Same as it ever was...

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

The Wall Street Journal tops its worldwide newsbox with Bush putting another nail in the coffin of early troop withdrawal by saying the U.S. military won't "pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." The president also said he will not have direct talks with Iran until the country decides to give up its uranium enrichment program.

Got that? Nothing's going to change. The Baker Commission is a farce. Thousands of Americans will continue to die for George W. Bush's vanity, stupidity, and ideological extremism. Fail to come to grips with that, and you are enabling it. Period.

Here is the memo which tells at least a part of the truth about the dishonesty of our incompetent, ideologically obsessed political leadership.

Yglesias and I kick this around on bloggingheads.tv, here. (I am hoping Mr. Wright buys me new lighting. The last estimate I got was six grand.) Matt and I are going to start a soccer team called Mensheviks United. (Seriously, what's interesting about this conversation, in a meta sense, is that you don't often see policy conversations with people who basically agree on everything. Does that work?)

This is quite a piece by Diane McWhorter. Amazing that it got into Slate. Here's a bit:

The Bush-era fourth estate has come up short not only against the Big Lie of "fair and balanced" news but also against its equally cunning cousin: the Small Inaccuracy used to repudiate the damaging larger truth. CBS crumbled under the administration's mau-mauers over Memogate, while Newsweek managed to withstand the hazing it took for its Koran-in-the-toilet item -- which, like the substance of Dan Rather's offending report on Bush's National Guard career, was not only accurate; it was old news. But why didn't the national media go on the offensive and re-educate the government, and the public, about the inevitable if regrettable price of a free press? Mistakes will be made in the proverbial first draft of history, and holding reporters to a standard of perfection would inhibit them from performing the vigilance crucial to our democratic system. The media had become so habituated to the paralysis of self-censorship that it took a fake newsman to diagnose their Stockholm syndrome, and when Stephen Colbert acidly chided the journalists along with the president at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in April, the audience was not amused.

The ways our free press has served the powers it was supposed to afflict range from the belabored (Judith Miller's WMD "scoops" in the Times), to the grandiose (Tom Friedman's op-ed manifestos for a new political species: the pro-war-if-it-works liberal), to the perverse (Christopher Hitchens's flogging, in Slate, of a left-wing fifth column so much worse than the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton complex). My favorite editorial pledge of allegiance was a syndicated column by Kathleen Parker welcoming the ministrations of Bush's domestic spies because, hey, she wasn't conducting any phone business more controversial than making appointments to get her highlights done.

We have become such "good Americans" that we no longer have the moral imagination to picture what it might be like to be in a bureaucratic category that voids our human rights, be it "enemy combatant" or "illegal immigrant." Thus, in the week before the election, hardly a ripple answered the latest decree from the Bush administration: Detainees held in CIA prisons were forbidden from telling their lawyers what methods of interrogation were used on them, presumably so they wouldn't give away any of the top-secret torture methods that we don't use. Cautiously, I look back on that as the crystallizing moment of Bushworld: tautological as a Gilbert and Sullivan libretto, absurd as a Marx Brothers movie, and scary as a Kafka novel.

As she has done many times in her prosecutorial career, former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega has drawn up an indictment for fraud (just as she would for any case she was going to present to a grand jury):

Assistant United States Attorney: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. We're here today in the case of United States v. George W. Bush et al. In addition to President Bush, the defendants are Vice President Richard B. Cheney, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice -- who's now the Secretary of State, of course -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

So begins one of the excerpts at TomDispatch.com this week from De la Vega's new book United States v. George W. Bush et al., in which she draws up a "hypothetical indictment" against the top officials of the Bush administration for defrauding the American people into war in Iraq. As de la Vega makes perfectly clear, hers is "not an actual indictment." It can't be, of course; but consider her "hypothetical indictment" a good indication of the changing mood in Congress and in America, as well as a signal of the opening of a season of investigations.

The Liberal Media Bias noise machine wheezes and groans, but The Washington Post still takes it seriously.

Alter-reviews:

'Tis the Season, says my man Tony : Capitol has put out a whole bunch of really excellent Christmas albums. We got a couple reviewed below:

DEAN MARTIN, Christmas With Dino -- I'm a traditionalist when it comes to holiday music. I don't want to hear Christina Aguilera warbling Christmas tunes. Give me Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and this fine collection by Dean Martin. It contains selections from the two holiday-themed albums he recorded in the '50s and '60s. It's got songs you generally know pretty well, arranged tastefully and sung in Dino's trademark laid-back style. It sounds great played softly in the background or loudly at a swingin' Yuletide party. It includes a few alternate takes which don't sound that much different from the released versions, plus a pointless electronic "duet" with country chanteuse Martina McBride, but for the most part this is a damn good album. Pass the egg nog, baby!

FRANK SINATRA, DEAN MARTIN & SAMMY DAVIS, JR., Christmas With The Rat Pack -- Frank and Dean both have their own holiday-themed CDs on the market, but for a koo-koo mix of the two, with a few tracks from Sammy thrown in (yeah, he was Jewish, but for some reason recorded a couple of Christmas songs in the '60s), this is the disc for you. It's got a nice combination of more somber material ("Silent Night," "The First Noel") and jauntier fare ("Baby It's Cold Outside," "Winter Wonderland"), and as a bonus, it's got a couple of killer live Frank/Dean duets that are unavailable elsewhere. Essential holiday listening.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Dan Vietor
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

It looks like Bush Co. is close to raising the $500 million needed to build his presidential library. I see where SMU is buying up land to extend the campus and make room for the library. I guess this is a bit of an issue since the size of this library will dwarf the Clinton library in Little Rock and SMU is pretty much embedded inside Dallas. So SMU has to buy up condo developments, shopping centers, etc., which isn't cheap. But wealthy Dallas businessmen are already stepping up to provide the money. It will be interesting to see how this plays out since Bush has yet to make a decision on whether to put his library in Dallas or Waco.

My question is why this is going to be so big. I guess Bush wants a library about the size of the new American Embassy in Iraq that we're paying $1 billion for. In the end, all his papers will be classified so you could probably put the library in an area the size of a fast food restaurant. Then the rest of the space can be dedicated to the excesses of this administration ... a glorious monument to G.W. Bush complete with 100 foot statue that neocons can make a yearly pilgrimage to!

Name: Jane Scharankov
Hometown: East Marion, NY

So here's my modified proposal. How about every pundit who got on board with Bush and Co. to create this hell on Earth that is now engulfing Iraq explain to us why they were so wrong and what they've learned from their mistake? And if they're not willing to admit how wrong they were and explain how they have since amended their ways, then let's invite them to go live in Baghdad for the next five years.

Furthermore, when each of the neocons is convicted of war crimes (ok, this isn't a modest or modified proposal, it's a hallucination), let's sentence them to go live in Baghdad too ... outside of the Green Zone and without a personal army for protection.

Name: Bob Braun
Hometown: Kansas City

The video clip of the Kinks' live version of "Celluloid Heroes" nearly brought tears to my 50 yr. old eyes. I miss those guys and their live music.

Name: J DAlessandro
Hometown: Crestwood, NY

Yeah, Oasis was a bad Beatles, all right. There's still a pretty damn good Beatles hanging around for the last 30 years or so, and its name is Robyn Hitchcock. Pretty good Dylan too.

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