Lawbreakers, paradigm shifters, opportunity scoffers and letter writers

Today's must-reads from TPMMuckraker, William Gibson and more.

Published July 31, 2006 7:45PM (EDT)

Some of today's must reads:

Justin Rood at TPMMuckraker has an item about a report, due later this week from House Judiciary Democrats, concluding that "the Bush administration may have broken over two dozen federal laws and regulations -- some of them multiple times." The committee's Democratic minority could end up in the majority come November, Rood reminds us -- which means that the report's several hundred pages and thousand footnotes might serve as more than just cries in the wilderness.

The science fiction writer William Gibson finds a reason for "the apparently literal impossibility of explaining the fundamentally counterproductive nature of the United State's invasion of Iraq, or of what's currently going on in Lebanon, to those who disagree." It all goes back to Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" and the blindness that changing paradigms induces.

At the Post, Dan Froomkin pulls together the threads of the Mideast crisis and finds that "President Bush's 'moment of opportunity' in the Middle East is increasingly looking like an opportunity for disaster":

In the best of circumstances, Bush would be running the risk of being considered callous. But in the current circumstances, he runs the risk of being considered both callous and delusional....

You don't get much more Washington Establishment than Richard N. Haass, who was Bush's first-term State Department policy planning director and now leads the Council on Foreign Relations. And he apparently finds Bush's position laughable. Literally.

Peter Baker writes in the Washington Post that Haass "laughed at the president's public optimism. 'An opportunity?' Haass said with an incredulous tone. 'Lord, spare me. I don't laugh a lot. That's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. If this is an opportunity, what's Iraq? A once-in-a-lifetime chance?' "

Atrios has the full text of a letter the Democratic congressional leadership has sent to President Bush:

The open-ended commitment in Iraq that you have embraced cannot and should not be sustained. Rather, we continue to believe that it is time for Iraqis to step forward and take the lead for securing and governing their own country...We believe that a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq should begin before the end of 2006. U.S. forces in Iraq should transition to a more limited mission focused on counterterrorism, training and logistical support of Iraqi security forces, and force protection of U.S. personnel... Mr. President, simply staying the course in Iraq is not working. We need to take a new direction.

By Scott Rosenberg

Salon co-founder Scott Rosenberg is director of He is the author of "Say Everything" and Dreaming in Code and blogs at

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