Friday, April 14, 2006

Ready for Flight 93, The Movie?

While the producers and the director of the the movie Flight 93 apparently obtained unanimous consent from the family members of those aboard hijacked Flight 93, apparently, random theatergoers are just not ready to see the trailer of it.

I have seen the trailer and understand the difficulty in watching it. And those who go to a movie generally do not request to see trailers (unless they are crazy Star Wars fans). So, in that respect, I understand.

But unlike all the other make-believe movies that we supposedly must watch because of their powerful messages, this is a true story of heroes. If there ever was an imperative to watch a movie, this would be it.

And while I understand the desire to pretend like it never happened, and that there aren't people out there trying to randomly kill as many of us as they can, it's worth remembering that as well.

It should at least be somewhat comforting to know that there are still heroes. Not the fake heroes in our books and movies that face exaggerated evils, and whose suffering is art. But real heroes, who faced violent hatred face-to-face and fought back. For us.

Michelle Malkin: Getting By On Good Looks, Piss n' Vinegar, And Utter Hypocrisy

Self-appointed conservative critics like Michelle Malkin piss me off.

It isn't the withering condescension toward anyone without carbon-copy ideas and values, though that's pretty annoying. It's not even the willingness to sacrifice fact on the altar of loyalty.

It's the powerfully stupid hypocrisy, really.

Here's Michelle Malkin, up in arms over a "racist math question," culled from a posting she made a few weeks ago:

I've been getting lots of e-mail about an idiotic math question reportedly crafted by a Bellevue (WA) Community College professor that takes a racist swipe at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Here's a message forwarded to me from Rev. Wayne Perryman of Mercer Island, Wa.:


Dear Friends: The following sample math problem was given to students as part of their final exam at Bellevue Community College in Washington State. I was asked by black students to represent them in this matter. Some of these students attend my church. I am asking all of you and your friends to e-mail the school at the following e-mail addresses and express your outrage: Advising@bcc.ctc.edu, tpritcha@bcc.ctc.edu, and amatsumo@bcc.ctc.edu. The following is the math problem given to the students. Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of the roof of the 300 -foot Federal Building, and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second. The height of the watermelon above the ground t seconds later is given by formula h= -16t2 + 20t + 300

a. How many seconds will it pass her (she's standing at a height of 300 feet) on the way down?

b. When will the watermelon hit ground?

Condi Rice has withstood far worse, far uglier slights in her life. But this is another telling little example of the acceptability of liberal bigotry and racial double standards.


Ugh. I suppose if you live in the sort of Bizarro-universe where the sheer presence of the words "watermelon" and "Condoleezza Rice" in the same sentence indicates massive racial intolerance, then this question is "offensive." But wait.

Here's a mocked up Comedy Central logo that Malkin ran after the cable station decided not to broadcast an image of Mohammed:


So, let me get this straight. It's alright...nay, it's a patriotic duty, for Comedy Central to air an image of Mohammed, despite the possibility of violence and the inevitable offense created to ALL Muslims at showing an image of the prophet?

Yet, this math professor is a racist who should be ashamed of his "liberal bigotry and racial double-standards" because he dared to combine a black person with a watermelon in his math question?

Did Michelle Malkin actually watch the South Park episode she's yammering on about?

Because the point of the show seemed to be that when it comes to free speech, either it's ALL okay, or none of it is.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Malkin. The plain fact-of-the-matter is that showing the image of Mohammed is patently offensive to the Muslim religion. Not just the radical jihadists. The religion. But that's okay, because Ms. Malkin doesn't seem to particularly care about Muslims.

Personally, I thought CC should have aired the image. But I wonder.... if the image in question had been of, say, Condoleezza Rice dropping a watermelon from a building...would righteous Michelle be printing up fake logos?

You Gotta Fight! (Buh-dump!) For Your Right! (Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun) To Biiiiigotry!

Ah, America:

Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant. Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation. Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.

With her lawsuit, the 22-year-old student joins a growing campaign to force public schools, state colleges and private workplaces to eliminate policies protecting gays and lesbians from harassment. The religious right aims to overturn a broad range of common tolerance programs: diversity training that promotes acceptance of gays and lesbians, speech codes that ban harsh words against homosexuality, anti-discrimination policies that require college clubs to open their membership to all.

The Rev. Rick Scarborough, a leading evangelical, frames the movement as the civil rights struggle of the 21st century. "Christians," he said, "are going to have to take a stand for the right to be Christian."

Yes, the right to spew hate at gays is the "civil rights struggle of the 21st century." Sort of like how the right to hate black people was the civil rights struggle of the 20th century. Apparently, though, that joke isn't very funny:

Christian activist Gregory S. Baylor responds to such criticism angrily. He says he supports policies that protect people from discrimination based on race and gender. But he draws a distinction that infuriates gay rights activists when he argues that sexual orientation is different — a lifestyle choice, not an inborn trait.

By equating homosexuality with race, Baylor said, tolerance policies put conservative evangelicals in the same category as racists.


Well, technically, since no race is involved, they're bigots. Same diff, as far as I'm concerned. I'd sure like the opportunity to get some clarification on Mr. Baylor's point, though. So, it's okay to tell a gay kid that they're sinful, and that the Bible condemns them, but it's not ok to tell a black kid that he's inferior to you? I'm just trying to keep the hate straight.

Damn those liberal schools. Why can't they selectively allow hate-speech/religious condemnation the way they're supposed to?

Logan Pulls Claws. Snikt.

Here's something interesting for all of you interested in the concept of media "bias."

The following video features CNN reporter Lara Logan slowly losing her cool over criticism on the kind of journalism coming out of Iraq right now. I especially love the part at the end where the interviewer points out that vocal media-critic Laura Ingram was in Iraq "for eight days," and Logan practically smirks.

Watch it here.

Now come back and click that little "comments" button.

If you've done that, then you're on another page and can't read this anymore - but let's assume you're stubborn.

"F--- you, Codemorse!" (you say, with surprising venom) "I'm not just pressing a button 'cause you say so! Trust no one!"

All good points. But surely that venom is better distilled into a blisteringly intelligent and thoughtful comment?

Tell us what you think about why there isn't more good news coming out of Iraq, what sort of news sources you tend to trust, and answer the following question honestly: Is Lara Logan just, like, smokingly hot or what? (Answer: Yes. Yes, she is.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

And We Do

Strolling down memory lane:


Many Americans have raised legitimate questions: about the nature of the threat; about the urgency of action -- why be concerned now; about the link between Iraq developing weapons of terror, and the wider war on terror. These are all issues we've discussed broadly and fully within my administration. And tonight, I want to share those discussions with you.

First, some ask why Iraq is different from other countries or regimes that also have terrible weapons. While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone -- because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility toward the United States.

By its past and present actions, by its technological capabilities, by the merciless nature of its regime, Iraq is unique. As a former chief weapons inspector of the U.N. has said, "The fundamental problem with Iraq remains the nature of the regime, itself. Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction."

Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?


Religion in Maps

I thought this looked pretty cool. It's a survey of religions by maps, and provides a stark reminder of the power of religion and geography in shaping our nation's political landscape.

Iran - Bad Options and Worse Options

Mark Steyn is more cheeky than prescient, but this is an interesting historical perspective on Iran, with an eye toward the limitation of our future options.

Dead End Debates

I actually have not had a chance to read this from Victor Davis Hanson, but I often find that he's a thoughtful intelligent writer with prescient things to say on the state of affairs, so I figured I'd share in the assumption that this article is the same.

Blue Monk

Click here for audio/visual bliss.

(work-safe)

Let's Build A Snowman

Congratulations to South Park for blowing my mind tonight.

Tonight's episode threatened to show an uncensored image of Mohammed, opposite a parodied cartoon of Peter Griffin from Family Guy. In fact, the entire episode centered around whether or not the Fox network would choose to air that image.

So, did Comedy Central air an uncensored image of Mohammed? No. They pulled those frames, which the show replaced with type reading "Comedy Central has chosen not to air the image of Mohammed."

And as if that wasn't enough, the show ended with Jesus shitting all over George Bush and the American flag, which wasn't censored in the slightest.

This show should win an Emmy for understated brilliance.

I'm-a Goin' To A Special Hell

I don't know what it says about me that I found this so funny. Probably something not-good.

I've been married to Lani for nine interminable years, and the degree to which I despise, from the bottom of my heart, her every annoying syllable, carping over each tiny detail of our unbearable life together, is simply beyond measure.

How could I—indeed, how could anyone—ever put a dollar amount on the ecstatic joy that would come from seeing her cranium explode as a sniper's bullet took her out from, say, the apartment complex across the park from our backyard veranda? How could I quantify the glorious, once-in-a-lifetime satisfaction of seeing her waterlogged body dredged up from the bottom of a nearby river on a special "Missing Wife Update" segment on our local news?

Lani is a living, breathing human being, after all, and to my knowledge, there are no established guidelines on the value of a human life. Are there? I'm talking about an industry-standard listing. Are there appraisers who specialize in such tasks? What do they charge? Sadly, I've discovered after hours of research that none of this is available on the Internet.

Read the whole twisted thing here over at The Onion, where the Onion a.v. club continues to churn out some of the best weekly entertainment coverage there is.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chicken-Hawk - The Non-Argument to End All Arguments

Almost inevitably at the end of an otherwise legitimate and reasoned debate regarding the relative merits of war and avoiding war, there comes the tired refrain levied at non-soldiers advocating war:

"If you believe in this war...and provided you're able-bodied, etc...why aren't you over there?"

This insidious argument (which isn't really an argument at all) takes on various forms, and has produced several notable villains, the "Chicken-Hawk," the "Armchair General," etc. The concept embodied in the argument is this: Someone who advocates fighting in a war ought to be prepared to fight in that war themselves. The underlying assumption being: Those who have actually seen war are not so keen to urge it.

There are several notable problems with this "argument."

First, this charge is fundamentally misapplied in the current conflict. As witnessed on 9/11, soldiers are no longer the only ones on the front lines. In fact, terrorism is specifically targeted at civilians. One need not be in Bagdhad in order to die at the hands of a suicide bomber. And if one believes that attacking Iraq would reduce terrorism (in the end) by draining the swamp of suicide nihilism, can you blame the "Armchair Pacifists" for the terrorist attacks we know will come in the future?

Second, it's not an argument. It's an insult. And it's an insult that does nothing to further debate. It is, in essence, an attack on a person's status. The unseemly corrolary is that by nature of who a person is, that person's argument is either more credible or less credible, regardless of the inherent worth of that person's argument. The function of status as credibility enabler operates in numerous arenas: Only gay people have legitimate arguments to make about gay marriage. Only black people have legitimate arguments to make about affirmative action. Only women have legitimate arguments to make about abortion. Only religious minorities have legitimate arguments to make about the separation of church and state, etc. It is the last safe harbor of the person with no ideas.

Why should it make a difference whether I am fighting in Iraq anyway? Are the views of the elderly or disabled (who specifically cannot fight in Iraq) any less worthy because they are not facing sniper fire in the Sunni Triangle? If the issue is being able to lodge arguments from a place of relative safety, those people's ideas would conceivably be less valued, because at least there is a chance (no matter how small) that I could be drafted into this fight.

Third, by taking a less extreme example, the absurdity of this "argument" becomes clearer. I also advocate aggressive crime-control policies. In so doing, I think that cops should be more proactive, which consequently makes it more likely that they will be injured. Cops, like soldiers, get killed in the course of their duty. Does that mean that I should not advocate strict law enforcement because I am not a police officer? Or, are my ideas more credible because I was robbed at gunpoint three years ago? Neither. My ideas are what they are, good or bad. My status as a non-cop, former violent crime victim does not make my arguments more or less credible.

Fourth, this "argument" seems to assume that only the military (or former military) should be able to order the military into battle. Surely that would have surprised the drafters of the Constitution, who crafted civilian control of the military in part to avoid military dictatorships.

Fifth, unlike certain conflicts of the past, our current army is all volunteer. This is not a situation where those advocating war are circumventing rules or breaking laws or crossing into Canada to avoid fighting while others are conscripted into fighting against their will. The members of the army signed up to a bargain when they joined, knowing that they may be sent to war based on the decisions of non-military personnel, the President and Congress.

Taking into account the low regard with which I hold such a question regarding my personal military experience in the context of my political views, here's the short answer for your edification since apparently no one has answered it before:

After 9/11, I debated with my family whether to apply to the military or join the FBI in order to fight what I perceived (and still perceive) as the single biggest threat to the nation's security and welfare, international terrorism. Based on my personal skills as a lawyer and former intern of the U.S. Attorney's Violent Crime Division, I decided to apply to the FBI and in addition, the Justice Department's Criminal Department (anti-terrorism division). It should please some of you to learn that I did not get the job, and it certainly pleases me to hope that someone more qualified is protecting our citizens from nihilistic murderers.

The great thing about these blogs is that on the whole, arguments and ideas stand for themselves. You are not persuaded by my unnatural good looks or wide smile. Nor are you turned off by my hairy arms (amongst other things). You like my ideas, fine. You hate them, fine. But let's not allow the pernicious nature of status and standing ruin a good debate.

Search Me

Just wanting to point out the obvious, and remind everyone that there's a search field located at the top of this blog, for all your Codemorse searching needs. Say you wanted to see how many times we've penned missives on legendary actor Sam Elliot? Maybe you're in the mood for a stroll down gay marriage memory-lane?

It's all possible [insert ambient drug company theme music here].

With over a year's worth of postings, Codemorse can waste even more of your time than it already does.

All Tomorrow's Parties

Yo, Conservatives. Tom Tomorrow has a question for you:

And a sincere question for conservatives: Why do you still believe anything this administration says?

Apparently, Tom's miffed about this:

On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile “biological laboratories.” He declared, “We have found the weapons of mass destruction.”

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq — not made public until now — had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president’s statement. The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped “secret” and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.


Mr. Tomorrow gets all abrasive and mean with the rest of his questions, but I do think that first one's not-terrible. Where's the trust come from? Is it that the alternative is too uncomfortable to consider?

Because, frankly, it seems like there's a half-truth, misdirection, or outright lie coming out of the White House on a daily basis.

Racial Preferences - Judging by the Content of Their Genome

It was only a matter of time before genetics would obviate the need to judge each other by the color of our skin.

I have always been ambivalent to racial preferences because I do not think the government should ever treat individuals differently based on the color of their skin. And while it is currently true that I would not personally benefit from those preferences, that won't always necessarily be the case.

Apparently, individuals are taking genetic tests to determine whether they have African ancestry in part with the expectation that someday they would be able to benefit from a prevailing racial preference.

As you will likely expect, this will raise all sorts of questions regarding racial preferences.

What makes someone a "minority"? A "discrete insular minority"? Should someone who looks white but has 25% African genetic background be entitled to the same preferences? What percentage should the cut-off be? How about people that are half-black and half-white?

Here's the deal. I understand the desire to implement racial preferences. You cannot ignore the historical inequity in the hope that everything will right itself. Without some "affirmative action," we would create a permanent underclass. Nevertheless, genetics will undermine the entire effort, because its individual implementation will become ridiculous on its face. In short, the future is post-race. Which is maybe the way it should have been all along.

Codemorse: Making The Tortoise The Hare's Whippin' Boy

About two weeks ago, Codemorse reported on the use of tasers in Wichita, KS schools. This morning, New York's local Fox Five News team decided to get off their collective, figurative, asses and report on it.

Which goes to show you that if you want your news and commentary freshly-baked, piping-hot, and succulently-appointed, there's only one website to turn to.

Codemorse: Quicker (and mmm-mmm tastier) than the local news.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dissonance

Few would argue with the fact that the Bush Administration has seen better days.

In fact, many would argue that its incompetence is staggering, and its arrogance without equal.

But here's a question: If they are so incompetent, how did they come this far? Why, until Harriet Miers and Katrina, did Bush's numbers not drop drastically, even when Iraq was turning out so poorly?

While there are likely several contributing factors, there is one significant contributributing factor to Bush's perceived invulnerability: Bush's critics.

While I intend to explain, let me start with several caveats:

1) I understand that Bush's critics are not a monolith. There are millions of critics, each with their own agenda (or lack thereof), and each with their own level of intelligence and integrity.
2) I also understand that Bush supporters are also not a monolith. There are similarly varying degrees of wisdom in both supporters and critics.
3) I am also not taking this opportunity to weigh in on the relative merits of each criticism. This post is just one man's perspective.

There is no question that Bush is increasingly unpopular and widely seen as one of the most incompetent Presidents ever. Hugh Hewitt, a fairly well respected conservative commentator recently stated: "It is hard to see how the GOP is not like the Titanic, except it is aiming for the iceberg."

Bush can only thank some of his critics for lasting this long.

And here's why.

Every since this President stepped in office, there have been a certain segment of critics that simply loathed him from the beginning. The Texan swagger, the lack of eloquence, the overt religiosity seemed to fly in the face of so many who considered such things both backward and offensive. I actually found myself in this camp (or a less extreme version of it) briefly during the 2000 Presidential election.

But then came the hyperbole. Bush "stole" the election. Some of his critics were never satisfied with disagreeing with the man and his agenda, they had to vilify him. And it didn't end there. After 9/11, Cynthia McKinney protested that he had in fact known of the attack in advance and only let it happen to further a power grab. Michael Moore proceeded to make a ridiculously incredible movie absent any intellectual or moral honesty. Before any facts were available, "Bush lied," we were told. There "were no links between Saddam and Osama," except when there were. Bush "lied by claiming an imminent threat," except he never did.

Of course, it appears clear that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, even if he had some ties with Al Qaeda. And he does not appear to have been an imminent threat (even if imminence were never alleged), while Bush's entire argument centered on the idea that imminence would have been too late.

And here's the thing, the idea of Bush as some nefarious conspirator did not square with the man we knew from 9/11. And after a while, people tuned the critics out, those with legitimate criticisms and those with a bone to pick looking for the evidence after the fact to back up their conspiracy theories.

Until Harriet Miers and Katrina. The idea of Bush as an unconcerned incompetent was believable. Bush was losing. Consequently, America was losing. And if nothing else, Americans do not like to lose. So, the public turned hard.

At this point, the Democrats are poised for victory. The people have had enough of losing. I almost believe that even they can't screw this up (see Russ Feingold). Unfortunately, the Democrats rarely miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Yub-Nub


Oooh. I want one.

Ibuprofen - It's After Your Children

From 13WHAM:

Many Rochester-area school districts are sticking to tough policies when it comes to students having any unauthorized drugs in school. Ignorance is not an excuse as students and their parents discover that the penalty often means automatic suspension.

Last week, a student at Greece Arcadia High School got an Advil, an over-the-counter pain medication, from his girlfriend during school; both were suspended.


Makes sense to me.
The school's essentially in an unwinnable situation here. The students' parents are appealing the decision, but they'd be suing the school for not monitoring their children more closely, had that pill been ecstacy or oxycontin instead of ibuprofen. My high school had a very similar attitude toward medication - you went to the nurse for it. My high school also had a girl who liked to suck the coating off of advils for the flavor. My high school was odd.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Jaba (MIA) Today

Hey y'all.

Just wanted to apologize for the lack of posting today. Many great times were had this weekend, and while I would love to blame my inability to post on the weekend's fun, I can't.

I went to the dentist this morning, and let's just leave it at this:

Dentist - 1
Jaba's Mouth - 0

It was a blowout. But I'll be back soon, once my ridiculous headache clears up. Lots of love until then....

Sleeper Cell(uloid)

From Chud.com:

"The story is almost Shakespearean in the warring of the families and the great love story between the (couple)," producer Marvin Minoff told Variety. His partners in this one are Lawrence Bender, Mike Farrell and Kevin Brown. "It starts off so beautifully and then ends so chaotically."

Ugh. Coming soon: Terry Schiavo - the Movie.

There isn't much to say about this that isn't simply bemoaning the ongoing vulture-culture that is the media. This is sick; movie-of-the-week, tabloid-style exploitation. And Michael Schiavo should be ashamed of himself. I understand his desire to write a book - profit aside, it's a chance to vent after years of intense scrutiny, criticism and questioning. But selling the movie-rights? That's just horrible.

The only good to come of this whole mess has been the ability for Ms. Schiavo to rest in peace. Everything else is a circus - a creepy midnight circus where the lions look starved, the clowns touch you inappropriately, and the bearded lady offers sucky-sucky behind the ferris wheel.

Warning: Post May Contain Sap



Well, I'm old.

I'm also happy. Washington D.C. was both hoot and holler. Many jokes were cracked; many glasses of Jack Daniels were consumed; many memories made.

The highlights from the trip? The surprise cake and presents, seeing Jaba's (fancy, cozy, fantastic) new digs, dinner out in Olde Alexandria, pug-wrasslin' with Ziva, seeing a piece of Thelonius Monk's handwritten sheet music for "4-in-1," lunch on the Potomac, and spending a night at the Mandarin Oriental with my lady.

Life is good. In the near-constant daily pursuit of riches, material comforts, status, and respect, one should never forget that the greatest, most powerfully enriching rewards to be had are in the bonds you forge with the ones you love.

Why The Leak Matters

From the NYTimes:

Scott McClellan, the president’s spokesman, disputed the charge of a double standard on leaks. “There is a difference between declassifying information in the national interest and the unauthorized disclosure” of national security information, Mr. McClellan said Friday. Of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, part of which Mr. Libby shared with Judith Miller, then a Times reporter, Mr. McClellan said, “There was nothing in there that would compromise national security.”

Mr. McClellan’s tone contrasted sharply with that of administration officials after the N.S.A. story broke in December. Mr. Bush told a news conference at the time: “My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we’re discussing this program is helping the enemy.”

We impeached Clinton because he lied to the American people about sex. Well, here's Bush, lying about his involvement in this leak. He spoke this way in December, one assumes, thinking that the authorization he'd given would not be revealed. What other reason could there be? So, thinking himself safe, he openly denounced the leak. Isn't that, empirically, far worse than lying about who you've slept with? Isn't it at least on the same level?

Isn't Bush supposed to be some sort of straight-shootin', outside-the-beltway, no-bullshitter? Then what's up with this?

The real story here, it seems to me, is not about the leak itself, but about what it says about the country. It says to me that personal moral failures (and the ability to look down one's nose at them) are of more interest to the American people than deliberately hiding the truth about an issue of National Security in a time where we're constantly bombarded by harrowing warnings about the dangers of loose lips, and how they sink ships.

And then there's this:

Tenet interceded to keep the [uranium] claim out of a speech Bush gave in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, but by Dec. 19 it reappeared in a State Department “fact sheet.” After that, the Pentagon asked for an authoritative judgment from the National Intelligence Council, the senior coordinating body for the 15 agencies that then constituted the U.S. intelligence community. Did Iraq and Niger discuss a uranium sale, or not? If they had, the Pentagon would need to reconsider its ties with Niger.

The council’s reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.

Bush put his prestige behind the uranium story in his Jan. 28, 2003, State of the Union address.


So, here we are. Two blatant, factually-vetted instances where the President of the United States has intentionally misled the American people. A reasonable person might look upon these not-insignificant obfuscations and wonder just how often this administration is practicing slight-of-hand and misdirection. A reasonable person might wonder why the people most vocal about the importance of National Security - those most willing to give up their privacy (and the privacy of their neighbors) and to engage in preemptive wars - are not angry at that Security having been compromised by their President.

Somehow, Bush has attained a sort of invulnerability. His supporters will (and have) argued that these things either (a) do not concern them, and/or (b) do not matter. That's unassailable as argument. How can you argue the rightness or wrongness of an action with someone who does not care about the issue?

But these things do matter. It does matter that Bush chose to keep the phoney uranium nonsense in his speech. It was deliberate. It was knowingly incorrect. It was designed to sow fear, and to provoke aggression. It was designed to make you a patsy.

Telling the press that the leaker helped the enemy, while being the direct authorization for that leak, is boldly and brazenly hubristic. It was also deliberate. It was knowingly deceptive. It is also a perfect example of how "helping the enemy" is being thrown around these days like "She's a witch!" was back in Salem.

This matters because the President isn't King. He's not above reproach or above criticism. And when he's lied or misled, he should face the consequences for that. Otherwise, he can do whatever he wants. He can say whatever he wants. That's an enormously dangerous thing.