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                                       politics + culture

Monday, October 31, 2005

stranger than paradise

I was driving a big truck around the abandoned industrial streets of West Oakland tonight and it made me think of one my favorite scenes in the movies.

It occurs in Jim Jarmusch's movie Stranger than Paradise when Willie and his buddy, Eddie, have driven to Cleveland to visit Willy's recently-arrived Hungarian cousin, Eva, (the beautiful Esther Balint...whatever happened to her?) who is living with their Aunt in less than happy conditions, and working as a waitress in a diner.

It's winter in Cleveland. It's dark and it's cold. It's brutal. Big factories line the streets. The wind blows snow.

Eddie, played deadpan by Richard Edson (original drummer for Sonic Youth, btw) and Eva and Willy go for a drive. They stop. Get out. They face the cold, empty streets of the industrial American city that is Cleveland.

Eddie observes, matter of factly, "Hey, Willie, this looks just like Brooklyn."

I laughed at that. My American buddy laughed too. We were two of twenty people in a small movie theater in Paris where no one was laughing. They took the entire movie way too seriously. The French, sometimes.

But, yeah, West Oakland looks like Cleveland with palm trees....and Cleveland looks like Brooklyn...which looks like Montgomery or Ft. Collins or St. John's, Oregon or anyplace in America with train tracks, grain elevators, truck yards and factories...anyplace that is going to have that...godforsaken industrial vibe.

And, yeah, tonight I was thinking about how I love this country despite that brutal face.

I remember campaigning for Jesse Jackson in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1988 one snowy night....walking down exactly that godforsaken prototypical industrial street with two buddies looking for a bar where we might get away from the cold linoleum floors of the Manchester Teamsters Hall...only to have some car full of long-haired metal heads drive by us...and yell, "fags, faggots, fags.....you fags!....faggots!!"

Of course, given enough time away from America and you can miss, or at least laugh at, even its most blithering idiots.

1988 is a long time ago. So is 1984, the year, Stranger than Paradise came out. I miss that too.

You see, Eva plays this old Screaming Jay Hawkins song, "I Put a Spell on You" on her cassette deck...just like we used to do. (Those school-issue, single-speaker, deck-with-a-handle models that were all that anyone had before boom boxes ruled...and for a long time afterwards.)

I remember sitting in the back of the school bus with that exact type of deck...except we were playing Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and singing along. And some cool kid, with an older sister, had a copied tape of the Jam. Tonight, somebody from the photo shoot I was working on was off to see Bau Haus at the Fillmore. A blast from the past, but it's all the same.

And, yeah, it all gets mixed up like that.

Driving the streets of West Oakland, I saw a homeless couple stretched on a park bench off Peralta, then I saw an old man sitting aimlessly and motionless on the meridian of Mandela Parkway, then a woman who was lying on a street corner just off West Grand, curling to stay warm.

I don't miss that part of America. And it's been there every day of my life.

I remember, one night, coming out of the Mars Bar in the East Village I saw a girl I recognized with green hair. She was collecting bottles and cans at 2AM. She'd taken a semester off of school. Rent was $300 for a room in a crappy railroad firetrap apartment. The Bowery that night was like every other American industrial place. Cold and godforsaken.

Gwynn looked at me and smiled. "Fuck" she said, "I guess I should be embarrassed collecting cans, but I gotta make rent." I wasn't judgmental so much as impressed. I found her doing what she had to do. Hell, if I hadn't run into her, she would've been there anyway.

New York was like that then; it still is in some parts, and so is West Oakland.

So is the reality of the brutality and poverty of so much of American life.

Jim Jarmusch put that Screaming Jay Hawkins song in his movie for the same reason he put that scene in Cleveland, or the "TV dinner" scene, or Esther Balint's wry, beautiful, Hungarian immigrant face, a face a bit like pictures of what my mom and her sisters...who are Czech-American...looked like when they were young, and their lives were far from certain or safely middle class.

He put it in to tell a story about America.

It's haunting. It get's to the core of something. I don't know exactly what. But I find it compelling anyway.

I put a spell on you
Because you're mine

Stop the things you do
WHOAHUH - what's up?
I ain't lyin'
Yeaaah, I can't stand - HOO!
No runnin' around
I can't stand
No put me down
I put a spell on you
Because you're mine
WHOAHAA - yeah!
WOAH!

[saxophone solo]

Stop the things you do
WHOAHUH - what's up?
I ain't lyin'
AAHH!! AAH! I love you
I love you
I love you anyhow
I don't care if you don't want me
I'm yours right now
I put a spell on you
Because you're mine, mine
Mine!!! AAH WHOAHH HUH


There's something about America in that song, and Jarmusch's movie paean to it, that isn't about jingoism or patriotism. If anything, there's a kind of fear in it, and power.

And once you've felt it, it never lets you go.

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Samuel Alito

George W. Bush, when all is said and done, has nominated a man, Judge Samuel Alito, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

Alito, an "ultra-conservative", is famous for holding that the Pennsylvania legislature was within its rights to make a law that said a woman must inform her husband in order to have an abortion:

"[t]he Pennsylvania legislature could have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands' knowledge because of perceived problems — such as economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands' previously expressed opposition — that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion."


I could say many things about Bush's hypocrisy, his caving to the religious right, and the truly odious legal reasoning that would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion unless she "talks" to her husband. There will be time for that later. For now, all I can say is what an insult to Sandra Day O'Connor, and to the women of the United States as a whole.

This is about something more than politics. This is about a lack of dignity and respect.

On the day we honor Ms. Rosa Parks, civil rights pioneer and the first woman to lie in state in the Capital, President Bush has nominated, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, a man who would dedicate himself to undoing the balance Justice O'Connor struck, her life's work on the court. George Bush would leave Justice Ginsberg as the lone woman on the Court.

George W. Bush has no sense of shame. There is nothing beneath him.

What a slap in the face to the honor and dignity of both of these women, and to every woman today. A man has been put forward take Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Court. George W. Bush, on this day we honor Rosa Parks, just told America's women to walk to the back of the bus.

In my opinion, the proper response, in addition to whatever formal and political opposition will be mounted to this nomination, must be protest of some sort. The day to protest the Alito nomination is today, and tommorrow, and the day after that. Protests led by women and joined by men. This isn't a "wait and see"..."sad resignation" kind of moment. Alito is young enough to be a Supreme Court Justice well into our children's middle age.

It's time for us to reach out and link arms. It's time for us to honor our mothers and sisters and daughters. It's time for all of us to say: No, not today, George. Enough is enough.

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Rosa Parks

I have little to add to the already considerable commemorations of Ms. Parks' life and work other than this:

Rosa Parks actions touched all of us, whether we know it or not. Pehaps, in memory of her passing, it would pay to bear that in mind, as we go about our business this week...how many ways her life and work touches our own...how fitting it might be to invoke her name in unexpected ways.

Segregation was not so long ago. The movement Ms. Parks started did not achieve its true legal goals for a decade...with the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Tens of millions of Americans have direct, lived experience of racial segregation by law. It's not something people talk about much, but it is there beneath the surface.

Rosa Parks' struggle was more than simply a legal one, it had a spiritual and philosophical meaning too. In that sense, though her life is finished, her name is a part of history now. Wherever someone stands for equality, for dignity and for respect, Ms. Rosa Parks lives on.

God Bless you, Rosa Parks.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

chess

Karl Rove had come to love Cheney...[snip]...Cheney had made it clear he did not aspire to the presidency. It was almost an unheard-of luxury to not have the the vice president nipping at the president's heels, Rove realized. Cheney did not seem worried about covering his own ass, an amazing phenomenon in politics.

-Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, 2004, p 429


One thing about Rove and Bush...and it's something that characterizes the entire GOP...is that they like "slam dunks." They like things to be settled simply, directly, powerfully...in one fell swoop. They don't play chess; and if they do, they don't trade pieces. They like things done and they'll play dirty to get there quickly.

That wasn't true of Bill Clinton, a president who "traded pieces" like it was going out of style. Clinton wasn't a "dunk" man; as his infamous Lewinsky denial proved, he wasn't good at it. (If slam dunks express GOP politics, then Bill Clinton was Larry Bird, a gifted player who used almost every other move but the dunk.)

Bill Clinton's strength, in chess terms, was that he could look down a chain of eventualities, assess the strength and weakness of his position, and play the game accordingly, even with a great deal left "up in the air" and contingent. If politics is chess, then Bill Clinton understood the middle game, he understood trading pieces for position; Clinton understood how an opening is as much a way to hide one's strength from an opponent...as it is to make that strength known. Bill Starr and Newt Gingrich took on Bill Clinton...and, in terms of who was left standing at the end of the day, in 'chess terms', Clinton won.

Many very smart folks on the left today are understanding Fitzgerald as a "chess player," as someone capable of looking five or six moves down the road. I think that's true. And it seems to me that folks like Bill Safire, and George Will, and David Brooks, in their need to give Rove the "slam dunk" he's looking for....denigrating Fitz, denigrating the investigation, "pooh-pooh"-ing the seriousness of the Libby indictment...are making a big mistake.

There's a great deal contained in the "four corners" of Fitzgerald's indictment. That indictment represents, in chess terms, an "opening"; it conveys strengths and weaknesses. It hides and it reveals. Almost anything might develop from it, or, yes, as GOP spinmeisters insist, perhaps to their own eventual embarassment...the indictment might result in nothing much at all.

I'm convinced, however, that, like Watergate, we're playing chess here. And, unlike the spinmeisters, I think the public understands how serious the possible outcomes and underlying issues are. If you ask me, the Vice President knows that too. In June of 2003 Dick Cheney may very well have sent Scooter Libby on a mission to find a "slam dunk" to use against Joseph Wilson. (Link and more analysis at firedoglake)

If that is true, if close examination of the lead-up to the Novak 'Plame article' reveals the complicity of Karl Rove and the office of the Vice-President in the leak that article contained, then Bush, Rove and Cheney together may very well come to realize...in the press, in the gossip cauldron of D.C., in the halls of Congress, in the office of a Federal prosecutor, and perhaps, in a court of law, how foolish it is to try to "slam dunk" in the game of chess, especially when you touch the third rail of any presidency: vulnerability in federal court.

Chess, at the end of the day, is not so much about raw attack as it is about managing vulnerability.

Karl Rove and his lawyers may be mulling that word over right now (or, perhaps not): vulnerability. It makes one wonder, as well, if the Vice President will, at long last, be shown not simply as covetous of the powers of the presidency, but to have been very much interested in covering his own ass as well.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

questions and a hunch

Occasionally, Tenet had breakfast with Karl Rove, the president's senior political adviser, in the White House mess and joked that he would share secrets with Rove that even Rice was not allowed to know.

-Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, p. 67-8


As you sit here now, if you're asking me what his motives were, I can't tell you; we haven't charged it.

-Patrick Fitzgerald, Press Conference, Oct. 28th, 2005


Questions:

  • What does the Libby indictment communicate to the players in this case?
  • What did the Fitzgerald press conference communicate to the players?
  • What did it communicate to those who now know they may be called as witnesses?
  • What are all those "unnamed officials" who were listed by their titles thinking today, and what are their lawyers telling them?
  • What can we learn from the "four corners of the indictment" that we didn't know already?
  • What are the political consequences of the information contained in the indictment?
  • How can we use the indictment, in combination with the public record, like that Woodward morsel above, to document how BushCo. mishandles national security information for political motives?
  • How might Fitzgerald's explicitly non-political, "non-investigative" prosecutorial stance create a compelling argument for a separate, public, on-the-record investigation, not just of the Plame affair, but of the intelligence that led up to the war?


  • Hunch:

    In listening to some cautionary words from friends and commentators about optimistic interpretations of last Friday's indictment as a sign "more to come"...and in reconsidering what might best explain both the text of the Libby indictment and the course of Fitzgerald's press conference yesterday, it occured to me to ask this queston:

    Where did Patrick Fitzgerald want to be last Friday?

    It seems a fair guess to surmise that Fitzgerald was prepared to indict Libby and Rove last Friday. My hunch would be that he might have prepared similar charges against Rove to the ones he brought against Libby...some combination of perjury, false statements and, perhaps, obstruction of justice. (There's more than a few indications in the press and in the indictment itself that this may have been the case.)

    In that sense, something may have gone wrong for Fitzgerald. Friday may represent a failure for Fitzgerald from his original aims..whether that failure occured within the grand jury itself or elsewhere...or not at all...who knows? But a last minute exclusion of a Rove indictment might explain some of the odd ways that the indictment of Libby reads as if it were slightly chopped from a "broader" case...and it might also explain some of Fitzgerald's odd statements and work-arounds in the Friday press conference: implying that the investigation was over and continuing at the same time...and the incongruity of arguing the seriousness of "thowing sand in the umps face"...but only charging one of the players with that...five times over, while we know that Rove, at the very least, was not forthcoming.

    That being said. Let's assume that when Fitzgerald said the bulk of the investigation was largely complete, that he meant just that. The investigation is done except for some "Rove-related" loose-end, or, perhaps, an agreement by Rove or Libby to provide new evidence. The scope of the investigation, then, could accurately be described as being contained inside the four corners of the Libby indictment, especially, since, as billmon has consistently pointed out, that indictment points up very solid evidence of the original crimes being investigated. Fitzgerald's intention on Friday may have been limited to making indictments of Libby and Rove...indictments, however, that hint at the framework of a "broader case"... and then wait it out. Just as he appears to be waiting now.

    After all, if you indict someone on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, but hold your investigation open, the obvious plea bargain would be to actually provide the information the prosecutor sought in the first place. And if you indicted two people, either one would have to think about the "what if" of the other cooperating. (Could Rove be cooperating now?)

    I guess that leads me to say my hunch is that indicting Libby and Rove was Fitzgerald's intention for Friday. Indict both and then wait, with the bulk of the investigation complete, hoping to turn one or the other, or both. Something may have gone wrong, perhaps permanently so. Or, some further development with Rove may be forthcoming. In which case, Fitzgerald may get to where my hunch tells me he originally sought to arrive: having two central figures under indictment on serious charges, both of whom have some information that Fitzgerald seeks.

    That would be a kind of double whammy. Fitz could play one off the other, and, if niether cooperates, Fitz could rest at that. In Fitzgerald's words, "what is charged is a very, very serious crime that will vindicate the public interest in finding out what happened here."

    Which begs the question: what is the information that Fitzgerald is seeking, does he know he can get it, and, since his investigation is about indictments, not public information gathering, what is the legal jeopardy for the Vice President, and perhaps, others?

    {Permalink}

    Friday, October 28, 2005

    encyclopedia brown

    Jane at firedoglake links to this thread at Kevin Drum's, it's really fascinating.

    I guess this moment brings out the inner Encyclopedia Browns on all sides. Good stuff.

    the meaning of Fitzmas

    By Wendell Gee, or as you know him, wg:

    I think I may be experiencing, Linus-like, the deeper meaning of Fitzmas. Watching and listening to Fitz, I rediscovered something I haven't felt in a long, long time: a kind of simple, optimistic pride in the potential and promise of America. I know that sounds fatuous, but it felt like, after crawling through the desert, I was finally rewarded with a tall, clear glass of ice-cold life-sustaining water. I took such profound and unexpected pleasure in the trust I felt in this guy. And I even found a perverse satisfaction in the way he frustrated my shallow partisan craving for a brutal rhetorical smackdown. When was the last time you had the experience of seeing somebody on tv, in a political context, that you didn't feel compelled to view through an angry ideological prism? It was such a relief to not be an analyzing and enraged critic, or even a chortling schadenfreudian. I just had a very simple, almost childlike, faith in this guy. He'll follow the evidence where it leads and no further, but he's not afraid of anybody, especially these smug thugs. He seemed like a walking, human rebuke to the insane political atmosphere of the last decade. I know this all sounds ridiculous and naive, but perhaps that only suggests how deeply I was craving, without even really being aware of it, somebody to believe in again. I believe in fairness, and justice, and equality, and civility. And I saw that today in Patrick Fitzgerald. And maybe that, Charlie Brown, is the true meaning of Fitzmas.


    If that doesn't warm your heart tonight, then you've been spending too much time looking at pictures of Karl Rove.

    {Permafitzmas}

    first thoughts and an open thread

    I am neither someone with a background in journalism, nor am I savvy or privy to beltway politics, nor am I a lawyer, nor do I know the ins and out of intelligence matters...(those links are all worthwhile)

    but these things strike me from today's events, take 'em worth a grain of salt:

    Patrick Fitzgerald made a no-nonsense, straightforward case for one thing today: Lewis Libby lied to the FBI and the grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA employee's identity, and his perjury and false statements noted in the indictment amount to an obstruction of justice.

    Fitzgerald made two related things very clear:

    #1: Fitzgerald's investigation concerned a matter that impacted our national security in a "serious" way; namely, whether present and future employees of the CIA can have the reasonable expectation that their identities will be protected by our government. Fitzgerald made clear that his indictment of Libby directly relates to that seriousness. Libby has been indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice that prevented Fitzgerald from fully investigating that national security issue.

    #2: Fitzgerald is playing by the strict rules of a federal grand jury. He is investigating crimes following those strict rules. His investigation a) pursued the facts and b) where those facts merited indictments, Fitzgerald pursued them. This means that if Fitzgerald's investigation does not bring an indictment against someone, then Fitzgerald will not talk about that person. If he does bring an indictment against someone, it means that that person is in a heap of trouble.

    Further, Fitzgerald indicated that his investigation is ongoing. Since he also made clear that he will not file a report, or talk about people who came up in his investigation but who are unindicted, we can only assume that he would continue his investigation only if the possiblity of further indictments, or, perhaps, if he has that discretion, plea bargains, are forthcoming.

    Given the seriousness with which Fitzgerald takes the rules and his job, I think that means, at the very least, that those who are still vulnerable to prosecution in this investigation should be extremely concerned about further indictments and investigation. It seems to me that Fitzgerald has no other reason to keep his shop open.

    Now, politically, I think many things happened today that will play out over time. My bet is that the political side of this will prove to be the most significant and damaging to Bush and the GOP. Here are some quick bullet points:

  • GOP push-back attacking Fitzgerald would be sheer idiocy...and in my view prove an excercise in futility. The public face this guy presented to the nation is platinum. I would say to Democrats and pundits...he may not give us everything we want, but do not mess with what he's doing. He's a guy doing his job. Let him do it.
  • This is far from over. Legally and especially, politically, today is extremely bad news for BushCo: Libby touches deep inside the White House.
  • Even when the simple political fallout of what's revealed in the Libby indictment is parsed and pursued by the press...it is utterly damning. They lied to us repeatedly when they pretended to know nothing...over and over again, the whole lot of them. These guys are crooked.
  • This is a kind of less obvious 'worst case scenario' for BushCo. Five indictments focused on one player at the heart of the administration with an "ongoing investigation" that may create further indictments, indictments that most certainly will put other figures on the stand under oath...that is just horrible news. It's better for us that the charges are ones that reportedly will "stick" in court. That means that they are deep doo-doo with little wiggle room for claiming the prosecutor overreached.

    For me, it all boils down to one question that will be asked all over the country this weekend: Why would you lie unless you were covering up something worse?

    In sum, the limited nature of Fitzgerald's investigation and Fitzgerald's limited ability to talk about things is horrible political news for Bush. It means that the public's right to know...and we do have a right to know...will create incredible political pressure on BushCo., while important Bush players remain in legal jeopardy, whether through indictment or being compelled to testify in public, from a guy who is "just doing his job."

    Though we don't get the wished for "clarity," we do get the best of both worlds: ongoing legal jeopardy to the White House from a "straight shooter" prosecutor, and political pressure of an unprecedented caliber placed squarely on the White House and touching every goddammed desk in the crooked place.

    George W. Bush has nowhere to hide here; LIbby's indictment reaches deep into the White House. My bet, Bush will come to regret that Karl Rove is still squirming in this one. If Rove did things to "throw sand" in the Ump's eyes, as Fitzgerald so ably put it...Bush will have hell to pay. If the inevitable investigation into Cheney's role dregdes up some dirt that wasn't forthcoming in the investigation, ditto.

    In sum, we saw something today in the character of Patrick Fitzgerald that marks a turning point in the history of BushCo.: we saw an honest man who understands the limits of power and the reason we have laws to protect us.

    BushCo. is in serious, ongoing political trouble.

    {Permalink}

  • Bingo....

    Merry Fitzmas!

    (NYT, Libby 5 counts, Rove legal jeopardy continues...)

    And don't miss the Frogs....pretty funny.

    the link

    This is...the link. Nothing new up yet. But fresh Atrios...read it.

    Billmon has some excellent tea leaf reading. I'll be bouncing back and forth between Swopa and firedoglake...after I get my coffee. (As if I'm not awake enough!)

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    the sound of silence

    Just spoke with good friend and fellow blogger, awol, who dropped this line on me vis a vis Fitz:

    "Perhaps the most effective use of silence in U.S. politics in living memory."

    To which I replied: "I hope Fitz is no Chauncey Gardner."

    (Of course, there's no doubt, he isn't, and, further, this article seems a pretty big deal to me.)

    aprés Miers: a modest proposal

    I wrote the comment that follows on a thread about how the Miers nomination threatened to create a new bloc on the court:

    Bush might have nominated a brilliant moderate, acceptable to all sides. A justice's Justice. Perhaps someone with enough conservative credentials that they could pass the base...but whose talent and capabilities and love of the Court, and the people it serves, were clear.

    Dreaming? Maybe.

    The Bush clan is bushel of rotting apples. It's too much to hope for apple pie.


    Miers withdrawal affords a chance to revisit the question of "voting blocs," and think anew about strategy. We're in "do-over" land. Upon further reflection and rereading that earlier piece about voting blocs, I think the key relationship on the Roberts Court will be something I neglected to address a month ago: the relationship between Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. Jeffrey Toobin had an excellent profile of Kennedy in the New Yorker a couple months back. It's worth a look now:

    Kennedy’s views on abortion have long been ambiguous. In 1989, he joined an opinion by Rehnquist that appeared to call for overturning Roe v. Wade; then, in 1992, in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Kennedy joined Souter and O’Connor in an opinion that reaffirmed the core of Roe—that is, the right of a woman to terminate an early-term pregnancy. Since then, Kennedy has generally been counted as an abortion-rights vote, along with Souter, O’Connor, Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer, but that may not be an accurate inference. Over the past decade, Kennedy has repeatedly expressed his concerns about abortion. Dissenting from a 2000 ruling that upheld the conviction of anti-abortion protesters for trespassing, he criticized the majority for denying "these protesters, in the face of what they consider to be one of life’s gravest moral crises, even the opportunity to try to offer a fellow citizen a little pamphlet, a handheld paper seeking to reach a higher law.” That same year, Kennedy wrote an uncharacteristically vitriolic dissent to the Court’s decision to strike down a Nebraska law banning late-term (or partial-birth) abortion—what he called “a procedure many decent and civilized people find so abhorrent as to be among the most serious of crimes against human life.”


    That emphasized passage stikes me as key...since Kennedy wrote it after the passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances Act. Kennedy's sympathy to "little pamphlets" and "a higher law" may find a friend and ally in John Roberts, whose now well-known arguments on behalf of the first Bush Administration against federal protections for women seeking reproductive health services were part of what prompted Congress, along with the resulting Supreme Court decision, to pass the 1994 act in the first place:

    In Roberts' [1991] brief, and in oral arguments he made in person before the Supreme Court, the government argued that a particular part of U.S. law (Section 1985(3) of Title 42, which derived from the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871) applied only to conspiracies to deprive people of civil rights due to racial discrimination, not gender discrimination.  They also argued that the protestors did "not aim their anti-abortion activities exclusively at women" but "at anyone, whether male or female, who assists or is involved in the abortion process – doctors, nurses, counselors, boyfriends, husbands and family members, staffs, and others."

    -(source, FactCheck.org article on the anti-Roberts NARAL ad.)


    Roberts and Kennedy are both, and I use this term guardedly, "nice guys"...conservative Roman Catholics with pro-business sympathies who have reservations on "social issues" that mask a willingness to at the very least consider these issues on their face. As Toobin notes, in the excellent article cited above, Kennedy's "...opinions in the Colorado and Texas cases have made him the Court’s most visible defender of gay rights, but his support for gay marriage, a subject many expect the Court will eventually take on, seems far from certain." That seems to be good bet for how John Roberts may come down as well. What I am arguing, then, is that the Supreme Court's natural breakdown...right now...might be: Stevens, Breyer, Ginsberg, and, sometimes, Souter, on one side. And, on the "conservative" side: Roberts and Kennedy in one mini-bloc, representing a kind of conservative "open-mindedness", and Scalia and Thomas representing, each in their own way, conservative "closed-mindedness" in the other.

    What the Miers withdrawal creates, then, is a situation where the Democrats must work two fronts. First, defensively, we must in no way allow the nomination of a Scalia or Thomas clone, or someone who will overturn Roe; that is our line in the sand. Second, offensively, we should demand the nomination of a clear moderate whose legal qualifications are unquestioned and well-known. Our best hope is a Justice who would swing to the moderate side of the Kennedy/Roberts mini-bloc..and, perhaps, create with Souter, a true moderate "mini-bloc." That has been, all along, the best we could hope for. The Miers withdrawal means we should be proactive in demanding it.

    The battle over the meaning of the Miers' withdrawal has begun. Defensively, our work is cut our for us. The question at hand is whether the religious right's caterwauling means that they will get what they want by defining Miers as "unqualified" while they really meant "not clearly right-wing enough." If her withdrawal is defined simply around the quality of the nominee in that stealth shorthand, then Democrats are left vulnerable to the nomination of a "well-qualified" ultra-conservative in the Scalia/Thomas mold. We cannot let the "ideological" battle become a stealth aspect of the next nomination; the discussion must be above board. In my view, we need to play offense and get out front of Bush's next step.

    We need to define the Miers' withdrawal as about an ideological battle as well as about qualifications by making "moderate views" as well as "clear qualifications" our benchmark. We need to demand a nominee who represents a home run for "all Americans" not just George Bush's base. We need to make it clear that the most acceptable way Bush can please his base is to give them some of what they want...ie. a justice's Justice with a clear track record...but to give all of us, and the Court itself, a worthy successor to Sandra Day O'Connor.... a well-qualified nominee with a moderate track record that is available for the world to see, and involves no guess work. This nation deserves a justice the "moderate majority" in this country can come together on. In fact, as a proactive strategy, we should demand just that.

    Finally, I'd like to make my own tongue-in-cheek suggestion. The nominee I would request George W. Bush put forward...someone who would be acceptable to a wide majority Americans as a patriot and a moderate, someone who would be symbolic of "national healing" and moving forward together, someone whose brilliance and service to our nation is well-known...someone who's up to the job, and the tasks facing our court...is Albert Gore, Jr.

    I'm only half joking.

    {Permalink}

    meta k/o: comments

    This blog welcomes comments.

    However, I'm not looking to pick fights. Or to be abused. I'm not looking for readers who are into that either. This isn't a public square. The comments here, ideally, are like a "letters page" in a magazine. Simply put, I don't publish this blog to take on all comers. I publish this blog to give its readers good content, and, perhaps, as a byproduct of that, if we're lucky, we get constructive discussions.

    I am familiar with the macho, hair-trigger attitudes of a lot of bloggers and blog participants. That's not me. That's not this blog. If a macho vituperativeness is your thing, then I must say...k/o is not the droid you're looking for. There's a difference between being critical and being abusive. My guess is that the readers here know that and appreciate it.

    So, regarding comments here that are disruptive, macho, assinine or abusive: they will be deleted when I get around to it.

    That's the policy. I'm not a big fan of comment moderation, but there's no good alternative in weighing the balance of concerns that go into this....not least of which is building a blog community that is sustainable for all its participants, including myself.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2005

    the grand jury

    A portrait of the grand jury, from the Washington Post:

    The grand jury, a group of onetime strangers from across the District, has spent two days a week for nearly 24 months in the cloistered, guarded room on the third floor of the U.S. District Courthouse. They have sifted through the day planners of White House aides and listened intently as the prosecutor grilled West Wing officials and reporters who relied on them as confidential sources. They are paid $40 a day, plus $4 for transportation.

    Now they might be called upon to make decisions that could deal a crippling blow to the Bush White House and put top administration officials on trial.

    There were 23 members at the start, committed for 18 months. Their term was extended in May for six months. At least six original jurors have been excused because of hardships their service created. Some were replaced with alternates.

    Like the jury's forewoman, the majority are African American women who appear to be middle-age or older. The jury includes at least two black men, two older white women and three white men. One trim, agile retiree with white hair often entered the grand jury room with his bicycle helmet in hand.


    I know there's other scoops and hints out there. But this passage leapt out at me. This is about the people versus the powerful. This is about how our system of governance puts no one above the law, no one above the judgment of a jury of their peers...

    this is about the folks who are standing in, in this process, for you and for me.

    crooks and cronies: a halloween massacre

    Over the years this Ford shake-up, sometimes known as the Halloween massacre, became part of the Rumsfeld legend. Many other Republicans believed (and continued to argue for decades) that Rumsfeld had engineered the changes as a way of enhancing his own political prospects...[snip]

    The reality was more prosaic than these conspiracy theories. By all accounts, notably including Ford's, the driving motivation behind the cabinet shake-up was the president's own intense antagonism toward Schlesinger. Ford felt his defense secretary was arrogant and condescending to him. When the president first outlined the series of changes, Rumsfeld balked at the idea of becoming secretary of defense, asking to think about it overnight. He wasn't sure he wanted to leave the White House.

    Indeed, by Cheney's subsequent account, the president had to enlist him to persuade Rumsfeld to take the job at Defense. "Frankly, I had to talk [Rumsfeld] into it--long distance," Cheney said is a late-1970's interview. "...It was a strange situation. I went from a position where on Saturday I was Rumsfeld's deputy, to a place where on Sunday I was working for Ford trying ot get Rumsfeld to do something the President wanted him to do."

    -James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans, 66-67, Viking 2004


    If that story from James Mann's book doesn't evince a knowing grimace from you...a kind of Cheneyesque sense of the macabre moment we find ourselves in...this blast from another scandal past will get your dander up...and make you say, never again. On January 19th, 1994 prosecutor Lawrence E. Walsh presented a final report on the Iran / Contra affair. David Johnston covered the wrap up in the New York Times:

    At a news conference today, Mr. Walsh said a cover-up had kept significant information out of the hands of the Congressional investigators in 1987. He suggested that if Congress had gained access to the evidence he subsequently uncovered, Mr. Reagan's impeachment "certainly should have been considered."

    As Mr. Walsh persevered on a trail that seemed to be growing cold, Republicans in Congress increasingly pressed him to step down and Mr. Walsh himself became an issue. In his defense, Mr. Walsh said today that he could not turn away from evidence of wrongdoing in the face of "extraordinary difficulties." [snip]...

    ...in his report Mr. Walsh said the exposure of the possibly illegal activities in the fall of 1986 generated what he described as "a new round of illegality." During Congressional hearings in 1987, "senior Reagan Administration officials engaged in a concerted effort to deceive Congress and the public about their knowledge of and and support for the operations." The prosecutor concluded that the President's most senior aides took part in a strategy that made Mr. North and two national security advisers, Robert C. McFarlane and Mr. Poindexter, "scapegoats whose sacrifice would protect the Reagan Administration in it its final two years.

    Mr. Walsh said the strategy succeeded. He said he had "discovered much of the best evidence of the cover-up in the final year of the active investigation, too late for most prosecutions."


    After reading the sources above and pondering this Washington Post article, A Palpable Silence at the White House: Few ready to Face effects of Leak Case it seems that we've got a convergence of Watergate, Iran/Contra and a potential Halloween massacre all rolled into one. This scandal threatens both an immediate cabinet shake up and poses, as it rolls out, a real threat to the Presidency, if not, like Watergate, creating a pressure cooker that threatens the President himself, then, like Iran / Contra, a scandal that may essentially hobble him. I'm sure the Republican goal is to limit Plamegate, like Bush's father did with the Iran/Contra affair, and try to play the game and the prosecutor out with as minimal damage as possible.

    How much you want to bet that Patrick Fitzgerald studied up on how Lawrence Walsh got played in that go round? Let's hope so.

    This situation has undercurrents that are at least as powerful as its surface waves. The Washington Post piece is fascinating for the names it drops and how it outlines an administration in crisis before and during this crisis...and an administration certainly facing an unprecendented shake up if it loses Rove and, at the same time, must defend itself from further investigations:

    Out of the hushed hallway encounters and one-on-one conversations, several scenarios have begun to emerge if Rove or vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis Libby is indicted and forced out. Senior GOP officials are developing a public relations strategy to defend those accused of crimes and, more importantly, shield Bush from further damage, according to Republicans familiar with the plans. And to help steady a shaken White House, they say, the president might bring in trusted advisers such as budget director Joshua B. Bolten, lobbyist Ed Gillespie or party chairman Ken Mehlman...[snip]

    Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. gets up each day at 4:20 a.m., arrives at his office a little over an hour later, gets home between 8:30 and 9 p.m. and often still takes calls after that; he has been in his pressure-cooker job since Bush was inaugurated, longer than any chief of staff in decades. "He looks totally burned out," a Republican strategist said.

    Others, including Rove, Bolten, counselor Dan Bartlett, senior adviser Michael J. Gerson and press secretary Scott McClellan, have been running at full tilt since 1999, when the Bush team began gearing up in Austin for the first campaign.

    At the same time, the innermost circle has shrunk in the second term, mainly to Vice President Cheney, Card, Rove, Bartlett, Libby and, on foreign policy issues, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley. Aides who joined the White House staff after last year's reelection, such as communications director Nicolle Devenish (who now goes by her married name, Nicolle Wallace), domestic policy adviser Claude Allen and political director Sara Taylor, have brought fresh perspectives and earned Bush's trust but do not share the long history with him that he values....[snip]...

    At the heart of all those discussions is Rove. With the deceptive title of deputy chief of staff, Rove runs much of the White House, including its guiding political strategy and many of its central policy initiatives. "Karl is the central nervous system right now, and that's obviously a big thing -- not only politically, but now he's in that big policy job," a former White House official said.

    At the White House and among its close allies, discussion about Rove's fate is verboten -- in part out of fear and in part out of ignorance about what his legal vulnerability actually is. No one in the White House wants to talk about an indictment. As another former official said, "No one wants to believe anything's going to happen." Nor do people easily discuss other staff changes. "Anyone who talks about that kind of stuff should be shot," said a third Republican with close ties to the White House.


    For me, it comes down to this. There will be enormous pressure to characterize the scandal threatening Bush's presidency and his staff as somehow dangerous and unpatriotic. There will be voices that will argue that since Watergate, American politics have become in some way "criminalized" and that presidential second terms, in the current conditions, are simply legal gauntlets that no one can survive.

    I disagree. The lesson is the reverse. Cheney and Rumsfeld had front row seats to Watergate. With Gerald Ford, they orchestrated the "shake up" that moved Kissinger and Schlesinger "out" and themselves "in." George W. Bush had a front row seat for the final two years of Reagan's presidency. He saw how his father worked it and how Bush pere avoided being drawn into legal complicity in Iran / Contra by running out the clock and using pardons and executive privelege. The players in this affair know all about governmental scandal, about lying to the public, and about the political and legal jeopardy involved. They did what they did...made a war in Iraq in 2003...not simply because they could, but because, on some deep level, because they knew how to and used that knowledge with a kind presumption of impunity. It's time for that impunity to end, once and for all.

    In my view, PlameGate must be about transparency. It must be about the public getting to know the truth, and making lasting reform that shines a light on the workings of our government, in particular, our foreign policy, the funding of our government and the conduct of the executive branch. This story is not simply about this scandal, but about the politics and history that lie behind it...the business as usual mindset that, in the entire post-WWII era, has given us scandal after scandal, war after war, and embedded a fundamental culture of deceit in Washington. This is the modus operandi that led us into the War in Iraq. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson called Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld a "cabal." That's a strong word. It implies that the guys who "were really running things" in the Ford White House became the guys who are "really running things" in Shrub's. It's true. We need to face that. It's the same cast of characters over and over again.

    It seems to me that PlameGate is an opportunity for the United States to deal with a whole range of issues that, from the Gulf of Tonkin incident to the present day have given us an utterly corrupt foreign policy and broken domestic politics to boot...policies and politics that have led to a war that cost thousands of American soldiers their lives in the service of the same mindset and illusions that led us into Viet Nam. Corruption as tainted and foul as what cost Nixon his job, and left tens of thousands of citizens stranded in New Orleans. A politics that has seated the GOP at the heart of our nation's government...and turned that government into the rule of corrupt cronies and bogus conservatives.

    Something is deeply broken in our government. It is not the prosecutors. It is not the protestors. It's not the grieving mothers. It's not the families huddled at the Superdome and the Convention Center.

    The answer is as simple as this. There are crooks and cronies running the White House and Washington D.C. We've known these crooks for a good long time. They are deeply connected to the military-industrial complex, to the status quo. It's time, not just to run the bastards out, but to reform this broken system. To make politics serve the people for once. To make honesty, common sense and openness a permanent part of our government, not a hollow posture taken by politicians.

    If you ask me, on the most basic level, it's time for us Democrats to reform ourselves so that we can get about the business of reforming our country. It's time for a new generation to take over politics in this country.

    It's as simple as that.

    It's not the scandals and investigations that are hurting this country. It's the liars and crooks and the phony politicians who are running things who are hurting this country. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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    words have power, soj and arthur silber

    We're all waiting. Yes. And reading. Here's some things to ponder in the meantime...

    Blogger Words have Power has a nice appreciation up of sportscaster Bill King. It's a nice piece even if you're not into sports.

    Reader "j" is kind enough to point out the rearrival of two old friends: soj and arthur silber...welcome them back with a visit. It kind of feels like the end of the Wizard of Oz...there they are again!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    body and soul

    If you're tired of hunting for news flashes....try revisiting this tour de force of blogging from last spring by Jeanne D'Arc at her always deeply relevant blog, Body and Soul:

    It's called the The Beast in US.

    It's worth a look and a ponder.

    the zeros: the cobra snake

    Okay, I am stealing this from the L.A. Times front page...so it's hardly fresh...and, as usual, I'm the last to know...

    but check out this website....called thecobrasnake.com. It's just party pictures. But as party pictures go; it's a sign o' the times.

    reality du jour

    In a realm of discourse in which words have lost all normal meaning, it is not surprising to hear that Nixon also told Sulzberger, 'I rate myself as a deeply committed pacifist.' Many men have been 'committed' for less obvious lapses from reality.

    I.F. Stone, 14 March, 1971, vol. 19. no. 6


    So, this is Fitzmas?

    Forgive me for missing the party, my internet went down...yeah, great timing...and the essay I wrote yesterday before all this news broke is now hopelessly out of date. (To be honest, it wasn't much to write home about anyway.) Coming back online today at 3PM was like...whoa, what a difference a day makes.

    Now, I'm just a humble blogger out here on the West Coast, what do I know...but that New York Times story last night had the effect of setting official reality on its ear, didn't it?

    The Vice President knew Valerie Plame's identity early in June of 2003 at least...and, more importantly, he knew that Scooter Libby knew, too, because the Vice President had told Libby that information himself. There's nothing exculpatory about that fact...as "innocent" as whomever leaked that story spun it out to be.

    I mean, when the President joked about looking for WMD's hidden around the White House, I guess he should have been looking for leakers too, huhn? Instead we learn that Cheney's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, who was on the "team" preparing an anti-Wilson push-back with Karl Rove, learned of Plame's indentity from the Vice President himself, instead of from "someone in the press" as had been maintained all along. For the administration to withhold information like that from us while we held a Presidential election in 2004 seems to me to be a lot more than a technicality. I'd call it salient information for an impeachment proceeding.

    The guy running the Vice President's office lied to a special prosecutor investigating the outing of a CIA operative? The guy running the President's reelection campaign lied to that same special prosecutor, and collaborated in the cover up? The President's Spokesperson misled the public in the President's name in no uncertain terms? And all the President needed to do to set this straight was to ask Dick Cheney for one piece of information? And these guys still have jobs?

    Bush told us he wanted to "to get the bottom of this" and that "he'd fire anyone involved"?....yeah, and Richard Nixon was a deeply committed pacifist.

    The folks in D.C., including the media, have forgotten something about our system of government: it derives its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. Perjury a technicality? Hmm, I'd say perjury in the investigation of the outing of a CIA agent would be called by another "T-word": treason. I'm not the only one. I'd say that using Valerie Plame's identity...obtained by dint of a security clearance...for whatever reason: to attack her husband, to attack her, to attack the CIA, to cover up the White House Iraq Group's exagerrated scare tactics in the build-up to the Iraq war counts as a serious abuse of power.

    Last time I checked, treason and abuse of power were not mere technicalities. Hell, some would call them impeachable offenses.

    I started this piece with a quote from I.F. Stone. Stone was the only journalist of his day to call the Johnson administration out on the bogus Gulf of Tonkin incident. There's a great number of folks who have wondered if the Niger "yellowcake" forgeries were not our very own Gulf of Tonkin incident. The times have changed. This issue isn't going away.

    In my view, whatever course this investigation takes, it's time for a complete accounting of the information relating to the lead up to Bush's war in Iraq to be released to the public. All of it. Lawrence Wilkerson said it well:

    Decisions that send men and women to die, decisions that have the potential to send men and women to die, decisions that confront situations like natural disasters and cause needless death or cause people to suffer misery that they shouldn’t have to suffer.  Domestic and international decisions should not be made in a secret way.  That’s a very, very provocative statement, I think.  All my life I’ve been taught to guard the nation’s secrets.  All my life I have followed the rules.  I’ve gone through my special background investigations and all the other things that you need to do, and I understand that the nation’s secrets need guarding, but fundamental decisions about foreign policy should not be made in secret.


    I would simply add that after the fact, in the aftermath of those secret decisions, when over 2000 lives have been lost because of those secret decisions...the American public deserves no less than a full accounting of the facts. And if the GOP, with their dominance in Congress and their President, reelected while keeping this secret from us, won't give it to us, then it's time for patriots to step up and do their part. As I.F. Stone wrote in another essay in 1971, on the heels of Daniel Ellsberg's leak of the Pentagon Papers:

    The publication of secret government papers is hardly new. A patriot newspaper in Boston, thanks to a leak from Benjamin Franklin, published the Roayal Governor's correspondence on the eve of the Revolution. The furore over the Sedition Act began in 1798 when John Franklin Bache (Benjamin's grandson) published secret diplomatic documents to attack the covert Federalist war against France.


    It's time for some courageous sources and journalists to do their duty and join the tradition of the Franklins and Ellsbergs and Stones of our nation's history.

    The reality du jour is that the new boss is the same as the old boss. The similarities between Nixon and Reagan and Bush 1 and Bush 2 far outweigh their differences: we've been lied to once again and, once again, we've been lied to with an election on the line.

    I don't know about you, but all this smells like a highly impeachable offense. And whether the GOP has the guts to go there or not doesn't mean we don't have an obligation to talk about it.

    We the people would like some truth...now...thank you very much.

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    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    a woman's marathon

    I worked today...early...for a photographer documenting a women's marathon in San Francisco.

    I've worked sporting events before, met atheletes I admired, even stood in awe in the presence of a few legends that I never thought I'd see up close. (May I mention the elusive, remarkable...Bill Russell?)

    But today was different. In the dark, in the pre-dawn, 15,000 women descended on Union Square in San Francisco. Some were there for charity. Some were there for each other. Yet each of these women, was, on some level, fundamentally there for herself.

    There was something powerful about that. Purposeful. Intentional. Under the radar. Driven. It was almost like a protest, but it wasn't. It was a sponsered event, a benefit, a race.

    These were all types and shapes of women...though marathoners are most often well-to-do. They came from all over...with all sorts of different styles and ways of going about things. I overheard one group of women talking about where they could attend church later. Joan Benoit Samuelson, first winner of the Olympic women's marathon, ran the race today but without much fanfare or self-promotion.

    What struck me was that this sea of women taking off into the dark fog of downtown was just so immense. And that starting swell, with so few men around, when viewed in its particulars was simply thousands of individual women being very much themselves...no bullshit involved. They were choosing to run this race for their own reasons.

    Women haven't officially run marathons for all that long. People said women's bodies couldn't take long distance running. That's not what I saw today.

    In fact, as we stood at the finish line and the runners strode and jogged and walked in....the half-marathoners finishing at the same time and same place as their full-distance sisters...something became apparent.

    For all the hype and the marketing...marketing I must confess that I play a part in...each woman really did have some kind of meaning that she carried across the finish line. Some were in tears. Some smiled in joy. Some set their jaws, grimaced and checked their wrist watches. One forty-something mother and her late-teens daughter powered through the finish with a kick, both with times that would qualify them for the Boston Marathon...then they high-fived and embraced and turned quickly to their cool down.

    I found this matter-of-factness quite moving and powerful. Especially as the minutes wore on. And thousands and thousands of women claimed the finish each in her own way.

    I found myself thinking...pay attention...something is happening here...or has been happening, and I've neglected it.

    I don't doubt that on some level what I saw today at the women's marathon has a bearing on our national culture and politics.

    There are many finish lines.


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    Saturday, October 22, 2005

    Mack Dennis and Sekou Sundiata

    I heard Oakland spoken word artist and poet Mack Dennis for the first time the other day.

    You can hear Dennis perform here. I recommend both poems...Old Vacherie Road and Shades of Black. Originally from New Orleans, Dennis puts his whole life into it...and he's got much life to give and share. (I've listened to Old Vacherie Road five times now.)

    There's really no substitute for seeing Mack Dennis live and in person. He's just so smooth and indirect and wise...like a West Coast Sekou Sundiata...another spoken word artist I love...and if you click on this link and listen, I bet you will too.

    Sundiata, who recently came through a serious health crisis documented in his piece blessing the boats (which he talked about with Terry Gross in this interview on Fresh Air) is famous for being the poetry teacher who inspired Ani Di Franco.

    You can find additional samples of Sundiata's readings here, but for my money, the hard-to-find album...Blue Oneness of Dreams is Sundiata at his best, and, though out of print, it's worth a purchase wherever you might find it.

    the pursuit of happiness

    I am sick of cynics...folks on the left whose rhetorical purity and snide sarcasm are their most precious possessions.

    There is no pure stand point.

    When Billmon, a writer I deeply respect, dishes Judith Miller as a "cocksucker" here:

    "The next time the Society of Professional Cocksuckers gets together, maybe they should present Judy with a Fifth Amendment award -- because the way things are going, she's may need it."


    and Colin Powell as a "Nazi" here:

    "That's not the "world's most loyal soldier" -- that's the world's biggest bullshit artist. Wrapped in a paler skin, Powell's personality wouldn't have seemed out of place on the German general staff, circa 1936."


    it's a disgrace to the left, to the blogosphere as a whole, and it makes me physically ill. That is not my team. Count me out.

    And those of my colleagues who tirelessly rant against the Democrats without once proposing or investing, even in word form, in an alternative...I count you in this "cabal" as well. We are better than this, and it is a perversion of idealism that it would focus on the baleful idiocies of those in power to the exclusion of using the imperfect tools at hand to make change.

    My political start point, however imperfectly I live up to it, is this: we are in this together. It's that simple.

    From that start point, however, flows a complex and interwoven politics of community. People will do what is best for their children, their communities and their own selves given the information that they have access to at any given time. People will choose to affiliate themselves in political and economic relationships on that basis...and they do so everyday in myriad ways. To make crass assumptions about this fabric, to ignore the thinking involved, and, specifically, to focus on the purity of the standpoint of a minority of intellectual elites, is ivory-towerism of the highest order. And, whether that stand point is expressed by Billmon's snark or Noam Chomsky's disdain for engagement, I reject it.

    The allegiance of the "common man and woman" whether on the streets of Oakland or Buenos Aries or Lagos or Mumbai is an allegiance given, and, at times, coerced by prevailing hegemons...but it is an allegiance nonetheless: a political choice. As Colonel Wilkerson emphasized last Wednesday, it does matter what the people of Iraq think, and their stand point is very different from that entertained by left critics in the U.S. As a matter of fact, what Iraqis think, and what they decide with their actions, is a central question for all of us, because the course of history in Iraq will be shaped by the countless decisions and alliances made by its citizens in the context of U.S. hegemony and the politics of the region.

    If Colin Powell or Colonel Wilkerson's critique of BushCo. moves us away from Bush's failed policy and the war in Iraq...I am all for it, and will engage it. If Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation helps topple BushCo. and makes it vulnerable to a mid-term intervention that favors a Democratic resurgance, I am for it, even as I start from a left stand point. If that makes me complicit, so be it. From my point of view, I already am, all of us are...and deeply so.


    Plato vs. Aristotle


    We political animals, humans, have always been torn between the Aristotelean pragmatic mean, and the Platonic ideal. We need both, and human society, even before those philosophers, drew from both mindsets. Our greatest and wisest thinkers, however, have always come back to an embrace of an Aristotelean "enlightened pragmatism"...an attempt to forge the best of our information and ideals with the situation at hand. This, at the end of the day, means imperfect solutions made with imperfect tools...even if those tools, like the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, were forged in the crucible of our ideals, and would be impossible to imagine without the work of Plato.

    The sickness at the heart of Platonism, however, is the patronizing image of the masses huddled in ignorance in the dank cave...and the elitist...Chomsky-esque...presumption of owning access to the bright, clear light of the truth. In many ways Plato is the much darker, and more cynical of the two philosophers. Playing into his elitism...into his presumption of "knowing better" is a dangerous habit. To claim his stand point without regard for one's own deep political inter-connectedness and complicity in the structural evil of our times is a profound error. Simply to claim to see "a light" or "the light," and to use that light to critique the prevailing power structure is not, in my view, necessarily synonymous with working for human liberation.

    Our job, as writers and readers, as thinkers and engaged political activists is not to find a "pure point" and then cloak ourselves in it. That is a mission for fools. (And, yes, that cuts both ways and applies to the stand point from which I choose to speak now, as well.) Seeking a pure stand point, in my view, ignores the very real struggle for the well-being of the organism called "humankind"...a struggle whose outcome, in an age of nuclear weapons and global warming, is very much subject to an unprecedented jeopardy.

    The job of the political intellectual is to understand that the battle between pragmatism and idealism is one engaged every day on every street corner of the world....in every human heart...in countless practical, and not so practical ways. Humankind, as our framers understood, is engaged in a shared pursuit of happiness. We are in this together. We are all philosophers and politicians. None of us, as individuals, can provide for the happiness of our brothers and sisters alone, but we can fight for the context in which that "pursuit" is more possible, is made easier and more sure. We must build our polis here on the ground from the framework of our ideals and with the material at hand, knowing that any human acheivement will be, at the end of the day, just that, human...and, as Aristotle understood that word, always contingent and political.

    Yes, left intellectuals must engage and critique nationalism and patriotism. We must engage entrenched power structures and the mindset of the military-industrial complex. We must also find a way to engage religious faith and traditional cultures and prevailing views in constructive terms. That is our mission. But the "jaundiced eye" we so often cast on prevailing power structures is just that...a reflection of a sickness in our own heart and analyses as well. In my view, left cynicism represents a deeply held fascination with the puppet masters in the cave working their evil ways. Of course, if we turned our "jaundiced eye" to our "enslaved brothers and sisters" watching the shadows on Plato's wall, we might see ourselves as well. We might even see that we, ourselves, play with those puppets at times. In fact, I am certain of that.

    Complicity and contingency are the only human start points. Most people understand that deeply; it undergirds most human political thinking. Wisdom implies that we work from that understanding forward....for the greater good of all. There is no such thing as an inorganic political philosophy. Our reality is always embodied, literally, in our political, human start points...and the best choice we can hope for, as Aristotle emphasized, is the "wise one."

    I am deeply sympathetic to the critique of power, but I am deeply suspicious of those who use that critique as a tool for divisiveness, self-exile and apathy. We are political beings. On its most simple and global level, that means that we are in this together. And we have an obligation to understand, not simply what is, on its face, "right and true," but the thought processes and decisions made every day by our brothers and sisters around the world in building that out in the very real, and very imperfect polis called humankind.

    There is no monopoly on righteousness and the truth, nor is there a monopoly on the uses and practice of philosophy and politics. At the end of the day, in this respect, a cynical elitism is a poision on the soul of our times. For better and for worse, whether in Aristotle's polis or huddled in Plato's cave, we are very much in this together.

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    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Wilkerson

    Throughout the entire Presidency of George W. Bush, my father, born in 1938, a child of the war that shaped the second half of the 20th Century and an astute reader of the news for...rrr...at least fifty years now...has been telling me that something is deeply awry in our government...in our ship of state. Institutions and practices, however flawed, that were meant to serve the long term interests and security of the citizens of the United States, and in turn, the world, have been twisted...and indeed...perverted.

    This critical, significant, must-read speech by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of State, 2002-2005 expresses the gist of what my dad has been getting at in no uncertain terms. This is the speech my dad's been waiting for. Agree or disagree with his premises or prescriptions, Wilkerson is, to push an image I've been using...another figure walking down the fetid alley of Bush's Washington with a lantern held high and exposing the ugly truth.

    I just spent the last 90 minutes reading this speech. (Thanks to firedoglake.) And will reread and comment more when I'm fresh.

    If you ask me, this is the other part of the "story" we've all been obsessively consuming in the Fitzgerald case. It's also one hell of a document, including the Q & A.

    I'll remember the moment I first read this; if you haven't seen it already...please do, it's an instant document of our times.

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    friday night's alright: open thread

    I woke up early for a 6AM call time today.

    As usual for me in that situation, I woke up way too early. There's something about setting my alarm for well before dawn that makes me wake up well before well before dawn...and then vainly try to fall back asleep at 3:30 AM.

    I don't know how I ended up listening to Bill Bennett's Morning in America on AM radio, but there you go, it happened. Some things a single guy can indulge in from time to time...letting the dishes and laundry sit for a week, enjoying the occasional beer and frozen pizza, wasting half a day on a computer game...of these vices, however, listening to AM radio of any sort is probably the most pernicious and least forgiveable.

    Bill Bennett's show was insane. He's clearly fighting to hold onto the oblivion of the "pre-dawn" hate jockey circuit...and his racist remarks of a few weeks ago threaten his stakehold there. But that situation, if anything, made the show fascinating...like a train wreck featuring only the truest-of-the-tried-and-true conservatives.

    Bill's first caller was from Salt Lake City, Utah...on a cell phone...on an hour long jog in the dark at 5AM. That was pretty funny. He was really serious about discussing...heavy breathing...fairly articulately, while jogging in the dark...huff, puff...tax policy and underpopulation: Americans aren't having enough kids.

    Bennett's second caller, I shit you not, was calling from a deer stand in Georgia. A deer stand. Even in my half-oblivious state I cracked a smile at that one. And this guy in a deer stand on his cell phone, wanted to thank Bill Bennett for sticking it out and attempting to prove that he wasn't racist just because he said something stupid. He then went on to say that there's a really good conservative Black candidate for statewide office in Georgia who "walks the walk"...and that "race" in Georgia is not what folks think it is, and white conservatives like him would happily vote for black conservatives who "walked the walk." He also said that Harriet Miers was a weak candidate for the Supreme Court precisely because she could not "walk the walk" on conservatism...she didn't really have well-thought out conservative values and hence wouldn't articulate them as a judge. And then he went back to hunting deer.

    Now, I have to confess, as a liberal, I disagree with the guy in the deer stand for a myriad of reasons...but that call made my...uh...early morning. It's good to know that as an East Bay liberal like me groggily tries to fall back to sleep in my far-left-stronghold here in California that my conservative brothers and sisters are keeping busy, doing what they do best, around the country. Bill can rest assured that pre-dawn joggers in Utah and Georgia deer hunters are still avid fans of his program.

    I must have fallen asleep for a bit, because I was awoken by a blaring sixty-second ad for a biography of James Dobson, an ad that seriously made it sound like he was Jesus. I mean, the man has done more for family values than the Waltons, I guess. I'm no Dobson specialist...but that commercial could have been written by the 1978 cast of Saturday Night Live. Cue the angelic music and, bass-voiced narration....trumpets!!...trumpets!!...choir...now tympani...the heavens...cue the heavens!! Irony, I guess, is not an evangelical value.

    At that point, I rolled over and changed the station.

    At any rate, I've been working a ton, and though I follow the issues and news every day at worthy blogs like firedoglake...I can't pretend to always write full-on essays worthy of your readership when I am utterly exhausted and sleep-deprived...which is par for the course in my line of work.

    Even moreso when I've sufferered through thirty minutes of half-asleep AM radio...and...shiver...ads for James Dobson biographies...

    Cheers, from Oakland!

    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    only in San Francisco

    I hopped on BART at Embarcadaro today...and while squeezed like a sardine riding under the Bay I overheard this guy talking about travelling light with a buddy. Basically, to illustrate his point he held up this tiny bag with all these really useful things that was about the size of a sandwich. He'd travelled to remote places and mountains and had people with much heavier luggage asking him for stuff. Pretty cool concept.

    Halfway through the transbay tube, this gadget guy started talking about his blog...escapemyhead.com, and how it had this nifty traffic of, like, up to 40,000 visits a month. Whereupon his buddy asked about the difference between unique visitors and just plain hits...and I just started laughing out loud at the ironies. (And, yeah, I admit, I did the math...and realized that this guy's blog is more popular than k/o....blog envy under the bay.)

    Only in the Bay Area does this stuff happen on a regular basis. Of course I pipped up that I was a blogger too; and half expected the person next to me to fess up to the same.

    Pretty funny.

    And, yeah, that's a lot of unique visitors per month.

    the emerging shitstorm

    History will look back on this moment as the one in which that they lost all control of it.

    I mean, last weekend, like everyone else, I was sincerely trying to understand Libby and Miller's goofy notes to each other. Now I'd just guess that Miller and Libby...like everyone involved in this mess...are scared shitless...and it runs all the way to the top.

    There's only one reason that anybody, even in gossip, mentions governmental nobodies like John Hannah and David Wurmser...and that's when folks in government are in deep, deep trouble.

    I remember back in my home state of Minnesota, occasionally there'd be a scandal or two...and what would usually emerge was that in the monolithic culture of Lake Wobegon...once enough people did something wrong...then, within that class of people, most everybody did it...and the big excuse, safety in numbers, became the big trap. Witness the GOP.

    It seems to me, in this emerging shitstorm, that we are very close to breaking open the hard shell of operational impunity that gave governmental players what must have felt like a cloak of immunity: everybody was doing it. Terror alerts, talk of mushroom clouds, forged documents, back channel collaboration with the press, election tampering through intimidation and calculated challenges: these are all on the table for journalists who are willing to go there. The time for the truth is now. There are reputations to be made. This is why we have freedom of the press.

    I'm not talking about bloggers and links, though that is always welcome and needed, I'm talking about interviews with the major players on major news outlets. I'm talking about folks who are deeply involved finally coming clean about this administration and how they operate. And, inevitably, that will point back to the President. There is no way around this. He can avoid responsibility for minor things, for quibbles, but he chose Cheney and Rove and Hadley and Bolton and Rice, and he stuck by them during the 2004 campaign, knowing what he knew.

    It's come to the point where the patriotic thing to do for all involved is, simply, to tell the truth: the fortunes and legal jeopardy of the President and his buddies be damned. And I am convinced that the simple truth, presented in unvarnished terms, will topple this Presidency.

    Despite being scoffed at, by friends and family alike, I predict this President and his Vice President will no longer hold office in 18 months time. The 2006 election will become extremely significant in this context; it will be about the the power to investigate and it will be about who holds the Senate and who determines the Speaker of the House. The GOP will regret the day they let George Bush and Karl Rove smear John McCain in South Carolina, and the U.S. will come to regret this love affair with the GOP...a party that has given us: Nixon and Watergate, Reagan/Bush and Iran/Contra, and now Bush/Cheney and the emerging shitstorm swirling in Washington.

    There's something that links all three of these scandals: abuse of power and the public trust.

    It's time for the American public to wake up.

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    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    an accident on 280

    I got in my car today, grabbed a coffee at 7:20AM at my favorite cafe...large, super dark roast, half-and-half till it's mocha brown...and started my drive to Silicon Valley for a photo shoot.

    Don't ask me how I drive and drink coffee in a stick shift. I do. Cup in left hand. Shift with right. And some kind of learned timing thing. I'm a safe driver for the most part. Regardless, this story isn't about me.

    Today, going south on 880, because I just didn't have the heart to face the Bay Bridge again this morning, the sun was just this golden thing above the hills east of San Jose. And the hills themselves were clear dark silhouettes...mountains of a sort...and beautiful. I turned the radio off because, hell, sometimes I'd rather think. And, aside from the traffic, there's rarely news on the radio much anymore.

    At any rate, I made good time. I'd been late two days running. It's a long haul from Oakland to the South Bay...and my strategy of finding the quickest way to 280 and then cruising down "the most beautiful urban highway in America" had been failing me. Traffic had ensnarled me whatever path I'd taken.

    But today I cleared the San Mateo bridge with five minutes to spare, ducked onto 92 to cross to 280 and then things slowed down.

    280 really is beautiful. It runs along the San Andreas. Yes, that San Andreas..and, for twelve miles or so, 280 is this pure view of a wooded resevoir set against steep hills covered in redwoods and layered with fog. The sun rises to your left over the Bay....and the trees cut up out of the fog on the right. Around Stanford University, the terrain opens up into rolling oak savannah with a view of the ridge that dominates Silicon Valley. For being where "high tech" happened, it's stunningly beautiful and quiet terrain.

    There's a radio dish on the backside of Stanford's campus...searching the skies in the midst of these bare, rolling hills...and I've always thought it sets the tone for what's to come. Technology and natural beauty. A place called Silicon Valley.

    Today we crawled through. The traffic was backed up for miles. Luxury cars. Mid-level sedans. Twenty year old beaters from Oakland and San Francisco with funky kids in 'em. One long ribbon of steel and rubber.

    Right at the quiet heart of the drive there'd been a collision. Things looked pretty bad. There wasn't much left of either of the two cars. They were crushed beyond recognition and charred. The victims had long since been whisked away. I guess the police had requested the drivers who had witnessed the accident to stay...and so they parked on the side of the road...they stood and waited, numb and blank-faced, in the grass.

    It was shocking to think of what can happen to a car. To its occupants. And shocking to consider the why and how. I'd been seeing more deer kills lately. That might have been the cause. It could have been any number of things.

    Regardless, I couldn't get those cars out of my head. And how beautiful the morning had been. It got me thinking about whether the folks involved had seen the same sunrise as me. Had maybe turned their radio off. Or not...

    It got me thinking if all the folks in the other cars backed up alongside me were thinking the same thing.

    There's really nothing conclusive to this reflection: Simultaneity. Vulnerability. Impermanence. Commonality. Our lack of knowing. Really, the impossiblity of ever knowing much at all.

    And, of course, the fact that once past the accident...

    our little lives protected by the self-same steel skins...

    we hurtled forward, once again, into the beauty of that morning and the clear pavement of the open road ahead.

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    E+P on the NYT

    Editor and Publisher has Joe Strupp inside the New York Times piece up:

    ""It's sort of 'strike two,'" one reporter said. "This is deeply institutional, so in a way it is worse [than Blair] and the implications of it are worse, for the press and the paper, that we are capable of suppressing reporting of an important story." The staffer added that any plans for Miller to return to the paper would be "hard for me to imagine.""


    Funny, a lot of us saw it as strike three.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    notes from outside the beltway

    Random thoughts having read today's and tonight's news:

    The only people who really know what Fitzgerald is up to...outside of his office...would be those who have testified, received a target letter or made a plea bargain...and their lawyers...so, although there's a sense of anticipation when we see talking points and speculative headlines that say..."indictments expected" or..."plans for a post-Rove White House made"...in my view, it should also all be taken with a grain of salt.

    When I see Bill Kristol working "grim expectations" talking points. I think for a second. When I read that there are "rumors" swirling that anyone will resign. I step back.

    They are fighting this, they have been fighting this, and they will fight this. You don't get the President to publicly change his employment criteria if you've been hung out to dry, or cut out of the loop. If Fitzgerald comes out with "narrow charges" and the White House has played it up to be bigger than that...maybe those charges won't look so bad. We can be sure that anything negative coming down the pike will be fought intently by this White House. (Bush's GOP approval is still strong.)

    I have no idea what Fitzgerald has, or doesn't have, and I don't know of any source that reports facts on this in a concrete way, even though there is very interesting, valid and plausible speculation being done. Of course, Fitzgerald's targets do have some clue. And that's something I try to keep in mind in these hours of waiting.

    If I had to guess at this point (and, yes, this is a blog...lol):

    -I would say that there are serious and comprehensive charges being considered.
    -I would say that the political effects of any indictment touching the White House are a huge unknown. But it's a safe bet that any indictment would create extensive cascading after-effects. Especially given Bush's early promises of forthrightness and action, and the fact that we have had, in the interim, a Presidential election.
    -I find it hard to think Fitzgerald's probe will encompass the lead-up to the war and WMD given reports we've read so far
    -It does seem likely that a "CIA / White House" battle is being investigated seriously, but it also seems Fitzgerald could decide that the evidence is inconclusive and only be prosecuting the "cover up"...in fact, there are some signs of this. (Miller's limited testimony and the emphasis on Libby's letter to Miller in her GJ testimony.)
    -It's possible Fitzgerald could ask for an extension, which would torture us all, but would be a sign of truly serious trouble for the White House.
    -At some point, in addition to this being a legal story, this will become as much an investigative story as well...characterized by extensive leaking from high level sources and interviews. (Powell on 60 minutes again?)
    -Whatever Fitzgerald does, including asking for an extension, will mark the beginning of that journalistic explosion.
    -Unless this becomes a major journalistic story that looks at the roots of the war in Iraq, this process is only half complete.
    -There needs to be a Congressional investigation.
    -The lead up to the war and the White House Iraq Group...is this story. And the White House knows that. They can take a political hit to senior staffers. The can't take a hit to WHIG and the case for the war.

    Doubts and concerns: Novak's easy sailing and boasting. Miller's engaging in eccentric and rogue behaviour. (Her oddness would seem to discredit her potential for being a good witness in a criminal trial...that Libby rodeo line is a bad omen if you ask me. I wouldn't want a witness talking in code before an indictment.) The possibility that Libby's water-muddying, and its leaking, might have been a distraction to create just such a situation. Joseph Wilson's freely given interviews. The fact that Wilson communicated with the NYT and wrote a piece after giving an ultimatum to the White House about writing such a piece. (ie. it seems to me that there is some weight to saying that, once receiving an ultimatum from a former official, that that official could have expected a public battle and a loss of privacy and some kind of "looking into". ie. the State Department briefing.)

    Strong indications of seriousness: Miller's second testimony. The hidden evidence that led to Miller's contempt citation and reviewed by the judges. The fact that the White House is preparing at all for indictments. Fitzgerald's seriousness and lack of grandstanding...and his forthright questioning about Cheney. The quiet testimony of so many figures large and small. The fact that the WSJ and WaPo have both been reporting on this story using "serious language" that encompasses the Vice President.

    Bottom line: I think Fitzgerald has brought a high seriousness to this process that will command respect for whatever outcome it generates. That being said, a great deal depends on the one group of people who also know the most about this story, Fitzgerald's grand jury. What they decide was important and indictment-worthy in what Fitzgerald has presented to them is, at the end of the day, what we are all really waiting for...and my bet is that the Vice President's (and Rove's) political future depends on what that grand jury is thinking.

    Like most of you, it seems to me, based on Miller's article, that Libby is toast. I can't speak to any of the other figures: Bolton, Hadley, Fleischer et al. I just haven't read anything beyond suggestive (hence interesting but untrustworthy) nuggets. Of course, if firm news arises that any one at all has made a plea agreement then that is very bad news for the Bush White House team as a whole.

    One final thought: George W. Bush has a get out of jail free card that no one else has. His father is an ex-President with many powerful friends...and an eyewitness knowledge of all the ins-and-outs of...um..."legal difficulties" in one's second term. If this really goes poorly for BushCo....'team Bush' could launch a preemptive rehabilitation a la Reagan...and bring in a rescue team from outside the White House...in an attempt to steer this away from bringing down the President.

    Expect that type of thing if Cheney hits trouble.

    Of course...if Cheney hits serious trouble...all bets are off for BushCo.

    {Finally, I'd like to thank Wendell Gee for ably doing "breaking info alert" duty here; sometimes my job takes me away from the internet entirely...(thank god)...so it's nice to have someone get my back, and keep you all up to date. Thanks, wg!}

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    can't hardly wait

    As Fitz the Implacable tightens the screws...

    Some more links:

    David Corn says a source tells him that Fitzgerald "may speak soon"...

    ...while MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell claims no indictments for another week. [Update: NYT confirms, while upping the indictment expectation]

    Froomkin has a good run-down of Plame-related press clippings and issues, including the question of Veep indictability and the forthcoming Wilson civil suit.

    Murray Waas's latest suggests that Libby's aspen is about to get kicked.

    TPM has a two-word post, but Dana Milbank (via ReddHedd) says it's old news.

    The New York Times, icy water pouring through its punctured hull, does a self-reflexive roundup of blogger commentary on itself.

    two scandals two diaries

    Allan Lichtman, civil rights activist and candidate for Senate in Maryland, get's it just right at boomantribune in a piece called, the Scandal of the Century:

    "Unlike the response to Hurricane Katrina, the first great scandal of the century remains mostly unknown. This was the disenfranchisement of more than 50,000 African-American voters in Florida's 2000 presidential election. These were not potential votes struck from the rolls as felons or prevented from reaching the polls. These were voters who actually turned up at the polls and fully expected their ballots to be counted in the election.

    George W. Bush will be president of the United States for eight years because the votes counted in
    Florida's 2000 election did not come close to matching the ballots cast by the state's voters. The result in Florida was not decided by hanging chads, recounts, or intervention by the Supreme Court. As the analyst for the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights I found that George Bush won Florida and the presidency because officials tossed into the trashcan as invalid one out of every nine to ten ballots cast by African-Americans throughout the state.  In some counties, nearly 25 percent of ballots cast by blacks were set aside as invalid."


    Whatever Allan Lichtman's chances in Maryland, this piece is a must read, and his cause is a worthy one. This is where BushCo. starts...in Florida in 2000...and it's high time we shine the light of justice on what happened there. I mentioned the tentacles of scandal last weekend. This is another one that we have never really exposed. Despite all else that's swirling, that time is now.

    The second essay is by a blogger at dailykos named ne plus ultra discussing that other scandal...the one involving Valerie Plame. It's a must read:

    "My belief is that, oddly enough, the affair that bears Valerie Plame's name is actually centered on, not her husband Joseph Wilson, but on Valerie Plame herself.  

    That Wilson is not a key player; that his investigations weren't very thorough.  But that Plame was at the heart of the agency effort on WMD, perhaps controlling it; handling agents and moles whose work was thorough; putting together the agency's case against WHIG right from the start; that most of her evidence was classified, so she needed a way to get unclassified material that could be released; that therefore, she sent her husband to verify things she already knew; that this was a tactical blunder on her part, not because it was a junket, but because he didn't do it very well, and that reflects back on her decision to send him; that the leak was intended not to punish Wilson, but to weaken Plame herself, to make her scurry to reseat herself at Langley for a few months, buying time, perhaps knocking her out of the loop, preventing her from coordinating the campaign to show how bad the administration's evidence was.  

    In sum, I believe Fitzgerald's secret evidence is that Valerie Plame herself played and plays a much larger role at CIA and in the pre-war and post-war intelligence debate than has been let on.  That's why her outing is of such tremendous importance and relevance to Fitzgerald and to the judges empaneling the grand jury."


    Ne plus ultra puts together three parts of the public record to make this case: A guess about how the redacted evidence that Fitzgerald presented to Judge's Tatel and Hogan would merit holding Miller in contempt, the way in which the significance of Libby's Winpac misinformation is a "red flag", and ne plus ultra's reading of Wilson's less than convincing report of his trip to Africa.

    This argument is really strong even though it's the product of reading long available evidence. I've always thought that common sense said that to attack Wilson, it would have been easy enough to attack Wilson. It hadn't occured to me that in attacking Plame they might have been simply attacking Plame and through her the entire CIA. When you think of it that way you see just how nefarious that really might have been, what kind of chilling message attacking Plame was meant to send.

    If this is true and Plame's position at the CIA regarding WMD was more central than we've been told...then this is a much different kind of affair...one that exposes the running battle between the CIA and the entire Administration, and makes this scandal about WMD, Iraq and the Vice President...more than ever.

    If this is true..then all bets are off...especially with those who've emerged at the center of this affair. Cheney, Miller, Libby, Rove, and Wilson...and the speculation that has swirled around them.

    Attacking Plame through her husband would not be something done by a political hack. It would have to go deeper than that. Ne plus ultra's point make sense. Many things about this scandal...the silence of the press, Fitzgerald's doggedness, the seriousness of the judges, Judith Miller's centrality, even the silly image of "aspens turning in clusters" make more sense if we see it as Cheney attacking the CIA.

    Karl Rove would be nasty enough to slander a man by sleazily attacking his wife...but to attack Plame through her husband would take a different kind of evil...one seeking to protect and cover up a fabric of lies that sent us to war...one caculcating enough to send a chilling message deep inside the CIA...attacking Plame in this context bears the signature of Dick Cheney.

    The triangle in this battle may have been Plame and Cheney and Fitzgerald all along.

    I think we've arrived at our Lady from Shanghai moment.

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