Sunday, July 31, 2005

More tomfoolery from the theocratic right...


The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools says its course "is concerned with education rather than indoctrination of students."

"The central approach of the class is simply to study the Bible as a foundation document of society, and that approach is altogether appropriate in a comprehensive program of secular education," it says.

Elizabeth Ridenour, a commercial real estate broker who said she formed the nonprofit organization in 1993 after deciding that she had long been "duped" into believing the Bible could not be taught in public schools, said the course has stayed within legal limits. "Our teachers are not to say, 'This is the truth,' or that the Bible is infallible," she said. "They are to say, 'This is what the Bible says; draw your own conclusions.' "

But in Odessa, where the school board has not decided on a curriculum, a parent said he found the course's syllabus unacceptably sectarian. He has been waging his own campaign for additional information on where it is being taught.

"Someone is being disingenuous; I'd like to know who," said the parent, David Newman, an associate professor of English at Odessa College who has made a page-by-page analysis of the 270-page syllabus and sent e-mail messages to nearly all 1,034 school districts in Texas.

The Texas Freedom Network, which commissioned its study after the vote in Odessa, is sharp in its criticism. "As many as 52 Texas public school districts and 1,000 high schools across the country are using an aggressively marketed, blatantly sectarian Bible curriculum that interferes with the freedom of all families to pass on their own religious values to their children," it said.

In one teaching unit, students are told, "Throughout most of the last 2,000 years, the majority of men living in the Western world have accepted the statements of the Scriptures as genuine." The words taken from the Web site of Grant R. Jeffrey Ministries' Prophecy on Line.

The national council's efforts are endorsed by the Center for Reclaiming America, Phyllis Schlafly's group the Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council, among others.

IOW, these efforts are endorsed by the theorcratic right. And, not mentioned anywhere I saw in the article, this group was previously slapped down in Florida. But what's there is pretty damning:

Only a summary of the course is available on the Internet, and printed copies cost $150.

A highly critical article in The Journal of Law and Education in 2003 said the course "suffers from a number of constitutional infirmities" and "fails to present the Bible in the objective manner required."

The journal said that even supplementary materials were heavily slanted toward sectarian organizations; 83 percent of the books and articles recommended had strong ties to sectarian organizations, 60 percent had ties to Protestant organizations, and 53 percent had ties to conservative Protestant organizations, it said.

Among those included are books by David Barton, on the council's advisory board and the vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party, who favors "biblical inerrancy," said William Martin, a Rice University historian and the author of the book "With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America." ...

Some of the claims made in the national council's curriculum are laughable, said Mark A. Chancey, professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, who spent seven weeks studying the syllabus for the freedom network. Mr. Chancey said he found it "riddled with errors" of facts, dates, definitions and incorrect spellings. It cites supposed NASA findings to suggest that the earth stopped twice in its orbit, in support of the literal truth of the biblical text that the sun stood still in Joshua and II Kings.

"When the type of urban legend that normally circulates by e-mail ends up in a textbook, that's a problem," Mr. Chancey said.

Our nation's competitiveness is being eroded at an alarming rate. And in Texas, they're teaching kids stuff like this?

What are we to make of the latest treasongate news?


As the investigation tightens into the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, sources tell TIME some White House officials may have learned she was married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson weeks before his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed piece criticizing the Administration. That prospect increases the chances that White House official Karl Rove and others learned about Plame from within the Administration rather than from media contacts. Rove has told investigators he believes he learned of her directly or indirectly from reporters, according to his lawyer.

The previously undisclosed fact gathering began in the first week of June 2003 at the CIA, when its public-affairs office received an inquiry about Wilson's trip to Africa from veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. That office then contacted Plame's unit, which had sent Wilson to Niger, but stopped short of drafting an internal report. The same week, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Sources familiar with the memo, which disclosed Plame's relationship to Wilson, say Secretary of State Colin Powell read it in mid-June.


A recurring theme in many of the conversations and e-mails is how Judy, to the dismay of many of her colleagues, never played by the same rules and standards as other reporters. One source e-mailed to give me some examples of this pattern: "In Feb 2003, Judy was in Salahuddin covering the Iraqi opposition conclave. Iraqi National Congress spokesperson Zaab Sethna told a reporter who was also there that Judy was staying with Chalabi's group in Salahuddin (the rest of the reporters had to stay 30 minutes away in crappy hotels in Irbil), and that the I.N.C. had provided her with a car and a translator (Did the New York Times reimburse them?). The I.N.C. offered another reporter the same, but he turned it down. Judy had just arrived in a bus convoy from Turkey, big footing C.J. Chivers, who was also there covering the story for the Times. While everyone else on the buses had to scramble for accommodations, she was staying in a luxurious villa loaned to the I.N.C. by the Kurdish Democratic Party...

"Two years earlier, she was on assignment in Paris for the Times and conducted her reporting out of the ambassador's personal residence, where she was staying. Felix Rohatyn, the ambassador at the time, was out of town, but it would be interesting to know whether the Times reimbursed U.S. taxpayers for the use of the embassy while she was there on assignment. What is certain is that the Paris bureau was buzzing about this at the time, as getting too close to sources or accepting hospitality -- accommodations, meals -- is a violation of the Times's ethical standards. The feeling was that somehow Judy was able to do whatever she wanted."

For those interested in visiting Judy at the Alexandria Detention Center, one source emailed that Miller's visiting hours "are fully booked until September 15."

Curioser and curioser...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Christian Heresies and Buddhism...

One of my commenters in the 2nd post on Pai Chang referred me to this article in the Evangelical/Protestant First Things.

I believe my commenter was focusing on the relationship to Pelagianism and early Christianity. As I am always interested in history - and actually found the rancorous theological wonkery quite interesting (although, like Russell, I would assert that at the time the Empire is collapsing and barbarians were at the gates the attentions of the best and the brightest of the post-Constantine Empire were certainly misplaced).

The degree to which Buddhist ideas affected Christianity (or vice versa) in my opinion cannot be known. Which came first? Jesus and the man whose daugter as died versus the Buddha and the woman whose daughter died stories? Perhaps the one to which you ascribe more verisimilitude has to do with temprament, experience, and other factors regardless of whether Buddhism "stole" the story from Christianity or whether Christianity "stole" the story from Buddhism.

And the end it doesn't matter: we have to live our lives. But as I said, these historical things are interesting in their own right.

Anyway to the article; my comments:

  • I think, to be honest, that there were a confluences of reasons, some good, some bad, some just dumb luck that causes religious systems to evolve. I think Christianity is no different. I think Buddhism is no different in that regard. (Parenthetically, I would say that - I can imagine howls of protest fom any naturalist atheist/agnostics reading this- that if you look at the timeline of the appearance of great religious movements in the scope of history, the only 1 that would qualify based on the appearance of other religious movements and civilization was, in fact, an atheist/agnostic movement. How that would evolve ought to be interesting.

  • The representation by the author of the notion of "perfection" misses the point of practice from a Buddhist standpoint: we know we as bags of skin and water are not completely perfectable in terms of phenomena we create associated with us, yet by our nature we are perfect and complete, lacking nothing. That is the Buddhist standpoint; the Mahayana vow is: "The Buddha Way is unattainable, I vow to attain it." It may be completely unattainable, but ...Shunryu Suzuki would say that it is our nature to try ... but I say, we have no choice but to try to attain it(whether we conciously associate the effort with Buddhism or not): the alternative is misery, for either ourselves or others.

  • Augustine knew that we were created by God for fellowship with Him, and that our hearts would always be restless until they found true rest in Him. - Believe it or not, many of us do not have a "God shaped hole" in us. Many of us, in the time of stress, and loss, and pain, can actually feel happy and content that in this life we have lived it fully, despite the pain. God or not doesn't enter into it, or might, but it is not of significance. To me, this is one of the gravest weaknesses with Augustine, and much of the early Church: the idea that there might be people content as they are does not occur to them - and in other instances had to be actively supressed - as Gibbon notes painstakingly. It is a notion that non-Christians and Christians of good will must challenge thoughtfully, respectfully, and skillfully.

So in short I think both Pelagius and Augustine were in error.

I also think folks like Pagels, who try to forensically reconstruct theology, after so much of the written text of the ancient world was destroyed are not going to be very succesful.

And towards what point?

Friday, July 29, 2005

She may be an ex-cult member, but Arianna Huffington knows weirdness...

I will admit I don't know how she's sourced her latest bit on treasongate, but there's no question that she's spot on, if her facts are true, about the strange and twisted relationship between Judith Miller and her sources:

What did Miller do to create such an impression? According to Kurtz, she wasn’t afraid to throw her weight around, threatening to write critical stories and complain to her friends in very high places if things didn’t go her way. “Judith,” said an Army officer, “was always issuing threats of either going to the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat.”

In one specific instance, she used her friendship with Major General David Petraeus to force a lower ranking officer to reverse an order she was unhappy about. (Can we stop for a moment and take the full measure of how unbelievable this whole thing is?)

Miller also had a special, ten-year relationship with Ahmed Chalabi, which led to the MET Alpha unit, which had no special training in interrogation or intelligence, being given custody of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Sultan. Miller was even allowed to sit in on the initial questioning of Sultan -- a turn of events that didn’t go down well with some Pentagon officials.

Miller apparently ended up developing an especially close relationship with Chief Warrant Officer Richard Gonzalez, the leader of the MET Alpha unit. Along with puffing him up in some of her dispatches -- once describing his “meeting tonight with Mr. Chalabi to discuss nonproliferation issues” -- Miller took the unusual step of taking part in the ceremony where Gonzalez was promoted, actually pinning his new rank to his uniform (has the bizarreness of all this hit you yet?).

Later, when Miller’s reporting came under serious fire, Gonzalez was only too happy to return the favor, writing an impassioned response to the Times’ Iraq reporting mea culpa. “We have been deeply disturbed,” Gonzalez wrote in a letter to the Times that was co-signed by a pair of his colleagues, “by the mischaracterizations of the operation and of [Miller’s] reporting… We were particularly disturbed by the recent New York Times editor’s note apologizing for having been ‘taken in’ by WMD ‘misinformation’ and citing one article she wrote while embedded with our unit… We strongly disagree with that assertion and remain firmly supportive of the accuracy of her accounts of the events she described, as well as other articles she wrote while embedded with our unit.” Wow. I’m kinda surprised he didn’t sign it “JM + MET Alpha, N.A.F (Now and Forever)”.

Again, if Miller was a leaker or a knowing facilitator of the leaking, this does more damage both to our national security and to the reputation of the NY Times than anything that Jayson Blair did or Gerth did.

The NYT could restore credibility to itself by either releasing whatever documents it has from Miller, or by telling her either to testify or to take a pink slip.

This is no "reporter's confidential privilege" issue; it is about a reporter becoming so hopelessly entangled in a hyped up "story" that she - and her employer- become parts of the fiction.

Krugman cites OECD: France's Productivity Per Hour Higher than US...


[A] ccording to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, productivity in France - G.D.P. per hour worked - is actually a bit higher than in the United States.

It's true that France's G.D.P. per person is well below that of the United States. But that's because French workers spend more time with their families.

O.K., I'm oversimplifying a bit. There are several reasons why the French put in fewer hours of work per capita than we do. One is that some of the French would like to work, but can't: France's unemployment rate, which tends to run about four percentage points higher than the U.S. rate, is a real problem. Another is that many French citizens retire early. But the main story is that full-time French workers work shorter weeks and take more vacations than full-time American workers...

I've been looking at a new study of international differences in working hours by Alberto Alesina and Edward Glaeser, at Harvard, and Bruce Sacerdote, at Dartmouth. The study's main point is that differences in government regulations, rather than culture (or taxes), explain why Europeans work less than Americans.

But the study also suggests that in this case, government regulations actually allow people to make a desirable tradeoff - to modestly lower income in return for more time with friends and family - the kind of deal an individual would find hard to negotiate. The authors write: "It is hard to obtain more vacation for yourself from your employer and even harder, if you do, to coordinate with all your friends to get the same deal and go on vacation together."

We really don't get enough vacation in the US.

The other difference of course is we have extremist cheap labor Republicans.
They don't.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Language games that remind me of Stalin...

Blumenthal in Salon, Via Atrios I learn that the "War on Terror" is out; the "War on Violent Extremism" is in:

Since Bush's speech at Fort Bragg, N.C., on June 28, for which the White House asked for and received national television coverage, and in which Bush reaffirmed "fighting the global war on terrorism," mentioned "terror" or "terrorism" 23 more times, and compared this "global war on terrorism" with the Civil War and World War II, his administration has simply dropped the words that more than any others Bush has identified as the reason for his presidency.

Throughout July, administration officials have substituted new words for the old. Instead of trumpeting the "global war on terrorism," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have sounded the call to "a global struggle against violent extremism."

Now I would expect that this could eventually be shortened to a war against "extremists," which brings me to Stalin, who in purging the Soviet Communist Party of anyone who was perceived as a potential threat to his rule, targetted his enemies as "left deviationists" or "right deviationists," while his policy was allegedly the "General Line."

In so doing, Stalin was distancing himself from "deviationists" (although of course "deviating" from any prior policy at the drop of a hat or the shot of a pistol). Likewise, Bush is in effect distancing himself from the label "extremist," even though you can't call the PNAC agenda, privatization of Social Security, abolition of the right to privacy, and any of a dozen other things anything but extremist.

It won't work as long as moderates and progressives actively work against right-wing extremism wherever they find it.

Why Judith Miller may be in jail

Arianna Huffington's usually not particuarly worth reading, but today her post on Miller and the NY Times is worth reading, but doesn't really explore one issue in depth:

What if indeed it was Miller who spread the news that Valerie Plame was a covert agent?

While indeed she, too, would be unlikely to be prosecuted under the "revealing the covert operatives" act or whatever it's called, it would give a black eye to the Times unlike anything the right has dished up against them with Jayson Blair, or against Dan Rather.

That's because it if came out that way, it will likely be shown that it is Miller, and by command responsibility her overseers at the Times, who was trying to out a covert operative to maintain the false pretenses she wrote as justifications for the war in Iraq.

Now of course, at this point, the Times has is always read skeptically (but read) by pretty much everyone, left, right, and center. But if the Times through Miller is shown to be doing this, it will have metastized into something beyond mere false reporting by a Blair, or the credulous reporting of Gerth on Ken Starr's prosecutory extravaganza. If true, the Times will have become something that not only provides inaccurate coverage, but attempts to maintain a coverup of inaccurate coverage, and thereby creates something orders of magnitude worse- and affecting national secuirity- than the original inaccurate coverage. After all, it's one thing to spin stories to go rah rah for a war. It's quite another to spin the stories and then facilitate endangering national security to silence a critic.

Whether it's Bush's folks or Miller or Bush's folks plus Miller, Novak, et al., the situation is reprehensible.

HT: Armando at Kos.

Pai Chaing and Sudden Illumination (Continued)...

It is rather odd to me that critics of this blog who think for some reason progressive Buddists aren't "true" Buddhists (?) would do so on a post about Pai Chan on "sudden illumination."

But I think it is illustrative.

The other night, I saw "Enter the Dragon" in its entirety, possibly for the first time.

In the (uncut version of the) movie Bruce Lee "plays" a monk at Shaolin temple, who, is in one part saying "wise" dialog with his teacher. Suffice it to say that Lee, who was in Hong Kong and not Henan, didn't really know squat about Shaolin temple, which at that point was largely in ruins due to the Cultural Revolution. There are Buddhist temples in Hong Kong to be sure, but there is really nothing like Shaolin there, and so Lee just had to make it up as he went along.

So it seems, do people who have no contact with Buddhism, or satori; in the absence of experience with it, they will often make up something about it. I suspect that many people have this fanciful notion of what transcendance of suffering actually is. Hence it's easy to come across characterizatons of Buddhism as pantheism, or what is important to keep in mind to skillfully live one's life.

I quoted Pai Chang here because, on hearing some of the words here, I thought that this was a good encapsulation of what the experience called enlightenment is, and how one acts from and within the experience of enlghtenment; there are others to be sure, but I wanted this bit recorded, especially as the written part of this is hard to find.

In so writing, Pai Chang is neither ratonal nor irrational: is the experience of the color blue or the taste of orange juice rational or irrational?

Now this satori is often associated with what psychologists call a "conversion experience," but clearly, from what Pai Chang (and others such as Dogen) write this is not solely the case. It is more closely the case that skillfully living one's life takes "everything we have"- body, mind, seeing hearing, touching tasting, that which is outside of us, that which came before us, that that which comes after us.

Now here is an interesting point of difference between Christianity and Buddhism: Whereas in Christianity much of the emphasis is on a presumed spiritual intervention by a deity, (and St. Paul's writings on temptation, "the flesh," indicate that this was clearly an issue for him, and it continues today) in fact, in order for one to do some things and not others requires a physical, as well as mental and spiritual discipline. Some forms of Christianity (but not all) assert baldly that this discipline cannot be cultivated, or that it is pointless to cultivate it, but those who have cultivated such a discipline are a scandal to those who have not done so. Moreover, I would say that the actions that arise from such a position have been less than could be achieved otherwise. Some people, whatever you want to call them, assert that no spiritual discipline is necessary whatsoever. I however, cannot live my life as they do: the possibility of being unskillful is too great and the advantages of acting skillfully from the cultivation of a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline are simply too great.

Going back to Pai Chang, then he is describing an experience that is a mindset for living one's life effectively in the same way that any good coach tells a kid how to play ball: by keeping your eye on it. When your eye is on the ball, there is no eyes no ears no nose no body no mind. There is no good or evil, there is no " acting as if things really are or are not, and not acting from motives of aversion, love and all the rest" - there is only BALL!

How else would you hit the damned thing- by blogging about it?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Novak was warned about Plame's status...

The Washington Post reports it today.

Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

In a column published Oct. 1, 2003, Novak wrote that the CIA official he spoke to "asked me not to use her name, saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause 'difficulties' if she travels abroad. He never suggested to me that Wilson's wife or anybody else would be endangered. If he had, I would not have used her name."

Harlow was also involved in the larger internal administration battle over who would be held responsible for Bush using the disputed charge about the Iraq-Niger connection as part of the war argument. Based on the questions they have been asked, people involved in the case believe that Fitzgerald looked into this bureaucratic fight because the effort to discredit Wilson was part of the larger campaign to distance Bush from the Niger controversy.

(Via Josh Marshall.)

Yes, Thomas Friedman is right sometimes...and wrong other times...


John Mack, the new C.E.O. at Morgan Stanley, initially demanded in the contract he signed June 30 that his total pay for the next two years would be no less than the average pay package received by the C.E.O.'s at Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. If that average turned out to be more than $25 million, Mr. Mack was to be paid at least that much. He eventually backed off that demand after a howl of protest, but it struck me as the epitome of what is wrong in America today.

We are now playing defense. A top C.E.O. wants to be paid not based on his performance, but based on the average of his four main rivals! That is like Lance Armstrong's saying he will race only if he is guaranteed to come in first or second, no matter what his cycling times are on each leg.

But I don't think Ireland's 2nd richest; it's got a good economy, low unemployment, and probably the 2nd highest growth rate, but there's countries like Luxembourg and Belgium- you know- those chocolate makers- that consistently beat America on per-capita income and lifestyle measures.

And when Friedman says:

Wouldn't you think that if you were president, after you had read the umpteenth story about premier U.S. companies, such as Intel and Apple, building their newest factories, and even research facilities, in China, India or Ireland, that you would summon the country's top business leaders to Washington ask them just one question: "What do we have to do so you will keep your best jobs here? Make me a list and I will not rest until I get it enacted."

Well, gee, Friedman, maybe they'd tell you we'd have to slash incomes here by 50%.

And maybe they wouldn't tell you and you wouldn't care. Kind of like Bush.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

An Iraq War vet says it bluntly to those who mindlessly say "Stand with the president"

From Salon:

"The only way I know how to support the troops is by going over there...All the chicken hawks back here who said, 'Oh, Iraq is talking bad about us. They're going to threaten us' -- look, if you really believe that, you leave your wife and three kids and go sign up for the Army or Marines and go over there and fight. Otherwise, shut your mouth."

Now, as I've said previously, chickenhawks do have the right to speak however they want.

But they shouldn't expect any credibility from the rest of us, let alone an attentive ear.

HT: Atrios.

Pai Chaing's Instantaneous Illumination


Q: What is a sudden illumination?

A: ‘Sudden’ means ridding yourselves of deluded thoughts’ instantaneously. ‘Illumination’ means the realization that illumination is not something to be attained.

Q: From where do we start this practice?

A: You must start from the very root.

Q: And what is that?

A: Mind is the root.

Q: How can this be known?

A: The Lankavatara Sutra says: ‘When mental processes (hsin) arise, then do all dharmas (phenomena) spring forth; and when mental processes cease, then do all dharmas cease likewise.’ The Vimalakirti Sutra says:

‘Those desiring to attain the Pure Land’ must first purify their own minds, for the purification of mind is the purity of the Buddha Land. The Sutra (of the Doctrine Bequeathed by the Buddha) says: just by mind control, all things become possible to us.’ In another sutra it says: ‘Sages seek from mind, not from the Buddha; fools seek from the Buddha instead of seeking from mind. Wise men regulate their minds rather than their persons; fools regulate their persons rather than their minds.’ The Sutra of the Names of the Buddha states: ‘Evil springs forth from the mind, and by the mind is evil overcome.’ Thus, we may know that all good and evil proceed from our minds and that mind is therefore the root. If you desire deliverance, you must first know all about the root. Unless you can penetrate to this truth, all your efforts will be vain; for, while you are still seeking something from forms external to yourselves, you will never attain. The Dhyanaparamita Sutra says:

‘For as long as you direct your search to the forms around you, you will not attain your goal even after aeon upon aeon; whereas, by contemplating your inner awareness, you can achieve Buddhahood in a single flash of thought.’ Q: By what means is the root-practice to be performed? A: Only by sitting in meditation, for it is accomplished by dhyana (ch’an) and samadhi (ting). The Dhyana-paramita Sutra says: ‘Dhyana and samadhi are essential to the search for the sacred knowledge of the Buddhas; for, without these, the thoughts remain in tumult and the roots of goodness suffer damage.’

Q: Please describe dhyana and samadhi.

A: When wrong thinking ceases, that is dhyana; when you sit contemplating your original nature,6 that is samadhi, for indeed that original nature is your eternal mind. By samadhi, you withdraw your minds from their surroundings, thereby making them impervious to the eight winds, that is to say, impervious to gain and loss, calumny and eulogy, praise and blame, sorrow and joy. By concentrating in this way, even ordinary people may enter the state of Buddhahood. How can that be so? The Sutra of the bodbi-sattva-Precepts says: ‘All beings who observe the Buddha-precept thereby enter Buddhahood.’ Other names for this are ‘deliverance’, ‘gaining the further shore’, ‘transcending the six states of mortal being ‘overleaping the three worlds’,’ or becoming a mighty Bodhisattva, an omnipotent sage, a conqueror’!

3.Q: Whereon should the mind settle and dwell?

A: It should settle upon nondwelling and there dwell.

Q: What is this nondwelling?

A: It means not allowing the mind to dwell upon any-thing whatsoever.

Q: And what is the meaning of that?

A: Dwelling upon nothing means that the mind is not fixed upon good or evil, being or nonbeing, inside or outside, or somewhere between the two, void or nonvoid, concentration or distraction. This dwelling upon nothing is the state in which it should dwell; those who attain to it are said to have nondwelling minds - in other words, they have Buddha-minds!...

5.Q: There is a sutra which says that not to perceive anything in terms of being or nonbeing is true deliverance. What does it mean?

A: When we attain to purity of mind, that is something which can be said to exist. When this happens, our remaining free from any thought of achievement is called ‘not perceiving anything as existent’; while reaching the state in which no thoughts arise or persist, yet without being conscious of their absence, is called ‘not perceiving anything as nonexistent’. So it is written: ‘Not to perceive anything in terms of being and nonbeing,’ etc. The Shuran-gama Sutra says: ‘Perceptions employed as a base for building up positive concepts are the origin of all ignorance (avidya);" perception that there is nothing to perceive - that is nirvana, also known as deliverance.’

6.Q: What is the meaning of ‘nothing to perceive’?

A: Being able to behold men, women and all the various sorts of appearances while remaining as free from love or aversion as if they were actually not seen at all - that is what is meant by ‘nothing to perceive’. Q: That which occurs when we are confronted by all sorts of shapes and forms is called ‘perception’. Can we speak of perception taking place when nothing confronts us?

A: Yes.

Q: When something confronts us, it follows that we perceive it, but how can there be perception when we are confronted by nothing at all?

A: We are now talking of that perception which is independent of there being an object or not. How can that be? The nature of perception being eternal, we go on perceiving whether objects are present or not." Thereby we come to understand that, whereas objects naturally appear and disappear, the nature of perception does neither of those things; and it is the same with all your other senses.

Q: When we are looking at something, does the thing looked at exist objectively within the sphere of perception or not?

A: No, it does not.

Q: When we (look around and) do not see anything, is there an absence of something objective within the sphere of perception?

A: No, there is not.

7.Q: When there are sounds, hearing occurs. When there are no sounds, does hearing persist or not? A: It does.

Q: When there are sounds it follows that we hear them, but how can hearing take place during the absence of sound?

A: We are now talking of that hearing which is independent of there being any sound or not. How can that be? The nature of hearing being eternal, we continue to hear whether sounds are present or not.

Q: if that is so, who or what is the hearer?

A: It is your own nature which hears and it is the inner cognizer who knows.

Q: As to the gateway of sudden illumination, what are its doctrine, its aim, its substance and its function?" A: To refrain from thinking (nien) is its doctrine; not to allow wrong thoughts to arise is its aim; purity is its substance, and wisdom is its function.

Q: We have said that its doctrine is to refrain from thinking, but we have not yet examined the meaning of this term. What is it that we must refrain from thinking about?

A: It means that we must refrain from wrong thinking, but not from right thinking.

Q: What are wrong thinking and right thinking? A: Thinking in terms of being and nonbeing is called ‘wrong thinking’, while not thinking in those terms is called ,right thinking’. Similarly, thinking in terms of good and evil is wrong; not to think so is right thinking. The same applies to all the other categories of opposites - sorrow and joy, beginning and end, acceptance and rejection, dislikes and likes, aversion and love, all of which are called ‘wrong thinking’, while to abstain from thinking in those categories is called ‘right thinking’.

Q: Please define ‘right thinking’ (more positively).

A: It means thinking solely of bodhi (enlightenment).

Q: Is bodhi something tangible?

A: It is not.

Q: But how can we think solely of bodhi if it is intangible?

A: It is as though bodhi were a mere name applied to something which, in fact, is intangible, something which never has been nor ever will be attained. Being intangible, it cannot be thought about, and it is just this not thinking about it which is called ‘rightly thinking of bodhi as some-thing not to be thought about’- for this implies that your mind dwells upon nothing whatsoever. The term ‘not to be thought about’ is like the various kinds of not-thinking mentioned earlier, all of which are but names convenient for use in certain circumstances - all are of the one sub-stance in which no differences or diversities exist. Simply to be conscious of mind as resting upon nothing what-soever is to be without thought; and whoever reaches this state is naturally delivered.

8.Q: What is the meaning of ‘to act as the Buddhas do’?

A: It means total abstention from action, which is also termed ‘right’ or ‘holy’ action. It is very similar to what we were talking about before, for it means not acting as if things really are or are not, and not acting from motives of aversion, love and all the rest. The Great Canon (...the Monastic Rules says: ‘The sages do not act like other beings; nor do other beings act like the sages.)

To be continued....

Monday, July 25, 2005

Oops there goes another lie about treasongate.

Joe Wilson's lawyer and neighbor indicates, yep, she was undercover until the Republicans blew her cover.

Much more than that, it meant -- along with the danger faced by Valerie's secret sources because of her exposure -- the Wilson family was in danger. There is no shortage of crazies in the world who blame the CIA for their problems. What a tragedy that the Wilson kids cannot play in their yard without their parents having some degree of worry because of this episode.

So I was more than a little surprised that after Valerie was outed, the CIA did not (and never has) posted security at their house. Some neighbors are so jittery that they have called the police reporting people lurking in the bushes. One report produced a squad of police in our house as we arrived home, having entered through a back door inadvertently left unlocked.

Beyond the physical danger, Valerie's privacy is over. My quiet, demure and, as we all now know, secretive neighbor has every aspect of her life exposed and her name plastered on newspapers, magazines and TV literally thousands of times a day.

Two years following the Wilson op-ed and the Novak column, we know that Joe was right -- there was no basis for the administration's claims regarding Iraq's nuclear plans. After Joe's op-ed appeared, White House officials admitted they were wrong to include the claim in the president's State of the Union. The White House has never retracted that retraction. We know that but for Joe's whistle-blowing, the administration would not have admitted that it was wrong to use the nuclear scare as a ground for war.

And we also now know that the only reason Valerie Wilson was mentioned was because, as Time magazine put it, the administration had declared "war on Wilson" for his whistle-blowing. The outing of Valerie seemed intended to send a not-so-subtle message to other potential critics, "Mess with us, and we'll mess with your family."

It's good that they're looking into suing.

I suggest they follow the example of the folks who are suing the Catholic Church in Oregon, and initiate a class action against the Republican party.

There's damages aplenty here, evidently, and the Republicans need to be sent a message that this kind of behavior has consequences in civilized society.

What happens when conservatives run governments?

Paul Krugman's article today is real polite. Too polite.

But in his overly polite way he hits the nail on the head.

What happens when conservatives run governments?

They create an uneducated citizenry that becomes impoverished because nobody wants uneducated cheap labor.

Japanese auto companies opening plants in the Southern U.S. have been unfavorably surprised by the work force's poor level of training.

There's some bitter irony here for Alabama's governor. Just two years ago voters overwhelmingly rejected his plea for an increase in the state's rock-bottom taxes on the affluent, so that he could afford to improve the state's low-quality education system. Opponents of the tax hike convinced voters that it would cost the state jobs...

But education is only one reason Toyota chose Ontario. Canada's other big selling point is its national health insurance system, which saves auto manufacturers large sums in benefit payments compared with their costs in the United States.

You might be tempted to say that Canadian taxpayers are, in effect, subsidizing Toyota's move by paying for health coverage. But that's not right, even aside from the fact that Canada's health care system has far lower costs per person than the American system, with its huge administrative expenses. In fact, U.S. taxpayers, not Canadians, will be hurt by the northward movement of auto jobs.

To see why, bear in mind that in the long run decisions like Toyota's probably won't affect the overall number of jobs in either the United States or Canada. But the result of international competition will be to give Canada more jobs in industries like autos, which pay health benefits to their U.S. workers, and fewer jobs in industries that don't provide those benefits. In the U.S. the effect will be just the reverse: fewer jobs with benefits, more jobs without.

So what's the impact on taxpayers? In Canada, there's no impact at all: since all Canadians get government-provided health insurance in any case, the additional auto jobs won't increase government spending.

But U.S. taxpayers will suffer, because the general public ends up picking up much of the cost of health care for workers who don't get insurance through their jobs. Some uninsured workers and their families end up on Medicaid. Others end up depending on emergency rooms, which are heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

More Treasongate Fallout in Sunday's Times Heralds the Fall of the House of Bush...

It still amuses me that some folks think this is a non-story. This is the story of the summer, as long as there's no African American celebrities or Democratic congressmen being accused of crimes.

Anyway, from tomorrow's NY Times:

In the growing chorus of criticism of the run-up to war, Mr. Wilson's one-man media onslaught stood out as a sort of eyewitness account. He had been dispatched to Niger by the C.I.A. to see whether Iraq was buying uranium there for nuclear weapons. He claimed to have debunked the story in March 2002, only to have it reappear in January 2003, in the president's State of the Union address.

If believed, Mr. Wilson's accusations were poised to add an insider's authority to the cloud of doubt beginning to grow around the Iraq enterprise, as the resistance was proving far more stubborn than anticipated and the search for Saddam Hussein's weapons was coming up empty.

Ten weeks had passed since Mr. Bush's speech aboard an aircraft carrier, before a banner declaring "Mission Accomplished." And the president was being criticized by Democrats as taunting Iraqi insurgents a few days earlier by using the phrase "Bring 'em on." Behind the scenes, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council were skirmishing over who would take the blame for inaccurate intelligence.

The White House response to Mr. Wilson's accusations, as it unfolded over the next eight days, would be aggressive and comprehensive. At home and from the African road trip, in on-the-record briefings and in background tips to reporters, the president's aides sought to rebut Mr. Wilson's statements and undercut his credibility.

It was political trench warfare, Washington-style, an early exchange in what would become an enduring conflict over the administration's use of prewar intelligence.

But in the enthusiasm of the campaign to discredit Mr. Wilson, someone would expose the real job of the diplomat's wife, Valerie, a C.I.A. officer who had worked under cover for two decades, hiding her position from even close friends and relatives.

Whether thoughtless or deliberate, the shattering of Valerie Wilson's cover would prompt the C.I.A. to seek a criminal investigation into the leak. And the investigation would be turned over to a special counsel with a reputation for relentlessly pursuing his quarry...

Mr. Wilson began to spread the word to reporters that he believed the president's speech had misrepresented the government's knowledge. Identified as "a former U.S. ambassador to Africa," Mr. Wilson spoke with Nicholas Kristof of The Times for a May 6, 2003, column about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. The column quoted an "insider" as saying, "It's disingenuous for the State Department people to say they were bamboozled because they knew about this for a year."

But it was only on that Sunday in July that Mr. Wilson - by then a foreign policy adviser to Democratic Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign - really turned up the volume. His charges in two newspapers and on a television network were instantly rebroadcast around the world.

The president's staff moved swiftly to counter Mr. Wilson's media trifecta, which threatened to undermine Mr. Bush's record as a war leader just 15 months before the election.

The goals were clear: shield President Bush from responsibility for dubious prewar weapons claims, and distance the vice president from Mr. Wilson's journey to Niger, which Mr. Cheney's aides say he knew nothing about.

The president's aides, including Ari Fleischer, his press secretary, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, would attempt to blunt Mr. Wilson's claims in on-the-record briefings, before Air Force Once took off for Senegal and then for the correspondents following the president as he traveled around Africa.

Meanwhile, those left in charge at the White House, including Karl Rove, the president's political guru, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff to Mr. Cheney, would spend part of the week trying to defuse the controversy over the State of the Union address.

The White House response began at 9:30 a.m. on July 7, a Monday, as Mr. Fleischer briefed the press at the White House. "There is zero, nada, nothing new here," he said of Mr. Wilson's claims. But under questioning, Mr. Fleischer's account became murkier. He seemed to concede, before backing away, that Mr. Bush's entire statement about Saddam Hussein's search for uranium in Africa might have been flawed.

By evening, as Air Force One lifted off, officials on the plane were calling The Times and The Washington Post to make it clear that they no longer stood behind Mr. Bush's statement about the uranium - the first such official concession on the sensitive issue of the intelligence that led to the war.

Aboard the president's plane was a copy of a State Department memorandum on the Wilson matter faxed in-flight to Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state. Officials who have seen the memorandum say that in a passage marked "S" for "secret," it included a crucial revelation: that Valerie Wilson was a C.I.A. officer who played a role in the agency's decision to send her husband to Africa.

As Mr. Bush appeared with one African leader after another, reporters repeatedly tried to slip in questions on Iraq. On Wednesday, July 9, in South Africa, he was asked if he regretted the uranium reference in the January speech.

"Look," the president replied, "I am confident that Saddam Hussein had a weapons of mass destruction program."

In Uganda, two days later, he was asked whether "somebody should be held accountable" for the inaccurate reference in the State of the Union address. He replied, "I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services."

There's more. We now know that Bush was lying about the WMDs, and solicited a rubber stamp from George Tenet. What did Bush know and when did he know it? How much was he involved?

In fact, if you go over to the Week in Review section, they start asking those same questions.

The special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has kept a tight curtain of secrecy around his investigation. But he spent more than an hour in the Oval Office on June 24, 2004, interviewing Mr. Bush about the case. Mr. Bush was not under oath, but he had his personal lawyer for the case, James E. Sharp, with him.

Neither the White House nor the Justice Department has said what Mr. Bush was asked about, but prosecutors do not lightly seek to put questions directly to any president, suggesting that there was some information that Mr. Fitzgerald felt he could get only from Mr. Bush.

Allan J. Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University in Washington, said the lesson of recent history, for example in the Iran-contra case under President Ronald Reagan, is that presidents tend to know more than it might first appear about what is going on within the White House.

"My presumption in presidential politics is that the president always knows," Mr. Lichtman said. "But there are degrees of knowing. Reagan said, keep the contras together body and soul. Did he know exactly what Oliver North was doing? No, it doesn't mean he knew what every subordinate is doing."

No Republican is going to want to "ride Bush's coattails" going into either 2006 or 2008.

Iraq is getting to be even more of a quagmire, ...

"We are capturing or killing a lot of insurgents," said a senior Army intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make his assessments public. "But they're being replaced quicker than we can interdict their operations. There is always another insurgent ready to step up and take charge."...

[O]n Thursday, the rebels struck again, kidnapping the top Algerian diplomat in Iraq and a colleague. The gunmen snatched Ali Billaroussi, the top envoy, and Azzedine Belkadi, in Mansour, one of Baghdad's best neighborhoods, in broad daylight.

The abduction of the two diplomats followed the kidnapping and killing earlier this month of Ihab al-Sharif, Egypt's top diplomat, who had been designated to become the Arab world's first ambassador to Iraq. The kidnappings seemed designed to intimidate foreign governments, particularly Muslim governments, into withholding full diplomatic relations with the fledging Iraqi government.

As with the slaying of the moderate Sunni leaders, the kidnappings have seemed, so far, to have secured exactly what the insurgents wanted. No Arab government has yet sent an ambassador to this country.

It's about over for the House of Bush...

The Portland Priest Pedophile Scandal Suit Just Got More Interesting

Judge widens church assets case to all parishioners

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris agreed Friday to expand the Portland Archdiocese bankruptcy case to include every Roman Catholic parishioner and contributor in Western Oregon -- more than 389,000 people.

About 80,000 Catholic households will soon get the news in the mail that they are defendants in the property dispute between more than 200 sex abuse plaintiffs and the Archdiocese of Portland.

None of the parishioners or contributors will be personally liable for paying claims if they lose the case. But they could see their parish assets sold or put up as collateral for loans to pay settlements.

The legal maneuver, known as a defendant class action, is so rare in bankruptcy court that Perris has never dealt with one in her 21 years on the bench. All parties involved agreed the class action was the best way to get the stalled, 11-month-old property litigation restarted.

The heart of the dispute -- ownership of property by the archdiocese's 124 parishes and three high schools -- is vital to the year-old bankruptcy case.

If the $500 million to $600 million in disputed real estate, investments and cash is found to belong to the archdiocese, it will become available to pay off abuse claims now totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. It is those claims that the archdiocese said pushed it into bankruptcy last July.

If the property is found to belong to the parishes, as the archdiocese argues, the parish assets will be declared off limits for abuse settlements. At the time of its Chapter 11 filing, the archdiocese said it owned $10 million in real estate and $9 million in cash deposits...

Any member of the class may choose to "opt out," or withdraw his or her membership from the class. But those people likely will end up as defendants anyway, because the plaintiffs' committee intends to sue anyone who opts out.

I can't but agree with what is being done here.

Too many people have been abused.

Why we hate each other...

We are appalled at the terrorism, such as what happened in Egypt last night.


They are appalled at the internment and abuse of children in places like Abu Ghraib.

"I saw a camp for children there. Boys, under the age of puberty. There were certainly hundreds of children in this camp. Some have been released, others are certainly still there."

From his single cell in the adults' section, Suhaib heard a perhaps 12-year-old girl crying. Suhaib learned that her brother was being held on the second floor of the prison. Suhaib says he saw her there himself once or twice.

In the night, they had been in her cell. The girl had shouted to the other prisoners and called out her brother's name.

An artist has drawn the scene for the British TV station ITN.

Original soundtrack, Suhaib Badr-Addin Al-Baz, TV reporter:

"She was beaten. I heard her call out: They have undressed me. They have poured water over me."

Both cultures must change, but since we have more power to change ourselves, and doing so, more authority to encourage change elsewhere, it is incumbent on us to place greater attention there first.

Over there, we have to radically change the culture, from the ground up. We've got to basically educate everyone about the consequences of this behavior and belief system. But we have to do it in a way that is different from our culture- because we too, have large pockets of exclusvist religious fanaticism and extremism.

And we can't change them without changing ourselves.

HT: This Modern World.

Both of these stories are out all over the world at the same time. If Americans don't learn the lesson from both of these stories, there simply will be more of both of these kinds of stories.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Another knee-slapper thanks to Richard Bennett

Well, not really directly from Richard, but he deserves a major hat tip for his post here. He introduced me to "Sister Hibiscus" via the Carnival of Chinese blogs.

China’s internet censors are ‘keeping an eye’ on sino-sexblogger Sister Hibiscus. The below item from the Asian Sex Gazette (worksafe, risque banner ads) concludes that her 15 minutes of fame are up.”

As you can see from the above photo from China Daily (story here), they're "keeping an eye on her" in much the same way that Rupert Murdoch "keeps an eye" on all those beauties he publishes right near his gossip columns.

Sister Hibiscus is not beautiful - by most accepted standards, that is.

But, going by the philosophy that "if you haven't got it, flaunt it," she has created quite a buzz in China's online world.

Usually referred to as frjj, short for "Furong Jiejie," Sister Hibiscus' apparently misplaced confidence in her looks, writing and dancing ability has made her something of an Internet legend.

And while her tireless self-publicity has gained her comparison with a myriad other desperate Z-list celebrities, one lingering question sets Sister Hibiscus apart: Is she deluded, does she really believe she is as beautiful and talented as she claims, or is she fooling us, and manipulating the public for future profit?

Then, there is the possibility, albeit slight, of a classic underdog story. Born in a peasant family in Shaanxi Province, Sister Hibiscus did not have an easy time with the country's college entrance system. It took her three tries to get into college, and since graduation, she has set her eyes on two of the country's best schools - Peking University and Tsinghua University - for postgraduate studies. Three tries later, she is still outside the ivory tower.

But for a long time, she could almost pass as a Tsinghua member. She frequented the university's online forums, leaving very personal essays and posting provocative photos taken at well-known campus locations.

What has made her stand out, however, is her self-evaluation: "My sexy appearance and ice-and-jade pure quality bring me a lot of attention wherever I go. I'm always the centre of everything. People never tire of looking at my face, and my physique gives men nose-bleeds."

Sister Hibiscus says things as if she is living in a romance novel. Many call her a narcissist, but she prefers the term "self-confidence."

Ever since she became the subject of endless online coverage and discussions, netizens have been heaping both mud and flowers on her - tons of them.

She works as an editor for an electronic publisher, but fame, which she insists is unavoidable to her, has gained her a cult following.

Experts have flipped out their Swiss-army knives and have been dissecting the phenomenon as if it were a virus plaguing the nation. Most believe that it is "cruel" and "evil" for her "fans" to keep up the "circus." This woman is obviously suffering from some kind of delusion, they contend, and she needs professional care, not the encouragement of a cynical electronic audience.

"I cannot imagine how much she'll be hurt when, someday, she wakes up to reality," writes Liu Tianzhao, a freelance commentator on entertainment issues. "Those who enjoy this kind of humour reek of madness.

Really, folks these photos are taken from China Daily. What mean nasty, unfreedom loving anti-sex folks they have there! I mean, they might as well be publishing Isadora Duncan dancing!

Isadora Duncan, from the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library.

Somebody tell both Richard Bennett and China Daily about deconstruction, irony, and Rupert Murdoch tabloids. Please. Before I read another thing like this and spit out some beverage all over my keyboard. Oh, and one other thing: Richard please, click through your links, do a Google search, be a good blogger and at least pretend to multiple source things!

This is like the American Family Association and Focus on the Family in that they offer titillation and condemnation- you can't be more fair and balanced than that...although if anybody doesn't think the titillation's way out front and center, they need to see a sex therapist.


My wife apparently thinks "Furong JieJie is too out there>."

To each his own.

Yeah, China has human rights issues.

So does the US.

But if you're worried about Furong Jiejie, why not liberate a Playboy Bunny or a Page 6 girl over here first?

Nice to know the press is still on McClellan like a cheap suit...

From yesterday's WH briefing:

Q Why does Karl Rove still have security clearance and access to classified documents when he has been revealed as a leaker of a secret agent, according to Time magazine's correspondent?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there is an investigation that continues, and I think the President has made it clear that we're not going to prejudge the outcome of that investigation.

Q You already have the truth.

MR. McCLELLAN: We're not going to prejudge the outcome of that investigation through --

Q Does he have access to security documents?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- through media reports. And these questions came up over the last week --

Q Did he leak the name of a CIA agent?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I was trying to tell you, these questions have been answered.

Q No, they haven't...

Q White House officials have been very clear through their attorneys or through other leaks to make it known that it was essentially journalists who educated them about who Valerie Plame was, what she did, and her role in sending her husband to Niger. It has now come to light that in fact White House officials were aware, or at least had access to a State Department memo that the President's own Secretary of State at the time had with him when he was traveling on Air Force One to Africa, which indicated both who she was, what she did, and her role in the Niger trip. So did the White House, in fact, know about her through this memo, or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: I thank you for wanting to proceed ahead with the investigation from this room, but I think that the appropriate place for that to happen is through those who are overseeing the investigation. The President directed us to cooperate fully, and that's exactly what we have been doing and continue to do.

Q But you don't deny that attorneys for Rove and others in the White House are speaking about these matters, creating a lot of these questions, right, that you say you can't speak to?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, we're not getting into talking about an ongoing investigation. That's what the President indicated, as well...

Q Scott, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, lead by Byron Dorgan, along with the Democrats of the House Government Reform Committee, are going to hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. on the leaking of classified information and the damage that it could cause. Do you think that that investigation that they're conducting on -- just Democrats is helpful?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that it's helpful for all of us to make sure we're doing our part to allow the people overseeing the investigation to do their job. And that's what we've been doing from this White House. And I really don't have anything to add beyond that...

Treasongate is going to continue for quite a while, righties. Please try to enjoy it.

About Schwarzenegger -

I'd say recall him now, but as I recall, there's an election in 2006 and we might as well let him stew in his own juices, metaphorically speaking, till then.

It's looking like perjury for Rove, Libby, and who else?

Think Progress reprints the Bloomberg story here.

Meanwhile, with Judith Miller in the hoosegow, the New York Times reports on the connection between the outing of Valerie Plame and the bogus "smoking cloud" claims from the Bush regime, bringing the motive for the apparent crime into sharp relief.

People who have been briefed on the case said the White House officials, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby, were helping prepare what became the administration's primary response to criticism that a flawed phrase about the nuclear materials in Africa had been in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address six months earlier.

They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president's political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet.

At the same time, they were grappling with the fallout from an Op-Ed article on July 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Mr. Wilson, a former diplomat, in which he criticized the way the administration had used intelligence to support the claim in Mr. Bush's speech.

The work done by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby on the Tenet statement during this intense period has not been previously disclosed. People who have been briefed on the case discussed this critical time period and the events surrounding it to demonstrate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife, Valerie Wilson, but were intent on clarifying the use of intelligence in the president's address. Those people who have been briefed requested anonymity because prosecutors have asked them not to discuss matters under investigation.

The special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has been examining this period of time to determine whether the officials' work on the Tenet statement led in some way to the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity to Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist, according to the people who have been briefed.

It is not clear what information Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby might have collected about Ms. Wilson as they worked on the Tenet statement. Mr. Rove has said he learned her name from Mr. Novak. Mr. Libby has declined to discuss the matter.

The effort was striking because to an unusual degree, the circle of officials involved included those from the White House's political and national security operations, which are often separately run. Both arms were drawn into the effort to defend the administration during the period.

In another indication of how wide a net investigators have cast in the case, Karen Hughes, a former top communications aide to Mr. Bush, and Robert Joseph, who was then the National Security Council's expert on weapons proliferation, have both told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that they were interviewed by the special prosecutor.

Now I suspect these anonymous sources are none other than people who are on the Rove-Libby side of this.

And their excuse is pretty weak - what is really being demonstrated in those e-mails is opportunity.

I suspect Fitzgerald wants slam-dunk convictions on Rove, Libby, and possibly others, but to me, enough pieces are there to send these guys to prison, straight away, on perjury and obstruction of justice.

Or, maybe Fizgerald still has bigger fish to fry. Or maybe he just wants to capture all the guilty parties.


Lawrence O'Donnell says - and given he's been right so far I've no reason to doubt him - that it is indeed Rove's mouthpiece Luskin who's the "anonymous source" here.

...Today's Times piece says that Luskin's latest description about how Rove and Lewis Libby worked together (the prosecutor might say conspired) to respond to Joe Wilson's Op-Ed piece was leaked to the the Times "to demonstrate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife, Valerie Wilson, but were intent on clarifying the use of intelligence in the president's [State of the Union] address."

That will be Rove and Libby's defense against a possible conspiracy count in the prosecutor's eventual indictment.

It is important for Luskin to get his defense started now because he knows that what one appeals court judge in the case called "the plot against Wilson" is going to become public when the prosecutor reveals everything he has already revealed only to the judges.

Rove is obviously in charge of the day-to-day strategy of what Luskin leaks to the press. Rove is stealing a page from the Clinton scandal management playbook. He is trying to set the stage for the day the prosecutor turns over his cards. Rove-Luskin will then call it all "old news."

Everything Rove-Luskin has leaked has been printed in a form most favorable to the Rove defense without a word of leaked input from the prosecutor. When the prosecutor tells his story, don't expect him to accept Rove's currently uncontested claim that he does not recall who told him that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent and don't expect the "old news" spin to work. When the prosecutor has his day, he is going to make new news.

I'd add that this excuse by Rove isn't going to wash- there'd be no reason to out a CIA operative if that were the only reason.

We're looking at major indictments here.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Stupidity knows no borders


ABU SHOUK, Sudan, July 21 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's official visit with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan turned angry after today Sudanese security officers pushed and shoved members of her delegation and the news media as they tried to enter the meeting site at the presidential palace.

Ms. Rice said she was "outraged" and demanded an official apology, which the foreign minister delivered by phone a little more than an hour later. But it was clear the incident left her angry and worsened an already difficult relationship...

As James Wilkinson, Ms. Rice's communications director, tried to join the meeting, security officers shoved him against the wall. "Diplomacy 101 says you don't rough up your guests," he said afterward.

After Ms. Rice entered the meeting with Mr. Bashir, they sat in awkward silence for almost 10 minutes because Mr. Bashir speaks only Arabic and his security guards refused to let Ms. Rice's translator in...

After the meeting, American and Sudanese reporters and photographers were allowed to enter the room to take pictures and observe. Mr. Bashir was telling Ms. Rice about the historical significance of his ancestral home when Andrea Mitchell of NBC News shouted a question to Mr. Bashir: "Why should Americans believe your promises" regarding Darfur, when "your government is still supporting the militias?"

Before she could finish, two Sudanese security officers grabbed her from behind and dragged her from the room. Mr. Bashir did not respond to the question or otherwise comment.

Whatever differences I have with Ms. Rice and the regime she works for, this is idiocy; we've invaded Iraq and a slew of other countries on less pretext than this. And for what purpose? Oh, yeah, we're not going to probe more about the murderous activites of these folks. We'll just go away. Riiight.

Does this guy have a death wish?

Besides wasn't that Mrs. Allen Greenspan his goons roughed up?

OK, on this blog, this is bigger than Plame...

News Release From China's Central Bank

With a view to establish and improve the socialist market economic system
in China, enable the market to fully play its role in resource allocation as
well as to put in place and further strengthen the managed floating exchange
rate regime based on market supply and demand, the People's Bank of China, with
authorization of the State Council, is hereby making the following announcements
regarding reforming the RMB exchange rate regime:
1. Starting from July 21,
2005, China will reform the exchange rate regime by moving into a managed
floating exchange rate regime based on market supply and demand with reference
to a basket of currencies. RMB will no longer be pegged to the US dollar and the
RMB exchange rate regime will be improved with greater flexibility.
2. The
People's Bank of China will announce the closing price of a foreign currency
such as the US dollar traded against the RMB in the inter-bank foreign exchange
market after the closing of the market on each working day, and will make it the
central parity for the trading against the RMB on the following working day.
3. The exchange rate of the US dollar against the RMB will be adjusted to
8.11 yuan per US dollar at the time of 19:00 hours of July 21, 2005. The foreign
exchange designated banks may since adjust quotations of foreign currencies to
their customers.
4. The daily trading price of the US dollar against the RMB
in the inter-bank foreign exchange market will continue to be allowed to float
within a band of ��0.3 percent around the central parity published by the
People's Bank of China, while the trading prices of the non-US dollar currencies
against the RMB will be allowed to move within a certain band announced by the
People's Bank of China.
The People's Bank of China will make adjustment of
the RMB exchange rate band when necessary according to market development as
well as the economic and financial situation. The RMB exchange rate will be more
flexible based on market condition with reference to a basket of currencies. The
People's Bank of China is responsible for maintaining the RMB exchange rate
basically stable at an adaptive and equilibrium level, so as to promote the
basic equilibrium of the balance of payments and safeguard macroeconomic and
financial stability.

I hope everybody bought FXI and shorted or had puts on Wal-Mart.

And I also hope you didn't have lots of long term bonds.

Ishares Xinhua index ETF

On edit:

  • All those folks who said "Warren Buffett was wrong!" have egg on their faces now.

  • Note to self: the next time there's a pending "something" going to happen in financial markets, and nothing happens for a few days, increase your position more favorably towards that "something."

    Not that I'm crying over any lost money. Today will have been a good day.

The Media's Getting Back to Plame Earlier Than I'd Have Thought

Bombshell from the WP today:

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post.

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said. It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a federal official to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert CIA official if the person knows the government is trying to keep it secret...

The memo may be important to answering three central questions in the Plame case: Who in the Bush administration knew about Plame's CIA role? Did they know the agency was trying to protect her identity? And, who leaked it to the media?

Almost all of the memo is devoted to describing why State Department intelligence experts did not believe claims that Saddam Hussein had in the recent past sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Only two sentences in the seven-sentence paragraph mention Wilson's wife.

The memo was delivered to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on July 7, 2003, as he headed to Africa for a trip with President Bush aboard Air Force One. Plame was unmasked in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak seven days later.

Now, here's the thing the WP left out:

In order to disseminate information at a classifed level (above "Unclassified"- and Secret is above "Confidential") 2 conditions must be met:

1. The person to whom the information is to be disseminated must be cleared at the appropriate level.

2. The person to whom the information is to be disseminated must have a need to know.

I think it might be reasonable to assume that Rove, Fleischer, and Libby might have had secret clearances.

But, uh, what might have been, say, Fleischer's need to know?

I'm sure that's what Fitzgerald's zooming in on.

Maybe about Rove and Libby too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Republicans yet again miss the point...

Richard Bennett writes approvingly of this piece in the LA Times by CRF senior fellow Max Boot.

Chinese strategists, in the best tradition of Sun Tzu, are working on craftier schemes to topple the American hegemon

In 1998, an official People's Liberation Army publishing house brought out a treatise called "Unrestricted Warfare," written by two senior army colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. This book, which is available in English translation, is well known to the U.S. national security establishment but remains practically unheard of among the general public....

Their different approaches include financial warfare (subverting banking systems and stock markets), drug warfare (attacking the fabric of society by flooding it with illicit drugs), psychological and media warfare (manipulating perceptions to break down enemy will), international law warfare (blocking enemy actions using multinational organizations), resource warfare (seizing control of vital natural resources), even ecological warfare (creating man-made earthquakes or other natural disasters)...

It's pretty much a given that when you see something like this, there's more to the picture, and sure enough there is.

It turns out, you can actually read the treatise referred to here.

There's much, much to read there. And I've only read a few pages so far. But what seems clear from what I've read is:

There's the intent to become a major player without being the US.

The US would do well to head its advice on strategic blunders attributed to the US:

When setting objectives, give full consideration to the feasibility of accomplishing them. Do not pursue objectives which are unrestricted in time and space. Only with limits can they be explicit and practical, and only with limits can there be functionality. In addition, after accomplishing an objective, one will then have the resilience to go on and pursue the next. [6] When setting objectives, one must overcome the mentality of craving great successes, and instead consciously
pursue limited objectives and eliminate objectives which are beyond one's abilities, even though they may be proper. This is because every objective which is achievable is limited. No matter what the reason, setting objectives which exceed allowable limits of the measures available will only lead to disastrous consequences.
The most typical illustration of expanding objectives is the mistake which MacArthur made in the Korean War. Subsequent to that are similar mistakes committed by the Americans in Vietnam and the Soviets in Afghanistan, which prove that no matter what sort of action it is and no matter who is executing it, when objectives are greater than measures, then defeat is certain.

Not all of today's statesmen and strategists are clear on this point. The 1996 U.S. Department of Defense Report contains this premise from President Clinton: "As the world's most powerful nation, we have a leadership obligation, and when our interests and sense of values are subject to great danger we will take action." When he spoke those words, obviously even Clinton was unaware that national interests and sense of values are strategic objectives of two completely different scales. If we say that the former is an objective which American power can protect through action, the latter is neither an objective that its power can achieve nor is an objective
which the United States should pursue outside its own territory. "World's number one," an ideology corresponding to "isolationism," always makes the Americans tend to pursue unlimited objectives as they expand their national power. But this is a tendency which in the end will lead to tragedy. A company which has limited resources but which is nevertheless keen to take on unlimited responsibilities is headed for only one possible outcome, and that is bankruptcy.

Also good reading is, starting from page 181, "Supra-National Combinations."

The message though should be clear: regardless of what you think about China or the United States, what Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui wrote will likely come to pass, simply because it will serve the interests of enough people, nations, and organizations to do so.

The approach they write about actually seems to depend on cooperation with competing entities rather than confrontation.

What a concept.

Now, if this can be used to improve the human rights situation in both China and the US, so much the better.

But about all the hoopla about "THEY'RE OUT TO GET US!" - I'd say simply simmer down. Folks, they have had a history of US aggression against them. We do have a history of going around invading other countries (which, with the possible exception of Vietnam, they don't), and their military's job is to watch out for threats to their own nation.

And I'd also say if you were that concerned about China, - well, you'd want to pull out of Iraq, now wouldn't you?

Or, faling that, maybe you'd like to volunteer?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lawrence O'Donnell : probably right again

In all the hoopla I missed this article from O'Donnell, on why Rove is likely to be indicted. It bears quoting:

I’ll be surprised if all four of those elements of the crime line up perfectly for a Rove indictment [based on the federal law protecting identities of agents]. Surprised, not shocked. There is one very good reason to think they might. It is buried in one of the handful of federal court opinions that have come down in the last year ordering Matt Cooper and Judy Miller to testify or go to jail.

In February, Circuit Judge David Tatel joined his colleagues’ order to Cooper and Miller despite his own, very lonely finding that indeed there is a federal privilege for reporters that can shield them from being compelled to testify to grand juries and give up sources. He based his finding on Rule 501 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which authorizes federal courts to develop new privileges “in the light of reason and experience.” Tatel actually found that reason and experience “support recognition of a privilege for reporters’ confidential sources.” But Tatel still ordered Cooper and Miller to testify because he found that the privilege had to give way to “the gravity of the suspected crime.”

Judge Tatel’s opinion has eight blank pages in the middle of it where he discusses the secret information the prosecutor has supplied only to the judges to convince them that the testimony he is demanding is worth sending reporters to jail to get. The gravity of the suspected crime is presumably very well developed in those redacted pages. Later, Tatel refers to “[h]aving carefully scrutinized [the prosecutor’s] voluminous classified filings.”

Some of us have theorized that the prosecutor may have given up the leak case in favor of a perjury case, but Tatel still refers to it simply as a case “which involves the alleged exposure of a covert agent.” Tatel wrote a 41-page opinion in which he seemed eager to make new law -- a federal reporters’ shield law -- but in the end, he couldn’t bring himself to do it in this particular case. In his final paragraph, he says he “might have” let Cooper and Miller off the hook “[w]ere the leak at issue in this case less harmful to national security.”

Tatel’s colleagues are at least as impressed with the prosecutor’s secret filings as he is. One simply said “Special Counsel’s showing decides the case.”

All the judges who have seen the prosecutor’s secret evidence firmly believe he is pursuing a very serious crime, and they have done everything they can to help him get an indictment.

The latest Repub tax increase

Millions of investors who bought dividend-paying stocks after President Bush persuaded Congress to lower the taxes on investments to 15 percent are paying a lot more, in some cases almost 50 percent more, two new analyses show.

The cause is the alternative minimum tax, a parallel income tax that was originally aimed at the richest taxpayers but is affecting an increasing number of Americans and denying them at least part of the Bush administration's tax cuts.

Until 2003, dividends were taxed at the same rates as wages, as high as 35 percent for some taxpayers. But the alternative minimum tax can subject taxpayers who make less than $382,000 (roughly the threshold for the top 1 percent income class) to an effective tax rate on dividends and capital gains of 22 percent. The higher rate can affect some taxpayers making as little as $75,000.

John Buckley, the chief tax lawyer for Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, argued in an article published yesterday in Tax Notes, a weekly nonprofit journal of tax policy, that this denial of promised tax relief was not a mistake, but part of a calculated Republican strategy dating back to at least 1996. The article is also posted at www "The use of the A.M.T. to reduce the cost of recent tax cuts clearly is the most consequential of the many budget gimmicks we have seen in recent years," Mr. Buckley, who opposes most of Mr. Bush's tax policies, wrote.

"The 1997, 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are remarkably similar in one respect," he wrote. "They used the A.M.T. to limit the benefits provided to middle-income and moderately wealthy taxpayers to provide the greatest benefits to the very wealthy."

The Treasury Department, speaking for the White House, issued a statement on Friday calling Mr. Buckley's analysis "absurd."

However, most people realize today that from the present regime "absurd" means "completely correct."

The Bush regime wants to reduce the wealth of the poor and middle income people. No mystery there.

Monday, July 18, 2005

In case you didn't get 'em from the right wingnutosphere today...

Here's your GOP talking points, or, a comparatively minor set of wrongs on the Democrats' part (how much of this stuff led to hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and thousands of killed and wounded Americans?) negates treasongate.


You can't make this stuff up.

If anything says "guilty" it's an attempt to change the subject. My 3 year old doesn't get away with this gambit, and neither will the Repubs.

OK, forget everything I've written; FOTF quotes Gary Bauer: Treasongate is a "pseudo-scandal."

Well, according to FOTF's unnamed "observers" it's " an attempt by liberals and the media to discredit Bush."

Of course, the fact that Bush and his regime have stonewalled on this, flip-flopped, and backtracked has nothing to do with it.

However, not content to wallow in shameless propaganda, FOTF quotes, of all people, legal luminary Gary Bauer, who goes right on to mis-state (lie about? well anyway, the lie's in bold) the meaning of the relevant statute:

"This is not a national security scandal," he said. "And the law that people are citing requires you to cite an individual's name, it requires you to knowingly do it, knowing that that individual is undercover and could be endangered. None of these things are fulfilled by the Karl Rove phone calls."

As everybody in the blogosphere knows by now, that bold stuff is just plain horse-hockey.

And I'd say it is a national security scandal, and a big one, and I've got 3/4 of America who agrees with me on that one.

Fitzgerald is after "big game"

This piece on Bloomberg (hey, he's a Republican, too!) ought to send shivers down the spines of Bush regime apologists:

Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman said yesterday on ``Meet the Press'' that recent newspaper stories ``have the effect of exonerating and vindicating Mr. Rove, not implicating him. That information says Karl Rove was not Bob Novak's source, that Novak told Rove, not the other way around, and it says that Karl warned Matt Cooper about Joe Wilson.''

Others see difficulties in these arguments. They note the inherent contradiction between Rove's testimony to the grand jury that he learned Plame's name from Novak and his statement to Novak during the July 8 phone call that ``I've heard that, too.''

Potential Problem

This points toward a potential problem for Rove in the direction of Fitzgerald's investigation. It now has expanded beyond its original mission -- to determine if the 1982 law was violated -- to encompass whether any White House officials, including Rove and Fleischer, have testified falsely about the case or obstructed justice by trying to cover up their involvement in the leak, according to people familiar with the case who cite a pattern of questioning by Fitzgerald.

In addition, there is strong reason to believe that Fitzgerald is hunting big game, according to several legal experts. They say that is demonstrated by the fact that he has done something that no federal prosecutor has done in 30 years: send a reporter, Judith Miller of the New York Times, to jail for refusing to divulge with whom she spoke about the Wilson-Plame case.

``You wouldn't expect him to go to these lengths unless he thought he had something serious to look at,'' said Randall Eliason, the former chief of the public corruption section at the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington. ``You don't compel reporters to testify or jail reporters unless you have a pretty good reason.''

Tatel's Opinion

That ``pretty good reason'' was highlighted by U.S. Appellate Judge David Tatel in his Feb. 15 opinion concurring that Miller and Cooper must testify in the Plame case.

Tatel noted that the vast majority of the states, as well as the Justice Department, ``would require us to protect reporters' sources as a matter of federal common law were the leak at issue either less harmful or more newsworthy.''

However, he added, ``just as attorney-client communications made for the purpose of getting advice for the commission of a fraud or crime serve no public interest and receive no privilege, neither should courts protect sources whose leaks harm national security while providing minimal benefit to public debate.''

Which is only what I've been saying for a while.

So spin all you want righties, and make up stories about how David Corn and Joe Wilson were behind it all.

But I don't think that's the people Fitzgerald has targeted.

Targeted? Did I say that?

I meant "focused."

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the leaking of a Central Intelligence Agency agent's name is now focused on how Rove, one of President George W. Bush's closest advisers, and other administration officials dealt with a key fact in an equally key memo.

Don't miss Seymour Hersh's piece in the New Yorker

Evidently, what I'd previously said was true: the last thing the Bush regime wanted was a truly democratic Iraq:

The initial election plan, endorsed in late 2003 by Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, involved a caucus system in which the C.P.A. would be able to exert enormous influence over the selection of a transitional government. Each major ethnic group—the Shiites, who represent sixty per cent of the population; the Sunnis, with twenty per cent; and the Kurds, with around fifteen per cent—would have a fixed number of seats in a national assembly. The U.S. hoped to hold the election before the transfer of sovereignty, which was scheduled for June 30, 2004, but the lack of security made the deadline unrealistic. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of one of the Shiite parties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or sciri, agreed to accept a delay, as the U.S. wanted, in return for the White House’s commitment to hold a direct one-man, one-vote election. President Bush agreed. It was a change in policy that many in the Administration feared would insure a Shiite majority in the new assembly.

The obstacles to a free election, in a country with shallow democratic roots, suffering from years of dictatorship, a foreign invasion, and an insurgency, were immense. As Larry Diamond, a senior adviser to the C.P.A., warned Bremer in a March, 2004, memorandum, “Political parties that have never contested democratic elections before tend to fall back upon their worst instincts and experience. They buy votes, and frequently they buy electoral officials. . . . They use armed thugs to intimidate opposition, and even to assassinate opponents. . . . They may use force and fraud to steal or stuff the ballot boxes.”

In a second memo, Diamond noted that sciri and Dawa, the other major Shiite party, as well as more militant Shiite paramilitary groups, were believed to be receiving funding and training from Iran. “Most of the other political parties complain of the difficulty of finding the financial resources to organize, mobilize support, and prepare to contest elections,” Diamond wrote. “Several have appealed directly, if discreetly, for some kind of international assistance, including from the United States.”...

The main advocate for channelling aid to preferred parties was Thomas Warrick, a senior adviser on Iraq for the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, who was backed, in this debate, by his superiors and by the National Security Council. Warrick’s plan involved using forty million dollars that had been appropriated for the election to covertly provide cell phones, vehicles, radios, security, administrative help, and cash to the parties the Administration favored. The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor resisted this plan, and turned to three American non-governmental organizations that have for decades helped to organize and monitor elections around the world: the National Democratic Institute (N.D.I.), the International Republican Institute (I.R.I.), and the National Endowment for Democracy (N.E.D.).

“It was a huge debate,” a participant in the discussions told me. “Warrick said he had gotten the Administration principals”—senior officials of the State Department, the Pentagon, and the National Security Council—“to agree.” The N.G.O.s “were fighting a rearguard action to get this election straight,” and emphasized at meetings that “the idea of picking favorites never works,” he said... the same time period, former military and intelligence officials told me, the White House promulgated a highly classified Presidential “finding” authorizing the C.I.A. to provide money and other support covertly to political candidates in certain countries who, in the Administration’s view, were seeking to spread democracy. “The finding was general,” a recently retired high-level C.I.A. official told me. “But there’s no doubt that Baghdad was a stop on the way. The process is under the control of the C.I.A. and the Defense Department.”...

Sometime after last November’s Presidential election, I was told by past and present intelligence and military officials, the Bush Administration decided to...covertly intervene in the Iraqi election. A former national-security official told me that he had learned of the effort from “people who worked the beat”—those involved in the operation. It was necessary, he added, “because they couldn’t afford to have a disaster.”

A Pentagon consultant who deals with the senior military leadership acknowledged that the American authorities in Iraq “did an operation” to try to influence the results of the election. “They had to,” he said. “They were trying to make a case that Allawi was popular, and he had no juice.” A government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon’s civilian leaders said, “We didn’t want to take a chance.”

So, is there any other reason left for the Iraq invasion beside control of Iraqi oil?