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Sunday, April 08, 2007

2006 When the Iraqis stand up we'll stand down
2007 When the Iraqis stand up we'll shoot them down

Pamphlets dropped by US helicopters warned police, who are suspected of being infiltrated by the militia, to stay off the streets. Any found carrying weapons would be shot.


Anonymous said...

Remember when you asked about who was not fired, which U.S. Attorneys were not fired, and why? Remember?


Anonymous said...

April 9, 2007

Paul Krugman: Sweet Little Lies
Edited by Mark Thoma

Paul Krugman explains the power of the "Little Lie":

NY Times: Four years into a war fought to eliminate a nonexistent threat, we all have renewed appreciation for the power of the Big Lie: people tend to believe false official claims about big issues, because they can't picture their leaders being dishonest about such things.

But there's another political lesson I don't think has sunk in: the power of the Little Lie — the small accusation invented out of thin air, followed by another, and another, and another. Little Lies aren't meant to have staying power. Instead, they create a sort of background hum, a sense that the person ... must have done something wrong. ...

Before 9/11, ... the right-wing noise machine mainly relied on little lies. And now it has returned to its roots.

The Clinton years were a parade of fake scandals: Whitewater, Troopergate, Travelgate, Filegate, Christmas-card-gate..., there were false claims that Clinton staff members trashed the White House on their way out.

Each pseudoscandal got headlines, air time and finger-wagging from the talking heads. The eventual discovery in each case that there was no there there ... received far less attention. The effect was to make an administration that was, in fact, pretty honest and well run ... seem mired in scandal.

Even in the post-9/11 environment, little lies never went away. In particular, promoting little lies seems to have been one of the main things U.S. attorneys, as loyal Bushies, were expected to do. For example, David Iglesias, the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico, appears to have been fired because he wouldn't bring unwarranted charges of voter fraud.

...[I]n Wisconsin, ... the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney prosecuted the state's purchasing supervisor over charges that a court recently dismissed after just 26 minutes of oral testimony, with one judge calling the evidence "beyond thin." But by then the accusations had done their job: the unjustly accused official had served almost four months in prison, and the case figured prominently in attack ads alleging corruption in the Democratic governor's administration.

This is the context in which you need to see the wild swings Republicans have been taking at Nancy Pelosi.

First, there were claims that the speaker of the House had demanded a lavish plane for her trips back to California. One Republican leader denounced her "arrogance of extravagance" — then, when it became clear that the whole story was bogus, admitted that he had never had any evidence.

Now there's Ms. Pelosi's fact-finding trip to Syria, which Dick Cheney denounced as "bad behavior" — unlike the visit to Syria by three Republican congressmen a few days earlier, or Newt Gingrich's trip to China when he was speaker. ...

[T]he hysterical reaction to her trip is part of a political strategy, aided and abetted by news organizations that give little lies their time in the sun.

Fox News, which is a partisan operation in all but name, plays a crucial role in the Little Lie strategy... But Fox has had plenty of help... For example, CNN ran a segment about Ms. Pelosi's trip titled "Talking to Terrorists."

The G.O.P.'s reversion to the Little Lie technique is a symptom of political weakness, of a party reduced to trivial smears because it has nothing else to offer. But the technique will remain effective — and the U.S. political scene will remain ugly — as long as many people in the news media keep playing along.

Anonymous said...

April 9, 2007

Another Layer of Scandal

As Congress investigates the politicization of the United States attorney offices by the Bush administration, it should review the extraordinary events the other day in a federal courtroom in Wisconsin. The case involved Georgia Thompson, a state employee sent to prison on the flimsiest of corruption charges just as her boss, a Democrat, was fighting off a Republican challenger. It just might shed some light on a question that lurks behind the firing of eight top federal prosecutors: what did the surviving attorneys do to escape the axe?

Ms. Thompson, a purchasing official in the state's Department of Administration, was accused by the United States attorney in Milwaukee, Steven Biskupic, of awarding a travel contract to a company whose chief executive contributed to the campaign of Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat. Ms. Thompson said the decision was made on the merits, but she was convicted and sent to prison before she could appeal.

The prosecution was a boon to Mr. Doyle's opponent. Republicans ran a barrage of attack ads that purported to tie Ms. Thompson's "corruption" to Mr. Doyle. Ms. Thompson was sentenced shortly before the election, which Governor Doyle won.

The Chicago-based United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit seemed shocked by the injustice of her conviction. It took the extraordinary step of releasing Ms. Thompson from prison immediately after hearing arguments, without waiting to issue a ruling. One of the judges hinted that Ms. Thompson may have been railroaded. "It strikes me that your evidence is beyond thin," Judge Diane Wood told the lawyer from Mr. Biskupic's office.

Ms. Thompson's case is not the only one raising questions about whether prosecutors tried last year to tilt close elections toward the Republicans. New Jersey's federal prosecutor conducted an investigation of weak-looking allegations against Senator Robert Menendez that was used in Republican ads.

Congress should look into both cases to determine whether partisan politics played a role — and whether they were coordinated with anyone at the Justice Department or the White House.

The list of things to investigate keeps growing. A federal agency that protects the rights of military employees is now investigating the firing of David Iglesias, the New Mexico United States attorney. Justice Department officials said he was fired in part because he was out of the office due to his commitments as a Navy military reservist. If so, the firing may have been illegal.

There is also trouble in the Minnesota United States attorney's office....


Anonymous said...

What the scandal of the U.S. Attorneys represents is a methodical attempt to subvert an election through abuse of the Justice Department and justice system, something that on a national level I would have assumed was a real and ethical and constitutional impossibility. I was wrong.


Anonymous said...

Remember that the extent of American propaganda about Iraq or the Middle East makes it quite difficult to understand what is happening, even if we know beyond this. The New York Times ran a report much of yesterday that Muqtada al-Sadr had called for attacks on Americans, which made no sense to me for such a call would not have been public even if it had been made and it would not have been made. The report of course as Juan Cole tells us was a distortion. We are in desperate trouble, when such distortion is a commonplace.


Anonymous said...

We must leave Iraq immediately, though of course we will not leave, but again I will vote no no candidate for any national office who is not pledged to end the occuption of Iraq. And, I am completely opposed to Hillary Clinton on this matter and will stay so and work against her nomination and beyond.

Anonymous said...

Yes; that we are bombing in urban areas in Iraq 4 years after the government was deposed, is a tragedy beyond my understanding. Remember that Picasso's "Guernica" before the United Nations Security Council hall was covered the day Colin Powell made the case for war in Iraq.


Anonymous said...

Were we to "win" this very day, we would still have forever lost in Iraq by betraying the country we need to wish to become. What could winning though possibly mean, by now?


Robert said...

I remember when I asked about the three. It seems that Biskupic could have been one of them. Another might have been Christie. The third might have been the other US attorney accused of insufficient vigor in prosecuting voter fraud along with Iglesias and Biskupic. That would be Patrick Meehan (USA in Philadelphia
who investigated Governor Casey's associates very thoroughly during the Swann dive.

PS this guy
thinks that "Given Buskupic’s record with these things, I suspect that his evidence of these allegations is rock solid. " Of course he also thinks Biskupic is named Buskupic.