Thursday, September 27, 2007


Our Moral Footprint


OVER the past few years the questions have been asked ever more forcefully whether global climate changes occur in natural cycles or not, to what degree we humans contribute to them, what threats stem from them and what can be done to prevent them. Scientific studies demonstrate that any changes in temperature and energy cycles on a planetary scale could mean danger for all people on all continents.

It is also obvious from published research that human activity is a cause of change; we just don’t know how big its contribution is. Is it necessary to know that to the last percentage point, though? By waiting for incontrovertible precision, aren’t we simply wasting time when we could be taking measures that are relatively painless compared to those we would have to adopt after further delays?

Maybe we should start considering our sojourn on earth as a loan. There can be no doubt that for the past hundred years at least, Europe and the United States have been running up a debt, and now other parts of the world are following their example. Nature is issuing warnings that we must not only stop the debt from growing but start to pay it back. There is little point in asking whether we have borrowed too much or what would happen if we postponed the repayments. Anyone with a mortgage or a bank loan can easily imagine the answer.

The effects of possible climate changes are hard to estimate. Our planet has never been in a state of balance from which it could deviate through human or other influence and then, in time, return to its original state. The climate is not like a pendulum that will return to its original position after a certain period. It has evolved turbulently over billions of years into a gigantic complex of networks, and of networks within networks, where everything is interlinked in diverse ways.

Its structures will never return to precisely the same state they were in 50 or 5,000 years ago. They will only change into a new state, which, so long as the change is slight, need not mean any threat to life.

Larger changes, however, could have unforeseeable effects within the global ecosystem. In that case, we would have to ask ourselves whether human life would be possible. Because so much uncertainty still reigns, a great deal of humility and circumspection is called for.

We can’t endlessly fool ourselves that nothing is wrong and that we can go on cheerfully pursuing our wasteful lifestyles, ignoring the climate threats and postponing a solution. Maybe there will be no major catastrophe in the coming years or decades. Who knows? But that doesn’t relieve us of responsibility toward future generations.

I don’t agree with those whose reaction is to warn against restricting civil freedoms. Were the forecasts of certain climatologists to come true, our freedoms would be tantamount to those of someone hanging from a 20th-story parapet.

Whenever I reflect on the problems of today’s world, whether they concern the economy, society, culture, security, ecology or civilization in general, I always end up confronting the moral question: what action is responsible or acceptable? The moral order, our conscience and human rights — these are the most important issues at the beginning of the third millennium.

We must return again and again to the roots of human existence and consider our prospects in centuries to come. We must analyze everything open-mindedly, soberly, unideologically and unobsessively, and project our knowledge into practical policies. Maybe it is no longer a matter of simply promoting energy-saving technologies, but chiefly of introducing ecologically clean technologies, of diversifying resources and of not relying on just one invention as a panacea.

I’m skeptical that a problem as complex as climate change can be solved by any single branch of science. Technological measures and regulations are important, but equally important is support for education, ecological training and ethics — a consciousness of the commonality of all living beings and an emphasis on shared responsibility.

Either we will achieve an awareness of our place in the living and life-giving organism of our planet, or we will face the threat that our evolutionary journey may be set back thousands or even millions of years. That is why we must see this issue as a challenge to behave responsibly and not as a harbinger of the end of the world.

The end of the world has been anticipated many times and has never come, of course. And it won’t come this time either. We need not fear for our planet. It was here before us and most likely will be here after us. But that doesn’t mean that the human race is not at serious risk. As a result of our endeavors and our irresponsibility our climate might leave no place for us. If we drag our feet, the scope for decision-making — and hence for our individual freedom — could be considerably reduced.

Vaclav Havel is the former president of the Czech Republic. This article was translated by Gerald Turner from the Czech.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Greenspan on Bush's fiscal policies: ugh!

September 15, 2007

Former Fed Chief Attacks Bush on Fiscal Role

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 — Alan Greenspan, who was chairman of the Federal Reserve for nearly two decades, in a long-awaited memoir, is harshly critical of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the Republican-controlled Congress, as abandoning their party’s principles on spending and deficits.

In the 500-page book, “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World,” Mr. Greenspan describes the Bush administration as so captive to its own political operation that it paid little attention to fiscal discipline, and he described Mr. Bush’s first two Treasury secretaries, Paul H. O’Neill and John W. Snow, as essentially powerless.

Mr. Bush, he writes, was never willing to contain spending or veto bills that drove the country into deeper and deeper deficits, as Congress abandoned rules that required that the cost of tax cuts be offset by savings elsewhere. “The Republicans in Congress lost their way,” writes Mr. Greenspan, a self-described “libertarian Republican.”

“They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose” in the 2006 election, when they lost control of the House and Senate.

As officials leave the Bush administration, there is no shortage of criticism of this White House: Disenchanted hawks are writing that Mr. Bush has abandoned the certainties of the first term and taken too soft a line on North Korea and Iran; from the other side of the spectrum, former officials are telling tales about how the administration bent rules on torture or domestic spying.

But Mr. Greenspan, now 81, is in a different class, by dint of his fame, his economic authority and his service across party lines. His critiques are likely to have more resonance among Mr. Bush’s base.

His book was provided to The New York Times by his publisher, Penguin Press, under an agreement that nothing would be reported until its publication date, on Monday. But The Wall Street Journal, saying it had purchased a copy from a retailer, published excerpts on its Web site on Friday night, freeing other news organizations to do the same.

Much of the book concerns Mr. Greenspan’s reflections on markets, globalization and the media’s fascination with the thickness of his briefcase on the way to meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets interest rates.

He praises President Bush for letting the Fed stay independent of political pressure, saying he was scrupulous in not trying to interfere with monetary policy — which he contrasts sharply with the pressure exerted by his father, George H. W. Bush, in the early 1990s. For years, the first President Bush has blamed Mr. Greenspan for contributing to his defeat in 1992 by failing to prevent a recession by cutting interest rates.

Of the presidents he worked with, Mr. Greenspan reserves his highest praise for Bill Clinton, whom he described in his book as a sponge for economic data who maintained “a consistent, disciplined focus on long-term economic growth.”

It was a presidency marred by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he writes, but he fondly describes his alliance with two of Mr. Clinton’s Treasury secretaries, Robert E. Rubin and Lawrence H. Summers, in battling financial crises in Latin America and then Asia.

By contrast, Mr. Greenspan paints a picture of Mr. Bush as a man driven more by ideology and the desire to fulfill campaign promises made in 2000, incurious about the effects of his economic policy, and an administration incapable of executing policy.

The White House is clearly not eager to get into a public argument with Mr. Greenspan, whom President Bush reappointed to a fifth term in May 2004. But they pushed back at Mr. Greenspan’s central themes.

“The Republican leadership in the House and Senate kept to our top number,” Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said. Veto threats worked, he said, to keep spending within caps set by the White House. “We’re not going to apologize for standing up the Department of Homeland Security and fighting terror.”

Mr. Greenspan described his own emotional journey in dealing with Mr. Bush, from an initial elation about the return of his old friends from the Ford White House — including Mr. Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, secretary of defense — to astonishment and then disappointment at how much they had changed.

“I indulged in a bit of fantasy, envisioning this as the government that might have existed had Gerald Ford garnered the extra 1 percent of the vote he’d needed to edge past Jimmy Carter,” Mr. Greenspan writes in his memoir. “I thought we had a golden opportunity to advance the ideals of effective, fiscally conservative government and free markets.”

Instead, Mr. Greenspan continued, “I was soon to see my old friends veer off in unexpected directions.” He expected Mr. Bush to veto spending bills, he writes, but was told that the president believed he could control J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the Republican speaker of the House, better by signing them.

“My friend,” he writes of Mr. O’Neill, “soon found himself to be the odd man out; much to my disappointment, economic policymaking in the Bush administration remained firmly in the hands of the White House staff.”

He was clearly referring to the political team led by Karl Rove at the White House. Mr. Rove was a neighbor of Mr. Greenspan in a leafy enclave near the Potomac River, but the two men almost never had a conversation.

In responding to Mr. Greenspan, Mr. Fratto of the White House disputed the accusation that Mr. O’Neill’s economic arguments were ignored. “Just because you don’t carry the day doesn’t mean your views weren’t considered,” Mr. Fratto said.

Though Mr. Greenspan does not admit he made a mistake, he shows remorse about how Republicans jumped on his endorsement of the 2001 tax cuts to push through unconditional cuts without any safeguards against surprises. He recounts how Mr. Rubin and Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, begged him to hold off on an endorsement because of how it would be perceived.

“It turned out that Conrad and Rubin were right,” he acknowledges glumly. He says Republican leaders in Congress made a grievous error in spending whatever it took to ensure a permanent Republican majority.

Mr. Greenspan has critics as well, and they are likely to weigh in as soon as the book is published. Though he publicly disagreed with Mr. Bush’s supply-side approach to tax cuts, urging Congress to offset the cost with savings elsewhere, he refrained from public criticism that could have shifted the debate. His willingness to criticize now, 18 months after leaving office, may open him to the accusation of failing to speak out when it could have affected policy.

Today, Mr. Greenspan is indignant and chagrined about his role in the Bush tax cuts. “I’d have given the same testimony if Al Gore had been president,” he writes, complaining that his words had been distorted by supporters and opponents of the cuts.

Mr. Greenspan, of course, had been the ultimate Washington insider for years, and knew full well that politicians cited his words selectively to suit their agendas. He was also legendary for ducking delicate issues by, as he once said, “mumbling with great incoherence.”

Mr. Greenspan’s memoir describes at some length the monetary policies that many economists say fostered the extraordinary economic boom of the 1990s. In what is widely regarded as a brilliant insight, Mr. Greenspan became convinced the United States could grow faster than generally thought because productivity was climbing much faster than the official statistics implied.

Mr. Greenspan writes briefly about what may become a more troubling legacy, the housing bubble, and now the bust, that was fueled by low interest rates and risky mortgages in the last six years.

Some economists argue that Mr. Greenspan deserves considerable blame, because the Fed slashed interest rates to rock-bottom lows and kept them there for three years after the stock market collapse and the recession in 2001.

The Fed was “a prime culprit in creating the crisis,” wrote Steve Forbes, publisher of Forbes magazine, in a just-published commentary. But other economists, including critics of Mr. Greenspan, say the housing bubble resulted from much broader forces, including a dramatic drop of interest rates around the world and an explosion of mortgages that required no money down, no income verification and deceptively low initial teaser rates.

Mr. Greenspan generically defends the Fed’s action, writing: “I believed then, as now, that the benefits of broadened home ownership are worth the risk. Protection of property rights, so critical to a market economy, requires a critical mass of owners to sustain political support.”

The book appears in stores on Monday, the day before the Fed is expected to lower interest rates in an effort to prevent the collapsing housing market from taking the rest of the economy down with it.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rights of Natives and Native Americans, a UN statement.

UN Adopts Historic Statement on Native Rights

by Haider Rizvi

UNITED NATIONS - Despite strong objections from the United States and some of its allies, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday calling for the recognition of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and control over their lands and resources.
The adoption of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples comes after 22 years of diplomatic negotiations at the United Nations involving its member states, international civil society groups, and representatives of the world’s aboriginal communities.

An overwhelming majority of UN member countries endorsed the Declaration, with 143 voting in favor, 4 against, and 11 abstaining.

The United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand stood alone in voting against the resolution. The nations that neither supported nor objected were Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, Samoa, and Ukraine.

“It’s a triumph for indigenous peoples around the world,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the General Assembly vote. “This marks a historic moment when member states and indigenous peoples have reconciled with their painful histories.”

In her comments, General Assembly President Haya Al Khalifa described the outcome of the vote as a “major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.”

Pleased with the General Assembly’s decision, indigenous leaders told OneWorld they wanted the declaration to be adopted by consensus, but since certain countries remained unwilling to recognize their rights until the end, a majority vote was the only possible option left.

“If a few states do not accept the declaration, then it would be a reflection on them rather than the document,” said Les Malezer, an aboriginal leader from Australia, before the resolution was presented to the General Assembly.

Before the vote many indigenous leaders accused the United States and Canada of pressuring economically weak and vulnerable nations to reject calls for the Declaration’s adoption. Initially, some African countries were also reluctant to vote in favor, but later changed their position after the indigenous leadership accepted their demand to introduce certain amendments in the text.

The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their institutions, cultures, and traditions and pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

It also calls for recognition of the indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, a principle fully recognized by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, but deemed controversial by the United States and some of its allies who fear that it could undermine their rights to rule over all their current territory.

In return for their support, the African countries wanted the declaration to mention that it does not encourage any actions that would undermine the “territorial integrity” or “political unity” of sovereign states.

Though the African viewpoint was incorporated into the final version, the Declaration remains assertive of indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and control over their land and resources.

“It is subject to interpretation, but we can work with this,” Malezer said last week.

Thursday, Malezer and his colleagues in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues described the world body’s decision as “a major victory.”

“The 13th of September 2007 will be remembered as an international human rights day for the indigenous peoples of the world,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chairperson of the Permanent Forum, in an emotional tone filled with joy.

International civil society groups working for the rights of indigenous peoples also expressed extreme pleasure with Thursday’s vote.

“We are really very happy and thrilled to hear about the adoption of the Declaration,” said Botswana Bushman Jumanda Gakelebone of First People of the Kalahari, who works with the independent advocacy group Survival International.

“It recognizes that governments can no longer treat us as second-class citizens, and it gives protection to tribal peoples so that they will not be thrown off their lands like we were,” Gakelebone added in a statement.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said he hoped the declaration would raise international standards in the same way the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did nearly 60 years ago.

“It sets a benchmark by which the treatment of tribal and indigenous peoples can be judged, and we hope it will usher in an era in which abuse of their rights is no longer tolerated,” he added.

Vivian Stromberg, executive director of the New York-based rights group MADRE, said Thursday that the Declaration’s passage “will signal a major shift in the landscape of international human rights law, in which the collective rights of indigenous peoples will finally be recognized and defended.”

At the UN, indigenous leaders, however, cautioned against a possible gap between rhetoric and effective implementation of the Declaration.

“It will be the test of commitment of states and the whole international community to protect, respect, and fulfill indigenous peoples’ collective and individual human rights,” Tauli-Corpuz said.

“I call on governments, the UN system, indigenous peoples, and civil society at large to rise to the historic task before us and make the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples a living document for the common future of humanity,” she said in a statement.

Though pleased with the General Assembly’s decision, some indigenous leaders seemed unhappy that the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand did not accept the Declaration.

“Canada has shown its true colors on our human rights,” Arthur Manuel, a leader of Canada’s indigenous peoples, told OneWorld.

Those in opposition have said the Declaration is “flawed,” mainly because of its strong emphasis on the right to indigenous self-determination and full control over lands and resources. In their view, these clauses would hinder economic development efforts and undermine so-called “established democratic norms.”

The United States has also refused to sign on to a UN treaty on biological diversity, which calls for a “fair and equitable” sharing of the benefits derived from indigenous lands by commercial enterprises.

Meanwhile, threats to indigenous lands and resources persist, say rights activists, in the form of mining, logging, toxic contamination, privatization, large-scale development projects, and the use of genetically modified seeds.

“The entire wealth of the United States, Canada, and other so-called modern states is built on the poverty and human rights violations of their indigenous peoples,” said Manuel. “The international community needs to understand how hypocritical Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States are.”

Recent scientific studies have repeatedly warned of devastating consequences for indigenous communities in particular as changing climates are expected to cause more floods, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events across the world.

The United States and Australia have taken particular criticism also for their refusal to join the majority of the world’s nations in efforts to combat climate change.

© 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

9/11 The Big Cover-up

9/11 - the big cover-up?

Even the chair of the 9/11 Commission now admits that the official evidence they were given was 'far from the truth'.

Six years after 9/11, the American public have still not been provided with a full and truthful account of the single greatest terror attack in US history.

What they got was a turkey. The 9/11 Commission was hamstrung by official obstruction. It never managed to ascertain the whole truth of what happened on September 11 2001.

The chair and vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, respectively Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, assert in their book, Without Precedent, that they were "set up to fail" and were starved of funds to do a proper investigation. They also confirm that they were denied access to the truth and misled by senior officials in the Pentagon and the federal aviation authority;
and that this obstruction and deception led them to contemplate slapping officials with criminal charges.

Despite the many public statements by 9/11 commissioners and staff members acknowledging they were repeatedly lied to, not a single person has ever been charged, tried, or even reprimanded, for lying to the 9/11 Commission.

From the outset, the commission seemed to be hobbled. It did not start work until over a year after the attacks. Even then, its terms of reference were suspiciously narrow, its powers of investigation curiously limited and its time-frame for producing a report unhelpfully short - barely a year to sift through millions of pages of evidence and to interview hundreds of key witnesses.

The final report did not examine key evidence, and neglected serious anomalies in the various accounts of what happened. The commissioners admit their report was incomplete and flawed, and that many questions about the terror attacks remain unanswered. Nevertheless, the 9/11 Commission was swiftly closed down on August 21 2004.

I do not believe in conspiracy theories. I prefer rigorous, evidence-based analysis that sifts through the known facts and utilises expert opinion to draw conclusions that stand up to critical scrutiny. In other words, I believe in everything the 9/11 Commission was not.

The failings of the official investigation have fuelled too many half-baked conspiracy theories. Some of the 9/11 "truth" groups promote speculative hypotheses, ignore innocent explanations, cite non-expert sources and jump to conclusions that are not proven by the known facts. They convert mere coincidence and circumstantial evidence into cast-iron proof. This is no way to debunk the obfuscations and evasions of the 9/11 report.

But even amid the hype, some of these 9/11 groups raise valid and important questions that were never even considered, let alone answered, by the official investigation. The American public has not been told the complete truth about the events of that fateful autumn morning six years ago.

What happened on 9/11 is fundamentally important in its own right. But equally important is the way the 9/11 cover-up signifies an absence of democratic, transparent and accountable government. Establishing the truth is, in part, about restoring honesty, trust and confidence in American politics.

There are dozens of 9/11 "truth" websites and campaign groups. I cannot vouch for the veracity or credibility of any of them. But what I can say is that as well as making plenty of seemingly outrageous claims; a few of them raise legitimate questions that demand answers.

Four of these well known "tell the truth" 9/11 websites are:

1) Scholars for 9/11 Truth, which includes academics and intellectuals from many disciplines.

2) 250+ 9/11 'Smoking Guns' a website that cites over 250 pieces of evidence that allegedly contradict, or were omitted from, the 9/11 Commission report.

3) The 911 Truth Campaign that, as well as offering its own evidence and theories, includes links to more than 20 similar websites.

4) Patriots Question 9/11, perhaps the most plausible array of distinguished US citizens who question the official account of 9/11, including General Wesley Clark, former Nato commander in Europe, and seven members and staffers of the official 9/11 Commission, including the chair and vice chair. In all, this website documents the doubts of 110+ senior military, intelligence service, law enforcement and government officials; 200+ engineers and architects; 50+ pilots and aviation professionals; 150+ professors; 90+ entertainment and media people; and 190+ 9/11 survivors and family members. Although this is an impressive roll call, it doesn't necessarily mean that these expert professionals are right. Nevertheless, their scepticism of the official version of events is reason to pause and reflect.

More and more US citizens are critical of the official account. The respected Zogby polling organisation last week found that 51% of Americans want Congress to probe President Bush and Vice-President Cheney regarding the truth about the 9/11 attacks; 67% are also critical of the 9/11 Commission for not investigating the bizarre, unexplained collapse of the 47-storey World Trade Centre building 7 (WTC7). This building was not hit by any planes. Unlike WTC3, which was badly damaged by falling debris from the Twin Towers but which remained standing, WTC7 suffered minor damage but suddenly collapsed in a neat pile, as happens in a controlled demolition.

In a 2006 interview with anchorman Evan Soloman of CBC's Sunday programme, the vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton, was reminded that the commission report failed to even mention the collapse of WTC7 or the suspicious hurried removal of the building debris from the site - before there could be a proper forensic investigation of what was a crime scene. Hamilton could only offer the lame excuse that the commissioners did not have "unlimited time" and could not be expected to answer "every question" the public asks.

There are many, many more strange unexplained facts concerning the events of 9/11. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to be puzzled and want an explanation, or to be sceptical concerning the official version of events.

Six years on from those terrible events, the survivors, and the friends and families of those who died, deserve to know the truth. Is honesty and transparency concerning 9/11 too much to ask of the president and Congress?

What is needed is a new and truly independent commission of inquiry to sort coincidence and conjecture from fact, and to provide answers to the unsolved anomalies in the evidence available concerning the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Unlike the often-stymied first investigation, this new commission should be granted wide-ranging subpoena powers and unfettered access to government files and officials. George Bush should be called to testify, without his minders at hand to brief and prompt him. America - and the world - has a right to know the truth. | Digg it | Tailrank | Reddit | Newsvine | Now Public | Technorati

Sunday, September 09, 2007

War in Iraq: Wisdom of Crowds

As we approach the September reports on Iraq, the public debate over our military presence there has once again intensified. Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are ratcheting up the rhetoric about the best course of action, with the president using a pit stop in Iraq as a backdrop for his latest remarks. Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats on the Hill are engaged in heated discussions -- both within and between their caucuses. Adding to the heat, several third party groups have begun advertising efforts to try and push elected officials one way or the other.

As the Beltway ramps up the debate, I believe it is a good and appropriate time to reflect on the opinions of the people those in our nation's capital serve -- the American public -- and specifically what they believe is the right direction in Iraq. I write this because I am a big believer in the "wisdom of crowds," which is to say that I put just more trust in the collective opinion of 300 million decent, honest and caring Americans than in a the elites living in Washington, DC.

This is not to say politics and polls should determine substantive public policy especially regarding a war, but politics and polls should also not be used to thwart the will of the citizens of this country.

Having been a rather keen observer of the American public for more than 20 years and having helped elect and re-elect folks from the State House to the White House I wanted to share with you an analysis of where the public currently stands on the war in Iraq. I share these thoughts as neither a Republican nor a Democrat. While I did serve as Chief Strategist for President Bush in the 2004 campaign, I now consider myself an independent and feel it is a good time to offer what I hope you will find is a measured, reflective and objective analysis of where Democrats and Independents and a large portion of Republican voters stand on the Iraq war today.

1. In the public's mind, the Iraq War was a mistake, and continuing the status quo is simply continuing on with a mistake. As a result, most Americans now view the situation in Iraq as a "rearview" mirror issue -- meaning that the public believes it is time to focus on the process of ending our involvement and getting out quickly. They see American troops as targets in a place we aren't wanted, and they desire a plan which achieves responsible withdrawal in the quickest and safest way.

2. The public does not see withdrawal from Iraq as a signal America doesn't support the troops. In fact, the public sees removing the troops from harm's way and having them in a place where the mission is supported, welcomed and understood as the most proper way to support our troops.

3. The public is waiting for leaders from both political parties to stand up to the president and say enough is enough. They would like this situation resolved -- and soon -- and there is no other solution acceptable to them other than bringing the troops home. The public will support leaders who would use funding decisions as a way to encourage and push the president to resolve this situation quickly.

4. The war in Iraq is now seen exclusively as a foreign policy concern, and the American public no longer supports the initiative as part of national security. This is in stark contrast to the war's beginning -- at inception, the public perceived it as directly related to fighting terrorism, and thus it was seen as a domestic policy issue connected to homeland security. Not surprisingly, the public gave it broad support. Today, this is no longer the case -- the dynamic has changed and most of the public sees no "positive" relationship between the fight against terrorism and the war in Iraq.

I hope this analysis helps bolster the leaders who are ready to stand up for the troops and for the vast majority of Americans in this country. Not only is truth on those leaders' side, but politics is as well. It is my opinion that the best leaders are those who trust the will of the public, even if that means changing direction or admitting a mistake. This is true leadership and the kind of leadership our nation has always desired.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Schswarzenegger: The G.O.P. is dying at the box office

Schwarzenegger: 'We are dying at the box office'

Paschal: IMO, He is right on. Republicans should wake up and listen.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tonight threw down the gauntlet with his own party, lecturing some 1,200 people at the semiannual Republican state convention in Indian Wells that the party was "dying at the box office" because it has "lost the middle. And we will not regain true political power in California until we get it back," according to Schwarzenegger's prepared remarks.

Schwarzenegger has long been at odds with the conservative elements of the party that tend to dominate policy positions, though he has twice proven his popularity with the rank-and-file members and with independents. Tonight the governor homed in on his greenhouse-emission policies, which he said three-quarters of party members support: "They want this party to do something more about climate change than simply doubt it." And he made the same point about healthcare reform on his way to a plea to shift the party from the political right to closer to the center.

"The majority of Republicans prefer progress with messy compromise over defeat with pristine principles. Compromise is part of politics. And it is especially part of politics if you are the minority party... The road to our comeback is clear. The California Republican Party should be a right-of-center party that occupies the broad middle of California. That is a lush, green, abandoned political space. It can be ours."

Click past the jump for the prepared text.

-Scott Martelle


Below is the prepared text of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech to be delivered at the California Republican Party Fall Convention. These remarks are embargoed until the Governor delivers his address, which is expected to begin at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 7, 2007.

Begin Prepared Remarks:

Good evening. I'm happy to be with my fellow Republicans. I have so many people I want to thank tonight.

I want to thank Ron, of course, for all the great work he does for our party.

I want to thank Mike Villines and Dick Ackerman for their leadership. Especially on the recent budget. For the fourth year in a row ever since the recall we have not raised taxes on Californians. The new budget contains less than a one percent rise in spending. The Federal Government should do so well.

And, of course, I want to thank the thousands of volunteers who make our party possible.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not going to be the typical convention address. I didn't come with a bunch of applause lines. Instead, I came with some concerns about our party...and some hopes. And there is no better place to raise them than at this convention.

The people in this room love the Republican Party or you would not be here. Since I know you want our party to flourish, this allows me to speak frankly about how we can make it we can ensure it is not relegated to the margins of California's political life.

I know there are some who think, "What does Arnold know about Republicans? He's not a real Republican."

I have been a Republican since Nixon. I have been a Republican in spite of years of debates with Maria, the entire Shriver clan and all the Kennedy's up at Hyannis Port. Believe me, it would have been far easier to abandon my Republican identity years ago.

But being a Republican is important to me. This party is important to me. I am proud to be a member of the party of Abraham Lincoln, who righted the greatest moral injustice in this nation's history...the party of Teddy Roosevelt, the enthusiastic reformer and conservationist...I am proud to be a member of the party of Ronald Reagan, the pragmatic conservative who reached out and captured the political center, winning 49 of 50 states in 1984.

Where is the party today?

In California, as you know...our party is losing numbers. An astonishing 30 of the 32 Republican Assembly districts lost registered Republicans this year. Since 2005, we've lost 370,000 registered Republicans statewide. In just the last eight months, our numbers have declined by 120,000.

In movie terms, we are dying at the box office. We are not filling the seats.

Now, while the number of California Republicans has been declining, the number of independents has been growing. They may well outnumber both political parties in just 20 years.

So, who are these people? According to the Public Policy Institute, 70 percent of independents own their own homes. Most are graduates with incomes of more than $60,000. They are younger and more likely to be employed than members of either major party. They describe themselves as moderates. They often hold conservative views on fiscal policy and law-and-order issues, while taking more liberal stands on social and environmental issues. And they can be reached. They voted for me, 59 to 33 percent, over my opponent last year.

The real opportunity for Republicans is that independents generally agree with our core principles. Like us, they believe in limited government that is not wasteful. They believe taxes should be as low as possible, because the more you give government the more it will spend. They believe in individual freedom and the responsibility that goes with that freedom. They believe in the importance of public safety. And they believe that economic prosperity comes from the energy of the marketplace, not from the heavy hand of the state.

I want to make the Republican Party welcoming to these independents.

And the reason I mention this is because there were some Republicans who had proposed that we should not allow independents to vote in Republican primaries.What kind of sense would that make?

The Democrats have said they welcome independents to vote in their primaries. Why wouldn't we welcome them, too? Research shows that the party you vote for in the primary is usually the party you vote for in the general election.

The goal of any political party is to win elections, to become a majority and to advance its ideals. How do we succeed at that? By including, not excluding. By being open to new ideas, not rejecting them out of hand. By expanding into the center, not falling back upon ourselves into a smaller and smaller corner.

Our party has lost the middle, and we will not regain true political power in California until we get it back. I am of the Reagan view that we should not go off the cliff with flags flying. I did that in 2005.

In 1967, when Ronald Reagan spoke to the California Republican Assembly, he said:

"We cannot become a narrow sectarian party in which all must swear allegiance to prescribed commandments. Such a party can be highly disciplined, but it does not win elections. This kind of party soon disappears in a blaze of glorious defeat."

In business if you lose market share, you do something to about it. But I wonder if we've been so beaten down by our minority status that we've developed a bunker mentality? I wonder if we've come to believe that our only remaining power is to say no?

This very savvy audience understands that saying no is not the basis for a healthy political party. We need to address the issues that even registered Republicans are urging us to address.

According to the polls, nearly three-quarters of our own party support the global warming bill that I signed last year. They want this party to do something more about climate change than simply doubt it. If it is the policy of the Republican Party to ignore the great majority of the world's ignore the views of 80 percent of the young people who believe the same...then that party is at odds with the future. The Republican Party needs once again to be the party of Teddy Roosevelt conservationists.

The surveys show that a majority of our own party also wants us to work for comprehensive health care, not stand in its way. My proposal is not a European socialist plan. It's not a Canadian single payer plan that is driving Canadians across our border for health care. My plan is a good faith attempt at a market-based solution. Never in history has medicine ever been able to make such a difference in peoples' lives. And we will be on the losing end of history unless we realize that health care must be addressed.

A majority of our own party supported our transportation and flood control bonds that were on the ballot last year. Yes, it is expensive. But we cannot allow our levees to break as in New Orleans or our bridges to collapse as in Minneapolis.

We are the party of President Eisenhower, the moderate military man who understood the need for logistics and infrastructure and created the Interstate Highway System--the largest public works project in American history. The majority of Republicans understand the need for investment. I believe we should be listening to the majority of our party.

If our party doesn't address the needs of the people-the needs of Republicans themselves - the voters, registered Republicans included, will look elsewhere for their political affiliation.

The majority of Republicans prefer progress with messy compromise over defeat with pristine principles. Compromise is part of politics. And it is especially part of politics if you are the minority party.

California Republicans do not have to be the political equivalent of the Spartans at Thermopolae. We do not have to defend the pass alone. Defeat does not have to be our future.

A large body of reinforcements is right behind us. It is called the middle, the center. They are independents. They are Reagan Democrats. They are disenchanted Republicans.

We do not have to give up who we are for them to come to our aid. They already believe much of what we believe. But they must be allowed to believe other things, too - things that perhaps not all of us agree with. That is fine.

The road to our comeback is clear. The California Republican Party should be a right-of-center party that occupies the broad middle of California. That is a lush, green, abandoned political space. It can be ours.

And we have accomplished so much together these past 3 ½ years.

* We brought the economy back.
* We reformed workers comp.
* We created nearly a million new jobs.
* We eliminated the operating deficit.

* We passed the biggest prison construction program in our history.
* We protected 3 Strikes.
* We passed Jessica's Law.

And much more.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me close with this. When I was 21 years old, I lost my first American bodybuilding competition, in Miami, which I thought for sure I would win. I had already won two Mr. Universe titles in Europe.

When I didn't win, I couldn't believe it. I was devastated. I had let people down. It kept going through my head, "I'm away from home, in this strange city, in America, and I'm a loser." I cried all night long. I vowed to myself I would work as hard as I could to be strong and I would not be beaten again.

My fellow Republicans, I pledge to you that I will work hard to make the Republican Party strong. But I cannot do it alone. For the sake of California and its people, I ask you to join me.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

BUSH LEAGUE: More of Bush's cronyism: i- ncompetent friends in high places

The Mess He Left Behind

Gonzales's successor will face daunting challenges at a scandal-plagued agency

By Emma Schwartz
Posted 9/2/07

The resignation of embattled U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was never a question of if but of when. So when Gonzales finally announced last week that he will leave the Justice Department, his departure offered a glimmer of hope that the beleaguered agency would at last have a chance to remake an image sullied by months of scandals.

Gonzales's inability to explain—or even, he said, remember—whether politics played an undue role in the department's hiring, firing, and prosecution decisions turned the former Texas Supreme Court judge and presidential confidant into a symbol of all that was wrong inside the 110,000-person bureaucracy.

But with little more than a year remaining in the Bush administration, the next attorney general will face daunting challenges in trying to rebuild the department. Election-year politics, congressional probes, an unpopular president—these and other barriers mean that even the strongest candidate may have to settle for piecemeal reform.

The initial hurdle for the White House is finding someone with the bipartisan credibility necessary to winning Senate confirmation—and to regaining the confidence of both department staffers and the American public. As when President Gerald Ford named the respected Edward Levi to the attorney general's post after the Watergate scandal, the White House this time will need to appoint someone whose independence and judgment are unquestioned.

"More than any individual policy, the Senate will be looking for a guarantee that the attorney general will serve justice rather than the president," says Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor.

Loyalists. That guarantee could be hard to secure. Many of the possible replacements for Gonzales—Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, and soon-to-be Acting Attorney General Paul Clement—are seen as loyal conservatives. And the White House may be unwilling to nominate someone who would break from some of the core tenets that made Gonzales so divisive: the use of executive power to justify practices like the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic wiretapping and limiting the rights of the detainees at the Guantánamo Bay naval base.

What's more, winning Senate approval may require other compromises by the Bush administration. The Democratic-led Congress could hold up the confirmation process with its outstanding subpoenas to the White House for documents and testimony related to the unexplained firings of at least eight U.S. attorneys last December and the wiretapping program. Democrats have questioned whether inappropriate political considerations played into the firings, and they remain concerned about the scope and legality of the NSA program.

Confirmation won't put an end to questions about the department, either. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, has vowed to continue the investigations that led to Gonzales's downfall. In addition to the U.S. attorney dismissals, the department has been under fire for alleged political influence on cases handled by the civil rights division. The department could come in for even more criticism when Inspector General Glenn Fine releases his reports into whether any wrongdoing occurred. And Fine confirmed last week that he is looking into whether Gonzales lied to Congress about a number of issues, including the NSA program and the U.S. attorney scandal.

The Justice Department may also butt heads with Congress over the expiration next year of recent changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expanded the department's ability to screen E-mails and phone calls inside and outside the United States without judicial scrutiny. The administration says the legislation is crucial to national security, but progressive groups have condemned it for what they say is its lack of oversight and potential for privacy violations.

Congress is also likely to continue prodding the department over other long-standing concerns: the future of Guantánamo, renewed calls for immigration reform, and the FBI's use of national security letters. An inspector general's report found that the FBI has routinely used these letters—authorization without court review to obtain personal information about suspects in national security investigations—without proper basis, potentially violating civil liberties.

Low morale. On the defensive, the Justice Department will find it difficult to press forward with any new policy initiatives. Morale among career staffers, who bristle at allegations of political interference in prosecutions, remains low. Worse, the next attorney general will have to fill more than a half-dozen recently vacated top positions, including the heads of the Office of Legal Policy and the tax division.

While there may be many young lawyers eager for a plum political appointment, their willingness may not translate so easily into Senate confirmation. It will be looking for independence among the political appointees, too. Among the new AG's personal staffers, as well, Congress will watch out for appointees like former aide Monica Goodling, who admitted she may have "crossed the line" by bringing partisan politics into the administration of justice.

Yet the next attorney general may be able to break from the past in one important respect: recasting the public perception of the department. Key to that, says Daniel Metcalfe, who recently resigned as head of the department's Office of Information and Privacy, will be to "acknowledge that there has been damage to the department's reputation that is no less serious than what afflicted it during the Watergate era."

That admission could go a long way toward boosting the morale of career staffers, who have dutifully prosecuted cases despite the breakdown at the highest echelons of the department.

Still, even if the next attorney general reverses the anger against one of the most important wings of the executive branch, the policies are likely to remain. And it is those policies that have made the Bush Justice Department—particularly Gonzales—such a lightning rod.

This story appears in the September 10, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Labor’s Failure

by James Carroll

Labor Day can seem like a holiday that belongs to another era. That is not because the trade union movement is no longer relevant, nor does the impulse to honor work and workers ever lose its importance. But the word “labor” once defined an entire culture, with its “names, battle slogans, and costumes,” in Karl Marx’s phrase. Where did it go? The labor movement had its symbols, from politically charged clothing to badges to the holidays in May and September; its structures, from picket lines to unions to worker-owned insurance companies; its rhetoric, from the manifestos of agitators to the leaflets of organizers to the songs of Woody Guthrie; its ethic, defined as solidarity.

Millions continue to hold membership in unions, which continue to protect the rights of workers, but the triumph of the labor movement consisted in its becoming a feature of a social landscape that is taken for granted. It was nifty when workers’ apparel - blue jeans - and equipment - pick-up trucks - became items of upper class fashion, but the shallow victory implied a substantial defeat. Labor stopped being a force for political change, much less for social justice. What happened?

The 19th-century dream of a workers’ vanguard leading to a better world was both betrayed and realized, and in each case, labor was undercut. The betrayal occurred when tyrants, in advancing the cause of “the people,” actually advanced themselves. The “dictatorship of the proletariat” turned out to be mere dictatorship. Yet the discrediting of the vision of Karl Marx by the 20th-century communisms that claimed him does not vitiate the original vision. Echoing what Mahatma Gandhi once said of Christianity, Marxism has yet to be really tried.

The realization of the workers’ dream occurred, across the same decades of the 20th century, when regulated capitalism made its adjustments, and a vast population of working people was able to lay solid claim to the middle class. But affluence had an inherently co-opting effect, as was powerfully displayed during the American civil rights movement, when the labor virtue of solidarity was trumped by racism, and union members mostly found themselves on the wrong side of history. The curious phenomenon of “Reagan Democrats” saw workers recruited into a reactionary political movement that undercuts their own interests.

Meanwhile, the human significance of work was undergoing a massive cultural mutation, as traditional industry gave way to high technology, skill to mechanization, manufacturing to information, and economic nationalism to globalization. Marx worried about the control of the means of production, but what is control when the factory is replaced by the keyboard as the center of invention? For 200 years, “capital” was decisive, but then along came “intellectual capital.” Goodbye borders. Goodbye regulation. Welcome to the free market, a free-for-all that destroys freedom. The very conditions of transcendent inequality that gave rise to the labor movement in the first place are now being rapidly re-created on a global scale, with unions reduced to the role of sputtering kibitzers.

In the United States, the most revealing failure of the labor movement to live up to its foundational ideal involves labor’s role as a pillar of the military-industrial complex. The engine of the American economy is defense spending. For two generations, but especially since the end of the Cold War, the nation has cannibalized itself by investing its best minds and most of its treasure in a profoundly counterproductive military establishment.

Usually this is blamed on the so-called “iron triangle” of corporations, Congress, and the Pentagon, which keep trillions of dollars circulating through the unbroken loop. But the labor movement has long been an essential part of this corrupt system, with union lobbyists playing their crucial role in keeping the lucrative defense contracts coming.

What would have happened at the end of the Cold War, when the expected “peace dividend” might have rescued education or rebuilt the nation’s infrastructure, if union leaders, backed by the grass-roots labor movement, had demanded an end to the Pentagon boondoggle? The conversion of a military-based economy, serving no real purpose beyond its own enrichment, to an economy of authentic productivity would have transformed foreign policy in the nick of time (no war in Iraq), and provided resources for homefront infrastructure (no failed dikes in New Orleans, or collapsed bridges in Minneapolis).

It did not happen, for a lot of reasons - one of which is the hollowed out commitment of a movement that should have known better. What this nation needs is a revitalized reason to celebrate Labor Day.

James Carroll’s column appears regularly in the Globe.

© 2007 The Boston Globe

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Condi Rice is not wanted back at Stanford U, and they are letting her know what they feel about "her legacy."

September 1, 2007
Diplomatic Memo
NY Times
As Her Star Wanes, Rice Tries to Reshape Legacy

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 — On May 25, Stanford University’s student newspaper, The Stanford Daily, devoted the bulk of its front page to the university’s former provost, who is on leave while she serves out her term as secretary of state. “Condi Eyes Return,” read the headline, “but in What Role?”

Within hours, the letters to the editor started coming in. “Condoleezza Rice serves an
administration that has trashed the basic values of academia: reason, science, expertise, and honesty. Stanford should not welcome her back,” wrote Don Ornstein, identified by the newspaper as an emeritus professor of mathematics in a letter published May 31.

Online comments on the newspaper’s Web site were even harsher, a veritable stream of vitriol. One of the milder posts came from Jon Wu, who did not give an affiliation: “Please go away, Rice. We don’t want someone who is responsible for the slaughter of an entire nation teaching at our school.”

There was a time when, perhaps more than Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama, Condoleezza Rice seemed to have the best shot at becoming the first woman or the first African-American to be president. But that was before she sounded public alarms based on faulty intelligence to justify the Iraq war, telling CNN, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” It was before a former top Bush administration colleague, David Kay, charged with finding unconventional weapons after the Iraq invasion, referred to Ms. Rice in Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial” as “probably the worst national security adviser since the office was created.”

And it was before furious Lebanese hung a huge banner depicting Ms. Rice’s face, with blood dripping from her lips, from a bridge in central Beirut.

Today, Ms. Rice, 52, continues to have far more star appeal than any other of Mr. Bush’s top advisers. Just last month, GQ magazine ranked her the most powerful person in Washington. Forbes has twice ranked her as the world’s most powerful woman, and Time has listed her as one of the world’s most influential people four times.

But a lot of her gloss has diminished under the steady drumbeat of exposés and tell-all books about the unraveling of the Bush administration and specifically about her inability, as national security adviser, to effectively arbitrate the running turf war between Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over Iraq policy, a war which she, and President Bush, allowed Mr. Rumsfeld to win.

Now Ms. Rice is working hard to reshape her legacy in her remaining 16 months in office. She is cooperating with a range of authors who have lined up to write books about her: “The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy,” by The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, comes out next week, while “Condoleezza Rice: An American Life,” by The New York Times’s Elisabeth Bumiller is due out in December. “Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power,” by Marcus Mabry, now an editor at The Times, came out in May.

Although both the Kessler and the Bumiller books are expected to be critical of Ms. Rice on many points, State Department officials say that it is unusual for a sitting secretary of state to cooperate with so many biographies. But then again, few of her predecessors had multiple authors jostling to write books about them.

Looking Beyond Iraq

Beyond trying to influence the historical record, Ms. Rice is trying hard to rewrite her legacy to include something more than Iraq. Her colleagues and friends say that she has accepted that Iraq is a stain that she probably cannot remove before she leaves office. So she has thrown herself into shoring up the rest of her legacy, zeroing in in recent months on Arab-Israeli peace, as a possible source of redemption.

In Washington and around the world, many now believe that Ms. Rice, after two and a half years on the job, is a far better secretary of state than she was national security adviser. As President Bush’s top diplomat, she has lowered tensions somewhat between America and its allies, after four years of a go-it-alone diplomacy that had chilled trans-Atlantic relations. Despite criticism from conservatives within the administration, she has allowed her North Korea aide, Christopher R. Hill, enough space to negotiate a truce that led to the North’s shutdown of its main nuclear reactor in July.

She has cobbled together a six-nation diplomatic effort to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions which, although unsuccessful so far, has managed for more than a year to hold together on a series of United Nations sanctions against Iran. And perhaps most important, she has used those sanctions, along with tough rhetoric, to tamp down the national-security hawks in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office who have argued for greater consideration of military strikes against Iran.

But none of that has been enough to erase the view that as national security adviser she largely served as a rubber stamp for a series of foreign policy blunders, during a period that critics say will ultimately weigh most heavily on her legacy. “It turned out to be a very disastrous four years in my view,” said Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Mr. Powell’s chief of staff at the State Department while Ms. Rice was national security adviser.

Richard L. Armitage, Mr. Powell’s deputy secretary of state, said he became so frustrated that he once went to the White House and complained privately to Ms. Rice that he felt like he was getting on a “gerbil wheel” every morning “and nothing would be resolved, and we’d get off at night, and the next morning we would get back on and do it all over again.”

But Mr. Armitage said his view of Ms. Rice had since mellowed. “I’ve become more conscious of the fact that the president got the national security adviser he wanted,” he said in an interview this week. “It just wasn’t the national security adviser that I wanted.”

Ms. Rice is rarely, if ever, self-reflective. But in an interview with The New York Times this month, she acknowledged, ever so obliquely, that her first four years working for the Bush administration were not her best.

“I don’t know; if that’s the assessment, you know, I’ll accept people’s assessment,” she said, her demeanor resigned. “The national security adviser is a great job, because you’re very close to the president; you’re working with him, but it’s also a very difficult job because everything is by remote control. You do not own any of the assets.”

She was sitting in the anteroom of her office on the State Department’s seventh floor, in the chair where she usually sits for news media interviews, occasionally falling back on her usual talking points, except this time, those talking points were interspersed with grumbling that she was being asked for personal reflection, something she does not like to do, preferring instead to work through times of personal turmoil on the piano, with Brahms.

In fact, her friends say that she rarely questions whether she is right or wrong, instead choosing to believe in a particular truth with absolute certainty until she doesn’t believe it anymore, at which point she moves on. “Now you’ve got me trying to psycho-analyze myself,” she complained.

She looked around the stately reception room. On the walls were paintings she hung when she arrived of her favorite predecessors as secretary of state: Thomas Jefferson, George C. Marshall, and Dean Acheson.

“I told Steve Hadley once, I frankly prefer being coordinated than coordinating,” she said, referring to the current national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley. National security advisers, she said, end up spending their time thinking: “Let me see if I can get Secretary X to do Y, and Secretary Y to do X, and let’s see if we can get both to do it.” She gave a nod. “I prefer line responsibility,” she said, echoing perhaps the biggest complaint about her time at the National Security Council, that she was more follower than leader.

Act II, New Mission

From her office in Foggy Bottom, Ms. Rice now has more distance — about a mile — from Mr. Bush than she did when she worked at the White House as part of a bureaucracy that exists solely to serve the president. While still beholden to the president, she sits at the top of a permanent bureaucracy with its own, different tradition and sense of mission.

In her tenure at State, there has been a re-emergence of the more pragmatic thinker who once wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine that the president of the United States must remember that the American military “is not a civilian police force.”

“It is not a political referee,” she wrote. “And it is most certainly not designed to build a civilian society.”

These days, her line responsibility has come with some of its own problems. Officials at the Pentagon have complained that Ms. Rice has not coughed up the promised number of diplomats to staff reconstruction teams in Iraqi provinces. Ms. Rice has also come under fire for her abandonment of her onetime passion: the administration’s stated quest for democracy in the Muslim world.

In the Palestinian territories, she engineered a political boycott of the militant Islamist group Hamas after it won legislative elections, which she had pushed for, in 2006. In Pakistan, while continuing to express support for elections, she has scrambled for ways to keep Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a military dictator who took power in a 1999 coup, in office. And she made little mention of democracy during a visit to Egypt and Saudi Arabia in July, and did not meet with any political dissidents, citing time pressures and a full schedule.

“It just burns me up that poor Ayman Nour is rotting in jail, and what is she doing about that?” said Max Boot, a security analyst who has generally supported President Bush, referring to the Egyptian dissident who ran against President Hosni Mubarak and was subsequently thrown in jail. “Nothing as far as I can tell.”

“Rice was one of the most passionate defenders of democracy, but it’s been overtaken by this State Department agenda of getting along with dictators,” said Mr. Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “War Made New.”

These days, the flood of Condi-versus-Hillary-for-president spoofs on the Internet have died down. Her approval ratings, while still higher than those of the rest of the administration and Mr. Bush himself, have dipped, to about 47 percent in July from 54 percent in April 2005. And few people are talking about “Rice for president” anymore.

Ms. Rice herself steadfastly maintains that she has no interest in being on a presidential ticket, and says her intent is to return to Stanford when her term is over. But a return to Stanford holds its own problems.

“As a scholar, she’ll be fine,” said Stanford’s president, John L. Hennessy, who succeeded Ms. Rice as provost in 1999. But, he added: “Clearly, there are people who are unhappy about what she’s done as secretary of state. Some would say she should not be allowed back. But that is not a legitimate position.”

She has threatened to write her own memoir, although friends say that it is doubtful that she would produce the sort of finger-pointing manuscript that George J. Tenet and other former administration officials have delivered lately.

Swinging High

This year, she has made four trips to Israel and the Palestinian territories, and is heading back again next month. She has shuttled back and forth between Ramallah, Jerusalem and Amman in search of what she calls a “political horizon” for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. She has engineered six meetings this year between the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Her goals now appear to be focused on a face-to-face high-level meeting between Israeli officials and their Saudi counterparts, in what could eventually bring about the type of rapprochement not seen since President Carter brokered the Camp David accord between Sadat and Begin in 1978.

“I think if we could get to a place where there’s a real, reasonable chance of Arab-Israeli reconciliation as well as Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, that would be a huge step forward,” Ms. Rice said. “I think it’s possible.”

But many of her predecessors in the past have thought this possible, only to leave office frustrated.

“Her strategy is to just keep knocking on this door, without a strategy, making it up as she goes along in an effort to put something together,” said Aaron David Miller, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center who was a senior adviser for Arab-Israeli relations at the State Department under the last three presidents. “This determination is now tied to not just the perception of the national interest, but her own personal interest too.”

Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution who advised the American occupation authority in Baghdad in 2004, said it is possible, though unlikely, that Ms. Rice could change the historical record in her remaining time in office. “If she pulls a rabbit out of her hat on the Israeli-Palestinian question, and some kind of political compromise in Iraq, it could partially salvage her legacy,” Mr. Diamond said. But, he added, “If we keep going on the trajectory that is now evident, I think even her tenure as secretary of state is also going to be, frankly, pretty damned.”

For the record, Ms. Rice said that she was not fixated on her legacy. On the morning of the Times interview, she had just returned to the State Department from a private tour of the National Archives, which she said she had always wanted to see. A morning with the Emancipation Proclamation, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, she said, gave her a different perspective on legacy.

“People are still trying to resolve those legacies,” she said. “I’m not going to worry about my legacy."
She said the recent visit to Camp David by President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan gave her some solace, as a reminder that American policies have helped spread democracy and moderation in unlikely places. “I watched the president standing in front of an American and Afghan flag, and I thought, the American president can now stand in front of an American and Iraqi flag, an American and Lebanese flag, and American and Palestinian flag,” she said. “I think in six years to have helped to foster those changes, even if they’re incomplete, even if they’re tough, even if there’s still work to be done — just think about those pictures.”

“Those are pretty dramatic changes,” she said.

She said that she is looking forward to getting back into the classroom at Stanford, where she hopes to interact with students, to challenge them, to hear them out and perhaps to teach them a thing or two about what it’s like to be in the driver’s seat when a national-security crisis explodes.

“I would do a simulation with students, where they are given a problem, some hot spot in the world,” she said. “And over a week they’d have to be the national security adviser solving those problems.”

“All of a sudden,” she said, “it doesn’t look so easy.”

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.