Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly’s Final Column

Stand Up Against the Surge

The purpose of this old-fashioned newspaper crusade to stop the war is not to make George W. Bush look like the dumbest president ever. People have done dumber things. What were they thinking when they bought into the Bay of Pigs fiasco? How dumb was the Egypt-Suez war? How massively stupid was the entire war in Vietnam? Even at that, the challenge with this misbegotten adventure is that WE simply cannot let it continue.

It is not a matter of whether we will lose or we are losing. We have lost. Gen. John P. Abizaid, until recently the senior commander in the Middle East, insists that the answer to our problems there is not military. "You have to internationalize the problem. You have to attack it diplomatically, geo-strategically," he said.

His assessment is supported by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander in Iraq, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who only recommend releasing forces with a clear definition of the goals for the additional troops.

Bush's call for a "surge" or "escalation" also goes against the Iraq Study Group. Talk is that the White House has planned to do anything but what the group suggested after months of investigation and proposals based on much broader strategic implications.

About the only politician out there besides Bush actively calling for a surge is Sen. John McCain. In a recent opinion piece, he wrote: "The presence of additional coalition forces would allow the Iraqi government to do what it cannot accomplish today on its own — impose its rule throughout the country. ... By surging troops and bringing security to Baghdad and other areas, we will give the Iraqis the best possible chance to succeed." But with all due respect to the senator from Arizona, that ship has long since sailed.

A surge is not acceptable to the people in this country — we have voted overwhelmingly against this war in polls (about 80 percent of the public is against escalation, and a recent Military Times poll shows only 38 percent of active military want more troops sent) and at the polls.

We know this is wrong. The people understand, the people have the right to make this decision, and the people have the obligation to make sure our will is implemented.

Congress must work for the people in the resolution of this fiasco. Ted Kennedy's proposal to control the money and tighten oversight is a welcome first step. And if Republicans want to continue to rubber-stamp this administration's idiotic "plans" and go against the will of the people, they should be thrown out as soon as possible, to join their recent colleagues.

Anyone who wants to talk knowledgably about our Iraq misadventure should pick up Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone." It's like reading a horror novel. You just want to put your face down and moan: How could we have let this happen? How could we have been so stupid?

As The Washington Post's review notes, Chandrasekaran's book "methodically documents the baffling ineptitude that dominated U.S. attempts to influence Iraq's fiendish politics, rebuild the electrical grid, privatize the economy, run the oil industry, recruit expert staff or instill a modicum of normalcy to the lives of Iraqis."

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"

Molly, as always is right, we need to take action NOW!

Dearest Molly we will miss you so much. And thank you for all you have contributed to us while you were here. The “Lege” and the “Guvment” needs another watchdog. Who will step into your enormous shoes.?

Mary Tyler “Molly” Ivins


1944 – 2007

Jan. 31, 2007, 6:08PM
Noted Texas liberal Molly Ivins dies

Liberal columnist Ivins dies of cancer

AUSTIN — Molly Ivins, the irreverent nationally syndicated columnist from Texas who rankled conservatives and delighted liberals, died late this afternoon after a seven-year battle with breast cancer. She was 62.

A self-described leftist agitator, she infused her writings with both passion and wit. Her career spanned some 40 years, and in that time she thought nothing of calling President George W. Bush "Billy Bob Forehead," and current Texas Gov. Rick Perry "Governor Goodhair." Her columns drew such attention that her picture once graced billboards in North Texas above the words, 'Molly Ivins Can't Really Say That, Can She?' (That later became the title of one of her best-selling books).

Ivins sided with underdogs. In an interview last year with the Houston Chronicle, Ivins said she made a career writing about "who was getting screwed and who was doing the screwing." She was a diehard liberal in a state that turned from Democrat to Republican in the span of a decade and she hardly ever let an opportunity pass to lament the change.

"Well, fellow Texans," she wrote in 2003, the year the GOP took both houses of the Texas Legislature, "they can stick a fork in us, 'cause we're done."

By the end of her life, Ivins' columns were being carried in more than 300 newspapers around the country. She wrote six books, four of which became best sellers. They included "Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush;" "Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America," which she wrote with Lou Dubose; and "Who Let the Dogs In? Incredible Political Animals I have Known."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

UPDATE: From her Editor at Creators:

Molly Ivins Tribute



Goodbye, Molly I.

Molly Ivins is gone, and her words will never grace these pages again -- for this, we will mourn. But Molly wasn't the type of woman who would want us to grieve. More likely, she'd say something like, "Hang in there, keep fightin' for freedom, raise more hell, and don't forget to laugh, too."

If there was one thing Molly wanted us to understand, it's that the world of politics is absurd. Since we can't cry, we might as well laugh. And in case we ever forgot, Molly would remind us, several times a week, in her own unique style.

Shortly after becoming editor of Molly Ivins' syndicated column, I learned one of my most important jobs was to tell her newspaper clients that, yes, Molly meant to write it that way. We called her linguistic peculiarities "Molly-isms." Administration officials were "Bushies," government was in fact spelled "guvment," business was "bidness." And if someone was "madder than a peach orchard boar," well, he was quite mad indeed.

Of course, having grown up in Texas, all of this made sense to me. But to newspaper editors in Seattle, Chicago, Detroit and beyond -- Yankee land, as Molly would say -- her folksy language could be a mystery. "That's just Molly being Molly," I would explain and leave it at that.

But there was more to Molly Ivins than insightful political commentary packaged in an aw-shucks Southern charm. In the coming days, much will be made of Molly's contributions to the liberal cause, how important she was as an authentic female voice on opinion pages across the country, her passionate and eloquent defense of the poorest and the weakest among us against the corruption of the most powerful, and the joy she took in celebrating the uniqueness of American culture -- and all of this is true. But more than that, Molly Ivins was a woman who loved and cared deeply for the world around her. And her warm and generous spirit was apparent in all her words and deeds.

Molly's work was truly her passion.

She would regularly turn down lucrative speaking engagements to give rally-the-troops speeches at liberalism's loneliest outposts. And when she did rub elbows with the highfalutin' well-to-do, the encounter would invariably end up as comedic grist in future columns.

For a woman who made a profession of offering her opinion to others, Molly was remarkably humble. She was known for hosting unforgettable parties at her Austin home, which would feature rollicking political discussions, and impromptu poetry recitals and satirical songs. At one such event, I noticed her dining table was littered with various awards and distinguished speaker plaques, put to use as trivets for steaming plates of tamales, chili and fajita meat. When I called this to her attention, Molly matter-of-factly replied, "Well, what else am I going to do with 'em?"

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Molly's life is the love she engendered from her legions of fans. If Molly missed a column for any reason, her newspapers would hear about it the next day. As word of Molly's illness spread, the letters, cards, e-mails and gifts poured in.

Even as Molly fought her last battle with cancer, she continued to make public appearances. When she was too weak to write, she dictated her final two columns. Although her body was failing, she still had so much to say. Last fall, before an audience at the University of Texas, her voice began as barely a whisper. But as she went on, she drew strength from the standing-room-only crowd until, at the end of the hour, she was forcefully imploring the students to get involved and make a difference. As Molly once wrote, "Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom that you can decide you don't much care for."

For me, Molly's greatest words of wisdom came with three children's books she gave my son when he was born. In her inimitable way, she captured the spirit of each in one-sentence inscriptions. In "Alice in Wonderland," she offered, "Here's to six impossible things before breakfast." For "The Wind in the Willows," it was, "May you have Toad's zest for life." And in "The Little Prince," she wrote, "May your heart always see clearly."

Like the Little Prince, Molly Ivins has left us for a journey of her own. But while she was here, her heart never failed to see clear and true -- and for that, we can all be grateful.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Can the “Criminally Insane” be Rehabilitated?

This was a question that was just asked on MSNBC as an advertisement for an upcoming show. I immediately started to laugh out loud and thought of the Libby Trial currently unfolding in D.C. It is exposing everything that many of us already instinctively knew, not to mention all of the evidence that pointed to this conclusion.

So, if you want to follow the machinations of the “Criminally Insane” just go to Firedoglake where Jane, Christy, et al., are live blogging. Also, don’t miss Jeralyn’s take on this scandal unfolding before the public eye. And please follow all of the links that they provide.

Yes, it seems clear that the “Criminally Insane” are in charge. Though many of us already knew that, but this trial is laying it all out for those who have been willfully blind, read: Main Stream Media.

How do you think Tim Russert, et al., feel to know that they could be counted on to be used, and abused by this administration, and continued to allow it and engage in it?

Who would have ever thought that I would be saying, “Thanks Scooter?”

Oh, and did I say thanks to Ted Wells, 2006 Lawyer Attorney of the Year?

As to the Criminally Insane being Rehabilitated, I am not so sure, see Iran.

You are the Sunshine of My Life!

You know who you are.

I am so blessed.

Rev. Robert F. Drinan


1920 - 2007

Barbaro, R.I.P.

Barbaro’s story gripped the National Conscience, as well it should. These beautiful and noble thoroughbreds live their lives to give pleasure and status to us lowly humans.

So, it was with sadness that he, and we, had to face the inevitable on Monday when he was euthanized for our human dreams. We could not save him. Once he had laminitis it seemed to me that his future was no longer in question. Not only is it too much pressure to put on any of those fragile legs, but our dreams were too much pressure to put on this noble creature who made us dream.

Barbaro, many of us apologize.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Moyers: The Secret Government

Speaking of back in the day, here is a documentary that Bill Moyers put out and it is worth 90 minutes of your time.

You know that “American Idol” just isn’t that edifying if you really think about it.

Is that insulting? Too Bad!

U. S. Attorneys Vacancies

The question is why are there vacancies? Why that would be because Abu Gonzales, of the Bush Administration, has fired the current U. S. Attorneys.

Now the most obviously political removal is Carol Lam who successfully investigated and convicted Randy “Duke” Cunningham and was continuing to investigate Wilkes, the un-indicted co-conspirator, and Jerry Lewis, who was the Republican Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives.


McClatchy reporters report you decide:

Gonzales appoints political loyalists into vacant U.S. attorneys slots

By Marisa Taylor and Greg Gordon
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is transforming the ranks of the nation's top federal prosecutors by firing some and appointing conservative loyalists from the Bush administration's inner circle who critics say are unlikely to buck Washington.

The newly appointed U.S. attorneys all have impressive legal credentials, but most of them have few, if any, ties to the communities they've been appointed to serve, and some have had little experience as prosecutors.

The nine recent appointees identified by McClatchy Newspapers held high-level White House or Justice Department jobs, and most of them were handpicked by Gonzales under a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act that became law in March.

With Congress now controlled by the Democrats, critics fear that in some cases Gonzales is trying to skirt the need for Senate confirmation by giving new U.S. attorneys interim appointments for indefinite terms. Some legal scholars contend that the administration pushed for the change in the Patriot Act as part of its ongoing attempt to expand the power of the executive branch, a charge that administration officials deny.

Being named a U.S. attorney "has become a prize for doing the bidding of the White House or administration," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who's now a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "In the past, there had been a great deal of delegation to the local offices. Now, you have a consolidation of power in Washington."

A Justice Department spokesman said it was "reckless" to suggest that politics had influenced the appointment process.

The appointments have troubled some current and former prosecutors, who worry that the Justice Department is tightening its control over local U.S. attorneys' offices in order to curb the prosecutors' independence.

If they're too close to the administration, these lawyers said, federal prosecutors might not be willing to pursue important but controversial cases that don't fit into the administration's agenda. Similarly, they said, U.S. attorneys could be forced to pursue only Washington's priorities rather than their own.

The selection of U.S. attorneys has always been a political process.

Traditionally, the top assistant U.S. attorney in each local office temporarily fills any vacancy while home-state senators search for preferred candidates to present to the White House for consideration. If it takes more than four months to find a permanent successor, a judge can extend the temporary appointment or name another acting U.S. attorney. Ultimately, the candidates must be confirmed by the Senate.

Gonzales gained the ability to appoint interim U.S. attorneys for indefinite terms as a result of a change to the Patriot Act that stripped federal judges of their appointment power.

A Justice Department spokesman denied that Gonzales has sought to compromise the independence of U.S. attorneys' offices by appointing political loyalists. In some recent cases Gonzales has followed the traditional process.

"Allegations that politics inappropriately interfere with personnel decisions made about U.S. attorneys are reckless and plainly wrong," department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said. "... The bottom line is that we nominate experienced attorneys who we believe can do the job."

He said that it's common for attorneys to serve stints at department headquarters and that it "can be tremendously beneficial" for a U.S. attorney to have served in Washington.

Gonzales and his aides also deny that they're attempting to do an end run around the Senate. In a recent letter to two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling said the change was sought to avoid conflicts involving federal judges appointing officials to posts in the executive branch of government.

At a recent Senate hearing, Gonzales said the administration is committed to giving senators of the president's party their traditional say in selecting U.S. attorney candidates.

Since last March, the administration has named at least nine U.S. attorneys with administration ties. None would agree to an interview. They include:

-Tim Griffin, 37, the U.S. attorney for Arkansas, who was an aide to White House political adviser Karl Rove and a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.

-Rachel Paulose, 33, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, who served briefly as a counselor to the deputy attorney general and who, according to a former boss, has been a member of the secretive, ideologically conservative Federalist Society.

-Jeff Taylor, 42, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., who was an aide to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and worked as a counselor to Gonzales and to former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

-John Wood, U.S. attorney in Kansas City, who's the husband of Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers and an ex-deputy general counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

-Deborah Rhodes, 47, the U.S. attorney in Mobile, Ala., who was a Justice Department counselor.

-Alexander Acosta, 37, the U.S. attorney in Miami, who was an assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division and a protege of conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

-John Richter, 43, the U.S. attorney in Oklahoma City, who was the chief of staff for the Justice Department's criminal division and acting assistant attorney general.

-Edward McNally, the U.S. attorney in southern Illinois, who was a senior associate counsel to President Bush.

-Matt Dummermuth, the U.S. attorney in Iowa, who was a Justice Department civil rights lawyer.

Some of these appointees have drawn praise from local skeptics and later won Senate confirmation for permanent appointments.

Roehrkasse said that while some newly appointed U.S. attorneys might have political connections, they all have outstanding credentials.

Todd Jones, who was a U.S. attorney in Minneapolis during the Clinton administration, said he was concerned by the overall trend of an administration putting into place a "more centralized, command-and-control system."

Several prosecutors said prior Republican administrations avoided such tight control.

"Under Reagan and the first Bush administration, we worked very hard to push the power out to the locals," said Jean Paul Bradshaw, who was a U.S. attorney in Kansas City under President George H.W. Bush. "Local attorneys know how a case will play in their areas, what crimes are a problem. Ultimately, these decisions are better made locally."

Peter Nunez, a U.S. attorney in San Diego under President Reagan for six years, said prosecutors have expressed frustration with the strict oversight from Washington.

"I've heard nothing but complaints over the last six years about how many things the Justice Department is demanding relating to bureaucracy and red tape," Nunez said.

In the wake of the recent firings of a half-dozen U.S. attorneys, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, filed bills that would restore to federal judges the right to name interim appointees when vacancies develop. On Thursday, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., whose office has confirmed that he inserted language making the change in Patriot Act last year, gave his qualified support to Feinstein's bill.

Justice Department officials have refused to say how many prosecutors were fired or to explain the firings, but Feinstein has said she's aware of the ouster of at least seven U.S. attorneys since March 2006.

Former U.S. attorneys who know some of those ousted said they were concerned because the administration in some cases offered no reason for the dismissals.

Among those dismissed were Carol Lam of San Diego, whose office won a bribery conviction against then-Rep. Randolph "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., and prosecuted several members of San Diego's city council. The Cunningham case is ongoing.

Also ordered to resign was Kevin Ryan, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco, who was overseeing high-profile investigations into steroids use by major league baseball players and the backdating of stock options by Apple Inc., and other firms.

"One of the strengths of any administration towards the end of their time in office is having highly experienced people in place," said Tom Heffelfinger, the former U.S. attorney in Minneapolis who voluntarily resigned and was replaced by Paulose. "It helps things function really smoothly, and you get your priorities handled aggressively and efficiently."

Is this a repeat of what happened last August in Guam?

The Boston Globe, reporting from the LATimes, reports, you decide:

Bush removal ended Guam investigation

US attorney's demotion halted probe of lobbyist

WASHINGTON -- A US grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor, and the probe ended soon after.

The previously undisclosed Guam inquiry is separate from a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia that is investigating allegations that Abramoff bilked Indian tribes out of millions of dollars.

In Guam, a US territory in the Pacific, investigators were looking into Abramoff's secret arrangement with Superior Court officials to lobby against a court reform bill then pending in Congress. The legislation, since approved, gave the Guam Supreme Court authority over the Superior Court.

In 2002, Abramoff was retained by the Superior Court in what was an unusual arrangement for a public agency. The Los Angeles Times reported in May that Abramoff was paid with a series of $9,000 checks funneled through a Laguna Beach, Calif., lawyer to disguise the lobbyist's role working for the Guam court. No separate contract was authorized for Abramoff's work.

Guam court officials have never explained the contractual arrangement. At the time, Abramoff was a well-known lobbying figure in the Pacific islands because of his work for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Saipan garment manufacturers, accused of employing workers in what critics called sweatshop conditions.

Abramoff spokesman Andrew Blum said the lobbyist ''has no recollection of his being investigated in Guam in 2002. If he had been aware of an investigation, he would have cooperated fully." Blum declined to respond to detailed questions.

The transactions were the target of a grand jury subpoena issued Nov. 18, 2002, according to the subpoena. It demanded that Anthony Sanchez, administrative director of the Guam Superior Court, turn over all records involving the lobbying contract, including bills and payments.

A day later, the chief prosecutor, US Attorney Frederick A. Black, who had launched the investigation, was demoted. A White House news release announced that Bush was replacing Black.

The timing caught some by surprise. Despite his officially temporary status as the acting US attorney, Black had held the assignment for more than a decade.

The acting US attorney was a controversial official in Guam. At the time he was replaced, Black was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the administration of then-Governor Carl Gutierrez. The probe produced numerous indictments, including some of the governor's political associates and top aides.

Black, 56, had served as acting US attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands since 1991, when he was named to the post by the president's father, President George H. W. Bush.

The career prosecutor, who held a senior position as first assistant before accepting the acting US attorney job, was demoted to a staff post. Black's demotion came after an intensive lobbying effort by supporters of Gutierrez, who had been publicly critical of Black and his investigative efforts.

Black declined to comment for this article.

His replacement, Leonardo Rapadas, was confirmed in May 2003 without any debate. Rapadas had been recommended for the job by the Guam Republican Party. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist who had been under contract to the Gutierrez administration, said he carried that recommendation to top Bush aide Karl Rove in early 2003.

After taking office, Rapadas recused himself from the public corruption case involving Gutierrez. The new US attorney was a cousin of ''one of the main targets," according to a confidential memo to Justice Department officials.

Rapadas declined to comment and referred questions about his recusal to Justice Department officials who did not respond to requests for comment.

HMMM! A larger replay perhaps?

One has to wonder, doesn’t one?

You know, being "Fair and Balanced" and all!

Ciao Michael.

We will miss you. But we will look for you in other venues.

Here is his sign off:


Thanks for the memories, and all our best to Jamie.

Mark Kleiman on the Bush Library and Stanley Fish.

Now I have some personal reasons for disliking Stanley Fish from FIU. But that aside, he really always displays such contempt for folks that it only reinforces my contempt for him. It is a round robin, such as it were, and safely behind the NYT’s wall (where he belongs).

So, here is Kleiman’s take on one of Stanley’s latest. Now I don’t always agree with Kleiman’s take on things, but he has me here.

January 23, 2007

Stanley Fish on the George W. Bush Presidential Library

Posted by Mark Kleiman

Stanley Fish — reputedly the original of Morris Zapp in David Lodge's Changing Places and Small World — is undeniably brilliant. Alas, Fish (like Zapp) is also far more interested in demonstrating his brilliance and perversity than in illuminating his subject or enlightening his readers. That makes him capable, sometimes, of truly stunning feats of intellectual dishonesty.

Consider, for example, this passage, quoted by Orin Kerr from an essay whose full text, hidden behind the Times Select firewall, I have not read. Prof. Fish argues that the SMU faculty should be cheerful about the prospect of hosting the George W. Bush Presidential Library:

A university is pledged to determine the truth of the texts its faculty studies. It is not pledged to confining itself to texts of whose truthfulness it is convinced. A university is pledged to the integrity of the work that goes on within its precincts. But it is not pledged to conduct that work only on persons and agenda of whose integrity it is confident. A university is pledged to respect the persons of its employees, which means that it evaluates everyone by the same set of nondiscriminatory standards. But it is not pledged to restrict the object of its academic attention to people and groups who do not discriminate. A university is pledged to use its resources – money, equipment, labor – responsibly, but neither the responsibility or irresponsibility of those entities it chooses to study is something it is pledged to consider.

Those who think that by insisting on a moral yardstick, the university protects its integrity have it all wrong; the university forsakes its integrity when it takes upon itself the task of making judgments that belong properly to the electorate and to history. A university’s obligation is to choose things worthy of study, not to study only those things it finds worthy.

College Station, Tex., the home of George H.W. Bush’s library, has become an obligatory stop on the lecture circuit. And while Dallas is no backwater, its cultural and intellectual life would surely be enriched by the presence of still another world-class attraction.

Of course, no one denies that George W. Bush is well worth studying, just as Nero, cholera, and rape are well worth studying. But equally of course the George W. Bush Presidential Library will not study George W. Bush from some sort of neutral perspective. It will be a $200 million dollar monument and propaganda mill, with the money put up by the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife and by the corporate beneficiaries of Mr. Bush's crony capitalism and (upper) class warfare. [emphasis mine]

Given Mr. Bush's actual record, no study of him that had any intellectual integrity would pass muster with the sponsors, or the accomplices and flatterers who will constitute the library's governing board and management team. When the library is established, we can expect standards of objectivity and historical accuracy like this.

If Gazprom, Lukoil, and Rosneft offered SMU $200 million to create a Vladimir Putin Presidential Library, would Prof. Fish think that, in spurning that offer, SMU would "forsake its integrity" by "judging" Mr. Putin rather than leaving that judgement "to the electorate and to history"? Or how about a Mahathir Mohammed Prime Ministerial Library paid for by the contributors to UMNO? A Charles Taylor Presidential Library sponsored by his crony and beneficiary Pat Robertson? Obviously, the line gets drawn somewhere, and Prof. Fish states no basis for drawing it on the other side of a monument to the Beloved Leader.

Naturally, Stanley Fish is plenty smart enough to understand this. But it's annoying that he thinks you and I aren't.

That would be Fish’s usual stance: the unwashed are just too stupid and/or uniformed to know anything about anything.

Thank you, Mark Kleiman, for being part of the Reality-Based Community.


The Spicy 70’s and Nostalgia!

This video reminds me of just how spicy and wonderful the 70’s were in so many ways.

First “Everyone is a Star” was my best friend Sharlene’s favorite song. When it came on the radio I would have to stop the car, wherever we were, so she could get out and dance. And dance she could.

“Hey Jude” was a song that always reminds me of Len who was one of the most spectacular and charismatic people I have ever known and he taught me many a lesson. He was the only lover I had that summed up my Mother perfectly, “Whew!” My Mother, by the way, was totally entranced by him, Martinique and Harvard and all.

And then of course there was that night that Al opened for Grover, Jr. and Wayne, Sharlene’s and my other hometown best friend and my son’s Godfather, put the moves on Al in the most delightful way. Al was a real gentleman and did actually seem pleasantly pleased by the attention. Not to mention that everyone was putting the moves on someone that night. And we are not going to speak ill of the dead here. Spicy indeed!

Ah, back in the day!

Let’s just say “Drugs, Sex and Rock and Roll.” 'Nough Said!


Jane is Back

I have been there, and done that, and it is so hard.

Congratulations Jane.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

There But for Fortune!

Empathy and history is what is missing in our public discourse folks.

Why is it so difficult for us to see the world from the “Other’s” perspective? Do we so lack imagination or empathy? We will never be able to understand the world until we can change our own point of view and pay attention to history?

Empathy and a historical perspective is necessary to working out our problems.

Crazy talk I know, but I can’t help it, and I can’t understand why we are so reluctant to engage in this crazy talk.

Because, as said by Pastor Niemoller: “first they came for … and when they came for me there was no one left to speak out.”

Why do we refuse to learn the lessons of History and why do we lack empathy?

There but for fortune history is repeating itself and we have not learned its lesson.

The Time has Come!

Now, Michael Jackson has many problems, I admit that. And my support for him has wavered considerably.

That said, the song we all sang at my Law School Graduation, from the Communist Law School, was the “Man in the Mirror.” And it couldn’t have been more right and appropriate in 1989 than it is today, or on any day.

Now whatever negative feelings you may have for Michael Jackson, I know that you will also have to admit that his body of work is genius and brilliant.

And that said, here it is:

It’s up to us folks and we need to get to the job as time is running out.

Because as Michael and Lionel Richie wrote and made clear to us before, and I am sure we can all agree: “We are the World.”

We can’t wait any longer. The Time is Now!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

From the IRS: More Corporate Tax Breaks

So, say you can’t get a tax break enacted in the IRC, well not to worry you can change enforcement policy. And that is what has happened.

Here is the story from the NYTs:

January 12, 2007

Agents Say Fast Audits Hurt I.R.S.


Top officials at the Internal Revenue Service are pushing agents to prematurely close audits of big companies with agreements to have them pay only a fraction of the additional taxes that could be collected, according to dozens of I.R.S. employees who say that the policy is costing the government billions of dollars a year.

“It’s catch and release,” said Douglas R. Johnson, an I.R.S. auditor in Colorado for three decades who said he grew so frustrated at how large corporations were allowed to pay far less than what he thought they owed that he transferred to the agency’s small-business division.

With one exception, other working agents would talk about the issue only on condition they not be identified because they feared being fired. They said a policy intended to avoid delays in auditing corporations was being pushed so rigidly that it prevented them from pursuing numerous examples of questionable corporate tax deductions.

I.R.S. officials said the complaints were misguided. In an interview yesterday, Debbie Nolan, the I.R.S. executive in charge of auditing large and medium-size businesses, denied that audits were being closed over the objections of agents who had evidence that significant additional taxes were owed. Ms. Nolan said she had not heard any such complaints from auditors.

She noted that the amount of additional tax recommended for each hour auditors spend on large and medium-size companies more than doubled, to $5,195 in 2006 from $2,394 in 2002. And she said that internal reviews of corporate tax audits showed that their quality had improved.

“On the whole, we are moving in the right direction,” she said. “All of our indicators tell me that we are doing the right thing.”

But auditors said they were told to limit questioning only to those specific issues that the I.R.S. and the companies had agreed in advance to examine. When other questionable deductions emerged in the course of the audit, they said, additional taxes were ignored.

Rank-and-file auditors said that the sharp rise in tax dollars collected per hour of audit was not a sign of an improved auditing system but simply reflected the fact that abusive and illegal tax shelters had become so common that it was easy to find additional taxes due.

James Lynch, who retired 18 months ago after two decades auditing large corporations in the San Diego area, said that “of course dollars per hour are up, because they put in smaller teams and you just grab what you can and get out.”

Of roughly 50 auditors interviewed, only one said he agreed with the new policy, arguing that it was better to audit more companies lightly than a few thoroughly as a strategy to improve compliance with the tax laws. But even this agent agreed with the others that large companies were being allowed to pay far less than they owed.

Mr. Johnson and some of these agents also said that I.R.S. management reports indicate that the quality of audits was improving only because the agency did not accurately record these actions.

One longtime auditor in New York said that when ordered not to pursue an issue “you just write ‘closed per case manager’ to cover yourself.”

The auditor was asked why she did not file an official memo indicating that she disagreed and that she believed it was premature or improper to close the audit.

“Why would I do that?” the auditor replied. “So my manager will give me a bad performance review?” Others gave similar explanations.

Well folks, this is just an enlargement of the policy already in place that had the lower income folks, who claimed the Earned Income Credit, being more likely to be audited than the rich. Now everyone knows that the richer you are the more likely you are to be able to afford to pay less in taxes. Now some folks would say, “if that is so why doesn’t the IRS go after those that really have the resources and are underreporting their income?”

Good question, but the answer is obvious folks. If you can afford to have a professional prepare your taxes and figure out how to underreport or diminish your income, and the taxes to be paid on that income, you can probably afford to have a lawyer represent you against any claim that the IRS would make. However, if you are on the lower-income scale it is highly unlikely that you can afford the legal representation necessary for that kind of fight.

So, it would seem to me that the IRS would make the obvious decision to go after those in the taxpaying public who cannot afford to put up a defense. Crazy public policy on the one hand, but understandable on the other. It is much easier for the government to go up against folks without the resources to fight than those that can fight. It is called a plea agreement versus a full blown trial. Not as much bang for the buck, as they say, but there is still some buck.

So, now the IRS has just decided to not even go after the buck. I guess all those leftover bucks might just find their way into a political campaign or two.

Because it seems to me that corporate profits aren’t really big enough! Read it all and think about what our priorities are.

Just saying!

Obama Loving and Bashing!

So, as Barack Obama is moving front and center in what passes for “Political Discourse” these days, I am reminded of what was a very “cute” and subversive song back in the day.

Peter Paul and Mary’s Big Blue Frog!

I can’t help but think of this as I listen to the discourse, and the apologies, from the MSM, surrounding his possible run for the Oval Office.

Maybe it says more about me than the rest of the electorate, but I don’t think so.

Oh, yeah, and he smokes. So, if folks out there are so inclined, they can reject his candidacy, not on account of race, heaven no, but because he smokes.

I am so sure that the folks out there providing the electorate with “information” will dig out and find so many more reasons to vote “against” him that even the KKK will be comforted that race has nothing to do with their decision. Just like misogyny has nothing to do with a vote against Hillary!

Because you know folks, we are so passed “blatant” racism and sexism. The electorate who voted for George W. Bush is a very sophisticated and informed body and not at all doing their selecting based on base decision making. Because, as we all know, anti-intellectualism and macho-ism had nothing to do with their vote. That’s right, those folks have standards.

Just so you know, that is!

Our hypocrisy when it comes to race and gender is only beaten out by our hypocrisy when it comes to sexual orientation.

Let the Deconstruction Begin! Too bad this much effort wasn’t put into the Deconstruction of the Candidates in 2000 and 2004!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

SCOTUS to look at Texas Justice

The Supremes have a very long history of dealing with the Death Penalty in Texas. The Fifth Circuit, in my estimation, is pretty much a hot bed of extrajudicial judgment, if not out right insanity.

With that in mind, the SCOTUS has had to engage the Circuit in a very long debate on how to handle the death penalty which continues to this day.

As Linda Greenhouse in the NYT’s points out:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday resumed its long-running effort to monitor the use of the death penalty in Texas, hearing arguments in three cases that put the strains and internal contradictions of the court’s capital punishment jurisprudence fully on display.

One case was familiar, at least to the seven justices who were on the court when LaRoyce L. Smith’s previous appeal of his death sentence came before them in 2004. At that time, the court voted 7 to 2 to overturn the sentence, only to see it promptly reinstated by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on the ground that the constitutional error the justices had identified was “harmless.” The question now is whether that was an acceptable response by the state court to the Supreme Court’s mandate.

The other two cases, while unfamiliar in their particulars, were very familiar in what they represented: the latest, but almost certainly not the last round in a fitful dialogue between the Supreme Court and the federal appeals court that oversees habeas corpus cases filed in federal court by Texas inmates.

All three cases offer a window on the recent history of capital punishment in the United States, which to a large degree is the history of capital punishment in Texas. Since 1976, when the Supreme Court permitted states to resume executions, Texas has put to death 380 people, far more than any other state. (The next highest, Virginia, has executed 98.)

In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that the jury instructions that Texas was using were constitutionally deficient because they failed to ensure that jurors could give meaningful consideration to a defendant’s mitigating evidence. Under the Texas system, jurors were instructed to respond to only two questions: whether the killing was deliberate, and whether the defendant posed a continuing threat to society. If the answers to both were yes, a death sentence was automatic.

The Texas Legislature addressed the problem two years later by instructing jurors to take “all of the evidence” into consideration, including the defendant’s character and background. But in the interim, during which Mr. Smith was sentenced to death for murdering a former co-worker at a Taco Bell in Dallas, judges tried to address the problem by telling jurors that if they thought the mitigating evidence warranted a sentence of life in prison rather than death, they should simply answer no to one of the two questions, even if they believed that the proper answer was yes.

Eventually, the Supreme Court held that this “nullification instruction” was constitutionally inadequate as well. It applied that ruling to Mr. Smith’s earlier appeal, overturning his sentence in 2004 and sending it back to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which in turn reinstated it, finding the error “harmless” because Mr. Smith had failed to show that the nullification instruction had caused him “grievous harm.”

In his new appeal, Mr. Smith, represented by a University of Texas Law School professor, Jordan M. Steiker, is arguing that the state court’s resolution of the case flew in the face of the Supreme Court’s analysis. The state court, having failed in the first round to apply its “harmless error” rule, should not be permitted to introduce it after the fact, Mr. Steiker said.

Now, everyone knows that I am opposed to the death penalty. I am opposed not because the judicial system makes so many mistakes, but because I believe that Murder whether executed by the private sector or the public sector is wrong and a crime.

That said, for all those out there who oppose it because we can’t get it right, this other story from Dallas should finally be the last nail in the coffin. I say this knowing that there have been so many stories that should have been the last nail in the coffin.

A 50-year-old Dallas man whose conviction of raping a boy in 1982 cost him nearly half his life in prison and on parole won a court ruling Wednesday declaring him innocent. He said he was not angry, “because the Lord has given me so much.”

The parolee, James Waller, was exonerated by DNA testing, the 12th person since 2001 whose conviction in Dallas County has been overturned long after the fact as a result of genetic evidence, lawyers said.

“Nowhere else in the nation have so many individual wrongful convictions been proven in one county in such a short span,” said Barry C. Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, the legal clinic that championed Mr. Waller’s case. In fact, Mr. Scheck said, those 12 such instances are more than have occurred anywhere else except the entire states of New York and Illinois since the nation’s first DNA exoneration, in 1989.

In the aftermath of the new evidence, prosecutors had joined defense lawyers in calling for the clearing of Mr. Waller, who spent more than 10 years behind bars before he was paroled in 1993.

If this is the track record in Texas then it is clear that the death penalty should be abolished now! Wrongful convictions are far too common in our judicial system and this gives the death penalty its lack of moral and judicial authority. Wrongful convictions are endemic to our system of “justice.” And keep in mind folks that these exonerations only happen if there is actual DNA evidence. What do you think happens when it is only eyewitness testimony that convicts someone?

Do the Justices of the SCOTUS read the papers? If they did they would know the answer to the Texas cases before them.

Art Buchwald


1925 - 2007

Lessons to Learn

Knowing history is essential to living a meaningful life. In the aftermath of the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s holiday it is so apropos that we spend some time on Dr. King’s actual message.

Bob Herbert does that from behind the wall today:

The Lost Voice of Protest


On the evening of the fourth of April, 1967, one year to the day (almost to the hour) before his assassination, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. walked into Riverside Church in Manhattan and delivered a speech that was among his least well known, yet most controversial.

“I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight,” he said, “because my conscience leaves me no other choice.”

The speech was an eloquent, full-throated denunciation of the war in Vietnam, one of the earliest public critiques by such a high-profile American. Silence in the face of the horrors of that war, said Dr. King, amounted to a “betrayal.”

The speech unleashed a hurricane of criticism. Even the N.A.A.C.P. complained about Dr. King stepping out of his perceived area of expertise, civil rights, to raise his voice against the evil of the war. The Times headlined an editorial, “Dr. King’s Error.”

The war would go on for another eight years, ultimately taking the lives of 58,000 Americans and a million to two million Vietnamese. Dr. King himself would be silenced, at the age of 39, by a bullet in Memphis.

The widespread celebration of Dr. King’s birthday on Monday brought that Vietnam speech to mind. It’s both gratifying and important that we honor this great man with a national holiday. But it’s disturbing that we pay so much more attention to the celebrations than we do to the absolutely crucial lessons that he spent much of his life trying to teach us.

Whether it’s the war in Iraq, or the plight of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, or the violence and self-destructive behavior that plagues so many black Americans, our attitude toward the wisdom of Dr. King has been that of the drug addict or alcoholic to the notion that there might be a better way. We give lip service to it, and then we ignore it.

In the Vietnam speech, Dr. King said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” He may as well have been speaking into the void. The war in Iraq, a reprise of Vietnam, will cost us well over a trillion dollars before we’re done, and probably more than two trillion. More than 3,000 American G.I.’s have been killed and the death toll for Iraqis is tallied by the scores of thousands.

No one knows what to do, although the politicians and the pundits are all over television, day and night, background singers to the carnage.

Here at home the city of New Orleans is on life support, struggling to survive the combined effects of a catastrophic flood, the unconscionable neglect of the federal government, and the monumental ineptitude of its own local officials. As ordinary residents of New Orleans continue to suffer, the rest of the nation has casually turned away. The debacle is no longer being televised. So it must be over.

Dr. King held the unfashionable view that we had an obligation to help those who are in trouble, and to speak out against unfair treatment and social injustice. “Our lives begin to end,” he said, “the day we become silent about things that matter.”

New Orleans matters. And the long dark night of the war in Iraq must surely matter. But not enough voices of protest are being raised in either case. The anger quotient is much too low. You can’t stop America’s involvement in a senseless war or revive a dying American city if your greatest passion is kicking back with pizza and beer and tuning in to “American Idol.”

The quality of life for black Americans more than 38 years after the death of Dr. King is a mixed bag. Blacks are far better off economically and educationally than ever before. Barack Obama is a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, and the last two secretaries of state have been black.

But the ominous shadow of racial prejudice is still with us. Even President Bush acknowledged that conditions in New Orleans pre-Katrina were proof of that. The nation’s prisons are filled to the bursting point with black men who have failed, or been failed, and have no viable future. And too many black Americans are willing and even eager to see themselves in the culturally depraved lineup of gangsters, pimps and whores.

Dr. King would be 78 now, and I can’t believe that he would be too thrilled by what’s going on. In his view: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

We miss his leadership, all of us, whether we’re wise enough to realize it or not.

Yes, we certainly miss his leadership and it seems to me that most have missed his lesson. Dr. King, I believe, would have been a leader of the anti-war movement in 2002 if he had not been killed. I also believe that he would have made it impossible for us to forget the lesson of WAR and PEACE, but mostly RESPONSIBILITY!

Unfortunately I think that Mr. Herbert has hit the mark in that I think too many of us aren’t wise enough to realize it because, we don’t know our history. Too many of us are living lives that are meaningless in the larger sense. As long as we are alive we have an obligation to work to make the world a better place. That is the lesson that many of us have learned if we want to lead a meaningful life.

Silence Equals Death!

Republican's Recent Music Collection Release

You will want to have all of these albums I am sure. This is from my friend Janis who is so up on popular culture.

Get down with PayPal right away. Hilarious!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How Lucky are We?

So, the other day I was talking about the current dreadful world situation with one of my favorite appellate attorneys when it dawned on us that we are in the Perfect Storm. And as he has been telling me for years, we are screwed. Well the Perfect Storm is Peak Oil, Global Warming, the War on Terra, the Unitary Executive, and we won’t even get into Globalization. But what makes the Perfect Storm so horrifying is that at this particular time the United States of America has elected (why is beyond me), and is lead by, George W. Bush. Who is probably the most incompetent President ever, and certainly not up to the task.

And in case we didn’t really understand just how devoid of the understanding of reality G.W. Bush is, here is a part of his 60 Minutes interview on Sunday via Froomkin:

"PELLEY: Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job?

"BUSH: That we didn't do a better job or they didn't do a better job?

"PELLEY: Well, that the United States did not do a better job in providing security after the invasion.

"BUSH: Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq."

No, Mr. President that is not America’s problem with Iraq.

But Mr. President, I am sure that those who lost their lives and loved ones that day feel they owe such a huge debt of gratitude to the U.S. for the liberation of Iraq. After all only a minimum of 70 Iraqi’s lost there lives on this one day for their liberation.

What about the 25th Amendment, is that an option? Oh, yeah I forgot, Vice President Dick Cheney! Never mind.

Who is this lunatic and who are the lunatics who support him?

Lucky us!

Rant over, but just for the moment!

A Fish Without a Bicycle?

So, it appears that the social structures are changing. DUH, it is about time!

Back in the seventies I had a button which I often wore. One day while in the elevator of a corporate building, in which I worked, I had on my button which said, “A Woman Without A Man is Like a Fish Without a Bicycle.” This very corporate looking 50'ish guy in the elevator looked at me and said, “A fish doesn’t need a bicycle?” I said, “Right!” He was so confused and, from the look on his face, had absolutely no idea what I meant.

Well, it appears that women now know what I meant. And the NYT’s is reporting:

51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse

A large number of women are no longer defining themselves in relation to men and marriage. I think that is a good thing. I don’t know many men who define themselves by their relationship to women or marriage. Unfortunately, I still know too many women who still define themselves in relationship to the men in their lives.

So, any incremental move on the part of women to define themselves in relation to themselves is a bright moment for me.

Count me as one of those Fish!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Weird Weather

This January in New York City has been bizarre. My body is so confused by the irrational ups and downs of the thermometer. Now we in this part of the Northeast aren’t exactly suffering like some other folks, see Denver and Missouri, but it does make clear that “Something Isn’t Right.”

So, it only seems right to post some of Jim Kunstler’s thoughts on that “Something” that isn’t right from his venue in the Spa:

The Warming

January 8, 2007

Everyone was walking around upstate New York delirious in their shirtsleeves on Saturday as the thermometer soared into the sixties (an all-time record for January here). The resource cornucopians were beside themselves with glee as the price of crude oil nose dived down to the mid-$50 range, proving what ninnies we peak oil alarmists are. The mustard greens we planted last July are still growing in the garden. The cat caught a garter snake. And later that evening those fluffy things in the headlights were moths, not snowflakes.

It was hard not to enjoy the end of the world. But despite all the high spirits and the roller-bladers and the kids hoisting their Ben-and-Jerry's cones, one was provoked to wonder about all the deer ticks out there enjoying an extra breeding cycle, not to mention the deer themselves, fattening up on prematurely swelling buds, and the pine bark beetles we've been hearing about up the road in the Adirondacks.

And for the really farsighted, there is the contemplation of what summer might be like. After all, if it is 67 in January, might it be 107 in July? And maybe that won't be so groovy. The electric grid is much more stressed out when all the air-conditioners are humming across the land. I'm not looking forward to Lyme disease, West Nile virus, or maybe even Dengue fever, either.

While it seems morally upright to inveigh against global warming Al Gore style, personally I don't believe there is anything we will do about it, or can do about now. The feedback loops are in motion. Something ominous is underway far greater than our measly powers can correct. Even if we started it with about two hundred years of our fossil fuel fires, there is no evidence that can just stop burning coal, oil, and methane gas on the grand scale, or that the warming would stop if we did.

Read the rest of his post and check in regularly at Clusterfuck Nation to keep up on Peak and the Long Emergency. If you haven’t read Jim’s book The Long Emergency yet I urge you to do so.

As the song says: Something’s Happening Here!

I love it when I find a totally gratuitous twofer.

U.S. v. Iran

If you want to stay informed about how the pieces are moving on the chessboard in the move toward a “confrontation” with Iran, check out The Left Coaster. Col. (Ret.) Sam Gardiner is guest blogging over there and as usual he is most informative with the latest inside information.

It is coming folks. I have seen this movie before and I know the script by heart.

Be afraid, be very afraid!

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Dr. King’s response to his critics in 1963:

“… I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I. compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

1929 – 1968

Sunday, January 14, 2007

This is Hilarious Pay Back!

I love snark, and I love it at its best.

So, via Jon Swift here it is:

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Breaking News: Michael Ledeen Is Dead

Exclusive: Must credit Jon Swift
According to a confidential source, Michael Ledeen, Pajamas Media's supreme pundit, is dead. Apparently he was not well for some time. I have not been able to get any independent confirmation of what my source is telling me, but I have decided to go ahead with this story anyway because, after all, that is what Ledeen would have wanted me to do.

Sadly, Ledeen did not live to see his greatest scoop vindicated: his report that the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was dead. Or if he hadn't actually died, was dying. If not right at the moment, then eventually. Iran denied the report, dismissing it as "Internet rumors," and even Michelle Malkin, who is a bit of a stickler for verifying rumors before she prints them, said, "This is either going to be a two-ton feather in Pajamas's cap or a major embarrassment." Even after pictures surfaced of Khamenei (which may have been of an imposter! Or Photoshopped!) making an appearance in public, Ledeen stuck to his guns. His last post on January 10 reported the death of Carlo Ponti, who is, in fact, dead.

Despite his untimely death, Michael Ledeen will continue to live on through the influence his ideas will have on American foreign policy for years to come. Ledeen often advised and Karl Rove on foreign policy and Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were among his admirers. If it is true that we have declared double-secret war on Iran, you can thank Ledeen, who was a tireless advocate for regime change Iran. Ledeen is a longtime expert on Iran whose expertise on the country goes back to his stint as an advisor to Robert MacFarlane in the Reagan Administration when he helped negotiate the deal that would later be known as Iran-Contra, just one the many successful foreign policy initiatives Ledeen was involved in. In fact, Ledeen was more than a pundit, which elicited grudging admiration even from critics like Matthew Yglesias, who wrote after his name surfaced in relation to the forged documents about yellowcake from Niger (which he denied any involvement with), "I used to find Ledeen's habit of popping up in these contexts to be a bit shady. Nowadays, I think it's sort of admirable. My life as a trained professional political pundit is pretty dull. Lots of time looking at computer screens and the occassional conversation. My other friends in this game are all the same way. But Ledeen does wet work! It's just so cool and makes me look pretty lame by comparison."

But our upcoming (or ongoing) war with Iran is not the only legacy Ledeen leaves behind. Ledeen warned in 2003 that France and Germany may have made an alliance with Islamic terrorists to bring down the United States. "They dreaded the establishment of an American empire, and they sought for a way to bring it down," he wrote. "So the French and the Germans struck a deal with radical Islam and with radical Arabs: You go after the United States, and we'll do everything we can to protect you, and we will do everything we can to weaken the Americans." Eventually, it looks like we may have to go after our "allies," Ledeen said: "If this is correct, we will have to pursue the war against terror far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East, into the heart of Western Europe." When we invade France and Germany, we'll have Ledeen to thank. I think we can all sleep better at night knowing that he was giving this kind of advice to the Bush Administration.

There is no question Ledeen's foreign policy advice will be greatly missed. Ledeen supplied the principal rationale for going to war with Iraq, which his friend Jonah Goldberg called the "Ledeen Doctrine." According to Goldberg, Ledeen once said, "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business." Although he modestly claimed later to have nothing to do with the decision to invade Iraq, and, in fact, told Vanity Fair, "I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place," it was typical of the man not to seek out credit for his ideas. Some critics would go so far as to accuse Ledeen of lying about his support for the war, but they just didn't understand the subtle, sophisticated way he had of expressing himself. For example, when he told an interviewer that we should invade Iraq "yesterday," what he was actually saying was that we shouldn't invade Iraq because everyone knows it would be impossible to do something yesterday unless you had a time machine. And just because he criticized those who opposed the war, it doesn't mean he supported the war. He was highly critical, for example, of Brent Scowcroft who said that, "I think we could have an explosion in the Middle East. It could turn the whole region into a caldron and destroy the War on Terror." To Ledeen, that was a good thing. "One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today," Ledeen wrote.

Ledeen claimed that he actually wanted to go after Iran before we went after Iraq. But even if he did believe that Iraq was the wrong crappy country to throw against the wall at the wrong time, as he now claims, he predicted that the American people would welcome the War in Iraq with flowers, no matter how many people were killed. "I think the level of casualties is secondary," he said. "I mean, it may sound like an odd thing to say, but all the great scholars who have studied American character have come to the conclusion that we are a warlike people and that we love war.... What we hate is not casualties but losing." If it is true that the American people love war, then Ledeen may have been the most American person of all.

Ledeen's unique perspective grew out of his interest in Italian fascism, which he studied while earning a PhD. at the University of Wisconsin and then in Rome, where he went after being rejected for tenure at the University of Washington in St. Louis. (Faculty members said he was rejected for plagiarism and the "quality of his scholarship" but it was no doubt in reality because of his iconoclastic conservative views.) Ledeen believed that despite the bad name Mussolini gave to fascism, there were plenty of good fascist ideas that were worth salvaging. His theory of "Creative Destruction," which holds that sweeping away the old order through violence is the only way for society to progress, was one of the black-shirted babies Ledeen saved from Mussolini's bathwater. "Change -- above all violent change -- is the essence of human history," he wrote in his book, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership. Ledeen's many protégés in the Bush Administration who subscribed to his ideas about "creative destruction" would no doubt be surprised to learn that American foreign policy of the last few years owes a tip of the hat to ol' Benito Mussolini.

To know Ledeen was to love him. He leaves behind a beautiful family who will continue his important work: his wife Barbara, a former aide to Sen. Rick Santorum; his daughter Simone who nabbed a job working for the Civilian Provisional Authority in Iraq and did such a bang-up job getting the Iraq economy on its feet by driving around bags of cash in the trunk of her car; and his sons Gabriel, a Marine, who spent a lot of time drinking designer coffee in Iraq, and Daniel, a student at Rice University, who once asked Michael Moore how he felt about Hezbollah distributing his film Fahrenheit 9/11, but was unfairly cut off before he could ask his follow-up question, "When did you stop beating your wife?" Let us remember them all in our prayers.

Will the Mullahs over at Pajamas confirm this? Just wondering?