Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Loss Will Steal Far More Than Just An Election

There are several disturbing political stories this week that have to make true patriots fear that the GOP is truly trying to dismantle everything that our country was founded upon.

First, the 'Rubber-Stamp House' approved a bill that allows warrantless wiretaps. Forget the fact that the media doesn't even begin to examine the argument that the only one to benefit from such a violation of civil liberties is the party in power, who would be free to spy on their political enemies without leaving a paper trail.

Does anybody think that the Bushies aren't capable of using this against their enemies?

If the media had done its job, it would be obvious that the current law requiring a warrant did nothing to hinder surveillance of terrorists. However, the media refused to frame the argument properly, preferring to accept the GOP talking points that anybody who was against the neo-cons abuse of power (and violation of the Constitution) was somehow terrorist-friendly.

If Hillary Clinton were president and sought the same power, the GOP would be screaming for her head.

Add to this, action, by both the Senate and House, to push through new legislation that pretty much will give George Bush the right to, in effect, torture, while usurping the Geneva Convention. Unfortunately, it is all being done to frame a false argument that shows the Republicans are allegedly the only party against terrorism, as we head into the mid-term elections.

For the coup de grace, George Bush is shamelessly accusing the Democrats of being "cut and run obstructionists."


Because the Dems are trying to uphold the integrity of this nation and are seeking to prevent the beginnings of a fascist state.

And, because the Dems...well some of them anyway...believe in the Constitutional principle of checks-and-balances. You know, oversight, which has been missing in action for the past 6 years. The GOP is much more interested in preventing blow jobs from interns than they are in safeguarding America from a power-hungry cabal of neo-Con control freaks.

What makes this story all the more horrific, as I have written, is the fact that the GOP will be vastly outspending Democrats in the election.

If the media just parrots GOP talking points and the Dems don't have the will (or money) to challenge them with enough campaign ads, what do you think the result will be?

Time will tell if the Democratic party has a spine and if Diebold and Americans asleep at the wheel will steal yet another election.

If they succeeed in stealing this one, I fear they will steal all hope for our nation's future along with it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Keith Olbermann: Another Defining Moment Of Greatness

Passion...truth...clarity of vision and purpose...we are watching the rise of an orator of uncommon power, intelligence and skill.

Keith Olbermann, for those who haven't noticed, is rising to greatness.

His latest tour-de-force, the defense of former President Bill Clinton and the slapdown of George Bush and his lackeys really must be heard.

Here is the link to the Olbermann commentary from the "Countdown" website. There won't be 5 minutes better spent than hearing Mr. Olbermann deliver his stinging rebuke of the impostor-in-chief. You have an option to read the transcript or see Keith deliver it himself. I recommend the latter. This is one vital message that should not be missed.

Political commentary doesn't get any better than this.

A Textbook Example Of The Media Using GOP Spin

On Saturday, it was disclosed that a National Intelligence Estimate report on Iraq found that our occupation was actually helping to create more terrorists and that the terrorist threat has grown since 9/11.

This report was no partisan document. Rather, it was, as the N.Y. Times reported, "a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government."

One would think that a news organization would examine the findings of the story and compare it to statements attributed to George Bush and his Congressional rubber-stampers.

By Sunday, Democrats were calling for just such an examination.

The result?

MSNBC headlines the AP story on their website, "Dems use intelligence report to attack GOP." Instead of asking the very legitimate questions posed by the report, MSNBC has the audacity to reduce it to a partisan 'attack' by Democrats.

As for the AP story itself, this is how their story begins:

Democrats on Sunday seized on an intelligence assessment that said the Iraq war has increased the terrorist threat, saying it was further evidence that Americans should choose new leadership in the November elections.

The Democrats hoped the report would undermine the GOP’s image as the party more capable of handing terrorism as the campaign enters its final six-week stretch.

So, following the Mehlman GOP playbook, rather than discuss the findings of the story, diffuse it by turning into an allegedly partisan jab by the Dems.

This is not a report funded by the DNC. Of course, the Democrats are going to draw attention to it. We already know that media outlets like AP will not take it seriously enough to examine the findings on their own.

Meanwhile, by focusing on this alleged 'attack' on the GOP, they do not have to address the real issues posed by the report.

Fox chose to trumpet the story in much the same way, headlining it with, "Democrats Use Report to Blast GOP Over Handling of Iraq War."

The difference is, with Fox, we know this sleight-of-hand is coming. What is MSNBC's excuse, let alone AP?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The 'Gas Price' Card

Isn't it odd...violence in Iraq remains at an extremely high level, the Middle East remains volatile, global tensions continue to run high, we are in the middle of hurricane season...and gasoline prices are plummeting. Not a gradual decline, mind you, but PLUMMETING!

Check out the above chart, from the Energy Information Administration. Since the beginning of August the average price for a gallon of regular gas has dropped more than 50 cents, and yet the silence from the media on this has been deafening.

I finally caught some pundits on one of the cable news nets today discussing whether the falling gas prices might have anything to do with the president's improved poll numbers. Are you kidding? How could it not have an impact?

What journalists should now be doing is trying to determine if the Bush administration has done some behind-the-scenes arm-twisting to effect the current price decline, which is conveniently happening right before the mid-term elections.

Considering the closed door meetings in the setting of our nation's energy policy, not to mention the close ties of Bush and Cheney to the oil industry, an investigation should be a no-brainer. Well maybe not with a GOP-led House and Senate.

Think the big oil companies don't know the impact of having Democrats take back either the House or Senate? These masters of greed do not want any oversight of their role in the policies and actions of the Bush administration.

Still, there is no serious news being broadcast these days.

Why examine whether oil prices are being manipulated for political gain, when it is much safer to focus on a baby-napping, or the death of Anna Nicole Smith's son, or the dangers of tainted spinach?

Wouldn't it be nice to see some news outlets doing their job and exploring the subject? Or is the story deliberately being suppressed by the corporations that own the major news broadcasters and newspapers?

Sadly, we can't even get coverage of the continued violence in Iraq these days, so how can we expect them to investigate the connection between the price decline and a GOP push to maintain their majority?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Will GOP Bucks Buy Them The Mid-Terms?

For everybody anticipating a change in the make-up of Congress in the upcoming mid-terms, an AP story today should send a super-sized chill down your spine.

Read this and weep:

The national Democratic Party has spent millions on raising money, consultants and building state parties, entering the weeks before Election Day with only about one-fifth as much as the Republicans for races that could decide control of Congress.

The Republican National Committee is prepared to spend $60 million over the next seven weeks on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts to protect the GOP's narrow majorities in the House and Senate.

The Democratic National Committee plans to use about $12 million, all devoted to getting voters to the polls. Even in that effort, though, it has set aside only an average of $60,000 in each of the 40 most competitive congressional races in the country.

Essentially, the story reports that much of Dean's focus has been to rebuild the infrastructure within the states, including states with very little chance of making Democratic inroads.

No matter the loftier goals, if we don't have a solid infusion of cash to keep at least a somewhat level playing field, than we have a slim chance of winning back either the House or the Senate.

There is nothing more important than picking up enough seats to be able to have some semblance of checks-and-balances on this presidency. If we cannot, in this climate, take back at least the House, than we may be relegated to minority status permanently.

Make no mistake, money spent on campaign ads are crucial to victory. If we let them deluge the airwaves it will be to the shame of the party.

The focus today should be on making whatever gains we can by targetting those competitive races and flushing in money for ads and get-out-the-vote efforts. We can worry about improving the infrastructure in Utah and Montana after we have insured that our party will not be irrelevant for the next 2 years.

If indeed, the GOP is able to maintain their majority status because of a vastly superior fundraising apparatus and shrewder application of funds, than the Dems need to make changes from top-to-bottom.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Isn't 24 Hours A Day Enough to Cover The News?

I know I have griped about the 'unholy 3' cable news nets, MSNBC, CNN and Fox, but today it really hit home for me...

Do these networks have enough time to cover the news? I mean, is 24 hours enough?

I ask, because I had the nets on in the background at work today and, on MSNBC, it seemed that the ONLY story that was getting coverage was the death of Anna Nicole Smith's son. Finally, after an interminable amount of time noticing that they were covering little else, I switched to CNN.

It was no better, but a different topic.

It seems that CNN and CNN Headline News were blowing their tabloid load, if you will, on the baby-napping.

It's not as if this was just the prime story times, it was the only story.

This time around, I did not switch to Fox.

While I was visiting family in California over the past week, I was deluged with both Fox and MSNBC spending their time castigating Nancy Grace. I'm sure it was just jealousy that their own cesspool dwellers had not been the cause of a distressed woman's suicide.

As for Nancy Grace, she is becoming such a caricature that she is at risk of completely morphing into Katherine Harris.

I mention this because I saw virtually nothing on the coverage of the latest violence in Iraq today. What's the deal, 20 deaths not enough for one day? How many have to die each day so that a sliver of coverage can be deflected from Anna Nicole/Babynap/GraceKill?

I just noticed on CNN's web page that a woman ended a bloody attack by biting a 100-pound dog. How many deaths will it take tomorrow in Iraq to prevent that from becoming the only story on MSNBCNNFOX?

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's Intellectual Dishonesty, Stupid

Recently, MSNBC talking head Joe Scarborough argued that much of the problem that George W. Bush has encountered in trying to lead this country stems from his being, as Scarborough put it, intellectually incurious.

In that mindset, the Bush dilemma is more of a matter of his being insulated, discouraging dissent, and not encouraging contrary points-of-view that might make him question his rigid belief system.

While there may be some truth in that, what I find far more troublesome about Mr. Bush is his intellectual dishonesty. I feel that Bush, in defending some of his indefensible positions, continues to frame his debate with intellectually dishonest, false arguments.

Much of the deliberate misrepresentation Bush employs is of the "straw man" variety. Earlier this month, Craig Crawford wrote,

For starters, the war against terrorism and Bush’s way of fighting it are not necessarily the same thing. But this is how the president has managed to frame the debate, as a choice between backing his policies and abandoning the war altogether. “If we retreat before the job is done, this nation would become even more in jeopardy,” he said last week, when he launched another wave of speeches around the country to defend his war policies.

Any president inevitably wins a “me or nothing” debate. That is why Bush frames the war in this way. No one in his right mind is going to say that we should give up and let the terrorists do whatever they like. If voters buy the president’s view that without him the terrorists win, then they will surely take his side.

Bush, and the rest of the lapdogs on the right use a very consistent pattern. They intentionally portray opposition to their views in absurdist ways...are those opposed to warrantless wiretapping really rooting for the terrorists...and then hammer home those false assertions until, they hope, people start believing the lies.

At today's news conference, Bush was reacting to those in the Senate that want to prevent him from changing the way we prosecute and interrogate suspects in the 'war on terror.' To justify his attempt to gut the Geneva Convention and torture at protect himself from being prosecuted for future war crimes, Bush said,

"It's unacceptable to think there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective."

There's the false argument again. Nobody is suggesting an equivalency here. What Americans are being warned about is a man who is trying to utterly destroy the moral reputation of this country by refusing to abide by global, and Democratic, standards of decency and fairness.

If we need to destroy our principles to defeat terrorists, the terrorists win. It's as simple as that.

Thankfully, some in the GOP are starting to wake up and join Democrats in confronting the president on this. If this intellectually dishonest man who leads our country isn't challenged and taken to task for the damage he is doing, America will be paying for it for decades to come.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Shameless: The Robert Novak Story

As I read Robert Novak's smug column today, on his spin on Richard Armitage as a source in the outing of Valerie Plame, the shamelessness of Mr. Novak comes to mind.

Deliberately dismissing the fact that Novak's initial column referred to not 1, but 2, "senior administration officials" as his source, Mr. Novak almost seems gleeful in rubbing the Armitage disclosure into our face.

Novak writes:

Zealous foes of George W. Bush transformed me, improbably, into the president's lapdog. But they cannot fit Armitage into the left-wing fantasy of a well-crafted White House conspiracy to destroy Joe and Valerie Wilson. The news that he, and not Karl Rove, was the leaker was devastating for the left.

Robert, nobody needed to help you transform yourself into the Bush lapdog, that fact is self-evident to anybody who reads your column.

As far as your claims about the administration's non-involvement, this only answers the question about the behavior of one of your sources. Nothing in today's column discusses the 2nd source.

Additionally, considering all we now know about the involvement of both Rove and Scooter Libby, it would not be surprising to learn that Armitage was part of a co-ordinated campaign to discredit Wilson.

Yes, Armitage was hardly part of that tight inner circle, but there is enough evidence on the involvement of Cheney, Rove and Libby to suggest that Armitage was indeed part of an overall White House effort to spin Wilson's trip and destroy Valeria Plame's cover and career.

I, for one, find it not credible that Armitage and the CRV cabal would, coincidentally, be divulging this same information independent of each other.

As for Robert Novak, his credibility is shot. This self-absorbed talking head has never taken responsibility for exposing Plame's identity. We hear endless attacks from the right-wing, of alleged 'treason' from the left. For my money, it doesn't get more treasonous than what Novak wrote in his column on July 14, 2003.

And the shameless Mr. Novak still is not giving us the real answers behind the column. He continues to do his spinning as the Bush administration's lapdog.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Another Olbermann Moment

Every time I get disgusted by the state of contemporary broadcast newsreading, I remind myself of the ever-increasing output of truly outstanding moments of journalistic expression by Keith Olbermann.

It is a rare talent in these cynical times that is able to find a creative new way to energize the voice of opposition...a voice that has been largely silenced by the media and kept in its place. Mr. Olbermann is that talent. He is a powerhouse. A man with passion and fire. Olbermann speaks the rage that others do not allow themselves to even confront. And he does it with superior eloguence.

I had recently stopped recording Olbermann's daily show, but then resumed it when I realized that this man is capable of delivering a uniquely mesmerizing moment at any given time. Those moments are priceless and not to be missed.

Fortunately, the internet is there for those who missed them when they first aired.

Mr. Olbermann was the compelling voice for me this past September 11th.

It's a voice that needs to be heard on a wider scale.

The transcript of Keith's scathing September 11th deconstruction of the Bushco monarchy, which follows below, can also be found at his Bloggermann website here.

The page I direct you to also has the video link. This is one performance that is truly worth watching.


This hole in the ground

Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country's wound is still open.

Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?

Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."

When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.

(note: vacation has been interrupting the posts...things should get back up to speed next week.)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

What Is The Civil War Litmus Test?

I have to admit, I am a bit baffled. How can reporters who cover Iraq, especially considering the focus on increased sectarian violence, deny that the Iraqis are not already engaged in a civil war?

Today in the Washington Post, Ann Scott Tyson writes about a new Pentagon report that showed that sectarian violence is at its highest level in more than 2 years.

It's one thing when she uses the language of denial when referring to what is included in the Pentagon report. For example, in the first paragraph she writes that, according to the study,
"preventing civil war is now the most urgent mission of the growing contingent of 140,000 U.S. troops in the country."

Similarly, Tyson writes:
"Sustained ethno-sectarian violence is the greatest threat to security and stability in Iraq," the report said. "Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq," it said, while maintaining that civil war can still be prevented. "Coalition forces and the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] are responding by increased targeting of both Sunni and Shi'a death squads."

It is no surprise that official reporting from the military would deny that a civil war is underway. But what about the rest of Tyson's reporting.

As early as paragraph 3, Tyson writes,
"The Pentagon report, though consistent with what news media have reported for months, is significant because it represents an official acknowledgment of trends that are widely believed to be driving the country toward full-scale civil war."

Driving the country toward full-scale civil war?

According to Tyson,
In a grim revelation, the report cited the Baghdad coroner's office stating that it received 1,600 bodies in June and more than 1,800 in July, of which 90 percent were assessed to be the result of executions.

Moreover, the report said, the revenge killings perpetrated by Sunni and Shiite death squads are spreading outside the Iraqi capital into the far reaches of the country, from Basra in the south to Mosul and Kirkuk in the north. Iran and Syria are actively supporting forces fueling the unrest among religious factions, it said.

So if 1,800 slaughtered by sectarian death squads in a month does not represent a civil war in full bloom, what does qualify as a civil war?

Tyson, quoting from the report, writes that the number of weekly attacks in Iraq is now "at nearly 800, the highest level since the Pentagon began gathering the statistics in April 2004."

When does civil war terminology kick in? 1,000 attacks? 5,000?

At the end of the article, Tyson quotes 3 Democrats. Not one states the contrary position that Iraq is already in a civil war.

To make matters more surreal, for her final quote, Tyson gives Senate Minority Leader Harry Reed the last word. Reed says, "We will not abandon our brave troops, nor can we afford to abandon Iraq. But we also can't afford to go along with the Bush administration's failed policies any longer."

So, not only is this not a civil war yet, but even Democrats apparently consider leaving Iraq the equivalent of 'abandoning our troops?'

In the latest CNN poll, 61% of Americans oppose the war in Iraq. Why is the anti-war viewpoint so under-represented in the American media?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bush The Divider

Earlier this year, on April 18th, George Bush defended Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld against a chorus of calls for his resignation. According to CNN:

"On Friday I stood up and said, 'I don't appreciate the speculation about Don Rumsfeld; he's doing a fine job; I strongly support him.'"

Pressed to respond to critics who say he is ignoring the advice of respected former military commanders, Bush vigorously stood by Rumsfeld.

"I listen to all voices, but mine is the final decision," he said. "And Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a war on terror. He's helping us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld.

"I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."

Flash ahead to a press conference held by President Bush on August 21st, where he said,

"You know, it's an interesting debate we're having in America about how we ought to handle Iraq. There's a lot of people -- good, decent people -- saying withdrawal now. They're absolutely wrong. It would be a huge mistake for this country."

In a speech Thursday at the American Legion National Convention in Salt Lake City, the president repeated that theme:

"Still, there are some in our country who insist that the best option in Iraq is to pull out, regardless of the situation on the ground. Many of these folks are sincere and they're patriotic, but they could be -- they could not be more wrong."

What Bush was doing was attempting to give the impression that he appreciates and respects the viewpoint of those who oppose the war. Allegedly, he merely thinks we are just wrong-headed and misguided.

But, he doesn't really value dissent and he views his domestic opponents as appeasers and traitors.

Bush placed an interesting clue, earlier in his Salt Lake City speech:

"The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. On one side are those who believe in the values of freedom and moderation -- the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism -- the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest. As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They're successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be: This war will be difficult; this war will be long; and this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians, and a victory for the cause of freedom and liberty."

Those we are fighting are kissing cousins of 'Fascists' and 'Nazis.' Hmmm, what does that make those who oppose the Bush policies?

It was no mistake that Bush used that language, because Donald Rumsfeld made the following comments just 2 days earlier, to the same audience:

1919 — turned out to be one of the pivotal junctures in modern history with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the creation of the League of Nations, a treaty and an organization intended to make future wars unnecessary and obsolete. Indeed, 1919 was the beginning of a period where, over time, a very different set of views would come to dominate public discourse and thinking in the West.

Over the next decades, a sentiment took root that contended that if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be accommodated, then the carnage and the destruction of then-recent memory of World War I could be avoided.

It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among Western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis, the rise of fascism and nazism, they were ridiculed or ignored. Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated or that it was someone else’s problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace, even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear. It was, as Winston Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.

There was a strange innocence about the world. Someone recently recalled one U.S. senator’s reaction in September of 1939 upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II. He exclaimed:

“Lord, if only I had talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided!”

I recount that history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism. Today — another enemy, a different kind of enemy — has made clear its intentions with attacks in places like New York and Washington, D.C., Bali, London, Madrid, Moscow and so many other places. But some seem not to have learned history’s lessons.

We need to consider the following questions, I would submit:

*With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?

*Can folks really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?

*Can we afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply law enforcement problems, like robbing a bank or stealing a car; rather than threats of a fundamentally different nature requiring fundamentally different approaches?

*And can we really afford to return to the destructive view that America, not the enemy, but America, is the source of the world’s troubles?

Rumsfeld added:

"...and that is important in any long struggle or long war, where any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong, can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.

"Our enemies know this well. They frequently invoke the names of Beirut or Somalia — places they see as examples of American retreat and American weakness. And as we’ve seen — even this month — in Lebanon, they design attacks and manipulate the media to try to demoralize public opinion."

I get it...Rummy sees those opposed to wasting all our resources on a war started under false pretenses, an occupation with a bad plan, no true strategy, and no end in sight, as a position of moral confusion. Further, he sees it playing into our enemies hands. And the media supposedly falls for it, thus turning the public against a righteous cause. Uh-huh...that makes loads of sense.

In that American Legion speech, Rumsfeld crosses the line. He dares to equate those who question the misguided occupation of Iraq with the appeasers of the Nazis.

There have been those who have very eloquently ripped Rumsfeld a new one for this arrogance. If you have not seen Keith Olbermann's brilliant response, you can access it here.

My point is that Rumsfeld's comments, and similar attacks on our patriotism by Dick Cheney do not happen in a vacuum. It is an organized, coordinated strategy. A strategy that begins and ends with George Bush.

I have heard and read much about a 'good cop, bad cop' scenario being played out here. However, the bottom line is really quite simple.

Mr. Bush is not seeking to unite this country. He is a divider. And he is deliberately trying to polarize us because he knows the only chance the GOP has this November, aside from rigging the election machines, is energizing the fringe-right base...the only people still supporting their policies.

If Bush disputes Rumsfeld's remarks he needs to do more than speak out. He needs to fire the man.

This will not happen because Bush is in lockstep with Rumsfeld's sentiments on the subject. In fact, Bush is hiding behind Rumsfeld and Cheney. He is allowing them to toss out the red meat, while he maintains a posture of civility.

Unfortunately, as presidents go, he is not an especially good actor.

There is a move afoot to make those in the House and Senate go on-record with a vote of 'no confidence' on Rumsfeld. It is election-campaign posturing that the GOP has always been good at, but the Dems have fallen flat on. I am encouraged that we are finally learning how to play the game.

Rumsfeld needs to be held accountable. George Bush needs to be held accountable for what Rumsfeld and Cheney say, as do those who serve in the House and Senate.

You wanna toss out words like 'appeasement' and 'moral confusion?' As Rumsfeld's boss, you want to let those charges stand?

Fine, but at least be honest about it...Mr. Divider.