Sunday, March 28, 2004

Globe and Mail / Canada
Trust Clarke: He's Right about Bush
by Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay

Two international relations experts claim that, two years after the worst terrorist attack in history, the President still does not understand the threat we confront. This is very stinging for the Bush administration and you're now seeing them lash back with vicious attacks upon the credibility and character of Mr. Clarke.

Regardless of the emphasis Clarke puts on his disappointment with the Bush administration's own failings and regardless of these attacks upon Mr. Clarke by the Bushites and all the pundits who love them, there are key facts that will steadily stand:

-- Clarke repeatedly warned the Bush Administration about attacks from al Qaeda, starting in the first days of Bush's term.

-- In face-to-face meetings, CIA Director George Tenet warned President Bush repeatedly in the months before 9/11 that an attack was coming.

-- On September 12, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld pushed to bomb Iraq even though they knew that al Qaeda was in Afghanistan.

-- Also on September 12, 2001, President Bush personally pushed Clarke to find evidence that Iraq was behind the attacks.

-- The Bush Administration knew from the beginning that there was no connection between Iraq and 9/11, but created the misperception in order to push their policy goals.

-- The war on Iraq has increased the danger of terrorism.
From A Conversation between Bill Maher and Ralph Nader


BILL MAHER (to guest Ralph Nader): After three years of Bush.. I've got to say it, just now voting your conscience seems like a bratty indulgence to me. It really does.

RALPH NADER'S REPLY: let's not talk about 'spoiler.' We're supposed to have the right to run for political office. What about the 250,000 Democrats who voted for Bush in Florida? Democrats aren't worried about them?


RALPH NADER (on the topic of MSNBC's Chris Matthews): Chris Matthews has turned into media staccato. He's turned from entertainment to caricature. I could hardly stop from laughing when I was on the show. I just couldn't believe it. What is this? No wonder he's parodied on 'Saturday Night Live.'


Common Dreams:
Senator Kerry: You Want My Vote?
Support My Positions!
...As recently as Thursday night at a Democratic funding raising dinner President Jimmy Carter said, in a statement directed at Ralph Nader, "Don't risk costing the Democrats the White House this year as you did four years ago." This type of scapegoat does not make me feel all warm and fuzzy about voting for John Kerry and the Democrats. Carter also said "I hope everyone here tonight will do your best to make sure Ralph Nader gets zero votes this year." There is a very simple way to insure that Ralph Nader gets zero votes this year: support his positions.

....I would doubt the majority of Americans know who Hugo Chavez is or care about America's relationship with him. If this speech is not earning Kerry points with the voters, why is he making it? It's a wink and a nod at the wealthy and the corporations who have business interests in Venezuela.

....Do you want my vote or do you want to continue courting corporations and the wealthy? Either way the Democratic Party ought to stop blaming Nader for their own failures.
See: Miami Herald article about Kerry's views on Chavez

Today in history..

"If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people."
- Virginia Woolf, who died March 28,1941

1834- U.S. Senate Takes Jackson to Task over the Second Bank
1899- Brewing magnate August Anheuser Busch, Jr., was born
1939- Spanish Civil War ends
1969- Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower dies
1979- Nuclear Accident at Three Mile Island

1999-Concert in Belgrade at Air Raid Alert

1999- NATO broadened attacks on Yugoslavia targeting Serb forces in Kosovo in the fifth straight night of airstrikes, protest concert in Belgrade.
2003- American-led forces in Iraq dropped 1,000-pound bombs on Republican Guard units guarding the gates to Baghdad and battled for control of the strategic city of Nasiriya
Reflections on Bruce Lawrence's "Rethinking Islam in the West"-

Who are the Muslim Pluralists?

In his recent article No More Crusades at the Harvard International Review, Bruce Lawrence says:
We do need religious voices to speak to the current fault line between East and West, Islam and America, and it is Muslim pluralists who are the philosophers and religious thinkers with whom non-Muslim others can and should make common cause.
I decided to go on a search for those who might be considered Muslim pluralists. I wanted to find at least one and bring that one voice to the forefront this morning. If the pluralist voices could be raised over the din of the terror-talking media, people here in this country might begin to understand that the work to end terror will be as hard as any work we've ever had to do..and will not be solved by force. Real solutions will not come through war, force, occupation, and violence. It will need to come through our hearts.

A writing to which I refer you is a Jerusalem Post item titled Learning to love Islam from Yossi Klein Halevi, a religious Israeli Jew, correspondent for the New Republic and a senior writer for the Jerusalem Report. He is the author of the book "At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land" The writing credits Muslim dissident Irshad Manji, for her wisdom. Irshad is a Toronto journalist whose Indian-born parents fled Uganda after Idi Amin's takeover. She calls herself a "Muslim Refusenik". She has recently published a book called The Trouble with Islam, which takes the form of an extended open letter to her fellow Muslims. Irshad has made observations such as:
I hear from a Saudi friend that his country's religious police arrest women for wearing red on Valentines Day, and I think, Since when does a merciful God outlaw joy--or fun? I read about victims of rape being stoned for "adultery" and I wonder how a critical mass of us can stay stone silent.
Concerning the found commonality at the heart of the Muslim and the Jew, Halevi proclaims:
Our critique of Islam requires a nuanced tone. We should offer Islam not just our criticism but our respect and, if possible, our love.
Love is always a swim upstream. The water is almost always tinted with the blood of those who refused to understand this: While we were stuck on this planet together, our children could have lived in peace.

We need now, more than ever, to create conversations where none existed before.


*additional reference: LIBERAL ISLAM: PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES by Charles Kurzman
...liberal approaches to multi-religious co-existence have been stimulated by three historic shifts of the past quarter century: the rise of secular higher education in the Islamic world, which has broken the monopoly of the seminaries over religious discourse; the growth of international communications, which has made educated Muslims more aware than ever of the norms and institutions of the West; and the failure of Islamic regimes to deliver an attractive alternative. These liberal approaches face serious challenges, including accusations of treason and inauthenticity, and a Western ignorance about the existence and importance of this internal Islamic debate.
Frank Rich on faux journalism,
the White House's new ally

American television is increasingly awash in fake anchors delivering fake news, some of them far more trenchant than real anchors delivering real news......The more real journalism declines, the easier it is for such government "infoganda" (as The Daily Show's Rob Corddry calls it) to fill the vacuum. President George W. Bush tries to facilitate this process by shutting out the real news media as much as possible....

When the president made an exception last month and took questions from an actual frontline journalist, NBC television's Tim Russert, his performance was so maladroit that the experiment is unlikely to be repeated soon....
.....There is no point in bothering with actual news people anyway, when you can make up your own story and make it stick. No fake news story has become more embedded in our culture than the administration's account of its actions on Sept. 11. As The Wall Street Journal reported on its front page this week - just as the former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke was going public with his parallel account - many of this story's most familiar details are utter fiction. Bush's repeated claim that one of his "first acts" of that morning was to put the military on alert is false. So are the president's claims that he watched the first airplane hit the World Trade Center on television that morning. (No such video yet existed.) Nor was Air Force One under threat as Bush flew around the country, delaying his return to Washington. Yet the fake narrative of Sept. 11 has been scrupulously maintained by the White House for more than two years.......

After Sept. 11, similar fake-news techniques helped speed us into "Operation Iraqi Freedom."...... What few journalistic efforts were made to penetrate the trumped-up rationales for war were easily defeated by the administration's false news reports of impending biological attacks and mushroom clouds. To see how the faux journalism sausage was made, go to, where a searchable database posted by Representative Henry Waxman identifies "237 specific misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq" made by Bush and members of his administration...
I like today's Thomas Friedman column

I've been hard on Mr. Friedman lately. I forget that he. too only desires to see out nation make some positive progress. In Awaking to a Dream, Mr. Friedman begins by saying: "Imagination is on my mind a lot these days, because it seems to me that the only people with imagination in the world right now are the bad guy...."

Also in today's NY Times, Bob Dole tells us "..President Bush has the facts on his side. His job now is simply to remind voters that America is safer and more prosperous than it was on the day he was sworn into office." As Bush did in the lead-up to the Iraq war, he's going to have to get out there and do some more misleading to make us believe we've come anywhere near tackling the terrorism problem and that we're safer for having made the pre-emptive attack which has become a quagmire. He'll have to do a misleading song and dance about those millions of lost and/or outsourced jobs, too.