Saturday, February 10, 2007

William Safire's Feith-Based Initiative Revealed

William Safire, the snappy etymologist of the New York Times Sunday Magazine was famous, during his tenure as a regular political columnist for that Paper of Record, for a private direct-line phone to some mysterious source. Now that the Pentagon Inspector General has reported on the build-up to the Iraq War, Amphictyony has concluded that Douglas Feith was, indeed, the man at the other end of that telephone.

Safire scoffed at the CIA disbelief in an Iraq-al-Qaida connection and referred, on one or more occasions, to sources asserting the connection was a fact. That there was a meeting between Mohammed Atta and a high-ranking Iraqi Intelligence Officer in Prague. Now we know where that discredited "fact" originated: with Douglas Feith, in Rumsfeld's possibly illegal Office of Special Plans.

Amphictyony wonders if Safire still has that phone connected.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Tomorrow's Newspaper Today - Perhaps

Latest News From The Non-Profits

A report from the Cato Institute has concluded that the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan has been financed not by oil interests but by a wealthy remnant of Carthaginians, and must be defeated at all costs. This report, titled “The Fourth Punic War”, has been based on a study by the Bulwarks Of Liberty Foundation, which concluded that the insurgents were using women’s hair in the construction of IEDs.

The Public Interest Foundation, an organization with links to Media Monitors, the East River Institute and the Committee For National Immigration Policy, is demanding that Congress pass a law restricting new immigration by establishing new and rigorous quotas, the purpose of which is to hold down the number of educated immigrants. “We don’t want people coming here with sophisticated ideas from other countries. We want people coming here who[m] we can educate to our own ideas.”

A white paper, just issued by Save The makes a strong case for the creation of vast underground bunkers for the confinement of political dissenters. The hope expressed in the paper is that not only will society be cleansed by their absence, society will be further benefited by the piped-out emanations of methane gas, to be converted to fuel, and carbon dioxide, which can be converted to dry ice for storage of America’s founding documents.

A spokesman for the Wave The Flag Committee, in an recent interview on the Christian Television Network, pointed out that Christians wave the flag from left to right, while Jews wave the flag from right to left. Pat Robertson expressed the view that Christians, as they mature, move from the left to the right, while Jews generally end up on the left. Hebrews For Humanity, a militant Jewish organization, has protested to the FCC.

We’re More Patriotic Than You
, a think tank in northern Virginia, has issued a clarion call for a Constitutional Amendment which would in fact overturn the 22nd Amendment. The 22nd Amendment passed in a groundswell of resentment–mostly Republican–against the four consecutive terms of the Franklin Roosevelt Presidency, and has thereafter limited the Presidency to two consecutive terms. The Harry Truman Presidential Library wishes it understood that President Truman was specifically exempted from the provisions of the 22nd Amendment but declined a try for a third term. Mrs. Truman, it has been rumored, was the reason. And in a legal brief filed in the 11th Federal District Court of Southern Florida, the Electoral Justice Reform Committee has petitioned for a ruling that George W. Bush, because he had not been elected but appointed to the Presidency in 2000, did not actually begin his first term until after the election of 2004 and remains eligible for another term in 2008.

The American Congregation Of Scientists For God has announced that Darwin was an old man with only a rudimentary knowledge of Astral Physics and thus could have no credible viewpoint on the existence of a Higher Being. His “Theory of Evolution” could be nothing more than a hallucination, or a spell woven by Satan. The Society of Concerned Baptists, in a similar statement, has proposed moving the National Capital to Kansas.

Finally, the Freedom For All Committee is recommending that martial law be imposed on all West Coast and North Atlantic states. The statement by the FFAC ends with this summation: “Until the coastal States of this great country, excepting the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, learn to abide by the Conservative values of America’s heartland, they should be set apart and denied the privileges of full citizenship.”

News from the non-profits is updated every hour on the hour.

The Luddites Are In Charge

The Common-Nonsense Guide to Politics

The average Republican, ethical and hard-working, must feel that the political leaders of the party of his choice are equally so. Many Republicans see themselves as foot-soldiers in a cultural battle against the forces of the Liberal Left, a large but purposely ill-defined group. And the Liberal Left must remain ill-defined, in order that the term can serve as a weapon rather than as the definition of a specific policy. And all the stories of unethical, mendacious, dishonest or lethal behavior by Republican Leaders can thus either be dismissed as propaganda or overlooked as merely collateral damage, perfectly acceptable in the larger war for the soul of the Nation.

Yes, Republican policies may favor the rich, may seem to fellate the corporate giants and pander to the religious extremists who seen the battle less in terms of culture and more in terms of Armageddon, but the essential common-sensibility of the Republican character will bring us to a better world, a better place. So they must believe.

What must be pondered by the foot-soldiers is something more destructive of this nation than the military adventurism and Constitutional subversion of the current Republican leadership is the rampant anti-intellectualism which underlies their political posturing. Beginning with the “egghead” charges against Adlai Stevenson which propelled Dwight Eisenhower into office, Republican campaigns have targeted the better educated, particularly those from the most prestigious schools, the faculties, the writers, the readers, the historians, the scientists. Those groups within the population who have been most responsible for the technological advances in industry, in the standard of living, of health care, of agriculture, of exploration and of preservation of the environment, have all been treated either with outright hostility or with condescending neglect.

While no responsible Republican leader has yet advocated renouncing all the advances and creature comforts these targeted groups have provided, the steady drumbeat of anti-science is having its effect. The Luddites are in charge and growing bolder. This then is more than a culture war, it is a war of the worlds.

Of course, politicians of all parties campaign on “common-sense” platforms, deriding all ideas and ideals that conflict with quotidian observation. Up to a point. We haven’t seen serious claims that the earth is flat, that the sun and moon are in orbit around us, or that public policy can best be determined by examining the entrails of goats. But we are now being victimized by the unprecedented (since Gallileo) Republican assault on Science; our children’s education is compromised and the essential concept that Knowledge brings Enlightenment is now being overthrown by assaults on Freedom of Thought and Expression and on Constitutional safeguards for those very necessary ingredients of a Free Society.

It is the responsibility of every citizen and voter of this country to consider what this policy will bring to us. An Oligarchy? We’ve already become that. A Theocracy? We’re well on the way. A Democracy? Never.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mr. Robertson

by Puck

I speak to millions every day
of Christ, and say what he would say,
indulging every angry whim
and evil thought, as if from Him.
My checkered past kept in the dark,
a vastly rich ecclesiarch,
I wield a vengeful staff and rod
which doth persuade me I am God.

Friday, August 19, 2005

phillip ii of macedon is on the case

In a private communication to me, phillip ii of macedon applied his wicked pen to the MSM [Main Stream Media]. I offer it here.

There are two main reasons that the MSM is having such difficulty covering the Sheehan story.

The first is that, after the first few days, there was nothing very "new" happening. How does one cover a stalemate? The MSM’s traditional recourses when there’s no news are to speculate, frantically dig for dirt, and "cover the coverage." In Sheehan’s case, there is not much to speculate about. This is not a horserace or an election; either Bush will meet with Sheehan or not, and the answer already seems pretty clear. So the press is left to either not cover the story, or to cover ancillary (if not artificial) aspects of the story. And pursuing the latter inevitably creates distortion and imbalance.

Imagine that we landed astronauts on Mars, who, once there, just sat on their hands (which they could do comfortably for extended periods due to the weak gravity). The trip would be a media sensation, until perhaps the 3rd day on the red planet. At that point, unless our astronauts actually did something (look for life, collect rocks, etc.), the story would wane. Although Man on Mars would be the story of the century, in the absence of new events, the media would quickly resort to secondary stories ("How are the families of the astronauts holding up?").

Now imagine that the Mars trip had been funded by the Democratic Party. Don’t you think that the MSM would be desperately trying to cover any negative aspects of the Mars trip, in order to create an appearance of non-partisanship?

Of course, the MSM is free to pursue the real, worthwhile story, which is, "How would President Bush answer Cindy Sheehan’s questions, and how might Sheehan respond?" I believe the sad, second reason for the MSM’s ineptitude is that there is no answer to this speculation that would adequately feed the media’s fever to represent two sides to any political story (especially the Republican side). The fact is that neither Bush nor his supporters have a water-holding answer of Sheehan’s challenge to justify our presence in Iraq. The media could not tolerate the discomfort of having private citizens counter, like shooting fish in a barrel, the Bush Administration’s ineffectual attempts to articulate our "noble cause" in Iraq (and, at the same time, revealing the media’s complicity in giving the Iraq War a free ride).

There are a dozen other reasons (mostly business-related) why the MSM botches stories. Consolidated ownership, mostly by conservative executives. Dependence on the good graces of the Administration for access. Fear of alienating 40-60% of their audience who perceives a bias, whether or not the bias is justified (i.e., spinelessness). Catering to the lowest common IQ of the American public in the proverbial Dumbing-Down of News. Increasing advertising revenues through manufactured drama and controversy, even if it means grossly distorting priorities, or misrepresenting opinions, statistics, and even facts, to do so.

But the distinguishing feature of the Sheehan story that confounds the MSM is the lack of viable, mutually-effective action on the front line of the protest: Sheehan has hit the ball to Bush’s court, and not only hasn’t Bush hit the ball back, he doesn’t even have a racquet to play with.


I don't think this story is over. Puck

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Outcry from phillip ii of macedon

My correspondent, phillip ii of macedon, recently disseminated this impressive cri de coeur:

It has taken me this long, too long, to understand what GWB meant when he said during the 2000 campaign that he was a “uniter, not a divider.” My naive interpretation had been that Bush would reach out, and, using skills of diplomacy, reasoned moderation, and compromise, seek to soothe the strident rhetoric that has polarized us. Today, I finally understand. What Bush probably meant was that he would seek, by all means fair and foul, to stifle dissent so as to create the appearance of unity.

A facade of unity takes far less work to construct than a foundation of unity. To this President, the choice is clear. Not only easier to build, a well-made facade can conceal all manner of ineptitude, contradiction, and malfeasance. Such is Bush’s facade of unity. Was this what he had in mind from the beginning?

I recall the story that Pat Robertson related, in which Bush brazenly predicted, “Oh, no, we’re not going to have any casualties [invading Iraq].” Similarly, I can envision Bush telling a confidante, “Oh, no, we’re not going to have any disagreements” on his governmental watch. As if, awash with power, Bush could dictate conformity and uniformity.

Perhaps Bush relies on the fact that citizens tend to give the government the benefit of the doubt. Surely people lend more credence to the President, or other public servants who hold a title, than they would to an “ordinary person” like Cindy Sheehan, for example. Speaking only for myself, the persistently perverse actions of the Bush administration has caused an inversion. I now automatically assume that anything that comes out of the Republican Party is absolutely baseless at best. As ignorant as the man-on-the-street seems to be, he’s bound to be right twice a day.

I wonder when Bush realized that his only avenue for “uniting” the country would be through the systematic elimination of avenues of expression and communication of dissent. I would have thought, in the aftermath of 9/11, that Bush could have pursued a path of fostering actual, true unity. The first such opportunity since WWII to leverage the national sentiment. Ironically, 9/11 seems to have been the galvanizing event not for Bush’s Uniting of America, but rather for Bush’s program of “I’ll Do Whatever the Hell I Want and Then Paint a Pretty Picture On It, and Destroy You If You Complain.”

Despite the Bush Administration’s best efforts, there is still plenty of divisiveness. Thank heavens for that. Bush’s audacious posturing says that anyone who disagrees with the Iraq War is disrespectful, unpatriotic, and even treasonous. This is the height of his hubris: the notion that he is powerful enough to erect a facade of unity to a horrific war, instigated without justification, and conducted with incompetence and cruelty. For a war to have any chance of being construed as in any way moral, its justification must be inherently self-evident to virtually all Americans, and it must be waged with the highest degree of integrity. Any President who accepts a lower standard than this, does so at the country’s peril.

And sadly, any country which is unwilling to look past a facade does so at its own peril, too.

We Bush detractors must now think of “divisiveness” in a positive light. Unity is a noble goal if it is freely and carefully achieved. But a facade of unity is an oppressiveness that we must all fear.

....p ii

Monday, August 08, 2005


This morning's newspapers are speculating about Supreme Court Justice Nominiee John Roberts and what his view of Privacy as a Constitutional Right might be.

If he doesn't hold that Privacy is a Constitutional Right, gun owners and the NRA, who so fervently fight gun registration, should be very concerned. When Privacy goes, it goes deep.

Where there is no Privacy, there is no Freedom.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Richard B. Cheney Walks At Midnight

I like to believe that Vachel Lindsay would not disapprove too heartily.


Richard B. Cheney Walks At Midnight
(In Washington, D.C.)

It is portentous, and a thing of state
That there at midnight, somewhere undisclosed,
A mumbling figure walks, and will not rest,
composing random notions into proof he’s right.

Or in the White House, in his shadowed way,
he lingers at the Presidential side
and mutters dire fantasies and plots
and afterwards is unaware he lied.

A weighty, stocky man! His suit an ancient dark,
But darker yet, his countenance. His dreams
Make him the shaming, shambling voice
Of spurious factoids and malignant schemes.

He cannot sleep, nor can he fix
His mind, the narrow corridor
Of light a mocking echo of
The narrow oath he swore and then forswore.

His head is bowed. He humbly thinks of kings
And how they must be led. Yea, he
Will always lead, he thinks, as long
As mighty Colorado flows to western sea.

The sins of all the critics burn his heart.
His enemies know naught but claim it all.
He carries on his bulky aging shoulders now
The bitterness, the outrage and the gall.

He cannot rest until a distant dawn
Releases him only to wander, vain,
In chambers Senatorial and halls
Where he transmutes his mordancies to pain.

It breaks his heart that no one now believes
His tersely uttered shafts, once dynamite.
He stumbles, incoherent, through the day
And stammers, lost, unreachable, each night.