Read yesterday

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

I kept it light today because I figured out a little late that most people took off yesterday, and I want you to read that one.

You know a person by the company he or she keeps -- so the saying goes. You could also say that you know an administration by the linguistic company it keeps; and though George Bush is usually presented as an inarticulate stumbler of a speech and news-conference giver, it's nothing short of remarkable how many new words and phrases or redefined old ones this president and his administration have managed to lodge in our lives and our heads. Over at TomDispatch, Tom Engelhardt considers how he's redefined our world, plunging into a universe of terms like "homeland," "decapitation," "shock and awe," "extraordinary rendition," "torture," "footprint," "enduring camp," "preventive war," and "unitary executive theory." This linguistic heritage of shame adds up to a snapshot not just of the Bush administration's surreal world but of a startling grab for extra-constitutional power.

He concludes: "We all know what a failed state is -- one of those marginal lands where anarchy is the rule and government not the norm. To offer but two examples: Afghanistan is a failed state, a narco-warlord-insurrectionary land where the government barely controls the capital, Kabul; Iraq is now a failed state, a civil-war-torn, insurrectionary land where the government does not even control the capital, Baghdad. But here's a term that isn't in our language: 'Failed empire.' It might be worth using in any ceremonies meant to bring words and reality closer together."

"Good" Terrorism:

Washington, DC, October 5, 2006 -- On the 30th anniversary of the first and only mid-air bombing of a civilian airliner in the Western Hemisphere, the National Security Archive today posted on the Web new investigative records that further implicate Luis Posada Carriles in that crime of international terrorism. Among the documents posted is an annotated list of four volumes of still-secret records on Posada's career with the CIA, his acts of violence, and his suspected involvement in the bombing of Cubana flight 455 on October 6, 1976, which took the lives of all 73 people on board, many of them teenagers.

The National Security Archive, which has sought the declassification of the Posada files through the Freedom of Information Act, today called on the U.S. government to release all intelligence files on Posada. "Now is the time for the government to come clean on Posada's covert past and his involvement in international terrorism," said Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Archive's Cuba Documentation Project. "His victims, the public, and the courts have a right to know."

Posada has been in detention in El Paso, Texas, for illegal entry into the United States, but a magistrate has recommended that he be released this week because the Bush administration has not certified that he is a terrorist.

Among the documents posted today are four sworn affidavits by police officials in Trinidad and Tobago, who were the first to interrogate the two Venezuelans -- Hernan Ricardo Lozano and Freddy Lugo -- who were arrested for placing the bomb on flight 455. (Their statements were turned over as evidence to a special investigative commission in Barbados after the crime.) Information derived from the interrogations suggested that the first call the bombers placed after the attack was to the office of Luis Posada's security company ICI, which employed Ricardo. Ricardo claimed to have been a CIA agent (but later retracted that claim). He said that he had been paid $16,000 to sabotage the plane and that Lugo was paid $8,000.

The interrogations revealed that a tube of Colgate toothpaste had been used to disguise plastic explosives that were set off with a "pencil-type" detonator on a timer after Ricardo and Lugo got off the plane during a stopover in Barbados. Ricardo "in his own handwriting recorded the steps to be taken before a bomb was placed in an aircraft and how a plastic bomb is detonated," deputy commissioner of police Dennis Elliott Ramdwar testified in his affidavit.

These and other documents on this case can be found on the website of the National Security Archive.

More here.

Ten pranks you can play on a child predator.

Quote of the Day: Judie Brown in The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin:

When I first heard about the recently produced documentary, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, there was no real desire on my part to dig into the subject. After all, I thought, what has this got to do with ending abortion and stopping the spread of promiscuity that accompanies the entire panoply of birth control products?

Parody or not? Here.

Runner-up: Barbra Streisand, here:

After serenading fans with some of her greatest hits, Streisand mocked President Bush. A few dozen people began to heckle her with one man shouting, "What is this, a fund-raiser?" An incensed Streisand shot back, "Why don't you shut the f


up. If you can't take a joke, why don't you leave and get your money back."

P.S. I have strong mixed feelings about Babs, whom I blame for starting off this scalp-your-own-fans trend with $350 ticket prices way back when. I also think it's a really bad thing that she's like, well, the most famous liberal in America. I was also kinda weirded out when she kept her dog on her lap the entire time when I attended a seder with her once upon a time. (It was her birthday, by the way. We sang to her. She did not sing to us. Not even "Dayenu." There was no singing in this seder, alas.) But she does put her money where her mouth is and gives it out intelligently. The reason I am writing this, however, is that Rhino is putting out or has just put out a DVD of her 1986 concert for the DCCC (I think) and it's just amazing. It takes place at her house in Malibu and is filled with rich movie stars and liberal politicians, and they all sing "America the Beautiful" at the end, which, believe it or not, is really moving. But my point is, I've never heard Babs sound so wonderful as she does on this DVD. It's really an intimate performance without all of the mishigas that -- as far as I read -- accompanies her real concerts and TV specials. It's called One Voice, here, and it's just magnificent.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Ed Renehan
Hometown: Wickford, RI

Dear Eric: I'm given to understand that the extra cuts on the "American Land" edition of the Seeger sessions are available via iTunes for those who do not wish to repurchase the entire CD. Also, Springsteen's version of "Bring 'Em Home" is available for listening (free) via a link at the popular Seeger tribute page.

Name: Rabbi Yitzchak Ganon
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Eric,

I agree with you. Bush is to blame for the North Korean nuclear test and if hundreds of thousands of people die from a nuclear device set off by North Korea then we will have no one to blame but Bush.

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