Morning Report 1/23/06 Going Nuclear


Short fuses in Iran and Israel, plus presidential bomb-throwers. From paranoia to reality.


I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve picked up the phone on the rewrite desk of newspapers and had some caller tell me:

I have every reason to believe that the federal government listens to my phone calls to family members and friends about purely personal matters.

That’s what Richard Hersh said the other day. But he wasn’t talking to me. Unfortunately, he was not some poor addled person spewing his paranoid delusions to a newspaper. The 59-year-old peace activist was on Capitol Hill, saying this in all seriousness to the Democrats of the House Judiciary Committee during their rump hearing Friday on Spygate.

And it was no delusion. It’s the presidency — Vise President Dick Cheney and Secretary of War Don Rumsfeld, channeling through their front man George W. Bush — that is paranoid and delusional.

What a scary thought as we edge closer and closer to some sort of nuclear war — or at least a war ostensibly about nuclear weapons. An even more delusional leader, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by denying that the Holocaust ever happened and calling for the immediate destruction of Israel, is helping edge us closer to another, even bigger, holocaust, as Bloomberg News and others report this morning.

Ahmadinejad is merely channeling the thoughts of Iran’s clerics, a dangerous situation considering that another group of religious fanatics, the hard-line Israeli government, won’t take such threats lying down.

As Martin Walker of UPI reported January 21:

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz warned the Iranian people Saturday that they faced “destruction” unless they managed to restrain their new President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Look at the fate of others who sought the destruction of the Jewish people. They only brought havoc and destruction to the own people,” Mofaz said.

“I know that a large part of the people of Iran do not support his policies but his despicable acts could bring destruction to all of you. You understand what must be done to prevent this,” Mofaz added, directly addressing the Iranian people.

We’ll do just about anything to ensure the safety of Israel — look at our unwarranted invasion of Iraq. And for a draft dodger, Bush is bellicose to the extreme. Lost in all the current bluster are the past bomb-throwing statements of our own Phineas T. Bluster — except that Bush is not nearly as lovable (or harmless) as that Howdy Doody character.

In its November 28, 2005, “The Futility of Secrecy,” the New Statesman put Bush’s B.S. in perspective:

He’s done it several times before on a smaller scale, so it seems eminently conceivable that George W Bush should want to finish the job properly. In November 2001, a US missile destroyed al-Jazeera’s Kabul offices; in April 2003, coalition forces attacked the station’s bases in Baghdad and Basra. Now the Daily Mirror reports that the US president told Tony Blair of his plans to bomb al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, capital of the emirate of Qatar. Downing Street, when asked to respond to the story, initially gave a non-committal response. Subsequently it warned editors that publication of the contents of documents relating to their discussion would be a breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Before the planet explodes, check out Tom Engelhardt‘s “Bush v. Reality: War, Trials, Leakers, Investigations, Packed Courts, and a Constitutional Crisis.” That rundown of what Engelhardt, the auteur of, calls the “year of living dangerously” aptly sums up the explosive issues surrounding the doofus POTUS.

To keep track of that half-wit Bush, you have to have all of your wits — and plenty of wit. So Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, who collects Bushisms, is must reading when he goes beyond Bush’s bone mots to provide a scouting report from this side of the Atlantic on the U.S. president’s own bomb-throwing arm. In a piece last December 7, “Beyond Spin: The Propaganda Presidency of George W. Bush,” Weisberg noted:

According to a recent report in the British press, Bush last year proposed bombing Al Jazeera’s headquarters to Tony Blair. This may or may not have been a joke, but given our military’s record of accidental assaults on journalists in Iraq, it’s not impossible to imagine that the president thinks smart-bombing would be a good way to respond to hostile coverage.

Is there anything to be done about any of these bomb-throwers? Sure, but it’s not being done in this country. As Noam Chomsky recently said:

George Bush would be in severe political trouble if there were an opposition political party in the country. Just about every day, they’re shooting themselves in the foot. The striking fact about contemporary American politics is that the Democrats are making almost no gain from this.

So far, there are only losers, and all of us are among them.