Sunday, August 31, 2008

Placid Lake Woebegon Begets A Nasty Police State

I grew up in the Twin Cities, a prosperous and bucolic community hard on the banks of the Mississippi, the last major metropolitan area until you Lewis-and-Clark yourself over the Rockies.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are filled with wide, tree-lined streets, good schools, close-knit families, a welcoming spirit, pride in a deep civic commitment, home of the Guthrie Theatre and Walker Art Centre, and a keen, congenital sense of justice and equality. It’s a place where even wealthy, fourth and fifth generation families like the Dayton’s (Target), the Rawlings’ (General Mills), the Pillsbury’s (of Dough Boy fame, tee-hee), the McKnight’s (3M) and the Hill’s (19th century railroad tycoons) still believe in and practice a gentle, Midwestern kind of mild social democracy. Example: Most CEOs of Fortune 100 companies based here actually drive themselves to work, often parking in the lot alongside cars belonging to the woman who brings the mail around or the guy working in the cafeteria line. About the only time you see limo’s crawling the streets is prom night or for a funeral.

After all, the characters and settings in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegon stories are based on his life growing up in a working class suburb of the Twin Cities. There is more truth than fiction in his recounting of the goings-on of the three Norwegian bachelor farmers, the Buttermilk Biscuit Co., and all the other good folks he turned into cultural icons.

I haven’t lived in either Minneapolis or St. Paul for nearly 20 years, and last visited when my sister died in 1999, but I’ve always thought warmly of my hometown. So I was astonished when e-mails began trickling in during the week from confused, frightened and oft-times angry friends and acquaintances back home. They wrote chilling accounts of police conducting wholesale, warrantless raids on people whose only crime is that the Secret Service and Dept. of Homeland (In)Security, aided by local police goon squads dressed in riot gear, thought they might, possibly, somewhere, somehow, exercise their 1st Amendment right to protest during the Republican National Convention.

The first inkling of what was unfolding came late Thursday morning from Nancy, my fifth grade love who grew up to become a physician and soccer mom in an upper-upper middle class suburb called Edina – a place so conservative and rich I suspect there’s a local ordinance requiring residents to vote Republican before being allowed to move in:

There’s a story this ayem about St Paul police raiding a home and arresting people who were going to protest at the convention. OK, so you know me: I voted for Bush twice and I’m no lefty loonie. But this scares me. According to ‘CCO radio, police in riot gear raided a house early this morning, arresting nine people who said they were in town to protest at the convention. But they were charged with … are you ready? … having too many people live in a residential home! What the hell?

By mid-afternoon, I’d heard from two more friends.

Mike, who has three teen-aged kids and owns a store in a mixed St. Paul neighborhood, wrote, “I don’t know what’s going on but unmarked cop cars with sirens screaming are chasing all over hell and back.” Almost simultaneously, an e-mail arrived from Ivar, a playwright, declaring, “Jesus Christ! A bunch of cops dressed like the Road Warrior just broke into a home down the street and hauled out a bunch of people in handcuffs and hoods. As they were being thrown into police vehicles, cops arrested a guy across the street taking a home video of the bust. My street looks like Burma.” He meant Myanmar but Ivar’s showing his age these days like the rest of us boomers.

By Saturday, the trickle of messages became a torrent.

To verify what friends were writing, I called the St. Paul Mayor’s Office (615.266.8510) where I was directed to the police (651.291.1111). A PR woman for the cops said I had to talk to the Secret Service (612.348.1800), which refused to answer any questions but asked for the spelling of my name before telling me to call Homeland Security (202.282.8000) where repeated calls were not returned. I tracked down the cell phone number of the St. Paul convention office of the Republican National Committee where the man who answered claimed to have no idea what I was talking about, helpfully suggesting I call the police before suddenly asking how I got the number. Ring around the rosy.

It was like trying to get an answer from Dick Cheney’s office. Translation: The e-mails were accurate.

The unending barrage has continued all weekend.

From Carrie, a late 50-something who still lives in a mostly-student district near the University of Minnesota: “I saw 25 officers barge into a house wearing masks and black swat gear. They had large semi-automatic rifles. After, somebody told me the pigs (I haven’t used that word for decades) ordered everyone on the floor. Rifles pointing at their heads, they were handcuffed and ordered not to move. The cops refused to show a search warrant. They were forced to remain on the floor for 45 minutes while the officers took away computers and political stuff kept in the house.”

From Rick: “Remember Summit Avenue? Mansions, clubs, cronies, old money? A few blocks away from the Governor’s Mansion, the police just burst into a house looking for ‘photographs and maps of St. Paul.’ Shit! I have photos and maps of St. Paul! Better throw ‘em out or I’ll be next.”

From Robyn and Brent, two independents who decided this morning to vote straight a Democratic ticket: “Never thought we’d see this in America. Enya (their adopted teenage daughter) and a bunch of her friends from school were taking pictures of the convention center this morning when cops grabbed and handcuffed them, shoved them into a squad car and threatened them with arrest if they didn’t hand over the digital camera they were using to take tourist photos! She’s hysterical and we called (their lawyer). Obama and Franken just got two more votes and by the time this is over Enya’s college will be paid for with a large check from the city. Assholes.”

And so it goes.

Bucolic Lake Woebegon has turned itself into a brutal police state, intent on arresting everyone including the three Norwegian bachelor farmers, just in case.

Apparently, civil liberties and the Bill of Rights got tossed into the Mississippi mud like the remains of a once-great bridge that used to span the river. Oh wait. We're talking about the party of George Bush, who once said of the Constitution, "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!" Guess I - along with people back in the Twin Cities - shouldn't be surprised.

Grandpa And The Beauty Queen

Watching John McCain hug Sarah Palin – who has an uncanny resemblance to SNL’s Tina Fey – yesterday was almost creepy: It was like seeing an old man copping a feel off a woman roughly half his age. Eerily, it all happened on the day after McCain turned 72 and the day before Michael Jackson turned 50.

Alright, that’s out of my system.

While McCain’s choice for vice president may energise the Republican Party’s shrinking base and shore up his credentials with the one issue evangelicals and creationists who drive the party’s platform, his Hail Mary pass is the best indication yet that John McCain will do and say anything to win the election. (Of course, in a way it’s not surprising since many of his fellow Hanoi Hilton residents still insist he did and said anything to get better treatment as a POW.) So much for McCain’s remaining shards of integrity.

As Gail Collins points out in today’s New York Times, McCain’s blatant pandering to women is an insult to their intelligence. Yet Janice Shaw Crouse of the far right group Concerned Women for America insists, "How refreshing that now we have a woman who reflects the values of mainstream American women.''

Oh, really? How mainstream can Palin be when polling reveals her positions are the exact opposite of “mainstream American women?”

The vast majority of American women want the freedom of choice over what happens to their bodies.

Mainstream American women are deeply concerned about the environment, which Palin – like McCain – doesn’t believe is under any serious threat as she urges intense ANWAR drilling, claims climate change is a fiction and doesn’t think the shrinking population of Polar Bears need protecting.

Mainstream women want the troops – their sons and daughters – out of Iraq, right now.

Mainstream women are concerned about gun violence.

Mainstream women want their children taught science, not flights of fancy about “creationism.”

Mainstream women want to be paid the same as men and have the same opportunities, something Palin has never said she supports.

Mainstream women are terrified that Social Security won’t be there at retirement because, the way things are going, IRA’s and 401(k) plans will be completely devalued and private pensions washed away in a tide of corporate bankruptcies while Palin has never uttered a word about the economic insecurity choking the country.

Mainstream women want the federal government to spend money on health care and schools while Palin supported spending hundreds of millions on the “Bridge to Nowhere” before she opposed it.

No wonder McCain picked Palin: She’s able to alter positions on a dime, depending on which way the political winds are blowing. Would that the Exxon-Valdize been that maneuverable.

Mainstream American women don’t want a vice president whose experience is 20 years as a self-described hockey mom, a few years as a semi-full time mayor of a tiny Alaskan wilderness town and not quite 18 months as governor of a state whose population is less than that of many Congressional districts in the “lower 48.” And a marginal, hot-headed governor at that, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The risk Democrats face with Palin is three-fold: Underestimating her (which isn’t hard to do), dismissing her as a Dan Quayle joke (which she is) or thinking that simply exposing negatives about her (of which there are plenty) and her lack of depth, experience, knowledge or understanding of the world will influence the way people vote. Democrats can’t forget that people vote on emotion as much as on facts.

What can be of use is that she’s made plenty of trouble for herself back in Alaska. In a state rife with Republican corruption, she brushes against it. And she has a short fuse with a stubborn streak straight out of the Bush mould. For example, in August Alaska's largest newspaper wrote that Palin “revealed her ugly side” during the Troopergate scandal, adding “… Sarah Palin is not handling pressure well.”

The paper notes that she reacted to sharp criticism of her attempt to get a state trooper, a former sort-of relative, fired, by “Portray(ing) the brave men and women of the Alaska State Troopers as weak because they are afraid of losing their jobs and their ability to feed their families. What's wrong with these guys?”

Sound familiar? We’ve heard the same insults from the Bush-Cheney White House and Republicans in Congress for years.

Meanwhile, a bi-partisan committee of the Alaska legislature is spending $100,000 for an independent counsel to investigate the many charges of improper conduct that have been levelled against her by both Democrats and Republicans.

Contrary to what talking heads on the right say, Sarah Palin is not a “fresh face.” She’s simply another version of the same old same old the GOP and Bush White House has given us for eight years.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Watching Obama, Remembering My Family Shopping For Its First House

In Ken Burns’ landmark documentary The Civil War, the first episode opened with writer Shelby Foote saying, “You can’t understand America without understanding the Civil War and the role race has played throughout our history.” In watching Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver last night, my mind drifted back to my childhood when I first experienced the role race plays in our nation’s history.

In the summer of my fifth year, when my sister was a new-born infant, my parents set out to buy their first home. Every Sunday, Janice was left with Papa and Grandma while mother, dad and I climbed into our recently-purchased, green, two-door Nash coupe and drove around Milwaukee, Wisconsin, going from one open house to another.

At the time, Milwaukee was a prosperous city, growing in size as the industrial might of Allis-Chalmers and Johnson Motors and Harley-Davidson shifted back to consumer production, drawing tens of thousands of people from Midwestern farms and the rural South to well-paying jobs in the endless factories sprouting up and dotting the city’s south side.

As a result, the face of Milwaukee was changing.

Once dominated by the stern, round, white faces of Germans and Poles, the city was drawing a steady stream of southern black faces – people who were called “Negro’s” back then – that came from dirt poor counties of Alabama and Mississippi and Kentucky where they had no chance for a life, moving to a city where they could find a real job, not have to fear every sound in the night because lynching was still a law enforcement tool down South, and where they could send their kids to a decent school.

A combination of the country’s post-war, Eisenhower prosperity coupled with the huge number of new families being formed and new people moving into the city meant sub-divisions were sprouting up everywhere, like tulips in the warm spring sun. So, we spent Sunday after Sunday going from one new suburb to another. Some developments mother dismissed because the houses were “cracker boxes,” whatever that meant; some were too expensive, even with dad’s GI mortgage requiring only 5% down and a 2% interest rate waiting to be signed. Some had tiny kitchens; some had only one bathroom; others just two bedrooms.

But on one such Sunday outing, we found the perfect house: Four bedrooms, a big yard to play in and a basement for when it rained, a new school with a huge playground only three blocks away, and a Halen’s – the local grocery chain – within walking distance. I was very excited.

Suddenly, mother gave the real estate agent a curt “thank you” and hustled dad and me out to the car. As we drove away, I stood up to lean on the back of the front seat with its sticky, green, nylon upholstery to ask why we weren’t going to buy that neat house. Mother’s answer gave me my first introduction to the real world.

“Because the man said they won’t let Negroes buy houses here,” she explained, swivelling around to look at me. “That’s not right. Everyone should be able to live wherever they want.”

I had no idea what a radical family I’d been born into five years earlier, or what a political activist my mother was en route to becoming. Yet a short 10 years later, I wasn’t surprised when she flew to Washington to be part of the march and hear Dr. King’s speech. And 10 years after that, when she and father ended up on one of Nixon’s “enemies lists,” not only was I not surprised but took it as a complement.

As Obama spoke at Mile High Stadium, tears welled up in my eyes as I remembered that Sunday afternoon and compared it to what was happening last night. When I was a child, there were still lynchings in the south yet also neighbourhoods in Milwaukee, a northern city, where African-Americans were not allowed to live. But I lived long enough to see an African-American accept the Democratic Party’s nomination to be President of the United States – not because of his color but despite it.

The skinny black kid with big ears and funny name – how Obama described himself four years ago when he keynoted the party’s convention – is one step away from becoming the leader of the free world. And America took one huge step towards putting its racist past behind it. The most remarkable thing is that he won because of his ideas.

We are a better people this morning that we were yesterday. And if Obama wins, we will be a better, safer and prouder nation when we go to sleep the night of Jan. 20, 2009.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Make It 936 Lies ...

It was established last winter by a non-partisan think tank that the Bush-Cheney-McCain regime concoted 935 specific lies to sell the Iraq war. Harry Shearer even put the lies to music on his recent CD, Songs of the Bushmen.

Well, now you can make it 936 lies.

A report published on Friday and totally ignored by the news meida sheds even more light on the premeditated lying and deception that took the United States to war in Iraq. The findings are based on new evidence compiled by Dr. John Prados and published by the National Security Archive.

Most notably, Dr. Prados shows the depth of the deception perpetrated against citizens and Congress regarding the alleged threat to U.S. security posed by Iraq. He discovered that the White House rewrote the Oct. 1, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate and then issued a doctored report to Congress on Oct. 4, 2002 – which few in Congress even bothered to read. In fact, Prados found evidence that the Oct. 4 White Paper was written in July 2002, and altered only slightly after the final NIE arrived. The White Paper served as the basis for the war.

His conclusion is that the Bush-Cheney White Paper "justifying" the invasion was developed a full three months in advance of the intelligence data and analysis that should have served as the basis for that justification:

"The U.S. intelligence community buckled sooner in 2002 than previously reported to Bush administration pressure for data justifying an invasion of Iraq.

"The documents suggest that the public relations push for war came before the intelligence analysis, which then conformed to public positions taken by Pentagon and White House officials. For example, a July 2002 draft of the "White Paper" ultimately issued by the CIA in October 2002 actually pre-dated the National Intelligence Estimate that the paper purportedly summarized, but which Congress did not insist on until September 2002."

Ultimately, the White House had what it wanted by July 2002.

When the National Intelligence Estimate arrived from a totally intimidated intelligence community, there was still one hope of a rational outcome on the rush to war. The NIE delivered to the White House on Oct. 1, 2002 noted that the only scenario in which Iraq would attack the United States involved a U.S. attack on Iraq that threatened Saddam Hussein's survival.

It was brutally simple. The one way to cause the phony claims of Hussein's intent to attack the United States is to go to war and threaten his regime.

Therefore, refraining from war was the best way to protect the United States, according to the NIE.

"Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW against the United States, fearing that exposure of Iraqi involvement would provide Washington a stronger cause for making war.”

In the most supreme of tragic ironies, few members of Congress even bothered to review the distorted White Paper before voting overwhelmingly to approve the invasion.

The seemingly endless war in Iraq has become a total disaster on multiple levels for all involved.

The awful toll in human deaths and casualties is largely ignored but real nevertheless. Over 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been lost in battle and tens of thousands injured. In excess of one million Iraqi civilians are dead due to civil strife unleashed by the invasion. The U.S. Treasury is drained and the steep decline in respect for the United States around the world is just beginning to be seen. The United States political establishment responds with collective denial on a scale that's incomprehensible.

Yet John "The War Mongerer" McCain continues makes the bizarre yet unchallenged claim that U.S. is "surrendering" with victory in clear sight.

McCain touts the surge without ever mentioning that 4-million Iraqis are "displaced from their homes." Some 10% of Iraq's pre-war population is dead or injured and there are 5-million Iraqi orphans. This pathological view of victory claims the "surge' is a success flies in the face of a devastated population in an obliterated nation lacking in the most essential supplies and services. Iraq is a nation where death continues on a shopping spree.

Will anyone ever be held to account for this series of premeditated deceptions?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

MI5 To Mukasey: Profiling Doesn’t Work So Don’t Bother

With the frightening but not unsurprising news that Bush’s lickspittle Attorney General Michael Mukasey plans to spy on everyone for no legitimate reason other than collecting an enormous data base on every American’s activities, beliefs, spending, bowel movements and who knows what else just to be able to spot a terrorist, comes saner advice from Britain’s MI5: Don’t bother; profiling doesn’t work.

Given the comparative track records of MI5 and the FBI in catching real terrorists – the FBI seems to opt for goofballs who usually turn out to be extortionists or, like the Miami group, a bunch of scam artists who really only wanted new boots – I’m willing to take the work of the Brits over Washington’s.

Unlike the operating assumption of the FBI, MI5’s study concludes there is no easy way to identify those who become involved in terrorism, according to a classified internal research document.

The sophisticated analysis, based on hundreds of case studies by the security service, says there is no single pathway to violent extremism. It concludes that it is not possible to draw up a typical profile of a "terrorist" as most are "demographically unremarkable" and simply reflect the communities in which they live. The MI5 report takes apart many of the common stereotypes about those involved in terrorism and de-bunks the myth pushed by the Republicans and other right wingnuts that there’s a terrorist under every bed.

In fact, MI5 reports, would-be terrorists living in the West are mostly native born, not illegal immigrants and, far from being Islamist fundamentalists, most are religious novices. Nor are they "mad and bad." Those over 30 are just as likely to have a wife and children as to be loners with no ties. The security service also plays down the importance of extremist clerics, saying their influence in radicalising Western terrorists has into the background over recent years.

The main findings include:

 The majority are native born and the remainder, with a few exceptions, are here legally. Some immigrants fled traumatic experiences and oppressive regimes and claimed asylum, but more came West to study, or for family or economic reasons, and became radicalised many years after arriving.
 Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could actually be regarded as religious novices. Some are involved in drug-taking, drinking alcohol and visiting prostitutes. MI5 says there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation.
 The "mad and bad" theory to explain why people turn to terrorism does not stand up, with no more evidence of mental illness or pathological personality traits found among terrorism suspects than is found in the general population.
 British-based terrorists are as ethnically diverse as the UK Muslim population, with individuals from Pakistani, Middle Eastern and Caucasian backgrounds. MI5 says assumptions cannot be made about suspects based on skin colour, ethnic heritage or nationality.
 Most UK terrorists are male, but women also play an important role. Sometimes they are aware of the activities of husbands, brothers or sons, but do not object or try to stop them.
 While the majority are in their early to mid-20s when they become radicalised, a small but not insignificant minority first become involved in violent extremism at over the age of 30.
 Far from being lone individuals with no ties, the majority of those over 30 have steady relationships, and most have children. MI5 says this challenges the idea that terrorists lured to "martyrdom" by the promise of beautiful virgins waiting for them in paradise. It is wrong to assume that someone with a wife and children is less likely to commit acts of terrorism.
 Those involved in British terrorism are not unintelligent or gullible, and nor are they more likely to be well-educated; their educational achievement ranges from total lack of qualifications to degree-level education. However, they are almost all employed in low-grade jobs.

The researchers conclude that the results of their work "challenge many of the stereotypes that are held about who becomes a terrorist and why."

Crucially, the research has revealed that those who become terrorists "are a diverse collection of individuals, fitting no single demographic profile, nor do they all follow a typical pathway to violent extremism."

The security service believes the terrorist groups operating in Britain today are different in many important respects both from Islamist extremist activity in other parts of the world and from historical terrorist movements such as the IRA or the Red Army Faction.

The MI5 "operational briefing note" warns that, unless they understand the varied backgrounds of those drawn to terrorism, the security services will fail to counter their activities in the short term and fail to prevent violent radicalisation continuing in the long term.

It also concludes that the research results have important lessons for the government's programme to tackle the spread of violent extremism, underlining the need for "attractive alternatives" to terrorist involvement but also warning that traditional law enforcement tactics could backfire if handled badly or used against people who are not seen as legitimate targets, such as those who simply hold politically extreme views.

I doubt anyone inside the FBI or Justice Dept., let alone the White House, read the MI5 study; sometimes I wonder if anyone in those particular Washington bunkers know how to read, period, and even if they do MI5 so contradicts their perverted view of “justice” that they won’t pay heed anyway. But as Bush, Cheney, McCain and Mukasey try setting up one more permanent violation of the law before they’re kicked out of town still wearing the brown shirts and jackboots they seem to love, it behoves Congress to put a stop to this nonsense when it reconvenes in September.

As if it will.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Brilliant Choice!

Although I’ve supported Barack Obama since he announced his candidacy, I've always been impressed with Joe Biden – as a candidate and as a Senator. I could not be happier that he’ll be the next Vice President of the United States of America.

I grew up in Minnesota where Hubert Humphrey was our summer neighbor for many years. As he often did on a Sunday afternoon when he was home while serving as LBJ’s vice president, he and Muriel invited our family and several others living nearby on the lake to a Sunday BBQ. Humphrey had read a lot about the vice presidency after taking office and when he, my Dad and I were talking with him one Sunday about the office he said (andI am paraphrasing; after all, it was 40+ years ago), “the best vice presidents have been the ones with the guts to say to the president, ‘That’s nuts! Don’t do it.’”

I am confident that Biden will be a superb complement and addition to the Obama White House, partly because I’m certain that there will be times when he will have the guts to say to Pres. Obama, “That’s nuts! Don’t do it.”

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Brief Word Of Caution To Hilary Die-Hards

John McCain is sneaking past on Barack Obama in the latest still-too-early-to-mean-much polls. What is meaningful is that around 30% of former Clinton supporters are still declaring themselves as undecided or supporting McCain.

To those people, I have three words to think about as the convention convenes in Denver: Supreme Court appointments.

If you sit out this election or vote for McCain and he wins, he will appoint at least one and possibly two people to Supreme Court of the United States during his first term. Think about it: I guarantee you he won’t be nominating people like Hillary or Barack. Instead, picture another Alioto or Scalia or Roberts sitting up there on the First Monday in October. And for 10 or 20 years thereafter.

This means a lot to everyone, but it should have special meaning to women.

It will mean Roe v. Wade and a woman’s control over her own body will be gone, probably within two years.

It means that the growing backlog of lower court decisions on women’s rights in the workplace, especially those involving pay, promotion, discrimination and harassment will go against women in favor of corporate interests.

It means conservatives dominating the court will successfully dissemble the Bill of Rights as narrow minorities on the bench tried and failed to do – usually by one vote – in the Gitmo cases over the past two years.

Essentially, it means all of the gains in women’s rights over the past half-century will be at risk as a lop-sided, right wing court recasts the face of America into something not just you but your daughters and their daughters will be forced to live.

I understand you’re disappointed that your candidate lost, and sympathize with your angst; been there, done that myself. But more often than not, politics – like life itself – is disappointing. Had Hilary run a better campaign, had she better senior advisors, had Mark Penn not gone public with every internal dispute he was losing to Terry McAuliffe (and vice versa), if Penn and McCauliffe not suffered hubris and developed a post-Super Tuesday plan, if her staff with all of its pre-primary polling had understood that change trumped experience this time around, had she been a better candidate, had Bill stayed on message and not tossed out subtle racial smears, things might have been different.

Might-a. Could-a. Should-a.

Simply put, Obama was a better candidate with a better run, better organized, better funded campaign. Party insiders did not give Obama the nomination. Chris Mathews did not up-end Clinton. The news media did not have it in for her. It wasn’t sexism among voters; I promise you that people who would not vote for a woman would not vote for a black man, either.

I have covered state and national campaigns since Nixon beat Humphrey way back in 1968. I’ve learned in watching the best (and, more often, the worst) politicians is they remember the old saw about “politics makes strange bedfellows.” When they lose, they lick their wounds and then close ranks to win an election.

If you truly think John McCain would be better for America than Barack Obama, then vote for him. But if you’re voting for him out of spite, or not voting at all as an ill-advised and, frankly, churlish and petulant protest, keep another old adage in mind: Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

You won’t like explaining why you did that to your daughters and granddaughters and all the daughters after them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Sunny Summer Day, Aug. 2009

One sunny day in the summer of 2009 an old man approached the north gate of the White House from the park across Pennsylvania Avenue where he'd been sitting on a bench. He spoke to the uniformed Secret Service officer standing guard, saying, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The guard looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here."

The old man replied, "Okay" and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same officer, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The guard again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here."

The man thanked him and, again, walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same uniformed officer, saying "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The guard, somewhat agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?"

The old man looked at the officer and with a wry smile said, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it."

The guard snapped to attention, saluted, and replied, "See you tomorrow!"

Hat Tip To Anner1

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fox Hoisted On Its Own Petard By American Trapped In Ossetia


Yesterday, Fox Noise interviewed an Ossetian-American 12-year old girl who was caught in the disputed region at the start of Georgia's war. She and her aunt, who was also caught, thanks Russian troops for saving her from Georgian aggression.

The squirming Fox anchor was not happy the way the interview was going because the child didn’t follow the McCain-Bush talking points about who is the aggressor. Finally, he cut the girl and her aunt off. Clearly, the girl forgot the master narrative being spewed by the McCain-Bush military-information complex.

The video is at

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How The CIA Helped Make The “Obama Nation” Smear Book A Best-Seller

When Jerome Corsi’s newest distortion-and lie-packed smear book, Obama Nation, hit the best seller lists this week, Corsi and his Republican Party hack publisher can thank a precedent established by the CIA in the early 1950s.

Obama Nation owes its hit status to what The New York Times says are “bulk purchases” of the tome. In other words, right wing groups from the Republican National Committee to 501(C)(3) organisations to who-knows-which group of wingnuts bought boxes of Corsi’s deranged musings. What they do with the volumes is anyone’s guess: Hand them out to fellow travellers, distribute them to delegates in “welcome packages” at the Republican convention in St. Paul, or just stack the boxes in closets.

This is precisely how then-CIA director Allan Dulles made a national best seller out Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler’s sombre, brooding, anti-Communist fictional rant, in the early 1950s. The unintended consequence was to force millions of junior and senior high school students in the US to read the monstrosity.

How the CIA came to be a factor in the book publishing business in the America is a fascinating story, a historical footnote that shows Langley was interfering in domestic politics long before the Church Commission exposed Richard Nixon’s use of the agency to spy on anti-war activists during Viet Nam. In fact, the ploy traces its roots to the end of World War II.

When William “Wild Bill” Donaldson established and ran the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the war, he worked closely with both Dulles and Koestler. Dr. Mark Levine, an English professor at the University of Toronto and noted Koestler scholar, has told me that after the war as Donaldson and Koestler shared a long boat ride home from Europe they talked about their belief that an OSS-like organisation should continue to play a role in intelligence gathering. By the time the ship docked in New York, they had conceived the structure, organization, duties and responsibilities of what would become the CIA. Donaldson presented Pres. Truman with his idea who sent a bill to Congress which quickly passed the measure into law. Dulles became its first director.

Spurred by the Soviet’s blockage of Berlin, by the late 1940s and extending into the Fifties the United States was gripped with Communist paranoia. The Red Menace everywhere: Politicians, statesmen, screenwriters and directors, maybe even grocery store bag boys all were suspected of being Commies or Communist “sympathizers” and countless Congressional committees obsessed on uprooting and exposing them.

In the middle of this national psychosis, Koestler – a long-time anti Communist who was imprisoned briefly by the French in 1941 – showed Donaldson a copy of Darkness at Noon, which he’d written in 1941. Wild Bill thought it ought to be one of those “must read” books and handed a copy on to Dulles, now ensconced as the CIA’s director. Dulles, no slouch himself in spotting the Reds In Every Bed, decided the best way to bring the 10-year old, inconsequential novel to America’s attention was to make it a best seller.

It was easy enough for Dulles to it pull off. With the CIA’s many secret operating funds, he sent agents fanning out across New York to order – it was barely in print in the States at the time – and buy up all of the copies of the book they could lay their hands on. The books were sent back to Dulles who ordered them stored in CIA vaults.

Because the CIA refused repeatedly over the years to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about its role in making Darkness at Noon a cultural phenomenon in the 1950s, it’s not known whether Koestler’s books are still collecting dust in the Company’s storage bins a half-century later. The University of Toronto’s Dr. Levine believes they remain buried at Langley.

So read the best-seller listing this week of Obama Nation with scepticism. Its sudden prominence owes a debt of gratitude to the CIA, Bill Donaldson and Allan Dulles.

Iraq Escalation Called A "Failure"

This won't make John McCain or Joe Lieberman very happy and the folks over at the White House must be positively fuming.

Colin Kahl from the Centre for a New American Security told a press briefing this week that things are not nearly as rosy as John McCain is portraying them on the campaign stump or Bush is saying in the Rose Garden.

Kahl reports that US civilian and military officials in Baghdad are genuinely worried that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has become "over-confident" about his military capabilities, explaining his demands to the US over the proposed status of forces agreement on the rules governing US troops in Iraq. Al-Maliki appears to have won some internal battles in the Iraqi government in the past six months, so he now firmly controls the intelligence apparatus and has military operation centres under his authority throughout the country.

Even worse, Al-Maliki is not only refusing to incorporate the Sunni Arab Awakening Councils or "Sons of Iraq" into the Iraqi security forces, he seems to be planning to fight them. These are Sunni Arab militias, many former Salafi or nationalist guerrillas, who act as US mercenaries by fighting Qutbist vigilantes who call themselves “al-Qaeda in Iraq.”

Kahl said of the 103,000 Sunnis belonging to those militias, the Iraqi government had promised to take only about 16,000into the security forces. But in fact, it has approved only 600 applicants thus far, and most of these turned out to be Shi’a, not Sunni militiamen.

The Awakening Councils are the biggest threat Baghdad faces and that after Americans are drawn down in Iraqi, al-Malaki’s allies say it will be necessary to "take care of them.”

Bush is so mad at al-Malaki’s stance on US troop restrictions and his demand for a withdrawal timetable that he sharply warned al-Maliki that without a SOFA he would have to pull out US troops by Jan. 1, 2009. US troops operating in Iraq with no agreed legal framework would be constantly open to murder and other serious legal charges.

Muqtada al-Sadr is turning his Mahdi Army into a civilian social-work force under strong Iranian pressure. The Iranians seem to be convinced that the Mahdi Army was becoming a pretext for the US to stay in Iraq – understandable since the Bushies are blaming Iran for everything Muqtada did. In fact, Iran is mainly allied with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and his Badr corps paramilitary, which has become the backbone of al-Maliki's security forces; Iran thus has multiple reasons for trying to get rid of the Mahdi Army as a military force.

But there may be a third reason Iran pressured al-Sadr. Reports – rumours, mostly – keep circulating that there is a secret, informal agreement between Bush and Khamenei that if the Mahdi Army quietens down, the US will talk to Iran, refrain from bombing the nuclear facilities at Natanz and will forestall an Israeli attack, as well.

Kahl's information is another challenge to the propaganda that the Bush’s escalation "worked." Among the things that "worked" were Iran becoming even more influential in Iraq and al-Maliki getting hold of his own government.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that Georgia and other allies with relatively large troop contingents in Iraq are leaving, making it difficult for the US to draw down its troops at the rate Petraeus originally envisioned for this year. US forces will likely have to step in to replace Georgian troops in Kut and British soldiers in Basra.

At the same time, the newspaper reports that the al-Anbar desert is still very dangerous and full of seedy operators including insurgents, thieves, highjackers and smugglers. This is one reason why a Marine was killed Thursday in al-Anbar. The mostly unreported return of violence in the big, dangerous province has delayed the planned turn-over of security duties to Iraqi security forces there by the US military.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Another GOP Voter Switches To Obama

When I logged into my e-mail this morning, I found a note from a friend who has voted Republican for years:

OK, so you got me to change my mind.

I changed my voter registration yesterday and am voting for Obama on Nov. 4.

Why? Because of two reasons.

First, I saw a truly reprehensible McCain ad on television that is nothing more than a carefully disguised racist smear. I don't remember if it was done by the McCain campaign or some outside group but it was disgusting.

Secondly, I read an excerpt from Obama Nation by the guy who started the whole Swift Boat shit back in 04. I didn't believe that crap then and now that what was once called The Grand Old Party is doing it again, I've had enough.

Between this stuff and what my kids have been telling me ... not kids, really, since one is at university and the other has her degree, and really thinking about what has happened to America under the GOP, I have no choice but to vote Obama.

Figured this will make you happy.


Obviously, it does make me happy but, more important, it shows the tiniest beginning of a trend of so-called "staunch" Republicans fleeing in horror from McCain and the Republican party. Maybe America is starting to wake itself up.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Edwards The Confessor vs. McCain’s Ongoing Philandering

New report on McCain affairs on the campaign trail shows the media’s uneven handling of sex and politics.

Frankly, for decades my view is that if someone wants to fool around on their spouse, it’s their business and we should all butt out. Even presidential candidates are entitled to a sliver of privacy. But we live in an age that craves mixing its puritanical attitude about sex with a voyeuristic demand for celebrity gossip: Don’t have sex but if you do, we want all the gory details.

So it’s not surprising that cable news outlets were obsessed on Thursday and Friday with a two year old story about John Edwards’ affair with a campaign staffer. It should have ended with Edwards’ heart-felt confession Friday night that he had, indeed, slept with Rielle Hunter, who directed video production for Edwards' political action committee. Sadly – but not surprisingly – the story lingered into the weekend with cable’s talking heads musing like the idiots they are, dithering over how the news would affect Obama’s candidacy.

Needless to say, given much of the media’s gentle handholding of John McCain, no major media outlet ever linked the Edwards story to John McCain’s long-time habit of sleeping around on his various wives. After all, he began an affair with Cindy while still married to his former wife; knowing his proclivities may explain why Cindy barely lets him out of her sight since he began running for president.

Even still, in February, new stories of his on-going philandering appeared when reports showed up in The New York Times and elsewhere about McCain sleeping around on Cindy with lobbyist-cum-campaign staffer Vicki Iserman.

Now, new information indicates that Iserman is not the only fling McCain has indulged in while married to Cindy, including at least one that he had since locking up the Republican nomination months ago.

“It happens when Cindy returns to Phoenix for a few days,” a well-placed former McCain campaign advisor told me by phone on Aug. 10. “I know for certain he spent at least two different nights with a 30-something campaign worker because I saw the Secret Service trying to hide the woman when she left McCain’s suite around five one morning and they hustled her back to her own room.”

The Secret Service said it does not comment on security arrangements.

But the man’s account is supported by at least one additional, knowledgeable person who confirmed the incident by e-mail.

“It’s the fighter pilot mentality,” this person wrote in explaining McCain’s attitude about sleeping around. “They think they’re invincible and can get away with anything.”

Both sources requested and were given promises of anonymity in exchange for being interviewed.

During reporting for this post, it was impossible to verify numerous other accounts of McCain’s one night stands over the past two years. Reportedly, some of the travelling press corps on the Straight Talk Express jet knew of at least two other incidents.

The point is why do journalists feel that the sexual peccadilloes of Democrats – Bill Clinton comes first to mind – are fair game are waiting for McCain to be caught with a prostitute before giving equal time to his romps between the sheets?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

McCain’s Spins More Lies On “Energy Independence“

John McCain keeps talking about making the US “energy independent.” Yet Robert Bryce – an energy industry expert and author of the new book Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of 'Energy Independence’, points out that it will be impossible for America to be energy independent with current technology. McCain says nuclear energy can make the US independent of "foreign oil." But the US imports 83% of the uranium it uses. And, by the way, if you built a lot of new nuclear reactors, it will cause the price of uranium to soar. There is only so much uranium in the world so we will have "Peak uranium" within a few years if we go that route.

McCain keeps saying that the US navy has run subs on nuclear power for years and there have been no leaks. Like much of what McCain says, it’s a lie: An American nuclear submarine making a regular stop in at a naval base in southern Japan leaked radiation earlier this year, according to a Japanese newspaper report published Monday.

McCain says drilling in the United States can make the US energy independent. This is utter and total claptrap. If drilled, all the offshore fields now known off the lower 48 states might produce 400,000 barrels a day, 10 to 15 years from now. Yet the US imports 13-million barrels a day of oil. The world produces 86-million barrels a day and wants 87. Offshore drilling in the US would yield a tiny drop in the bucket – less that 0.04% of the world’s total daily energy production.

Meanwhile, China's oil imports were up 12% last year over 2006. The extra oil from offshore drilling would get used up lickety split.

McCain calls "foreign oil" expensive. But it is all one global market. Once oil is pumped, it sells for the same price everywhere (except if there are government subsidies, a huge waste of money and bad economics). It doesn't matter if it is pumped in Oklahoma or Ahvaz, it is priced the same.

Moreover, getting more fossil fuels out of the ground will produce more global warming, ravaging the world's coastlines and their inhabitants. Again, it doesn't matter whether American carbon is put into the atmosphere or Chinese. It is all one atmosphere.

The only prospect for US energy independence is cheap and effective power generation from wind and solar energy, which needs new, cheaper and better methods of battery or other storage to be practical.

Obama’s promise to invest $150-billion in alternative energy is a promising first step. Look at it this way: It is no more than what the entire Apollo project cost the US in today's dollars. And putting a man on the moon was rather less important than, like, saving the planet.But the really disturbing question is this: If I can spend 30 minutes on-line and uncover this information, why can't one of the stenographers riding the McCain campaign plane disguised as reporters also use the information in their reports to unmask McCain's energy plan as a total scam?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Smoking Gun Points Directly At Bush, Cheney, Maybe McCain

It’s too late for impeachment but a new book lays out a clear case for criminal prosecution of Bush and Cheney for launching the Iraq war, either by the US government (obviously after they leave office) or the International Criminal Court.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, whose new book The Way of the World, was officially released yesterday but available over the weekend (at least in my neighbourhood bookstore) contends that the White House obtained compelling evidence in early 2003 that Iraq possessed no significant stocks of nuclear or biological weapons but decided to invade anyway.

The book contends – using named sources and on-the-record interviews – that the Bush administration also orchestrated the forging of a document by Iraqi defector and former intelligence chief Tahir Jalil Habbush to create an after-the-fact justification for invading Iraq: That Saddam had WMDs and that Mohammad Atta, the lead 9/11 highjacker, trained in Iraq under Abu Nidal with Saddam Hussein’s blessing.

The forged document, purportedly signed by Habbus, was leaked to British tabloid hack Con Coughlin in December, 2003. Habbush was paid $5-million and re-settled in Jordan because of his cooperation.

The forgery creates legal culpability for Bush and Cheney because they violated two federal statutes.

The first is a bill in 1991 that amended the 1947 act creating the CIA. It states “No covert action may be conducted which is intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, processes or the media.” Even worse, they could be charged under 18.USC.371 – the same law that hung most of the Watergate conspirators including Nixon – which makes it a crime to conspire to defraud the US government.

Suskind has written two previous books sharply critical of Bush administration policies. described the alleged forgery as one of the great lies in modern American political history, likening it to Watergate. Last night on Countdown, Nixon White House counsel John Dean agreed.

The allegations in the document are completely implausible.

Abu Nidal was a psychopathic and paranoid leftist with ties to East Germany and split with the PLO because it was too far right for him. Al-Qaeda, a far rightwing Muslim fundamentalist cult, would have wanted anything to do with him, nor he with it.

Hussein would never have allowed a loose cannon like Abu Nidal to run a terrorist training camp in Iraq. Excuse me? I mean, really: First Bush and Cheney accuse the Baath Party of being totalitarian, then they say Saddam let notoriously unstable people run around with explosives? Get real! Moreover, Jordanian intelligence never would have tolerated it and Saddam needed Jordan's smuggling trade to get around the UN and US boycotts. So, he could not have afforded to disregard Jordanian sensibilities completely. He could not have hidden a whole training camp from Amman.

Ironically, Habbush, who allegedly signed the forgery, was probably the man who killed Abu Nidal in 2002.

The letter also mentions, according to Coughlin, the purchase of uranium from Niger by Iraq and its transhipment across Libya and Syria.

Ayad Allawi, a long-time CIA asset, vouched for the forged document to Coughlin. That item is evidence for Suskind's narrative about Bush coercing George Tenet into manufacturing the letter. Allawi, based in London, had a special mandate from the CIA to cultivate ex-officers who defected from Iraq, so he was likely Habbush’s handler.

Now for the big mystery: Why bother to cook this up in September, 2003, after the US had already conquered Iraq?

It seems likely that the forgery was ordered by the White House as a direct response to former Ambassador Joe Wilson’s New York Times Op-Ed that revealed that the allegation that Saddam had recently bought yellowcake uranium from Niger was total bunk.

By September of 2003, a guerrilla war was raging in Iraq and it had become clear that there was no WMD. Shiite cleric Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim was blown up in Najaf on August 31. GIs were being killed in al-Anbar. Bush and Cheney needed to refute Wilson's allegation that they ignored his report on Niger uranium. They also needed a smoking gun to tie Iraq to al-Qaeda, without which their continued occupation of the country was on thin legal grounds.

Tying Atta to Abu Nidal would form an ex post facto justification for the war, something Bush desperately needed. Tying Syria and Libya to the alleged Iraqi nuclear program was also a way to set them up as the next targets.

Dean titled his 2005 book Worse Than Watergate. Actually, this is worse than anything the United States has ever experienced; it is even worse than Pearl Harbor or 9-11 itself.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hersh: Cheney Considered Provoking War With Iran

Think Progress has an exclusive report on New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh's discovery that Dick “Shotgun” Cheney's office considered ginning up a provocation against Iran as a pretext for going to war.

The discussion in Cheney's office was provoked by the Iranian speedboat incident in January, 2008, in which the Bush administration alleged that five small unarmed Iranian speedboats accosted a US naval vessel.

One thing that Hersh, Think Progress and others have not mentioned is that the original incident was itself almost certainly a GOP provocation since unarmed speedboats do not actually pose a danger to US destroyers. Moreover, funny business went on with artificial matching of videotape to an audio transmission in English of undetermined origin. When I wrote about the Iranian video and audio at the time, wingnuts attacked me for allowing the other side to get a hearing. One technique of the right is to make sure only one voice can be heard, their own, and all other voices are condemned and marginalized as traitorous. It is so much easier to march people to war when there is only one public narrative available about its rights and wrongs.

The chief use of "patriotism" by the Right is for the sake of the Big Lie.

You wonder whether one of the side effects of the revelation of Operation Northwoods, when in 1962 the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon signed off on a plot to kill innocent Americans on American soil and make it look as though Cubans in the employ of Castro had done it, was to remind Cheney and Bush of all the low techniques whereby war could be gotten up.

Certainly, we know that Bush and Blair considered trying to get Iraq to shoot at US surveillance planes painted in UN colours as a casus belli for the Iraq invasion. As it turned out, Bush decided he did not need any rationale at all to invade a country for no reason.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

McCain Blows The Dog Whistle

This is a lesson in how dog whistles work.

If you're not familiar with the term "dog whistle" in politics, here's a quick primer: As a literal dog whistle emits a pitch that only dogs can hear, a political dog whistle sends a message that only a particular constituency will hear or intuitively understand.

Thanks to his speechwriters, Bush has been dog whistling to his evangelicals for the past eight years; often, when we heathens think he sounds most nonsensical, it's because he's sending a coded message to his Jesus freak friends.

Often, dog whistles are merely a covert shout-out to a particular constituency – but sometimes, they're meant to be provocative, to quietly speak to subconscious (or conscious) biases and evoke a particular visceral reaction.

Such is the case with John McCain's campaign TV spot linking Barack Obama with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. On its face, it's an obvious editorial on Obama's intelligence and competency, as his image is juxtaposed with two women alleged to be airheads while the voiceover somberly intones: "Is he ready to lead?" And thus there is an element of commentary on whether he is undeserving and entitled, with which Hilton and Spears are routinely charged. Famous for no reason, just a pretty face, the ad implies.

But loitering below the ostensibly substantive critique is something more nefarious. It's no coincidence that it wasn't vacuous tabloid fixtures such as American Idol punchline Sanjaya Malakar who appears in the advert – and it's not because he’s not famous enough. Nor was Scarlett Johannson chosen to be in the spot; she famously supports him, has campaigned with him and whose twin brother works for him despite her being arguably as recognisable as Hilton and Spears – and it's not because she's not young, blonde or beautiful enough.

It because neither Malakar nor Johansson have personas that are the perfect combination of no brains, no talent and all slut.

Obama, dog whistles the ad and hitting old racists in the sweet spot, could fuck these white girls – it's practically a Democratic tradition: JFK, Clinton, heck even Carter lusted in his heart, and we sure as hell don't want that, now, do we?

Dick Nixon first used the dog whistle in 1968, Reagan refined it and Karl Rove perfected it for Bush the Younger. Not coincidentally, a key Rove protégé is now a key McCain strategist.

It recalls the despicable “bimbo ad” used against black senate candidate Harold Ford in Tennessee in 2006, in which a white actress was hired to claim she'd met Ford at a Playboy party and asked the candidate to "call me," playing on deeply-ingrained and ancient biases about interracial sex. But the difference between the "bimbo ad," also a Republican production, and the McCain ad is that the former was explicit in its miscegenation message whereas the latter is more, well, dog-whistly. And its deliberate obliqueness has set in motion a series of events all too familiar to civil rights activists, feminists, LGBT activists and various other social justice advocates.

The dog whistle piques them with something the average person won't see as bigoted, but that the constituency for which they advocate (and which they're a part) will expect them to call out because they instantly spy it and recognize it for what it is; they've heard the tune of that particular string being plucked their whole lives. Then whoever calls it out is marginalised as a hysteric, over-reactionary, looking to get offended and so on ad naseum.

And that's exactly how the game played out. McCain piques Obama and his constituency, Obama responds, McCain and the rightwing accuse Obama of playing the race card, his opponents unleash their new favourite battle cry: "You can't criticize Obama without being called a racist." Clockwork.

See how that works? Wheeeee!

And well-meaning people who miss the low-flying racial message (which will be intuited precisely as designed by old racists) will insist it's just about Obama being ninny-brained and uppity, making the complex deconstruction so easy to dismiss – or, rather, making the people who do the deconstruction easy to dismiss.

Meanwhile, since when did implying a black man is uppity stop being examined for racist undertones? In America, African-Americans have been lynched for a lot less.


Friday, August 1, 2008

The Bush to McCain to al-Qaeda Connection

If you didn’t see the New York Times this morning, intercepted communications between sections of Pakistan's military intelligence division, the ISI, indicate that it provided support to Pushtun guerrillas in bombing the Indian embassy in Kabul recently.

There have long been suspicions the Pakistani military was using Pushtun guerrillas to project power into Afghanistan, even as they fought them inside Pakistan itself. The Times was told by US officials that this intercept was the first smoking gun proving that active-duty ISI officers were complicit with violence in Afghanistan and therefore with attacks on US and NATO troops.

The Pakistani military has a very tight command and control system. ISI collaboration with the neo-Taliban and other guerrilla groups could not occur without the knowledge and acquiescence of Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, who was chief of staff until last fall. That is, Cheney, Bush and McCain have backed to the hilt a military dictator who has continued the old 1980s and 1990s policy of supporting Pushtun guerrillas as a way of dominating Afghanistan and training other guerrillas to hit Kashmir.

Yet this is what McCain said about “my good friend” Musharraf on Dec. 28 in New Hampshire during the primary campaign: "I continue to believe Musharraf has done a pretty good job, done a lot of the things that we wanted him to do . . . I would remind some of my fellow Americans that Benazir Bhutto and [former prime minister Nawaz] Sharif presided over failed states, there was corruption, there was a failed state in Pakistan when Musharraf took charge...I would like to give Musharraf some credit for taking the measures that we asked him to do."

A “pretty good job?” Musharraf's “successful state” involved dismissing the Supreme Court, provoking massive and repeated demonstrations, violating the constitution, interfering with free and fair elections, and presiding over a virtual national meltdown on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto late last December.

It’s clear that McCain values nothing beyond sheer military might – even if it has shady contacts to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. In other words, McCain’s so-called “experience” tells him that the US should give money to Pakistan so its ISI can fund Taliban and al-Qaeda forces that are killing NATO and US troops in Afghanistan.

So much for McCain’s campaign stump line, “I know how to win wars.” If this is how he wins, how much more of his incompetence will it take for him to “lose” one?

When the newly elected civilian government of Pakistan tried to put the ISI under the civilian Ministry of the Interior last weekend, it was quickly reversed by the generals. The US government should be supporting the elected civilian government in its efforts to get control of the ISI.

But this news is not rally about Pakistan, since most Pakistanis dislike al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It is not about the elected Pakistani government. It is not even about the Pakistani military, which has fought hard battles against the Pakistani Taliban and suffered hundreds of casualties in doing so. It is about corruption in the Pakistani officer corps and the penetration of pro-al-Qaeda elements in the ISI.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani is in constant denial about the ISI/Taliban links, or perhaps he doesn't want to provoke an immediate crisis with the Pakistani military, which has been known to make coups. He said as much last week while in Washington during a meeting with Bush. His Pakistan People's Party has been reluctant to see Musharraf impeached, since de facto party leader Asaf Ali Zardari – Benazir Bhutto’s widower – has been corrupt in the past and would be at risk for some of the same charges levelled at Musharraf.

So exactly how much of the $10-billion in aid did Bush, Cheney and McCain gave to Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf after 9/11 ended up being used to kill US, NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan?

You think you're angry? Talk to anyone in Delhi about all this right about now. And do two things right now: Spread the word about this and Obama’s position and, two, show up at a local McCain “town hall” armed with this information and confront him with it. Help derail the so-called “straight talk express.”