Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Grover's Radical Roundup
This morning, the alternate web explodes with material regarding Grover Norquist (see yesterday's 1:03am post) and Abdurahman M. Alamoudi.
Citizen Soldier explosively says:
There's an incredible story brewing in Washington that is too hot for the networks to touch.
Citizen Soldier goes on to describe a fight in February of this year between Mr. Norquist and pro administration talking head Frank Gaffney at a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference:
Gafney expressed concern about …Wahhabis' activities…to penetrate and influence the Executive and Legislative branch of our government. Gafney noted that groups like the American Muslim Council (AMC) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have been able to gain access to the White House thanks to the White House's Associate Director of Cabinet Affairs Ali Tulbah, a Muslim, and his predecessor, Suhail Kahn…Tulbah and Kahn have excluded moderate American Muslim groups from White House access.
Both Tulbah and Kahn have family ties to extremist Wahhabi religious groups. Norquist responded…by calling Gaffney a racist and religious bigot in an appearance on Fox News Channel and in letters sent to the Washington Post and Washington Times and barring Gaffney from attending the most important meeting in Washington, the regular Wednesday meetings of conservative Capitol Hill aides and interest-group representatives held in Norquist's offices.
Josh Marshall at TPM says “I've been getting tons of emails” about Norquist’s involvement with Alamoudi.
Marshall describes the extremely conservative Norquist as “the capo di tutti capi of Republican insiders, and a close friend and advisor to the president and Karl Rove” and goes on to say:
I do know a bit about the "Free Markets and Democracy" conference that Norquist put on in Doha, Qatar back in the spring of 2001. Norquist brought a dozen congressmen over and at least one of them had a sit down with the then-Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Taliban grandee Ahmad Muttawakil….Norquist told me that he himself didn't meet with Muttawakil. The congressman who did meet with him was Dana Rohrabacher. My sense has always been that Norquist got into the Islam business back in the late 1990s when it looked like a growth industry for the Republican coalition. He had a lot of ideas about Muslims being natural cultural conservatives.”
Seth Gitell in The Boston Phoenix, this morning, reports:
Protestant Norquist is a founding director of the Islamic Institute, a socially conservative Muslim think tank…Norquist’s lobbying firm, Janus-Merritt Strategies LLC, was officially registered as a lobbyist for the Islamic Institute as well as for Abdurahman Alamoudi, the founder and former executive director of the American Muslim Council. Public records show that Alamoudi has done more than $20,000 worth of business with Norquist’s firm…Norquist and Khaled Saffuri, the executive director of the Islamic Institute and former director of government relations at the American Muslim Council, brokered meetings between Muslim and Republican leaders during the 2000 presidential campaign.
An interesting portion of The Shadow column from this past Tuesday’s The Hill has Norquist’s office responding to the Insight Magazine allegations as well as, very interestingly, information about the magazine’s Moon ownership:
Norquist has done some lobbying for Muslim activists, the spokesman admitted, but he keeps getting blamed for some of the earlier successes radical Islamists had with the Bush administration.
Norquist's office was responding to this item in the October 6 Shadow column:
Alamoudi is well-known around Washington as a bipartisan political favorite…Alamoudi was also popular at the Pentagon…up until recently, he had access to the president and top officials, thanks to the diminutive Capitol Hill gadfly Grover Norquist, who lobbied for him and for his American Muslim Council.
Additionally, looney right wing columnist Michelle Malkin trashes Norquist in a Tuesday CNS column:
Alec "the Bloviator" Baldwin has a new bosom buddy: Beltway Republican strategist Grover Norquist.
The Bush-bashing actor-turned-activist and the Muslim vote-courting political organizer joined together at a Washington, D.C.-area conference last weekend to perpetuate bald lies about the Patriot Act and to oppose the "repressive" War on Terror.
From yesterday's Eschaton where Atrios excerpts Keith Olbermann's Thursday interview with John Loftus:
It wasn’t just sending home mom and dad messages from the prisoners. These guys, this network in Guantanamo, stole the CIA’s briefing books. Everything that the CIA knew about al-Qaeda is now back in al-Qaeda hands. That’s about as bad an intelligence setback as you can get.
And, from an April 26, 2001 Robert Dreyfuss profile in The Nation:
In 1986 Norquist was tapped by President Reagan's White House to run an ad hoc group called Americans for Tax Reform...During the second half of the 1980s, Norquist detoured from his tax work to engage in a series of safaris to far-off battlegrounds in support of anti-Soviet guerrilla armies, visiting war zones from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to southern Africa. Working alongside Col. Oliver North's freelance support network for the Nicaraguan contras and other Reagan Doctrine-allied insurgencies, Norquist promoted US support for groups like Mozambique's RENAMO and Jonas Savimbi's UNITA in Angola, both of which were backed by South Africa's apartheid regime (Norquist represented UNITA as a registered lobbyist in the early 1990s).
Do I detect another jiggle in the echo chamber's lockstep?
Modified Photo: mediatransparency.org
Friday, October 24, 2003
Editor & Publisher said, yesterday, that the press is under reporting Iraq casualties:
For months, the press has barely mentioned non-fatal casualties or the severity of their wounds…"There could be some inattention to [the number of injured troops]," said Philip Bennett, Washington Post assistant managing editor of the foreign desk…Since the war began in March, 1,927 soldiers have been wounded in Iraq, many quite severely. (The tally is current as of Oct. 20.) Of this number, 1,590 were wounded in hostile action, and 337 from other causes. About 20% of the injured in Iraq have suffered severe brain injuries, and as many as 70% "had the potential for resulting in brain injury," according to an Oct. 16 article in The Boston Globe. Current injury statistics were easily obtained by E&P through U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon…According to Lawrence F. Kaplan, author of an article on injured troops in the Oct. 13 issue of The New Republic, this information has only recently been readily accessible. "Pentagon officials have rebuked public affairs officers who release casualty figures, and, until recently, U.S. Central Command did not regularly publicize the injured tally either," Kaplan wrote.
Editor and Publisher mentions the UPI investigation of the mistreated Army Reservists awaiting medical care at Fort Stewart, Georgia:
One officer was quoted as saying, "They're being treated like dogs."
Though you won’t read it in the major papers, Abdurahman Alamoudi, who the Washington Post says "gave Muslim Americans unparalleled access to the White House and Congress" and who was indicted yesterday is, according to smaller media, giving Federal agents leads into a right wing Muslim penetration of the conservative wing of the Republican party.
According to an October 13th story on Insightmag.com, Mr. Alamoudi:
Operated to finance terrorists inside the United States and abroad, while penetrating the U.S. political system to weaken federal antiterrorism laws…Alamoudi spearheaded efforts to install radical Muslim chaplains inside the U.S. Armed Forces…one of the names that keeps coming up in the activities they are looking at is that of Grover Norquist, the influential GOP "big-tent" organizer and chairman of Americans for Tax Reform…
This story could be bigger than the outing of Ambassador Wilson’s wife.
Aside from the penetration of parts of the Federal government by radical Muslims, could this unholy union with America’s radical right have had any impact on last November’s discharge of six highly rated Arabic linguists from the Defense Language Institute in California?
Meanwhile, yesterday, darling of the right and Supreme Court mullah Antonin Scalia entertained fellow travelers at the partially Richard Scaife-funded Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a private conservative education organization, by ridiculing the Supreme Court’s ruling in the June Texas antisodomy case.
According to the Associated Press and Yahoo:
Scalia adopted a mocking tone to read from the court's June ruling that struck down state antisodomy laws in Texas and elsewhere. Scalia wrote a bitter dissent in the gay sex case that was longer than the ruling itself.
On Thursday, Scalia said judges, including his colleagues on the Supreme Court, throw over the original meaning of the Constitution when it suits them. "Most of today's experts on the Constitution think the document written in Philadelphia in 1787 was simply an early attempt at the construction of what is called a liberal political order”.
Prudent conservatives may want to take note of this BBC report:
Actor Jim Caviezel (on left in photo) has been struck by lightning while playing Jesus in Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion Of Christ...It was the second time Michelini had been hit by lightning during the shoot.
Photos: mediatransparency.org, Associated Press
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Foeniculum vulgare, Lizis boozivum
& Rummius rusticana
According to Carol Asher’s terrific book Herbs: Cultivating and Cuisine, Fennel, called marathon by the Greeks and foenum by the Romans, cures, according to legend, a number of human ills and suppresses appetite, improves eyesight, freshens breath and wards off witches.
One imagines that beleaguered Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld might appreciate a stomach-settling dose of fennel, as photocopies of yesterday’s USAToday memo are now available on the Smoking Gun.
Our addled Liza could benefit from the plant's appetite suppressant and witch warding properties though not in time to ward this entertaining ramble from Manhattan fossil and Liza bridesmaid Cindy Adams.
So, dear reader, if your breath smells like an overtaxed Washington bureaucrat or you seek protection from celebrity demons try an herbal flank attack at mealtime with this delicious gratin.
Potato & Fennel Gratin
Preheat oven 350
2 Tbsp Butter (or Olive Oil)
3 Cups White Onion, sliced
3 medium Fennel Bulbs, cored and sliced, reserve fronds
2 lbs Red Potatoes, boiled til just tender, cooled and sliced
1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese, grated
1 ½ cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Heavy Cream
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Saute Onion and Fennel slices in butter until Onion just translucent, cool.
In buttered baking dish layer Potatoes alternately with layers of Fennel and Onion. Season each layer and sprinkle with reserved Fennel fronds and Parmesan cheese.
In a saucepan bring Chicken stock and Cream to a boil and pour mixture over vegetables.
Bake uncovered 60-70 minutes or until top is a deep golden brown.
Photos: AFP, Reuters
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Some very fast spin just erupted onto CNN an hour or so ago as the Pentagon attempts to counter the negative effect from the release of Secretary Rumsfeld’s rather-more-candid-than-a-presser memo to top officials of the Department of Defense:
He’s just trying to provoke some creative thinking…If you paid close attention to what the Secretary has said over the past few weeks you’ll see this really isn’t just that different.
So says the oddly blank face of Barbara Star following yesterday’s staged contralto in the snake-handling General diversion within the Secretary's press conference.
What did Rummy say in his leaked memo?
Well, according to USAToday:
It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution… we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror… Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists?
No, Barbara, I pay close attention and I must say, in all honesty, that I don’t recall the Secretary saying any such thing.
In fact, I don’t seem to recall the Secretary using many nouns, period, for the past majority of Mr. Bush’s elapsing appointive term.
Oh well, memory is a funny thing, isn’t it CNN?
Odd isn’t it, with all your videotapes and blinking lights?
However, an impaired human memory can be sharpened by some terrific reporting such as that found in this excellent history of right-wing politization of the CIA’s analytical division by former Associated Press and Newsweek correspondent Robert Parry published on Consortiumnews.com earlier today:
Though one cost of corrupting U.S. intelligence can now be counted in the growing U.S. death toll in Iraq, the origins of the current problem can be traced back to the mid-1970s, when conservatives were engaged in fierce rear-guard defenses after the twin debacles of the Vietnam War and Watergate.
The CIA analysts – confident if not arrogant about their intellectual skills – prided themselves in bringing unwanted news to the president’s door… But that tradition came under attack in 1976 when conservative outsiders demanded and got access to the CIA’s strategic intelligence on the Soviet Union. Their goal was to contest the analytical division’s assessments of Soviet capabilities and intentions… The concept of a conservative counter-analysis… became known as “Team B”… a pre-set agenda to fashion a worst-case scenario for launching a new and intensified Cold War. What was sometimes called Cold War II would demand hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money for military projects, including big-ticket items like a missile-defense system… Team B’s analysis of the Soviet Union as a rising power on the verge of overwhelming the United States is now recognized by intelligence professionals and many historians as a ludicrous fantasy, it helped shape the national security debate in the late 1970s. American conservatives and neo-conservatives wielded the analysis like a club to bludgeon more moderate Republicans and Democrats, who saw a declining Soviet Union desperate for arms control and other negotiations…The Reagan administration, for instance, wanted evidence to support right-wing media claims that pinned European terrorism on the Soviets. The CIA analysts, however, knew the charges were bogus partly because they were based on “black” or false propaganda that the CIA's operations division had been planting in the European media…the CIA’s traditions of analytical objectivity continued to erode in the 1980s, analysts who raised unwelcome questions in politically sensitive areas found their jobs on the line.
Clearly the present White House leaker of Ambassador Wilson’s covert operative wife isn’t the only Bush partisan facing, if not actual, historic charges of treason.
Some, on line, are quibbling. Was this a leak or a hand out? It seems the Defense Secretary gave the memo to three Congressmen who gave it to the press. This makes some wonder if Rummy wanted the information spread.
I think it is clear from the fast counter offensive that the Secretary did not want the memo released.
Being the first to admit that things are not always as they seem, the evolving Rummy Memo spin now pretends it displays the Secretary's keen cutting-edge questioning technique, leaked or not.
Ahem. Excuse me? The man who is to dissent what wolves are to fat bunnies?
No, this looks more like an attempt at a fait accompli for an ultimate privitization gambit. Something kind of along the lines of half Pentagon and half Halliburton, if you please, kind sirs.
After reading the Perry article on Consortiumnews.com the Rummy Memo, particularly with the part about creating another new federal bureaucracy, seems to jive with the historically hair-brained conclusions of Team B.
On the Food Front
Please, this autumn, do yourself a favor at the grocery store and buy a few examples of the wildly misunderstood roots of Parsnip, Turnip, and Fennel.
I promise to post some simple ideas for these forgotten vegetables like a wonderful gratin and a unique soup.
Last evening I placed a peeled and halved Onion in a buttered baking dish with some Parsnips and thick slices of Turnip.
Spray veggies with a PAM-like substance or drizzle with Olive Oil and season with Salt, Pepper and a little Thyme.
Lightly cover and bake at 350 for one hour or until tender. Yum
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Liza with a ZZZzzzzzz
In an event akin to the marriage of Lassie and Flipper the genetically ill fated and arguably non compus mentis Liza Minelli married her homosexual companion or, in the parlance, walker in March of 2002.
The eerie post apocalyptic nuptials featured the animated bits of tissue that comprise Michael Jackson and, sadly, the great Elizabeth Taylor and included some petting on Larry King.
But, alas, David was never to be the olive in Liza’s vodka.
Today, according to ABC, in a faux shocker he accuses her of spouse abuse and sues for $10 million.
David Gest sued Liza Minnelli for $10 million Tuesday, accusing his estranged wife of alcohol-fueled violence that caused neurological damage and headaches. Gest, 50, alleges in court papers that Minnelli, 57, flew into drunken rages on several occasions on both sides of the Atlantic, insulting and striking him.
My favorite celebrity bible, HELLO magazine hints at the anti-glam quality time betwixt Judy’s daughter and the unwelcome Gest:
Concerns about her health were provoked once again when she checked into a Pennsylvania rehab clinic in March. And that same month she and David cancelled plans for a lavish anniversary party in Times Square.
Trust The Smoking Gun to have Gest’s complaint. Believe me, kiddies, this fascinating document is timeless!
Photos: Agence France-Presse, PA
I am wondering who has received more prompt medical attention from the United States government, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed or the hundreds of injured Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers currently in “medial hold” at Fort Stewart, Georgia?
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
About 600 reservists currently on "medical hold" at Fort Stewart complain that they are being housed in barracks without window screens or air conditioning and have to walk, sometimes on crutches, to outdoor latrines. Some say they have waited weeks or months for appointments with Army doctors.
The reservists claim that regular Army troops with medical problems are being given priority attention at Fort Stewart. The complaints were initially reported by United Press International on Friday.
The AJC article also shows a recent photograph of Army Reserve Sergeant Michael Wilson on his medical hold cot in Fort Stewart.
This young man, a police officer in civilian life, was sent from the Iraqi theater to Fort Stewart in May 2003 and has been on medical hold ever since.
This photo courtesy of WTOC in Savannah, Georgia shows a temporary barracks.
As a young soldier I spent a few miserable days in temporary barracks just like those shown in Fort Stewart while in transit to duty stations. These were, indeed, flimsy wooden structures built during WW I to house German POWs and unmodified for modern times.
At several of these barracks where I personally resided a soldier could not even bathe or change clothes. Of course I was a very green but healthy young soldier and not a wounded combat veteran.
From the WTOC report:
PFC Mathew Connor has been there since he returned from Iraq in May. His biggest complaint is there's no air conditioning in the barracks. "It's hot," he said. "You pretty much have to sweat unless you buy your own fan." And sometimes, there's no heat. "At night, if the heater actually works, you get under a couple of covers you provide for yourself to stay warm.”
Photos: AP, Bita Honarvan-Atlanta Journal-Constitution, WTOC
The very interesting Shystee Blog translates this July 19, 2003 La Republica story about the mysterious January 2002 burglary at the Embassy of Niger in Rome, Italy.
Through Josh Marshall a link to Seymour Hersh who reports a shockingly different allegation about the origin of the yellowcake intelligence:
A small group of disgruntled retired C.I.A. clandestine operators had banded together in the late summer of last year and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves…My source said that he was first told of the fabrication late last year, at one of the many holiday gatherings in the Washington area of past and present C.I.A. officials...The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney,” the former officer said. “They said, ‘O.K, we’re going to put the bite on these guys…The thinking, he said, was that the documents would be endorsed by Iraq hawks at the top of the Bush Administration... They would then look foolish when intelligence officials pointed out that they were obvious fakes. But the tactic backfired, he said, when the papers won widespread acceptance within the Administration…‘Holy shit, all of a sudden the President is talking about it in the State of the Union address!’ They began to panic. Who the hell was going to expose it? They had to build a backfire. The solution was to leak the documents to the I.A.E.A.”
If anything unites these interesting differing allegations it is the abundance of retired US, British, Italian and Iraqi military and intelligence people sprinkled throughout.
Monday, October 20, 2003
Honcho del Toro!
Does something magic happen when a Bush male steps onto the ancient soil of Nippon? And, did Bar ever teach her rambunctious boys manners?
Deep inside Mike Allen’s Notebook on the Washington Post’s Federal Page resides this interesting vignette:
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi puzzled his listeners, and apparently Bush, when he called the president "Beef Man" during a photo session after their dinner in Tokyo…The mystery was solved Saturday when the White House released another of the interviews Bush had with Asian journalists. An interviewer from Fuji TV asked Bush if he would be tasting sushi, since it's well known that "you're not really particularly in favor of the raw fish." "Well, I'm a beef man," Bush replied."You know I like good beef. Japan's got some of the greatest beef in the world. But I'm also, hopefully, a good enough guest not to demand a particular menu from my host." Koizumi took the hint and served steak.
Gosh, look what declassified into the mainstream media, as well as Fox News, this past weekend:
Prescott Bush was one of seven directors of Union Banking Corp., a New York investment bank owned by a bank controlled by the Thyssen family, according to recently declassified National Archives documents reviewed by The Associated Press...Fritz Thyssen was an early financial supporter of Hitler.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
Michael Getler, the Washington Post Ombudsman has an interesting column, in the Sunday edition’s normally dull Outlook section, concerning the paper’s decision not to run last week’s installments of the comic strip Boondocks.
Last week, web readers, when linking to the comic, found a straightforward, if abrupt, statement:
The Washington Post has decided not to publish this week's Boondocks strip. The comic will return to washingtonpost.com Oct. 19.
The paper was less straightforward with its hard copy readers. A Boondocks from 1999 was substituted for the 6 days of the Condoleezza Rice storyline:
On Monday and Tuesday, no notification ran that these were reruns. Beginning Wednesday, the paper printed a tiny line under the strip that said, "This strip has been previously published."
According to Getler, the Washington Post:
Has never before killed an entire week's worth of one comic strip.
And, according to the Universal Press Syndicate, was the only paper in the United States to pass on the Condi-themed strip.
One imagines Len Downie, the Post Executive Editor, ensconced on a red satin pillow as Getler quotes:
The Boondocks strips in question commented on the private life of the national security adviser and its relationship to her official duties in ways that violated our standards for taste, fairness and invasion of privacy…We edit all parts of the paper every day, including the comics, and do not usually notify readers about what we are not publishing or why.
Len, sweetheart, retract those claws and check your physical person for a pulse!
Trust me on this one, Len, without getting into unread footnotes, infighting or traditional as opposed to nontraditional hijackings, your typical male newsreader has, indeed, noticed the firm-bodied young black woman with the dead eyes of a predator who seems to always accompany our equally firm-bodied President.
Men, beasts that they are Len, have noted Dr. Rice’s overly close fitting wardrobe and spare use of cosmetics and they have, the cads, wondered about her private life* when she’s not playing the piano or dining at Gwen Ifil’s.
Is that so wrong, Len?
Even your Ombudsman seems to think you were a tad stuffy:
I also found the sequence of strips within the bounds of allowable satire… The "Boondocks" characters, and their creator, were being mischievous and irreverent, in their mind's view of the world, about a high-profile public figure, and that seems okay to me.
Related: Richard Blow's excellent Sex and Politics on TomPaine.com
*Do you eat snails, Antoninus?
Original Art: Universal Press Syndicate