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George W. Bush's second inaugural address cynically invoked noble ideals for ignoble ends.

Once again, it's time to talk back to Bush. All the remarks below come from George W. Bush's January 26 press conference--except for the italicized heckling...

Last week, the BBC re-broadcast a provocative documentary series which challenges the idea that Al Qaeda is the center of a uniquely powerful, unified and well-organized international terrorist conspiracy.

"The attacks on September 11th," according to the film's director Adam Curtis--one of Britain's leading documentary filmmakers--"were not the expression of a confident and growing movement. They were acts of desperation by a small group frustrated by their failure which they blamed on the power of America. It is also important," Curtis adds, "to realize that many within the Islamist movement were against this strategy." (This view accords with those held by terrorism experts--like Peter Bergen--who argue that Al Qaeda is largely a spent force that has changed from a tight-knit organization capable of carrying out 9/11 to more of an ideological threat with loose networks in many nations.)

The film also challenges other accepted articles of faith in the so-called war on terror, and documents that much of what we have been told about a centralized, international terrorist threat "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicans. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and the international media."

Give Barbara Boxer credit for sparking the most engaged debate that the Senate has yet seen over the Bush Administration lies that led the United States into the quagmire that is Iraq.

Boxer, the California Democrat who has been increasingly vocal in her objections to the Administration's reign of error and excess, seized the opening provided by President Bush's nomination of Condoleezza Rice to serve as Secretary of State to try and force a necessary discussion about the misstatements, misconceptions and misdeeds that Rice and others in the Administration used to make the "case" for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And, to the surprise even of some war foes, she got it.

Yes, of course, Rice's confirmation was certain. In a Senate where the balance is now tipped 55-45 toward a Republican caucus that for the most part puts party loyalty above duty to country, and where there are still too many Democrats who continue to preach the failed "can't-we-all-just-get-along" mantra that has relegated the party to minority status, there was never any chance that the national security advisor's record of failure and deception would prevent her from taking charge of the State Department.

As a political marketing device, Bush's address was brilliant.

As we remember Johnny Carson's many gifts, perhaps his greatest was his ability to know when it was time to voluntarily step out of the spotlight and never look back. A talent that's all too rare in American life.

It's hard to know if Harvard President Larry Summer's foot-in-mouth disease is the result of nature or nurture, but his political tone deafness was once again on display at a diversity conference where he suggested that women were innately less skilled at math and science then men.

Despite continuing revelations that torture was endemic in Iraq and our efforts to stabilize the country are failing, Donald Rumsfeld not only holds on to his job but apparently is targeting sites in Iran. The septuagenarian should have retired after Afghanistan.


IS AL QAEDA JUST A BUSH BOOGEYMAN?
by Robert Scheer

Bellingham, Wa.


STEREOTYPE BY DAGUERREOTYPE

Katonah, NY

Below is my running commentary on Bush's inaugural speech. Too bad heckling the president is a federal crime.

....We are led, by events and common ...

Half a century has passed since Manny Farber wrote in these pages about underground films, by which he meant the urban crime movies watched by male loiterers near the Greyhound station, in theate

"I am very happy to see so many flowers here and that is why I want to remind you that flowers, by themselves, have no power whatsoever, other than the power of men and women who protect them and

Alberto Gonzales's nomination to succeed John Ashcroft as Attorney General put the Abu Ghraib torture scandal back on the front pages, since he was directly implicated, as White House counsel, in

As elections near, guerrillas are conducting their own "shock and awe" campaign.

Can a dose of Christianity stiffen the Democrats' spine, win back Kansas and bring people power to the anemic left?

Imagine, in the same month as the death of the muse of high camp, Susan Sontag, we have England in an uproar about Prince Harry and his silly armband.

Click here for info on how you can help oppose Gonzalez's nomination.

CAN CBS EVER BE SORRY ENOUGH?

In December the leaders of the Democratic Leadership Council, Al From and Bruce Reed, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about what the Democrats had to do to attract heartland