Notes From a Beach Blanket

It’s awfully quiet around here: everyone, it seems, is on vacation. That’s what normal folks do: they take vacations. They get on a plane and go live on a beach blanket for a week, in spite of the dollar’s downward dive, and drain their bodies of the accumulated poisons of everyday life. In my, uh, straitened circumstances, however, the only sort of vacation possible is one in which I allow myself to write about whatever suits my fancy. A summertime column made up of bits and pieces, like colored rocks gathered at the seashore…

The War Party has been having a really tough time of it, lately, what with massive Republican defections, the rising tide of popular antiwar sentiment, and the verdict in the Libby trial. The subsequent commutation of Scooter’s sentence was also a big defeat, in that it provoked a storm of protest that merely called attention to the perfidy emanating from the office of the vice president and made it an issue sure to impact the upcoming election. The latest bad news on the legal front is the guilty verdict in the Conrad Black case, in which the neoconservative former media baron – whose holdings included the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Jerusalem Post, 60 percent of Canada’s newspapers, and a global chain of publications extending from North America to England, Australia, and Israel – could get 20 years in jail.

Black, whose 1,000-page-plus biography of neocon icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt comes close to idolatry, used his newspapers to trumpet the more extravagant claims of the neocons in the run-up to war, and several prominent neocons served on his infamous board of directors. These folks, according to the jury verdict, stood silently by while Lord Black engaged in a massive fraud. The board was a veritable nest of hawks, including Richard Perle, whose warmongering views always somehow managed to enrich him. Steven Pearlstein had the lowdown on the Hollinger board back in the winter of 2003, when the scandal first began to surface. I covered the case here, here, and here.

That last link goes to a piece I did around Thanksgiving 2005, in which I enumerated the scandals that were then unfolding and threatening to discredit the War Party, on one front or another, and now’s a good time to tote up the scorecard.

Libbygate: score one.

Conrad Black: score two.

Leaks from whistleblowers inside the administration: the Bush regime has been leaking like a sieve for quite some time, although we could use more on this front.

The AIPAC spy scandal: now this is one case that seems to have been dropped into a bottomless pit, but no, it has merely been delayed by the Scooter Libby-esque tactics of the defense team. Lawyers for Steve Rosen, formerly the Israel lobby’s spark plug and chief Washington lobbyist, and Keith Weissman, AIPAC’s Iran specialist-in-residence, have subpoenaed everyone from Condi Rice to the Israeli "diplomats" their clients handed off classified information to. The Wall Street Journal reports that lawyers involved in the case are now shooting for an October trial. The defense is "graymailing" the government, by making the price of prosecution so high in terms of revealing U.S. secrets – and potentially damaging national security – that they’re hoping the Justice Department just drops the case.

How likely is that? After all this effort, one would think the Justice Department would persevere, but there is a lot of political pressure coming from both parties to quash this case. The Democrats in Congress have no qualms about investigating and holding hearings on the Libby case, but the AIPAC spy trial – or lack of such a trial – is another matter altogether.

With all this talk of getting foreigners to fight our wars – granting instant citizenship to recent immigrants, both legal and illegal, who agree to go to Iraq – one can see why they’re suddenly so desperate for warm bodies. The Army hasn’t made its recruiting goals for the past two months, and the troops they have are grumbling, according to this New York Times report:

"Cpl. April Ponce De Leon describes herself and her husband as ‘gung-ho Marines,’ and in two weeks she deploys to Iraq, where her husband has been fighting since March.

"But she says she stopped believing in the war last month after a telephone conversation with him.‘He started telling me that he doesn’t want me to go and do the things he has been doing,’ said Corporal Ponce De Leon, 22, speaking by telephone as she boxed up her belongings in their apartment near Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"’He said that ‘we have all decided that it’s time for us to go home.’ I said, ‘You mean go home and rest?’ And he said, ‘I mean go home and not go back.’

"’This is from someone who has been training for the past nine years to go to combat and who has spent his whole life wanting to be a Marine,’ she continued. ‘That’s when I realized I couldn’t support the war anymore, even though I will follow my orders.’"

To heck with Congress defunding the war. If we wait for that, we’ll wait forever and a day. It’s time to make an appeal to the troops. After all, what would happen if tens of thousands of furloughed GIs refused to go back to Iraq?

Maybe this has something to do with the growing rebellion in the ranks:

"A Marine corporal testifying in a court-martial said Marines in his unit began routinely beating Iraqis after officers ordered them to ‘crank up the violence level.’ Cpl. Saul H. Lopezromo testified Saturday at the murder trial of Cpl. Trent D. Thomas. ‘We were told to crank up the violence level,’ said Lopezromo, testifying for the defense. When a juror asked for further explanation, Lopezromo said: ‘We beat people, sir.’"

Yeah, and worse. Far worse

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq is generating robo-calls to constituents of pro-war Republicans and running television ads, such as this one. Pro-war Democrats, however, get a pass: this union-funded, Democratic Party-driven "antiwar" campaign is not about to target, say, Dan Boren, a Democrat who voted against the recent Iraq withdrawal resolution. This is precisely why the war goes on, and will go on for many years – the "debate" in Washington over the Iraq war question is all about partisanship, at least as far as Americans Against Escalation is concerned.

The news that the Iranians have caught 14 squirrels equipped with eavesdropping devices on the Iranian border shouldn’t be too surprising: if the Russians are finding bugged rocks, one can only wonder what’s next – bugged bugs?

Speaking of bugs, The Politico’s smear of Ron Paulsee here for details – is such a brazen lie that not even the fake conservatives and confirmed Paul-haters over at National Review can swallow it:

"Think what you will of libertarian Texas congressman Ron Paul, but I’m crying foul over this post to the Politico‘s ‘Crypt’ blog: ‘Ron Paul warns of staged terror attack.’ Paul simply did not say that the government is planning a fake terror attack, and to say otherwise is journalistic malpractice."

The author, one David Freddoso, contends that, sure, Paul is "nutty" – after all, you have to be a "nut" to believe that the Iraq war is a disaster – and "barely relevant," but this kind of smear-by-misleading-headline-writing is dangerous because look at what happened to Pope Benedict over the Emperor Paleologus affair… "Sloppy" head-writers caused riots. Sheesh!

Contra Freddoso, this wasn’t a case of "careless" reporting, but a very carefully done smear job. Which, by the way, would never have occurred if Paul were "barely relevant." Expect much more "carelessness" as the Paul campaign continues to pick up steam, especially in the fundraising department.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

Speaking of Ron Paul, check this out.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].