Lives in the Balance:
New Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Jackson Browne, prior to his goatfucking moment of smacking around Darryl Hannah, released one of the unacknowledged great albums of the Reagan era, Lives in the Balance. A reaction to Reagan's policies in Central America and elsewhere, the 1986 album is a vicious indictment of American aggression. In the song "For America," Browne sings: "The thing I wonder about the Dads and Moms/ Who send their sons to the Vietnams/ Will they really think their way of life/ Has been protected as the next war comes?"

Even more prescient for our current situation, nearly twenty years on, is the title song. You can read the whole thing at the above link, but here's something from the final verse: "They sell us the President the same way/ They sell us our clothes and our cars/ They sell us every thing from youth to religion/ The same time they sell us our wars/ I want to know who the men in the shadows are/ I want to hear somebody asking them why/ They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are/ But they're never the ones to fight or to die." The more things change. . .

The Rude Pundit was reminded of this because of the stunning opening statement by Richard Clarke yesterday in his public hearing before the 9/11 Commission. When Clarke said, "I also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11. To them who are here in the room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask -- once all the facts are out -- for your understanding and for your forgiveness," it was the first time anyone stopped the buck. No one, not the President, not George Tenet, not (let's be honest here) Bill Clinton, actually has stepped forward and said, "You can blame me."

As the White House and their lackeys in the Congress, on the commission, and on Fox (Bill O'Reilly, the Rude Pundit is gunnin' fer you tomorrow) attempt to destroy the reputation of the man who has said so publicly and so clearly that mistakes were made and that the Iraq war was the mistake of an obsessive group of policy makers, we need to remember that this whole thing is about real, actual lives. Most of the news shows and editorials are focused on the political cost to Bush's re-election bid, but, goddamnit, in the end, this is about 3000 Americans and foreigners killed here, hundreds of dead Americans in Iraq, and thousands of dead Iraqis. And so many people saying that none of this needed to happen. Instead of making so damn sure that Richard Clarke is seen in the world as an unbalanced liar, instead of combing the sound bite archives for anything that can impeach his credibility, instead of the press being complicit in this smear attempt, how about instead saying that maybe, just maybe we can say that there's a good chance that at least some of what he's saying is true. And maybe, just maybe, we can save some lives by listening.

Two more soldiers dead today. Too many Iraqis to bother counting anymore.

No jokes today. Too sick to be jokey. Too bludgeoned by the frightening sight of the increasingly emaciated Condi Rice seeming as if she's about to choke on her own bile.