Sunday, September 30, 2007


Yeah, yeah. It’s just a number. You look the same. You don’t feel any different. You don’t want to remember it. None of your friends will let you forget it and you make sure that everyone knows anyway because in some weird way you want the attention. Still.

It’s been two successive weekends of birthday parties. It seems like the bulk of my friends all come from the Snow Belt so September seems to be the most popular month for birthdays.

Last weekend George and I endured a 2-hour gridlock traffic jam on Emirates Highway to reach David and Lorin’s. The jam started just before Dubai Airport and continued all the way to the National Paints Flyover. I guess I’m going to have to break down and buy the new Salik toll chip for my car and start going there on Sheikh Zayed Highway. Anyway, it was practically Iftar time when we reached the American University (AUS) campus in Sharjah. I hadn’t had lunch or my nap. I’m not sure which one I missed the most.

We had a tentative plan to go check out the bowling lanes on campus, but none of us were really in the mood. We ate dinner in a cafĂ© at the student center and had coffee after at Starbuck’s then went back to David and Lorin’s for a quiet wind-up to the day by sitting in the garden and smoking cigarettes.

The birthday party was on Friday night. David Ritchie, Wendy Merkley and I were the birthday kids. George, Reynon, Daphne and Janine were the guests. Lorin cooked my special request—burgers, and they were great, as usual. Daphne is a librarian at AUS who had worked for several years at HTC Women’s in Al Ain. She knew Val and yes, Val, you were talked about, but it was all fond memories. You are still missed. Janine is new to the campus, having arrived a few months before from Florida. She’s very interesting and entertaining. She worked her way through college as a singer and has a wonderful voice. Her gift to David was a song from Sweeney Todd. It was a great moment. Then we opened gifts and had cake and there was the usual wind down.

My actual birthday was on the 25th, Tuesday and I did nothing to really mark the day. I worked and took a few phone calls from friends. Later in the week Thursday was admin day at work, so we were off. I went to Carrefour and bought myself a birthday gift, a new stereo. David and Lorin and Reynon arrived early Thursday evening. We taxied over to Phil and Enma’s for another birthday party with Leah, David and I as the birthday kids. Enma cooked my request, lamb. She makes a killer leg of lamb. Guests included Phil, Enma (actually they were the hosts), Leah, Steve and daughter Hannah, David, Lorin and Reynon, Miguel and friend and me. We had a great time. Drinking and talking and laughing, as we usually do. Dinner was fantastic and was followed by cake. And there were a few more presents to open as well.

On Friday George hosted a brunch for David, Lorin, Reynon and I at his flat. We arrived about noon and ate shortly after. The food was wonderful. I’d made no requests and hadn’t been asked to either. We ate and talked and ate more before David and Lorin and Reynon had to return to Sharjah.

This upcoming weekend is going to be spent at home doing nothing but watching TV, reading and spending some time online. Oh yeah, and listening to my new stereo.

There were also family & friends birthdays back in the States. I told you, September is a busy months for births. My Mom turned 70 on 8 September, the day of the Marshall-WVU football grudge match. Rosie Dickson, with whom I’ve lost touch, had her birthday on 22 September. My nephew, Tyson, had his birthday the same day as mine, 25 September and my niece, Shannon, had hers two days later on the 27th. Marcia Davis, still a close friend from grad school in Brattleboring, had her birthday today, 30 September. It gets pretty cold in January.

Bits & Pieces.
James Lee Burke is one of the outstanding American authors (in my opinion). I finished his Pegasus Descending about a week ago and it is beautifully written. I wish I could write like that.

The last book of my 52nd year was A History of the Amish by Steven M. Nolt. Don’t ask me why. I bought it in the summer of ’06 when we visited Amish country in Ohio. I still don’t get it.

The first book of my 53rd year was Promise Me by Harlan Coben. I loved Coben’s early career series of novels featuring Myron Bolitar, a sports agent who solves mysteries. He left Myron behind several years ago to write other things and this novel marked the return of Myron. It was worth the wait. Reading it was like catching up with an old friend, which was what I needed to start year 53.

Below are some links to some stories you should be aware of. Most of them seem to be struggling to answer the question can America survive the rest of Bush-Cheney. At this point, I well and truly don’t know.

Iraq Will Have to Wait by Scott Ritter

The US Military Role in Preventing Bombing of Iran by Glenn Greenwald

The War President “At Peace” With Himself by Joe Conason

Twilight Zone-The Children of 5767 by Gideon Levy

Shifting Targets by Seymour M. Hersh

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Post Vacation Post

I’ve been back home in Abu Dhabi a little over two weeks now. I can’t say I’ve been too busy to post anything, just too lazy and not really in the mood. A little bit of post-vacation blues to go through, I guess. Also, I was finishing Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon, which I’d started just before I left the States. It was a massive book, over 1000 pages and difficult, at times, to keep up with. Where I’d grown tired and bored with his Mason and Dixon and put it down unfinished, this one refused to let go of me. I finished it last night and as I closed the book I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d read, what he’d been trying to say and if I had wasted my time. I still haven’t decided.

Ramadan starts on Thursday and I hope to make a full post over the first weekend of Ramadan. Things slow down here. In the meantime, here are some links I’ve been mining over the past couple of weeks. I have also copied and posted two very important full-length pieces that I read today on Salon, along with links to them to the Salon site. This is an anniversary, you know, but exactly of what, I couldn’t say.

BTW, new vacation pictures have been posted on Jack’s Pictures.

Siegman on Israel

Why did Gonzales resign? By Sidney Blumenthal

The Waning Power of the War Myth by Gary Kamiya

Bush Knew Saddam Had No Weapons

The real lessons of 9/11
The attacks exposed grave weaknesses in our nation's defenses, our national institutions and ultimately our national character.
By Gary Kamiya
Sep. 11, 2007 Six years ago, Islamist terrorists attacked the United States, killing almost 3,000 people. President Bush used the attacks to justify his 2003 invasion of Iraq. And he has been using 9/11 ever since to scare Americans into supporting his "war on terror." He has incessantly linked the words "al-Qaida" and "Iraq," a Pavlovian device to make us whimper with fear at the mere idea of withdrawing. In a recent speech about Iraq, he mentioned al-Qaida 95 times. No matter that jihadists in Iraq are not the same group that attacked the U.S., or that their numbers and effectiveness have been greatly exaggerated. It's no surprise that Gen. David Petraeus' "anxiously awaited" evaluation of the war is to be given on the 10th and 11th of September. The not-so-subliminal message: We must do what Bush and Petraeus say or risk another 9/11.
Petraeus' evaluation can only be "anxiously awaited" by people who are still anxiously waiting for Godot. We know what will happen next because we've been watching this movie for eight months. Gen. Petraeus, Bush's mighty-me, will insist that we're making guarded progress. Bush, whose keen grasp of military reality is reflected in his recent boast that "we're kicking ass" in Iraq, will promise that he will reassess the situation in April. The Democrats will flail their puny arms, the zombie Republicans will keep following orders, and the troops will stay.
So let's forget the absurd debate about "progress" and whether a bullet in the front of the head is better than one in the back, and how much we can trust our new friends from Saddam's Fedayeen. On the anniversary of 9/11, we need to ask more basic questions -- not just about why we can't bring ourselves to pull out of Iraq, but why we invaded it in the first place. Those questions lead directly to 9/11, and the ideas and assumptions behind our response to it.
The real reason that Congress cannot bring itself to end the war in Iraq, and incredibly, may be prepared to start another one in Iran, has little to do with benchmarks or body counts. The real reason is that even after the Iraq debacle, the American establishment -- meaning the government and the mainstream media -- has not questioned the emotions and ideology that drove Bush's crusade.
Sept. 11 is a totemic date for the Bush administration. It justifies everything, explains everything, ends all argument. It is the crime that must be eternally punished, the wound that can never heal, the moral high ground that can never be taken. Bush's reaction to 9/11 was to declare a "war on terror," of which the Iraq adventure was said to be the "front line." The American establishment signed off on this war because of 9/11. To oppose Bush's "war on terror" was to risk another terror attack and dishonor our dead. The establishment has now turned against the Iraq front, but it has not questioned the "war on terror" itself, or the assumptions on which it is based.
Bush's, and America's, response to 9/11 was fundamentally flawed for two reasons: It was atavistic and instinctive, and it was based on a distorted, ignorant and bigoted view of the Arab/Muslim world. These two founding errors are qualitatively different: The first involves emotions, the second ideas. But mixed together, they created a lethal cocktail. The grand justification of "spreading democracy in the Middle East" merely provided a palatable cover for vengeance and racism.
Bush's America responded to 9/11 by lashing out. We chose vigilantism over justice, instinct over reason. Bush demanded that America play the role of the angry, righteous avenger, and America followed him. But we were not taking vengeance on the guy who attacked us but on somebody standing on the corner. The war was like the massacre in Haditha on a global scale.
There's a reason why Americans responded to Bush's demand and why Democrats have been afraid to challenge it. It's biological hard-wiring -- after you're hit, your instinct is to hit back. For conservatives, this instinct is not only natural but necessary. Hence the endless right-wing denunciations of war critics as wimps, girly-men and appeasers.
Gender images play a significant role. The right wing embraces a cartoonlike image of masculinity because it believes that only an alpha male can protect America from its enemies. (In a recent essay in the New York Times, Susan Faludi argued that such retrograde gender images have been used to construct the American self-image from the earliest days of our presence on this continent.) This is part of the reason that Bush has put forward Gen. Petraeus as the cheerleader for the war. Petraeus is the ultimate alpha male, right down to his rigorous workout routine. In the Hobbesian world of the conservative imagination, the big club rules, and he who puts down the club will be brained by another unfettered troglodyte, be it a communist or an "Islamofascist." Nature is red in tooth and claw, and those who dream of transcending nature or transforming it will be destroyed by it.
The fetishization of the "natural," of which instinct is only a part, is key to conservative thought. In the early '60s, conservatives like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan defended the right of individuals and states to practice segregation because that decision was instinctual and organic. They saw the federal government's attempt to outlaw segregation as artificial and coercive.
Of course, instincts play a vital role in human life: They underlie virtually all of our thoughts and actions. To ignore them is to fall into a deracinated world of sterile rationality. Lashing out is sometimes an effective way to defend yourself. But instinct is atavistic and often self-defeating. Higher-level mental functions came into existence to control and refine it. Both individuals and states have learned that they should not base their reactions merely on animal instincts. That's why law arose: to prevent every injury from turning into a destructive and endless feud. Retribution is a legitimate motive for punishment but only to a point. It is limited by the higher concept of justice. Justice not only prescribes the extent of the retribution that is morally acceptable, but insists that the context of the crime, including the criminal's history and state of mind, must be considered before meting out punishment.
Democrats have effectively challenged the reign of nature and instinct in the domestic realm. But they cower when it comes to war. They are afraid to criticize the irrational, instinctive nature of Bush's "war on terror" because they believe their political Achilles' heel is the perception that they are "weak on national security." They are afraid they'll be seen as wimps. Beaten down by Republican propaganda that asserts that America's only choice is between the GOP's macho John Wayne and the Democrats' dithering Hamlet, they pathetically don their cowboy hats and tank helmets, a tactic that actually reinforces the very image of weakness it is intended to dispel. Unchallenged by the Democrats, the right wing's master narrative about American power and the need to carry a big stick has carried the day.
Of course America was enraged and fearful after the attacks. But reacting to the attacks as we did, like an angry drunk in a bar, was not in our national interests. It was vital that we think clearly about our response, who attacked us, why they did, and what our most effective response would be. But here the American establishment ran up against its ideological blind spot -- its received ideas about the Arab/Muslim world. Combined with the hysterical emotionalism, those ideas, which amount to a kind of de facto bigotry, allowed Bush to push through one of the most bizarrely gratuitous wars in history.
We attacked Iraq because of 9/11. That is the scandalous and surreal claim that reveals our fatal emotional-ideological flaw. Anyone who knew anything about the Middle East knew that Saddam Hussein, a secular tyrant, had nothing to with 9/11 or al-Qaida. War defenders like to claim they were "misled by bad intelligence" into thinking Saddam had WMD. But there was no new evidence that Saddam posed a threat. He was the same old Saddam. He only became frightening in light of our prejudice against Arabs and Muslims. Moreover, despite the appalling effectiveness of the 9/11 attacks, it was clear that al-Qaida posed no existential threat to either America or to the Middle East. As the invaluable analyst Juan Cole has pointed out, apocalyptic Salafi jihadists like al-Qaida were an isolated and weak force within the Arab-Muslim world -- or at least they were until Bush invaded Iraq.
The angry bigotry that drove the war rings out loud and clear in the right-wing battle cry: "They attacked us, so we had to attack them." The recent TV ads run by war supporters repeat this theme: "They attacked us," a narrator says as an image of the burning World Trade Center appears. "They won't stop in Iraq." The key word here, of course, is "they." Just who is "they"? For Bush's die-hard supporters, "they" simply means "Arabs and Muslims." Cretinous rabble-rousers like Ann Coulter and Michael Savage play to this crowd, demanding that we nuke the evil ragheads. For the establishment, "they" is not quite so explicitly racist. "They" refers not to all Arabs and Muslims, but only to the "bad" ones. The "bad" guys include al-Qaida, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and the militant Palestinians. And, of course, it used to include Iraq (and may again). Anyone who makes this list is eligible for attack by the U.S.
What makes these wildly disparate entities so evil and so threatening that we're prepared to attack them without cause? Simply that they reject the U.S.-Israeli writ in the Middle East -- and that they're Arabs or Muslims. They are clearly not on our side, but they pose no significant military or economic threat to the U.S. In realpolitik terms, they are no more beyond the pale than many other dubious countries we do business with, from Venezuela to Nigeria to Russia to Saudi Arabia. No one would dream of suggesting that if Cuba attacked the U.S., we should respond by invading Venezuela. But we play by different rules in the Middle East.
America's anti-Arab, anti-Muslim prejudice has several causes. One of them derives from America's powerful identification with the one state that has always been at war with the Arab-Muslim world: Israel. For the establishment, it is axiomatic that America's and Israel's interests are identical, and that enemies of Israel must be enemies of the U.S. America has always identified more with Israel, the plucky underdog and home to Holocaust survivors, than with the Arabs and Muslims who threaten it. Since this view is held by right and left, Democrat and Republican alike, and criticizing it leads to accusations of anti-Semitism, it is difficult to challenge it. This is the reason why there has been almost no discussion in Congress over Bush's saber-rattling with Iran: Iran is Israel's most dangerous enemy, and that fact trumps all other considerations.
America's Israel-centric stance has helped determine the way we see the Arab-Muslim world, but it isn't the only factor. The rise of radical Islam, with its cult of martyrdom and terrifying terrorist attacks, exacerbated America's existing prejudices, flattening out the Arab-Muslim world into a monolithic entity. Our almost complete ignorance of Arabs and Islam, their history and the actual grievances that they have against the West, contributed to this flattening. Oil plays a role. But perhaps the most potent explanation of all is simply the fear of the Other: Islam is not in our cultural tradition, it stands apart, it's mysterious and ominous, and it is all too easy to project our fears on it.
One sure sign of cultural bias is the presence of high-flown concepts. Mission civilatrice, the White Man's burden, is inevitably accompanied by lofty rhetoric. Iraq was all about Grand Theory.
One of the neocons' main goals in invading Iraq was to "remake the Middle East" -- a weirdly grandiose, imperialist concept of the sort that doesn't apply anywhere except with Muslims. Only in the Middle East do lofty historical generalizations about why a world culture went wrong -- like those of the right-wing Arabist and White House favorite Bernard Lewis -- provide the intellectual underpinnings for unprovoked wars. Yes, the Arab-Muslim world has some serious problems, and yes, only a politically correct pedant would forbid all cultural generalizations. But when you go to war on the basis of those generalizations, you cross the line into colonialist prejudice.
The most lofty, abstract generalization of all is the insistence that this is a war of good vs. evil. "They" attacked us not because they had grievances or for any reasons that exist in the sublunary realm: They attacked simply because they were evil. Saddam would do the same because he, too, like Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, was evil. The "war on terror" is a crusade, a Holy War, whose essentially theological nature was summed up by the title of Richard Perle and David Frum's book, "An End to Evil." And once you're dealing with "evil," niggling distinctions -- between Sunni and Shiite, or secular and religious, or whether the country you want to invade had anything to do with attacking you -- can be dispensed with.
The failure of the American establishment to question such ideas, and its willingness to sign off on a war based on them, amounts to a kind of de facto bigotry: Kill one Arab, send a message to the rest of 'em. Attacking Iraq because of 9/11 made about as much sense as attacking Mozambique after the Watts riots. If we had done something that insane, we would be accused of being racists. We wouldn't be able to shake the accusation, no matter how much gobbledygook apologists came up with about bursting a "terrorism bubble" or the "pathologies of black culture." But when America did something equally insane and attacked Iraq in response to 9/11, no one accused it of racism. Instead, we got a lot of sophistry about "Islamofascism" and other Aquinas-like attempts to make 99 virgins dance on the head of a Baathist.
Sept. 11 was a hinge in history, a fork in the road. It presented us with a choice. We could find out who attacked us, surgically defeat them, address the underlying problems in the Middle East, and make use of the outpouring of global sympathy to pull the rest of the world closer to us. Or we could lash out blindly and self-righteously, insist that the only problems in the Middle East were created by "extremists," demonize an entire culture and make millions of new enemies.
Like a vibration that causes a bridge to collapse, the 9/11 attacks exposed grave weaknesses in our nation's defenses, our national institutions and ultimately our national character. Many more Americans have now died in a needless war in Iraq than were killed in the terror attacks, and tens of thousands more grievously wounded. Billions of dollars have been wasted. America's moral authority, more precious than gold, has been tarnished by torture and lies and the erosion of our liberties. The world despises us to an unprecedented degree. An entire country has been wrecked. The Middle East is ready to explode. And the threat of terrorism, which the war was intended to remove, is much greater than it was.
All of this flowed from our response to 9/11. And so, six years later, we need to do more than mourn the dead. We need to acknowledge the blindness and bigotry that drove our response. Until we do, not only will the stalemate over Iraq persist, but our entire Middle Eastern policy will continue down the road to ruin.
-- By Gary Kamiya

"Broken Government"
I never thought that the GOP posed a threat to the well-being of our nation. But these days, I no longer recognize my old party.
By John W. Dean
Sep. 11, 2007 In almost four decades of involvement in national politics, much of them as a card-carrying Republican, I was never concerned that the GOP posed a threat to the well-being of our nation. Indeed, the idea would never have occurred to me, for in my experience the system took care of excesses, as it certainly did in the case of the president for whom I worked. But in recent years the system has changed, and is no longer self-correcting. Most of that change has come from Republicans, and much of it is based on their remarkably confrontational attitude, an attitude that has clearly worked for them. For example, I cannot imagine any Democratic president keeping cabinet officers as Bush has done with his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, men whom both Democrats and Republicans judged to be incompetent. Evidence that the system has changed is also apparent when a president can deliberately and openly violate the law -- as, for example, simply brushing aside serious statutory prohibitions against torture and electronic surveillance -- without any serious consequences. Similarly, but on a lesser scale, Alberto Gonzales faced no consequences when he politicized the Department of Justice as never before, allowing his aides to violate the prohibitions regarding hiring career civil servants based on their party affiliation, and then gave false public statements and testimony about the matter. When the Senate sought to pass a resolution expressing "no confidence" in the attorney general, the Republicans blocked it with a filibuster. The fact that Bush's Justice Department has become yet another political instrument should give Americans pause. This body was created by Congress to represent the interests of the people of the United States, not the Republican Party, but since the system of law no longer takes account when officials act outside the law (not to mention the Constitution), Republicans do so and get away with it.
In the past the White House (whether occupied by Republicans or Democrats) placed tight restrictions on who could contact the Department of Justice regarding pending business. It was typically limited to only the president, the vice president, the White House chief of staff and White House counsel, who were authorized to speak with the attorney general, the deputy attorney general or the top assistant and associate attorneys general. However, in the Bush White House no less than a startling 471 White House aides are authorized to speak with 30 senior Justice Department officials. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Bush administration has made the Justice Department a political extension of the White House in the area of law enforcement, which is unprecedented and seriously dilutes the credibility of the government when it goes to court. It will take years to depoliticize the Justice Department, and countless nonpolitical career attorneys -- including some of the most experienced and able men and women ever to serve in the department -- have left because of the way Bush's people run it. Ironically, when Republicans find Democratic officials with even a toe across the line, they raise unmitigated hell for that official. But when a Republican official crosses the line, Republicans close ranks around the miscreant, as they have done with the former chief of staff to the vice president, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Libby, a sophisticated Washington attorney, leaked Valerie Plame Wilson's covert CIA identity. Libby had leaked her name as part of the effort to discredit Valerie Wilson's husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, who had traveled to Niger to determine for the CIA if Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium -- a claim that would be made by the Bush White House. When Ambassador Wilson wrote a New York Times op-ed putting the lie to that claim, Scooter Libby led the attack against him, notwithstanding the fact that he was telling the truth. One of his tactics was to claim that Wilson's wife, a covert CIA operative, had sent him on a boondoggle. Libby, as Cheney's national security adviser, was quite familiar with the potentially dire circumstances of leaking the identity of a covert agent. When special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald (the U.S. Attorney in Chicago) was appointed to investigate, Libby lied to the FBI and then to the grand jury about how he had learned of Valerie Wilson's CIA connection, claiming a newsman had told him, when, in fact, he had been told by the vice president. Although Special Counsel Fitzgerald found no criminal statute had been violated in leaking Valerie Wilson's name, he indicted and convicted Scooter Libby for false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice. Even before federal judge Reggie Walton (a Bush appointee) sentenced Libby to 30 months in prison and a $250,000 fine, Republicans were demanding that Bush pardon him.
Republicans have offered an array of explanation and justifications for a Libby pardon, but when one cuts through the smoke, what they are really arguing is that one of their own should not be punished criminally. It is an absurd position. Conservatives once claimed they stood for law and order, and that no person was above the law, but their words belie their true beliefs as expressed in their actions. Frankly, I hoped that Bush would pardon Libby, as it would have served as a particularly egregious and conspicuous example of the Republican double standard -- the authoritarian's "do as I say, not as I do" mentality. Voters understand hypocrisy, and another solid abuse of process (and power) could only help the Democrats get back into the White House.
Having watched the GOP's evolution as it embraced the radicalism of authoritarian conservatism, slowly ceding control to its most strident faction, the authoritarian conservatives, I can no longer recognize the party. These new conservative leaders have not only sought to turn back the clock, but to return to a time before the Enlightenment when there were no clocks. As former vice president Al Gore nicely stated it, the Republicans have undertaken an "assault on reason." Indeed, they have rejected their own reasoned philosophy by ignoring conservatism's teachings -- based on well-documented history -- about the dangers of concentrations of power. They have done so by focusing on the presidency as the institution in which they wish to concentrate the enormous powers of the federal government. Nixon led the way, and Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II learned from his mistakes. Nixon scowled as he scolded and secretly investigated his opponents in the name of national security; his GOP successors have smiled and reassured Americans they are operating to protect them as they have proceeded to convert the American presidency into an elective monarchy, with its own high council, which was once known as the federal judiciary.
Fortunately, the power of the authoritarian conservatism that has so dominated the Bush/Cheney presidency is waning, although it is not likely there will ever be less than about one in four Americans who will follow such authoritarian leadership without question. For authoritarian conservatism to win another presidential contest, its candidate would have to attract independent voters in addition to their hardcore base. But polling of independents reveals that they have largely become disgusted with the Republicans, and lean heavily toward the Democrats. In surveying all of the Republican contenders for the GOP nomination, I have found that to the man, they all are far more authoritarian than even the most authoritarian of the Democrats. This raises the almost certain likelihood that, regardless of how great a distance any of these GOP candidates might attempt to place between himself and the Bush/Cheney presidency during a general election campaign, in fact, if elected he is going to continue in the vein that has already caused this nation so much trouble. (There is no doubt that the GOP will select an authoritarian standard-bearer, because these are the people who are most active in the primaries and the most devoted workers in the general election. It is almost impossible for a non-authoritarian to win the Republican nomination, as the party is now structured.)
As I was writing this closing section an old friend from the Nixon White House called. Now retired, he is a lifelong Republican who told me that he voted for Bush and Cheney twice, because he knows them both personally. He asked how my new book was coming, and when I told him the title, he remarked, "I'll say the government's broken." After we discussed it, he asked how I planned to end the book, since the election was still a good distance away. I told him I was contemplating ending midsentence and immediately fading to black -- the way HBO did in the final episode of the Sopranos, but that I would settle for a nice quote from him, on the record. He explained that he constantly has to bite his tongue, and the reason he does not speak out more is because one of his sons is in an important (nonpolitical) government post, and we both know that Republicans will seek revenge wherever they can find it. How about an off-the-record comment? I asked. That he agreed to.
"Just tell your readers that you have a source who knows a lot about the Republican party from long experience, that he knows all the key movers and shakers, and he has a bit of advice: People should not vote for any Republican, because they're dangerous, dishonest and self-serving. While I once believed that Governor George Wallace had it right, that there was not a dime's worth of difference in the parties; that is not longer true. I have come to realize the Democrats really do care about people who most need help from government; Republicans care most about those who will only get richer because of government help. The government is truly broken, particularly in dealing with national security, and another four years, and heaven forbid not eight years, under the Republicans, and our grandchildren will have to build a new government, because the one we have will be unrecognizable and unworkable."
These comments summed up our current situation -- and our possible future -- as eloquently as anything I could have wished.
-- By John W. Dean