Saturday, May 21, 2005

THE CONSERVATIVE VOICE Asks: Norm Coleman For Prez???


Although Norm Coleman, the Republican U.S. Senator from Minnesota recently exposed to the world as a pathetic dimwit and embarrassment, managed to have George Gallaway's brilliant remarks in front of his committee excised from the Congressional Record (this is true; I'm not making it up; it now officially "never happened"), even conservatives are laughing at this moron. This article from THE CONSERVATIVE VOICE puts the whole thing in context (and makes sure conservatives can never say they didn't know what actually happened in Coleman's committee room). By the way, this isn't just some distant, intellectual exercise for me. Coleman and I went to elementary school together in Brooklyn and were both elected class secretaries at the same time. He was an unbearably pompous asshole back in PS 197 then too. We all knew he'd grow up to be a nightmare.

Norm Coleman for President???
by Jude Wanniski
Re: George Galloway vs. Senator Norm Coleman [R Minn]

When I first arrived in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1965 to work for the Dow Jones' newsweekly, The National Observer, I assumed that members of Congress, especially members of the U.S. Senate, were among the smartest, wisest, most knowledgeable American citizens. I quickly found out that on some topics of the greatest importance... Vietnam being one of them... they were as dumb as posts. In preparing myself for my new job, I'd read everything I could lay my hands on about Vietnam, newspaper articles, magazine articles, and more than a dozen books written by men and women of a great many different political persuasions.

I'd done my homework so I could report intelligently on that topic... and a great many other topics I was assigned first as a general assignment reporter, then as the newspaper's chief political columnist. I soon found I knew more about Vietnam than the members of Congress I interviewed and members of the executive branch at State and Defense who I assumed would know everything.

Thinking back, I can recall being impressed with the intelligence and knowledge of several U.S. Senators... Jacob Javits [R NY], Russell Long [D LA], Hubert Humphrey [D MINN], John Stennis [D MISS], John Tower [R TX], Henry Jackson [D WA], but even these superior politicians I found now and then stumbled into areas where they just didn't know what they were talking about. Almost invariably, I think it was because of failures at their staff levels. They were briefed or given talking points or speech drafts with inferior material collected by inferior staffers. As an example, I specifically recall reading the Congressional Record one morning in the Senate press dining room to discover that Sen Gordon Allott [R CO], who was as dumb as a post the last time I read his blatherings, suddenly had made a brilliant speech on the Senate floor. I quickly called his press secretary to congratulate him on the speech and to ask who had helped draft it for the Senate. It turned out to be a new staff member, practically straight out of college, a 25 year-old young man named George Will. As long as George worked for Allott, Allott was smart.

Which brings us to Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, a young Republican who clearly has dreams of riding the so-called "Oil-for-Food Scandal" to the White House, a la Richard Nixon's prosecution of Alger Hiss as a Communist spy. From what I've seen do far, though, Coleman's background as a prosecutor may make him smarter than his colleagues in understanding the Minnesota penal code, but otherwise he is as dumb as a post. At least in the sense that he still doesn't realize he has been chosen by the neo-cons and their friends in the pro-war conservative press. His mission: to smear the United Nations, Secretary General Kofi Annan, and ultimately all the agencies of the U.N. that are likely to get in their way of an Imperial America. In return, they are telling him he is, by gosh, presidential timber!!

Senator Coleman seems to think that as long as the stuff he is getting from the neo-cons is winning him the plaudits of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Rupert Murdoch's news empire, he can not only take it to the Sunday talk shows, but also attack members of the British Parliament who have different views on the subject. He did so recently by accusing George Galloway of the House of Commons of corruption in the so-called "Oil-for-Food Scandal" and instead of slinking away into the London fog, Galloway showed up in Washington this last week to appear before the Coleman subcommittee investigating the "Scandal." He did so having won in December 150,000 British pounds in libel damages from the Daily Telegraph over its separate claims he had received money from Saddam's regime. After Coleman laid out a series of charges against him, here is what Galloway had to say. The last we saw, Senator Coleman was seen slinking away into the fog:

Published on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 by the Times Online (UK)
Galloway vs. The US Senate: Transcript of Statement
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, delivered this statement to US Senators today who have accused him of corruption

* * * * *

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.

"Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defense made of his.

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

"You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

"Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

"Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.

"You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realize played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

"I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.

"And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].

"Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.

"Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.

"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely @#%#*-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Halliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."


At 8:43 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Paul Scott: Norm's 'Celebrity Jeopardy'

Paul Scott
May 22, 2005

There is a recurring "Saturday Night Live" sketch where Will Ferrell
plays Alex Trebek caught hosting a bizarro version of "Celebrity
Jeopardy." The cerebral Trebek begins staggering under the scatalogical
assault of Scotsman Sean Connery, parodied to full Highlander excess by
comedian Darrell Hammond.

I thought of that sketch while watching our senator take on George
Galloway last week. Except that by the end of the SNL sketch, Alex
Trebek has our sympathy.

It is becoming possible that a local, national and now international
disgust is mutating over the disingenuousness of Sen. Norm Coleman. (The
Nation's John Nichols recently called him "a plain old-fashioned,
drool-on-his-tie fool.") For those who first smelled a phony back when
Coleman said he wanted to go to Washington to "change the tone" -- as if
the naked hopefulness of Paul Wellstone was a tone that needed changing
-- watching his inquisition of Scottish Member of Parliament George
Galloway backfire so witheringly on Tuesday was like rolling in a tub of
banana cream pie.

Maybe Coleman wasn't already choking on the hypocrisy of having asked
for the resignation of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan over the
oil-for-food fiasco, when Coleman stands mute over his the fact of his
own party's leadership having so grossly mismanaged both the lead-up to
9/11 and the intelligence behind the case for war. Without the slightest
apparent willingness to acknowledge such details, Coleman called to
testify one of the chief critics in Britain of the invasion of Iraq, on
oil-for-food charges he had already successfully refuted in the British
legal system.

Even on a day when the Republicans initiated the so-called nuclear
option, Galloway dropped into the U.S. news cycle like a haggis-filled
A-bomb. A fierce debater from a land of men who invented
hammer-throwing, a bruiser in a parliamentary system where the head of
state is regularly treated like a son who smashed in the Acura, Galloway
came to clear his name. And he was going to do this in front of the man
previously famous for having brought Lawson Software to St. Paul.

He may be a lawyer, but Coleman is simply the wrong person to help the
Republicans claim the mantle of justice-seekers. Crusading investigators
are idealists. Coleman is a company man. He smiles. He hits his marks.
He watches his waistline and he says his lines. Jesse Ventura was able
to dispense with him during at least one debate just by pointing at
tasseled loafers. In the end, it wasn't clear why Galloway's name was on
some sketchy paperwork, and it wasn't clear that it mattered.
When Galloway opened with a lengthy evisceration of the proceedings, the
full Braveheart, Coleman countered with mumblings that sounded more like
a tax audit -- as if he genuinely thought he was merely seeking facts,
not political theater.

By mumbling his way through a litany of paperwork, when a strong case
had just been made about a larger, more deadly deception, it was clear
that the one thing Coleman had neglected to prepare for was the weakness
of his moral position. He is in no position, with his president's war
going this badly, to be sitting in judgment of those who have argued for
the relief of the Iraqi people, and, unlike the path taken by Coleman,
placed themselves in political peril by doing so.

Most of all, there was something immeasurably disappointing, as one
writer to these pages observed, that it was not an American to be the
first to drop the pretense of congeniality when facing the desperate
diversions now underway in our Congress. There was something
immeasurably sad about the fact that 200 years after we told the
straight truth to an out-of touch England, it took a Brit to tell the
straight truth to us: "In everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to
be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with
their lives; 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a
pack of lies."

Paul Scott is a writer living in Rochester, Minn.

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done... excellent summary and astute criticism.


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