Category Archives: Essays and Opinion

Palast, Socialism, and the New York Times

I don’t think it is the subject of controversy that Greg Palast is the reporter who first, and most completely, told the story of the 2000 election in which George W. Bush made off with the victory falsely, since Gore actually won Florida when all the counting was done, if not feloniously; too many mechanisms were employed by the Republican Party to take the time and space to enumerate here.  I am not writing about that election on election day 2020.  I am writing about several interlaced political phenomena that this sad country had better do something about if it is ever to approach the Democracy its citizens think they deserve, and a large number of them, think they already have.

The driving force behind this piece has been the failure of the New York Times to include in its pages the name Palast.  I assume the reason for his absence is the fact that he is an unabashed leftist.  He has written quite a few books, and the central theme of every one of them is that the corporate oligarch class is at work everywhere and in every way seeking to subvert the very notion of Democracy, along with any steps towards its realization.  In spite of whatever pretensions there are, the New York Times is likely the most powerful upholder/bulwark of that very corporate oligarch class.

Then along comes Donald Trump and the election of 2020 and everyone with a reasonable brain is firing in the same direction, their interests, if only temporarily, precisely aligned: Trump must be defeated.  Standing in the way of that are all kinds of problems with the machinery of our democracy, wisely or not, left in the hands of the 50 states.  Palast is a smartass; there is not the slightest doubt about that, and he uses his brand of humor to skewer pretension and its practitioners like the folks at the New York Times, though I frankly don’t remember if he has ever said something uncomplimentary specifically about them, or it.  So, whether that paper has been specifically targeted with his sarcasm or not, what is clear is that he has done the work that it should have been doing, and upon which the essential victor in Georgia this year, Stacey Abrams (though her name was not on the ballot) has relied.  In fact, just today, Nov 16, 2020, a NYT article referred to the problem to which he has directed such enormous energy in the last two decades, Republican false “purges” of legitimate voters, without mentioning his name or his responsibility for calling attention to the issue.

His most recent book, “How Trump Stole the 2020 Election,” leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination when it comes to the flaws in our elections, based on reporting from 2000 until today.  Some things are not nailed down.  For example, the case that operatives are able to change the numbers of votes in a candidate’s column, or the actual choices on the ballot, is maybe just a strong suspicion at this point.  What is not just a strong suspicion is that the purging of voters from the rolls in states, Red States, across the country is a fact, and not a trivial one.  In Georgia in 2018, Stacey Abrams would have won had it not been for unlawful purging of voters by her opponent, then election chief and Secretary of State, now governor Brian Kemp.  I can’t remember if it was 300,000 or more, very likely Democratic voters that were purged, but it was far past the margin of Kemp’s victory in an election that Abrams, bravely, never conceded.

In 2020, the purges are still in operation and Palast has demonstrated, without the slightest question, that some 198,000 Georgians have been purged from the rolls erroneously, and from this criminal trial lawyer’s perspective, feloniously.  The purgers set up an algorithm, or whatever, that knocked off everyone who had moved since the last election, knowing that 80% still had the right to vote at their new address which was around the corner in far too many cases.  There are other tricks that Palast has uncovered, and they do nothing but raise one’s blood pressure for those of us who actually think every citizen should be encouraged to vote, not just allowed.

Here is where it gets peculiar.  That last sentence or its gist could have been found in a NYT editorial.  Those people claim to want everyone to vote, too.  As do all of the Democratic members of the House and Senate.  It isn’t shocking any more the extent to which Republicans admit they don’t want people voting; the demographics are heading in a seriously wrong direction for them these days. Crime and chicanery are about what’s left in their satchel.  But the Democrats and all their power operatives clearly SAY they want everyone voting.  So they should be promoting the brilliant work of Greg Palast, advertising his books and his videos, since the more people are aware of the deeds to which I make reference, the less likely they will be to fall victim to them or vote for their executioners, i.e. Republicans.

How many times has the New York Times mentioned Greg Palast? Zero.  How many times has he testified before Congress about his election findings? Zero.  So what is going on here?  Would these centrist democratic forces prefer to lose than live in an actual democracy that might, according to some, produce a progressive agenda?  Or do they simply think they can get away without answering that question because their power in other regards is so overwhelming?  

I am now writing as Trump has lost but hasn’t, and probably won’t, concede.  The Democrats, or maybe more accurately, the oligarchic, ruling class, has achieved its greatest victory.  One of their most reliable practitioners, Joe Biden, (Iraq War, Crime bill, general corporate hegemony, Anita Hill, etc) has been elected with a diminished House majority, and likely, pending two Georgia run-offs in January, a Republican majority in the Senate.  Bingo, the perfect excuse not to accomplish anything that might discomfit the oligarchs.  Was it a gamble by the ruling class, that they barely pulled off, given the small margins in key states?  Or would they have preferred Trump to a progressive-leaning landslide, or the likes of Bernie Sanders?

How did we get here, to the place where diehard lefties like myself are doing what they can to get Trump out even though the replacement is way below unacceptable?  It all begins with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights:


The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries, or shops or farms or mines of the nation;  

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;  The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;  

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;  

The right of every family to a decent home;  

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;  

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment;  

The right to a good education.


Those are the words he spoke at his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944. But they are the product of the attitude he expressed so vividly as he announced his Second New Deal on October 31, 1936, when he said that his efforts in the fight for what we call “economic justice” were opposed “by business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering,” propelled by a hatred of him.  To which he added, “I welcome their hatred.”  

FDR has been, at least in rhetoric, the guiding light of the Democratic Party since he took office in 1933.  He engaged in warfare as a class traitor and set down markers for a just society that resonate now as much as they did then.  So now I ask, which leader of the Democratic Party will stand for these principles now with the words “I welcome their hatred?”  Not Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer, or, importantly, South Carolina Repesentative, Jim Clyburn, who gave Biden the win he needed in the South Carolina primary with a crucial assist from Barack Obama who called Buttigieg and Klobishar to get them to drop out and endorse Biden, thereby destroying the chances of Bernie Sanders the Socialist who had won, for all intents and purposes, the first three primaries. 

So the centrist, business-friendly, ruling class Democrats managed to defeat the Socialist.  The embracer of the ideas of FDR was beaten by the forces aligned with FDR’s haters.  And who precisely are these haters today, those for whom defeating a Socialist is worth the gamble of a continuation of Trump?  The fossil fuel industry, convicted of conspiring to destroy mass transit in the first part of the 20th Century, has now been shown to have known that global warming and climate change were the inevitable results of fossil fuel usage forty years ago, and did and said nothing in light of that knowledge.  Does Joe Biden welcome their hatred?  He has actually called the climate crisis an existential threat and has pledged 2 Trillion dollars to fight it.  And who does he suppose is going to be his foremost opponent in that fight, other than the fossil fuel industry and its surrogates in the Republican Party?  You say some of their surrogates are Democrats?  You say some of Biden’s advisors and potential nominees have been lobbying for fossil fuels for the last number of years?  I suppose all of that is true.

The financial industry, scoundrels of 2008, deserve all of our hatred just as FDR expressed it in 1936, but they found impunity under Obama/Biden. Amazon and Google and Facebook are classic monopolies that should have seen the end of their reign and made plans for it, but now will fight regulation while wielding influence among the powerful.  Has there been an expression welcoming their hatred from Joe Biden?  Hardly. They love him. He, after all, carrying a card or not, is a DLC Democrat.  Clinton and it, the DLC, decided that power was with the money in politics, not the far-more-numerous people.  They picked a few wedge issues that all but the extremes could agree on, abortion, guns, gay rights, and declared them to be the heart of the Democratic Party, at the same time assuring big money that it had nothing to fear from them.  They went straight to Goldman Sachs and became the whores of Wall Street, deftly omitting any reference to FDR’s second New Deal or welcoming anyone’s hatred.

And now, 40 years later, Trump has managed to lose but only barely, while claiming seats in the House and maybe still hanging on to the Senate using as his light saber the fear of Socialism.  And Clyburn is decrying Socialism in front of a statue of W.E.B. Dubois, one of America’s premier Socialists, probably in the same month that he extolled the virtues of FDR–just guessing about that last, but Pelosi and Biden sure have within memory.  Clyburn is as strong a DLC’er as there is as a recipient of massive quantities of campaign contributions from Big Business and Big Pharma.  Might there have been another way?  How about confronting the enigma head-on instead of talking out of both sides of Democratic mouths.  FDR’s declarations about economic rights are, after all, as good a definition of Socialism as anybody needs.  What we need is a “paper of record” that will let its readers know when a Democrat extolls the virtues of FDR at the same timing shilling for big business.

Is mendacity playing a role in this debate?  Anybody reading this probably doesn’t need to be told that there are unprincipled liars who are major voices as these issues are discussed.  Jim Clyburn and Representative Spanburger of Virginia can whine about having to run against attacks on Socialism, but he should know those attacks aren’t going away whether the Left is outwardly embracing the label–Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez–or just making glancing references to FDR.  The Republican Party employs the best at doing the worst, and they have no regard for honest discourse.  Every time they step to the plate, they are either lying or dancing on the edge of the term.  And they are great at it.  And, and this part is important, there is a lot in the history of Socialism to be used, however dishonestly.  Hitler and Stalin, for example, both used the word while embodying everyone’s worst nightmare of the Totalitarian state.  But Marx would have been appalled at what was wrought in his name, because, “dictatorship of the proletariat” to the contrary notwithstanding, he was a democrat and fervently believed in the principles of democracy.

But the last thing the Republican public relations apperatus, or the DLC, corporate oligarch, Democratic public relations apperatus have the slightest concern for is that the unknowing might confuse the bad things they inaccurately associate with Socialism with the good things that are the heart of its dictates.  Obviously, and in fact, that is their aim, to play on ignorance for emotional and strategic advantage. So that is a tough fact of life for us Socialists; they lie, and they have material with which to work.

I propose a different strategy from that currently employed by left Democrats.  I think it is possible to win the debate, even among the less politically literate, just by turning around, facing the chaser, and shouting back.  The good news is that we don’t need to lie to have a truly powerful rebuttal that those, who consider themselves more astute at this business than I, have decided not to resort to.  The bottom line fact of life is that everyone loves Socialism, everyone.  It’s just a question of, in which instance?  Socialism does NOT, even if you were to hew closely to the dictates of Das Kapital, which I found unreadable, but which America’s pre-eminent Marxist of the late 20th Century, Michael Harrington, explained to me, simply mean that the state owns the means of production.  Socialism involves the long continuum of government action through the use of money, owning as in the Tennessee Valley Authority, or just affecting in the case of farm subsidies or tax breaks, or…BAILOUTS.

The whole debate about healthcare and socialized medicine is illustrative of the conundrum and the dishonesty employed in the public relations trenches.  Rush Limbaugh and his fellow travelers–why not employ their tools if you can?–shout with abandon about the perils of socialized medicine as did Trump’s campaign in the past 6 months.  What’s wrong with that?  Well, no one, no, actually, no one, is suggesting that the United States should adopt socialized medicine.  What is promoted, with a majority of citizens approving, is socialized medical insurance, the so-called single-payer, Medicare For All program that Sanders, and at one time or another, look it up, Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama supported.  In such a system, the doctors would NOT be employees of the government, but the bill payers would be.  The provision of healthcare would be private in every meaningful sense, unlike for example, the medical attention received by the most famous current besmircher of Medicare For All, calling it Socialized Medicine, Donald Trump, when he contracted Covid and had to be admitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital where he was cared for by government-paid doctors of various high ranks.

Hypocrisy, mendacity, deception. These are really all the Right and Republicans and the DLC Corporate Democrats have when it comes to Socialism.  Who, after all, was it that came begging in 2008 when the precipice was staring them and us in the face?  It was big business, Republicans and Democrats, and specifically and principally the banks, who had their hands out, were bailed out, and then bugged out when it would have been time to calmly and rationally discuss the benefits and detractions of Socialism.  I haven’t done the study, but I feel quite certain they were at the heart of the financial embrace that defeated the public option in the healthcare debate in 2009, furiously backing the Blue Dog receptor of mountains of health insurance money, Max Baucus, while whinging about the disaster of Socialism.

For a time, the government actually had a piece of the auto industry and Obama did a wonderful bit about moving some of these Ford Taurus’s at a blockbuster sales event.  That was Socialism in its classic form, actual ownership of a company, so those decriers who were begging for a bailout in 2009 can sit down and shut up; they crave Socialism existentially.  The hypocrisy is not hard to make out; it is the foundation of the public relations effort against Socialism and its proponents.

So, in its simplest form.  The fight today appears to be between corporate America and left socialists. And it is being fought with the machinery of Democracy, elections, with one side professing support for, and the other, unabashedly in opposition to, complete citizen access to the ballot box.  But part of the army, the Decorporocrats, just will not commit to the battle, and therefore, must be considered to be in league with the enemy.  Sure, this analysis leaves out a lot of the country that can’t or won’t look beyond abortion or guns; they are unreachable to the Democratic Party, but not a large enough percentage to win the White House on their own.  What’s left of the electorate are the targets of the Anti-Socialism crusade, and the most powerful force in that effort is the New York Times which has the ability to strike its blow for the Decorporocrats and the Recorplicans just by ignoring some of the most important journalism for the vitality of Democracy that can be found anywhere–the work of Greg Palast.


Goldberg, Marcotte, and Walsh Go After Tara Reade, Biden’s Accuser

Having now consumed sufficient quantities of political venom concerning the accusations leveled at presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, by a former intern, Tara Reade, that amount to the crime of rape by a foreign object, I am compelled to weigh in since I haven’t yet succumbed to the effects of the poison.  Joan Walsh and Amanda Marcotte and Michelle Goldberg have been serially destroyed by the estimable Nathan Robinson of Current Affairs, but that isn’t going to stop me from dancing on their graves. And all of those years cross-examining rape victims and overcoming some pretty serious pangs of empathy to do it, may have given me a little bit of a different angle to see it all from.


Goldberg et al are expressing skepticism about Reade’s allegations, but they can obviously feel the cold wall of feminist outrage against their back, so they do their best to make it all palatable.  But political hit jobs will always be political hit jobs no matter how silky smooth it feels going down. As Robinson points out, as long as you get the words, “changed her story” planted in the minds of the reader, it really doesn’t matter whether you allow for the possibility of her telling the truth or not.


The problem that #MeToo encountered, and, with the lengthy sentence of Harvey Weinstein, and multiple other resignations and dismissals, it was thought, had overcome, was the inbred fact of these cases, that it is searingly uncomfortable, and incredibly damaging for the victims to open their mouths.  The reluctance has always been an arrow in the defense lawyer’s quiver because it leads to long periods of time between event and complaint and often a halting process of disclosure once it is begun. The story isn’t changed, it is simply not able to be told in its fullness at one time, or at a certain time, in the life of the abused woman.  #MeToo managed to provide this understanding in such a way that people such as Joe Biden were able to declare that women who make these claims do so at enormous cost, and that cost is sufficient to overcome whatever doubts might be urged against them for not saying anything immediately, or for not being able to stomach total disclosure in one fell swoop.  It should be “presumed,” in Biden’s words, that the accusations are true, until the opposite has been shown.


There is not a relevant syllable that Tara Reade has uttered about what Biden did to her that cannot be more than adequately explained by the structure of all #MeToo complaints as we have come to know them.  The power imbalance at the moment of the crime, coupled with the accurately perceived long term detrimental consequences to the victim’s career demand that the decision to complain be considered with the utmost care and deliberation.  Would Elizabeth Warren have progressed beyond “baby law professor” if she had opened her mouth just after being chased around a desk by her senior? We will never know, but it took the #MeToo movement to pry the facts out of her. 


When Goldberg and Marcotte and Walsh went after Tara Reade, they were playing public defender, soulfully bemoaning the prior inconsistent statements that some referred to as a “changed story.”  But that is not their forum, nor a role for which they are qualified. It would have been entirely appropriate for Joe Biden’s defense lawyer, had the statute of limitations not extinguished the idea, to repeat to Tara Read’s face each and every one of the differences that may well exist between what she has said or didn’t say throughout the decades.  And, were it to have transpired in a criminal court, it would have been the jury’s prerogative to find that there was that degree of uncertainty, not beyond a reasonable doubt, such that the only proper verdict would have been “Not Guilty,” but in that case, Joe Biden would have walked out of the courtroom, an acquitted accused rapist. Under no circumstance would he have been declared, at that moment, an innocent man.  In California, an acquitted defendant can make a motion to be declared “factually innocent.” Should such a motion be granted, at that event, may the word innocent be relevantly and legally applied. These are all matters way beyond the remit of Goldberg et al. Their job, as journalists, was to give Tara Reade the presumption to which the understandings of #MeToo make her entitled. It was their job to treat her the same way they treated Christine Blassey Ford, or any other woman who has managed to summon the almost unimaginable courage to speak the horror of her personal experience against a powerful man.


Goldberg et al are journalists who have taught the world the functional realities of #MeToo, but here, in this most momentous time, they decided to forget all that they had taught, or even the words of this particular accused, “[F]or a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.”  Amen. But there is one further matter that must be addressed since it tends to shed light on the minds of the perpetrators, Goldberg, Marcotte, and Walsh.


Tara Reade’s accusation may not sit well because it is, in a sense, a garden variety #MeToo complaint, not made at the time, halting in its revelation.  But each of the “Three” are forced by truth to acknowledge that there is the important matter of corroboration in the case of Ms. Reade in that she complained to friend and family at the time.  What is enlightening is the fact that there is an additional piece of evidence that even a criminal jury may have had some difficulty with. Reade claims to have brought the crime to the attention of her supervisor in the Senator’s office, a fact which no supervisor supports.  But what is clear from the investigations that have been conducted by the likes of Marcotte and Walsh at least, is that Reade was reassigned out of the position she held immediately following the complaint, mirroring precisely what she recites as the chronology of events. We, the unwashed and unresponded to, would dearly love to be able to cross-examine the “Three” concerning their omission of this particular piece of chronology in their discussions of Tara Reade.

Andrew Cockburn swings and misses on 9/11

There is so much of failure in humanity’s quest for justice, which, in spite of an enormous trove of evidence to the contrary, I still believe exists.  If you are not inspired to true rage by the Iraq War and the mechanisms of its creation by the Bush Administration, you and I have very little in common.  Not everyone is familiar with Justice Jackson’s assertion that the crime of aggression, waging war without need or legal justification, is the worst of which man is capable, but the notion would find general acceptance everywhere.


To our great misfortune, however, few expect what should be the inevitable consequence of the transgression: prosecution and imprisonment.  Beyond the inaudible fringe, no one of power or voice is capable of such a suggestion.  We. the inaudible, yet strive to be heard.  Is there the slightest question that the same crime will be committed again by latter-day Bushes and Cheneys, if those two and their enablers are not called to a courtroom?

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The War in Iraq sits atop the pile of injustice, but another still-throbbing excrescence of only slightly less egregious proportion is 9/11.  Andew Cockburn writes very recently in Harper’s that some kind of justice may await those whom he considers the true authors of the crime, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  He enlightens us with a sufficient rendering of the history of the sanctioned investigations, two by Congress, one by the 9/11 Commission.  He has interviewed former Senator Bob Graham who chaired the original Congressional investigation, and they both apparently share the bewilderment provoked by the objections raised then by today’s most holy of investigators, Robert Mueller, to the Joint Inquiry’s own investigator, Michael Jacobson, traveling to San Diego to do what would be considered the bare minimum in pursuit of truth.


Cockburn details what Jacobson found there, much, we assume, to the displeasure of Mueller and the Bush Administration.  Theirs, however, we also assume, was the last laugh since all that was uncovered would stay hidden for 10+ years and the suspicions fueled by the contents of the famous 28 pages remain today beyond the pale of public “respectable” inquiry.  And here we arrive at the point of this present endeavor.  How much are we allowed to suspect?  What is the extent of our permitted curiosity?


Those 28 pages, of which the intrepid Jacobson was the principle author, include the following information:  Two of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals handled by Saudi agents in San Diego in the weeks leading up to 9/11.  Their handlers were funneled $150,000 from the “wife of the Saudi ambassador in Washington.”  Hmmm, looks bad for the Kingdom.  And that is as far as our minds are permitted to wander thanks to the stewardship of the renowned and accomplished A. Cockburn.


With just a piece or two more of information, things could be different.  That Saudi ambassador in Washington?  He is Prince Bandar, one-time Chief of Saudi intelligence.  But the real point of importance is his relationship to the Bush clan.  In the family he is known as… Bandar Bush.  I believe that was even a joint account upon which the checks were drawn, but it is of no consequence if I am wrong.  The idea that the wife of the Saudi Ambassador would pay money, a great deal of money, in an intelligence operation without her husband’s approval, if not direction, seems ludicrous.  That’s Saudi Arabia, only just considering female drivers licenses.


So, without much hesitancy, we may assert that a virtual family member of the Bush clan paid the hijackers to wreak their havoc on Bush and Cheney’s watch.  Might one be so bold as to suspect that those manipulations took place as a result of an inside job conspiracy, the unsayable essence of 9/11 Truth?  I don’t know how to avoid the conclusion, but Mr. Cockburn takes care of all that with the judicious deletion of critical detail.  For more see “Conclusion of Gallop v. Cheney” at

“I Told Them To Cut It Out”

Hillary Clinton’s self-congratulatory pronouncement at the first Democratic debate that when she represented Wall Street–giving the most benign interpretation to that phrase–she went down there, being aware of the behavior in which they were engaging, and told them to cut it out, provokes a question or two.  They are:


  1. What precisely was the behavior that led to her admonition?

  2. Upon what information was she relying to conclude that the admonition was appropriate or necessary?

  3. Where did she say what she said and who was present?

  4. Is there a record of what was said?

  5. What was the reaction to her statement?

  6. Was the conduct of which she was complaining criminal or just risky and stupid?

  7. When she returned to the Senate, what steps did she take to confront the problem which impelled her to go to the headquarters of the mis- or malfeasance and admonish its practitioners?

  8. Did she conduct hearings, make a referral to the Justice Department, or inform her colleagues, or the other citizens that she represented, of the dangers that she foresaw?

  9. How precisely would she describe those dangers, did she memorialize her fears at the time in any manner whatsoever?
  10. Maybe most importantly of all, what did she want us voters to think about her?  Are we supposed to be impressed that she had the gumption to speak harshly to the financial world, her most powerful backers?  Are we supposed to be impressed that she knew bad things were happening?  Or are we supposed to be too stupid to realize how useless an act she was committing.  Did she know what a useless act it was, if act it was?


Jon Stewart and Judith Miller


There are moments in history that draw commentary out of the most reticent and taciturn.  I am neither, just unusually provoked by Jon Stewart’s efforts with former New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, for whom people like me have immeasurable disdain.  The partially encouraging news is that Stewart apparently feels a similar regard.  I write because this missed moment was so unusual and so important that it required substantial preparation which, if it took place, was ill-directed or unproductive.


Jon Stewart is capable of greatness.  He is also capable of failure and self-criticism; his chagrin at his own performance with one of the modern era’s most famous mass murderers, Donald Rumsfeld, seemed heartfelt but was absolutely well-founded.  With what was he presented in the person of Judith Miller?  There before him trying to sell a book containing her defense of her own iniquity, was a reporter for the most influential newspaper in the world who apparently admits that she was used by the forces of war and aggression and who admits that she got the story wrong based on faulty intelligence.  Can anyone remember another similar occasion?


Mr. Stewart, why could you not have said something like this?:


Ms. Miller, I am going to admit that it is quite easy to be critical in hindsight, but as I understand it, you do not at this time suggest that you did not perform a vital function in enabling the Bush Administration to commit the war crime of aggression and involve itself in one of the worst foreign policy blunders of any living person’s memory.


You acknowledge that it was essential for the Bush Administration to get the people of the United States behind any military action in Iraq.  And you do not distance yourself from the role you played in that strategy.


There are a range of possibilities for why you did such a thing.  The first, historically very far from an outrageous accusation, is that you are a compensated or uncompensated agent of the CIA which had a job for you to do that you agreed to perform.  Under such an arrangement, one hopes you would know whatever intelligence you were being fed was unreliable, whether or not you cared in the slightest if it was true.


The second possibility is that you are an entirely honest journalist who was seduced by her proximity to power and whose analytical powers were compromised by the loss of objectivity which comes from such a position.  In that case, you may have cared whether what you were saying was true, but been unable to make the determination.


Another explanation for your performance hinges on your ideological worldview; your ideas are so in line with those of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of the neocon stalwarts, that you, deep down, would feel just fine considering yourself a warrior in alliance with their objectives.  You have in fact known Saddam Hussein to be evil for a very long time, and any steps taken in the direction of his erasure from the world stage are worthy and right, the considerations of law, or morality, or the long-term consequences of any action aimed at his end being someone else’s business; you are just a reporter.


The question which the world needs an answer to, since your path was trod by almost all of what passes for journalism in this country, is, since you ended up doing the very worst thing you were capable of, paving the way for a heinous war crime whose devastation it will take generations to reckon, was there ever a moment when you, your co-writer, and/or your editors gathered together to consider whether or not you might be on your way to doing precisely that, the very worst thing a journalist can do?


Chuck Todd v. Dick Cheney

Immunity for Dick Cheney?  Now there is an odd idea.  He is one of the most despised men on the planet, and therefore beloved by probably close to one half of Americans, but why precisely is he entitled to immunity?  You haven’t heard about his being granted immunity?  Okay, so he hasn’t been granted immunity in the traditional sense, as a testifying or cooperating witness.  He has been granted immunity from being questioned about the subject that he apparently thinks absolves him of any responsibility to act as decency and humanity ordinarily dictate—–9/11.


I do not begrudge him in the slightest for being the guy that says the oft-thought but unsayable, that he isn’t concerned about the rights or comforts of suspected terrorists, or even the ones who turn out to be innocent.  His support of the use of torture is not a particularly enlightened position now that its uselessness has been established.  And even if no one is entitled to their own facts, there will always be partisans impervious to reason.  Chuck Todd is as good as anyone, I suppose, at demonstrating those people are wrong.  But Cheney’s answer to the question, “what is torture?” was a recounting of the horrors of 9/11.  Twice.  And of all of the human beings in the world, the most painfully prominent who should not be allowed that refuge is Dick Cheney.  Why?  Because whether it knows it or not, the world has the goods on him.  He was complicit in the attacks in a more demonstrable way, based on far more powerful evidence, than any other soul alive,… or dead; Osama bin Laden comes to mind.  The U.S. never even tried to prove Bin Laden’s guilt to the Taliban, which was all they were asking for as a prerequisite to turning him over, thereby alleviating the necessity of a 10-year war in Afghanistan.


How bad is it exactly? Does Chuck Todd know the truth but hasn’t the stones to inquire?  Is he uncertain, possibly, or has he found Cheney innocent after exhaustive investigation?  Does he know that Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta testified to the 9/11 Commission that he was in the PEOC with Cheney before the Pentagon was hit on the morning of 9/11?  Does he know that Mineta gave a detailed account of Cheney confirming orders which either allowed the attack to succeed–we call that treason–or were not followed, leaving the building undefended?  If it were the latter, military history and military law and military standard operating procedure dictate that there would have been a Board of Inquiry, courts-martial, demotions, reprimands, or prosecutions for failure to obey orders.  Instead, there were, in the wake of this nation’s worst single event, promotions across the board.  Whatever Todd’s state of mind, aren’t Meet The Press’s viewers entitled to their own conclusions?

Is this Mr. Todd’s ignorance at work, his failure to raise the obvious questions?  Or is this just the grandest display of intimidation by a truly evil man in the history of journalism, surpassing Rather’s quailing at the scour of Bush in the dark episode known as Iran-Contra?.

David Brooks and the Iraq War

David Brooks has responded non-confrontationally, without using Krugman’s name, to Krugman’s op-ed of May 18 where Krugman asserts that the Bush Administration lied us into the Iraq War.  Brooks refers to that notion as a fable and says it doesn’t gibe with the facts, and he cites the Robb-Silverman report which found a major intelligence failure, Brooks apparently taking great comfort in the bi-partisan nature of the commission that rendered the report.


Some of us who have been paying some attention over the past several decades don’t feel comfort because there are an equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans on some commission or other.  The amount of money given to the Defense Establishment by Democrats is more than enough to require some other criteria for comfort than bi-partisanship.  And Brooks should probably spend some time considering the statements of Michael Morell, CIA briefer to Bush, that make it quite clear that there was a whole lot more than failure on the part of the Bush Administration as this country lurched towards its greatest foreign policy disaster, maybe ever.  But can there be some sort of debate here?


I would ask Mr. Brooks if he agrees that Donald Rumsfeld wrote a note to an aide on the morning of 9/11 with the words:  “good enough, hit SH,(Saddam Hussein)…sweep it all up things related and not.”  I think it is a question, but knowing the character of the character doing the writing, and considering the use of the word “good” under the circumstances, almost all of human conceptions must be allowed for.  What exactly does Mr. Brooks make of this moment in history?  Does he concede that one not implausible reading of the facts is that the thought had crossed DR’s mind before 9/11 that if there were sufficient excuse, military action might be taken against SH?


Does he acknowledge that at least one of his beloved Generals, Wesley Clark in this instance, has reported that military action all across the region was being contemplated before 9/11?  Does he acknowledge that this sort of planning would require a certain preparation of the populace since most people look askance at military action without provocation?  It seems there may be a way of conducting business that is being exposed here.  If there were sufficient lack of scruple, the concocting of the right kind of intelligence might well be part of some playbook somewhere.  And in fact, we know now that the facts were not what the Administration claimed at the time.  So there was either misinterpretation or fraud.

Does Mr. Brooks even acknowledge that fraud is a theoretical possibility?  Or has it been stricken from consideration because its possible existence might require Mr. Brooks to reevaluate a whole range of historical events which, haven’t, in his mind, been considered blemishes upon the Administration record to date?  He might be compelled to think: if they, Cheney and Rumsfeld, were capable of considering the benefits of the 9/11 catastrophe so quickly and so blithely, and had been planning for war in the region for some time, is it plausible to consider that they may have had a hand in the catastrophe’s final form? Or, perish the thought, played a role in its facilitation, possibly? And that might lead this fine upstanding man, moral to his core, we presume, to do some research and find the continent of evidence denied admittance by all authority into any court of law, which happens to give wretched substance to suspicion.  In fact, proves complicity in the 9/11 nightmare beyond the slightest question..

Krugman, So Near and yet…

New York Times, Monday, May 18, 2015, Op-Ed page. Paul Krugman rails against the manufacturers of our reasonably recent history, 2001 and onward,, decrying the actions of the Bush Administration in “lying the United States into war.”  Calling it a crime, he appears confused by what might have driven the perpetrators to do such a thing; a mistaken belief that “shock and awe in Iraq would enhance American power and influence around the world,” the instituting of a “a pilot project, preparation for a series of regime changes,” or dog-wagging to “strengthen the Republican brand at home?”


And all of these musings come after reference to Rumsfeld’s 9/11-the day-of memo to staff about whether the event would be “good enough,” –imagine, for Jesus’s mother’s sake, the use of the words– “hit SH,(Saddam Hussein)…sweep it all up things related and not.”  And I think Krugman has to think even more deeply about the use of the words, “good enough.”  I don’t mean to suggest that their use ends any inquiry or is irrefutable proof of Rumsfeld’s conspiratorial intent with regard to the “inside job” aspect of the attacks.  And, I am not suggesting that there aren’t quite close to a thousand other evidentiary reasons for Krugman to rethink his understanding of 9/11 in toto, to the extent he has allowed himself to think about it at all.  What I want to call attention to is the vanishingly short distance one needs to trod between the frame of mind that is part and parcel of Krugman’s current understanding of the causes of the Iraq War, and the right-next-door mindset which conspires to create from, in all likelihood but not indisputably, someone else’s plan of a terrorist attack, that devastation which we now refer to as 9/11.


9/11 was probably the piggy-backing of a Cheney-Rumsfeld plan on top of a Khalid Sheik Mohammed plan, creating a false flag event of such scope and breadth that wholly decent American citizens would be defanged of their democratic teeth of thought, not to mention power of speech.  It is a fact, now repeated so many times in so many of those citizens, often with honest acknowledgement of the horror sought to be avoided, that it is cliche to suggest that this nation “can’t handle the truth.”  It is certainly no grave accusation to suggest that Krugman is in this class.  Virtually everyone is in this class.  The exceptions are simply mutant outliers whose relevant synapses were cut or frayed or rubbed raw idiosyncratically at some point in the last 14 years or before, through no fault or design of their own, but are now left to try to manage in the world with a corrupted epistemology as I think Sunstein called it.


Such corruption will not, however, let one be.  It cries for attention and constantly seeks for a loose brick in the wall.  Mr. Krugman, could you please take a careful look at the criminal intent, the mind behind that most heinous of war crimes, aggression.  I say that its impulses ranged from the political to the base financial, the passage of the Patriot Act, the projection of American power across the globe with the inestimable economic benefits to war contractors, suppliers, and operators, and of course the benefits to the political party in control of a nation at war, …and yes, oil and other resources in the affected regions and others where the power of example will prove helpful in later negotiations that some shorthanders refer to as, “the lead or the gold” conversations.  World domination is not all that hard to figure out once its theoretical possibility is allowed into the room.


So I am asking Mr. Krugman to consider that mind.  It is capable of the clear focus it takes to achieve a grand but deplorable accomplishment.  It is bereft of conscience that would ordinarily consider the even smallish body counts our finest wishes for their humanity would have to have envisioned, serious impediments to concerted action.  It is capable of manipulations of vast resources on the largest of stages, able to “see the whole board,” albeit with some genuinely perverted eyesight.  It is able to lie, again in the biggest way, understanding the essential need to mislead virtually an entire population.  And it is capable of the rankest desire for the achievement of financial gain.  Whatever I have left out, I will argue, can be found within the folds of what I have listed, even if there must be some fumbling around at first to find it there.

Denny Chin, then US District Court judge, now judge of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, whose panel agreed with him in every particular, said “it is simply not plausible that the Vice President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and other high-ranking officials conspired to facilitate terrorist attacks that would result in the deaths of thousands of Americans.  If anything, the allegations are the product of cynical delusion and fantasy.”  Probably most Americans could have had the thought, if they couldn’t have written the words.  Krugman as well.  But take a look at the mind we have sought to peer into, the one that lied us into war.  Look at the benefits of doubt with which it is bestowed in the face of the worst things you can say about a human being, or group of them.  Yes, they are capable of war criminality, depravity, conscienceless, intricate, merciless imaginings for their own sick ends, and necessarily the ignoring of the probability of substantial if not enormous loss of American troops’ lives–one doesn’t mention Iraqi casualties in a serious conversation.  What in all that blushes at the idea of false flag.  What in all of that stops at the killing of someone with an American passport?   In what fanciful dimension are such parsings meaningful?  And the robe bleats about “fantasy.”.

Chris Matthews and Michael Morell

According to some commentators, Chris Matthews got former deputy director and former acting director of the CIA to admit that Cheney and Bush lied to the American people in order to go to war in Iraq.  I am not sure Matthews deserves that much credit for the moment; after all Michael Morell was on the show trying to sell a book.  Could he not have been prepared to make the disclosure; what exactly did he think Matthews was going to ask him about?


But let’s go ahead and give Matthews the credit.  Is there more that might have been done?  When Morell suggested it was not his job to watch TV and determine what lies the president was telling supposedly based on information he(Morell) was providing in his briefings, it would have been important to know when and how he learned that lies were in fact being told.  It would have been important to know what concerns about those lies were expressed to whom in the CIA and the rest of government.  It would have been important to learn what action or inaction took place within Morell’s knowledge.  How big a deal was the inaction, to the extent it existed?  If there were lies told, there can only have been one purpose and that was to create the necessary political conditions preparatory to an invasion, or other military action against Iraq.


Apparently, Bush and Cheney falsely said that Saddam Hussein was building a bomb when Morrell told them he was not.  And apparently, they falsely said there was some connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, when Morell had told them there was none.  It is therefore clear that there was no adequate legal or moral reason to make war against Iraq.  That means that the taking of military action under the circumstances amounted to the war crime of aggression, the most heinous of them all.

It would have been helpful to know if Morell ever considered that what he was countenancing with his silence was a war crime.  For those of us concerned with the character of our governance, Matthews had an opportunity to shed an important bit of light on what sort of people govern us and how they do it, even if it is many years too late for the people of the Middle East.  The same people who gave us the disaster that is still killing people in Iraq are apparently Jeb Bush’s current advisers.  Perhaps a little less hardball and a little more preparation and concern for the question of moral purpose would have served us better..

Death of OBL and Zero Dark Thirty

There is a great, really great, story out there.  Is it the one we are being told at our local movie theatre in ZERO DARK THIRTY, great as that one is?  When the event being depicted is as seminal, as landscape-changing, as the gunning down of the entire globe’s most infamous terrorist, and reputed orchestrator of the earth-defining attacks of 9/11, is it acceptable that serious, and entirely reasonable scholars and observers of world events cannot agree about, or at least express sincere uncertainty concerning, the facts? Continue reading