Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Labor Unions, Benefits Understood, Have Almost Never Been Less Popular

The vast majority of Americans say labor unions raise wages and better working conditions, a new survey finds. Yet despite those benefits, Americans have almost never disliked them more.

Indeed, according to a Harris Interactive poll, more than seven in ten of those surveyed said labor unions are too politically-oriented and concerned "with fighting changes" as opposed to "bring[ing] about change." Still, over six in ten say labor unions also provide workers with better conditions and pay.

A Gallup poll also released Wednesday finds, more directly, that approval of labor unions has held at 52 percent, just above its lowest-recorded level going back to the Great Depression. Still, at 52 percent, the majority of Americans continue to support labor unions. The lowest recorded approval of labor unions was 48 percent in 2009, Gallup says.

Wong-Tam open letter blasts Doug Ford’s ‘special privileges’

The Ford administration’s unilateral decision to pass on a Toronto bid for the 2020 Olympic Games reflects a “worrying pattern” of disrespect for council’s input, says councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

In an open letter simmering with frustration over Mayor Rob Ford’s style of governance, the downtown councillor also took aim Wednesday at the “special privileges” afforded to Councillor Doug Ford, who has assumed a high-profile role in his brother’s administration and was apparently privy to the decision not to pursue a bid.

The Ford brothers “disrespected our roles as elected representatives [in making] a decision by fiat without council consideration,” Ms. Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre-Rosedale) wrote in her letter.

“Why is it that the process and the democratic institutions that we were elected to uphold, why are they being discarded?” she fumed in a follow-up interview, noting councillors have a responsibility to their residents to consider major proposals that could affect the city.

Canadian Inuit going hungry

MONTREAL — Six out of 10 Inuit in Canada’s Far North don’t get enough to eat or are eating the wrong things, says a comprehensive study by a team of McGill University researchers.

They warn preventive measures are desperately needed to help ward off diabetes, heart disease and other ailments which already plague other Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and the U.S.

Increasingly, Inuit are shifting away from the traditional foods hunters brought home. But researchers found people living in remote villages often cannot find or afford the fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products that make up the best part of a healthy southern diet.

“Poverty and associated food insecurity coupled with a transition away from local nutrient-rich food resources represents a dual nutritional burden on indigenous peoples globally,” cautions McGill epidemiologist Grace Egeland in the study published in the latest issue of Journal of Nutrition. “A nutrition transition is occurring in Arctic communities with consequences for increased obesity and diet-sensitive chronic diseases.”

Ford asks Horwath if NDP would plug Sheppard funding ‘gap’

Mayor Rob Ford said he might have a “gap” in private-sector funding for the Sheppard subway line and needs government help filling it, says NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

She made the comments Wednesday after what appeared to be a cordial 54-minute meeting in Ford’s office, one of the mayor’s tête-à-têtes with each of the provincial leaders ahead of the Oct. 6 Ontario election.

Horwath said Ford asked her what an NDP government would do to help him build the $4.7 billion Sheppard line. Ford has suggested he would deliver on his key campaign promise through public-private partnerships, with federal and provincial governments providing only seed money.

“I said to him quite clearly that my understanding was that he was looking for private financing,” Horwath said.

“He said that that might not necessarily happen, in terms of there might be a gap, and I said if I’m in the premier’s chair at the time, and you determine what the gap is, we’ll have a conversation.”

Homelessness Could Hit Middle Classes, Crisis Charity Claims

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Cuts to welfare support could lead to middle class homelessness, a housing charity has claimed.

Crisis is publishing a report warning of an increase in homelessness numbers which says the problem may not be confined to the poorest.

According to the Guardian, the charity highlighted figures showing councils have reported 44,160 people accepted as homeless and placed in social housing, a 10% increase on the previous year.

Crisis has urged the Government to reverse cuts to housing benefit and invest in new housing urgently.

The Guardian quoted a study co-authored by academics at the University of York and Heriot-Watt University for Crisis raising fears about big cuts in state support.

"Any significant reduction of the welfare safety net in the UK as a result of coalition reforms may, of course, bring the scenario of middle class homelessness that much closer," the report states.

It also claims the Government's affordable house building programme will generate just 50,000 new homes by 2015.

Gender Pay Gap That Sees Women Earn £10,000 Less Will Take 98 Years To Close, Report Says

It will take another 98 years for women to achieve pay parity with their male counterparts as they annually lag £10 000 behind, according to a report from the Chartered Management Institute.

The CMI has calculated that on average female managers are paid £31,895 per year, whereas men are earning £42,441 in the same role. Despite women's pay rising overall this year at a faster rate than men's, the CMI still said it would take 98 years to reach equal pay in managerial roles.

The widest wage gap in Britain is in Northern Ireland, where male managers are being paid £13,793 more than their female colleagues.

To make matters worse, women have been harder hit by the recession because a greater number of female workers has lost their jobs in the past 12 months.

Long-Term Unemployed Losing Hold On Middle Class

If anyone in America could plausibly claim immunity to the unemployment crisis, Joe Sangataldo figured to be the guy. He earned his wages at a county social services center in southern New Jersey, where he helped jobless welfare recipients try to find work. In a nation beset by relentless decline, here was a rare growth industry, one with staying power.

But last fall, confronted with what it portrayed as an otherwise-unbridgeable budget gap, Cumberland County laid off Sangataldo along with six of his co-workers. A career civil servant with a college degree, he suddenly found himself part of the very mass of people he had previously been paid to assist.

"I went from serving the people affected by the recession to being part of the recession," Sangataldo said. "I had to sit there and tell these people, "Well, I won't be here next week. They’re laying people off.' And they're like, 'Well, if they're laying you off, where's the hope for me?'"

Sarah Palin 2012? Former Governor To Attend New Hampshire Tea Party

WASHINGTON — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will appear at a New Hampshire tea party rally this weekend.

The Tea Party Express on Tuesday announced that Palin is slated to attend a Manchester rally on Labor Day, two days after the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee is to speak at a tea party rally in Iowa. Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary traditionally are open the political nominating season.

Palin is weighing a presidential bid and has said she is likely to make a decision soon. She recently stoked speculation about her White House ambitions with a visit to the Iowa State Fair Aug 12, the day before a straw poll.

The Tea Party Express is on a 30-day national bus tour ahead of a debate in Florida.

Source: Huffington 

Highest-Paid CEOs Often Earn More Than Company Pays In Income Taxes, Study Finds

WASHINGTON - Twenty-five of the 100 highest paid U.S. CEOs earned more last year than their companies paid in federal income tax, a pay study said on Wednesday.

It also found many of the companies spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes.

At a time when lawmakers are facing tough choices in a quest to slash the national debt, the report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a left-leaning Washington think tank, quickly hit a nerve.

After reading it, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, called for hearings on executive compensation.

In a letter to that committee's chairman, Republican Darrell Issa, Cummings asked "to examine the extent to which the problems in CEO compensation that led to the economic crisis continue to exist today."

He also asked "why CEO pay and corporate profits are skyrocketing while worker pay stagnates and unemployment remains unacceptably high," and "the extent to which our tax code may be encouraging these growing disparities."

Paul Stam, North Carolina GOP Representative: Gay Marriage Leads To Polygamy, Incest

Republican leaders in the North Carolina House of Representatives are pushing to put a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the 2012 ballot.

The amendment would help protect the state's current law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, from being changed or challenged in court. The amendment will not affect whether private companies choose to recognize same-sex unions.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports House Speaker Pro Tem Dale Folwell and House Majority Leader Paul "Skip" Stam are among the amendment's supporters.

Stam said the amendment would protect "the children of the next generation" and suggested that the legalization of same-sex marriage would ultimately lead to polygamy.

Rick Perry's Secret Plan to Save Blue States from the Red States

Of all the nonsense Texas Governor Rick Perry spews about states' rights and the tenth amendment, his dumbest is the notion that states should go it alone. "We've got a great Union," he said at a Tea Party rally in Austin in April 2009. "There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that."

The core of his message isn't outright secession, though. It's that the locus of governmental action ought to be at the state rather than the federal level. "It is essential to our liberty," he writes in his book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, "that we be allowed to live as we see fit through the democratic process at the local and state level."

Perry doesn't like the Federal Reserve Board. He hates the Internal Revenue Service even more. Presumably if he had his way taxpayers would pay states rather than the federal government for all the services and transfer payments they get.

Eric Cantor Voted Against Bill To Offset Disaster Relief In 2004

WASHINGTON -- The debate over whether money spent on disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Irene should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere has turned into a proxy fight over the role and reach of the federal government. And it's producing its fair share of contortions on Capitol Hill.

Some of the same voices demanding cuts in exchange for relief today balked at applying such fiscal restraints in the past. That list includes the most vocal champion of offsetting the costs of repairing the damage caused by Hurricane Irene, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who recently said that "just like any family would operate when it's struck with disaster," Congress would "have to make sure there are savings elsewhere" to pay for the aftermath of the storm.

Yet a bemused Democratic source notes that in October 2004, Cantor voted against an amendment to an emergency supplemental bill for disaster aid that would have "fully offset" the cost of that supplemental with "a proportional reduction of FY05 discretionary funding" elsewhere. Funding for defense, homeland security, and veterans was exempted from the proposed cuts. But the amendment, introduced by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), would do precisely what Republican leadership is proposing to do now.

Justice Department Seeks To Block AT&T, T-Mobile Merger

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department filed suit Wednesday to block AT&T's $39 billion deal to buy T-Mobile USA on grounds that it would raise prices for consumers.

The government contends that the acquisition of the No. 4 wireless carrier in the country by No. 2 AT&T would reduce competition and thus lead to price increases.

At a news conference, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the combination would result in "tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality products for mobile wireless services."

The lawsuit seeks to ensure that everyone can continue to receive the benefits of competition, said Cole.

Why Summer Vacations (and the Internet) Make You More Productive

Everybody needs a vacation. Even the president.
The end of August concludes another month the media spent exhuming the debate over the White House's travel plans. This criticism ignores the scientific evidence that shorts breaks and even long vacations have serious, measurable benefits for productivity for everybody. If we want a better president, we shouldn't condemn White House vacations. Maybe we should legislate them.

Americans are notorious busy bees. A 2010 survey indicated that the average American accrues 18 vacation days and uses only 16. The average French worker takes more than twice the vacation time. To some, this statistic encapsulates the difference between American and European workers. We're productive. They're lazy.  In fact, it might say the opposite. Europeans understand that breaks improve workplace efficiency. We mistakenly believe that more hours will always increase output, while ignoring the clear evidence: The secret to being an effective worker is not working too hard.

Is Rick Perry Ready to Execute an Innocent Man?

As soon as Rick Perry threw his hat into the 2012 electoral ring, anti–death penalty critics brought up his staggering execution record as governor of Texas: 234 prisoners have been put to death under Perry’s watch, a number of whom had serious innocence claims. Most famous among them is Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 and whose case opened up an investigation that Perry has taken aggressive—and largely successful—measures to squash. But a lesser-known case could also haunt the governor if it reaches his desk: that of Larry Swearingen, convicted and sent to death row for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 19-year-old college freshman named Melissa Trotter in 1998. Like Willingham, Swearingen was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence and a history of run-ins with the law. But Willingham was convicted based on the inexact science of arson investigations, whose flawed assumptions have been slow to evolve. The scientific evidence in Swearingen’s case, medical experts say, is beyond dispute—and it proves his innocence.

There’s another difference: Swearingen is still alive.

Swearingen was scheduled to die on August 18. But his execution was stayed in late July by the state’s highest criminal court, the notoriously pro-prosecution Court of Criminal Appeals, in order to have the trial court consider new evidence: Histological samples of Trotter’s cardiac, lung and vascular tissue that a growing number of doctors, including well-respected Texas pathologists, say show conclusively that Swearingen could not have killed Trotter.

The two processions that made up Jack Layton's cortege

On Saturday Aug. 27, thousands of left-winged pinkos and apolitical gawkers gathered in downtown Toronto to mourn the loss of Jack Layton, don paper moustaches, and witness the rare spectacle of a state funeral. There were two processions: The state's official ceremony, steeped in borrowed Royal tradition, lead the way to Roy Thompson hall. Behind it, the people's procession carried a celebratory and almost carnivalesque atmosphere.

We find in this divisive spectacle two ideologies vying for supremacy. At the front of the procession, with a police marching band, veterans, flags, the prime minister's entourage, and various ceremonial guards, the state-sanctioned spectacle serves to generate national pride (at a time when anyone who shares Layton's politics is likely to feel contempt for our nation's current political policy). This is the procession of officially endorsed ideology, and accordingly, this is the procession which photo-journalists scramble to record and transmit. Already, Stephen Harper is riding high on a wave of positive PR.

Following the state procession, and separated by a line of police, a heterogeneous crowd of spectacle seekers and Layton supporters march, carry signs, ring bicycle bells, and play music in a public parade. In the crowd of thousands there were at least two bands, a samba squad, hundreds of bicycles, and numerous pride flags. Many dressed in commemorative orange, some dressed for mourning, and others wore Che Guevara shirts and paper moustaches.

John Baird hints at Libyan extension

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leaving open the possibility of continuing Canadian military involvement in Libya after the scheduled Sept. 27 end date.

Canada's participation in NATO's air mission over Libya has been extended once, but the government hasn't yet said whether it will propose another extension. The NDP, the official Opposition, is against another extension.

Asked what happens after Sept. 27, Baird said he's taking the situation one day at a time.

"This is quickly coming to an end. It's not over yet. Canada will obviously be there in theatre to support the Libyan people," Baird told host Evan Solomon on CBC's Power & Politics.

"The end is in sight. We're not there yet, but let's take it one day at a time," he said.

Canada's economy shrinks for 1st time in 2 years

Canada's economy shrank in the second quarter of the year, the first quarterly decline since the recession of 2009.

The country's gross domestic product fell 0.1 per cent in the April-June period, or 0.4 per cent on an annualized basis, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

Economists were expecting growth would be flat in the period.

The decline was due largely to a 2.1 per cent drop in exports, the agency said.

"This morning's report is a reminder that Canada is not an island, and is vulnerable to external economic shocks," TD economist Diana Petramala said.

Don’t kill waterfront neighbourhood, urban designer says

Councillor Doug Ford frequently says he would like the city to conduct itself more like a business. But Toronto would be squandering millions if it chooses to pursue his vision for the Port Lands instead of the existing plan for a mixed-use neighbourhood, says a prominent urban designer involved in the planning.

“I’m looking at this with a certain amount of disbelief,” urban designer Ken Greenberg said Monday. “I find it hard to believe that such a thing would actually happen.”

Greenberg was part of the team that won Waterfront Toronto’s international competition to design the area known as the Lower Don Lands. On Tuesdsay, after Ford elaborated on his vision, Greenberg added: “This flies in the face of common sense in so many ways.”

There's fog in Doug Ford's waterfront vision

Councillor Doug Ford tried to clarify his waterfront vision Tuesday, but ended up further confusing officials about the city's intentions for the Port Lands.

The uncertainty is in the geography.

Ford hopes to lure private investors to build a monorail system, world-class shopping mall and a gigantic Ferris wheel on a barren portion of land south of the Don Valley Parkway known as the Port Lands. Specially, these “very preliminary” projects are slated to be built south of the Ship Channel, below a section of land known as the Lower Don Lands.

The Lower Don Lands make up the northwest portion of the larger Port Lands and is where Waterfront Toronto has completed plans for a mixed-use community.

So is there room for both visions? It isn't clear.

Afghanistan Deaths: August Is Deadliest Month Ever For U.S. Troops

KABUL, Afghanistan -- August has become the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the nearly 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, where international forces have started to go home and let Afghan forces take charge of securing their country.

A record 66 U.S. troops have died so far this month, eclipsing the 65 killed in July 2010, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

This month's death toll soared when 30 Americans - most of them elite Navy SEALs - were killed in a helicopter crash Aug. 6. They were aboard a Chinook shot down as it was flying in to help Army Rangers who had come under fire in Wardak province. It was the single deadliest incident of war being waged by Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces and insurgents.

On Tuesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai used the start of a three-day Muslim holiday to plead with insurgents to lay down their arms and help rebuild the nation. Karzai wants Afghan security forces to take the lead in defending and protecting the nation by the end of 2014.

Citi Executive: 'Corporate Sector Cannot Continue To Simply Cut Costs'

High corporate profits have been one of the few bright spots for the global recovery. One high-level financial executive isn't so sure that success can be sustained.

Richard Cookson, global chief investment officer at Citi, told CNBC's Squawk Box on Tuesday that corporation's reliance on cost-cutting to increase growth may soon run out of steam. Many corporations have posted strong profits during the recovery, largely due to cost-cutting and increased productivity from the consequently diminished workforce. That model is simply not sustainable, says Cookson.

"In aggregate, the corporate sector cannot continue to just simply slash costs rather than have top-line growth," he told CNBC. "It just doesn't work."

Corporate profits hit an all-time high of $1.68 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2010, subsequently maintaining solid growth. Three out of four companies on the S&P 500 saw larger profits than expected in the second quarter of this year, according to Bloomberg. But Cookson contends diminishing margins make that a temporary fix at most.

William Koch, Billionaire Brother Of Charles And David Koch, Buys Old West Town Of Buckskin Joe

In a move that makes this Koch brother look more and more like the Monopoly board game mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags, billionaire William Koch has purchased the entire Buckskin Joe old mining town -- and is moving the town to his ranch near Gunnison, according to Westword.

In Sept. 2010, Buckskin Joe and the Royal Gorge Scenic Railroad was sold for $3.1 million to Koch, who then wished to remain anonymous, the Pueblo Chieftain reported.

According to The Gazette, Buckskin Joe's buildings are already being dismantled, presumably so they can be shipped to Koch's ranch and reassembled. Buckskin Joe was originally an 1860s mining boom town located near Alma, Colo. But the name and the one surviving building were relocated in 1957 to Canon City to serve as a tourist attraction and movie set for Hollywood westerns like 1972's "The Cowboys."

William Koch, who is apparently an Old West aficionado, purchased what is believed to be the last surviving authentic portrait of Billy the Kid for $2.3 million back in June, The Huffington Post reported.

While William collects pieces of the Old West, his two brothers, Charles and David, host private fundraisers for the world’s wealthiest businessmen and poltiticians and donate millions to conservative groups.

Source: Huffington 

Hurricane Irene Exposes Creaky American Infrastructure

In the winter of 1992, a nor'easter sent a storm surge over the floodwall guarding the southern tip of Manhattan. Seawater quickly overwhelmed major roadways and New York City's subway system, shutting down the entire subway for nearly 10 days.

"If Hurricane Irene had hit an hour differently or 10 percent stronger or moved 10 percent slower, it would have caused a repeat of that event," Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with the leading forecasting service Weather Underground, told The Huffington Post.

Masters and other experts warn that the city may not be as lucky next time. As the warming climate brings higher rainfall and raises the sea level, they say, ever more pressure will fall on America's aging infrastructure.

Kenneth Melson Resigns As ATF Chief Over 'Fast And Furious' Gun Trafficking Operation

Kenneth Melson is out as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Melson has been under fire from Republicans over the scandal surrounding the gun trafficking program Operation Fast and Furious. The Justice Department announced that Melson will be moving to the Office of Legal Policy.

Melson has been under pressure to step aside since earlier this summer, after a House Oversight Committee hearing revealed controversial aspects of the program. ATF agents charged with monitoring the illegal sale and transfer of guns from the U.S. To Mexican drug cartels told lawmakers that, instead of arresting small-time buyers, they were ordered to stand by and let the guns go through, in the hopes of tracing them to larger arms dealers.

Books by Rumsfeld and Cheney are symbols of lies that led to invasion of Iraq

"When one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it," wrote Joseph Goebbels, Germany's Reich minister of propaganda, in 1941. Former Vice President Dick Cheney seems to have taken the famous Nazi's advice in his new book, In My Time. Cheney remains staunch in his convictions on issues from the invasion of Iraq to the use of torture. Telling NBC News in an interview that "there are gonna be heads exploding all over Washington" as a result of the revelations in the book, Cheney's memoir follows one by his colleague and friend Donald Rumsfeld. As each promotes his own version of history, there are people challenging and confronting them.

Rumsfeld's book title, Known and Unknown, is drawn from a notorious response he gave in one of his Pentagon press briefings as secretary of defense. On Feb. 12, 2002, attempting to explain the lack of evidence linking Iraq to weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld said: "[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

Are Virginia's New Abortion Rules the Worst Yet?

On Friday evening, Virginia's Department of Health issued a strict new set of rules for abortion clinics—and women's health advocates fear that facilities that can't comply could be shuttered.

The regulations require Virginia's 22 clinics to meet strict new physical standards; pre-op rooms, for example, must measure at least 80 square feet, and operating rooms must measure 250 square feet. Hallways must be at least five feet wide. The requirements are based on the state's 2010 guidelines for new outpatient surgical facilities.

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told Mother Jones on Monday that the new rules may actually be the most strict regulations in the United States. "It would be challenging for the majority of our facilities to continue offering first-trimester care," Keene said. "These are designed to really cease first-trimester abortion services in the Commonwealth of Virginia."

Attack of the Monsanto Superinsects

Over the past decade and a half, as Monsanto built up its globe-spanning, multi-billion-dollar genetically modified seed empire, it made two major pitches to farmers.

The first involved weeds. Leave the weed management to us, Monsanto insisted. We've engineered plants that can survive our very own herbicide. Just pay up for our patented, premium-priced seeds, spray your fields with our Roundup herbicide whenever the fancy strikes, and—voilà!—no more weeds.

The second involved crop-eating insects. We've isolated the toxic gene of a commonly used bacterial pesticide called Bt, Monsanto announced, and spliced it directly into crops. Along with corn and soy, you will literally be growing the pesticide that protects them. Plant our seeds, and watch your crops thrive while their pests shrivel and die.

A Privately Owned Nuclear Weapons Plant in…Kansas City?

In Kansas City, Missouri, a local zoning fight is going nuclear, literally: A Monday-morning courtroom showdown between activists and politicians could determine whether the city becomes host to the world's first privately owned nuclear weapons plant.

The proposed plant, a 1.5 million-square-foot, $673 million behemoth, would replace an aging facility, also in KC, where 85 percent (PDF) of the components for nation's nuclear arms are produced. The new plant would be run by the same government contractor as the old one—Honeywell—and proponents say the only major change will be more jobs and city infrastructure. But there will be another big difference: The federal government will sublease the property from a private developer, who in turn will lease it from the city for 20 years…after which the developer will own it outright.

Cheney Book: Photoshopping Plamegate

Here we go again, more Plamegate revisionism. But the latest practitioner is no surprise: Dick Cheney.

In his new memoir, In My Time, the former vice president (with an assist from coauthor/daughter Liz Cheney) serves up a self-serving and selective account of the episode that rocked the White House (his office, in particular) and that nearly sent one of his closest aides to the hoosegow.

The controversy centered on 16 words President George W. Bush spoke during his January 28, 2003, State of the Union speech: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." This was one of the key arguments the White House was then presenting in public to bolster its case that Saddam Hussein was neck-deep in weapons of mass destruction and an invasion of Iraq was damn-well necessary. But for months, the CIA and State Department analysts had investigated reports of Saddam's supposed uranium-shopping in Niger—which were based in part on suspect documents—and had found no compelling evidence to back up the allegation. Some intelligence analysts had concluded that such a deal not only had not happened but also could not have occurred. The CIA had made certain to remove references to the Niger charge from earlier Bush speeches, but the White House kept trying to squeeze this claim in—and eventually succeeded.