Season of the Unexplained

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Interesting things, then:
1. The Richard Clarke terrorism fiasco. I am overjoyed that everyone is watching this now, and the Administration is finally getting exposed as the Office From Hell that we sensed it always was. I want to pick up his fine book. Condi Rice has been brutally forced to testify publicly, and Bush and Cheney will appear sparkin' an L--I mean, jointly--before the committee. These are Good Things.

Finally, Sen. Tom Daschle is showing a little guts. Today he really spoke out against their political assassinations:

Mr. Clarke's personal motives have been questioned and his honesty challenged. He has even been accused, right here on the Senate floor, of perjury. Not one shred of proof was given, but that wasn't the point. The point was to have the perjury accusation on television and in the newspapers. The point was to damage Mr. Clarke in any way possible.

This is wrong-and it's not the first time it's happened.
There are some things that simply ought not be done - even in politics. Too many people around the President seem not to understand that, and that line has been crossed. When Ambassador Joe Wilson told the truth about the Administration's misleading claims about Iraq, Niger, and uranium, the people around the President didn't respond with facts. Instead, they publicly disclosed that Ambassador Wilson's wife was a deep-cover CIA agent. In doing so, they undermined America's national security and put politics first. They also may well have put the lives of Ambassador Wilson's wife, and her sources, in danger.
This is not "politics as usual." In nearly all of these cases, it's not Democrats who are being attacked.

Senator McCain and Secretary O'Neill are prominent Republicans, and Richard Clarke, Larry Lindsay, Joe Wilson, and Eric Shinseki all worked for Republican Administrations.

The common denominator is that these government officials said things the White House didn't want said.

The response from those around the President was retribution and character assassination -- a 21st Century twist to the strategy of "shooting the messenger."

If it takes intimidation to keep inconvenient facts from the American people, the people around the President don't hesitate. Richard Foster, the chief actuary for Medicare, found that out. He was told he'd be fired if he told the truth about the cost of the Administration's prescription drug plan.

This is no way to run a government.

The White House and its supporters should not be using the power of government to try to conceal facts from the American people or to reshape history in an effort to portray themselves in the best light.
Senator McCain, Senator Cleland, Secretary O'Neill, Ambassador Wilson, General Shinseki, Richard Foster, Richard Clarke, Larry Lindsay ... when will the character assassination, retribution, and intimidation end?

When will we say enough is enough?

The September 11 families - and our entire country - deserve better. Our democracy depends on it. And our nation's future security depends on it.

Thank you, sir!!!! I am still alarmed that the (office of the) Presidency's standing is rapidly crumbling, because it will produce weird and unpredictable results in the War on Terror. Hence....

2. The emerging situation in Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. There was a massive bombing at a central market in Tashkent where my Geography professor used to go every day. The Argus is a fine site that's been closely following the Uzbekistan story as it's unfolded. There's a little speculation the whole thing was a "wag the dog" type incident invented by their President, but who knows? By all accounts, he is a wicked, tottering Soviet holdover who has been abusing Muslims left and right. Why wouldn't he generate an excuse to repress further?
3.Wal-Mart offers Nazi propaganda films, but refuses to stock a film critical of the government's role in Iraq. Thanks, Wal-Mart, you sure know how to be morally authoritative! (via the hilarious Jesus General and Atrios) See also Republican Jesus!
4. Obviously things are still going badly for Israel and Palestine. Ariel Sharon may finally have to bow out, and we'll probably be reintroduced to that paragon of integrity, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I suggest the following opinion pieces from Haaretz. They capture the mood that many Israeli s feel:

Haste is not waste: The suspicion that Sharon's actions are linked to the indictment hanging over his head is giving the country nightmares about the free-for-all at the top and the way decisions are made around here. Were the considerations behind the assassination of Sheikh Yassin, with the bloody revenge that is bound to come, cold and disinterested? Or was Sharon trying to hint to the attorney general how absolutely essential his leadership is at this time?

A civilized country cannot be run by a leader living under the dark cloud of criminal allegations like bribery and breach of trust. But in the nightmare existence we live, it is happening. Stalling is no longer an option. If an indictment is brought against him, Sharon will be forced to resign, in keeping with the Deri precedent.

Also the excellent "conspiracy theory" piece:

Why is the country striding along on a march of folly which has seen few precedents in human history? Why is it being swept from one idiotic decision to another? Why does it repeatedly act in explicit contradiction to the interests of its inhabitants? In these past three years in particular, there is no mine that Israel has failed to step on, no opportunity it hasn't missed, no path it hasn't embarked on in the certain knowledge that it will be harmful.
The attempt to explain rationally and conventionally the dynamics at work here has long since failed. So much so, in fact, that the only explanation the political and military analysts on television could come up with this week was: "They're doing XXX and hoping something good will come of it."
Maybe there's a mole. Yes, a mole. A kind of planted spy - a destructive worm virus, a Trojan horse.

Let's put it this way: We have here a march of folly that is so systematic, so consecutive and so determined that there's no way it's happening by itself. Because if it were accidental, wouldn't there have to be the occasional random success as well? So maybe it's really not accidental. Maybe there's someone who's running the show - craftily, brilliantly.

At every stage, our friend will ask himself: How else can I be harmful? What haven't I done yet? What extra dimension can I inject into the conflict? What new layer can be added to it? We succeeded in elevating the conflict from a territorial dispute into a war of chaos involving decentralized communities and organizations. Well done, yes, but now it's time to elevate it to the religious plane, the apocalyptic level, so that the damage will extend not only into the next generation, but for untold generations down the line.

Our friend looks around and asks himself: What single action can I take in order to place Israel at the cutting edge in the war of civilizations against the whole of Islam? How can I upgrade the existential threats: from mere bombs and shooting by local ragamuffin groups to the gunsights of Al-Qaida? And how can I, by the same twist of the blade, cause the most effective publicity damage? His eye catches sight of the most adored religious leader, who is also old, sick and crippled. And the rest is the un-end of history: today the war of Gog and Magog; tomorrow the Apocalypse.
And again he looks around: what else, what else ... A mischievous glint in his eye: the Temple Mount?
Who's the mole? And furthermore: why is he doing it? In whose service is he operating? A messianic organization? Spectra? Smersh? The cult of the devil? The angels of hell? One might think he's working in the service of the Palestinians, were it not for the suspicion that an equally malicious mole is operating at their highest levels, too, and is constantly undermining their best interests.

So, who is he? And, above all, what's his motive? What's he after? It's not clear. It might all really be just an unfounded theory, a ridiculous thesis with no foundation of any kind. But tell me, in the light of what's going on, does anyone have a better explanation?

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