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Terror and Liberalism

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria


Polyarchy by Robert Dahl

The Nazi Seizure of Power

The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen

Terror and Liberalism

Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman

In Association with

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck



And All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt

How much does the Bush administration care about the American servicemen that are dying in Iraq? This much:

"Washington -- The Pentagon wants to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, who are already contending with guerrilla-style attacks, homesickness and 120- degree-plus heat.

"Unless Congress and President Bush take quick action when Congress returns after Labor Day, the uniformed Americans in Iraq and the 9,000 in Afghanistan will lose a pay increase approved last April of $75 a month in "imminent danger pay" and $150 a month in "family separation allowances."

"The Defense Department supports the cuts, saying its budget can't sustain the higher payments amid a host of other priorities."

The article goes on to report that the additional pay would cost $300 million per year. Someone remind me again, how big was that unnecessary and ineffectual tax cut?

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 3:22:00 PM

Thursday, August 14, 2003  


But I Don't Wanna Share!

At the precise moment when international support is most urgently needed, the Bush administration is giving up on the U.N. This is incredibly stupid and incredibly stubborn. In the lead up to war I argued that the U.S. didn't need international support for war, but that argument certainly doesn't apply to the post-war mess. We may be able to clobber Saddam's regime in 21 days, but it's been proven that we are unable to keep any semblance of peace in Iraq now that reconstruction and stability are the main objectives.

We need international help. India turned us down because we didn't have a U.N. mandate and other countries have followed a similar line of objection. Iraq needs more boots on the ground. Our military is already overburdened, so wouldn't it make sense to do what is necessary to get the help from the rest of the world that we so desperately need?

"Administration officials said that in spite of the difficult security situation in Iraq, there was a consensus in the administration that it would be better to work with these countries than to involve the United Nations or countries that opposed the war and are now eager to exercise influence in a postwar Iraq.

Have you ever seen such stubborn behavior? Arrogant pride is blinding Rumsfeld and Bush to the needs of American soldiers in Iraq. We didn't need other nations before, but we need them now. Why must the administration refuse to play well with others?

"The administration is not willing to confront going to the Security Council and saying, 'We really need to make Iraq an international operation,' " said an administration official. "You can make a case that it would be better to do that, but right now the situation in Iraq is not that dire."

"Not that dire"??? Really. I guess this administration official missed the news every night for the past three months when an American soldier was reported killed due to hostile fire. That sounds pretty dire to me.

Even so, regardless of the psychological macho issues that administration officials have, the claim that the coalition is broad is completely misleading. The U.S. contributes approximately 150,000 of the soldiers on the ground, Britain supports with around 10,000 and the rest of the members toss in less than 10,000 combined. Can we even call that a coalition?

"The Pentagon said today that besides the United States and Britain, the other countries that have already sent troops to Iraq are Albania, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine. The troops in Iraq serve under American and British command, and so would the troops of any other countries that took part.

"In addition, another dozen countries have been asked to help with forces to protect and carry out relief. They include Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Portugal and Thailand."

Mongolia? Azerbaijan? Since when were these nations considered vital allies, or even friends for that matter? When was the last time you heard about the spectacular heroics of the Macedonian special forces? After Alexander the Great in 323 BC I draw a blank. This coalition needs some meat on its bones. Now.

"The last thing we need is a loss of momentum over the efforts to get things under control in Iraq," said a Western diplomat involved in these discussions. "Besides, the violence in Iraq is not as bad as everyone thinks it is."

Yeah, we wouldn't want to loose momentum towards completely running Iraq into the ground. God forbid we actually provide our military with the support it needs to complete the mission and get Iraq running as a functioning representative nation. But it's ok, it's not as bad as we think it is.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 2:05:00 AM


Pants On Fire VIII

The deception continues. It now appears that that infamous footnote that the State Department included in the National Intelligence Estimate about the Niger yellowcake claims being "highly dubious" was also supported by experts at the Department of Energy, though the head of the office that analyzes the energy aspect of these threats overruled his team of experts and signed off on the "reconstituted" line of thought that the Bush administration was pushing for.

"Thomas Rider, as acting director of Energy's intelligence office, overruled senior intelligence officers on his staff in voting for the position at a National Foreign Intelligence Board meeting at CIA headquarters last September.

"His officers argued at a pre-briefing at Energy headquarters that there was no hard evidence to support the alarming Iraq nuclear charge, and asked to join State Department's dissenting opinion, Energy officials say.

"Rider ordered them to "shut up and sit down," according to sources familiar with the meeting."

Wow, when the truth gets out, it's silenced. Ideology triumphed over fact so that the administration could have its way. The experts at Energy agreed with the assessment by officials at State that the claims about yellowcake from Niger were troublesome, but when they expressed these views they were systematically silenced while unsubstanciated beliefs carried the day.

So what is true about the pre-war claims about Iraq's nuclear program? Anything?

"The debate over whether Baghdad was trying to acquire nuclear weapons pretty much came down to the tubes," said one Energy official. "Yet even though DOE voted against the tubes, Rider still argued that the program was being reconstituted."

"But if the tubes are out, and if the African search for uranium is out, and if all the construction activity at the old nuclear sites turned out to be nothing, then what's the evidence?" he said. "It was just taken on faith."

Faith. Ideology trickled down to the various departments instead of facts working their way up to the president for an informed decision about Iraq's potential as an aggressive nation.

What makes this all the more appalling is that Rider, the Energy official who overrode the team of experts in favor of ideology, was mysteriously given a $13,000 bonus just after throwing his weight around to get his Energy Department to sign off on the Bush administration version of reality. HMM.

Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall have more on this...

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 7:44:00 PM

Wednesday, August 13, 2003  


Not In My Backyard

Last time I checked environmentalists were all about wind power. It was the ideal power source of the future. It hurt nothing, it created no pollution, and it was quiet and pretty to look at. That is, unless it's in the backyard of the environmentalists.

A company called Cape Wind is working on building a "farm" of turbines in Nantucket Sound - an inconvenient spot for America's rich and famous, for it obstructs their view of the pristine Sound. Opponents, who include Walter Cronkite, David McCullough, a handful of Kennedy's and groups such as the Waquoit Bay Yacht Club, the Sippewissett Association, the Cotuit Civic Association and my favorite, the Nantucket Board of Selectmen, object to the new sources of power for the following reasons:

- The turbines are huge and would ruin the natural beauty of Nantucket Sound and the sealife in it.

- The turbines would be a hazard to aircraft and ferries due to their enormous size.

- The power generated by the turbines is not needed in the Cape Cod area, which would have an unnecessary surplus of power with the addition of the wind powered turbines.

- The company building the turbines would get a tax break and might even make a profit off of this venture.

Now, let's take a good hard look at these complaints, shall we? Contrary to the belief that sealife would be ruined by these turbines, the infrastructure of huge beams in the Sound would actually draw more fish to the area for local fishermen, as the fish would be attracted to an area that would now have places for plankton and other microscopic sealife to grow on.

The second issue is the hazard turbines would pose to planes and ferries. While the turbines are 417 feet tall, how many planes really fly that low? And if they are flying that low, aren't turbines the least of their problems? This argument is simply a non-starter.

Ferries aren't in danger either. By making the turbines so big, the blades will spin incredibly slow. And regardless of that, the blades are no where near the surface of the water where ships might be. The turbines pose no danger to travellers in the air or on the sea.

The third argument is the one that makes opponents of this plan truely self-interested. They oppose the turbines because the power is unnecessary since other methods of power already exist. Well duh! Sure other forms of power exist, but aren't those the ones that environmentalists vigorously oppose?

Aren't we working towards a world in which we don't have to rely on the sooty pollutants of coal power, be handcuffed in our foreign policy by Saudi Arabian oil, or have to worry about the catostrophic calamities that would befall us if one of our nuclear power plants malfunctioned? Shouldn't wind, solar and hydrogen power be our goals?

Lastly, opponents of wind power in Nantucket Sound argue that Cape Wind shouldn't be making a profit off of environmental destruction. I've already stated why no environmental destruction actually takes place, but for them to be concerned that a company that promotes clean energy is earning a profit and a tax break for it is just plain annoying. Cape Wind is exactly the kind of energy company that we should encourage. Attack Halliburton all you want, but companies that promote wind power should not be accused of destroying the environment. The more this argument is put forth, the sillier "Save Our Sound," er, sounds.

Opponents of the turbine plan try their best to label Cape Wind as hell-bent on "industrializing" Nantucket Sound, but how is this "industrial"? It's wind power! There's no environmental basis to be opposed to the plan, no ideological basis to be opposed to the plan. There is only a self-interested opinion that the view from Martha's Vineyard would be "ruined" by the unsightly turbines.

When you think of the future, and you think of what the world will depend on for energy sources, don't you imagine that our seas will be filled with wind turbines, the depths of our oceans gridded with current sensors that will use the natural movements of the sea for our energy needs, and solar power that can use the light of the sun to supply our growing world with the power it will require? I sure do. Apparently some would rather have their view than make the world a better place. What a shame.

  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 3:50:00 PM

Tuesday, August 12, 2003