The Khan Artist

February 13, 2004 at 6:12 am
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In one page, Maureen Dowd does an excellent job of rounding up the Bush team’s various stonewallings and shenanigans this week. The Khan Artist

By MAUREEN DOWD
The New York Times


Published: February 12, 2004


WASHINGTON


I think President Bush has cleared up everything now.


The U.S. invaded Iraq, which turned out not to have what our pals in Pakistan did have and were giving out willy-nilly to all the bad guys except Iraq, which wouldn’t take it.


Bush officials thought they knew what was going on inside our enemy’s country: that Iraq had W.M.D. and might sell them on the black market. But they were wrong.


Bush officials thought they knew what was going on inside our friend’s country: that Pakistanis were trying to sell W.M.D. on the black market. But they couldn’t prove it — until about the time we were invading Iraq.


“The grave and gathering threat” turned out to be not Saddam’s mushroom cloud but the president’s mushrooming deficits.


The president is having just as hard a time finding his National Guard records as Iraqi W.M.D. — and those pay stubs look as murky as those satellite photos of trucks in Iraq.


Mr. Bush said yesterday that smaller developing countries must stop developing nuclear fuel, even as the U.S. develops a whole new arsenal of smaller nuclear weapons to use against smaller developing countries that might be thinking about developing nuclear fuel.


After he weakened the U.N. for telling the truth about Iraq’s nonexistent W.M.D., Mr. Bush now calls on the U.N. to be strong going after W.M.D.


Gen. Pervez Musharraf pardoned the Pakistani hero and nuclear huckster Abdul Qadeer Khan after an embarrassing debacle, praising the scientist’s service to his country. Mr. Bush pardoned George Tenet after an embarrassing debacle, praising the spook’s service to his country. (So much for Mr. Bush’s preachy odes to responsibility and accountability.)


The president warned yesterday that “the greatest threat before humanity” is the possibility of a sudden W.M.D. attack. Not wanting nuclear technology to go to North Korea, Iran or Libya, the White House demanded tighter controls on black-market sales of W.M.D., even while praising its good buddy Pakistan, whose scientists were running a black market like a Sam’s Club for nukes, peddling to North Korea, Iran and Libya.


Mr. Bush likes to present the world in black and white, as good and evil, even as he’s made a Faustian deal with General Musharraf, perhaps hoping that one day — maybe even on an October day — the cagey general will decide to cough up Osama.


The president is spending $1.5 billion to persuade more Americans to have happy married lives, but plans to keep gay Americans from having happy married lives.


Mr. Bush said he wouldn’t try to overturn abortion rights. But John Ashcroft is intimidating women who had certain abortions by subpoenaing records in six hospitals in New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere.


The president set up the intelligence commission (with few intelligence experts) because, he said, the best intelligence is needed to win the war on terror. Yet he doesn’t want us to get the panel’s crucial report until after he’s won the war on Kerry.


Mr. Bush said he had balked at giving the 9/11 commission the records of his daily briefings from the C.I.A. until faced with a subpoena threat because it might deter the C.I.A. from giving the president “good, honest information.” Wasn’t it such “good, honest information” that caused him to miss 9/11 and mobilize the greatest war machine in history against Saddam’s empty cupboard?


Mr. Bush says he’s working hard to create new jobs in America, while his top economist says it’s healthy for jobs to be shipped overseas.


The president told Tim Russert that if you order a country to disarm and it doesn’t and you don’t act, you lose face. But how does a country that goes to war to disarm a country without arms get back its face?


Mr. Bush said he was troubled that the Vietnam War was “a political war,” because civilian politicians didn’t let the generals decide how to fight it. But when Gen. Eric Shinseki presciently told Congress in February 2003 that postwar Iraq would need several hundred thousand U.S. soldiers to keep it secure and supplied, he was swatted down by the Bush administration’s civilian politicians.


Yes, it all makes perfect sense, through the Bush looking glass.  

Today\’s Roundup

February 11, 2004 at 8:30 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

[Please pardon the extra email today, I’m still having some trouble with timing issues on the Web server.]

I have been considering changing the format of GRL to more of a narrative, Progress Report styled daily bulletin, like I did in the recent issues (“Zeitgeist of February 5, 2004″ and “You Can’t Handle the Truth”). What do you think? Do you prefer that format, or do you like the individual articles with a bit of intro for each one? Personally, I like the archival usefulness of the latter, but I also like the former’s ability to provide context. Drop me a line and give me your opinion, would you?

In that spirit, here is a short roundup of some stories you might have missed today, in addition to the individual stories I posted already.

Climate Collapse

As you may remember from a GRL post last week, the Pentagon’s nightmare scenario about climate change is now out in the public eye. Fortune Magazine had good, fairly extensive article about it here that’s definitely worth a read: Climate Collapse.

Credibility Gap

Today’s Progress Report did a typically excellent job of pairing fact with fiction over the Iraq intelligence, the economy, Bush’s claims on Meet the Press, the Plame leak investigation, the gutlessness of the media, and more. Their lead story today was about Bush’s economic report actually praising the exporting of American jobs! To paraphrase one pundit today, if exporting jobs is so good for America, I’m not sure how much better we can stand to get.

Bush is really starting to seem out of touch now and his “credibility gap” is becoming regular fare for the pundits. Remember how his daddy’s re-election campaign deflated when America realized that he didn’t know what the scanner at the grocery store was? I think we’re almost there with Dubya.


Speaking of Bush’s credibility gap, TIME’s Nancy Gibbs reports in this week’s cover story that “either Bush wasn’t telling the truth about his reasons for going to war or he didn’t know the truth and can’t quite admit it. Neither prospect is very reassuring, Gibbs reports. “The White House’s biggest problem is that there’s been too much hubris. It’s getting in the way of being rational,” says Christopher Shays, Republican Representative of Connecticut, about the cracks that have opened in the case for war. “I will tell you right now, I believe there will be civil war in Iraq come July,” warns retired General Anthony Zinni, an opponent of the war who, as chief of U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000, commanded all U.S. military forces in the Middle East and Persian Gulf regions.”

As my regular readers know, I think the Progress Report is about as good as getting-real journalism gets, and I strongly encourage everyone to subscribe to their free daily email and read it every day. It’s better for you than castor oil, and tastes a little better too (especially with my new 6-color inkjet printer).

Bush: The Missing Months

Another crack has appeared in the hull of the mighty Bush vessel of lies, this time about his missing months in the National Guard. This transcript of the White House press briefing on the subject was telling. Stonewalling all the way.

Meet the Press Feedback

The Center for American Progress also did an excellent point-by-point analysis of claim vs. fact on Bush’s appearance on Meet the Press. Great stuff, highly recommended.

Even the apologists for Bush’s inarticulate, stuttering, pointlessly “on message” answers to Russert’s excellent questions are sounding weak. First, Peggy Noonan shamlesslessly blames it on a preference for “philosophy” over “talking points,” and then op-ed columnists like David Brooks try to put reasonable sounding words into his mouth for him.

Bush on Bush, Take 2

Oh, how I miss the truly presidential, articulate carriage of Bill Clinton. Even in the midst of the Lewinsky scandal, he never lost his poise, his focus, and his ready answers to intelligent questions. Bush looks pretty much exactly as he is: like a kid backed into a corner, repeating like a broken record, out of touch, unable to answer to the complexities of the real world when his little construction collapses.

Bush Family Values: War, Wealth, Oil

This was a mercifully brief roundup of the important points in the history of the Bush dynasty. Definitely worth a read if you’re not familiar with the story:
Bush Family Values: War, Wealth, Oil
By Kevin Phillips, The Los Angeles Times

9-11 Investigation Stonewalled Again

Yep, just when you thought we were finally going to get some cooperation from the Bush administration on investigating the worst terrorist attack on US soil ever, they’re digging in their heels once again:

The White House: A New Fight Over Secret 9/11 Docs


Commission sources tell NEWSWEEK that panel members are fed up with what one calls “maddening” restrictions by White House lawyers on their access to key documents. Unless the panel gets to see the docs, the report “will not withstand the laugh test,” a commission official says. The panel is threatening to force a showdown soon—by voting to subpoena the White House.

OK, so we’re not going to get the spectacle of a special prosecutor, but you can’t beat the drama of a subpoena on the White House (and Bob Novak?)!

Why are they stonewalling again? Because “sources say, the cumulative impact of the intelligence documents and other material is damning—showing far more screw-ups by both Clinton and Bush officials than the public has yet to learn.”

That’s right. It’s like I said in “You Can’t Handle the Truth”. We won’t get a fair investigation of 9-11 because it would expose the ugly, stupid truth about our leaders. And you can’t handle the truth.

Speaking of censoring the ugly reality, even the Pentagon is getting into the act now. In the aforementioned Progress Report, you’ll find this tidbit:

The WP reported yesterday “senior Pentagon managers have repeatedly ordered the department’s widely read clipping service to exclude articles critical of the military and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to officials familiar with the practice.” But the double standard lives: the ban was waived for articles “senior managers deem positive”

Palast and MoveOn Fundraising Efforts

Greg Palast is having a CD release party in New York on Feb. 27th, to launch a fund for his legal defense. His good work in the area of hard investigative research where others fear to tread has not gone unpunished, and he needs to raise some money. The event is co-hosted by Charles Lewis, Amy Goodman, and Tom Tomorrow–fairly star-studded! If you’re in New York, help him out and
go to the event
and buy a CD, wouldja?

We badly need your help and we’re throwing a party to get it. Friday, February 27, 8:30 pm, CBGB’s Gallery, 313 Bowery @ Bleecker, NYC, $20 cover (advance purchases).

Palast is under attack. We need you to party in defense of the First Amendment – and the investigative reporter who Noam Chomsky says, “Upsets all the right people.”


No money will go to the lawyers. 100% will go to the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund to support the research staff.

And MoveOn.org has launched a new ad campaign with another of the finalists from their Voter Fund Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest. They’re trying to finish their $10 million fundraising campaign. Check out their new ad and donate!

That’s about all I can stand for one day, how about you? And feel free to drop comments into the blog, folks; unlike the Bush administration, I love to encourage the free exchange of ideas!

–C

What Bush meant to say was…

February 11, 2004 at 5:59 pm
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I read with interest this column from David Brooks yesterday. While on some level I find it appalling that editorial apologists for our president have to write “This is what the president *really* means…” pieces, I decided to take this as a hypothetical. Is it possible that the President really does see our situation and his role this way?

I’m skeptical. I think he’s immersed in too much self-interest to truly feel this way. But even if this were the State of the Presidency, would that be a good thing? On that question, I can comfortably say no. I don’t believe that a sense of “mission” is appropriate here. Assessing the terrorist threat as simply “Anti-Freedom” and anti-democracy dangerously underestimates the causes of anti-American hatred, and a strategy that “takes the fight” to our enemies without taking hope to their crumbling societies is terribly misguided.

But what do you think? Is it possible that, behind his inarticulacy, this is what Bush is thinking? If so, is that better or worse than the alternative?

Bush on Bush, Take 2


By DAVID BROOKS

Published: February 10, 2004

Like most of us, President Bush doesn’t have the facility for perfectly expressing his situation in conversation. But if he did, he might have said something like this to Tim Russert in the interview broadcast Sunday:

President Bush: Tim, I know I’m repeating myself, but I am a war president. Do you remember how you felt on Sept. 12, 2001? Do you remember the incredible sense of shock, sadness, anger and pride, all welling up into a consuming sense of urgency? That’s how I still feel every day.

I wake up every morning and get briefed about the terrorist threats that menace this country. I read about terrorists in Iraq who murder doctors and teachers so they can abort freedom. I wake up every morning and stare into the hole where civilization used to be.

I have staked the security of this nation on two propositions; this election will be about whether those propositions are true. The first is that the war on terror means we have to escalate our alert status. We cannot wait for our enemies to launch their attacks because we are a nation already at war. We cannot wait for countries like France, China and Russia to see things our way because we are a nation at war.

I made a decision that we would take the fight to the enemy every day, and that every sin we would commit — and we would inevitably commit some — would be a sin of commission, not a sin of omission. We would not repeat the mistakes of the previous decade.

The second proposition is that 9/11 was not a discrete crime. Something so horrible could not grow from a small cause. I concluded that this war is a global, ideological and moral war. Some liberals have trouble grasping evil, and always think that if we could take care of the handguns or the cruise missiles or the W.M.D., our problems would be ameliorated. But I know the problem lies in the souls of our enemies.

I’m not good at explaining the ideology that unites our foes and propels them to fight freedom. But I know that the threats we face are part of a universal hatred, and the only solution to that hatred is freedom — that we must undertake a generational challenge to spread democracy so people whose souls are now twisted can learn to love peace. We could not have allowed the Middle East to continue to drift down its former course.

I said I have found my mission and my moment, and it has cost me. It has cost me some of the bonds I had with average Americans. The secret of my political success was that voters sensed I was basically like them. But this mission, while elevating, is also a cocoon. I see Americans going about their business, watching the Super Bowl and reacting to it all. But I couldn’t watch most of the Super Bowl and I didn’t have a reaction to the whole halftime fiasco because I had to go to bed and be ready for the continuing war the next day. They say there is a cultural divide between the military and society. There is, and suddenly I am on the other side.

I look around and observe that many of my fellow Americans don’t seem to be living on Sept. 12, the way I am. And if they don’t feel in their bones the presence of war, I don’t know what argument I can use to persuade them.

I look on the Democratic side and see that primary voters last Tuesday ranked terrorism last on their issues of concern. I see John Kerry accusing me of stoking a “culture of fear.” On the Republican side, I notice conservatives are panicked and peevish toward me over spending and immigration. They seem to think my administration exists to reduce the size of government.

But they should understand that no issue matters to me deeply unless it touches my faith in God. I did not campaign as a government-cutter, and I do not feel called upon to become one. I do feel called upon to use American power to help create a freer world.

I could lose this election. I don’t know whether the American people are with me or not. But I know our hair-trigger reputation has jolted dictators in Libya, North Korea and elsewhere. I know that if in 20 years Iraq is free and the Arab world is progressing toward normalcy, no one will doubt that I did the right thing.

Krugman – The Wars of the Texas Succession

February 10, 2004 at 11:57 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Paul Krugman has once again demonstrated his brilliance in this book review (of all things) covering American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush and The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill. Skillfully distilling both to their essential themes, Krugman assembles them into a broad and coherent model of the Bush dynasty, its history and rise to power, its business involvements, and its politics.

Krugman takes special note of author Phillips’s variation on the theme of the “unholy alliance between the dynastic class and the religious right” and how “Bush uses religiously charged language to signal his alliance with fundamentalists”.

Written only as Krugman can, this is a four star read. Check it out.

–C
The Wars of the Texas Succession

By Paul Krugman

Source: The New York Review of Books

Volume 51, Number 3 · February 26, 2004


Review


American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush


by Kevin Phillips

Viking, 397 pp., $25.95


The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill


by Ron Suskind

Simon and Schuster, 348 pp., $26.00


1.

Here’s a true story that came too late to make it into Kevin Phillips’s American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, but it fits perfectly with its thesis. As all the world knows, Halliburton, the company that made Dick Cheney rich, has been given multibillion-dollar contracts, without competitive bidding, in occupied Iraq. Suspicions of profiteering are widespread; critics think they have found a smoking gun in the case of gasoline imports. For Halliburton has been charging the US authorities in Iraq remarkably high prices for fuel—far above local spot prices.

The company denies wrongdoing, saying that its prices in Baghdad reflect the prices it has to pay its Kuwaiti supplier. That’s not quite true; Halliburton’s reported expenses for transporting gasoline are, for some reason, much higher than anyone else’s. But the real question is why Halliburton chose that particular supplier—a company with little experience in the oil business, mysteriously selected as the sole source of gasoline after what appears to have been a highly improper bidding procedure. Why did it get the job? We don’t know. But it’s interesting to note that the company appears to be closely connected with the al-Sabahs, Kuwait’s royal family. And the al-Sabahs, in turn, have in the past had close business ties with the Bush family, in particular the President’s brother Marvin.

In any previous administration—at least any administration of the past seventy years—this sort of incestuous relationship among foreign governments, private businesses, and the personal fortunes of people in or close to the US government would have been considered unusual and prima facie scandalous. What we learn from Kevin Phillips’s new book, however, is that this kind of intertwining of public policy and personal self-interest has been standard operating procedure not just for George W. Bush, but for his entire family.


American Dynasty and Ron Suskind’s new book, The Price of Loyalty, can be seen as a second wave of Bush critiques. The first wave, exemplified by Molly Ivins’s Bushwhacked, Joe Conason’s Big Lies, and David Corn’s The Lies of George W. Bush, described what Bush has been doing these past three years. But they offered only scant explanations of how and why the Bush administration does what it does. (I made a brief stab at an explanation in the introduction to my own The Great Unraveling, but it was no more than a sketch.)

The new books go deeper into the agonizing question of what is happening to our country. Ron Suskind—an investigative reporter with a knack for getting insiders to tell what they know —offers a detailed, deeply disturbing look at how the Bush administration makes policy. Kevin Phillips—a former Republican strategist who feels that his party has betrayed the principles he supported—investigates the history of the Bush clan, and argues that this family history provides the key to understanding George W.’s motives and even his technique of governing.

Phillips is well aware that some will dismiss his work as “conspiracy theory.” But as he says, such taunts shouldn’t prevent us from looking at the family history of the people who now rule us:

Worries about conspiracy thinking should not inhibit inquiries in a way that blocks sober examination, which often more properly identifies some kind of elite behavior familiar to sociologists and political scientists alike.

To that end, Phillips offers

an unusual and unflattering portrait of a great family (great in power, not morality) that has built a base over the course of the twentieth century in the back corridors of the new military-industrial complex and in close association with the growing intelligence and national security establishments.

And George W. Bush, as the scion of this dynasty, is the first president to, in effect, inherit the office. For four generations the Bush family has thrived by exploiting its political connections, especially in the secret world of intelligence, to get ahead in business, as well as exploiting its business connections, especially in finance and oil, to get ahead in politics. And whatever the public and the pundits may have thought about the 2000 election, for the Bushes it was a royal restoration.


The family history of the Bushes helps us to understand one of the great tragedies of American political history. After the disputed election of 2000, the nation badly needed a president who would seek reconciliation. Instead it got a deeply divisive leader, who made a mockery of his campaign promise to be a “uniter, not a divider.” It’s all in the family, Phillips tells us:

When Bush took office in 2001, a parallel to Stuart and Bourbon arrogance quickly emerged in the new regime’s insistence on ideological conservatism despite the lack of any such national mandate. Restoration drinks from its own special psychological well.

So what kind of family has, in its own eyes, regained its rightful inheritance? It’s a family that has become accustomed to privilege:

By the mid-twentieth century, connections and crony capitalism had become the family economic staple, with emphasis on the rewards of finance, and instinctive policymaking fealty to the investment business. The Bushes have produced no college presidents or stonemasons, no scientists or plumbing contractors—generally speaking, their progeny have become almost exclusively financial entrepreneurs.

As this quote suggests, the Bush dynasty differs from other American families that have mixed wealth with political prominence. While the Kennedys and the Rockefellers may have a sense of entitlement, they also display a sense of noblesse oblige—what one might call an urge to repay, with charitable contributions and public service, their good fortune. The Bushes don’t have that problem; there are no philanthropists or reformers in the clan. They seek public office but, if anything, they seem to feel that the public is there to serve them.

Let’s put W. to one side for a moment, and look at how his brothers used their political connections to enrich themselves. Here are a few highlights:

• Before he was elected governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, in partnership with a Cuban refugee whom Phillips suggests had CIA connections, bought an office building with $4.6 million borrowed from a savings and loan. When the S&L went bankrupt, the loan was taken over by the federal Resolution Trust Corporation, which for some reason allowed the partners to settle their debt for only $500,000. In another deal, Jeb was paid handsomely by a company selling pumps to Nigeria that somehow received large-scale financing from the US Export-Import Bank.

• Neil Bush sat on the board of another S&L, Silverado, which made $200 million in loans—subsequently defaulted—to an oil company that in turn gave Neil large loans with no obligation to repay. In recent divorce proceedings it has emerged that a firm backed by Chinese businessmen, including the son of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, paid Neil large sums in return for vaguely defined services.

• After the first Gulf War Marvin Bush, who went to Kuwait seeking business in 1993, served on the boards of several companies controlled by the Kuwait-American Company. A member of Kuwait’s royal family is one of Kuwait-American’s major shareholders, and it seems reasonable to say that in effect Marvin works for the al-Sabahs.

And then there’s the story of how George W. himself became rich. Many people now know the tale—the failed companies that somehow got bought out at premium prices, the insider stock sale that somehow was never properly investigated, the government generosity that made the Texas Rangers such a good deal for the businessmen who picked W. to be their public face. Several of these deals, like those of brother Marvin, had Middle East connections. Bush’s first venture, Arbusto, may have involved bin Laden family money. The story of George W.’s stake in Harken Energy—which he sold two months before it announced large losses—involved a puzzling surprise deal with the government of Bahrain.

Here’s how Phillips summarizes the picture:

All in all, if presidential family connections were theme parks, Bush World would be a sight to behold. Mideast banks tied to the CIA would crowd alongside Florida S&Ls that once laundered money for the Nicaraguan contras. Dozens of oil wells would run eternally without finding oil, thanks to periodic cash deposits by old men wearing Reagan-Bush buttons and smoking twenty-dollar cigars. Visitors to “Prescott Bush’s Tokyo” could try to make an investment deal without falling into the clutches of the yakuza….


But aside from casting some light on the President’s character, why does this shady family history matter? Phillips makes a convincing case that Bush family crony capitalism is closely intertwined with Bush administration policy.

In part, it’s a matter of values, W.’s “instinctive policy fealty” to the activities that made his family rich. Although he ran in 2000 as a moderate, his policies, from the tax cuts to the scrapping of the Kyoto Protocol, have been relentlessly in favor of both the rich and the energy industry. And according to Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty, W. appears to have a visceral dislike for corporate reform.

More ominous, perhaps, is Phillips’s contention that family history has shaped Bush foreign policy. It’s a great irony that George W. Bush, beloved by red-blooded, red-state Americans for his down-home manner, comes from a family with deep political and business connections to the Middle East. As someone once pointed out, it’s a lot easier to document links between the bin Laden family and the Bushes than it is to document links between the bin Ladens and Saddam Hussein.

I’ve already mentioned some of the business links. There are others, like George H.W. Bush’s post-presidential employment by the Carlyle Group, the private global investment firm whose Saudi investors included members of the bin Laden family.

But perhaps more important is the policy connection. One way to look at the younger Bush’s confrontational policies in Iraq is that they are a rejection of a traditional US strategy of making alliances of convenience with some of the area’s regimes. And who was responsible for that earlier strategy? Few were more involved than George H.W. Bush, as CIA director, vice-president, and finally—until Saddam overstepped the line—as president. Phillips puckishly describes the two Gulf Wars as “the wars of the Texas succession.”

Along the way, Phillips reminds us of a series of actual or potential scandals surrounding US Middle Eastern policy, all of which involved the Bush family in some way. Phillips suggests that there may be some substance to old rumors that Republican operatives with CIA connections negotiated with Iran’s mullahs to delay the release of the hostages in 1980—dooming Jimmy Carter’s reelection chances. He also places the elder George Bush squarely at the center of the Iran–contra affair, citing the 1992 indictment of then Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, which claimed that Bush participated in the arms-for-hostages swap.

For me, however, the most striking story was his recounting of “Iraqgate.” In this largely buried scandal, officials of the Reagan administration and the first Bush administration not only supplied Saddam Hussein with arms and turned a blind eye to his use of chemical weapons, but later signaled fairly clearly that it would be okay with them if he occupied part of Kuwait—a signal that Saddam apparently misunderstood as a license to swallow the whole thing. This history sheds an ironic light on the efforts of some of those same officials, notably Donald Rumsfeld, to retroactively justify last year’s invasion of Iraq by a concern for human rights and democracy.

2.

Still, the fundamental question isn’t what motivates the Bush family and its retainers. It’s how such a self-interested clan, with little by way of a redeeming record of public service, could have come to such a position of power. And here Phillips offers only a partial explanation, though it’s a good start.

There are three strands to Phillips’s thesis. First is the effect of surging economic inequality, which has led to a broad-based “dynastization of America.” To put the matter simply, the economic elite has become far more elite than it was a generation ago. Since the late 1970s, the top 1 percent of the population has more than doubled its share of national income, and the top 0.01 percent has increased its share by a factor of six. Today there is, to an extent not seen since the 1920s, a substantial class of people wealthy enough to form their own dynasties. And in a variety of ways, from political contributions to more subtle shaping of culture, for example by promoting aristocratic values, this class has created an environment favorable for dynastic ambitions.

Second is the, um, unholy alliance between the dynastic class and the religious right. I found Phillips’s explanation of how Bush uses religiously charged language to signal his alliance with fundamentalists revelatory:

Bush’s day-to-day language was a veritable biblical message center. Besides the ever-present references to “evil” and “evil ones,” chief White House speechwriter Michael Gerson, a onetime college theology major, filled George W. Bush’s delivery system with phrases that, while inoffensive to secular voters, directed more specific religious messages to the faithful….

Biblical scholar Bruce Lincoln’s line-by-line analysis of Bush’s October 7, 2001, address to the nation announcing the US attack on Afghanistan identified a half dozen veiled borrowings from the Book of Revelation, Isaiah, Job, Matthew, and Jeremiah. He concluded that for those with ears to hear a biblical subtext, “by the [speech’s] end America’s adversaries have been redefined as enemies of God and current events have been constituted as confirmation of scripture.”

What Phillips doesn’t explain, or at least not to my satisfaction, is why crony capitalists have been able to make an effective alliance with the religious right, while other groups—say, Democrats tied to the labor movement —have not. After all, fundamentalists in America are, on average, relatively poor, and tend to be hurt by right-wing economic policies. It’s true that, as Phillips points out, modern fundamentalist doctrine encourages a belief in self-reliance, with a corresponding benign attitude toward wealth and hostility to policies that redistribute income. But the Bush family does not, to say the least, consist of self-made men, and its policies actually do involve redistribution—from the have-nots to the haves. What makes religious leaders see an elite dynasty as their friend?

Phillips stresses the personal side— George W. Bush’s ability to convince many on the religious right that in spite of his silver-spoon background he really is one of them, for example in his born-again belief in the “power of prayer.” I suspect there must be more to it than that. Phillips also writes, “Could 75 to 80 percent of the believers in Armageddon have voted for Bush? So it appeared.” But in any case, for now the fact of the alliance with the religious right is, as Phillips says, a crucial part of the political story.

But what about the rest of the population? The third strand in Phillips’s explanation of the Bush dynasty’s success is its virtuosity in misrepresenting what it’s up to:

If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, compassionate conservatism is the policy hypocrisy uses to disguise economic vice. While it has been three generations in the making, its rhetorical embrace by the Bushes has come to display less and less genteel upper-class pretense…and instead to manifest a higher and higher ratio of outright deception: saying one thing and meaning another.


In describing this deception, Phillips invokes the term “Mayberry Machiavellis”—referring to Mayberry, North Carolina, the fictional small-town setting of The Andy Griffith Show. This label for Bush officials was originally used by John DiIulio, the former head of the White House’s “Faith-Based and Community Initiatives,” in a revealing interview with the freelance journalist Ron Suskind about the political opportunism of the White House. And Suskind has done it again. His new book, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill, is based partly on discussions with Paul O’Neill, the former Treasury secretary, partly on 19,000 documents supplied by O’Neill, and partly on other, unnamed, insider sources. And it provides a devastating portrait of Bush policymaking that dovetails perfectly with Phillips’s analysis of Bush’s motives.

It was unfortunate, in a way, that so much of the initial press coverage of Suskind’s book focused on O’Neill’s revelation that the administration was obsessed with the idea of invading Iraq from day one, long before September 11. Not that his point has been refuted —in fact, other sources have come forward to confirm it. But the main virtue of The Price of Loyalty is what it tells us about the administration’s values and mode of operation.

Let’s start at the end—a discussion of economic policy in November 2002, shortly before O’Neill was fired. Remember that 2002 was the year of corporate scandals; for a brief period the revelations of chicanery at Enron, WorldCom, and other pillars of the economy seemed likely to dominate the midterm election. Instead, the administration—after making a few gestures toward corporate reform and grudgingly agreeing to a small increase in the SEC’s budget—beat the drums of war, and drowned the issue out.

Still, officials remained concerned about a sluggish economy. But what was the cause of that sluggishness? The President, according to his secretary of the Treasury, had a simple answer: “SEC overreach.” That is, those nasty regulators, in their attempt to crack down on corporate malfeasance, were making executives and investors nervous, depressing the economy. Here’s how Suskind describes the moment:

O’Neill couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing—SEC overreach? No wonder the White House had backed off from the toughest medicine for crooked executives and eventually ceded the corporate governance debate to Congress. How, though, could the President believe that the largely overwhelmed SEC had any significant effect on the vast US economy?

Kevin Phillips could, of course, have told him: Bush—whose own business career had involved some remarkably Enron-like moments—was revealing his instinctive, indeed inbred sympathy for corporate insiders, and his antipathy toward anyone who might try to enforce accountability.

Aside from the report of Bush’s amazing outburst, what we learn from Suskind’s description of that meeting is that, in private, top administration officials conceded the very points that they vehemently denied when responding to outside critics. They knew that they were being fiscally irresponsible. “The budget hole is getting deeper,” warned budget director Mitch Daniels. “We are projecting deficits all the way to the end of your second term.” (And this was before the 2003 tax cut.)

They also knew that their policies heavily favored rich people—indeed, in an uncharacteristic moment Bush himself seemed uneasy over the tilt, asking, “Didn’t we already give them a break at the top?” And when Bush asked, “What are we doing on compassion?,” no one answered.

But what they said in public was the exact opposite. In private Bush might worry that his tax plan was too friendly to the rich; in public he insisted that “the vast majority of my tax cut goes to the bottom of the economic spectrum.” In private Dick Cheney told O’Neill that “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” In public he described himself as a “deficit hawk.”

So Phillips is right: the Bush administration is deeply hypocritical with regard to its core policies; what it says is at odds not only with what it does, but with what it really thinks. But then what does drive its policy decisions?


Let’s flash back to what John DiIulio told Suskind in late 2002:

There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you’ve got is everything—and I mean everything—being run by the political arm. Everything—and I mean everything—is being run by the Mayberry Machiavellis.

O’Neill confirms DiIulio’s picture, with a vengeance. Consider, for example, what may in the long run be considered the administration’s most fateful decision: to abandon the Kyoto Protocol and, in effect, abandon any attempt to face up to global warming. O’Neill’s account makes it clear that nobody even tried to ask what the facts were, what the tradeoffs might involve. Instead, “energy concerns and the thinly supported jeremiad by industry lobbyists had eclipsed considerations about action on global warming. Period.” Or as O’Neill summarized this approach to policymaking, “The base [i.e., Bush’s Republican political base] likes this and who the hell knows anyway.”

Or take the steel tariff. The decision to impose a tariff on steel imports was a terrible one in every way one can think of. It was bad for the economy; it was obviously illegal under international law. It squandered US credibility on trade issues; it was a clear betrayal of the administration’s own rhetorical commitment to free trade and free markets. But throwing steel-producing regions a bone might—just might—yield some small political gains.

The Clinton administration refused to impose a steel tariff even during the 2000 campaign; had it betrayed its principles, West Virginia might have gone to Al Gore, who would now be in the White House. When the issue arose again in early 2002, Bush was still immensely popular. “If you can’t do the right thing when you’re at 85 percent approval, when can you do the right thing?” asked one official. But politics prevailed, and the tariff went through. (The tariff was later rescinded, after the World Trade Organization—predictably—ruled that it violated international law. But the damage was done: US credibility on trade issues had been damaged severely. Partly because of this loss of credibility, international trade negotiations—supposedly an administration priority —have stalled.)


What emerges from Suskind’s book is a picture of an entirely cynical administration—much more cynical than Nixon’s, in which the corruption was localized, and large parts of the policy process continued to be run by serious, even idealistic people. (Old hands at the Environmental Protection Agency describe the Nixon administration as a golden age.) Under Bush, it seems, political rhetoric bears no relation to reality—what officials say has nothing in common with what they do, or what they think. And policy decisions are driven almost entirely by politics, by what the political arm thinks will play well with “the base.”

But in that case, what’s it all about? If everything Bush and his officials do is political, what is that they want to do with their power?

Old-line Republicans that I know cling to the belief that the Machiavellianism is only temporary, that it’s embraced in service to a higher goal. Once the 2004 election is over, they say Bush will show his true colors as an idealist, someone who genuinely believes in small government and free markets.

But if Phillips is right—and I think he is—there is no higher goal. Bush’s motivations are dynastic—to secure his family’s rightful place. While he may have some policy biases—like that “instinctive policy fealty” to the investment business—policy is basically there to serve the acquisition of power, and not the other way around.

According to people who observed him in Texas, Karl Rove is a devotee of Machiavelli, and particularly of The Prince. And as Phillips points out, “Twenty-first-century American readers of The Prince may feel that they have stumbled on a thinly disguised Bush White House political memo.” For Machiavelli’s book was all about how to gain and hold power, not about what to do with it.

So what is the state of the union? Let Phillips have the last word:

The advent of a Machiavelli-inclined dynasty in what may be a Machiavellian Moment for the American Republic is not a happy coincidence…. National governance has, at least temporarily, moved away from the proven tradition of a leader chosen democratically, by a majority or plurality of the electorate, to the succession of a dynastic heir whose unfortunate inheritance is privileged, covert, and globally embroiling.

Conservative Pundits Get Real – O\’Reilly Apologizes for Supporting War

February 10, 2004 at 11:42 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

It’s a good day for all Americans who want to get real. Even the usual conservative pundits, from Peggy Noonan to Bill O’Reilly to Robert “Won’t Somebody Please Subpoena Me” Novak are admitting not only that Bush gave a lackluster performance in his appearance on Meet the Press this past Sunday, but that his economic policies and his ever-revolving roulette wheel of justifications for the war in Iraq aren’t winning anybody’s support.

And my personal thank you to Bill O’Reilly for being true to his values and admitting he was wrong. Now, if we could only get a few more key conservatives to do the same, we’d really be getting somewhere.

–C

Bush’s Political Base Seems Restive, Anxious

Tue February 10, 2004 02:20 PM ET

By Alan Elsner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some of George W. Bush’s conservative political supporters are increasingly restive and anxious about the president’s economic policies as well as his attempts to justify the war against Iraq.

Popular conservative television news anchor Bill O’Reilly, usually an outspoken Bush loyalist, said on Tuesday he was now skeptical about the Bush administration and apologized to viewers for supporting prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

“I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this,” O’Reilly said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Pollster John Zogby said Bush was on the defensive with some polls showing him slightly behind Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, his probable Democratic opponent in the Nov. 2 presidential election.

“The president is on the ropes right now. The question is, how will he adjust? Right now, the issues are not in his favor. Many Americans still think the economy is poor and his rationale for the Iraq war seems a little thin,” he said.

“Bush’s greatest asset was his unimpeachable integrity in the eyes of most Americans. But with no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that integrity has been chipped away and right now some large lumps are falling off it,” Zogby said.

Bush’s White House interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday was designed to calm some of these doubts. But while some pundits gave Bush good marks for his performance, some prominent conservatives were not impressed.

‘TIRED AND UNSURE’

Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter for former President Ronald Reagan and for Bush’s father and an outspoken conservative commentator, said: “The president seemed tired, unsure and often bumbling. His answers were repetitive, and when he tried to clarify them he tended to make them worse. He seemed in some way disconnected from the event.”

Conservative columnists George Will and Robert Novak and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, now a cable TV commentator, have also recently criticized Bush’s fiscal programs and his attempts to explain them.

Such doubts, if they persist, could spell trouble for Bush’s re-election campaign. But conservative political consultant Keith Appell said Bush would soon be able to unify and energize his base.

“The White House has had a string of misfires but I believe they will soon regain their stride. This last month has been a wake-up call, but maybe that’s what they needed,” he said.

In the past month, Bush’s State of the Union Address and his initiative to send manned spacecraft to Mars failed to generate much enthusiasm. Conservatives and liberals both criticized his budget for failing to seriously confront the country’s growing deficit problem.

On Monday, Bush delivered an economic report to Congress promising to create 2.6 million jobs this year. Last year’s economic report predicted that 1.7 million jobs would be created. Instead, there was a net loss of 53,000.

The grassroots anti-war group Moveon.org, partially funded by billionaire George Soros, launched a campaign to have Congress censure Bush. It had no chance of success but promised to keep the issue of why he took the country to war against Iraq in the political forefront.

“Congress has the power to censure the president — to formally reprimand him for betraying the nation’s trust. If ever there was a time for this, it’s now,” the group said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Democrats hope they can plant seeds of doubt now. “If you can create a drumbeat of criticism in February, it’s easier to make the case when it really counts in September and October,” said Democratic consultant Jennifer Laszlo.

But Brown University political scientist Darrell West said he expected Bush to recover. “It’s damaging when your friends criticize you in public, but by November they will all be supporting Bush,” he said.

© Copyright Reuters

Apocalypse Now

February 10, 2004 at 2:09 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Here’s an article just chock-full of little surprises.

One of the key men who helped put George Bush into the White House was Rev. Timothy LaHaye, one of the most influential leaders of the Christian right, who wrote the Left Behind novels, and next the Bible, is “Christianity’s biggest publishing success ever.” LaHaye is a strict biblical reconstructionist who preaches Armageddon prophecy.

But that’s not all that’s suprising here. Just a few samples:


  • “Saddam is ‘a servant of Satan,’ possessed by a demon, and that he could be ‘the forerunner of the Antichrist.'” [Whew, thank goodness we got ‘im, huh?]
  • “he prodded the Rev. Jerry Falwell to found the Moral Majority”
  • He co-authored an “explicit Christian sex manual, condemning “petting,” abortion and homosexuality.”
  • “LaHaye founded the Council for National Policy. An elite group with only a few hundred members…the council unites right-wing billionaires with scores of conservative Christian activists and politicians…Its ranks have included prominent politicians such as Ed Meese and John Ashcroft, … leading televangelists such as Pat Robertson and Falwell, representatives of the Heritage Foundation and other key think tanks, and activists including Grover Norquist and Oliver North…Supported by moneybags such as Texas oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt, Amway founder Richard DeVos and beer magnate Joseph Coors, some in the group helped fund Oliver North’s secret campaign to aid the Nicaraguan contra rebels during the 1980s and financed the right-wing jihad against President Clinton in the 1990s”
  • “When [Rev. Sun Myung] Moon got entangled in legal controversy, LaHaye sprang to his defense, amid reports that he’d received substantial funding from the wealthy Moon.” [For another article on the connection between the Bush dynasty and the Moonies, see The Bush – Moonies – Washington Times connections.]
  • “[H]e considers Catholics to have strayed from biblical truth and has referred to popes as ‘Antichrists'”
  • “According to LaHaye, civilization is threatened by a worldwide conspiracy of secret societies and liberal groups intent on destroying ‘every vestige of Christianity.'”

No one knows how much of this end-times stuff the president goes in for, “[b]ut for Bush, an emotional, evangelical president who has repeatedly described the struggle against Saddam as a conflict between good and evil, LaHaye’s views resonate with his.”

It’s a good read.

–C

Reverend Doomsday

By Robert Dreyfuss

From Rolling Stone

(January 28, 2004)

It might seem unlikely that the commander in chief would take his marching orders directly from on high — unless you understand the views of the Rev. Timothy LaHaye, one of the most influential leaders of the Christian right, and a man who played a quiet but pivotal role in putting George W. Bush in the White House. If you know LaHaye at all, it’s for his series of best-selling apocalyptic novels. You’ve seen the Left Behind novels everywhere: aboard airplanes, at the beach, in massive displays at Wal-Mart. In the nine years since the publication of the first novel, the series has sold 60 million copies. Next to the authors of the Bible itself, who didn’t get royalties, LaHaye is Christianity’s biggest publishing success ever.


LaHaye is a strict biblical reconstructionist — taking the Good Book as God’s literal truth. His books depict a fantastical, fictional version of what he and his followers think is in store for the human race. Not allegorically, not poetically, but word-for-word true. If the Bible (Revelation 9:1-11) says that billions of six-inch-long scorpionlike monsters with the heads of men, “flowing hair like that of women” and the teeth of lions, wearing crowns and helmets, will swarm across the globe gnawing on unbelievers — well, that’s exactly what LaHaye says will happen. And soon.


LaHaye’s books, and his quirky interpretation of biblical prophecy that stands behind them, revolve intensely around Iraq, because LaHaye believes that Armageddon will be unleashed from the Antichrist’s headquarters in Babylon. Since the 1970s — when Iraq began a reconstruction project on the ruins of the ancient city, near Baghdad — LaHaye has said that Saddam Hussein is carrying out Satan’s mission. In 1999, LaHaye wrote that Saddam is “a servant of Satan,” possessed by a demon, and that he could be “the forerunner of the Antichrist.” Ultimately, says LaHaye, before Christ can return to Earth, Iraq, led by the Antichrist, must engage in a world-shaking showdown with Israel.


Of course, there have always been preachers on the margins of the religious right thundering on about the end of the world. But it’s doubtful that such a fanatic believer has ever had such a direct pipeline to the White House. Five years ago, as Bush was gearing up his presidential campaign, he made a little-noticed pilgrimage to a gathering of right-wing Christian activists, under the auspices of a group called the Committee to Restore American Values. The committee, which assembled about two dozen of the nation’s leading fundamentalist firebrands, was chaired by LaHaye. At the time, many evangelicals viewed Bush skeptically: Despite his born-again views, when he was governor of Texas, Bush had alienated many of the state’s Christian-right activists for failing to pursue a sufficiently evangelical agenda. On the national level, he was an unknown quantity.

That day, behind closed doors, LaHaye grilled the candidate. He presented Bush with a lengthy questionnaire on issues such as abortion, judicial appointments, education, religious freedom, gun control and the Middle East. What the preacher thought of Bush’s answers would largely determine whether the Christian right would throw its muscle behind the Texas governor.


Mostly preferring to stay out of the limelight, LaHaye has been the moving force behind several key organizations on the Christian right that have redrawn the boundaries of American politics. In 1979, at a time when ministers confined themselves to their churches, he prodded the Rev. Jerry Falwell to found the Moral Majority, a group that launched today’s cultural wars against feminism, homosexuality, abortion, drugs and pornography. In 1981, he helped found the little-known but vastly powerful Council for National Policy, a secretive group of wealthy donors that has funneled billions of dollars to right-wing Christian activists. “No one individual has played a more central organizing role in the religious right than Tim LaHaye,” says Larry Eskridge of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals, calling him “the most influential American evangelical of the last twenty-five years.”


When the meeting with Bush ended, LaHaye gave the candidate his seal of approval. For Bush, it was a major breakthrough, clearing the decks for hundreds of leaders of the Christian right, from TV preachers and talk-show hosts to Bible Belt pulpit pounders, to support the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2000. “Bush went into the meeting not totally acceptable,” recalls Paul Weyrich, the grandfather of the religious right, who has known LaHaye for thirty years. “He went out not only acceptable but enthusiastically supported.”


More than half a century ago, as a student at Bob Jones University, Timothy LaHaye began his public ministry as a pastor at a small church in a tiny town in South Carolina, not far from the campus. He’d grown up dirt-poor in Detroit, peddling newspapers during the Depression. His father had died when he was ten. In 1944, after finishing night school and attending a Bible institute in Chicago, he enlisted in the Air Force at seventeen and served in Europe as a machine gunner aboard a bomber.


At Bob Jones, the Christian-fundamentalist college famous for being anti-Catholic, LaHaye met and fell in love with a fellow Detroiter, Beverly Jean Ratcliffe. The two followed the school’s strict “no touching” dating rule, which required lovers to stay six inches apart; a year later, they were married. In 1958, they moved to San Diego. At that time, Southern California was a hotbed of former McCarthyites, neo-Nazis and the John Birch Society, a right-wing group so paranoid and extremist that it denounced President Eisenhower as a communist. They all muttered darkly about secret societies, the evil United Nations and one-world-government conspiracies, views that LaHaye would soon make his own. For years, LaHaye spoke at Birch Society training sessions, getting to know many of its leaders and building his ministry in the part of California that, twenty years later, would be the launching pad for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential bid.


In the next dozen years, LaHaye built a veritable Christian empire: three churches, twelve elementary and secondary schools, a Christian college, an anti-evolution think tank called the Institute for Creation Research, the Pre-Trib Research Center to promote his views on how the world will end, and Family Life Seminars, a lecture program on sex, marriage and Christian living — all while writing dozens of books. The Act of Marriage, a best seller published in 1976 and co-authored with Beverly LaHaye, is an explicit Christian sex manual, condemning “petting,” abortion and homosexuality.


In the early 1970s, alarmed by laws and court decisions on abortion and school prayer, LaHaye began organizing the churches of Southern California for political action. In 1979, he established Californians for Biblical Morality, a church-based political group that lobbied in Sacramento. In many ways, it was the genesis of the Christian right. “I met Tim and Beverly about thirty years ago, while I was on a preaching tour of Southern California,” says Falwell. “I found out that he’d done something no conservative minister had ever done before: He’d organized hundreds of churches into a political bloc. At the time, I’d never heard of mixing religion and politics.” LaHaye persuaded Falwell to consider doing the same. “More than any other person, Tim LaHaye challenged me to begin thinking through my involvement [in politics],” recalls Falwell. Paul Weyrich confirms Falwell’s account. “He encouraged Falwell to get involved in the political process,” says Weyrich, who heads the conservative Free Congress Foundation. “But Falwell was reluctant to do so, because he thought it would ruin his ministry.”


In 1979, LaHaye and Falwell established the Moral Majority, with Falwell as its leader and LaHaye as a guiding member of its three-person board of directors. The Moral Majority drafted tens of millions of conservative Christian voters into the culture wars, swelling the ranks of the Republican Party and serving as Reagan’s core constituency. But while Falwell was catapulted to national prominence, LaHaye stayed in the background. “He flew under the radar, very behind-the-scenes, and didn’t seek publicity,” says Falwell.


Two years later, LaHaye founded the Council for National Policy. An elite group with only a few hundred members, the CNP meets three times a year, usually at posh hotels or resorts, going to extraordinary lengths to keep its agenda and membership secret. According to members willing to speak about it, however, the council unites right-wing billionaires with scores of conservative Christian activists and politicians, and these encounters have spawned countless campaigns and organizations. Its ranks have included prominent politicians such as Ed Meese and John Ashcroft, and among its members can be found an editor of the conservative National Review, leading televangelists such as Pat Robertson and Falwell, representatives of the Heritage Foundation and other key think tanks, and activists including Grover Norquist and Oliver North.


Supported by moneybags such as Texas oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt, Amway founder Richard DeVos and beer magnate Joseph Coors, some in the group helped fund Oliver North’s secret campaign to aid the Nicaraguan contra rebels during the 1980s and financed the right-wing jihad against President Clinton in the 1990s. (The impeachment effort was reportedly conceived at a June 1997 meeting of the CNP in Montreal.) In addition, the group has funded an army of Christian organizers. Falwell says that in the past two decades, he has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for his ventures, including Liberty University, through the CNP. “My guess is that literally billions of dollars have been utilized through the Council for National Policy that would not otherwise have been available,” he says. Bush attended a CNP meeting at the start of his presidential campaign in 1999 to seek support, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took part in the group’s gathering last April in Washington, D.C.


“Without [LaHaye], what we call the religious right would not have developed the way it did, and as quickly as it did,” says Weyrich.


Besides the Moral Majority and the CNP, LaHaye established a third organization, Concerned Women for America, run by his wife, Beverly, which today claims 600,000 members. From the late 1970s into the 1980s, CWA, in coordination with Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, led a successful battle against the adoption of the feminist-inspired Equal Rights Amendment, and it thundered against gay rights, sex education in schools and abortion. While Schlafly organized the women in Republican clubs around the country, Bev LaHaye reached out to the women in churches, “the ones who were never involved in politics, who’d go to Bible-study groups,” says Schlafly. “She reached a lot of people, particularly in the Christian churches, that I might not have been able to reach.” Many of these women stayed involved, joining the ranks of religious-right activists.


By the mid-1980s, LaHaye was at the top of his game, powerful and well-
connected, plugged into the Reagan administration and, through yet another of his groups, the American Coalition for Traditional Values, a pivotal factor in the 1984 election, registering Christian conservative voters through “pastor-representatives” in all 435 congressional districts. But he was also headed for a fall.


Lahaye’s free-fall began in the mid-1980s, and by the end he’d almost been expelled from the political Garden of Eden. What set it into motion was his connection with the weird would-be messiah Rev. Sun Myung Moon, whose Unification Church cult of “Moonies” was viewed by most Christians as laughably heretical. When Moon got entangled in legal controversy, LaHaye sprang to his defense, amid reports that he’d received substantial funding from the wealthy Moon. By the time LaHaye backed away, it was too late. His credibility was shot, and the American Coalition for Traditional Values soon folded.


Then it got worse. In 1988, LaHaye was bounced from the presidential campaign of former Rep. Jack Kemp when the media learned of LaHaye’s anti-Catholic views (he considers Catholics to have strayed from biblical truth and has referred to popes as “Antichrists”). After that, he was deemed nearly radioactive in politics. When he showed up later that year for a campaign event at the elder George Bush’s home, the vice president rushed to Doug Wead, his liaison to the religious right. “Tim LaHaye is here!” Wead recalls Bush saying in alarm. By the early 1990s, LaHaye had retreated to a small Baptist church in Rockville, Maryland, and the Moonie-owned Washington Times noted that he had “left the national stage.”


Within a few years, however, LaHaye would ride Left Behind back to the top. As LaHaye tells the story, one day, about 1994, he was sitting on an airplane, watching a married pilot flirting with a flight attendant, and it hit him: What would befall the sinful pilot if the Rapture happened now? What if, as LaHaye believes the Bible foretells, God suddenly snatches up to heaven all of the believers in Jesus? And that is how Left Behind starts. Everywhere, hundreds of millions of people vanish, leaving the unbelievers behind, from insufficiently pious Christians to Muslims, Catholics, Jews and everyone else. What follows is the Tribulation, in which God visits unspeakable plagues on the Earth, amid a climactic worldwide battle waged by a band of new believers, called the Tribulation Force, against Satan and the Antichrist. Seas and rivers turn to blood, searing heat burns men alive, ugly boils erupt on the skin of the disfavored, 200 million ghostly, demonic warriors sweep across the planet exterminating one-third of the world’s population — well, you get the idea. And why does a merciful God visit such horrors on mankind? According to LaHaye, “God intends that the terrible plagues and judgments of the Tribulation might cause the people of the world to repent and turn to him.”

Reviewers trashed the Left Behind books as “almost laughably tedious” and “unrelievedly vomitous badness,” and prominent Christian leaders condemned them as “unscholarly” and a “perversion” of the Bible. But the series gradually blossomed in Christian bookstores, gaining readers by word-of-mouth. In 2001 alone, the books sold a staggering 15 million copies. The intent of the books is frankly evangelical. “Our hope is that some people will be persuaded,” says Jerry Jenkins, who co-authored the series with LaHaye.


The success of Left Behind gave LaHaye an enormous boost, returning him to prominence and making him truly born again. “At meetings of the Council for National Policy now, Tim and Bev are treated like rock stars,” says Grover Norquist, perhaps Washington’s leading conservative activist. Last fall, LaHaye released the first book of a new series called Babylon Rising, which takes his apocalyptic notions even further. Striking while the brimstone is hot, LaHaye has already received a reported $42 million advance deal from Bantam Books for the Babylon books, built around a swashbuckling, Indiana Jones-style biblical archeologist in the Holy Land.


Now seventy-seven, lahaye is considered rather scowly, even by his friends. A thin man who dyes his hair black, he wears a battery-powered earpiece and favors clashing polyester suits. “He can come across as stern and unloving,” says Jenkins, especially when he gets up on his soapbox. “Then people say he can be too severe.”


He is certainly gloomy about Earth’s future. “We have more reason to believe that ours may be the terminal generation than any generation since Jesus founded His church 2,000 years ago,” LaHaye told Rolling Stone via e-mail from his home in Palm Springs, California, citing not only biblical prophecy but weapons of mass destruction, incurable diseases, pollution and overpopulation. Despite Bush’s election, Republican control of Congress and the success of his own organizations, LaHaye says that things are getting worse, and that “liberal, anti-Christian secularists still control government, media, education and other important agencies of influence.”


That’s a succinct summation of the tangled, conspiratorial mind-set conveyed in his books. In Left Behind, the “bad guys” just happen to be the same ones whom LaHaye, the Christian right and their allies usually demonize: the United Nations, the Europeans, Russia, Iraq, Muslims, the media, liberals, freethinkers and “international bankers,” all of whom team up with the Antichrist, who ends up heading the U.N. and moving its headquarters to Babylon, Iraq. The “good guys,” of course, are Christian believers, Israel and a phalanx of 144,000 Jews who accept Jesus. Another heroic force in the series is the right-wing American militia movement, which, as a world war erupts, makes a last-ditch, ultimately futile stand against the forces of Satan and the Antichrist in the United States.


According to LaHaye, civilization is threatened by a worldwide conspiracy of secret societies and liberal groups intent on destroying “every vestige of Christianity.” Among the participants in this conspiracy are the Trilateral Commission, the Illuminati, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, “the major TV networks, high-profile newspapers and newsmagazines,” the U.S. State Department, major foundations (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford), the United Nations, “the left wing of the Democratic Party,” Harvard, Yale “and 2,000 other colleges and universities.” All of this is assembled to “turn America into an amoral, humanist country, ripe for merger into a one-world socialist state.”


LaHaye professes no knowledge of whether President Bush buys into his views. “I have seen nothing from this president that would indicate that he is influenced one way or the other by my prophesy teaching,” he says. But for Bush, an emotional, evangelical president who has repeatedly described the struggle against Saddam as a conflict between good and evil, LaHaye’s views resonate with his. And though it’s not known whether Bush has read any of the Left Behind books, he is a regular consumer of writing by other evangelists. Just recently, according to Falwell, Bush called a well-known born-again author, Rick Warren, to say he and Laura Bush had loved reading his new book, The Purpose Driven Life. Asked whether Bush is in accord with the End Times views of LaHaye, Falwell says, “My guess is that his views would differ very little, but that’s conjecture.” Jenkins, LaHaye’s co-author, says only, “Every Christian ought to be happy that we have someone in the White House who says he believes what we do.”


But the idea that Bush, in going to war against Iraq, might have been moved not by politics but by an apocalyptic vision is terrifying to some. Last October, the Rev.
C. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance wrote a formal letter to Bush, saying, in part, “Please assure the American people that you are not developing foreign policy on the basis of a fundamentalist biblical theology that requires cataclysm in Israel in order to guarantee the return of Christ.” So far, he has not received an answer, and the White House didn’t return calls from Rolling Stone asking whether the president has read Left Behind.


The final volume in the Left Behind series appears in the spring.

BUSH ON MEET THE PRESS

February 8, 2004 at 3:53 am
Contributed by:

Sunday (February 8, 2004) President Bush will be the exclusive guest of Tim Russert on Meet the Press for one full hour of questions on the economy, Iraq, WMD, and everything else. Although Russert was quoted as saying that he wished he had 15 hours for all the questions on his mind, the viewers will not be disappointed by the directness and well preparedness within which Russert conducts himself in EVERY interview he performs on Meet The Press. It first runs on NBC at 8 am in Los Angeles (check your local listings) and then reruns at 7 pm, 10 pm and 1 am pst later the same day on cnbc. This one is not to be missed. This is Bush’s first sunday news stop since campaigning for president. I recall only one other interview with Brit Hume for evening programming. The White House must be at an all time high level of insecurity and political panic. Tune in and Drop out!!!!

Pentagon Signals Climate Change as Potential Threat to National Security

February 6, 2004 at 3:37 am
Contributed by:

Folks,
This is a very interesting article because it shows that the Pentagon confirms the existence of global warming, despite the Bush administration’s persistent denials of it.


Andrew Marshall is the founding director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, a quiet but powerful think tank within the Pentagon. In 2001, Marshall was tapped by George W. Bush to lead the Pentagon’s military review that largely defined the scope of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s “transformation” agenda. Marshall, whose ONA has served every president since Nixon, introduced the term “revolution in military affairs.”

In an article published Jan. 26 in Fortune magazine, Marshall released the findings of an unclassified report—written by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of the Global Business Network—entitled “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.”

Climate Change Alert

Source: TomPaine.com

Published: Feb 02 2004

By: Patrick Doherty

First Paul O’Neill, now Andrew Marshall. Marshall has just blown the lid off another Bush administration can of worms—namely, its unwillingness to acknowledge and address the massive threat posed by global climate change.


Marshall is the founding director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, a quiet but powerful think tank within the Pentagon. In 2001, Marshall was tapped by George W. Bush to lead the Pentagon’s military review that largely defined the scope of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s “transformation” agenda. Marshall, whose ONA has served every president since Nixon, introduced the term “revolution in military affairs.”


In an article published Jan. 26 in Fortune magazine, Marshall released the findings of an unclassified report—written by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of the Global Business Network—entitled “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.”


Global Warming Happens


Until now, the debate over climate change in the United States has focused on whether global warming exists and if so, whether it can be attributed to human activity. In their report, Schwartz and Randall close that debate and raise the stakes. They write that “the IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] documents the threat of gradual climate change,” deftly allowing Marshall to implicitly acknowledge that the IPCC findings have sufficiently established what the report calls “the scientifically proven link between CO2 and climate change” as well as the international consensus around climate change itself. But, while fully recognizing the reality of global warming, the report argues that the gradualist view “may be a dangerous act of self-deception.” The real threat to national security is from global warming triggering an “abrupt climate change event.”


Abrupt climate change is an increasingly probable and, the authors show, a historically precedented event in which global atmospheric warming triggers a rapid modification in global oceanic patterns. The report focuses on the threat receiving the most concern from researchers, which occurs when atmospheric warming releases enough fresh water into the North Atlantic to shut down the “thermohaline conveyor”—currents including the Gulf Stream—that move warm water north from the tropics. That, in turn would send much of the Northern Hemisphere into a deep freeze, disrupting energy, agriculture and fresh water supplies around the world.


This is no abstract hypothetical scenario. The Fortune article cites a presentation made by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute director Robert Gagosian who, at last year’s World Economic Forum at Davos, “urged policymakers to consider the implications of possible abrupt climate change within two decades.”


Thankfully, Marshall did just that. The ONA-commissioned report, using the well-established scenario-planning techniques developed at Shell’s planning unit, generated a plausible future scenario in which the thermohaline conveyor collapses in 2010. What follows that oceanic shut-down sounds apocalyptic and yet the authors contend, is quite plausible.


By 2020, average rainfall in Europe drops 30 percent; “megadroughts” affect Southern China and Northern Europe; massive boatlifts of people from the Caribbean attempt to enter the United States and Mexico; China is unable to feed its population due to the combination of droughts and violent monsoons and flooding; Eastern European countries invade a weakened Russia to seek minerals and energy; nuclear India, Pakistan, and China go to war over water, land, and refugees. In all 400 million people could be forced to migrate from uninhabitable regions. In the United States, the East Coast population areas experience severe shortages of freshwater; flooding creates an inland sea in California’s Central Valley and disrupts freshwater supplies for Southern California; and energy disruptions are commonplace due to storms, ice and conflict. The authors make the point clear: this is not a prediction, this is a plausible scenario given what we know now.


Overcoming Resistance


While the content of this release raises the alarm, Marshall is sending multiple messages. The timing of the Fortune article, for instance. For a man of Marshall’s long legacy of discretion to directly challenge the current administration’s line on global warming at the beginning of a presidential election year speaks volumes. That he chose to do so by releasing a report by respected business consultants in Fortune magazine seems to say he wants the business world, Bush’s most important constituency, to understand clearly that the status quo is untenable.


This extraordinary act by a senior Defense Department official implies high-level recognition that the Bush administration’s resistance to the near global consensus on climate change—a consensus that includes the vast majority of the scientific community, many corporations including General Motors, Alcoa, IBM, DuPont, Johnson & Johnson, and all the remaining governments of the OECD—is a threat to national security itself. Indeed, last month in the journal Science, the United Kingdom’s Chief Scientific Advisor declared that “climate change is the most severe problem that we are facing today—more serious even than the threat of terrorism.” Perhaps inoculating itself from future criticism the report states, “Many scientists would regard this scenario as extreme. . . But history tells us that sometimes the extreme cases do occur, there is evidence that it might be [occurring] and it is DOD’s job to consider such scenarios.”


And that resistance has been staunch. In the battle over climate change, according to a report from the group Environment2004, the Bush administration has both misrepresented the science and misled the public. According to The New York Times, the Bush administration acted to distort and omit EPA findings on global warming. The group notes that the administration has dismissed the findings of the International Panel on Climate Change set up by the first President Bush and the findings of a panel of the National Academy of Sciences that Bush himself requested. They document how administration has tried to mislead the public by substituting the absolute indicator of total emissions with emissions per unit of GDP, which can go down while total U.S. emissions continue to rise—and then asking emitters (unsuccessfully) to voluntarily commit to reducing emission intensity. And they highlight how the administration has stalled the debate by calling for a research agenda which The New York Times described as a “redundant examination of issues that had largely been settled, bereft of vision, executable goals and timetables—in short, little more than a cover-up for inaction.”


It’s The Emissions, Stupid


Ultimately, “Abrupt Climate Change” is a report for the Department of Defense. But not entirely. While DoD is primarily concerned with predicting the arrival of and managing the security nightmare caused by abrupt climate change, the report also calls for prevention measures which can only happen through a transformation of the U.S. economy.


“It’s important to understand human impacts on the environment—both what’s done to accelerate and decelerate (or perhaps even reverse) the tendency toward climate change. Alternative fuels, greenhouse gas emission controls and conservation efforts are worthwhile endeavors.”


Only a month ago, Democrats’ best chances in the 2004 general elections relied heavily on the undesirable combination of continued failure in Iraq and sustained economic underperformance. That began to change two weeks ago, when the Institute for America’s Future brought together coalition of labor and environmental groups called the Apollo Alliance and issued a report describing the core of a new economic engine based on shifting America from suburban sprawl and fossil fuels towards smart growth and renewable energy. (See Democrats’ Moon Shot )


Democrats now have a powerful opportunity to reframe the 2004 elections and focus their agenda around an integrated agenda of triage and transformation. Terrorism is still a real threat and Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine and HIV/AIDS must be stabilized and resolved. The larger threat of abrupt climate change, however, means we must comprehensively transform our emissions-ridden economy. Apollo is a good start, but now Marshall’s warnings make it clear that America has no time to waste on low emissions reduction targets and wasteful subsidies, much less Bush’s stalling and deception. Global emissions markets are the best answer. Research has shown that emissions trading is the leading pathway to eliminating emissions, energy independence and reducing agricultural subsidies that impoverish the developing world-all of which will reduce conditions that fuel terrorism and the medium-term threat of abrupt climate change while building a booming new economic engine for America and the world.


Marshall’s sense of patriotic responsibility may just save the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world and usher in a new era of prosperity, sustainability and peace—but only if Democrats reframe the 2004 elections starting now.


Click here to subscribe to our free e-mail dispatch and get the latest on what’s new at TomPaine.com before everyone else! You can unsubscribe at any time and we will never distribute your information to any other entity.

Patrick Doherty spent a decade in the field of international conflict resolution, working in the Middle East, Africa, Southeastern Europe and the Caucasus.

Related links:

International Panel on Climate Change Summary for Policy Makers

Fortune.com “Climate Collapse: the Pentagon’s Weather Nightmare”

Environment 2004: Bush’s Record on Global Warming

Zeitgeist of February 5, 2004 – The World Goes to Pieces

February 5, 2004 at 12:50 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Some
days, it seems like so much is happening in the world all at once, I’m
half-expecting everything to fly to pieces. Today was one of those days. Rather
than try to contrive a theme through it, here instead is my snapshot of the day,
my sense of the zeitgeist, if you will, of February 5, 2004.

Cheney Under Fire

Things
are certainly heating up for Dick Cheney. His shenanigans, and those of
Halliburton are finally getting some serious scrutiny:


Just
weeks after paying back $6 million it overcharged the government for gasoline in
Iraq, Halliburton has now been exposed for overcharging for troops meals, many
of which it never even served:

Halliburton Over Charges Pentagon $27,000,000 For Troops
Meals


And in
another stunning reversal, the Justice Department has finally agreed to
seek, uh, justice, rather than just covering for their friends. It has taken up
an inquiry into a long chain of bribes paid to certain Nigerian officials to
obtain contracts for Halliburton to build a natural gas plant during Cheney’s
watch over the company. What a sordid story this is, straight out of a spy
novel.


Another Halliburton
Probe


And
Cheney’s little hunting trip with Justice Scalia, just before the Supreme Court begins its
evaluation about whether Cheney should be forced to reveal the details about his
energy-industry task force, has put serious pressure on Scalia to recuse
himself. Of course, he’s digging in with both heels, and thanks to a lack of
judicial precedent in this area, Scalia essentially gets to make the decision
himself:


Scalia Was Cheney Hunt Trip
Guest; Ethics Concern Grows


As if
that weren’t enough, Cheney’s office is also catching some flak over the
Valerie Plame leak. Apparently, two of its key members, John Hannah and Cheney’s chief of
staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, are looking
like likely suspects in the outing of Plame as a CIA
agent:


Cheney’s
Staff Focus of Probe



George Tenet and Don Rumsfeld Walk the Fine Line

In
the continuing WMD controversy, today the CIA director directly refuted the
White House’s assertions that Iraq was an “imminent threat” with some careful
word parsing that would have made even Don Rumsfeld blush: “In the
intelligence business, you are almost never completely wrong or completely
right.” What, are these guys weathermen? If you’re going to launch a preemptive
war against a country that hasn’t been hostile toward you, I got news for you
George, you have to be completely right. At least he didn’t just roll
over to protect the Bush team.


Tenet Directly Contradicts White House on “Imminent
Threat”


On the same topic, and the neo-con’s recent falterings in
general, this blog by Justin Raimondo was an interesting read, I thought. I
liked this blog, it’s worth a cruise around:


Neocons Busted!


And
speaking of Don Rumsfeld word parsings, check out this sucker from his
appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday:


Our troops were a long way
from even Baghdad, and I was asked, “Where’s the weapons of mass
destruction?” And I may have said — I think I said, “We know where they
are. They’re up north. They’re not down here.” And I was
referring to the suspect sites. 


And you’re quite right, shorthand “We know where they
are” probably turned out not to be exactly what one would have preferred in
retrospect. 

Transcript:
Senate Armed Services Committee

Chalk up a new euphemism
for the Bush team! Next time you have to find a good substitute for “lie,” try
“probably turned out not to be exactly what one would have preferred in
retrospect.”


(If you liked that, you
might also want to check out The
Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld
)


Bush Relents on 9-11 Investigation


Here’s
another shred of good news. Apparently, Bush isn’t completely immune to outrage over
his stonewalling on 9-11, and today relented, allowing the commission the
extension it requested. Of course they can still stonewall through the
new deadline of July 26, but I think they’re recognizing that they’re going
to have to face the 9-11 report before the presidential campaign is really under
way:


Bush Agrees to New 9/11 Commission
Deadline


Shell’s Reserves, Stock Price Fall

Since January
9, when it revealed that its reserves had been overbooked by 20 percent, Royal Dutch/Shell has
lost $15 billion off its stock market valuation. The company is attemping damage
control, but said “its oil and gas output would be flat this year and would fall
in 2005.” The new estimate puts the group’s available oil and gas reserves to
less than 11 years’ worth at current output
rates:


Shell hit amid reserves row


Bush Puts the Squeeze on San Francisco

Citing
budget woes, the Bush administration’s new budget, with its half a trillion
dollar deficit,
has some innovative ideas about how to close the budget
gap. Drop some of the tax cuts, you think? Maybe cut back a little on our
military adventurism, or put off that pointless Star Wars missile defense
program for a flusher day? Hell no, don’t be silly! Instead, it decided to raise
San Francisco’s rent on its water supply from $30,000 a year to $8 million a
year.


As a
resident of the San Francisco area, why do I now feel the same way I did when
Gov. Gray Davis went to Bush looking for some relief from Enron’s raping of all
of us, and Bush basically told him to go stick it?


Bush Budget Slams the City of San
Francisco


MoveOn Moving On

On the heels of a very
successful campaign to whip up public outrage over CBS’ refusal to run their
democratically-selected “Child’s Pay” ad, MoveOn isn’t letting up now. CBS is
running “an ad promoting the Bush Medicare prescription drug law. This is part
of a $13 million taxpayer-financed TV campaign to take the heat off the White
House for pushing through a drug plan that benefits drug companies and insurance
companies more than Medicare recipients.”


They suggest, as do I,
that you express your disapproval to CBS directly:


Call CBS on Bush Medicare
ads


Bush To Build
New Bioweapons Lab

Yes,
I saved
the best for last.
While Bush team has made a very big deal about biological weapons and has vowed
to stop any nation that wants to develop them, it is simultaneously pursuing
plans to build an advanced lab in Livermore, CA, “to experiment with some of the deadliest pathogens known to humankind,
including anthrax, bubonic plague, botulism, and Q
fever.”


Next time a
deadly pathogen shows up in some Senator’s office, let’s not quibble about where
it came from,
OK?  


A
Question of Risk


Yeehaw. Good times.
Reminds me of the days when I studied karate, and learned to fend off twelve
attackers at once.


–Chris
Nelder


Posted to GetRealList
2/5/04

Calpine seeks to use Humboldt Bay as a LNG terminal…

February 5, 2004 at 12:08 am
Contributed by:

*Recently Calpine failed in its attempt to put a LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) Terminal at Mare Island (Vallejo, CA) after the community successfully fought them off. Their efforts may yet succeed in Eureka, California on beautiful and fragile Humboldt Bay.


If Calpine is successful, the endeavor would send 900 feet long, 150 feet wide tanker ships through the notorious, narrow Humboldt Bay Bar, arguably one of the most dangerous bay/harbor entrances in the world. Each tanker cargo would be comprised of over 30 million gallons of natural gas, cooled to 260 degrees below zero. There on the edge of the bay it would experience “regassification” and finish its journey after being pumped via a pipeline to California’s Central Valley.


Considerable detail relating to the proposal is available:


http://www.northcoastjournal.com/110603/cover1106.html


*More about Humboldt Bay as an ecological treasure and the adverse impacts of industrial activities and the potential for ecological collapse:
http://www.wildcalifornia.org/wildcalifornia/2000fall/hbecology.html

*Will it happen?


The major local paper of Eureka ponders this question. What’s clear is that Calpine has indeed come to town–to California’s job starved North Coast–and there is considerable National interest in this type of project, especially on on the part of the giant energy companies:
http://www.times-standard.com/Stories/0,1413,127%257E30557%257E1881286,00.html


Is it worth it? I cannot imagine it. However you way in on this, the Humboldters may not be able to deal with this effectively by themselves.


Bruce

Call on Congress to Censure President Bush

February 4, 2004 at 12:22 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Are you tired of being lied to and manipulated yet?

Well here’s one way you can respond. Tell Congress you expect them to hold Bush accountable. They probably won’t, but you never know, if the pressure gets great enough, they’ll crack.

–C

“Congress must censure President Bush for misleading the country about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” Join our campaign by clicking the button below.


Then please ask your friends to join as well.

Dear MoveOn member,

During the buildup to war, President Bush said the United States “must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud…. We have every reason to assume the worst, and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from occurring.” 1

On the eve of sending troops into battle, Bush asserted that “intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” 2

Now David Kay, the CIA’s chief weapons inspector, has testified before Congress that these weapons do not exist.

In an attempt to evade responsibility for the misleading statements that pushed the nation into war, Bush has announced plans to form an independent inquiry to look into what went wrong. An inquiry would serve the Bush administration well: it would envelop the issue in a fog of uncertainty, deflect blame onto the intelligence services, and delay any political damage until 2005, after the upcoming election. 3

But the facts need no clarification. Despite repeated warnings from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, President Bush and his administration hyped and distorted the threat that Iraq posed. 4 And now that reality is setting in, the President wants to pin the blame on someone else. We can’t let him.

Congress has the power to censure the President — to formally reprimand him for betraying the nation’s trust. If ever there was a time for this, it’s now. Join our call on Congress to censure President Bush at:

   http://www.moveon.org/censure/

It’s clear that we’ve been misled:


  • David Kay said last week, “I’m personally convinced that there were not large stockpiles of newly produced weapons of mass destruction,” and “We don’t find the people, the documents or the physical plants that you would expect to find if the production was going on.” 5 Kay said these things shortly after resigning from his post as Bush’s chief weapons inspector in Iraq.

  • Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union address, said, “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” 6 Yet Ambassador Joe Wilson, who was sent to Niger in February 2002 to determine whether Iraq was trying to purchase uranium materials there, concluded that “intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” 7

  • A CIA report in February 2003 said: “We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since [1998] to reconstitute its Weapons of Mass Destruction programs.” 8

It’s also clear that the misleading was deliberate:


  • The respected Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently found that the administration “systematically misrepresented the threat” from Iraq. 9

  • The basis for President Bush’s African uranium claim was known at the time to be forged and not credible.10 “Top White House officials knew that the CIA seriously disputed the claim that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium in Africa long before the claim was included in Bush’s January address to the nation,” according to the Washington Post.11

  • Secretary of State Colin Powell became alarmed at the level of intelligence distortion. When he read the first draft of his speech to the UN — prepared for Powell by Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff — he was so upset that he lost his temper, throwing several pages in the air and declaring, “I’m not reading this. This is bullsh–.”12

Our democracy only works when we know the truth. We now know President Bush and his administration deliberately misled Congress and the American people. Censure is the least we should expect in response.

The independent inquiry will need a year or more to come to a conclusion, according to the Bush administration. It took less time than that for the country to go to war. We don’t need more investigation, we need accountability, and we need it now.

Join our call on Congress to censure President Bush at:

   http://www.moveon.org/censure/

We’ll be holding a press conference in Washington on Thursday, announcing our campaign for Censure. If you sign on now, we can count your signature at the press conference. Please sign on right away.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

– Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Laura, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
  The MoveOn.org Team
  Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Footnotes:

1. Washington Post, January 28, 2004

2. Official White House transcript, March 17, 2003

3. Washington Post, February 2, 2004

4. An excellent, comprehensive rundown on the Bush administration’s deliberate distortion of intelligence is available from the Center for American Progress

5. New York Times, January 26, 2004

6. Official White House transcript, January 28, 2003

7. Joseph Wilson Op-Ed, New York Times, July 6, 2003

    Note: Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, had her CIA cover blown, possibly by the White House, in apparent retaliation for Wilson’s contradicting the White House’s line on WMDs.

8. MSNBC News, Oct. 24, 2003

9. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report, “WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications”, January, 2004

10. New York Times, July 8, 2003

11. Washington Post News Service, July 23, 2003

12. US News & World Report, June 9, 2003

     Note: This article with the Powell quote is available for purchase from the US News & World Report archives for $2.95.

You Can’t Handle the Truth

February 3, 2004 at 5:46 pm
Contributed by: Chris

Folks,

The message to the American people from the Bush administration is as clear as if Jack Nicholson delivered the line himself: you can’t handle the truth.

Over and over, on the most important questions we have faced, this administration has spoken with a forked tongue: it says it has the truth, speaks the truth, and wants the truth; then it
does all it can to prevent us from finding out the truth.

Consider some of the most salient examples:
(more…)

Democrats: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!

February 2, 2004 at 8:44 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

This letter from LA County Democratic Party Chair Eric C. Bauman is worth reading. All other issues aside, I think most of us recognize that we absolutely must win the coming presidential election. The GOP has a serious and detailed ground game plotted out. We have our work cut out for us. Let’s not forget, when the time comes, to put aside our differences and pull together like we never have before. Eyes on the prize, eyes on the prize.

–CKEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE!
By Eric C. Bauman – Chair, LA County Democratic Party

The game has begun, in earnest. You can tell because Democrats are attacking Democrats: on the stump, in the media, in paid advertising, and below the radar in creative and sneaky ways.

This Democrat accuses that Democrat of being a Republican. That Democrat accuses this Democrat of being too far left. Another Democrat attacks all the other Democrats as being Bush-lite. Yet another portrays the whole bunch as unelectable. One Democrat even accuses the rest of being too much like Democrats.

This should come as no surprise to any of us, with so much at stake for each campaign and so little time remaining to grab the brass ring. There are only a limited number of ways to sway the electorate to vote for any one candidate. And frankly, there are few serious differences between the ever-shrinking field of Democratic hopefuls. Thus attacking one’s opponents becomes an ever more important tactic.

I am not particularly troubled by candidates engaging in spirited campaigning. That’s what campaigns are about – defining one’s own candidacy in the most positive light while simultaneously attempting to redefine other candidates in a negative light.

Simply put, the standard campaign philosophy goes something like this: “Vote for me, I’m the best, the brightest, the most electable, and the other guys all are louses and phonies”.

Personally, I favor candidates who inspire and offer hope over candidates who continuously attack, but despite the oft-repeated mantra that voters reject negative campaigning, the truth is negative campaigning works. That’s why you see it happen in nearly every campaign. If attacking opponents didn’t have the desired effect, campaign strategists would drop the tactic like a hot potato. Election after election proves it works, so they keep doing it.

What does trouble me, however, is when grassroots activists absorb the negative campaigning and it becomes personal. “If you don’t support my candidate you’re not a real Democrat,” or “If you don’t support so-and-so I’ll make sure you never work in this town again,” or, my personal favorite, “If you don’t support candidate X, you will never get invited to the inaugural or the White House.” I’m sure you’ve heard similar lines and get the point.

Let’s remember that we are only in the first half of the game. Choosing our nominee only gets us to half time. The real battle begins after the nomination is affirmed, not before.

While some of you may believe that Howard Dean is the most inspirational, or John Kerry is the most experienced, or Wes Clark would be most competitive, or John Edwards is the most eloquent, at the end of the day, only one of these people can be our nominee.

Regardless of who is ultimately triumphant, we will need the energy, ideas, resources and commitment of every one of us if we are to have a strong showing in the second half of the game. As we learned in 2000, if our game is not in top form, if we are not united, if we are trapped with negative ideation and baggage from the primary season, we will fail.

Each and every one of us may believe that George W. Bush is the worst president in the past hundred years. We may believe that he has taken our nation on a radical course, led us into an unjustified quagmire of a war, undermined our relationships worldwide, eroded the rights – and paychecks – of every working man and woman in America, busted the federal budget, been divisive and anything but compassionate and tried to destroy the Bill of Rights and our environment, but those feelings alone will not return the White House to our Party.

The Republicans have amassed more money in preparation for this election than was spent in total during the last two presidential campaigns. Bush alone has raised in excess of $150 million for his “primary campaign,” and there is no end in sight to his fundraising.

By the way, Bush’s $150 million exceeds the combined total of all of the Democratic candidates. Moreover, he doesn’t need to spend one dime on the primary. He is free to husband his resources to take aim at the Democratic nominee – who most certainly will be near broke – once the primary season has ended.

The GOP campaign plan may be the most sophisticated in US history. They are building a national campaign that is “drilled-down” to the precinct level, in every state that matters to them. Their money is allowing them to take full advantage of every technologic advance available.

They not only are using the Internet, but they have built sophisticated “intranets,” that allow their campaign workers access to confidential materials, lists, voter-profiles and field plans via computer. They have purchased thousands of hand-held devices to allow their field staff to communicate directly from the field – no need to waste time returning from field activities to the office to transmit data about who has, and has not, voted.

As the LA Times revealed, the Republicans have already rented vans for their GOTV operation, hired hundreds of staffers and identified their voters on a mass scale. They have even produced dozens of TV ads, months before they will ever be aired.

We Democrats will not be financially competitive. We will not have access to the millions of soft-money dollars that we have traditionally used to fund our GOTV efforts. The unions and trial lawyers will not be able to fill our campaign coffers, thanks to the phony, one-sided reforms of McCain-Feingold. We will not have the level of technologic sophistication that the Bush minions have.

However, being out-spent has never stopped us before. We have always had a better ground operation and our volunteers have traditionally been more loyal and committed than the Republicans. Nevertheless, this is no ordinary election year. Bush is a “war-hero” to the Republican base. Despite having irritated fiscal conservatives with the massive deficit he has created and annoyed the social-conservatives with his refusal to take a clear position in favor of the proposed Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage, he has given them an incredible sense of empowerment.

And that takes me back to where I started this.

As I said earlier, it comes as no surprise that the Democratic Presidential candidates are attacking each other and seeking to undermine the candidacies of their competitors. That is politics. Hopefully, our nominee will recover from the attacks and be stronger for them. And hopefully, we will not have provided too much red-meat for Karl Rove to use against our nominee, and Bush has plenty of his own weak spots.

I worry more about the impact on our grassroots activists and loyalists, who will be more essential to victory than ever. I pray that the deep emotion many Democrats feel toward their chosen candidate and the antipathy many feel toward their opponents will not cause them to reject our nominee, regardless of who that may be.

The outcome of the fall campaign will do more to shape the next decades of our lives and the lives of our children than any other, perhaps in the entire history of this great nation.

Think back just three years: Bill Clinton was president, our nation was moving forward in a positive direction; the economy was strong, unemployment was low, first-time home ownership was soaring; the federal budget was not only balanced, but there were surpluses farther than the eye could see; we were investing federal dollars to ensure children had healthcare and schools had textbooks; and, we were using the prestige of our nation and our military to spread peace throughout the world.

In just a few short years, all of that has changed. If Bush gets four more years, things will deteriorate even more.

If those who suffer from so-called irrational exuberance give up if their candidate is not the nominee, we will all lose. If they give only half-heartedly to the campaign against Bush, we will be unable to compete with the Republican juggernaut.

As Howard Dean has said many times, this campaign is about more than any one man, it is about taking our nation back. If we are to succeed, each and every one of us must commit ourselves fully to the effort. No excuses, no hurt feelings, no animosity. Each one of us must remember what the end game is and what we must do to win. Our very lives may depend on it.

I implore each of you to keep your eyes on the prize!

Eric C. Bauman

Oil industry expert comments on Peak Oil and rising prices

February 1, 2004 at 2:09 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Here’s an interesting tidbit from an oil and gas consultant named Roger Herrera, who works with an outfit called Arctic Power, “a coalition of Alaskan industry groups that is seeking to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas development…Arctic Power is primarily underwritten by the state of Alaska with some funding from the oil industry.” [Source]

I thought this was interesting because this oil and gas industry expert confirms the peak oil phenomenon and that it will will likely occur within the next decade. He also confirms the other key phenomena we need to be concerned with over the near term: the increasing energy demand worldwide, especially China; the futility of the plan to switch to a hydrogen and fuel cell based economy; the impending switch to other hydrocarbon based fuels; and that conservation will have to be driven by the public, because industry won’t do it.

Very interesting reading.
Oil prices likely to remain at current levels through ’04

–C

Petroleum News
North America’s Source for Oil and Gas News
February 2004



Vol. 9, No. 5 Week of February 01, 2004


Oil prices likely to remain at current levels through ’04

World economic growth to drive continued oil demand, economy thriving on $30 oil, says oil and gas consultant Roger Herrera

Steve Sutherlin

Petroleum News Associate Editor

Oil prices are likely to maintain current higher levels over the coming year, according to Petroleum News’ favorite oil price guru, Roger Herrera, a long-time oil and gas consultant who works with Arctic Power in Washington, D.C.

“The world is used to $30 oil,” Herrera said. “Economic growth is thriving at that level.”

Growth in world oil demand is the main factor that will keep the air under prices, he said. The coming year looks stable, even placid for a voluble-priced commodity such as oil.

“I would be surprised if oil prices came down significantly,” Herrera said. “The evidence of the world economy growing is self-evident.”

The global thirst for energy is growing, but one customer, China, stands large above the rest.

“China is so large, it is the deciding consumer,” Herrera said.

The growth in oil demand will likely continue.

“Chinese demand — if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot or do something silly to hinder growth — will continue,” he said. “The rest of the world is chugging along with 1 or 2 percent growth, while China is at 8 or 9 percent.”

Nobody knows where the price of oil will go, Herrera said, but there doesn’t appear to be anything on the horizon that would greatly upset the trend of worldwide rise in oil demand.

Portent for the future:

This new stability isn’t without its limits. Higher demand, along with economic and physical limits on production levels, is likely to have a profound effect on oil markets, perhaps in the near future.

“Peak oil production occurs when supply will not meet demand,” Herrera said. “As the world gets closer to peak oil production, cracks and groans will begin to appear in the energy supply system.”

Peak oil production will be a world changing, but not a world-shattering, event.

“It will probably take a year or two to recognize that a peak has occurred,” Herrera said. “It won’t be a disaster, but it’s irreversible, and if that’s not incentive to do something about it, I don’t know what is.”

The coming of the point of peak production is hard to pinpoint.

“Careful and calculated attempts have been made to predict the timetable of peak oil production, but no general consensus has been reached,” Herrera said. “It’s a bit like explaining climate change and what causes it.

“I would suspect we will reach peak oil production in the next decade,” he said.

“Demand will at least outstrip supply.”

No magic bullet

Herrera questioned the notion that hydrogen, wind, solar or other technologies would supplant petroleum in the foreseeable future.

“Hydrogen won’t happen in a timeframe that is going to rescue the situation,” he said. “All of the alternatives, especially the more exotic ones like fuel cells and hydrogen, have been studied for 50 years.”

There will be a shift to other hydrocarbons such as natural gas, which we have plenty of, and coal — available and practical substitutes, Herrera said.

Conservation will also reduce oil demand, but it won’t be a product of the political process.

“There is no political will on either side of the political spectrum to address conservation, the general public won’t agree to it,” he said. “People’s minds will be changed if it is in their own self interest to change.

“Why are auto companies bringing out fuel efficient cars on their own? Perhaps they are leading the market, before the market has spoken.”

It takes a catalyst for change, Herrera said, but it’s not true that it takes a hurtful situation upheaval, or shortage to make people change.

“Sometimes change happens because thinking people lead the way,” he said, adding that the success of hybrid cars in the marketplace is an example of that sort of rational thinking.

OPEC not in control

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries won’t be the deciding factor in determining oil prices because the organization can’t manipulate growth, Herrera said.

Although recent prices above $33 dollar per barrel exceed OPEC’s recently stated limits of comfort for oil prices, it is unlikely to step in to attempt price reductions.

“OPEC is not regulating the upside of oil prices because it doesn’t have to,” he said. “OPEC can smile all the way to the bank while it builds its cash reserves.”

Herrera said he doesn’t expect OPEC to be successful at regulating oil prices because it is not solid and can’t agree among members. Saudi Arabia, because of its changed position in Middle Eastern politics and in the world, he said, is less able to influence the organization.


Petroleum News – Phone: 1-907 522-9469 – Fax: 1-907 522-9583
circulation@PetroleumNews.comhttp://www.petroleumnews.comS U B S C R I B E

Oppose the new airline passenger profiling system

February 1, 2004 at 11:00 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

In another incursion into our rights to privacy, the Bush administration has proposed a huge new passenger profiling system with a secret database of information on everyone. If this doesn’t give you the willies, you’d better re-read 1984.

Why do I think this is a bad idea? For one, because we had plenty of information about the terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center, and it did not prevent them from boarding those planes. And for another, because such information is useless against someone wielding the crudest of tools, a box cutter. Your average ex-con could smuggle a similar weapon onto a plane without even trying. A lighter, some plastic tape and a toothbrush is all it takes. That stuff doesn’t even set off a metal detector. How about a glass knife?

But I digress. The point is, like the Patriot Act, this sort of approach to security does nothing tangible to actually make us more secure, but it does a great deal of damage to privacy and personal liberty.

Believe me, I am not looking forward to being forbidden to board a flight just because I publish this information. If the Bush administration has their way, that’s exactly what could happen.

Read the below letter from the ACLU, and then go to their site to send a fax opposing the system to your Congressman.

–COppose the new airline passenger profiling system

The Bush Administration is moving forward with a secretive new system for conducting background checks on all airline passengers that threatens to create a blacklist of Americans who cannot travel freely. This new government program, called Computer-Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System or CAPPS II — would search secret intelligence and law enforcement databases and rate every airline passenger a red-, yellow- or green-level threat.

Using easily falsified information such as name, home address, home phone number and date of birth, this system would screen your name through credit databases and then run your information through secret government databases to make a judgment about your security risk. These secret databases would probably be compiled using intelligence and law enforcement records that could include personal information gleaned from commercial data such as purchase history and banking records.

Based on all of this information, you may be allowed to travel, be forced to undergo special security scrutiny, or be referred to law enforcement and possibly detained. If you are branded a “risk” due to false information, the process for correcting the error is unclear and could result in significant delays or detention for many innocent people.

The Bush Administration is pushing this program forward despite opposition by airlines, Members of Congress and privacy advocacy organizations.

Take Action! Act Now to Stop the CAPPS II Program!

Star Bullet CAPPS II could create a permanent blacklist.
 Innocent people have already been stopped and banned from flying because their name appeared on government “no fly” lists — and have been unable to clear their names in the federal bureaucracy. This national system would only increase the delays and blacklist even more innocent Americans — regular people traveling for work or vacations.

Star Bullet CAPPS II will invade your privacy and be rooted in secrecy.
The most intrusive and dangerous element of the program – the construction of an infrastructure for conducting background checks and maintaining dossiers on people who fly – would depend on shadowy intelligence/law enforcement databases. The use of these secret databases would remove meaningful public oversight and control over these un-American background checks.

Star Bullet CAPPS II will not make us any safer. 
Terrorists will learn how to circumvent the system. Identity thieves could easily sidestep this check by presenting a false driver’s license or passport, undercutting the system’s entire mission. And the constant false alarms might divert the attention of airport security officers from legitimate threats to security.


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