Truth teller

David Atkins with an astounding bit of television in which David Frum, former Bush speechwriter, tells the truth on Morning Joe:

Then about four minutes in, something even more attention-grabbing after Scarborough bloviated about Thatcher and Reagan appealing to the common man:

Since the loss of the election, we have heard an enormous amount of discussion from Republicans on television and newspaper columns about immigration as an issue…but all of us who are allowed to participate in this conversation, we all have health insurance. And the fact that millions of Americans don’t have health insurance, they don’t get to be on television. And it is maybe a symptom of a broader problem, not just the Republican problem, that the economic anxieties of so many Americans are just not part of the national discussion at all. I mean, we have not yet emerged from the greatest national catastrophe, the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. And what are we talking about? The deficit and the debt. And these are important problems, but they’re a lot easier to worry about if you are wealthier than you were in 2008, which most of the people on television now are again, if you are securely employed, which most of the people on television now are. But that’s not true for 80% of America. And the Republican Party, the opposition party, needed to find some way to give voice to real urgent economic concerns held by middle class Americans. Latinos, yes, but Americans of all ethnicities.


None of the panelists on Scaraborough–not Joe himself, not David Gregory, not Chuck Todd, none of them–dared to answer Frum’s devastating indictment of them. Not of the Republican Party, but ofthem. It was uncomfortable, and then blithely ignored.


Remarkable.


After five full minutes of inside baseball speculation on Republican leadership games during which Frum looked like he might pull a Howard Beale (check out the look on Frum’s face at 11:09 of the video!), he finally got a chance to speak again:

I believe the Republican Party is a party of followership. The problem with the Republican leaders is that they’re cowards….The real locus of the problem is the Republican activist base and the Republican donor base. They went apocalyptic over the past four years. And that was exploited by a lot of people in the conservative world. I won’t soon forget the lupine smile that played over the head of a major conservative institution when he told me that our donors think the apocalypse has arrived. Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex….Because the followers, the donors and the activists are so mistaken about the nature of the problems the country faces the nature–I mean, it’s just a simple question. I went to Tea Party rallies and I would ask this question: “have taxes gone up or down in the past four years?” They could not answer that question correctly. Now it’s true that taxes will go up if the President is re-elected. That’s why we’re Republicans. But you have to know that taxes have not gone up in the past. And “do we spend a trillion dollars on welfare?” Is that true or false? It is false. But it is almost universally believed. That means that the leaders have no space to operate.


And to think that the guy who coined the phrase “axis of evil” is now the moral conscience of the Republican Party.

Sedition

So this is the single most influential man in the nation about what textbooks your children and grandchildren will read, because Texas buys so many books, their choices are the default choices in many states. And he’s urging the breakup of the country:

Peter Morrison, treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party in Texas, suggests in his newsletter that the state should have an “amicable divorce” from the “maggots” who re-elected Obama.


Morrison posted on his Facebook page his post-election thoughts: “We must contest every single inch of ground and delay the baby-murdering, tax-raising socialists at every opportunity. But in due time, the maggots will have eaten every morsel of flesh off of the rotting corpse of the Republic, and therein lies our opportunity.”


“Texas was once its own country, and many Texans already think in nationalist terms about their state,” Morrison continued. “We need to do everything possible to encourage a long-term shift in thinking on this issue. Why should Vermont and Texas live under the same government? Let each go her own way in peace, sign a free trade agreement among the states and we can avoid this gut-wrenching spectacle every four years.”


Reached for comment by Bud Kennedy at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kent Batman, the chairman of the Hardin County Republican Party, said: “Wow.”


“OK, well — I guess I need to start taking a look at his newsletters,” Batman said.


According to Kennedy, State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy picked Morrison to screen the state’s public-school textbooks.

Ted Westhusing

General Petraeus’s link to a troubling suicide in Iraq.

In 2007, The Texas Observer published a cover story by contributor Robert Bryce titled “I Am Sullied No More.” Bryce covered much of the same ground paved by Miller but added details on the Petraeus angle and allegations of murder.


“When he was in Iraq, Westhusing worked for one of the most famous generals in the U.S. military, David Petraeus,” Bryce observed. “As the head of counterterrorism and special operations under Petraeus, Westhusing oversaw the single most important task facing the U.S. military in Iraq then and now: training the Iraqi security forces.”


Bryce referred to a “two-inch stack of documents, obtained over the past 15 months under the Freedom of Information Act, that provides many details of Westhusing’s suicide…. The documents echo the story told by Westhusing’s friends. ‘Something he saw [in Iraq] drove him to this,’ one Army officer who was close to Westhusing said in an interview. ‘The sum of what he saw going on drove him’ to take his own life. ‘It’s because he believed in duty, honor, country that he’s dead.’ ”


In Iraq, Westhusing worked under two generals: Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, and Petraeus, then a lieutenant general. But Bryce continued: “By late May, Westhusing was becoming despondent over what he was seeing.” When his body was found, a note was found nearby addressed to Petraeus and Fil. It read:


“Thanks for telling me it was a good day until I briefed you. [Redacted name]—You are only interested in your career and provide no support to your staff—no msn [mission] support and you don’t care. I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human right abuses and liars. I am sullied—no more. I didn’t volunteer to support corrupt, money grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. I trust no Iraqi. I cannot live this way. All my love to my family, my wife and my precious children. I love you and trust you only. Death before being dishonored any more.


“Trust is essential—I don’t know who trust anymore. Why serve when you cannot accomplish the mission, when you no longer believe in the cause, when your every effort and breath to succeed meets with lies, lack of support, and selfishness? No more. Reevaluate yourselves, cdrs [commanders]. You are not what you think you are and I know it.”


Twelve days after Westhusing’s body was found, Army investigators talked with his widow, who told them: “I think Ted gave his life to let everyone know what was going on. They need to get to the bottom of it, and hope all these bad things get cleaned up.”


Bryce concluded: “In September 2005, the Army’s inspector general concluded an investigation into allegations raised in the anonymous letter to Westhusing shortly before his death. It found no basis for any of the issues raised. Although the report is redacted in places, it is clear that the investigation was aimed at determining whether Fil or Petraeus had ignored the corruption and human rights abuses allegedly occurring within the training program for Iraqi security personnel.”


Since then, the corruption and failed training angles have drawn wide attention although the Petraeus’s role, good or bad, has not.


The writer returned to the case one more time in February 2008 with another Texas Observer article. It opened: “Since last March, when I wrote a story about the apparent suicide of Col. Ted Westhusing in Iraq, I had believed there was nothing else to write about his tragic death.


“But in December, I talked to a source in the Department of Defense who met Westhusing in Iraq about three months before his death. The source, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, was investigating claims of wrongdoing against military contractors working in Iraq. After a short introduction, I asked him what he thought had happened to Westhusing. ‘I think he was killed. I honestly do. I think he was murdered,’ the source told me. ‘Maybe DOD didn’t have enough evidence to call it murder, so they called it suicide.’ ”


I have since gone through hundreds of pages of the FOIA documents, including transcripts of interviews with Westhusing’s widow, friends, colleagues. The Q&A with Westhusing widow is haunting. She claimed that her husband would never commit suicide, and she thought it more possible that “someone would kill him.” While he never mentioned being afraid for his life, she said, “In Ted’s voice, there was a fear. He did not like the night time and being alone in that trailer.”

 

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