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At last night's Clinton-Obama debate hosted by ABC News, former Clinton White House official George Stephanopoulous asked Barack Obama about his acquaintance with William Ayers, a former leader of the Weather Underground. The Weather Underground was a short-lived splinter group of the Revolutionary Youth Movement faction of the Students for Democratic Society. RYM split from SDS at the organization's national convention in 1969 in Chicago, where the Worker-Student Alliance Caucus led by the Maoist Progressive Labor Party captured control of the organization. The following fall, a minority of the RYM leaders staged a riot under the name "Days of Rage," in which one person was killed and 600 vehicles were damaged. The leaders of Days of Rage failed to appear in court and went "underground." They took the name the Weather Underground; the original RYM manifesto had used Bob Dylan's verse from Subterranean Homesick Blues ("You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows") as an epigraph.

But weren't there some other "terrorists" in the U.S. in the  1960s?

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In January a diary by Rosebuddear about race, sparked by the Obama candidacy, sparked a lively discussion. shanikka enlarged her comment into another recommended diary, which in turn inspired a comment from me.

In the aftermath of Obama's speech, I went to repost my comment as a diary, and as I kept thinking, I went on a panoramic ride of the past several centuries of interlocking histories and misperceptions....

Follow me below the fold....

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I have posted a scanned copy of the Pakistan People's Party report on election rigging, Another Stain on the Face of Democracy. This is apparently the report that Benazir Bhutto was planning to give to a visiting U.S. Congressional delegation the evening that she was murdered. The version I have is only 47 pages long, whereas press reports speak of 160 pages. I will post more as I receive it.

Cheers for Senator Biden for criticizing the administration's approval of the sale of 18 Lockheed F-16 fighters to the Pakistan military just at its credibility has sunk to an all-time low.  

I have written more about this at Informed Comment Global Affairs and also discussed it with Scott Horton of Harpers. Below the fold I provide the report's summary and some background that is also in the longer posts.

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I'm in a hotel room in Ottawa, Canada, for a very serious conference on Afghanistan.  Consequently I was watching CNN while getting dressed.  

I don't know if it is on line somewhere, but someone should check Miles O'Brien's segment on American Morning about Al Gore winning the Nobel Prize for Peace.  What is the theme?  Al Gore is more popular in Europe than in the U.S., just like Jerry Lewis!  CNN then illustrates this profound point by showing a particularly moronic segment of The Nutty Professor.  For you young people out there, this was a 1963 comedy (released just a few months, believe it or not, before Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove), about a science professor who drinks a potion to make himself handsome. I don't have time to search the archives of Cahiers du Cinema right now, but French film intellectuals reportedly found depths of irony in le Jerry that escaped Americans....

Just like Al Gore!  

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On September 7, 2002, the New York Times reported an explanation how the Bush administration would sell the invasion of Iraq.  The administration may be replicating this strategy for Iran.  

Today I received a message from a friend whose information from his Washington connections has often been prescient. As in 2002, he claimed, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a kickoff on September 11. Someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions reported:

They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this--they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."


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I wanted to let the DKos community know that I will be appearing on MSNBC from 1 PM EDT today to discuss the new National Intelligence Estimate on  the revival of the al-Qaeda threat.  

I recently published a blog on the background to al-Qaeda which you can find on the new group blog Informed Comment Global Affairs, which Juan Cole recently started as an extension of his well known blog, Informed Comment.

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Have you ever tried to win over someone to your point of view by patiently  explaining to them that they are completely wrong to be concerned about the things that are most important to them, and that in reality the whole problem is due to their own shortcomings, which you would be happy to help them overcome?  How'd it work out for you?

That's how David Brooks (behind Times Select shield) and his soul mates from the American Enterprise Institute attempted to engage "moderate Arab reformers" at a conference in Jordan. Brooks found it "depressing" that the Arabs would not transport their American guests back to a mythical time when they knew it was all their fault:

There seemed to be a time, after 9/11, when it was generally accepted that terror and extremism were symptoms of a deeper Arab malaise. There seemed to be a general recognition that the Arab world had fallen behind, and that it needed economic, political and religious modernization.

What were these stubborn Arabs concerned about? "It was all Israel, all the time."

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I propose a theory for further investigation, as follows:

  1.  The underlying purpose of dismissing the US Attorneys was to intensify "voter fraud" investigations leading up to and after the 2008 elections.
  1.  Far from being a simple tactical decision, the attempt to force prosecutions for "voter fraud" is part of a long-term strategy by Karl Rove to shore up the crumbling Permanent Republican Majority.
  1.  The political, economic, and social elites who set the agenda of the Republican Party, and consider themselves to be the sole legitimate rulers of the United States, fear the demographic changes that may eat away at their electoral advantage.
  1. They are trying to restore the electoral advantage through the time-tested and venerable US tradition of depriving racial and ethnic minorities of their rights of citizenship.
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The New York Times reports this morning on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' statement yesterday about the dismissal of US Attorneys:

Under criticism from lawmakers of both parties for the dismissals of federal prosecutors, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales insisted Tuesday that he would not resign but said, "I acknowledge that mistakes were made here."

The mea culpa came as Congressional Democrats, who are investigating whether the White House was meddling in Justice Department affairs for political reasons, demanded that President Bush and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, explain their roles in the dismissals.

But this was no mea culpa.  "Mea culpa" means "mine is the fault," not "mistakes were made."

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I wanted to let fellow Kossacks know that I have an article on Afghanistan in the current issue of Foreign Affairs.  

A sample below the fold:

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Fri Nov 03, 2006 at 07:58 AM PST

We are Unlawful Enemy Combatants

by BRRubin

Since there are no more tinfoil hats -- submitted for your consideration:

The law.  According to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, an unlawful enemy combatant is:

a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant

Fact-finding below the fold.


Are you an unlawful enemy combatant?

3%1 votes
13%4 votes
24%7 votes
44%13 votes
13%4 votes

| 29 votes | Vote | Results

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In the lead article in the new issue of Foreign Affairs (full text online), Richard Haass writes an obituary for U.S. dominance in the Middle East.  While his coroner's report lists various causes of its demise, he finds that:

The most significant has been the Bush administration's decision to attack Iraq in 2003 and its conduct of the operation and resulting occupation.

Haass, currently the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, served on the National Security Council in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations and was Director of Policy Planning under Secretary of State Colin Powell in the first term of President George W. Bush.  During the Clinton administration Haass was director of Foreign Policy studies at the Brookings Institution.  

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