03 June, 2007

Bye Bye Bush - Hello Secret Goverment

From http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=37094&dcn=todaysnews

The REAL government in the USA (secret, Banks and top10 Corporations) are already mulling over the strategy ... and threatening. There are some secret messages in this article.

Homeland Security could face transition problem

On November 2, 2004, top officials from the Homeland Security Department held a small Election Night party at a Washington restaurant to watch the presidential election returns come in on television. Nearly every leader there owed his job to the man then fighting for his own job -- George W. Bush.

The department was almost two years old and run almost entirely by political appointees. Twenty-three months earlier, they had been tapped to lash together 22 disparate, frequently dysfunctional agencies, some of whose failures to safeguard domestic security contributed to the 9/11 attacks.

(and were made into ANOTHER agency that is TOTALLY disfunctional and a bottomless pit for our tax dollars. Pork gallore for the black cabal and any SS-guard hangers-on!)

As the returns trickled in, there was an hour or so when it appeared that Bush's Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, might overtake him in the electoral vote count. Rather suddenly, some partygoers recalled, it dawned on them that they might be out of a job.

As they looked around the room, they realized they hadn't fully considered who would replace them. Who, they wondered, would keep the department running while President-elect Kerry picked a new leadership team? What career officials, whose posts are designed to outlast any one administration, would step in to ensure that planes flew safely, that borders were patrolled, that the government could respond swiftly to a natural disaster? No one could say for sure, because DHS had no plan.

"All the politicals thought we were out," says Stewart Verdery, then the department's assistant secretary for policy and planning for border and transportation security. Verdery was an energetic and experienced Capitol Hill staffer who had come to Homeland Security after a stint as senior legislative adviser to Vivendi Universal, the media conglomerate. But DHS was uncharted territory. "There was a definite sense that the transition was going to be rocky," he recalls.

Private-for-profit and Public-Good??? Ha! The "fraud-pays" mindset seamlessly enters the realm of public-officials... Making the wolf to guard the sheep!

The department's top echelons, of course, never had to experience what horrors a clunky handover of power could bring. But whether those leaders knew it or not, they possibly had just averted more than a management disaster.

The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the attacks of September 11, 2001, both occurred within eight months of a change in presidential administrations. (At the time of the first attack, Bill Clinton had been president exactly 37 days.) In March 2004, Qaeda-linked terrorists (read: Gladio-NATO secret stay-behind intelligenence agencies) bombed four Madrid commuter trains three days before Spain's national elections. (But unlike the yanks, the spanish DID NOT re-elect right-wing pro-business-Mafia) Periods of political transition are, by their very nature, chaotic; terrorists (Intelligence agencies) know this, and they exploit it (fear it! The secret government, CIA, MOSSAD clandestine operatives uses BOMBS to give messages!). This is the (NOT) reality: Terrorists strike when they believe governments will be caught off guard.

BUMSTEER! This is the myth! Terrorists never have their act together. They cannot cause megadeath, like the Intelligence agencies, weapons dealers and the US military!

As of June 2, there are 597 days until the next presidential inauguration, on January 20, 2009. Counting the days, huh? As the Bush administration's days wind down, the government's level of vulnerability -- and the nation's risk level -- increase, and they will stay high until the next president gets on his or her feet. This is true (true? in the age of spin? You wish to indoctrinate!) in any transition. "The first year and a half of a new administration is really the most vulnerable in terms of political leadership," says Paul Light, a professor at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.

Be Prepared

January 2009 has current and former officials particularly worried, because it marks the first time since 9/11 that the reins of national and domestic security will be handed off to a completely new team. At the Pentagon, this changeover doesn't matter as much. It has an entire joint staff of senior military officers who oversee worldwide operations, as well as regional military commands whose senior leadership stays in place. (and they, indeed, are the secret government, The US military did 9/11) The Homeland Security Department, however, is another story. It is still run almost entirely by political appointees and stands to be the most weakened during the transition.

"Any of the other main Cabinet departments have civil servants that step in" as acting officials during a transition, says Stephen Flynn, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a leading expert on the department and its history. "Homeland Security doesn't have any of those.... And that's extremely unusual."

In the four and a half years since the department opened for business, few career officials have been promoted into positions of senior or even middle management. As a result, most of the responsibility for running the department, and its plethora of critical missions, is still in the hands of people who will be walking out the door as the Bush administration wanes or leaves en masse after the election. "The department virtually has no backbench," Flynn says.

The upheaval that strikes all organizations during presidential transitions will be magnified at Homeland Security, which has the third-largest workforce of any Cabinet department. (Compare its history with that of the NAZI Reichssicherheitshauptamt RSH) And because the department's primary mission is to prepare for and respond to catastrophes, the magnitude of a terrorist attack or natural disaster during the transition could be compounded.

"The attack, when it happens, will be far more consequential," Flynn says. Light echoes that sentiment, and alludes to the department's most notorious disaster response. "The odds of a repeat of [Hurricane] Katrina are higher."

Former officials and experts are alarmed that so few Bush administration officials or lawmakers of either party have fully grasped this, and they worry that come Inauguration Day, national security could suffer.

"My fear is that on January 20, where does that transition team go to triage, quickly, the first 10 decisions they need to make?" asks Randy Beardsworth, who left the department in September 2006 as the assistant secretary for strategic plans. "There's not going to be a senior official with broad experience to answer that unless the transition team gets a couple of key folks to stay on a while."

When he departed DHS, Beardsworth was one of the last remaining senior officials who had helped the department stand up. And at the time of the 2004 election, he was one of the few career civil servants -- and the most senior one -- in a leadership post, and thus one of the few senior leaders who would have stayed on without having to be asked.

What people like Beardsworth -- career, nonpartisan security experts -- fear now is that another storm is heading the department's way. It makes landfall in 597 days, and the consequences could be severe. Hurricane Katrina was tracked on radar for several days before it struck; federal officials did make some preparations, but obviously they were inadequate. Will the department be ready for this next season of vulnerability? Some officials and homeland-security experts say that the Bush administration -- and even the presidential candidates -- should take action now to avoid a crisis.

Political by Design

The predicament in which the department now finds itself is almost entirely of its own and the White House's making. President Bush, who initially opposed creating a different domestic security bureaucracy after 9/11, ultimately assented amid mounting evidence about what clues the administration missed in the run-up to the attacks. Indeed, the White House changed its stance at the same time that Congress held hearings into pre-9/11 intelligence failures, in the summer of 2002. Before the year was out, Bush signed legislation to establish the department, which opened officially in January 2003.

From its inception, Homeland Security was run by political appointees or by other officials on loan to headquarters from the various agencies the department had absorbed. There wasn't a lot of time to post job notices and staff the ranks with career employees, who take much longer to hire, former officials say.

DHS had to be fully operational on day one. So, the White House and then-Secretary Tom Ridge largely handpicked their leadership team from the ranks of Bush loyalists. Before the 2004 election, Ridge's deputy secretary, his chief of staff, and almost all of his assistant and undersecretaries and their deputies were political appointees, people who by design would not stay long.

Former officials and experts recognize that haste dictated those early decisions. The problem, they say, is that the trend toward political appointees never subsided.

According to figures compiled in the quadrennial Plum Book by the Office of Personnel Management, as of September 2004 the 180,000-employee Homeland Security Department had more than 360 politically appointed, noncareer positions.

By contrast, the Veterans Affairs Department -- the government's second-largest department, at 235,000 employees -- had only 64. And the Defense Department -- far and away the largest department in the government, at 2.1 million employees, including military and civilian -- counted 283 appointed, noncareer billets. That figure includes political appointees at the Army, Navy, and Air Force. DHS's own reports show that since 2004, it has often added more political positions to its ranks, and more frequently, than other large departments.

It's common in government to find political appointees concentrated in policy shops, public-affairs offices, and legislative liaison posts. But that has never been the case at Homeland Security, where appointees run the first- and second-tier layers across almost all of the department's units.

"Early on, there was a sense that the administration wanted mostly political people," Beardsworth says. "They were very much concerned about loyalty and shaping the department where they wanted it to go." He says he always believed that his boss, Asa Hutchinson, the first undersecretary for border and transportation security, as well as Ridge "had the good of the country at heart.... I never had the feeling that we were making partisan decisions."

But after the 2004 election, when Bush announced that he "earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it," things changed. Under the new DHS secretary, Michael Chertoff, former officials say that the tone and tenor of political appointments took a turn. Personal connections and political fealty became litmus tests, these ex-officials say. Faithfully shepherding administration policy was to be expected, but the department's leaders seemed more beholden to individuals with close ties to the White House.

In September 2005, for instance, the administration sought to install Julie Myers, a 36-year-old lawyer with little management experience, as the assistant secretary in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division. ICE was poorly run and a constant problem for the department, and during her nomination hearing, Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, told Myers she was unqualified to helm the unwieldy agency.

For many critics, Myers's strong political connections explained her swift rise to power. She is the niece of Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She is married to John Wood, who was Chertoff's chief of staff and an ex-aide to Attorney General John Ashcroft. (Wood is now the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.) Despite Julie Myers's lack of experience, President Bush gave her a recess appointment to the job.

Together with Henry Hugh Shelton, Myers was the executor of 911.

The Land of Misfit Toys

Charges of nepotism (naaah! ;-), cronyism, and incompetence continued to dog Homeland Security's senior ranks, particularly after the fumbled response to Hurricane Katrina, which was initially directed by an official with meager experience in disaster response -- Michael Brown. Nominees who would normally have slid into their jobs with little notice were now held up to scrutiny and sometimes ridicule. Take the case of Andrew Maner, a former staffer to President George H.W. Bush, who became the department's chief financial officer. Responsible for a multibillion-dollar budget, Maner couldn't point to any obvious credentials in accounting and finance on his resume.

And then there was Douglas Hoelscher. The former White House staffer and Republican campaign aide was 28 years old when he became executive director of the Homeland Security Advisory Committee last year. The policy group gathers advice on such critical issues as protecting infrastructure and countering weapons of mass destruction.

Hoelscher had no management experience, but had apparently proven himself as a Bush campaign staffer. At the time of his appointment, he was the department's liaison to the White House, where, in the words of a Homeland Security spokeswoman, he "made sure [that political appointees] were all placed in the office where they were happiest and ... fit best."

Most recently, Philip Perry, the department's now ex-general counsel, stirred critics' ire. Perry is Vice President Cheney's son-in-law. In February, David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States and Congress's chief watchdog, told House overseers that his office faced "systemic" and "persistent" problems trying to obtain DHS documents because it had to go through Perry. Walker complained that Perry's office reviewed documents before their release, and that his staff sat in on investigative interviews with Homeland Security employees.

Of all the departments in the government, Homeland Security has the most notorious reputation for placing political appointees in jobs over their heads. In fact, even before the bungled response to Katrina, critics warned that the department could be come a haven for patronage if officials didn't work hard to beef up DHS's career ranks.

Indeed, Homeland Security has earned a reputation as a political dumping ground, a sort of Land of Misfit Toys, where GOP fundraisers or apparatchiks are sent to pad their resumes or to cool their heels. There is more than a little truth to this -- the department does have a lot of political appointees whose main strength seems to be loyalty to Bush and connections to the White House. But former officials and observers say that the department has many well-intentioned and hardworking political employees, including in the senior ranks.

Nevertheless, the stain of incompetence and cronyism hasn't faded, nor has the reality that Homeland Security is something of a revolving door. According to Flynn, of the 60 top officials at the department, only one has been there since 2003 when Homeland Security opened its doors.

"This is essentially the most challenging merger and acquisition in government history, and it's being managed with this turnover in people," Flynn says. His fear, shared by other experts, is that the limited institutional memory of the Ridge years was lost under Chertoff, and that that memory will be lost again when a new administration takes over.

The department's leaders have virtually no playbook for transition, something other departments and agencies of that size literally pull off the shelf every four or eight years. "They're almost starting from scratch," Flynn says.

The Exit Strategy

If the department is to weather the storm of transition, it will largely depend on the efforts of one man -- Michael Jackson, Homeland Security's deputy secretary.

"If a day goes by and I don't use up some of my brain cells focusing on this problem, it's a very unusual day," he says. The administration has a set of policy goals it wants to achieve before the transition. But underpinning that, Jackson says, is a plan to leave the department stronger than it is now, "so that people [will] start a new administration with the sense that the department has reached a level of maturity." The possibility of a major attack before or soon after the transition factors into his planning.

Jackson says he is drawing up succession plans for "every operational component": the Secret Service, the Immigrations and Customs division, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and others, as well as the top layers of management. (keeping Bushites in power, in order to stop any investigation of 9/11) The basic idea is to find talented career, nonpolitical employees who can move up into more-senior ranks, and then serve in an acting capacity when the administration changes hands. (It will be the next president's prerogative to keep or dismiss those officials.)

"We've gone throughout the entire organization and looked for people like this to promote," Jackson says. "We're trying to nurture a cadre of owners. I am the part-time help at DHS."

Jackson acknowledges that it hasn't been easy to keep good help. "We've had a significant turnover," he says. "And that turnover has been below the top-level jobs as well." But, he insists, preparations for the transition are well under way. "I would say we are well beyond the halfway point in what we have to get done."

Let me get this straight. The people of the USA will elect a new "administration" that is allowed to "administer" was the secret government elites are prescribing. They want change, and as-we-speak there are is an un-democratically appointed Mafia fixing the successors?

Certain agencies within DHS ought to fare better than others. The Coast Guard, for instance, has an entrenched military culture, so command will shift more smoothly. The Secret Service, although now headed by a presidential appointee, will still likely draw from within its own ranks in the next administration. And in the intelligence directorate, officials have implemented a slew of training programs to cultivate junior officers for more-senior posts.

But it's the headquarters operation, not the front-line agencies, that has observers most worried. The constant turnover and reliance on political appointees has effectively stunted the growth of a management class.

There are notable exceptions. The current commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Ralph Basham, and FEMA Director David Paulsion have spent most of their careers in government and have held other senior positions in the department.

But across the top layers of Homeland Security, critics say, the department is still far more reliant on political appointees than other large departments. And this state of affairs causes some national security experts to pose a challenge to the field of 2008 presidential hopefuls: Commit now that if you win the election, you will keep the top leaders at Homeland Security, and across the intelligence agencies, perhaps indefinitely.

Permanence in Transition

It might seem anathema that, say, a President Hillary Rodham Clinton would ask Michael Chertoff or any of his lieutenants to serve in her administration. It might seem even less likely that any candidate of either party, given how forcefully they'll try to distance themselves from the security policies of the Bush administration, would throw out an open invitation for the architects of those policies to hang around. But that might just be the soundest move in the interests of national security.

"It's possible," Jackson says. For example, even if Chertoff left, his replacement could ask the director of FEMA or his deputy to stay. "That would be one thing I'm prepared to advise," Jackson says. And there is precedent for such a move.

Michael Hayden, now the director of the CIA, served under two presidents -- Clinton and the second Bush -- as National Security Agency director. Ex-CIA Director George Tenet also held on to his job in that transition. True, Tenet lobbied to stay, and the CIA director's success has always depended on a personal rapport with the president. (Tenet and Bush got along from the start.) But Hayden and Tenet proved that professionals can overcome politics, at least during a transition.

Members of Congress have considered awarding top intelligence and security jobs political immunity. In the mid-1990s, House Republicans contemplated making the CIA director the head of the agency -- rather than an overall intelligence czar as the director was then -- and giving the position some statutory longevity. The idea was to make the job more like the FBI director's post, which doesn't automatically turn over on Election Day, says Tim Sample, who was the staff director of the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee at the time.

"The only reason we did not take that step in our recommendations was the issue of the personal rapport with the president," says Sample, who is now president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, a nonprofit intelligence advocacy group. Lawmakers understood that the president and the CIA director had a unique relationship, one they thought should be preserved. But they still believed that, fundamentally, the job should be above politics, and Sample says this is truer than ever today.

This idea is gaining traction again in security circles, especially in the intelligence community, where many current and former officials think that the recent appointments of several seasoned experts to top slots has resulted in a "Dream Team." Defense Secretary Robert Gates is a former CIA director; career intelligence officer James Clapper is Gates's military spy chief; former National Security Agency Director Mike McConnell is now director of national intelligence; and Hayden, the ex-NSA chief, is running the CIA.

Former officials and experts recoil at the idea of losing such a deeply experienced, collegial, and by all accounts remarkably apolitical team of leaders at such a critical moment for national security. They want lawmakers and the presidential candidates to consider keeping those officials in their posts.

How about the people of the USA? They desparately want to rid themselves from this Mafia.

The same goes for Homeland Security. "The only reason there are all those [political] positions is just because of the way the department came together," Sample says. "One could argue those should not be political positions."

There's precedent for that, too. Before the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was established in April 2005, career assistant directors managed the intelligence agencies, and were charged with overseeing various programs and policies that stretched across administrations. On a practical level, the agencies needed that continuity, but officials also wanted to avoid politicizing intelligence, Sample says. It has always been a difficult goal, inconsistently achieved, but it's one that all presidents are encouraged to aim for.

Some experts have suggested that Congress cap the number of politically appointed senior posts at Homeland Security as a way of stanching future brain drains. (WHAT? These imbeciles are in dire need of being drained down the toilet, straight into jail) Sens. Voinovich and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, (he is a REAL slimeball. And he has no idea of history, READ HOWARD ZINN!) have proposed legislation to elevate the undersecretary for management to the third-ranking spot in the department. The bill would require a career employee to also serve in a five-year term as the secretary's "principal adviser" on management issues.

Jackson, the deputy secretary, strongly opposes the bill, saying it is unnecessary. He insists that the current leaders understand the problems Voinovich and others have expressed. "This is stuff we all talk about," he says. "The team gets it.

"I won't blow smoke at you and say everything is nailed down and perfectly fixed," Jackson continues. "The day that someone in my department tells you that about DHS is the day that person should get out of his job.... But [the transition plan] is not something I feel anxiety about."

Opportunity Lost

Those who know Jackson and have worked with him say he has never been one to put partisanship over security, and that he is not biased against career employees. But some have accused him of micromanaging the department and not handing over enough authority earlier to career officials. These failures, they say, have retarded the department's maturation process. (We are talking about Cheese, right?) For his part, Jackson says he's focused on the transition, and has drilled the urgency into all of his lieutenants.

The language! It hurts!

In government, organizations mature by finding the right balance of politically motivated leaders and apolitical bureaucrats. (Lie wine, or ham?) The former have the ability, and the credibility, to make policy, and the latter actually know how to make it work. This is the tension that, sooner or later, leads to equilibrium. (How about a purely public professional service, where personell is not allowed to change to the opposing private team?)

Beardsworth, the former assistant secretary, has always adhered to that philosophy. He's now a vice president at Analytic Services, a nonprofit research group that advises security and intelligence agencies. Its Homeland Security Institute, a federally funded research and development center established in the same law that created DHS, is counseling senior officials on transition strategies. Knowing the department lacks a playbook, Beardsworth hopes the institute has enough experts to help ease the transition, and he praises Jackson for taking action now.

But like Jackson, Beardsworth isn't blowing any smoke. "Does the department have the right political and career mix to ensure a smooth transition?" he asks, sounding like a frustrated yet hopeful parent. "No. They've likely missed that opportunity."

William M. Arkin on National and Homeland Security

Dumboat Diplomacy

On the day that the International Atomic Energy Agency released a new report on Iran's uranium enrichment efforts, the United States just happened to have two aircraft carriers and seven ships conducting "exercises" in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian defense minister responded by saying Islamic Iran would resist any threat.

It is the umpteenth time that the United States has set its ships on a course that suggests military action. The government in Tehran, meanwhile, uses the threat of war to its advantage, to enforce domestic control and justify its nuclear weapons program and military buildup.

It is conceivable that the ships are there for a long-planned maneuver and their presence is not meant to threaten Iran. If that's the case, the Bush administration is, shall we say, a little uncoordinated. But if this gunboat diplomacy is meant to send a threat of war, the administration is showing a lack of imagination and gross incompetence. Not only that, its actions are bolstering the Iranian regime.

The United States began a major military exercise in the Persian Gulf early yesterday morning involving two aircraft carrier battle groups and an "expeditionary strike force" involving a helicopter assault ship and 2,200 Marines. The exercise comes amid international tensions regarding the pace and intentions of Iran's uranium enrichment efforts and at a time when U.S. military commanders continue to blame Iran for its support for violence in Iraq. Navy officials say that the assemblage of nine U.S. ships carrying 17,000 personnel is the largest daylight concentration since the start of the 2003 Iraq war. The ships include the aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Nimitz, as well as the helicopter assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard. Navy commanders and spokesmen from the 5th Fleet say that the force was intended to be highly visible. Not only did the force go through the Straits of Hormuz in daylight, a rarity, but the Nimitz was added to the force at the last minute. Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn, the strike group commander, said that because of the daylight operation, "Everybody will see us." He also said the ships were conducting long-planned exercises to assure regional allies of ongoing U.S. military commitments. The Navy's official statement said that the timing of the exercise was "determined by the availability of forces and is not connected to events in the region." "The exercise is not directed against any nation," the statement said. Quinn also downplayed any linkage between the show of force and ongoing U.S. and Iranian meetings discussing Iraq. The move comes less than two weeks after Vice President Cheney visited the Stennis in the Gulf and said that the United States would not tolerate Iran gaining nuclear weapons and "dominating the region." Meanwhile, ABC News is reporting that President Bush has given new authorizations to the CIA to mount covert operations against Iran to destabilize and topple the government.

In response to the "exercise" yesterday, Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said "Islamic Iran will resist ... any kind of threat and will give a powerful answer to enemies and oppressors," according to the official Iranian news agency. On a visit to Abu Dhabi a few days after the vice president's visit to the Gulf, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened "severe" retaliation if the U.S. attacked Iran.

All of which makes Quinn's fretting about sending "a wrong message" seem, well, a little quaint. "I hope they don't get a message," he told CNN, referring to Iran. "We certainly don't want any miscalculation on anybody's part on what we are doing."


After all this bad writing, enjoy a much better written piece:

My Invitation to "The President's Dinner," Warmonger Podhoretz and Absurd Condi Rice

Posted June 1, 2007 | 04:17 PM (EST)

Absurdity No. 1:

On May 24, 2007, just a day after returning from Russia, I received my fifth consecutive invitation to the annual President's Dinner, held in Washington, D.C. Signed by Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican Leader, and John "crybaby" Boehner, the House Republican Leader, the form letter invitation opened as follows:

"Dear Walter,

They'll be talking about this one for years.

The 2007 President's Dinner will mark the turning point for our Republican Party.

On June 13th the most dedicated GOP leaders nationwide will gather under one banner and pledge a total commitment to victory in next year's elections.

Walter, will you join President Bush for dinner in Washington?"

Judging by their form letter, Messrs. McConnell and Boehner are "betting" that I've "had enough" of Democrats (now in power), who "are appeasing the worst elements of their Party in a pathetic display of retribution and cowardice." Such Democrats are "more interested in embarrassing President Bush than solving problems." Worse, "Democrats in Congress are introducing socialist, far-left legislation and using vitriolic rhetoric."

Thus, unless people like me support President Bush - by reserving a table for eight ($25,000) or purchasing an individual ticket ($2,500) - we'll soon "have a new President who, instead of vetoing liberal bills that raise taxes, expand welfare programs and cut military spending, could sign them all into law and take our nation in a disastrous new direction."

It was their words about a "disastrous new direction" that prompted me to RSVP this time. You see, virtually any new direction, including virtually any disastrous new direction, would resemble a utopia when compared with the Bush administration's disastrous "old" direction that has brought our once great country to its knees. But rather than submit the RSVP as printed, I made a slight change to it.

Thus, whereas the original RSVP read:

Dear Senator McConnell and Congressman Boehner,

Thank you for inviting me to The 2007 President's Dinner. I understand the importance of the upcoming elections, and I'm committed to recapturing our Republican majority and maintaining a Republican White House. To do my part:

0 YES! I/We wi1l attend The 2007 President's Dinner on Wednesday, June 13, 2007. I am enclosing:

0 $25,000 for a table of eight. 0 $2,500 for a single ticket


My amended RSVP read as follows:

Dear Senator McConnell and Congressman Boehner,

Thank you for inviting me to The 2007 President's Dinner. I understand the importance of the upcoming elections, and I'm committed to assuring that not one Republican wins election who still supports the illegal, immoral Bush/Cheney war in Iraq. Which means:

0 NO! I would not attend The 2007 President's Dinner on Wednesday, June 13, 2007, even if you paid me $2,500. I am not enclosing:

0 $25,000 for a table of eight. 0 $2,500 for a single ticket


Absurdity No. 2:

On June 1, 2007, BookExpo America 2007 will feature a panel discussion devoted to the topic, "The Ethics of Book Reviewing: The More Things Changeďż˝.?" The panel will be led by Carlin Romano, book critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Board Member of the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) and the individual, who "conducted a survey for the NBCC on ethics in book reviewing" almost two decades ago.

In preparation for the panel discussion, Mr. Romano issued an updated survey, one designed to take into consideration the proliferation of reviewers and reviews on "the brave new blogosphere." Being a NBCC member and, increasingly, a reviewer on the blogosphere, I dutifully completed the ethics survey.

Yet, after answering such questions as: (1) "Should a book review editor assign a book to a friend of the author?" and (2) "Is it ever ethical to review a book without reading the entire book?" it occurred to me that the survey was more concerned about situational ethics connecting book publishers to book review editors to book reviewers than it was with the astounding ethical breaches that find their way into actual articles about books.

Two examples immediately come to mind. First, we have the egregious ethical lapse recently committed by Mr. Romano himself. While discussing Noam Chomsky's book, Hegemony or Survival, Romano made the following outrageous observation: in Chomsky's book is "a world in which, chronology be damned, 9/11 seems like an understandable response, if not justifiable one, to our attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq." [Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 23, 2006]

Not only did I call attention to Mr. Romano's calumny, I also notified Professor Chomsky about Romano's vile slander. He responded by writing a few choice words about Romano before noting that my response was "quite accurate."

My response to Romano included the following observations: "I found nothing in Hegemony or Survival to suggest that Mr. Chomsky is either so illogical or dishonest as to assert that two events occurring after 9/11 - America's attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq - make the horrible attacks on 9/11 'understandable.'

Consequently, readers who recall his scathing review of Chomsky's book, 9/11 -- in which he called Chomsky a "pop-off" and "Noam the Foam" -- now have greater reason to question Romano's own integrity. Thus, I challenge Mr. Romano to clear his name and reassure his readers (including this reader) by providing evidence to support his seemingly vile "chronology be damned" accusation. Moreover, I remind Mr. Romano of Henry David Thoreau's famous observation: 'It is not all books that are as dull [or dishonest!] as their readers.'"

The second example is Norman Podhoretz's March 1983 article in Harper's, "If Orwell were Alive Today." Very similar in motivation to his Wall Street Journal article of May 30, 2007 "The Case for Bombing Iran: I hope and pray that President Bush will do it", in 1983 "Podhoretz appeared to embrace Orwell's fear that a long Soviet-American stalemate would cause the United States to increasingly emulate the "totalitarian" practices of its adversary, leading (as Orwell suggested in 1984) to "the division of the world among two or three vast totalitarian empires unable to conquer one another and unable to be overthrown by any internal rebellion."

Podhoretz also implied that Orwell would have found a nuclear war preferable to the prospect of creeping Western totalitarianism. He did so by claiming that Orwell 'thought that "the worst possibility of all," was that "the fear inspired by the atomic bomb and other weapons yet to come will be so great that everyone will refrain from using them.'" Moreover, Podhoretz offered this "worst possibility" in the very same paragraph in which he discussed the intolerable nightmare of a worldwide totalitarian stalemate." [See, http://www.walter-c-uhler.com/Reviews/Poddy.html ]

Yet, one simply needs to recall the rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev and his successful initiatives to democratize the Soviet Union and end the Cold War peacefully to recognize the extremism and evil of Podhoretz's warmongering. Had Podhoretz's views prevailed, we would have unleashed nuclear war before Gorbachev came to power. He was wrong then and so is his lust for war against Iran today.

Scholars who know Iran not only know that "Islamofascism" is a bogus term, they also know that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is far less powerful than Podhoretz -- the Louis Farrakhan of American Jews -- suggests. Moreover, there's reason to believe that Gore Vidal was correct when (in 1986) he asserted: Podhoretz's "first loyalty would always be to Israel." And, thus, Americans should be wary, lest the country's neoconservatives drag their sons and daughters into yet another misguided war for the sake of Israel.

But, beyond his despicable warmongering, we have Christopher Hitchen's studied opinion that Podhoretz's 1983 article about Orwell was: "Straight out of bad faith -- chopping bits that don't support his case out of an excerpt. If he had done that in the academy he would have been fired." [Ibid]

That such a man is still permitted to spread his warmongering filth is beyond absurd.

Absurdity No 3:

During my recent discussions in St. Petersburg with Russian scholars specializing in Russian-American relations, I was struck by the low opinion they held about our Secretary of State (and Russia expert), Condoleezza Rice. I must admit to bolstering that low opinion, when I informed a few of them about Ms. Rice's Cold War revisionism in support of President Bush's September 2002 National Security Strategy (that championed preemptive war).

As I've written elsewhere, " In late September or early October of 2002, while serving as Bush's national security advisor, Ms Rice attempted to persuade members of the House of Representatives of the necessity of the September 2002 National Security Strategy, which she played the major role in writing.

The new strategy emphasized preemptive attacks, rather than allowing dangerous threats to gather. In reality the strategy was advocating preventive war, which is illegal under international law ... Yet, as Ms. Rice attempted to make her case for waging war against a country that had not first attacked the United States, a Democrat asked her whether America should have invaded the Soviet Union in 1948 to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. According to Time magazine's account of this conversation, Ms. Rice responded: 'In light of 50 years of bondage of Eastern Europe, that was probably a reasonable thing to do.'"[See http://www.walter-c-uhler.com/Reviews/VE_Day.html ]

Which explains why I took seriously the newest rumor about absurd Ms. Rice to reach my ears in St. Petersburg. Allegedly, during a private meeting attended by Ms Rice, she was asked about Point 1 of the Algiers Accords signed by the United States and Iran in January 1981. These accords, you'll recall, became the "mutually acceptable resolution of the crisis in their relations arising out of the detention of the 52 United States nationals in Iran," and were signed by the Carter administration and Iran. They were begrudgingly honored by the Reagan administration.

Point 1 of the Accords states: "The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs." Yet, according to the rumor passed to me in St. Petersburg, when Secretary of State Rice was asked about Point 1, she denied that it was legally binding on the United States, because it was agreed to "under duress."

Although I have not been able to verify the truthfulness of this rumor, it does fit well with Ms. Rice's penchant for politically expedient revisionism. Moreover, if true, it's something to keep in mind whenever you read that President Bush's decision to follow the path of diplomacy, through his Secretary of State, is finally the voice of reason prevailing over obnoxious Cheney's mongering for war.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).

Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at Sunday, June 03, 2007


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locations of visitors to this page Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites