- just publish the memo.
I know I should not expect any better. But I am starting to feel a lot more sympathy for Harry Reid -- he really is facing a three-on-one in his attempts to do the right thing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sully World

Andrew Sullivan is perhaps the most interesting blogger I regularly read. Not the best, and certainly not the most insightful; rather, he is interesting because he is the human embodiment of Forrest Gump's box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get. Rational, insightful critique of Administration nonsense? Unhinged ad hominems aimed at Noam Chomsky or Michael Moore? Utterly incoherent attempts to harmonize Christianity with reason? All of the above? Maybe "read" is the wrong verb for what I do there -- "rubberneck" might be a better characterization.

Today Sully gives us a perfect 10 on the Sullyness scale. First he ably mocks some utter nonsense from BoBo in the Times:

After four years of mounting, centrifugal chaos in a country he invaded on false pretenses, with no plan for victory, Bush is still "empowered" by a sense of religious mission and the aphrodisiac of the appearance of power. If you need any more convincing that Bush isn't merely not a conservative, but a tragi-comic version of what conservatism has long opposed, then read David's column ...

As a very abstract theological principle, it's hard for a fellow Christian to disagree. But, of course, as a political or historical principle, this is dangerous, delusional hogwash. There is a dstinction between theology and politics, a distinction between theory and practice: a distinction at the core of the very meaning of conservatism. The notion that free will or even human freedom is destined to be humanity's future, and that this destiny can be achieved by a Supreme Leader, is a function not of conservatism in any sense, but of a messianic, eschatological ideology. It's the most naive form of Whiggery on half-baked evangelical steroids. It is all the more disturbing to be allied with what can only be called Bush's attachment to the Fuhrerprinzip - the fascistic notion that all human affairs can be commanded and determined by a Great Decider. Our dumb luck, alas, is that our supreme leader is a trust-fund kid with a chip on his shoulder and zero understanding of history or war.

Amazingly, David appears to be taken in by this lunacy. He says that "only the whispering voice of Leo Tolstoy holds one back." Er: how about Burke? Or Aron? Or Tocqueville? Or Constant? Or Gibbon? Or any serious thinker about politics and history not infatuated with some ideology or eschatology? How about every conservative thinker who ever wrote a sentence?

Excellent work. Grounded in reality. Cogent. Etc.

But he closes with this:

This is not the work of a conservative statesman; it's the mark of a delusional fanatic. If you define liberalism broadly as the belief that human society is perfectible, that heaven can be created on earth by force of will, then Bush is one of the most recklesss enemies of conservatism who has ever held high office in America.

Huh? I have never heard anyone, friend or foe, define liberalism as the belief that society is perfectible. Here is how Wikipedia defines liberalism:

Liberalism refers to a broad array of related ideas and theories of government which advocate individual liberty.[1] Liberalism has its roots in the Western Age of Enlightenment.

Broadly speaking, liberalism emphasizes individual rights and equality of opportunity. A liberal society is characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on power, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy, free private enterprise, and a transparent system of government in which the rights of all citizens are protected.[2] In the 21st century, this usually means liberal democracy with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law.[3]

Liberalism rejected many foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as the Divine Right of Kings, hereditary status, and established religion. Social progressivism, the belief that traditions do not carry any inherent value and social practices ought to be continuously adjusted for the greater benefit of humanity, is a common component of liberal ideology. Fundamental human rights that all liberals support include the right to life, liberty, and property.

So what is going on here? You may well recall that Sully was once a cheerleader for our First Cheerleader. He was for the war. He has things to answer for. And though he often sounds today like a man bounded by reason, he also seeks to call himself a True Conservative. So what is really going on here, methinks, is that his absurd definition of liberal is part of the broader attempt by conservatives to leave Bush on our doorstep.

Nuh-uh, Sully. Na ga happen. You guys like to define anything undisciplined and expensive as liberal (you gonna push Saint Ronnie the Profligate on us, too?), but King George is yours, and the oft-delayed and much anticipated release of Jonah Goldberg's oxymoronic tome "Liberal Fascism" is likely to only affirm the absurdity of the attempt to rebrand your problem child as ours.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Return of the Enabling Act

Most of the longer pieces I wrote for Raw Story never resonated in the wingnutosphere. The two exceptions were the one I wrote about Little Offend Annie (Ann Coulter), and the one I wrote comparing last year's unconscionable Military Commissions Act with the German Enabling Act of 1933. I thought that that one narrowly avoided violation of Godwin's law, but the wingnuts thought I was guilty nonetheless.

What I said:

The language of the new Enabling Act is a bit more baroque than that used seventy years ago. And, to be sure, it is not as far-reaching as that of its predecessor. But make no mistake: Just as the 1933 Enabling Act created the context for dictatorship, so does this one. The German legislature told the executive that it had the power to make law and ignore the constitution. If Congress passes this bill, the American legislature will second the motion.

The fact that I was extremely careful about the words I used meant little. I was accused of all manner of heresies. (Most of the vitriol came at a place oxymoronically called Conservative Underground, which appears to be offline. Here is the link if the outage is temporary.) It would take a brave, even foolhardy national political figure to step into that breach.

What Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison said a couple of days ago:

Keith Ellison, a convert to Islam, has developed a moderate image after being elected last November. As America's first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison has provoked outrage by apparently comparing President George W Bush's administration to that of Adolf Hitler's Nazi movement.

Ellison, a democrat, even hinted that the President of the United States might have been responsible for the September 11 attacks.

Ellison was addressing a gathering of atheists in his home state of Minnesota. Ellison compared the 9/11 atrocities to the destruction of the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1933. Most people now believe this was planned by the Nazis to solidify their power base.

"It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that," Mr. Ellison said. "After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted."

I don't know enough about Ellison to say whether I am generally comfortable in his company. But dismissing his comparison as hysteria is all too convenient, and those who avoid the merits of the comparison by dismissing it out of hand are guilty of exactly what they accuse Ellison of -- trampling the bounds of reasonable debate.

The Bush Administration is not as evil as Hitler's Germany. That does not mean the Bush Administration is not evil. It is. The lawlessness of the Bush Administration is not as egregious as the excesses of the Third Reich. That does not mean that the Bush-Cheney regime is not fascist. It is. And no amount of rhetoric or obfuscatory mock-outrage will change those facts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Separated at birth?

As I watched Minister of Disinformation Tony Snow babble incoherently, taunt his interlocutors, and make stuff up, I realized he reminded me of someone...

(With the obvious distinction that Max, though mischievous, generally revealed important truths.)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Thing is, it will probably help him

Fred Thompson aided Nixon on Watergate

WASHINGTON - Fred Thompson gained an image as a tough-minded investigative counsel for the Senate Watergate committee. Yet President Nixon and his top aides viewed the fellow Republican as a willing, if not too bright, ally, according to White House tapes.

Thompson, now preparing a bid for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, won fame in 1973 for asking a committee witness the bombshell question that revealed Nixon had installed hidden listening devices and taping equipment in the Oval Office.

Those tapes show Thompson played a behind-the-scenes role that was very different from his public image three decades ago. He comes across as a partisan willing to cooperate with the Nixon White House's effort to discredit the committee's star witness.

It was Thompson who tipped off the White House that the Senate committee knew about the tapes. They eventually cinched Nixon's downfall in the scandal resulting from the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington and the subsequent White House cover-up.

Thompson, then 30, was appointed counsel by his political mentor, Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker, the top Republican on the Senate investigative committee. Thompson had been an assistant U.S. attorney in Nashville, Tenn., and had managed Baker's re-election campaign. Thompson later was a senator himself.

Nixon was disappointed with the selection of Thompson, whom he called "dumb as hell." The president did not think Thompson was skilled enough to interrogate unfriendly witnesses and would be outsmarted by the committee's Democratic counsel.

This assessment comes from audio tapes of White House conversations recently reviewed by The Associated Press at the National Archives in College Park, Md., and transcripts of those discussions that are published in "Abuse of Power: The New Watergate Tapes," by historian Stanley Kutler.


Publicly, Baker and Thompson presented themselves as dedicated to uncovering the truth. But Baker had secret meetings and conversations with Nixon and his top aides, while Thompson worked cooperatively with the White House and accepted coaching from Nixon's lawyer, J. Fred Buzhardt, the tapes and transcripts show.

"We've got a pretty good rapport with Fred Thompson," Buzhardt told Nixon in an Oval Office meeting on June 6, 1973. The meeting included a discussion of former White House counsel John Dean's upcoming testimony before the committee.

Dean, the committee's star witness, had agreed to tell what he knew about the break-in and cover-up if he was granted immunity against anything incriminating he might say.

Nixon expressed concern that Thompson was not "very smart."

"Not extremely so," Buzhardt agreed.

"But he's friendly," Nixon said.

"But he's friendly," Buzhardt agreed. "We are hoping, though, to work with Thompson and prepare him, if Dean does appear next week, to do a very thorough cross-examination."

Five days later, Buzhardt reported to Nixon that he had primed Thompson for the Dean cross-examination.

"I found Thompson most cooperative, feeling more Republican every day," Buzhardt said. "Uh, perfectly prepared to assist in really doing a cross-examination."

Later in the same conversation, Buzhardt said Thompson was "willing to go, you know, pretty much the distance now. And he said he realized his responsibility was going to have be as a Republican increasingly."

Thompson, who declined comment for this story, described himself in his book, "At That Point in Time," published in 1975, as a Nixon administration "loyalist" who struggled with his role as minority counsel. "I would try to walk a fine line between a good-faith pursuit of the investigation and a good-faith attempt to insure balance and fairness," Thompson wrote.

Loyal? Duplicitous? Dumb as a fencepost? These seem to be the signal qualities in a Republican nominee. I expect this moves his numbers up among primary voters.

Put that together with Chris Mathews' thumbs-up for his personal odor, and his soon-to-be-noted skill at being the guy authoritarians would want to have a beer with, and I think we have a winner.

Think I'm kidding? Ask yourself why this information is coming out now. The transcripts have been publicly available for almost ten years -- Kutler's book was published in 1998.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

sadly, yes

If I thought it would help, I would take to the streets. But this commenter @ Greenwald's place explains the futility of it all:

In fall '02 to spring '03, I participated in two massive protests (DC and NYC), and several smaller ones. I even gave a speech at a well-attended rally on the overwhelming likelihood that there were no WMD in Iraq.

As a private citizen and organizer, I spoke to the local media and appeared on a newscast. I organized local efforts to peacefully hold vigils, marches, and rallies. I helped run bus trips to the bigger protests in DC and New York (I did not live in DC at the time). I engaged counter-protesters with reasoned debate, and in my daily life presented an intelligent and well-reasoned case against the war to advocates of the war. While participating in one vigil, I was assaulted by a drunk war supporter, who questioned my nationality and saw my peaceful opposition to a grossly over-marketed war of choice as an affront to America itself.

I remember being consistently crestfallen at the miserable coverage that even the massive rallies garnered. The media grossly under-reported the numbers, relegated the story of over 500,000 people protesting in the nation's capital to newspaper back pages and broadcast side notes. When they finally did cover a protest, they invariably fixated on "Dirty F-ing Hippies," socialist/communist groups, anarchists, giant puppets, and profane picket signs. Every time, my feelings of great purpose and significance - marching in a sea of thousands - succumbed to feelings of betrayal and unfairness by the only institutions that could take the protest messages and images to the broader public. Outside of the protest cities themselves, I was shocked at how few even realized there had been hundreds of thousands peacefully marching against the invasion of Iraq. Fewer still understood that the few altercations that erupted were caused almost wholly by overzealous policing, which I personally witnessed on more than one occasion.

The experience left me bitter, as I watched with increasing sadness and anger the government stomping toward war unimpeded, dragging manufactured public opinion behind them.

I learned a powerful lesson - that without healthy media institutions, a million protesters of all walks of life and political persuasions could not register their opinion in the national discussion. I realized that, in our new system of mass-market, unidirectional media communications, the tactics of yesteryear would not work. With the exception of a notable few national gadflies like Cindy Sheehan, grassroots protest is ineffective without sympathetic (or at least fair) media coverage.

If a tree falls in protest, and there are no TV cameras there to film it, it does not make a sound.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I don't have a clue what to say. I am mute with rage and horror.

Most of the press is of course ignoring the obvious fact that Bush chose to commute rather than pardon because it is the best way to protect himself and Cheney. They of course refuse to say the obvious -- that it is clear and willful obstruction of justice.

I see little to counter my feeling that they will get away with it. They could not care less at this point about the polls. They will gleefully stonewall Congressional subpoenas, becaus ethey know how toothless Congress has made itself. Impeachment remains off the table, our Democratic eunuchship tells us. Thus Bush and Cheney fear nothing.

I understand why they do it. I understand why the David Brookses and William Kristols blighting our discourse celebrate it. What amazes me is why significant swaths (minorities, perhaps, but not tiny ones) of ordinary Joes applaud it. It is perhaps the most dramatic example of Stockholm Syndrome on a national level of our lifetimes.

I have no great insights, no suggestions, no advice. I fear we are past a cure, that our Constitution is dead man walking. If you have a better idea, or a more optimistic response, I'd love to hear it.

On a completely different subject, does it strike anyone else as odd that, at the very same time as we collectively freak over cars filled with nails and gasoline, and about the scary, scary terrorists among us, we now have thousands of locations where absolutely anyone can anonymously purchase large quantities of explosives? I have always looked askance at our annual ritual of getting drunk and playing with pyrotechnics, but it hit me this afternoon that our "war on terror" and the easy availability of fireworks might be just a touch contradictory.

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