Tuesday, January 15, 2008

We are Gonna Get What We damn Well Deserve

This column is not about Hillary vs. Obama vs. Edwards. The truth is if I had the choice I'd vote for Dennis Kucinich because he's against the war, for the impeachment of war criminals in government, smart on the environment and the economy, and he has a sense of humor about UFOS. He's not afraid to joke about 'em for fear he'll be labeled a nutcase -- as indeed he was.

But I don't have that option. Kucinich represents my views, but he only got 1% in New Hampshire. Too bad.

I want to talk not about candidates but about our media turning every presidential election into a high school popularity contest. And we let them get away with it. And we don't stop Rupert Murdoch, Clear Channel, Disney, GE, Sumner Redstone and a few others from owning all the media all the time.

Our magazines and newspapers are so dumbed down that they never discuss issues, only stereotype or attack or puff up candidates -- and all for the most idiotic things -- like their marriages, which in truth we know nothing about -- or their weight or their clothes or their hair. They don't discuss brains, intelligence, psychological maturity, but only who's up or down in the polls, cuter in photos, who misted up, cried or didn't cry, said "my friends" like Reagan or mimicked Bill Clinton's style or JFK's or whomever's. Our press is a disgrace.

When Al Gore was a candidate, he was mocked and slimed by our stupid press. And look who we got? Cheneybush! Now Hillary's being slimed for being a woman, for being the wife of, for being smart, for being political, for being old, for not having left her husband -- just as she'd be slimed if she had left her husband. She has baggage -- like any old broad -- because the truth is that the older you are the more baggage you have. So there's ageism too. And a new fresh face, with less baggage, is like the latest starlet in Hollywood. We never heard about Edwards' ideas until his wife got cancer. We heard about his haircuts!

We never discuss psychological depth because hey, who cares if the president's a bomb-happy dry-drunk trying to play out an Oedipal war with his father? We never talk about people being tested in power or how steady they are or whether they read books or understand what they read because we judge them on their looks. Or one idiotic sound byte, taken out of context.

We had gazillions of columns about Al Gore's weight gain and growing a beard -- I was even asked to write one for the New York Times -- and I obliged because that's all the news that's fit to print and I like shooting my mouth off on the Op-Ed page as much as anyone. Besides women writers are only drafted for the most trivial subjects. We comment on style not substance, beards not policy, clothes and shoes and chick lit and cooking. The men get the big topics like war, though women have the most to lose--like their children whom they carried and nursed and suckled and love more than themselves--as of course do many men.

Bush was considered a good ole boy and Gore was a considered a nerd. Now Edwards cares too much about his hair, Hillary "cried" in the press--though she didn't cry in reality. But we live in this parallel universe where there is no reality. Obama? Who knows who he is? A brilliant writer, yes, a cute young guy, yes, a progressive, we think. But who really knows? I give him the benefit of the doubt. Why not? But what a stupid way to choose a President!

If Eleanor Roosevelt were alive and running, they'd talk about her big teeth and her hoity toity accent. If JFK were alive and running, they'd reveal his affair with Marilyn and slander his wife for it. If Jackie O were alive and running, they'd say she fucked Onassis -- which she did -- while she was married to JFK. If Plato were alive and running, they'd say he was gay--though many Greeks were bisexual and thought nothing of it.

So kids, if you elect a President of the United States like you elected the President of the GO in High School, you deserve what you get.

More in Politics...

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Why Shouldn't John Edwards Be Angry?

Why shouldn't we all be mad as hell?

Late Edition: John Edwards Still Fighting Accusations He’s “Angry”
By: Logan Murphy @ 2:01 PM - PST

This morning on CNN’s Late Edition, The Beard uses a hit piece by the Washington Post’s Dan Balz to show how some people see John Edwards as an angry, partisan and divisive candidate who has angered many Democrats.

video_wmv Download (113) | Play (128) video_mov Download (141) | Play (69)

To be honest, I’m happy with all the Democratic candidates we’ve had to chose from and I’m ecstatic about the huge number of Democrats who have shown up so far to vote this primary season — but Edwards has gotten the shaft from the media and is not well liked by the wealthy elite who own them, so it’s not surprising to see him being attacked for his populist message. There has been a growing chorus of pundits referring to Edwards as a possible “Kingmaker,” giving his delegates to Obama at the end of the primary season, but it doesn’t appear that’s even a consideration for him. Edwards handles the angry accusations exactly the way you’d expect him to:

Edwards:”…What I have said, and I stand by it and I believe it, is there are very well financed, entrenched interests in Washington that stand between America and the progress that needs to be made. And until we have a president who’s willing to take those interests on, nothing will change…”

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

America Was Built by The Railroads

Can fast trains (a la Europe) help save us from our energy problems.

We've been saying so for the last 12 years?

Europe's high-speed trains: Another example of how we're not #1

by John Aravosis (DC) · 1/13/2008 02:01:00 PM ET · Link

I've been harping a lot lately about how in so many areas of technology the US is not #1. From cell phones to Internet connectivity to high speed rail, we kind of suck as compared to much of the world. We like to talk about how we live in the bestest country on earth, but I've an increasing sense that we're falling behind in far too many ways while all that our politicians give us is pablum. The latest example: high speed trains. The trip from DC to Chicago on Amtrak takes 24 hours. The European high speed equivalent would take around 6 hours. Sure, we've got the Acela train on Amtrak, which doesn't go nearly as fast as France's TGV, and, I'm told by my friends who travel the DC to NY route often, the Acela is so filthy with litter that they refuse to even ride it. I've ridden many a train in Europe, of all classes and speeds, and I've never seen "filthy." It's true that we're not a train culture. But perhaps that's because we have such crappy trains, and expectations, while the rest of the world has once again passed us by.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

NH Primary Needs To Be Investigated

What Really Happened in New Hampshire?

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Hillary and Diebold? OMG

The most telling thing about the Hillary NH miracle is that o other candidate has the same incredible difference in Poll numbers and actual election results.

What are the odds of that happening?

If Hillary gets caught playing the Bush cheating game, she will be thought of as one of them. If she is, as we have respected, one of them, it's best we know now.

The Winning Ticket: Hillary and Diebold in 2008

By Mike Whitney

“Its not who votes that counts. Its who counts the votes.” Joseph Stalin

11/01/08 "ICH" -- -- Something doesn't ring true about Hillary's “upset” victory in the New Hampshire primary. It just doesn't pass the smell test. All the exit polls showed Clinton trailing Obama by significant margins. In fact, in the Gallup Poll taken just days before the election, "Crocodile tears" Hillary was down by a whopping 13 points. Her “turnaround” was not only unexpected, but downright shocking. The results for the rest of the candidates--excluding Clinton and Obama---were all within the margin of error. Clinton was the only anomaly. Surprise, surprise.

If this election had been conducted in any other country in the world, the Bush administration would have immediately dispatched an independent team of election observers and demanded a recount. But not in the good old USA, where stealing elections is replacing baseball as the national pastime. Would it surprise you to know that (according to Black Box Voting) the Marketing and Sales Director of the company that tallies the votes (LHS) “was arrested, indicted, and pleaded guilty to "sale / CND" and sentenced to 12 months in the Rockingham County Correctional facility, and fined $2000.” That would be LHS Sales Director Mr. Ken Hajjar. Here's an excerpt from Bev Harris's Black Box Voting web site:

“The Diebold ballot printing plant at the time we got records on the overages (that is, more ballots than needed for election; MW) was being run by a convicted felon who had spent four years in prison on a narcotics trafficking charge. No, not New Hampshire's voting machine programming exec Ken Hajjar, who cut a plea deal in 1990 for his role in cocaine distribution. This was another convicted felon, John Elder, who ran the Diebold ballot printing plant; he's now an elections consultant.” ( http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-auth.cgi?file=/1954/71260.html )

Still feel confident about the election results?

Then why not spend 5 minutes perusing this you-tube demonstration that shows how anyone with a screwdriver and a brain the size of a walnut can transform a 'humiliating defeat' into a miraculous Clintonesque “comeback”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiiaBqwqkXs

The you-tube video also shows LHS's owner defending the dubious record of his optical scanning hardware in court. The reader can decide for himself whether we're dealing with a man of impeccable integrity or another flannel-mouth opportunist who has enriched himself at the expense of our basic democratic institutions.

Bradblog's Dori Smith reports that Sales Director “Hajjar totes memory cards around in the trunk of his car and defends the practice of swapping out memory cards during the middle of elections.” (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=5320) Nice touch, eh?

Smith also adds this revealing tidbit:

"Other LHS staff members we spoke with, including Mike Carlson and Tom Burge, provided similar comments. They said they would open machines up during an election and swap memory cards as needed. This is illegal under Connecticut law and Deputy Secretary Mara told us she has since informed LHS that such actions were in violation of Connecticut election laws.”


“So what's all the fuss? I'll just slip this little card in the slot and---Lookee here---Hillary's a winner; just like I figured.”

Activist Nancy Tobi provides a great summary of the back-room machinations in her article “Democracy for New Hampshire” which came out the day after the primary:

“81% of New Hampshire ballots are counted in secret by a private corporation named Diebold Election Systems (now known as "Premier"). The elections run on these machines are programmed by one company, LHS Associates, based in Methuen, MA. We know nothing about the people programming these machines, and we know even less about LHS Associates. We know even less about the secret vote counting software used to tabulate 81% of our ballots. People like to say "but we use paper ballots! They can always be counted by hand!"

But they're not. They're counted by Diebold. Only a candidate can request a hand recount, and most never do so. And a rigged election can easily become a rigged recount, as we learned in Ohio 2004, where two election officials were convicted of rigging their recount. (Is it just a funny coincidence that Diebold spokesman is named Mr. Riggall?)

We need to get the count right on election night. Right now, nobody in New Hampshire, except the programmers at LHS Associates and Diebold Election Systems, knows if we are getting it right or wrong.”

Good job, Nancy.

Does it seem to you, dear reader, that we could save the taxpayer a lot of money and trouble by just returning to the “old system” of letting 9 judges on the Supreme Court chose our leaders? Why do we continue with this pointless sham?

Look, our elections are being run by corporations that have an obvious stake in the outcome. There's a heap of money involved and nothing is left to chance. The media's job is to make us feel like we have a choice. We don't.

The only reason the farce continues is because the ruling elite believe that perception management is the cheapest way to control the bewildered herd. And, of course, they're right. Pulling a lever every 4 years is a type of political empowerment. It makes us feel like we're part of the decision-making process, which makes it easier to accept the “shittier and shittier paying jobs”, the curtailed civil liberties and the endless wars. (Thanks George Carlin)

This year we can choose from a slate of 8 candidates; all of whom are members of the secretive Council on Foreign Relations; and all of whom are wholly committed to the off-shoring of businesses, the outsourcing of jobs, the expansion of police-state powers, and the obscene enlargement the already over-bloated War Machine. The only exceptions are Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich who are treated like pariahs by the establishment media.

As for Hillary; she won nothing. The results are completely bogus. Her weepy performance before the balloting was orchestrated to create a credible narrative to explain the fraudulent shifting of votes away from Obama. It was exactly the same trick that Karl Rove played in 2004, when he had the entire corporate media standing behind his cockamamie story that 3 or 4 million fundamentalists---who had never voted before in a general election---suddenly poured down from the mountains to cast their ballot for their champion, George Bush. This absurd narrative was spouted from every media-soapbox in the nation until it was generally accepted as fact. The media then proceeded to quash any investigation of the massive voter fraud which took place across the country (particularly in Ohio) while discrediting critics as conspiracy theorists.

Conspiracy theorists?”

Is it a conspiracy to think that the same guys who abduct foreign nationals off the streets of cities around the world and take them to black sites---where their eyes are gouged out and their finger nails ripped off---would get squeamish over something as trivial as ballot stuffing?

Get real!

Clinton's tearful antics were right out of Karl Rove's “Dirty Tricks Playbook”. Chapter one: Invent a believable storyline, run it through the Propaganda Ministry (the media) and stick with it no matter how ridiculous it sounds.

I carry no brief for Obama or Clinton and I don't see any substantial difference between either of them. They are both water carriers for their far-right constituents. It is the system that's important. And the system is broken.

The primary was stolen. End of story. Now, it's our move.

Submitted by Blue Feather

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

The Case Against Hillary Clinton


I have spent a lot of time defending Hillary Clinton over the last couple of weeks because of the silly nature of the attacks against her. The infamous "crying" episode is the most obvious example of this phenomenon.

When it comes to the absurd personality based coverage of the major media outlets, she can't catch a break. They can't make up their minds whether she laughed or cried too much or too little. The only thing that is guaranteed is that she is guilty of all of the above, no matter what.

Other than being ridiculous, this criticism also misses the real problem with Senator Clinton. There is ample ground on which to criticize the junior Senator from New York. She has surrounded herself with accomodationists and triangulators. Her advisors seem to constantly tell her to give half a loaf to the George Bush and Dick Cheney led Republicans until almost the whole loaf is gone.

Other critics have done a better job of analyzing her advisors and her triangulation better than I can hope to do here. So, I want to focus on the one overwhelming problem with Hillary Clinton.

She claims that George W. Bush is the worst president we've ever had. Yet in her entire time in the Senate she has never led one successful fight against him. She has either lost every legislative battle on Iraq, or worse yet, been complicit. The vote to authorize the war was one thing, but how about all of the votes to continue and support Bush's war for all of the remaining years? Let alone every other issue on which Bush got exactly what he wanted, up to and including this year, when the Democrats and Senator Clinton were theoretically in charge.

I understand that leaders are supposed to lead. Yet, I have never seen Senator Clinton lead her fellow Democrats in a successful challenge of President Bush. Never. That's a pretty awful record.

Now, it would be one thing if George Bush was a popular president who was hard to defeat politically. But in fact, he is the opposite. He is the most deeply unpopular president of our lifetimes. And Hillary Clinton kept getting her ass kicked by that guy.

That's the real criticism that should be leveled against Hillary Clinton. Yet I have almost never seen anyone make this point on TV. Part of the reason for that, of course, is because her opponents, Barack Obama and John Edwards did no better in their time in the Senate. So, they are embarrassed into an awkward silence on the matter.

The reason I hold Senator Clinton to a higher standard, other than the fact that she has been there longer, is that she had the biggest name recognition and could have led her fellow Democrats - but chose not to. Instead she chose accommodation and capitulation. That's a record worth criticizing, if anyone ever got around to it.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

NIE, 1974: Israel Has Nukes

This has always amazed me...that Israel has had Nukes for over 30 years and yet they have never admitted it. It is never mentioned by the U.S., while our government has apoplexy about any other nation having them.

I, personally, wish every nuclear weapon could be loaded aboard a rocket and launched to the far reaches of the universe. But how likely is that?

CIA Reveals: We Said In 1974 That Israel Had Nuclear Weapons

By Amir Oren

11/01/08 "
Haaretz" -- -- The Central Intelligence Agency, backed by bodies including the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Defense Intelligence Agency, determined in August 1974 that Israel had nuclear "weapons in being," a "small number" of which it "produced and stockpiled."

Israel was also suspected of providing nuclear materials, equipment or technology to Iran, South Africa and other then-friendly countries.

This top secret document, consigned to the CIA's vaults for almost 32 years, was suddenly released to the public this week, during U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to Israel and on the eve of his trip to the Persian Gulf.

A small part of the document was released in early 2006 under a Freedom of Information Request placed by scholars Avner Cohen and William Burr, but only as an attachment to a 1975 State Department paper ostensibly disputing the the portrayal of Israel's nuclear weapons as a fact.

This served the Department of State's effort to avoid addressing Israel's nuclear status in response to a query by Congressman Alan Steelman.

The Department of State, led in this exercise by officials Joseph Sisco, Alfred (Roy) Atherton and Harold Saunders, tried to depict the 1974 Special National Intelligence Assesment, "Prospects for further proliferation of nuclear weapons," as a CIA project, while in fact it was an agency-wide effort that included its own intelligence chief, William Hyland, as a senior member of the board that agreed to the conclusions.

The CIA was asked yesterday via e-mail about the strange coincidence of the document's release a mere month after the publication of its awkwardly worded NIE on Iran's nuclear weapons program. It did not respond by deadline.

The issue of an American double standard regarding the nuclear activities of Israel and Iran often comes up when senior American officials visit the Gulf, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates did last month.

In both the original 1974 document and the 1975 State Department paper (in which it was retyped), the entire intelligence community determined, "Israel already has produced nuclear weapons." This analysis was based on "Israeli acquisition of large quantities of uranium," in part covertly; on Israel's ambiguous efforts to enrich uranium; and on the huge investment in the "Jericho" surface-to-surface missile "designed to accommodate nuclear warheads." Short of a grave threat to the nation's existence, Israel was not expected to confirm its suspected capability "by nuclear testing or by threats of use."

While Israel's nuclear weapons "cannot be proven beyond a shadow of doubt," several bodies of information point strongly toward a program stretching back over a number of years, the document states.

The 1974 document describes the Jericho project, from its inception in France through its migration to Israel to the replacement of the original inertial guidance system by an Israeli design "based on components produced in Israel under licenses from U.S. companies."

Israel Aircraft Industries is responsible for the development of the missile and has constructed a number of facilities for production and testing north of Tel Aviv, near Haifa, at Ramle and nearby it "a missile assembly and checkout plant."

On Iran, the 1974 NIE said, "there is no doubt of the Shah's ambition to make Iran a power to reckon with. If he is alive in the mid-80's, if Iran has a full-fledged nuclear power industry and all the facilities necessary for nuclear weapons, and if other countries have proceeded with weapons development, we have no doubt that Iran will follow suit."

The Shah's ouster in 1979 (and death a year later) apparently slowed down Iran's nuclear project.

The authors of the NIE wrote that the U.S. helped France expedite its nuclear program, France in turn helped Israel, and much like France and India, Israel, "while unlikely to foster proliferation as a matter of national policy, probably will prove susceptible to the hue of economic and political advantages to be gained from exporting materials, technology and equipment relevant to nuclear weapons programs."

© Copyright 2008 Haaretz. All rights reserved

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

No Time or Laughter

We Aren't Laughing, Ray

Gulf Shenanigans: No Laughing Matter

By Ray McGovern

12/01/08 "ICH" -- -- When the Tonkin Gulf incident took place in early August 1964, I was a journeyman CIA analyst in what Condoleezza Rice refers to as “the bowels of the agency.” As current intelligence referent for Russian policy toward Southeast Asia and China, I worked very closely with those responsible for analysis of Vietnam and China.

Out of that experience I must say that, as much as one might be tempted to laugh at the bizarre antics of Sunday’s incident involving small Iranian boats and US naval ships in the Strait of Hormuz, this is-as my old Russian professor used to say-nothing to laugh.

The situation is so reminiscent of what happened-and didn’t happen-from Aug 2-4, 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin and in Washington, it is in no way funny. At the time, the US had about 16,000 troops in South Vietnam. The war that was “justified” by the Tonkin Gulf resolution of Aug. 7, 1964 led to a buildup to 535,000 US troops in the late Sixties, 58,000 of whom were killed-not to mention the estimated two million Vietnamese who lost their lives by then and in the ensuing ten years.

Ten years. How can our president speak so glibly about ten more years of a U.S. armed presence in Iraq? Wonder why he doesn’t know anything about Vietnam.

Intelligence Lessons From Vietnam and Iraq

What follows is written primarily for honest intelligence analysts and managers still on “active duty.” The issuance of the recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran was particularly welcome to those of us who had been hoping there were enough of you left who had not been thoroughly corrupted by former CIA Director George Tenet and his flock of malleable managers.

We are not so much surprised at the integrity of Tom Fingar, who is in charge of national intelligence analysis. He showed his mettle in manfully resisting forgeries and fairy tales about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction.” What is, frankly, a happy surprise is the fact that he and other non-ideologues and non-careerist professionals have been able to prevail and speak truth to power on such dicey issues as Iran-nuclear, the upsurge in terrorism caused by the US invasion of Iraq, and the year-old NIE saying Iraq is headed for hell in a hand basket (with no hint that a “surge” could make a difference).

But those are the NIEs. They share the status of “supreme genre” of analytic product with the President’s Daily Brief and other vehicles for current intelligence, the field in which I labored, first in the analytic trenches and then as a briefer at the White House, for most of my 27-year career. True, the NIE “Iraq’s Continuing Program for Weapons of Mass Destruction” of Oct. 1, 2002 (wrong on every major count) greased the skids for the attack on Iraq on March 19, 2003. But it is more often current intelligence that is fixed upon to get the country into war.

The Tonkin Gulf events are perhaps the best case in point. We retired professionals are hopeful that Fingar can ensure integrity in the current intelligence process as well as in intelligence estimates.

Salivating for Wider War: Tonkin Gulf

Given the confusion last Sunday in the Persian Gulf, you need to remember that a “known known” in the form of a non-event has already been used to sell a major war-Vietnam. It is not only in retrospect that we know that no attack occurred that night.

Those of us in intelligence, not to mention President Lyndon Johnson, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy all knew full well that the evidence of any armed attack on the evening of Aug. 4, 1964, the so-called “second” Tonkin Gulf incident, was highly dubious. But it fit the president’s purposes, so they lent a hand to facilitate escalation of the war.

During the summer of 1964 President Johnson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were eager to widen the war in Vietnam. They stepped up sabotage and hit-and-run attacks on the coast of North Vietnam. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later admitted that he and other senior leaders had concluded that the seaborne attacks “amounted to little more than pinpricks” and “were essentially worthless,” but they continued.

Concurrently, the National Security Agency was ordered to collect signals intelligence from the North Vietnamese coast on the Gulf of Tonkin, and the surprise coastal attacks were seen as a helpful way to get the North Vietnamese to turn on their coastal radars. The destroyer USS Maddox, carrying electronic spying gear, was authorized to approach as close as eight miles from the coast and four miles from offshore islands, some of which had been subjected to intense shelling by clandestine attack boats.

As James Bamford describes it in “Body of Secrets:”

“The twin missions of the Maddox were in a sense symbiotic. The vessel’s primary purpose was to act as a seagoing provocateur-to poke its sharp gray bow and the American flag as close to the belly of North Vietnam as possible, in effect shoving its 5-inch cannons up the nose of the Communist navy. In turn, this provocation would give the shore batteries an excuse to turn on as many coastal defense radars, fire control systems, and communications channels as possible, which could then be captured by the men…at the radar screens. The more provocation, the more signals…

“The Maddox’ mission was made even more provocative by being timed to coincide with commando raids, creating the impression that the Maddox was directing those missions and possibly even lobbing firepower in their support….

“North Vietnam also claimed at least a twelve-mile limit and viewed the Maddox as a trespassing ship deep within its territorial waters.”
(pp 295-296)

On Aug. 2, 1964 an intercepted message ordered North Vietnamese torpedo boats to attack the Maddox. The destroyer was alerted and raced out to sea beyond reach of the torpedoes, three of which were fired in vain at the destroyer’s stern. The Maddox’ captain suggested that the rest of his mission be called off, but the Pentagon refused. And still more commando raids were launched on Aug. 3, shelling for the first time targets on the mainland, not just the offshore islands.

Early on Aug. 4, the Maddox captain cabled his superiors that the North Vietnamese believed his patrol was directly involved with the commando raids and shelling. That evening at 7:15 (Vietnam time) the Pentagon alerted the Maddox to intercepted messages indicating that another attack by patrol boats was imminent.

What followed was panic and confusion. There was a score of reports of torpedo and other hostile attacks, but no damage and growing uncertainty as to whether any attack actually took place. McNamara was told that “freak radar echoes” were misinterpreted by “young fellows” manning the sonar, who were “apt to say any noise is a torpedo.”

This did not prevent McNamara from testifying to Congress two days later that there was “unequivocal proof” of a new attack. And based largely on that, on the following day (Aug. 7) Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf resolution bringing ten more years of war.

Meanwhile, in the Trenches

By the afternoon of Aug. 4 (Washington time), the CIA’s expert analyst on North Vietnam (let’s call him “Tom”) had concluded that probably no one had fired on US ships in the Tonkin Gulf over the past 24 hours. He included a paragraph to that effect in the item he wrote for the Current Intelligence Bulletin, which would be wired to the White House and other key agencies and appear in print the next morning.

And then something unique happened. The Director of the Office of Current Intelligence, a very senior officer whom Tom had never before seen, descended into the bowels of the agency to order the paragraph deleted. He explained:

“We’re not going to tell LBJ that now. He has already decided to bomb North Vietnam. We have to keep our lines open to the White House.”

“Tom” later bemoaned-quite rightly: “What do we need lines open for, if we’re not going to use them, and use them to tell the truth?”

A year or two ago, in the wake of the policy/intelligence fiasco on Iraq, I would have been inclined to comment sarcastically, “How quaint; how obsolete.” But the good news is that the analysts writing the National Intelligence Estimates have now reverted to the ethos in which “Tom” and I were proud to work.

Today’s analysts/reporters of current intelligence need to follow their good example. And we trust that Tom Fingar will hold their feet to the fire. For if they don’t rise to the challenge, the consequences are sure to be disastrous. This should be obvious in the wake of the Tonkin Gulf experience, not to mention the more recent performance of senior officials before the attack on Iraq in 2003.

The late Ray S. Cline, who at the time was the boss of the Director of Current Intelligence, said he was “very sure” that no attack took place on Aug. 4. He suggested that McNamara had shown the president unevaluated signals intelligence which referred to the (real) earlier attack on Aug. 2 rather than the non-event on the 4th. There was no sign of remorse on Cline’s part that he didn’t step in and make sure the president was told the truth.

We in the trenches knew there was no attack; and so did the Director of Current Intelligence as well as Cline, who was Deputy Director for Intelligence. But all knew, as did McNamara, that President Johnson was lusting for a pretext to strike the North and escalate the war. And so, like B’rer Rabbit, they didn’t say nothin’.

Commenting on the interface of intelligence and policy on Vietnam, a well respected, retired senior CIA officer addressed:

“… the dilemma CIA directors and senior intelligence professionals face in cases when they know that unvarnished intelligence judgments will not be welcomed by the President, his policy managers, and his political advisers…[They] must decide whether to tell it like it is (and so risk losing their place at the President’s advisory table), or to go with the flow of existing policy by accentuating the positive (thus preserving their access and potential influence). In these episodes from the Vietnam era, we have seen that senior CIA officers more often than not tended toward the latter approach.”
“CIA and the Vietnam Policymakers: Three Episodes, 1962-1968″ Harold P. Ford

Bummer. I wish there were more of a sense of anger at that.

Back to Iran. This time, we all know that the president and vice president are seeking an excuse to attack Iran. There is a big difference from the situation in the summer of 1964, when President Johnson had intimidated all his senior subordinates into using deceit to escalate the war. Bamford comments on the disingenuousness of Robert McNamara when he testified in 1968 that it was “inconceivable” that senior officials, including the president, deliberately used the Tonkin Gulf events to generate Congressional support for a wider Vietnam war.

In Bamford’s words, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had become “a sewer of deceit,” with Operation Northwoods and other unconscionable escapades to its credit. Then-Under Secretary of State George Ball commented, “There was a feeling that if the destroyer got into some trouble, that this would provide the provocation we needed.”

Good News: It’s Different Now

As indicated above, we now have more integrity at the top of the intelligence community. But, in my view, the main thing that has prevented Bush and Cheney from attacking Iran so far has been the strong opposition of the uniformed military, including the Joint Chiefs. The circumstances attending the misadventure last Sunday in the Strait of Hormuz are far from clear. But the incident certainly shows that our senior military need all the help they can get from intelligence officers more concerned with the truth than with “keeping lines open to the White House” and doing its bidding.

In addition, today the intelligence oversight committees in Congress seem to be waking from their Rip Van Winkle-like slumber. It was Congress, after all, that ordered the controversial NIE on Iran/nuclear (and was among those pushing strongly that it be publicized). And the flow of substantive intelligence to Congress is much larger than it was in 1964 when, remember, there were no intelligence committees as such.

So listen, you inheritors of the honorable profession of current intelligence, don’t let them grind you down. If you’re working in the bowels of the agency and you find that your leaders are cooking intelligence to a recipe for casus belli, think long and hard about the oath you took to protect the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Should not that oath transcend in importance any secrecy promise you had to agree to as a condition of employment?

By sticking your neck out, you might be able to prevent ten years of unnecessary war.

You might even be able to prevent WWIII and the cessation of life, as we know it, on planet earth

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer, then a current intelligence analyst at CIA, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

This article appeared first on Consortiumnews.com.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Michigan: Hillary v. The Uncommitted

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – Some of Hillary Clinton’s top Michigan supporters are gunning for a rival on the Democratic primary ballot: “Uncommitted.”

Former governor James Blanchard and his wife Janet sent postcards to their backers encouraging them to turn out and vote for Clinton in Tuesday’s primary, where her strongest competition is from a none-of-the-above option.

"Make Michigan count," reads the mailer, which arrived today in mailboxes of past Blanchard supporters.

The state hasn’t been expected to count for much since the Democratic National Committee blacklisted the primary for violating the party’s rules by jumping ahead on the calendar. Only Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and the since-departed Chris Dodd are on the ballot, leaving supporters of Barack Obama and John Edwards the common anti-Hillary option of voting for “Uncommitted,” if they bother to vote at all.

The Clinton forces are apparently not taking a victory over “Uncommitted” for granted. The Blanchards are expected to join Governor Jennifer Granholm at a suburban-Detroit event tomorrow that is being described as a “press conference” to elude party sanctions on active politicking in the state. Unable to spend money on ads and other forms of voter contact, event organizers are encouraging Hillary supporters to show up in rally-like numbers to generate enthusiasm before Tuesday’s vote.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Blackwater Cover-up

(AP) Blackwater Worldwide repaired and repainted its trucks immediately after a deadly September shooting in Baghdad, making it difficult to determine whether enemy gunfire provoked the attack, according to people familiar with the government's investigation of the incident.

Damage to the vehicles in the convoy has been held up by North Carolina-based Blackwater as proof that its security guards were defending themselves against an insurgent ambush when they fired into a busy intersection, leaving 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

U.S. military investigators initially found "no enemy activity involved" and the Iraqi government concluded the shootings were unprovoked.

The repairs essentially destroyed evidence that Justice Department investigators hoped to examine in a criminal case that has drawn worldwide attention. The Sept. 16 shooting has strained U.S. relations with the Iraqi government, which wants Blackwater expelled from the country. It also has become a flash point in the debate over whether contractors are immune from legal consequences for their actions in a war zone.

Blackwater's four armored vehicles were repaired or repainted within days of the shooting, and before FBI teams went to Baghdad to collect evidence, people close to the case said. The work included repairs to a damaged radiator that Blackwater says is central to its defense.

The damage and subsequent repairs were described to The Associated Press by five people familiar with the case who discussed it in separate interviews over the past month. All spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

The repair work creates a hurdle for prosecutors as they consider building a case against any of the 19 guards in the Sept. 16 convoy. It also makes it harder for Blackwater to prove its innocence as it faces a grand jury investigation and multiple lawsuits over the shooting. The company is the target, too, of an unrelated investigation into whether its contractors smuggled weapons into Iraq.

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said any repairs "would have been done at the government's direction." Blackwater's contract with the State Department requires that the company maintain its vehicles and keep them on the road.

The State Department would not comment on whether it ordered the repairs to the vehicles involved in the shooting.

Blackwater's chief executive, Erik Prince, has pointed to the damaged trucks to counter accusations that his contractors acted improperly.

In interviews this fall, he said three of Blackwater's armored vehicles were struck by gunfire and that the radiator from one was "shot out and disabled" during the shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. An early two-page State Department report supports Prince's statements. The report noted the Blackwater command vehicle was "disabled during the attack" and had to be towed.

Prince has indicated he expects the FBI investigation to clear his company. Yet people close to the case say the vehicles and radiator alone probably will not be enough to do that because repairing the trucks made it difficult for investigators to say whether the convoy was fired on - or not.

As for the radiator, investigators have verified that it was damaged. But it, too, was repaired before the FBI arrived two weeks after the shooting.

No bullets were found inside the radiator to prove it had been shot, as opposed to being broken during routine use. That makes it hard for scientists to say for certain what caused the damage or when, according to those close to the case.

Fast Fact

Blackwater is the largest private security company protecting U.S. officials in Iraq. It has been paid more than $1 billion from federal contracts since 2001.

The preliminary State Department report noted "superficial damage" to the vehicles; and photographs exist showing bullet damage. People who have seen the photos said there are no time stamps or other indications of when and where that damage occurred.

One photo, obtained and broadcast by CBS News, bore no notations indicating when it was taken or even if the vehicle pictured was involved in the shooting.

The evidence gaps will force investigators to rely more heavily on testimony and other statements from witnesses. But even those efforts have been hampered by a State Department deal that gave Blackwater guards limited immunity for their statements following the incident. As a result, the Justice Department cannot use those interviews in its criminal investigation.

There were 19 security guards at the scene. Investigators believe only a few fired their weapons. Investigators are pushing ahead with the search for additional evidence and so far are focusing on as many four guards who could face criminal charges.

Over the past two months, prosecutors have brought several guards before a Washington grand jury to describe their recollection of the shooting. According to the initial State Department report, the shooting occurred as the Blackwater convoy was responding to a car bombing about a mile outside the U.S.-protected Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi government and several embassies.

James Sweeney, a lawyer representing several guards, would not discuss the forensic gaps or whether the grand jury investigation is helping authorities bridge them. He said Blackwater guards are patriots, not aggressors.

"They are good, solid intelligent Americans. They're good people," Sweeney said. "They're protecting U.S. diplomats."

Blackwater is the largest private security company protecting U.S. officials in Iraq. It has been paid more than $1 billion from federal contracts since 2001. Despite criticism, Blackwater notes that no official under its protection has been killed or seriously injured.

Blackwater also strongly denies wrongdoing in a weapons smuggling investigation by federal officials in North Carolina. Two former employees, who prosecutors say are aiding the investigation, were sentenced to probation Thursday on gunrunning charges.

Blackwater and other contractors operate in a legal gray area. They are immune from prosecution in Iraqi courts. If the Justice Department wants to bring criminal charges such as assault, manslaughter or murder in a U.S. court, prosecutors would have to do so under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.

That would require the government to show that State Department contractors were "supporting the mission of the Department of Defense overseas." Defense lawyers are expected to argue that guarding diplomats was a purely State Department function, one independent from the Pentagon.

The Justice Department has said it could be some time before it decides whether it will bring charges in the case.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Psyco-Decider-Guy; Is Congress Scared of Him?

What Is He Capable Of?
The Presidential Psychology at the End of Days
By John P Briggs, M.D. and JP Briggs II, Ph.D.
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 10 January 2008

The true rule in determining to embrace, or reject anything, is not whether it has any evil in it, but whether it have more of evil, than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good. Almost every thing, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded. - Abraham Lincoln, June 20, 1848

In defiance of his circumstances as an unpopular, lame duck president with a minority party in Congress, George W. Bush pursues a sharply autocratic tone. He has intimidated both parties in Congress and violated the Constitution. Through dissimulation and delay, he has forced the nations of the world to conclude they must wait until his term ends to negotiate any serious treaty on the imminent perils of climate change.

A sort of thousand-mile stare has descended on the country. Frank Rich writes, "we are a people in clinical depression" as a result of Bush's leadership. Perhaps, a more apt diagnosis would be "dissociation." Like a child or spousal victim of a psychological abuser, Bush's "victims" try to mentally compartmentalize him; they attempt to get on with their lives - even as he keeps on being abusive. You can hear the dissociation when Congressional leaders talk about their inability to make Washington work as it should.

Some, including Daniel Ellsberg, who challenged the autocratic aspirations of Richard Nixon by releasing the Pentagon Papers, suggest Bush has already created a "presidential coup." Ellsberg has said, "If there's another 9/11 under this regime, it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed."

We would like to answer several questions here. Is the president psychologically capable of such treasonous behavior? Why and how does his psychology make it so difficult for Democrats and others to stand up against his negativity and destructiveness (what he thinks of as his optimism)? How might they neutralize his psychology, which seems geared to inflict harm?

Behind the Torture, All That Stuff He Can't Admit

The president's reflex to justify his right to use torture, even as he insists "we don't torture," illuminates how his psychology works and provides a glimpse into its dark potential.

The man who campaigned in 1999 as a "uniter not a divider" constructs and maintains a polarized world. In his book, "A Tragic Legacy," Glen Greenwald, observes polarizing reality "explains the president's personal approach to all matters - his foreign policy decisions; his relations with other countries; his domestic programs; the terms he adopts when discussing, debating, and analyzing political matters; his attitude toward domestic political opponents ... and his treatment of the national media. For the president, there always exists a clear and identifiable enemy who is to be defeated by any means, means justified not only by the pureness of the enemy's Evil but also by the core Goodness that he believes motivates him and his movement." (48)

Those who question the president's policies are either part of the evil or dangerously unaware of its threat. His dictum,"you're either with us or against us," sums up his closed psychological system. As Greenwald says, because Bush believes he is on the side of Good and Right in a struggle with Evil, he construes even his unpopularity as not "an impediment, but a challenge, even a calling, to demonstrate his resolve and commitment by persisting even more tenaciously in the face of almost universal opposition." (37)

So, torture by his administration is justified - in fact is not even torture - because it is used by Good Americans in a war against Satanic forces.

Bush's torture rationale echoes that of an extreme form of Christianity found among his personal "spiritual" advisers and the prominent televangelists he regularly consults. The religious justification for his worldview has prompted him to bestow billions of dollars on radical "faith-based" activities and to sanction an extremist Christian transformation of the military - actions that foster the idea of the US as a theocratic state called on "to rid the world of evil," as the president has asserted.

As reported by Truthout last June, many of the religious figures associated with Bush believe the final battles of the apocalypse are near, with fires that will spread from the Middle East. Where James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye and John Hagee once pressed Bush hard for war with Iraq, they now clamor for one with Iran. The president cloaks himself in the innocuous terms "Christian," "evangelical" and "born again," and carefully avoids stating his beliefs specifically. But the type of Christianity most influential on his thinking is clearly radical or extremist rather than evangelical; it has an authoritarian, punishing, us-versus-them flavor; it views Christ less as a figure of tolerance and forgiveness than as a five-star general coming to wreck vengeance on anyone who has failed to join His army.

Former President Jimmy Carter's faith, like that of many evangelicals, involves a powerful commitment to love and tolerance. We do not detect a similar commitment in Bush. Spiritual issues and political motives appear secondary to Bush's subconscious use of his faith as a psychological defense. That defense "resolves" and protects him from the pain of a core inner conflict. The drinking and alleged drug taking of his younger years once resolved that same conflict. The supposed spiritual awakening Bush underwent in the mid-1980s allowed him to trade one defense for another. (Author Craig Unger has shown Bush's famous "mustard seed" moment with the Rev. Billy Graham - widely celebrated by the president - never happened; at the same time, Bush carefully avoids mentioning the faith awakening moment he probably really did have with radical evangelical preacher Arthur Blessitt.) In one sense, a half-hidden Manichean Christianity was more effective than alcohol in masking Bush's inner conflict. It made it possible for him to be president.

The Core Conflict

The central, secret conflict that consumes George W. Bush and motivates much of his action can be summed up in a few words: the desperate need to avoid, contain and disguise disabling fears about his competence and adequacy in a context where he expects to feel superior. Out of this core conflict have arisen his good and evil worldview, his lack of empathy, even cruelty, his competitiveness, his bullying, his inability to make a rational decision (despite styling himself "the decider"), his tendency for deception and self-deception, his proclivity for unconsciously sabotaging the success of his own projects.

Bush's biography is well known by now: growing up in family circumstances with a mother who was a "bully," and a father who, though passive, seemed effortlessly successful and talented as an athlete, war hero, businessman and politician. The younger Bush, expecting to demonstrate these same gifts, discovered quickly he couldn't measure up. The discovery probably began early, for example, when he wanted to be the catcher on his little league baseball team but couldn't do well because he reflexively blinked every time a batter swung (Unger, "The Fall of the House of Bush" 81), or his slowness in school, perhaps due to undiagnosed dyslexia or anxiety.

Biographer Bill Minutaglio described a moment at Yale when young Bush apparently tried to take another direction from his father, but couldn't pull away. (Minutaglio, "First Son" 104) Instead, he imitated (to the point of parody) his father's career, compiling failure everywhere his father found success: a C-student at Yale, a desultory pilot, a money-losing businessman. The fact his father or his father's friends needed repeatedly to rescue him from his failures (with Defense Secretary Robert Gates the latest rescuer) would have only increased the conflict between his sense of entitlement and expectation on the one hand, and his sense of insufficiency and incompetence on the other. Bush's sensitivity to his father's approval and disapproval is well established. Younger brother Marvin said the elder Bush could, intentionally or not, make his older son feel he alone had "committed the worst crime in history." (Minutaglio 148). And younger brother Jeb once speculated the attempt by George junior to live up to his disapproving father was the kind of thing that "creates all sorts of pathologies." (Minutaglio 101)

So, Bush indulged in pure wishful thinking when he recently told journalist Robert Draper, "I've never had a fear of losing. I don't like to lose. But having parents who give you unconditional love, I think it means I had the peace of mind to know that even with failure there was love. So I never feared failure." (Draper, "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush" 36)

In fact, failure has been George W. Bush's single greatest fear.

Substance abuse would have numbed the feelings of inadequacy and given license to his hidden anger about his circumstances. He probably understood in a family as hermetically sealed from self-reflection as his, he could never openly admit feelings that he was a child "left behind" emotionally.

Then, George W. Bush accepted Jesus as his personal savior and the drinking - and presumably those painful feelings the drinking needed to numb - disappeared. The failure-shriveled Bush of the past was replaced by a new God-filled Bush of the future, armed against his inadequacies with the defense of "faith." But his sense of his inadequacy continued beneath the surface.

For example, the president tries to control his environment (speaking only to friendly audiences), and consistently seeks to avoid or deflect definitive "tests" of his competency (though he is eager to test the competency of school children). His plain speaking style, rigidly on message, or laced with platitudes and moralistic bromides, compensates to cover his fear that he is unable to cogently think through an argument. He often looks as if he is trying to remember what he's supposed to say because he's fears he'll say the wrong thing.

His biography strongly suggests it was difficult for him to engage in activities involving the ambiguity, uncertainty and mistakes that normally lead to learning and growth. Instead, he put his energies into defenses and avoidance. He undermined his own ability to think about complex issues. He currently likes to imagine he's living a presidential life similar to Abraham Lincoln's, with a war and religious fervor he imagines is like the Second Great Awakening of Lincoln's time. He thinks of himself making decisions in a similar fashion to Lincoln. (Greenwald 64-65) The problem is Bush lacks precisely the characteristic that made Lincoln a profound decision-maker: an ability to tolerate the ambivalence of situations long enough to perceive the shades of positive and negative, and emerge with what Lincoln called "our best judgment of the preponderance between them" (see epigraph).

In place of a Lincolnesque decision process, Bush's Christian defense supplies divine inspiration in the form of what he calls "gut" feelings that tell him, without much thought, what's right and wrong, good or evil. He feels this form of magical thinking absolves him of the fear that his incompetence or confusion might lead to a wrong or "stupid" choice. In his glaring reluctance to admit mistakes, he's like a child confronted by his parents. But for him, admitting a mistake may be even more threatening than the child's fear of losing his parents' love. By admitting a mistake, he would acknowledge the deep inadequacy he secretly believes defines him. So, he assures himself his spiritual gut feelings can never be mistakes or failure because they come from his attunement with God. But what Bush hears in his gut is not the divine; it is the workings of his own psychology organized to deny and transcend the family image of him as a failure that circulates in his head and has become his image of the world.

As part of his Christian defense, the president has developed strategies that substitute for rational evaluation. To decide whether someone is competent, for example, the president believes he needs only to approve (from his gut) that an individual is a "good person" - Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzales, Nouri al-Maliki are some examples. Their actual abilities and performance don't matter. If the president gives his stamp of "good person" approval, then it is "unfair" to quibble about performance or qualifications.

Bush's "Christian defense" also allows him to cope with failures by reassuring him that his divinely inspired decision will prove right in the long run. Seeing himself as Good and those who oppose him as Evil or dangerously naive, Bush can justify using any means at his command to defeat them. In this way, he can also give reign to his underlying anger and his desire to inflict harm on a world that had considered (and, he knows, still considers) him inadequate. He can vent his rage at being shackled to a father he has to endlessly compete with. Because he feels weak himself, the weaker are often his targets: children needing medical insurance, endangered species. Meanwhile, he gives uncritical affirmation to authoritarian ("good father") figures whom he thinks approve of him: former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Despite his best efforts, his feelings of anxiety about his own inadequacy constantly spill over. Spillage through his body language is notorious among reporters. In a Washington Post article following his failures to respond to Katrina, Dana Milbank closely observed movements as Bush underwent pointed questioning by NBC's Matt Lauer. "The president was a blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts ... He had the body language of a man wishing urgently to be elsewhere," he wrote. When Lauer asked Laura Bush about the strain on her husband, he jumped in with a mocking third-person statement about himself: "He can barely stand! He's about to drop on the spot." In this abrupt defensive reflex, Bush denied his inner feelings by aggressively ridiculing thoughts he was afraid the viewer might just have had. Explaining his need to have Cheney with him at the 9/11 Commission interview, he said he wanted commission members to "see our body language ... how we work together." Another unconscious leak. What exactly did he think the commission would see except his own exposed inadequacy? His attempt to hide it, revealed it.

From the beginning of his December 4, 2007, press conference, the president offered a display of goofy facial grimaces, scowls, shifting stances, nervous and inappropriate chuckles accompanying serious statements, winking while reporters asked questions as if to indicate that the questions were foolish and that he was in cahoots with other reporters who appreciated the joke. The president had come to explain the fact he had recently trumpeted Iran ready to start "World War III," or a "nuclear holocaust," though the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) had recently concluded that Iran had, in fact, abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

At first, the president claimed (an obvious lie) that he hadn't known about the NIE conclusions when he issued his dire warnings about Iran. (Later the White House had to clarify he had indeed known.) Then, he said the NIE didn't make any difference to his opinion. Bush is famously adverse to attempts to probe his psychology, and so, after about 40 minutes, when a reporter questioned him about his body language and thought it indicated he was depressed, the president lashed back, "And so, kind of Psychology 101 ain't working. It's just not working. I understand the issues, I clearly see the problems ..." - and in a gesture of angry denial, ended the news conference.

A year prior, however, in a more relaxed and expansive context with friendly journalist, Robert Draper, Bush did indicate curiosity about his own inner workings. "I really do not feel comfortable in the role of analyzing myself," Bush told Draper, but then he emphasized. "I'll try." He didn't get far, though. Immediately after saying that he would "try," he launched into how the primaries are a test of will, then insisted ("eyes clenched, like little blue fists," Draper writes) that he felt constantly watched: "I fully understand that the enemy watches me, the Iraqis are watching me, the troops watch me, and the people watch me. The other thing is that you can't fake it. You have to believe it. And I believe it," he told Draper, leaving ambiguous whether the "it" referred to Iraq or something more deeply personal. "I believe we'll succeed." ("Dead Certain" x)

Of course, his feeling watched and "faking it" (faking certainty, faking competence) is exactly what George Bush is doing.

When the Defenses Become the Reality

We have noted in previous articles other prominent defenses Bush employs to cover his feelings of inadequacy: He is a classic emotional bully. Bullies disguise sensations of their own weakness by splitting the weakness off and casting it out of their own conscious awareness - projecting it - onto the consciousness of others. They generate a stream of signals and behaviors that keep others on guard and seek to enfeeble them. Bush's signing statements where he reserves the right not to abide by the law he's just adopted, his foreign policy asserting his right to preemptive strikes, his denial of Habeas Corpus, his fixation on retaining the torture option, his rejection of subpoenas from Congress, his diminishment of people by giving them nicknames - at different scales, these are emotional bullying tactics. Friends from his younger days remember that in basketball and tennis games Bush would force opponents who had beaten him to continue playing until he had worn down their will so he could beat them. Bush emotionally bullies his White House staff, making them afraid to tell him any news that doesn't fit his "optimistic" expectations. Draper reports senior staffer Josh Bolton greeting Bush each morning with the line, "Thank you for the privilege of serving." (397)

In January 2000 - and more decisively after September 11, 2001 - Bush came into possession of what we have called his "presidential defense." He became "the decider," the "commander guy," leader of the most powerful nation on earth overseeing a war he imagines is without end. Bush feels that his powerful office means - magically - that reality is his to define. Many have noted that the president is convinced that just because he says a thing will be so, it will be so.

As "the decider," Bush regularly asserts that he alone is the one who has to make the "tough" decisions, his primary job as president. At the same time, he has often declared that he loses no sleep and suffers no anxiety over his decisions. What does he mean by "tough," then? The statements are actually the paradox of how he avoids his inadequacy: he can be supremely competent on the grounds that he's the decider who decides what is competent; but since his competent decisions come magically, he doesn't lose sleep over them. In talking about why he never gets advice from his former president father, he says they both understand that as president he knows what his father doesn't know. That statement also doesn't make much logical sense; but it makes great psychological sense: a form of "I'm the daddy now, and daddy's not; daddies don't need advice."

Bush clings to a bad decision and can't change it because he had no rational basis for making it, or any decision, in the first place. Sticking with his decisions stubbornly - what he calls "leadership" - is all he really feels he has to offer as the nation's chief executive.

Absorbed in keeping up his psychic deflector shields, Bush seems shockingly unempathetic, even sadistically cruel about the pain of others. He is callous about torture; he takes pride in executions. His empathy for Katrina victims was clearly forced. He's a man who can put on a jacket of compassion or outrage when he needs to, but then takes it off and can't remember where he left it when a new need for empathy arrives. He's too busy expending that energy on his own situation.

Former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan has puzzled in her Wall Street Journal column at "the president's seemingly effortless high spirits" these days, at his "jarring peppiness" in circumstances that call for a sober demeanor. Bush's inappropriate affect connects with his inability to feel empathy and shows that he is disowning his depression about his failures and projecting it elsewhere. At the same time, he wants desperately to be liked. That explains the often inappropriate clowning and joking.

Bush's "presidential defense" traps him in a difficult paradox: It dramatically escalates the potency of his protection against being decisively (in his shifting terms) "found out" as inadequate. But it also dramatically escalates the psychically devastating consequences to him if he were to be found out (or find himself out).

As president, Bush is surrounded by what critics have taken to calling "enablers," a term that alludes to Bush's years of drinking and implies that the alcoholic's dynamic remains in force. Cheney is perhaps the chief enabler. As we've discussed previously, the vice president fulfills his need for personhood and power through taking on the wishes of his "patron" and serving as what Sidney Blumenthal calls "the pluperfect staff man." To do this, Cheney operates behind the scenes, where he is comfortable. His strategy translates into an obsessive secrecy for the administration as he carries out Bush's agenda of disguising weakness through bullying and authoritarianism. Doing the boss's dirty work has turned Cheney into a man who is amoral, paranoid and resentful at having framed himself as always second man. He likes the idea of being considered "the evil genius" who operates from the shadows. A deeply passive character with little sense of his own agency apart from a patron, Cheney makes himself, as he has said, "indispensable." He has worked his whole career to establish the presidency as an almost totalitarian "unitary executive," the ruler above all. His effort strikes us as a metaphor of his own internal struggle to be "the man": the paradoxical attempt to exercise his own will by exercising the will of his patron.

Other enablers include the women who surround Bush, principally Laura Bush, Karen Hughes and Condoleezza Rice. These women probably function for him as "good mothers" in contrast to his own mother. They seem to sense his distress, his inner fragility, and his extensive anxiety on a subconscious level, and try to sooth it. In his observations of Bush during the interview with Matt Lauer, reporter Milbank noted that "the first lady had a calming influence on the presidential wiggles. When Laura Bush spoke about her husband's 'broad shoulders,' the president put his arm around her - and the swaying and shifting subsided. The president, now on more comfortable terrain, delivered a brief homily about the decency of others. Through the entire passage, he blinked only 12 times" (down from 37 blinks the reporter counted during Bush's previous statement). The women may help him control his anxiety, but he would not be able to talk to them about it. They have their own issues with him. Rice revealed much about her psychology as enabler and victim of the administration's Stockholm syndrome when she told a friend, "People don't understand. It's not my exercising influence over him. I'm internalizing his world." (Draper 286) Like the alcoholic he once was, Bush has nobody to genuinely confide his anxieties to, not even Laura, who threatened to leave him if he didn't stop drinking. So, even in his most intimate friendships and relationships he is on stage, on message, exerting self-control (not always successfully), riding his bike to distract himself, keeping up his facade.

Bush's psyche throws out a fog of opposites as he attempts to control his ambivalence by disowning and splitting off parts. He can see himself only as Good, Successful, Loyal, Strong. The opposites of those must be cast outside him. He has negligible capacity to explore and draw nourishment from the fertile ground that exists in all of us between the poles of our conceptions and emotions. Insight grows from that ground. There he might discover, for example, that success and failure have many shades. In place of shades, Bush's character decompensates into stark contradictions. Claiming he is not a divider means the opposite, a "compassionate conservative" means the opposite. When his administration holds conferences to help resolve climate change or the Palestinian issue, his internal fragmentation dictates that he really doesn't want these things resolved - he wants the opposite. When he urges the success of an enterprise, it is likely that he has implanted somewhere the seeds of its failure. In the "surge" plan of last January there were several, for example: one flaw - vigorously warned against by the surge plan's supporters - would have created independent command structures for American and Iraqi forces. The command structures idea has been quietly scuttled by the military, which explains that "there are limitations preventing the Iraqi Security Forces from operating fully independently from Coalition forces." Another flaw involved Bush's remarkable failure to press the Iraqi leadership for the political reconciliation he said last year was the whole point of the surge's improvement of security in Baghdad. Thus, the surge has failed to accomplish its central purpose.

Because he unconsciously expects to be seen by the world as a failure, Bush feels a strange comfort and familiarity in failing and then in denying that he is failing. He can never learn from mistakes. Worse, his psychodynamics ensure that his efforts to avoid his failures inevitably produce more failures.

Bush's administration has become famous for the hubris of believing it would create its own reality; that fantasy inflated an expanding bubble of self-deception that left the White House increasingly out of touch with reality in every political dimension, except for intimidation. The cause of this is clear: To an unprecedented scale, a president's entire administration has been focused on the service of his psychological defense system.

Then, What Is He Capable of?

After previous articles about Bush's psychology, we received a number of emails from clinicians agreeing with our description of Bush's basic psychodynamic, and offering their diagnoses. These varied from one another, sometimes substantially, as might be expected, since no one we know of has had access to a first-hand psychiatric evaluation of Mr. Bush. What can we say about his psychopathology? We find no evidence in the public record that the president hears voices or is mentally ill in a way that would require hospitalization or medication, though some psychiatrists or psychopharmacologists might prescribe medication if he came in for treatment of his own accord. We think Bush's psychological dysfunctions are profound, but they are of the sort that would probably not arouse notice if he were, say, the owner of the Texas Rangers, a job he apparently enjoyed. (Draper 42) (Of course, being a baseball team owner replayed his central theme: his father had the baseball talent and he lacked it.) That said, we believe the effect of the presidency on Bush's psychodynamics and the effect of Bush's psychodynamics on the presidency have created a situation where his personality is as genuinely dangerous to the nation as if he were delusional.

Psychologically, Bush's one non-negotiable position is that he must never have to face his failures because once he found Jesus as his personal savior, he put all his failures (and failings) behind him. But now, after seven years as president, his failure is everywhere. Unlike presidents Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson and even Richard Nixon, Bush seems incapable of coping with his defeats by taking some redeeming direction. In the next year, we believe his behavior will continue to be guided by his need for massive avoidance of his feelings of inadequacy, particularly with regard to Iraq. Success in other areas means little to him and he gives them scant concern for his "legacy." He has identified himself as "a war president." The war is linked to his vague sense of divine mission, his internal aggression, his never-ending competition with his father.

We believe the great foreseeable peril of Bush's remaining year in office is the intersection of his Christian defense with Iran. In recent months, when Bush warned that Iran sought to launch World War III, he seems to have unconsciously told us it is he who wants war. The neo-conservative agenda to capture the Middle East for its oil, only reinforces Bush's own psychological reasons for attacking Iran: 1) to certify his biblical mission, and 2) to avoid facing the colossal incompetence of the Iraq war by bequeathing a widened and inextricable conflict to his successor. We believe Bush is aware that the long-term chaos that might result from an attack on Iran could confound the historical image of his administration enough to make his own failures harder to see. In 50 or 100 years - after he is dead, anyway - historians might even see his worldview in a favorable light. After all, they're still debating George Washington. That's what he thinks. The presidency has become for Bush like the popular "global domination" board game he played with fellow undergrads at Yale. There, he was known as the player willing to take the most risks.

Despite the mainstream press's inclination to construe the president's position euphemistically as a "hard line" on Iran, anyone who followed other reports, including Seymour Hersh's in The New Yorker, could reasonably conclude that the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate was a serious blow to Bush and Cheney's long-standing effort to provoke, create or discover a pretext to attack Iran and expand the Middle East wars. Hersh reported that in 2006 the president and vice president had pressed for use of nuclear weapons against Iranian facilities but were rebuffed by the military. We believe the president is probably already committed internally to pursue this belligerent course for his legacy. Vague fantasies of an "end-of-days" mission may be in his mind, as well.

It remains to be seen whether Secretary of Defense Robert Gates - Bush's father's designated new "minder" inside the administration - or senior military commanders can prevent Cheney from finding a way to operationalize the decision. So far they've succeeded. Meanwhile, the Democrats appear to be in denial about the risk of Bush's intentions. They know that almost everyone in authority who is rational actor believes taking on Iran at this time would be a colossal blunder, and they assume - though they must know better - that Bush will be persuaded by that rationality. We think this "misunderestimates" his psychology. The Democrats should overcome their denial and take their own preemptive action to block him from such an attack.

Some have imagined a worse scenario. In 2007, a statement to a small group of constituents by Democratic representative John Olver of Amherst, Mass., made the rounds on the Internet. Olver worried that Bush would attack Iran, declare a national emergency and suspend the 2008 elections. A clarifying email from Olver's press secretary to us said the congressman had no evidence that any of this would happen but that he had worried about a "thought crime" on the part of the president.

Is Bush psychologically capable of acting out such a "thought crime," maneuvering to remain in power? Would Bush ever actually move to suspend the Constitution? Unfortunately, he's done just that already, in significant ways. How committed is he really to the idea of democracy he talks about incessantly? Psychologically these are interesting questions. Given his tendency to polarize and split his ambivalence, we'd have to say that his constant pieties about democracy suggest the opposite is significantly at work in his consciousness. He's even joked about it: "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." Of course, he would vehemently deny that he is dictator even if he became one.

When Draper asked Bush about what plans he had after leaving the White House, they appeared vague, shiftless: making more money than his father on speaking engagements, setting up some foundation or something for encouraging democracy. "I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch." (406) His fantasies suggest his polarized ambivalence. He may yearn to escape into his old drinking days shiftlessness to get out from under the constant anxiety he feels about being competent as president; yet, he also seems keenly aware of the narcotic feeling of being a "consequential" person with a biblical mission, surrounded by the most powerful psychological defenses in the world. (Once out of office, how will he return to the family that knows his secret?) Is Bush capable of wanting to take the nation down an authoritarian road (a different question from whether he could get away with it)? If there were a terrorist attack on US soil or the assassination of a candidate, he could claim he is defending America by postponing the election. Cheney's office could provide the Constitutional rationale. With Bush's psychohistory, it's easy to become paranoid. Purely speculating: We think that Olver's "thought crime" is not the first thing on the president's mind and that he is not so out of touch with reality that he wouldn't have serious pause at such an action. (Martial law hasn't worked well for Pakistani strong man Pervez Musharraf.) That said, we believe Bush's psychodynamics could propel him in that direction if certain conditions arose.

As Greenwald observes: "The most dangerous George Bush is the one who feels weak, impotent, and under attack. Those perceptions are intolerable for him and it is doubtful if there are many limits, if any, on what he would be willing to do in order to restore a feeling of potency and to rid himself of the sensations of his own weakness and defeat." (95)

Responding to the Bush Psychology

It's likely that members of Congress in particular have experienced the subliminal shockwaves of what Greenwald describes. When the president feels weak, you don't know what he'll do. You sense that somewhere beneath your feet lie tripwires, which are his psychological defenses. Step on one, and you feel he'll react in a way that will be time consuming, unpleasant, distracting and possibly personally humiliating. He will pretend that his assault on you will be about important matters of national concern, but it will be really about himself. It will be hard to explain all that to the public, however. The president gives off subtle, angry irrationality that takes the air out of individuals of either party who might want to challenge him. They'd rather not deal with him if he can be avoided. They try to evade his polarizations. In that way they, too, become his enablers.

Unfortunately, there's no magic formula countering the psychology of the kind discussed here in the unique circumstance where the owner of that psychology is the president. But here are some things to consider:

Bush-type personality operates in a defensive, binary mode. Greenwald observes that the president's neocon advisers have found they can manipulate him by casting the policy they're advancing in a binary, good-evil terms. Then Bush manipulates others using such polarizations. When he says some variation of, "You're either with us or against us," he makes you feel angry and weak. You want to strike back, but you can't if you wish to remain rational. So you want to say logically, "No, I'm not against you, but I'm not with you, either." But that requires explaining, which is immensely difficult in our media environment. Reporters have become addicted to conflict-based storytelling as a way of getting audience attention. They prefer a polarized fight and will even try to start one if it doesn't exist. They tell stories by juxtaposing antagonistic sound bites. A politician trying to articulate a position that is non-polarized, nuanced and non-conflictual is at a disadvantage. Perhaps, serious politicians need to develop some tactics that can directly confront polarizing. "There you go again, Mr. President, creating a false division. There are third and forth options here." Whenever possible, the mainstream press should be chastised and educated about its addiction to this kind of conflict-based reporting, which creates a free fire zone, an information free environment that destroys public discourse.

A person polarizing the world as Bush does is like a small, weak animal that puffs itself up in order to scare off attackers. In Bush's case, the presidency has frequently led him into the illusion that he actually is his puffed up size. It might help to remember that he's not.

Polarizing tactics work because they provoke and rely on fear in those at the receiving end - fear of being wrong, fear of what the other guy will do, fear of uncertainty, fear of mistakes. Fear these things less and the tactics will work less. Such fears make us feel like children again. But we're adults. Binary, absolutist categories are always an inadequate description of the real world, which is, as Lincoln said, an "inseparable compound" of various polarities. As adults, we can think and speak about subtleties and complexities. If we do, fear will go down, not up. Most adults implicitly understand that the real world is, more often than not, nuanced, and an appeal to the truth of shades has its own strong power.

The Democrats have recently tried to operate in the grand American tradition that opposition and diversity must be accompanied by a willingness to nego tiate. That is the message of the Constitution, a document that embodies a psychologically very deep understanding of the give-and-take of creative process. The Democrats attempted to work with the president and their Republican colleagues in this spirit after they won the Congress in 2006. Psychologically, it was the right thing to do. They tried to heal the wounds the president had inflicted and draw him into a creative collaboration. But the president's massive defensiveness over his failures has kept him truculently binary. He has obviously intimidated his fellow Republicans so that they, too, have continued in a merely oppositional mode and are supporting his vetoes. The president is dismissing Congress as incidental to his authority.

At this point, it appears that the Democrats and moderate Republicans are succumbing to their fear of direct confrontation with his psychology. They seem afraid the president might be vindicated by another terrorist attack on US soil (as though the attack would prove that polarizing the world is the true path). They want to avoid a constitutional crisis in the months until Bush leaves office. They haven't wanted their legislative time consumed with investigations of administrative corruption and usurpation of power. They haven't wanted to alienate the electorate during an election season. Their own ambivalence has been set off by his, but with a different result. They waffle: one minute resisting him, the next backing down. All this is understandable, but it misses the point that corruption and usurpation of the sort that has been unleashed by the president's psychology may have already seriously damaged our national institutions. What is the message to the future if we allow this president's psychological defenses against his failures to inflict such damage and then evade our responsibility to hold him accountable for it?

Members of Congress can stop being victims of the president's abusive psychology. You can confront a polarizer about his behavior without yourself becoming a polarizer. Instead of splitting ambivalence as Bush does, ambivalence can be used to think through a clear course of action . The Constitution helps, in this case. The Democrats might, for example, articulate their balancing duties under the Constitution and carefully and firmly distinguish them from acts of partisan opposition. They might publicly acknowledge that this president, with the past complicity of Congress, has damaged our institutions. They could insist on the investigative and deliberative process called for by our system of government. Methodically holding Bush and his administration to account for his abuses (such a thing has never before happened to him) may be the most effective way to neutralize the further acting out of his dangerous psychology. It would empower others in his administration to resist him. It would refocus Congress on its own responsibilities in the constitutional process. Of course, to accomplish this would require some adults and "profiles in courage."

John P. Briggs, M.D. is retired from over 40 years of private practice in psychotherapy in Westchester County, New York. He was on the faculty in psychiatry at the Columbia Medical Center in New York City for 23 years and was a long-time member of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis. He trained at the William Alanson White Institute in New York. For 20 years he practiced co-therapy for married couples with his late wife, Muriel.

JP Briggs II, Ph.D. is a distinguished CSU professor at Western Connecticut State University, specializing in creative process. He is the senior editor of the intellectual journal, "The Connecticut Review" and author and co-author of books on creativity and chaos, including "Fire in the Crucible" (St. Martins Press); "Fractals, the Patterns of Chaos" (Simon and Schuster); "Seven Life Lessons of Chaos" (HarperCollins); and a collection of short stories, "Trickster Tales" (Fine Tooth Press). He is currently at work on a book about the power of ambivalence with Philadelphia psychologist John Amoroso. Email: profbriggs@comcast.net

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.