Category Archives: Bush

#Romney and #Ryan: “Don’t Know Much About History.”#RNC

Note to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. A little Sam Cooke song for your iPods, across the generations.

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

    Foreign policy notes after the Republican convention.

Romney sounds like he wants to attack Iran.This plays to Sheldon Adelson and the millions of dollars he is willing to dedicate to defeating Obama; and to Bush-era neo-cons in the wings. Will Romney and the image-makers be able to generate enough fear in America to push for a war with Iran? I don’t think there is a stomach for going back to the Bush-Cheney policy of pre-emptive war.

Romney and his running mate used the tired old phrase that President Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus.” There’s nothing to sustain that. Obama has been as supportive of Israel as every other president since 1948. Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu—propped up by the way by Sheldon Adelson –has not been in a mood to work with the Obama administration toward compromise and negotiations with the Palestinians.

Only those with no memory and no sense of context can listen to Condoleezza Rice seriously about foreign policy. Exactly 10 years ago, she appeared on American television and fear-mongered:

“We know that there have been shipments going…into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited…for nuclear weapons…We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

If she didn’t know that this was a manufactured lie, she didn’t know her job. Rice has no apology and now is declared “presidential” by some. She shilled for a fake policy on Iraq as secretary of state. See my book with Knut Royce – The Italian Letter – which disproves the claim she still makes today, that the Bush administration acted on the best intelligence available at the time. That is a lie.

What this business about saber-rattling with Russia and using Vladimir Putin as a convenient foil? Are the Republican foreign policy advisers buried in a safe room since 1990? It was reckless.

That brings us back to Sam Cooke. I suspect that Romney does know the lessons he learned. He does know “the French he took.” He just doesn’t want to let on in the party he dances with. That is sad.

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Health care decision: Key quotes from the ruling – Tim Grieve – POLITICO.com

Health care decision: Key quotes from the ruling – Tim Grieve – POLITICO.com.

Interesting sidelight, the NBC/MSNBC correspondent at the Supreme Court, Peter Williams, described this as a mixed victory at best and downplayed it, even as everyone else was declaring it a major victory for Obama. Williams, a former government official himself under Republican administrations, is also a former staff aide to former Vice President Richard B. Cheney. Wonder what he was thinking.

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Obama Spanks GoP Chickenhawks on War With Iran: Jeff Stein at Spytalk

from Jeff Stein:

It’s ironic isn’t it, that President Obama, who’s never gotten closer to a military uniform than a handshake, is so much more cautious about sending men and women into harm’s way than his predecessor, a onetime Air Force pilot?

The conventional wisdom, after all, is that civilians who’ve never seen a bullet fired in anger are far more cavalier about sounding the trumpets to war than a soldier who’s been there. read more: spytalk

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Panama, Noriega and the US: The Story Behind the Story.

Manuel Antonio Noriega is about to return to Panama 22 years after he was taken in shackles to the United States. Here’s a reprise of a magazine story I wrote about him. Was Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega really a drug trafficker? Or is it possible he was set up by the U.S. government? Try asking a few dozen people who should know.
FROM NEW TIMES: UNCERTAIN JUSTICE

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Horrid Obsession

The matter at hand is Patrick Buchanan, who is out hawking his newest book, recycled claptrap like all the others. One was left amazed listening to his interview on the Diane Rehm show recently. Among other things, he defended the Reagan Southern Strategy (which he promoted) as not being racist, he repeated his tripe about the destruction of values that began in the 1960s and comparing that age of permissiveness to the Weimar Republic (leaving unsaid, but implying that a wonderful fellow came in after that to clean up Germany–only to be thwarted by a warmongering fellow named Churchill). Yes, really, Churchill, according to Buchanan, was the culprit in World War II. See Christopher Hitchens on Buchanan and World War II.

Unwittingly or not, let us not forget that Buchanan was the recipient of the hanging chad votes in 2000 that helped throw the election (with an assist from Scalia and company) to GW Bush.

Fascinating that he is still allowed to slime his way onto the airwaves and onto the TV screen.

Here is the best take on Buchanan in many a day, written at theRoot.com by Les Payne.

Pat Buchanan: Fearing the Loss of White Power
In his latest book, the right-wing commentator recycles his familiar racial fears
.

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Nothing Like the Real Thing (As opposed to Dick Cheney’s Version of History)

Dick Cheney is on the circuit talking about events surrounding his possible departure from the vice presidential re-election campaign in 2004.

Here’s a piece of a chat I had with John Roberts in April 2008 on CNN about Cheney discussing The Italian Letter, the book I wrote with my colleague Knut Royce:

PETER EISNER, CO-AUTHOR, “THE ITALIAN LETTER”: We found out that, as a result of Cheney’s role in developing the march toward war in Iraq, Rove started to question, has he gone too far; is he a little bit too much out there for us for running again in 2004?

So, Rove started to talk to people, particularly Grover Norquist, and, in turn, to conservative financial backers, just gently, to say, do we really want him on the ticket? It’s an outrageous thing to say. And it really upset Cheney, when he found out about it. And it was squelched quickly. But the bad blood between Rove and Cheney, as a result, exists to this day.

ROBERTS (voice-over): The Rove-Cheney drama is just the latest revelation in a complicated story that began more than four years ago and continues to this day. But how did we get here?

One of many key players in the run-up to the war, the White House Iraq Group — its mission, claims Eisner, to sell the war in Iraq to the American public by whipping up fear about Iraq’s nuclear program. In 2003, what looked like the perfect smoking gun emerged, a letter now known as the “Italian letter,” supposedly documenting Niger’s intentions to sell uranium to Saddam Hussein.

The only problem, the letter was a fake.

Truth is, even Cheney’s conservative buddies in the Bush administration thought he was off the deep end. Former aides to Cheney thought that by the time he reached the presidency, his personality and actions had changed, and they questioned his rationality for pushing the Iraq War. After my comments on CNN, Cheney and the White House issued a denial. Now, struggling to find news in Cheney’s tell-little memoir, they drag out the resignation passage, revealing little, if anything.

Cheney and his cohorts manufactured the cause for war in Iraq, and it wasn’t just cherry-picking. They promoted a story that the US intelligence community agreed had never existed — Saddam purchasing yellowcake in Niger. To this hour, he and Bush and their cohorts say they “acted on the best intelligence available at the time.” That is a lie.

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Fear without Facts: “Iranian sleeper agents” in the Caribbean

A former U.S. official is pushing the idea that Venezuela and Iran have created a base for terrorists and sleeper agents on the island of Margarita in the Caribbean.

True or not, Roger Noriega’s dire warning about Hugo Chavez and his terrorism connection sounds like fodder for a Johnny Depp movie. (Ayatollah Tourists in the Caribbean?)

Noriega, former assistant secretary of state under George W. Bush, writes in the Washington Post that President Obama is missing the real story on his tour of Latin America. Never fear, Noriega is ready to tell us  “the real” story, which by the way can’t be proved or disproved. It can only be doubted.

Noriega’s ideas and warnings about Venezuela have been featured on the Washington Post opinion pages before. The method is based on agitprop, the underlying principle of the very successful campaign that brought us war on Iraq, a war much less successful than the propaganda campaign. Here’s how you play–first understand agitprop.

“agitprop, abbreviated from Russian agitatsiya propaganda (agitation propaganda), political strategy in which the techniques of agitation and propaganda are used to influence and mobilize public opinion. Although the strategy is common, both the label and an obsession with it were specific to the Marxism practiced by communists in the Soviet Union.

The twin strategies of agitation and propaganda were originally elaborated by the Marxist theorist Georgy Plekhanov, who defined propaganda as the promulgation of a number of ideas to an individual or small group and agitation as the promulgation of a single idea to a large mass of people. ” Encyclopedia Britannica online

Next blend some truths with  information that no one can prove to be categorically true or false. The unnamed sources cited by Noriega are  “from within the Venezuelan regime,” and tell him that a terrorist conclave took place in Venezuela.  “Among those present were Palestinian Islamic Jihad Secretary General Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah, who is on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists; Hamas’s “supreme leader,” Khaled Meshal; and Hezbollah’s “chief of operations.”

Cting his conversation with  “a Venezuelan government source,”  Noriega further tells us that “two Iranian terrorist trainers are on Venezuela’s Margarita Island…” The trainers are

“instructing operatives who have assembled from around the region. In addition, radical Muslims from Venezuela and Colombia are brought to a cultural center in Caracas named for the Ayatollah Khomeini and Simon Bolivar for spiritual training, and some are dispatched to Qom, Iran, for Islamic studies. Knowledgeable sources confirm that the most fervent recruits in Qom are given weapons and explosives training and are returned home as ‘sleeper’ agents.”

Noriega, when he was in office, once told me in matter-of-fact terms that Cuban operatives had taken over Venezuela’s intelligence service, which was thereby at the bidding of Fidel Castro. That apparently didn’t fly very well. Now that Iran is the enemy du jour, why not point to Iran-trained sleeper agents, a couple of hundred miles off U.S. shores?

I asked a knowledgeable source about Noriega’s story, but on the record: Vincent Cannistraro, who is former Director of Intelligence Programs for the  National Security Council and former Chief of Operations and Analysis at the Central Intelligence Agency‘s Counterterrorist Center.

“It’s not based on confirmed intelligence,” nor is there a plot or an imminent threat, Cannistraro said. “Noriega has a one-track mind on Chavez and ties to Iran. This is poorly sourced, as usual. We know Chavez and his predilections, but he is not in the Iranian terrorist nest.”

It isn’t easy to prove a negative, as they say, but let’s ask Noriega and the Washington Post opinion pages for evidence. Otherwise, skepticism reigns.

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