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Friday, August 13, 2004

See POLITICAL ANIMAL for a PLAME SUBPOENA UPDATE on August 12, 2004. Could be more contempt citations against reporters regarding sources. … well, SOMEBODY has to be blamed for the leak—why not the press, right?


“…the last thing the government or the Americans want is a widespread Shia revolt.”
-BBC

The truly scary, and many think, inevitable development of continued unilateral US occupation of Iraq would be the development of a broad-based insurrection against the new interim government. If the Shia begin to believe US soldiers have moved against the Iraqi population generally during the present battle with Moktada Sadr, the endgame against ‘liberation’ will have begun. Inroads to build alliances by foreign fighters and Sunni rebels within the Shia community apparently are beginning to bear fruit during the assault on Najaf.

Bush administration policy may actually manage to bring the splinters of the Iraqi nation together—unfortunately in opposition to the United States, not against the Baath Party.

Maeanwhile, back home, Dick Cheney leads the charge to paint Kerry as a weenie for his criticism of the the neocon war tactics, saying, "We don't want to turn that (war power) responsibility over to somebody who doesn't have deeply held convictions about right and wrong. And I must say, I look at the record of our opponents. There is a lot of hesitation and uncertainty."

…And Kerry appears ready to play right into the Republican campaign strategy, reinforcing the appearance of waffling by saying he’d still vote to give Bush war authority now, knowing what we now know about the total absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

You gotta wonder about whether Kerry has checked the polls recently. Most Americans now think the Iraq war was a mistake, if not worse. This could be a moment to show some backbone, before Bush/Cheney begins to make Kerry look as soft the last Democratic nominee from Massachusetts.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Maureen Dowd is appearing in the press now to peddle her book, “Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk…,” and this is a treat for us all. Dowd, who is notoriously wicked about all politicians and hysterically funny in general, printwise, is quite shy about talking in public.

So it’s a great occasion that she has been forced into full view, or ear, on Leonard Lopate’s WNYC show. Check it out for the wonderful descriptions of the “Boy King” as the “host body” for Dick Cheney, for the awkward but zippy one-liners while she sits with Lopate, fan to fan, chatting about good writing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Any political junkie reading this has to put up with some baseball every now and then. This summer, I began playing fantasy baseball with some work buddies and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. There are limits, however, to the time I can put into early morning roster changes and midnight four-player trades designed to win the micropennant. When one of the other 'owners' wrote to me, inviting me to play fantasy sports all year, I had to decline. My response is a bit of fan-autobiography:

Wally-

I'm pretty much of a sometime fan of every sport except baseball. I got the Red Sox Nation bug as a child and never fully recovered, eventually becoming a more universal baseball fan in the process. I spent the fall quarter of my third grade school year in 1967 pretending to listen to my teacher while listening to the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox team on a transistor radio with an earpiece wire hidden up my shirtsleeve. Even though they eventually lost the Series in a Don Quixote style quest, sending Jim Lonborg out to the mound yet again for a third win on two days rest, they hooked me.

Today, as a New Yorker Red Sox fan, I'm in a unique position to enjoy the still seemingly impossible vision of a Sox World Series victory, which must certainly run through the Bronx these days.

I used to follow the glorious basketball Celtics closely before Len Bias died, but they've unravelled so thoroughly over the years since then that I couldn't take being devoted to another masochistic team. I hope for a reemergence, but I don't study it in detail. I'm only remotely qualified to own a baseball team. In this area, even the goofiest fan can always claim to be smarter than Red Sox management during most seasons. I only hope this year they'll ultimately be seen as the only geniuses who saw a path to the World Series that ran through household names like Kevin Youkilis, Orlando Cabrera, Bronson Arroyo, Doug Mientkiewicz and Gabe Kapler instead of hanging onto small time players like Nomar Garciaparra (I may be one of the few Sox fans who've come to agree with ditching Nomar, but think our chances are dwindling).

Long story short, I'm your man for baseball only, but I appreciate the invite for the other leagues.

Good luck (and to your Phillies too),

Bill

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Isn't it ironic that the first person who'll do time in the Valerie Plame case won't be anyone in the Administration, but one of the reporters who broke the story?

Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper is in contempt of the federal courts for refusing to reveal his sources in an article critical of the leak about her CIA job as a WMD expert. He won't talk and the prognosis isn't good.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Today Bob Herbert takes on another question that ought to be at the top of the debate priority list for the fall campaign: Why are more middle class families going broke? What can government do to change the trend? The two income family of today is actually less well off than the one income family of the 1970's.

Something's drastically wrong when Jack and Jane barely get to sit down together for a meal and still can't make ends meet.

"What's the plan?"

That's Bob Herbert's well placed question in his last column about the war in Iraq.

What IS the plan?

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Sibel Edmonds' strange case is, now, months and years later, finally being given it's due. (See blog entries here on July 10 and again on July 29)

Edmonds blew the whistle on the FBI for leaving reams of untranslated terror evidence sitting around unread-- and got fired for it. The FBI's attempt to gloss over and hide her allegations through use of "National Security" objections worked in court for a while. While her case was thrown out, and the mainstream media ignored her story of inaction and duplicity at the FBI's language translation area for a year, she's finally getting her due.

60 Minutes is now covering her story and we can only hope there will be some hell to pay at the FBI before another terrorist attack occurs. It should be instructive that Attorney General Ashcroft used his wide latitude in this area not to enhance our security, but to cover his backside against her charges.

Anyone want to give him more power to do so?

Kevin Drum provides a link in Washington Monthly blog that is even stranger about Swiftvets. The book that will be following is written by a man who appears from this link to be on a par with Lyndon LaRouche as a political thinker.

Yet the Texas money is pouring in for these guys...

One of my favorite bloggers, Kevin Drum, writes today in the Washington Monthly blog, under the heading REALITY CHECK...

"A quick note to all my Bush-hating homies out there: it's quite possible that (a) al-Qaeda really is planning an attack in the United States sometime soon and (b) that the Bush administration has cynically hyped this to the skies for the basest political reasons.

Both of these things might be true. My guess is that both are true. "

Check this guy out. He's great.

Something struck me today while I was reading Ben Smith’s New York Observer article about John Edwards brother-in-law, Jay Anania. Jay’s a filmmaker, like myself. So I guess I relate to his POV on politics. When you make documentaries, or when you get assigned to make films, you have an unpleasantly direct experience with the difference between the truth, as you experience it directly and the truth as it ends up on film or video.

Jay seems to be a guy who’s seen a lot of that difference in a long career of traveling through developing countries, shooting stories. No doubt he also came to see the striking difference between reading “balanced” accounts about US government views of struggles around the globe and the reality as one sees life on the ground.

Sometimes, even when you roll tape and attempt to communicate the things you see and feel while talking to people, you still can’t get across a true reality. Sometimes, even if you do it well, a pronouncement by a recognized authority, like the US Department of State or the CIA, however nonsensical, has more credibility when reported than the thing you see or show that’s in front of you.

Jay Anania clearly has the jaded view one can easily develop about the pronouncements of recognized government authorities. He describes his arguments with his sister before the Iraq invasion.

“I remember repeatedly arguing we don’t have affirmative reason to believe,” Anania is quoted in the Observer as having said to his sister.

Elizabeth Edwards, obviously irritated with her brother for questioning a war her husband voted to support, replied, "Well, Jay, if that’s not true, then George Tenet has lied to John.”

Clearly, there was reason to doubt the pronouncements of the government. One can argue that there was probably no percentage in arguing in the Senate against the Director of the CIA, the President, and the Secretary of State. Edwards didn’t. He voted to give President Bush the authority to fight a war that we all hoped he wouldn’t ultimately engage. But maybe what’s happened since should wise us up a bit about getting our information from multiple sources and making sure they all pass the smell test before we act on “reliable information.”

For me, it’s also nice sometimes to see a working documentarian getting quoted on an equal footing with the powerful politicos who ultimately get to make the tough calls about what’s true and what’s fiction.

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