Friday, September 28, 2007
A Different Lefty View On Withdrawal After Bush
Let me attempt to establish some truth's. 1st, The administration of George Bush has proven breath takingly incompetent. It is hard to think of any large scale project they have embarked upon that has not wound up in disaster. I certainly do not mean to say that the President is entirely responsible for this. He has surrounded himself with cronies and knuckleheaded right wing neocons who just aren't able to govern effectively. So point number one is that this administration's initiatives tend to end in a bad way.
2nd, I can't think of a single initiative that this administration has been forced to govern against their will. All of the initiative disasters to this point have been on policies which this President actually supported. I conclude that if the President were dragged kicking and screaming into having to govern an initiative he did not care to oversee, that the disaster would probably be even greater than is typical for the Bush administration. (Just to give voice to the opposite outlook on this, the President is just always wrong, causing his initiatives to fail because of their inherently weak logical foundations, but if the President were forced to do the right thing that it may go well because it is the right thing to do. But really now... do you think he wouldn't screw it up anyway? I mean we're talking George Bush here people!)
If we can agree upon the first two principles, let us combine the twain when it comes to the possibility of withdrawing from Iraq and consider the consequences. A withdrawal from Iraq would be a massive undertaking. A huge initiative with many pitfalls and ways for a derailment if not governed well. Disengaging from an active and deadly enemy in a hostile environment is a hazardous enterprise under the best of circumstances. Next, George Bush will be the commander in chief of such an enterprise only if he is positively forced to do it. It is painfully obvious that his one and only plan for the Iraq debacle is to kick the problem off to his predecessor, and then be able to cry from the sidelines that the next guy lost the war when the troops come home.
The question as far as I'm concerned is not what is the right thing to do. The question is what can we trust the Bush administration to do right?
I understand the wish to have the troops home tomorrow, and I am with the vast majority of the American people in wanting to accomplish just that. But simply based upon our collective past experiences with this administration should we really trust them to be the ones to carry out this initiative. The fact that Bush would only carry out the mission grudgingly, being brought to that point kicking and screaming, only doubles my concern.
The reason I am writing this post is because a group of Senate Republicans have broached the possibility of passing a law that would give a timeline for removing troops from Iraq after President Bush has left office. That proposal has been declared a non starter by Democratic leaders of the Senate and widely panned by my fellow lefty bloggers. I would urge a more thoughtful consideration of the proposal based upon the truth's I have listed above.
If the debate shifts to an understanding that the next President will oversee the initiative of withdrawing, I would like the debate to also touch upon the mission of the troops until 2009. Our troops should not be patrolling neighborhoods and in other ways providing targets to the insurgency. If I were given my 'druthers', I would pull back to our bases and the greenzone. Let us maintain a defensive posture and protect ourselves until 2009, and then get out.
Again... I would honestly appreciate any commentary from anyone who disagrees with this outlook. My mind is not set on this, but the more I consider the situation and the history of this administration, the more sense this outlook makes to me.
The Cubicle For Friday
Rudy Giuliani has given a reason to explain why he interupted his speech to the NRA to answer a cell phone call from his wife. Of course Rudy says he answered that call because of...9/11! Rudy says: "And quite honestly, since Sept. 11, most of the time when we get on a plane, we talk to each other and just reaffirm the fact that we love each other," Giuliani has no shame. In a very real way he is cheapening the memory of a day which should rise above crass politics and petty partisanship. Giuliani hearkens to a pile of rubble and 3000 dead Americans, in response to any and every thing in relation to his run for political office. This nation needs to take back 9/11 from the fear mongering, power hungry and depraved politicians who use that day as a weapon against those who do not agree with them. Democrats and Republicans, Christians, Jews and Muslims, Americans and foriegners were killed in New York on 9/11. It should be a national day to remember the fallen, not Giuliani's personal day for taking advantage of a horrible memory.
The military of Myanmar might be bucking orders and starting to line up with the protesters. I don't think I've paid much attention to the events in Myanmar, which I honestly feel a bit ashamed about. So from my little spot in the blogoverse, for what it's worth, I raise my voice in support of the democracy movement in Myanmar. The world is watching and the leaders of the junta should consider how they will be percieved after the turmoil is ended.
ABC has published the first pictures from the Blackwater incident... except the pictures are not actually from the Blackwater incident. Actually, there is one picture from the scene of the shootout. An aerial shot from high in the sky showing the location of various vehicles during the shootout. But the rest of the photo's (except for a couple showing vehicles damaged taken well after the controversy) are from the scene of the bombing which occurred several minutes and about a mile from the shoot out. So the pictures which ABC purport to show the Blackwater incident actually show the explosion, bomb crater, burned out vehicles, people gawking at the damage, and convoys responding to the scene of the bombing... One is left with the impression that a bomb went off and the Blackwater guys strarted shooting up the place right there. In fact the vast majority of damage in the pictures is caused by the bomb, leaving the impression that Blackwater is hardly responsible for any damage what so ever. You might even conclude that if the bomb scene were the scene of the controversy that it was probably the bomb blast that killed the 11 Iraqi's. It is a misleading collage, and I for one left a comment pointing out the bait and switch. Lets just see if it gets posted!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Rush, The Pilonidal Cyst Poster Boy Said What?!
Remember, it is Rush Limbaugh who is being credited with originally making the pun on the name of Petraeus. Check out this Jan 29th article describing Limbaughs referencing of Senator Hagel as Senator Betrayus, "a dittohead derivation of the name of Gen. David Petraeus".
Rush has gone and done it again, today telling a caller that service members serving in Iraq who publicly express the opinion that the United States should end the occupation are "the phony soldiers".
Rush Limbaugh has a singularly cowardly record regarding military service, being exempted from the draft during the Vietnam war for having a pilonidal cyst. (Pilonidal cyst is proper medical terminology for having a boil on the butt, and no I'm not making that up... I'm not that creative!). Somehow that butt boil doesn't keep him from sitting on it all day and smearing military members who don't see things his way!
Consider the fact that two of the seven members of the 82nd Airborne who wrote a widely publicized Op Ed calling for the withdrawal of our forces have been killed in Iraq since they expressed themselves. Another of those members was shot in the head after writing the Op Ed and is expected to survive. How dare Rush Limbaugh, Mr. Butt Boil Deferment Right Wing Chicken Hawk, call those dead and maimed hero's "phony soldiers". It really boggles the mind!
Thursdays Lunch Hour
Former President Bill Clinton laid into the Republicans for the feaux outrage they have generated over the Moveon ad. Which gives me the chance to go off on a tangent which really has no bearing on Moveon or anything else in that clip. I keep hearing about how the nation is tired of the Bush/Clinton Bush/Clinton cycle. I think the people who say this are half right. The nation is beyond tired of the Bush brand, but Clinton is very popular. I think when you hear people talking about the Bush/Clinton cycle, what they are really doing is tying Clinton to Bush. That is patently ridiculous. It is because of those differences that Bill remains popular. Let me take this chance to hearken to one of my favorite political lines of all time. To paraphrase the great Lloyd Bentsen: I don't know the Clinton's, the Clinton's are not friends of mine, but the Bush's are no Clinton's!
Immediately prior to the invasion, Saddam was sending signals to the Egyptians that he would be willing to go into exile if he were given $1 billion to retire on. What a bargain! Knowing now what we didn't know then, $10 billion would have been cheap! Before this disaster is over with we are looking at over a trillion dollars poured into the quagmire in Iraq. Thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives are part of the equation as well. It might have been a bit of a bruise on our collective ego's, but just imagine the quagmire we could have avoided.
From the same source that brought us the Saddam wanted exile story is the news that Bush told the Prime Minister of Spain that what was going on with Iraq was like "Chinese water torture. We have to put an end to it." I think we have ended the Chinese water torture and replaced it with Chinese water boarding... or Chinese enhanced interrogation techniques anyway.
Part of the Patriot Act has been tossed by a federal judge for being unconstitutional. The judge rules that the act "now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment". So what happens when the President simply decides to ignore the law, the judicial system and the constitution and continue with his illegality anyway? I suppose this is an example of the famous quote by Andrew Jackson about a supreme court ruling: "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it". Who will hold this President accountable for blatantly defying the law, and when being caught at it announcing his intention to continue the practice?
On Last Nights Dem. Debate, And Supporting The Nominee
The moment came when the candidates were in the lightning round, which meant they had a 30 second clock to answer various questions. Tim Russert tossed the candidates a hypothetical question based upon a former guest he interviewed on Meet The Press. The hypothetical involved a high ranking Al Qaeda member being captured, who our intelligence service is certain possesses knowlege about an attack on America in the next couple of days. Under that circumstance Russerts guest had asserted that American intelligence operatives have the duty to beat the information out of the detainee.
Russert tossed the ticking time bomb to Senators Obama and Biden first, who both answered that torture was wrong under any circumstance. Then he moved to Senator Clinton who echoed the previous answers. At this point Russert wound up and delivered his beanball: "The guest who laid out this scenario for me with that proposed solution was William Jefferson Clinton last year"
At this point the camera was on Hillary and she sort of fixed Russert with this glare, as if waiting for him to finish his delivery... Russert then said: "So he disagrees with you."
Hillary took that beanball and knocked it into the next timezone: "Well, he's not standing here right now." She was beaming as she said it.
Then, just to finish it off, after the wild applause from the audience had settled down, and Russert tried to press the point Hillary figuratively rounded the bases. Russert: "So there is a disagreement,"
Clinton: (heavy on the sarcasm) "Well, I'll talk to him later."
When I watched the debate in full later, the impression this moment left on me when I first saw it was validated. Dennis Kucinich had some good moments, and Mike Gravel can always be counted upon to toss some grenades into the fray... but from my opinion Hillary's take on Russerts beanball was the highlight of the debate.
The coverage after the debate on MSNBC hardly touched on that moment. The couple of times it was brought up it was presented as a gotcha moment for Senator Clinton by Russert. I thought he tried to make it that, but the Senator handled it beautifully. If nothing else she demonstrated a quick wit and ability to think under pressure.
Which brings me to another question currently roiling the waters on the lefty side of the great political divide. What happens if Hillary wins the nomination? This issue was brought into focus for me by a caller to Thom Hartman who I heard on the way to work today. The caller was upset with the media determining that Senator Clinton is the nominee and described being in despair about the state of politics to the point of just not voting anymore. Hartman implored the caller to hang in there and vote for the Democratic nominee regardless, and tied it into the rights drive to suppress the vote. That is a valid point to be sure, but I have another reason for voting for whoever gets the nomination.
The executive branch is not just the President. The people the President surrounds him/herself with have a great deal of say so in the every day workings of our government. Think of it this way. Who was better for America as Secretary of Defense: Donald Rumsfeld or Les Aspin? Who made the better Secretary of State: Condi Rice or Madelaine Albright? It is obvious that the talent pool the Democratic President would choose from is light years ahead on qualifications and ability to wisely govern compared to what we have already experienced under the Bush administration.
This is the same principle that guides me when I vote for Senator and Congress. I could actually disagree with the Democratic nominee and agree with the Republican on the vast majority of issues, but I can not imagine ever voting for a Republican. Because on the really important vote on who it is that controls the Congress, I know that the Democratic nominee who may not be as ideologically pure as I'd like is going to vote for Harry Reid as Senate Leader, or Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker.
So even if a Congressional Democrat will vote against my issues more often than a Republican would on the same votes, the fact is that the leadership chooses what they will get to vote for. Even if the Democrat doesn't vote my way on those issues when the votes are called, those issues still get voted on if the Democrat gets elected. But those issues are strangled in the cradle if the Republican, no matter how ideologically in tune they are with my point of view, votes for Republican leadership.
The point in all this is that there is more that should go into the voting decision than just who agrees with you on the issues you think are important. Believe you me, if everything were equal I would positively love to hop on the Kucinich bandwagon and ride it to the Presidency. I have yet to reach a decision as to who I will support in the Democratic primary with the caveat that if Gore decides to make a late entry to the race that he will be my guy. But I can guarantee you this. Who ever is the Democratic nominee in the general election will have my full and ungrudging support. Because I think this nation is sick and tired of Rumsfeld's, Brownies and Cheney's running the show.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Wednesdays Lunch Hour
George Bush is upping the ante in his request to Congress for funding his Iraq disaster. By all appearances some in the mainstream media are intent on helping the President by playing a shell game with the real figures. This headline from MSNBC is misleading: "Bush seeks nearly $50 billion more for wars". In fact Bush is seeking $190 billion, which is $50 billion more than he originally signalled. If Congress were to adamantly refuse any further funding the savings to the taxpayer would be $190 billion, not $50 billion.
Senator Larry Craig (R, Id) is making noises about not resigning from the Senate until the Judge rules in the appeal to remove his guilty plea. Honestly, I'm not certain that if Craig had fought the charges that he would have been convicted, but once he cops the plea that should be that. Can you imagine the absolute chaos that would befall the justice system if people were able to withdraw their pleas after they started regretting their decisions? In fact I would love to have the judge make an example of Craig. The charge for which he pled guilty remains as adjudicated, but the charge that was waived in return for the guilty plea (lewd conduct) should be brought back and tried before a jury. Craig is the one trying to renege on the plea bargain, so make an example of him or face the wave of chaos from everyone else trying to pull a Larry Craig with the legal system. He may escape conviction on the charge of lewdness, but that trial would be positively riveting!
The House has overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the Moveon Betrayus ad. So when are we going to get a resolution condemning politicians who solicit gay sex in public restrooms? It is just ridiculous that our soldiers are stuck in a middle eastern quagmire, supposedly fighting to give them freedom and democracy, but our politicians are passing meaningless resolutions condemning a political advertisement. Just why are we fighting to give people half the world away the very freedoms which we routinely denounce when it is politically convenient to do so. A substantial majority of Democratic House members supported the resolution which leads me to wonder, the next time some slimy Republican outfit drags the reputation of a Democratic Veteran through the mud, just how many Congressional Republican members will support a resolution condemning that? Of course the answer is maybe a couple (McCain did condemn the swiftboating of Kerry and smear of Max Cleland by Saxby Chambliss) but certainly not anything approaching a majority.
Here is the latest butchery of the English language by our
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Rudy's Major Contradiction
His explanation of that flip flop only causes further confusion as far as I'm concerned. Giuliani was very staunch in favor of gun control in 2002, and 2004 so he must nuance the relationship between his change on the issue, and 9/11. He does so by noting an appeals court ruling which overturned a ban on private ownership of handguns in Washington D.C. To Giuliani this ruling evidently caused an epiphany: The rights enshrined by the Constitution are especially dear, particularly in light of 9/11. Here is the exact quote from the A.P.
"It is a very , very strong description of how important personal liberties are in this country and how we have to respect them," he said of the ruling, adding it "sort of maybe even did more to crystalize my thinking on the whole gun issue in light of Sept. 11." the ruling "sort of maybe even did more to crystalize my thinking on the whole gun issue in light of Sept. 11."That logic is a stretch to be sure, but consider the measures which Giuliani supports as a direct result of 9/11, such as wiretapping without a warrant which is a direct violation of the fourth amendment, or the suspension of habeas corpus on suspects determined by the President to be enemy combatants with no judicial oversight whatsoever. How can Giuliani so cavalierly determine that some constitutional rights are more important after 9/11, while others can simply be disregarded at the whim of the President because of 9/11.
"I think, after Sept. 11 — I mean I probably would have had the same impression before, I'm not sure — but after Sept. 11, all that seemed much more powerful to me," Giuliani said.
Just to reiterate, Giuliani thinks 9/11 is a powerful reminder of how dear the rights given us by the constitution are... at least as far as gun control is concerned anyway. Yet he explicitly calls for unconstitutional measures removing the very rights which he supposedly found so important in response to 9/11. I just don't think his explanation on the relationship of his flip flop on gun control with 9/11 makes much sense actually. What we have here is Giuliani falling back on the one thing which makes him what he is as a national figure. 9/119/119/119/119/119/119/11 ad infinitum... He HAS to make everything 9/11 or become just another overwrought face in a crowd of hysterical Republican candidates. Even when the truth of the issue which he is talking about obviously has no relevance on 9/11, the rhetoric must warp the issue to make it fit.
I think this constant harping by Giuliani on 9/11 is tiresome. Furthermore, it should be instructive that if Giuliani does get the Republican nomination, his Democratic opponent will positively trounce Giuliani in both the city and the state of New York.
From The Cubicle
The next part of the speech that caught my attention was Ahmadinejad's absolute faith in God. I mean he makes George Bush look like the Marquis De Sade on the scales of personal piety. Not only is Ahmadinejad holy, but he is convinced that the rest of us would be much better off if we were just as holy as he is. To be honest I think President Bush goes over the line when it comes to mixing religion and politics... so I for one will hardly welcome enlightened and Godly world leadership by Mahmoud.
Another part of the speech that I noticed were the several times that Mahmoud made "official" pronouncements. He officially pronounced the formation of the league of free nations and then started on a riff about how the United Nations would form an integral part of that league. He officially pronounced that the question regarding Irans nuclear ambitions was now a closed issue. Maybe Ahmadinedjad should reconsider the efficacy of making such official pronouncements because one must assume that if he is able to make them stick merely by dint of saying they are "official", then so is any other world leader under similar circumstances. On the other hand if the official pronouncements are just so much hot air, that would tend to lessen the influence of future statements from the leader in question.
Finally I noted Ahmadinedjad's pointed references to the failings of America in upholding the standards which we insist other nations hold regarding human rights and freedoms. In particular he mentioned secret prisons, secret detentions, and wiretapping of conversations... all issues which are very near and dear to my side of the political divide in America. Let me officially pronounce (guffaw) that such rhetoric from the spokestoady of a nation which hangs and flogs people for being gay, is widely known for the horrendous conditions of it's own prisons and the injustice of their judicial system, to make an appearance on the world scene in the name of human rights and dignity is hardly helpful to the cause which he purports to support. Pull the mote from thine own eye before pointing to the mote in ours please Mr. President. It would be similar to the Republican party suddenly discovering that wasteful spending is a horrible thing for the budget, but only after years of setting a standard which drunken sailors can only admire and having the Democratic party take power. Oh right... thats exactly what is happening!
Monday, September 24, 2007
On Partisanship In The War On Terror
According to the story, Sanchez would not name names in an interview with A.P. after the event, but fingered the "most senior leadership in our nation".
Sanchez is spot on with his observations, but let me give the conclusion which he felt (probably from a sense of not wanting to seem overly partisan) was best left unsaid. This administrations insistence on using the war on terror as a political tool to gain and hold power is one of the greatest travesties ever perpertrated upon this nation by any numbskulled leader in our entire history.
Longtime readers of this blog are well past sick and tired of the constant harping by myself on the state of America immediately following 9/11. But it bears repeating, which is what I do. The nation united due to the attacks of Al Qaeda as it has rarely united before. The President and his allies saw fit to bastardize this unity, calling any who disagreed with them pro terrorist and un patriotic. The ulitmate bastardization of our national unity was the drive to war in Iraq. To prove how political and divisive was this campaign to open an unnecessary war, the vote to authorize it was held immediately prior to the midterm election in 2002. Bush 1 saw fit to hold off on his vote until the midterm election had passed, out of a sense of wanting to make the policy not seem overly political. His son doesn't have the foresight to care about such nonesense as what is good or bad for the nation... he and Rove just saw a chance to make Democrats look weak on terror.
Remember as we talk about undue partisanship in the war on terror that the 2002 election also saw a Democratic Senator who had given three limbs in service to his nation in Vietnam compared in television commercials to Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Senator Max Cleland actually lost his seat in the Senate, but not his wheelchair, during that crass and divisive appeal to Americans to vote Republican or face an increased likelihood of dying at the hands of the terrorists. This is one of several well known smears against veterans by Republicans who find themselves on the other side of an election from a military hero. Can you imagine the outrage that would have been generated if Bill Clinton had questioned Bob Doles patriotism in 1996? This is one case in which Clinton did NOT do it too... Yet who doubts that if Dole were a Democrat that Republicans would have been more than happy to smear him as unpatriotic or sympathetic to Osama and Saddam? It's right there in the record and the record is not pretty as far as Republican treatement of veterans they run against is concerned.
So your freaking right we are divided amongst ourselves. We Democrats have always believed that we had the best national interests and ideals in mind as we were pummelled from the right for being weak and pro terrorist, and we are fed up with it. Not only have we been proven right time and again, but the other side continues to posit the same tired, divisive and wrongheaded logic which has been so discredited by past experience. Just listen to their testosterone laden primary presidential debates: Expand GITMO, use trumped up evidence to start a preemptive war in Iran, torture is good, Democrats are evil, and on and on and on. Their Washington leadership governs as if they still hold the unfettered reins of power, that they do so by dint of their inherent correctness, and this is all part of the grand scheme. They seem drunk with arrogance, stumbling hither and yon while insisting they have it all under control. The clarion call of reality raises a dreadful din around them, the signs of their failed policies are plain to see, but the Republicans proceed as if deaf and blind, while disparaging those who have been proven right time and time again.
Here is the ugly truth of the matter. George Bush was selected in 2000 after promising to be a "uniter, not a divider". Yet history shows us that it was Osama Bin Laden that united this nation, and George Bush who has divided us. In the quest to cling to political power just last year he toured the nation in the weeks prior to the election saying very explicitly that a win for Democrats meant the terrorists win. That type of rhetoric is sure to unite the nation George!
We on the left of the political spectrum do long for the day when a national leader can bring all of us together because it would be the best thing for the nation, and that is our main concern. But we have reached the point in our politics that the right insists that those who see things like we do are the same as the enemy, and as long as they hold that point of view there can be no political unification. We will fight those ugly characterizations to the bitter end. We will do our best to see it crushed and repudiated. When the other side can admit that those who hold my views are equally valuable to the conversation and not sympathetic or friendly with the common enemy, then we can start talking about a unified way forward for this nation.
Lunch Hour for Monday
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was berated during his introduction by Columbia President Lee Bollinger. Everything Bollinger said to Ahmadinejad was true and well deserved. That said, when was the last time the President of the United States ever had to sit and listen to a speaker detail all of Bush's foibles. Ooooh yeah... that would be when Stephen Colbert drilled him during the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner. The roasting of Bush by Colbert was positively electrifying at the time, precisely because it is so rare to see the President directly exposed to criticism. You can see Bush, and the first lady just seething during the entire Colbert riff. But the notable thing here is that Bush has given speeches and public appearances hundreds of times during his Presidency, and has only rarely been told what for. So let me be honest here even thought what I'm about to say might be a bit controversial. I might think that the theocracy and ultra conservative ideals Ahmadinejad espouse are hogwash, but you gotta give him credit for exposing himself to American opinion when he had to know it would not be favorable. I think it's sad that we the people of America have more access to tell the President of Iran how wrong headed he is than to give that same message to our own President, who has to be ambushed and is clearly put out when it happens to him.
Hillary Clinton made appearances on all five of the major television networks sunday talk shows yesterday. TPM alerts us that resistance is futile, which led me to wonder how similar Hillary looks compared to the Borg Queen.
Here is modern day Hillary...
I must say that she could look just like this as a freak of science in 360 years. TPM is onto something!
Actually I find myself warming to Hillary lately. One of the biggest attractions I have to her is supposedly one of her biggest drawbacks. The right can not bear the thought of having her as President. This supposed polarization appeals to me to be honest. I dont just want the eight years of this administration repudiated by the next election, I want them to be electorally dispatched with extreme prejudice. I'm not in the mood to join hands with the neocons as we all lift our voices in a rousing sing along of kum bay ya, and I don't think they are ready to do that with my side of the great political divide either. I've seen too many Democratic war hero's smeared, too many liberals vilified as unpatriotic and pro terrorist too many times to want to get along with them at this point. And electing Hillary would positively drive them up the wall.
In todays headscratcher from Iraq, we learn that our sniper teams are using a tactic which really makes me wonder how we are ever going to win, or if we are even trying to win for that matter, the battle of hearts and minds in Iraq. Our forces are baiting Iraqi's by placing various items like blasting caps or c-4 out and then shooting anyone who attempts to take that item. The belief is that the person taking the item is going to turn around and use it against coalition forces. But as is typical from my left wing pinko mindset, I try to imagine what would happen if I stumbled over an ammunition box filled with c-4 or blasting caps. Probably most of us would pick it up and start walking away with it, just because it is the human condition to keep things of value which we find by happenstance. In fact I, or the typical human being, may even take the item in hopes that it won't be discovered by the bad guys in my neighborhood who would then use the item against me or whoever it is they are targeting. Or what if I come across a bunch of blasting caps and do not want my child to play with them after I carelessly leave them alone? If anything this is entrapment, and the victim is sentenced to death with no recourse to any form of process beyond the person scoping the item they are taking squeezing the trigger. The civilians are not asked at this point if they are taking the item to the local police, they are just shot. It very well may be the case that insurgents are killed using this tactic. But there is no way I'll ever be convinced that the innocent civilians who trip over the bait are not unwitting victims of human nature, and wind up as marks on someones count of dead insurgents.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Fridays Lunch Hour With A Workday Liberal
Rudy Giuliani tells the NRA that he changed his mind about guns because of 9/11. Who ever could have imagined that Giuliani would invoke 9/11 before the NRA? I mean what a shock! If Giuliani were to give a speech to the International Brotherhood of Peruvian Shoelace Basket Weavers, there is no doubt that he would somehow try to make 9/11 pertinent to their concerns. I can hear Rudy now: "I never was very concerned about Peruvian Shoelace Basket Weaving, but as I walked the streets of New York on that horrible day of 9/11 I suddenly realized what an important role you folks were playing in our search and rescue efforts." If anything, Giuliani's constant harping on 9/11 for political gain dishonors the victims and memory of that day.
Following President Bush's much ballyhooed announcement of the death of Nelson Mandela, the Nelson Mandela foundation channeled Mark Twain by announcing that reports of Mandela's death were greatly exaggerated. Is there any doubt among sane and thoughtful people that President Bush is just idiotic. His entire adult life has seen him careen from leading one business after another into disaster, being bailed out by daddy, and repeating the process. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that daddy can't buy Bush out of the disaster he's led this nation into. It just seems like every time Bush opens his mouth in public we are reminded of his hopeless incompetency. It might be humorous in other circumstances, but people by the hundreds of thousands have died because of this self centered and moronic President.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Friks Take On
First is my take on Representative Peter King's statement that "Unfortunately we have too many mosques in this country". Ask me which I feel more threatened by. Mosques or right wing police statists? You probably know the answer. My response to King is that unfortunately we have too many hate filled Republican koolaid drinking administration toadies who are trying to ruin the America I grew up in. The America which used to stand for religious tolerance, personal freedom, humane treatment of prisoners and justice for all. The main difference between my take and King's is that he wants to sic the police on the Mosques... where as I think King should be allowed to continue being a right wing hate monger. We can combat him by pointing out precisely what he is, without the police getting involved.
Next, my take on President Bush's statement that there is no democracy in Iraq because Saddam "killed all the Mandelas". I wonder if the President would be satisfied if Iraq had a George Washington? You've heard all about that George I'll bet. The founding father of democracy in America, the first President and widely accepted as one of the best President's in American history. That guy. Well it turns out that the neocons who got us into the Iraq quagmire used to claim that Ahmad Chalabi was the George Washington of Iraq. Evidently Iraqs George Washington has not been able to solve the Iraq mess, but Nelson Mandela could... or something like that. I say lets call George Bush the Nero of Iraq. Actually, by the time all of this is done, the most incompetent and deadly leaders on the world stage will be labled the George Bush of their respective nations.
Are you still reading this?! Fine. Here's my take on the President grading himself with an A for "keeping taxes low, and being fiscally responsible with the people's money." That statement should be all the proof anyone needs that this President is positively delusional.
Finally my take on the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being prohibited from visiting ground zero. I'm gonna be the sore thumb on this one, but let me stick out a little from the rest of the herd, all of whom have expressed shock, bewilderment and dismay that Ahmadinejad would even contemplating visiting this hallowed ground. Al Qaeda is not and never has been affiliated with Iran. In fact Iran is largely Shiite and Al Qaeda is exclusively Sunni. Al Qaeda in Iraq fomented civil war by attacking the Shiites affiliated with Iran. Prior to the American overthrow of the Taliban there was nearly open warfare between Teheran and Kabul because Iranian diplomats were blatantly massacred by the Taliban. Iran did not attack us on 9/11, has been on the opposite side of Al Qaeda in the Sunni/Shiite civil war, and now their President would like to make a gesture of respect. I say let him. It's not like having Osama Bin Laden visit, (and for all the administration knows, Osama just might have actually) even if some of the louder and more obnoxious noisemakers on the right want to make it seem so.
Here's MY Sense Of The Senate
So here is my take on Senate doings of late. If the new math means that Democratic bills must have 60 votes to pass, that must hold true for Republican legislation as well. If Democrats do not have the votes, even as they hold the majority, it is quite obvious that Republicans do not have the votes either.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The New Look Of Things
My illusions have long since dissapeared, but I have continued with my pipsqueak blog because it serves as an outlet for some deeply held beliefs which I don't want to burden my poor libertarian conservative wife, or the cats with. Plus there are certain people and inlaws scattered about who keep up with my rantings.
Club Lefty was a bit of an ostentatious title from my perspective. So for quite some time I have been contemplating a change. The work day liberal seems like a very straight forward title. I work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, and it is from my work that I do nearly all of my blogging. My work is nearly exclusively done on a computer, so when I get home the last thing I want to do is hop on the computer. Well it's not really the LAST thing... I mean gouging out an eyeball with a rusty fork would probably be the last thing, but the general distaste for computer usage during hometime remains.
Along with the name change I've changed the look around here a bit to. I do hope any regulars who come around like the new look and appreciate the title change. We'll see how it flies.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Talk Like A Pirate: Friks Top Ten Pirate Presidential Quotes
10:Captain Kennedy: Ask not what yer ship can do fer ye, ask what ye can do fer yer ship!
9: Capt. Bush Jr.: Th' Brits be sayin' Capt'n Saddam Hussien just now plundered a haul of Uranium from Treasure Island.
8: Capt. T. Roosevelt: mutter, and hoist a cudgel
7: Capt. Bush Sr.: Read (or have a schooled matey read) me lips, no new plunder.
6: Capt. Truman: Th' dubloon halts here
5: Captain Reagan: Capt'n Garrbachev, Tear down this bulkhead!
4: Captain F. Roosevelt: Th' only thing thar be to fear, be... fear itself!
3: Captain Clinton: I did'nae boff that wench, Dame Lewinski
2: Captain Lincoln: Far scar and seven years ago, our sires whelped a new crew in this neck o' th' woods.
1: Capt. Nixon: I am not a crook. (Be it here noted that Nixon WAS a pirate so thar be no need to change 'is words to make 'im more piratical.)
Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!
Post-Pentagon Peter Pace Preaches Petulant Perfidy
“One of the mistakes I made in my assumptions going in was that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi army would welcome liberation, that the Iraqi army, given the opportunity, would stand together for the Iraqi people and be available to them to help serve the new nation,”IF Pace is being honest here, (and that is a big if for reasons which I will detail shortly) that is one of the most wrong headed and stupid statements in the history of wrong headed stupid statements. Lets take the misconceptions in this quote one at a time...
The Iraqi people and Iraqi army would welcome liberation? In all the history of humankind there are very rarely instances in which a nation has welcomed an invasion and occupation. It is ingrained into the human condition to resist occupation. How a military man would ever think our armies would be welcomed into the very heart of Arabia as an occupation force simply boggles the imagination.
The administration and their spokes puppies can use happy optimistic terms to describe our presence in Iraq, but it doesn't change the very fundamental human condition everybody should be able to understand. Imagine living in a backwards country and having the benevolent Chinese march in and liberate your homeland. They would preach their great new system and how wonderful life will be once communism flowered in your neck of the woods... and chances are very good that you and I would resist them. We did it with the British, the British did it to the Romans, and that pattern can be traced back in human history to the times when cave men were peeing on trees to mark their territory. Grawg may have thought of a bright new way of running his clan of neanderthals back in the day, but the backwards clan across the valley still clubbed him senseless when he decided to take them over, no matter how enlightened a leader he was.
So where Pace and the rest of the gang came up with the notion that we could just plop our army into the Arabian desert and start running the show while the natives applauded is simply a mystery. Actually, perhaps Chalabi means mystery in Arabian.
The next misconception Pace labored under is what causes me to question the veracity of his statement in the first place. Pace says that he thought: "the Iraqi army, given the opportunity, would stand together for the Iraqi people and be available to them to help serve the new nation".
Pace must have been channeling President Bush because the President claimed just last month that he intended from the start to keep the Iraqi military and that Paul Bremer had gotten a wild hair one day and just changed that policy out of the blue. Bremer produced evidence that the President was on board with the policy... and the entire world chalked this up as yet another Bush prevarication with an eye on receiving a more favorable judgement from history. But now Pace is talking about the Iraqi army "given the opportunity" being on board with our goals in Iraq. Given the opportunity... of not being disbanded by the authority which Bush set up after Saddam? Does Pace mean to imply that what happened to the Iraqi Army was somehow their own fault? Like they disbanded themselves or something... while Bremer and the President did their level best to keep them patched together, only to surrender to the inevitable outcome predestined by the fecklessness of the Iraqi military. Or something like that...
Erm, that would be the wrong answer Pete. The Iraqi military never had the opportunity you now attempt to finger as a reason for the failure of our policy in Iraq. The context of the quote makes it appear that Pace faults the Iraqi military, by including it in a sentence in which he also expresses the belief that he expected the Iraqi people to be more welcoming. It is true that the Iraqi army was not available to serve the new nation, but it was our own fault, not theirs. There should be no mistake in this regard. Pace may not want to sound like it but he is condemning the Bush administrations decisions and policies as wrong headed, not the supposed inability of the Iraqi military to remain a cohesive force absent other considerations.
The Pace admission of error is akin to one of those so called apologies which really isn't. In effect he is saying "I was mistaken for thinking the Iraqi's would not screw things up". It's still all their fault by that logic. It's like those infuriating non apologies along the lines of "I'm sorry if you are offended"... which is another way of saying "I'm sorry if you are wrong, but I'm not really sorry for anything I did".
Well I don't believe Pace in this admission of error simply because we can show that American policy all along was to disband the military, and common sense dictates that people don't want to live under occupation. However, if he is being honest, that in itself should be proof enough of the disastrous thinking and wrong headed leadership which has led us to the point we are at now. So which is worse in your book? Blatant dishonesty or rampant incompetence?
Monday, September 17, 2007
Will Americans Even Accept An Iraqi Political Solution?
The over arching question which must be answered is this: Would it be possible for the United States to facilitate a political solution which was contrary to our own interests?
If Americans can not be expected to fight and die for a solution which harms our own interests, we must conclude that any possible political solution while we occupy Iraq must follow principles which most people in Iraq find objectionable.
The Presidents stated goal for Iraq is a stable democratic government which acts as an ally in the war on terror. This sounds good to western ears, and it would be fantastic if the Iraqi people saw fit to see things our way on this. But the fact is that Arabian nations which ally with the United States are invariably ruled by the decree of strongmen. The unfortunate fact is that middle eastern Muslim nations which allow real voting inevitably elect those most opposed to American and Israeli interests as an expression of the will of the people. How can the U.S. ever hope to find a political solution in a middle eastern democracy if the people vote for our enemies every chance they get?
In his last speech the President mentioned Iran multiple times, saying that a successful Iraq will be a regional counterweight to Iranian interests. Iran may be the foremost sponsor of terrorism across the globe from the wests point of view, but the notion that a democratic government in Baghdad will stand in opposition to Iran thereby allying with us in the struggle against terrorism is frankly laughable. The very weak central government of Iraq has already shown their willingness to deal with Iran by reaching security agreements and being very friendly with the Iranians. The Maliki government is democratically reflecting the will of the majority of Iraqi's, who are Shiite, and that popular will hardly meshes with the final Iraqi model as wished for by President Bush.
Meanwhile the Sunni's have decided to stop making life so miserable for Americans in the Sunni triangle because they know that if we withdraw they are going to wind up on the wrong side of a bloody cataclysm. But the fact is that Sunni's, by a wide margin still believe that killing American soldiers in Iraq is justified. So long as their interests roughly parallel American interests we will probably have a relative calm in the triangle, but as soon as that perception changes who believes that the calm will remain?
Even the Kurds are playing a hand which holds their own interests above the interests of a democratic Iraq. They didn't go to Maliki for approval of their own separate deal on the oil they controlled. Are we to believe that the funds they get from that deal will be divided equally between the Kurds, Shiite and Sunni? Please!
The basic problem here is that there is no political solution that America would find acceptable which the Iraqi's would reach on their own free will. Every solution acceptable to the west at this point must be enforced through occupation. Even this use of force to reach our objectives is weakening because we can not send in the hundreds of thousands we would need to really clamp down. The political will of the Maliki government, which we ostensibly support, is undermined by our continued occupation. They are not even allowed to rule that a company can not work inside their own borders if Americans want hire that company. Can you imagine a similar situation inside our own borders, or the borders of any nation which is sovereign for that matter?
When we recognize that there can be no western based solution leading to lasting stability in Iraq then we will be that much closer to coming to terms with the solution which one day will bring stability to that land. Stability so long as we are willing to accept the solutions Iraqi's and their neighbors determine for their own region. The only line in the sand which American politicians should draw on the final outcome is that there not be terrorist camps in Iraq at the end of the day. With that concession we should let the Iraqi's reach the political solutions they can find on their own hook.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Draft Dodging Giuliani Unfairly Attacks Hillary
So now that Giuliani is attempting to stake out a position as daddy Republican who supports the troops and slams around the dirty f'ing hippie liberals... lets take a look at his record when it comes to the military shall we?
That record is of a Vietnam draft dodging/modern day Iraq quagmire cheerleading Republican. In fact, believe it or not, Rudy's record of military service is even less impressive than George Bush's!
Giuliani was born in 1944, making him prime cannon fodder for the Vietnam quagmire. Did he patriotically volunteer to fight those commies over there so we wouldn't have to fight them over here? Nope. He actually received two draft deferments while attending college. Which means some other poor kid who didn't have the chance to go to college had to take Rudy's place in the draft.
Giuliani graduated in 1968. The TET offensive was raging through the first half of 1968, so Giuliani, being all pro military and gung ho to fight in quagmires, must have immediately put his law career on hold and volunteered to pick up a rifle and put his life on the line for freedom and democracy... right? Wrong... and if you for one second really thought that Giuliani would actually volunteer to help beat back those Godless commies in the TET offensive Rudy needs you to get back on the phone bank for him right away, and stop reading blogs like Club Lefty in between the calls!
Since Rudy would not volunteer, and he was not in college anymore, he was rated 1-A, available for military service and subject for the draft. Rather than taking his chances in the draft however Giuliani wrote to the draft board requesting a deferment, which was promptly denied. So Giuliani was drafted, rose in rank to major, led a squad of delta force in a counter attack on an entire division of NVA man eating tiger mounted Ninja's, was severely wounded and captured, busted out of the Hanoi Hilton by making a rope out of his own tendons while rescuing John McCain in the process... (in an alternate universe populated mainly by Republican koolaid drinkers. If you follow the science of string theory I'm sure you're with me to this point.)
Actually, in the real world, Giuliani was not drafted. He was a clerk for the U.S. District Court for Southern New York, and he had his boss write the draft board to have Giuliani declared exempt as a 2-A, essential employee. In other words, Giuliani was forced to not join the military because the entire system of American jurisprudence would have crumbled to dust if not for the mighty efforts of Giuliani as a clerk in the District Court for Soutern New York. Or something like that.
We Giuliani's record of deferments and draft dodging is typical of the big wig Republican politicians who now support the Iraq debacle. What is not typical is his decision to attack Hillary Clinton for doing her job as a U.S. Senator, and unfairly linking her to the Moveon ad. By demanding she apologize to the military and purporting to be the mouthpiece for our forces on the ground I think Rudy's record in this regard deserves special scrutiny. Frankly Giuliani's record of military service is hardly inspirational. I think the nation has about had it's fill of old Republican warmongers who gamed the system to the best of their ability in order to avoid service during the great quagmire of their generation.
Combating The Bush Iraq Policy Is Popular Meme
This meme is only true if you look at the numbers going back over a very short period of time. Considering the numbers over the last year or even further actually gives a far different impression than that being forwarded by the targets of the media surge.
Here is a link (PDF) to the poll which is generating the good news for the President. Bush's handling of Iraq has bumped to 30%... which is up compared to every month since last fall. What actually has happened is that Bush's war leadership approval took a tremendous hit because of the surge.
The ultimate proof of this is looking at the numbers from before last years election. All the numbers from 2005 through to the election in 2006 show approval ratings in the mid to upper 30's. Yet with approval at those levels the nation still swept Republicans from power in Congress, due in large measure to the war in Iraq.
So the President's already disastrously low marks for leadership in the war completely plummeted during the surge. The current uptick does not bring his approval to the level which led to electoral disaster last year, but somehow this "bump" is being trumpeted as some kind of grand success for the President leadership in the war. Up is down and black is white.
The current conventional wisdom is that Democrats will buckle under with the coming vote and give the President what he wants. Evidently the best we can hope for is a toothless bill with hoped for timelines if everything falls into place.
This must be the only time in the history of democracy or republicanism that an issue which so strongly favored one side of a political divide was presumed to be a winner for the other side of that divide. Why aren't Democrats just salivating to get to the vote, get to the veto, and get the Republicans on record on this? Then repeat the cycle over and over until the Republican bloc crumbles under the pressure of public opinion and the looming 08 elections. Democrats might need 60 votes to get their bill passed, but Republicans need 50 votes to continue the debacle, and they don't have those votes unless Democrats go along. All Democrats need to remember is that the numbers on the Presidents leadership are worse than they were during the midterm landslide.
Somehow the conventional wisdom is that Democrats hold the weak hand. I suppose until the Democrats do something that proves the conventional thinking wrong, like maybe not acting like they have the weak hand, the conventional wisdom stands.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Giuliani: Against Character Assassination, Still A Stupid Putz
Giuliani is targeting Hillary Clinton for questioning General David Petraeus when he testified to Congress this week. In particular Giuliani finds it offensive that Clinton told Petraeus that in order to believe the Generals outlook on the surge that "you had to suspend disbelief". To Giuliani, Clinton saying that was somehow a personal attack on a four star general. Futhermore, Giuliani tried to link Clinton to the General Betrayus ad run in the N.Y. Times by MoveOn.org. Giuliani is concerned that Clinton's questioning of Petraeus followed the Moveon ad "in a very, very coincidental way."
No freaking duh! The reason the ad was run when it ran was to try to influence public opinion surrounding General Petraeus' testimony to Congress. What Giuliani conspiratorily tags as "coincidence" is actually a very fundamental aspect of American democracy. Congress conducts oversight hearings during which members of Congress (like SENATOR Clinton) question witnesses, and outside groups try to influence public opinion based upon these hearings. It happens all the time and I bet this is the first time that someone has seen the makings of a conspiracy in the process. Would someone on Giuliani's staff please clue him in?
Also, Giuliani needs to learn what is or is not a personal attack. The title of this post is a great example of unseemly and obnoxious character assassination. Hard questioning in a Senate hearing hardly rises to the level of outrage which Giuliani is trying so hard to generate. Senator Clinton flogging a General over a policy which she does not approve of is exactly what one would expect in such a hearing. After all, if Clinton had fawned over Petraeus in a fit of Giuliani like dotage, that would have been a much bigger story than her taking the General to task.
Frankly this entire theme by Giuliani is hypocritical. He is eroding support faster than a sugar cube being flushed down the toilet, and he thinks that attacking Hillary Clinton is his best hope for retaining what support he has left. So he unfairly attacks Hillary for doing her job as Senator, by claiming that she is unfairly attacking Petraeus. Giuliani even tries to unfairly tie her to the Moveon ad through the most transparent and tenuous threads imaginable, making himself look like a total doofus to any thinking person who looks at the issue.
This type of logic might work in the red meat koolaid drinking Republican crowd Giuliani was aiming for, but I just don't think it will play with the rest of the nation.
Thank you Speaker Pelosi...
So I think it is appropriate to give a little credit when Congressional leadership stands up to the President. For that reason let me use my pipsqueak voice from this obscure little blog (which has been the platform for several previous attacks on "spineless" Congressional Democrats in the past mind you) to give Speaker Pelosi some praise.
When Congressional leadership met with President Bush and he pronounced that he was going to plan some redeployment of troops from Iraq, Speaker Pelosi cut him off with the following quote: “No you’re not, Mr. President, you’re just going back to the presurge level.”
Well done Nancy. I can only imagine how awkward that must have felt, but Speaker Pelosi deserves a round of applause from the lefty choir for standing up and making sure the President wasn't going to get away with spouting his typical factually challenged obfuscations while there were grown ups in the room.
It's really too bad that the Speaker could not stand next to the President at tonights speech and occassionally cut him off to give a rebuttal in real time.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Bush Iraq Leadership Wildly Popular*
The lead on MSNBC right now is a picture of President Bush with the headline: "Uptick" Clicking the link loads a page headlined: "Bush’s Iraq standing improves".
The story is based upon a poll which shows that popular support for the Presidents leadership in Iraq has exploded to 30%. It should be noted however that this level of approval on the Presidents Iraq policy is actually lower than when the Republicans were thumped in the midterm elections last year. How in the world can that be trumpeted as a success?
At the end of October of last year the public approval of Bush's policy stood at a whopping 34%! The Republicans were swept from Congress in a historic election. It was the very first time since the founding of this nation that a sitting incumbent of a major party had not lost a seat. The breadth of the electoral rout was epic in scale.
Since then the President has lost even more support for his Iraq policies... but the Republicans in Congress seem to be resolved to assist the President in continuing this disaster as if they have the upper hand in public support. The Republican position has worsened, and for some mysterious reason the Democrats can not seem to gather the intestinal fortitude to give the American people what we so obviously want.
The same poll demonstrates... AGAIN... that wide margins of the American people find "most acceptable" either immediate withdrawal, or a plan to withdraw from Iraq within a year, leaving a response force in the region. Which is actually the plan Murtha proposed before the 2006 midterm elections to the widespread jeering and derision of sundry Bush toadies. Conversely this poll shows that only 24% of respondants thought it was "most acceptable" to leave troops in Iraq until that nation becomes a stable democracy. Yet we are barraged with a constant drumbeat of punditry telling us that the American people do not want to leave Iraq without winning (whatever that means) and we need to leave with honor (they should have thought about that before moving the interrogation techniques from GITMO to Abu Graib, or they lied us into this quagmire) and so on. Puleeze!
Fine! If Republicans can't seem to learn the lesson of the the 2006 midterm rout, and Democrats won't even try to end the quagmire because the Republicans are so freaking scary whenever they run those attack ads... can you imagine the landslide we have coming down the pipe in 2008?
This may even be for the best actually. After giving due consideration to the disastrous nature of every major endeavor undertaken by this administration, I would be extremely worried in trusting this President to be commander in chief of a withdrawal from Iraq. If this administration were to oversee this maneuver and it went off the tracks, as is typical for such large projects taken on by Bush, we could really witness a tragedy of enormous proportions for our military. Another consideration working against Bush is that his heart would not be in the procedure he was charged to complete. We have seen how disastrous the President can be in setting policy on issues he is intimately concerned with... it's difficult to percieve how much of a trainwreck the President could generate by being tasked with a difficult and massive task which he does not agree should be done.
If this view is correct maybe the best we can hope for is that the forces in Iraq are withdrawn from the neighborhoods and patrols and put into a defensive posture inside those massive bases. Then, when we have a new President, let that person be the one to bring them home safely.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Does Senator Warner Read Blogs
Warner broached the question by first noting the increasing casualties and strain on the American military due to the war in Iraq, and then asking if the General considered America to be safe under the strategy that Petraeus was defending. Petraeus initially tried to duck the question, but Warner roped him back to the topic which led to the news of the day.
Call me a conspiracy nut... but I can't help but note that Andrew Sullivans blog The Daily Dish noted a brief post on the History News Network which seemed to tie in very nicely with Warners question. Let me take the liberty of copying and pasting the entire post in question. Keep in mind that the following was posted to HNN just after 7pm last night.
"The Vietnam experience left the military leadership feeling that they should advise against involvement in counterinsurgencies unless specific, perhaps unlikely, circumstances obtain -- i.e. domestic public support, the promise of a quick campaign, and freedom to employ whatever force is necessary to achieve rapid victory. In light of such criteria, committing U.S. units to counterinsurgencies appears to be a very problematic proposition, difficult to conclude before domestic support erodes and costly enough to threaten the well-being of all America's military forces (and hence the country's national security), not just those involved in the actual counterinsurgency," - David Howell Petraeus, The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam: A study of military influence and the use of force in the post-Vietnam era. PhD Dissertation, Princeton University, 1987. Page 305.Warners remembrance of the casualties and strain on military families was true enough, but the meat of the question "is America safer due to the strategy proposed by Petraeus" is well and truly answered by Petraeus himself in his own diseratation to Princeton in the late 80's. And that answer is an unqualified no.
Which leaves me wondering... is there any chance that Warner was clued into this contradiction before he popped that particular question to the General? Or am I just reading too much into a coincidence?
Be Of Good Courage, Fear Not.. My Obligatory 9/11 Post
On this obscure little blog I would like to remember 9/11 by looking to a couple of the great leaders of human history, to see what they had to say about fear. The point of the 9/11 attacks after all was to give our nation a sense of dread and fear. Unfortunately I believe the terrorists succeeded all to well in that goal, in no small part due to the willingness of our nations leaders to foster the fear of the nation in a crass attempt to gather more power.
Fear is a powerful motivator. The terror of spending eternity in hell, forever agonized and tormented without recourse has been used by preachers to bring converts in droves. This style of preaching even has it's own name... everyone knows what you are going to get if you go listen to a fire and brimstone preacher.
Yet I find the teachings of the man upon whom the entire religion is founded to be very instructive, especially in regards to the mindset Jesus tried to give to his followers.
Jesus preached gospel, and exhorted his followers to preach the gospel. The entomology of the word gospel traces back to old English... god (good) spel (story or message). Jesus taught, and wanted his followers to teach, the good news. Not the fire and brimstone "you need to find religion or be damned to hell" bad news. Look at the lessons Jesus taught and you rarely find reference to eternal damnation. Those references are there, but are not the foundation of Jesus' message by any stretch of the imagination. In fact Jesus told his followers to be of good courage, to fear not, nor to be afraid.
This good news message inspired one of the great religions of human history. I find it hard to imagine Jesus, facing enemies on all sides, beset with trial and tribulation with his very life on the line... preaching that the people he led should be fearful and let cowardice rule their decisions.
This style stands in direct contrast to the current President, famed for once exclaiming to David Gregory that we are in Iraq because the terrorists wanted to kill Davids children.
One of the greatest quotes by any President in our nations history was FDR's famous exhortation to the nation when we were in the depths of depression and dust bowl despair... "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Contrast that inspirational call for courage against the words of President Bush: "it should frighten the American people that al Qaeda is active in Iraq looking for a safe haven from which to launch further attacks"
I find it singularly offensive that any President would say the words "it should frighten the American people" in a sorry attempt to justify any given policy. Particularly policy that is wrong, and in fact leads to the very problems that the President is telling us should cause us to act out of fear. It should not frighten the American people Mr. President. Maybe it should cause us concern, or generate debate... cause us to reflect or some other such reaction... but for the President to actually say that "it should frighten the American people". That is one of many many moments that will eventually be forgotten in the dustbin of history as a sad reflection on a failed President.
They want to kill our children and we should be very afraid. Just who the heck is supposed to be trying to terrorize the nation anyway? Our enemies or the President? It seems he's determined to keep us all trembling in fear, just so long as we remember that Republicans will keep us safe as we stand at the voting booth. The President has even been so blatant as to pronounce that a win for the Democrats in the mid term elections was a win for the terrorists.
This willful terrorizing of the American people by our own leaders is quite simply appalling. There are examples of societies being led by fear in world history. Very rarely, if ever, are these examples of fear mongering given by constructive governments leading to the betterment of the society which is being afflicted with the fear. Just imagine how differently history may have played out if Roosevelt has exhorted the nation to "be afraid... be very afraid". Or how different human history would be if Jesus had called for the mulitudes to cower and tremble in fear.
Can you imagine Winston Churchill trying to scare the British people during the Battle of Britain? Or George Washington alarming the colonists during the Revolutionary war? Was Abraham Lincoln a fearmonger? The great leaders of human kind call out courage and steel their peoples for the great struggles of their times.
Whenever I compare politicians I always enjoy hearkening back to the great Lloyd Bentsen when he drilled Dan Quayle in their vice presidential debate in 1988. To paraphrase... Mr. Bush I don't know any great world leaders, and no great world leaders are friends of mine. But Mr. Bush you are no great world leader.
Never was stalwart leadership calling forth the determination of an angry people more needed than following the attacks six years ago today. Rarely has a better opportunity been offered to lead a united nation and world into a generational struggle with every prospect for success. And never was such an opportunity squandered by a self absorbed and power hungry President than we saw in the aftermath of 9/11. Seeing the unity and goodwill thrust upon him by the terrorists this President saw fit to take the nation to needless war, divide us amongst ourselves and our international allies while eroding the very foundations of the nation by degrading the constitution we were founded upon.
Not only is Mr. Bush no great world leader, he seems to be making a determined effort to be the worst President ever in the history of this nation.
Friday, September 07, 2007
My Take On Osama's New Release.
To start with, maybe there is something lost in translation from OBL's screed, but I find the wandering, disjointed and overbearing message delivered by him to be only slightly worse than the bothersome tendency of the President to verbally wander hither and yon while making a mockery of the English language, all with an air of supreme confidence. Maybe this says something about the partisanship which is my nature and which I fully admit too, but I can barely tolerate a couple sentences of the typical Bush speech before reflexively changing the channel in order to avoid losing my cool. If I was fluent in Arabic I can just imagine having the same visceral reaction to Osama's nonsensical drivel. Reading the transcript I was struck by the amount of times I found myself rereading sentences to try to garner the meaning OBL was going for... much the same as one often must carefully consider President Bush's utterances in order to get his meaning. (Don't get me wrong here, in this very blog you can find many examples of my own egregious mangling of sentence structure I'm certain.)
Reading the transcript in many ways is like listening to an echo chamber. For example OBL makes a point early in his blathering that George Bush's speeches focus mainly on OBL and Al Qaeda (OBL uses the term Mujahideen). That point is undeniably true, so OBL echoes Bush by spending the vast remainder of the speech focusing mainly on George Bush and the west's role in oppressing his religion.
President Bush recently blundered into the weeds of history and recalled the specter of Vietnam in order to argue that we should not withdraw from Iraq. Osama blunders into the weeds of history and recalls the specter of the Kennedy assassination, somehow relating that event to Kennedy seeing the need to withdraw from Vietnam which led to his assassination at the hands of corporations who were gaining wealth from the war. To both Bush's and OBL's take on the lessons of the Vietnam war I have just one reaction. "Huh?"
Both Bush and OBL can rattle off a list of rogues who help to lead the others organization, responsible for the deaths of thousands (from the point of view of the speaker at least). For Bush's Khaled Sheikh Mohammed there is Osama's Donald Rumsfeld. For Osama's Richard Armitage there is Bush's Ramzi Binalshibh. Both want to see the others rogues brought to justice before select tribunals for war crimes and crimes against humanity. I suppose the main difference here is that Osama hasn't been given the pleasure of torturing any of our high level rogues, but I feel confident that if given the chance he would order it done in a heartbeat.
Both Osama and Bush are positively certain of the eventual successful outcome of the struggle which they are waging. Bush proclaims certain victory for the forces of freedom and democracy while OBL proclaims certain victory for the forces of Allah and righteousness. Bush points to the oppressive regime which would be instituted if OBL wins, while OBL points to the historical oppression of the "Red Indians" and other indigenous populations around the planet who stood (or stand) in the way of western advances.
One of my favorite echoes between the two men is President Bush's never ending harping on tax cuts as the way to economic prosperity... which OBL trumped by announcing that under Islam there are no taxes what-so-ever, but only a 2.5% "alms" fee or zalkaat. Talk about trickle down!
Osama sounds like a justice department flunky straight out of Regence University while decrying the American separation of "state from religion". Is it just me or do we hear a pretty noticeable echo on this issue?
There are noticeable differences to be sure. George Bush shaves... Osama is using hair dye in his beard... George likes mega corporations and Osama doesn't... you know that sort of thing. But in reading that transcript I was struck by how it seemed that I was looking at a mirror of what I find so objectionable about the President.
I believe the final comparison here will be what is to come. Much the same as Osama uses George Bush as a tool to fill the ranks of his movement with new blood, Bush will try to use the re emergence of Osama to motivate and swell the ranks of his followers. I will gladly eat crow if the next couple of weeks are not filled with Presidential speeches featuring Osama and/or Al Qaeda as a central theme in justifying the Presidents wrong headed approach to policy. It's like they both need each other... they are both sides of the same coin.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
President Bush Just Makes Stuff Up... Again
Looking at the N.Y. Times report on the book, I found one of the ending sentences further illustrative of the Presidents lack of candor, or mental capacity.
“One interesting question historians are going to have to answer is: Would Saddam have behaved differently if he hadn’t gotten mixed signals between the first resolution and the failure of the second resolution?” Mr. Bush said. “I can’t answer that question. I was hopeful that diplomacy would work.”There are reams of evidence that demonstrate the absurdity of Bush's claims that the Iraq war was the last resort. In fact the basic circumstances of the war prove the lie in this case. We invaded Iraq without being attacked. In fact the policy which led us to war in Iraq even has the Presidents name on it: The Bush Doctrine, which Karl Rove preaches will be one of the greatest legacies passed from Bush to future generations of leaders. (As if future leaders, after looking at the wasted landscape left by this President, will allow themselves to be entrapped by forwarding the dunderheaded policies which led to this quagmire... but nice try Karl.) The Bush doctrine explicitly calls for preemptive attack when America is threatened. How that meshes with "I was hopeful that diplomacy would work" is simply beyond me.
Beyond the explicit policy and all the other evidence that has accumulated over the years proving the determination of this Administration to invade Iraq no matter what, today brings yet more proof of the obvious. Sydney Blumenthal reports for Salon that Bush was personally briefed by George Tenet in mid September of 2002 that the CIA had top secret intelligence that Saddam's government did not have WMD.
On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam's inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.At this point the evidence of deception and obfuscation by the administration in driving the nation to war in Iraq is simply overwhelming. Yet somehow each time I see a new revelation affirming what we already know, I just feel a bit more outraged. Look at the needless death and carnage, the loss of American prestige and honor... the division of our people, and all the other needless calamity brought about by this administrations bull headed determination to fight a war that we didn't have to fight.
So we hear Bush telling his biographers that he wanted diplomacy to work. How absolutely maddening! Up is down, black is white and Bush wanted peace but was driven to war by Saddam. Even though there were inspectors on the ground in Iraq and Collin Powel is on video a year before the invasion telling the truth about Saddam: He was contained and not a threat.
And we see the same reliable group of talking heads and media personalities that cheered as the nation was driven to this quagmire still supporting the President. The entire lot of them should be embarrassed at themselves. However, far from being embarrassed they trumpet the cooked books and twisted intelligence being passed out by the administration in the President's sinister ploy to keep the war going until they can pass the disaster off to the next President. Then it will be that person who gets the blame... or so they hope and pray. I mean has there ever been a time in a nations history when the goal of a nations leaders was to mindlessly extend a war, rather than concluding it, simply to pass the buck to the next leader? Shame on them...
It is as if Bush is a petulant child, determined that if his Presidency flounders upon the shoals of his own mistaken policy that he will do his best to insure that the next President is beset with those same problems as well. Bush's goal at this stage of the game is to curse the next President with quagmire. Bush will measure his own success by the yardstick of insuring that the next President is belabored with Bush's problems.
Thats real leadership Mr. President. Come to think of it, that is exactly what the nation should expect from a man who drove the nation to needless war while proclaiming all along that he was hoping that diplomacy would work.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Why Lefties Insist Hawks Admit Initial Error On Iraq
Anyone who wants their opinion to be taken seriously should be able to base their logic upon basic facts and figures. It's one thing to base an opinion upon a mistake. Especially in the case of the lead up to the war in Iraq. The obfuscation and lies were being laid on thick in those days. Misinterpreting the facts at the time is entirely understandable.
Yet, in hindsight it is clear that those assumptions were not true. Once the facts became clear in this regard, how anyone could continue to assert that the initial invasion was well founded is simply beyond me. It is proven that the reasons we invaded are not valid, ergo the invasion was a mistaken enterprise by definition. How someone who supported the war could look at the facts proven after the fact and reach the conclusion that the invasion was well founded is a reflection on the poor judgement of that person. It seems to me that one prerequisite for being taken seriously as an opinion maker is that you admit error when you have obviously erred.
If a political leader or opinion maker wishes to be taken seriously with their ideas, they should show the basic ability to make a clear eyed judgement about events that are already proven. How can anyone be trusted if they refuse to acknowledge basic truth?
In fact some of these neocon leaders and pundits purport to be defiantly proud of the war. They act like knowing exactly what they do now, given the circumstances faced in 2003 they would proceed with the invasion of Iraq again. Given the divisive nature of this war to our nation, and the harm it has caused us internationally, I honestly believe those who proclaim they would do it all over are simply blustering for the cameras, and would actually take a different approach. At least I hope and pray those who bluster about doing it over again are not being entirely candid, because they are making remarkably similar arguments now regarding Iran as they made then regarding Iraq.
The truly maddening part of this from the lefty point of view is that the leaders of this war were not just wrong in the lead up to the invasion. They have proven manifestly wrong headed in every policy since (with the notable exception of the actual invasion itself). And the same class of pundits who rah rah'd the nation to war have largely kept up the cheering as the leadership they enable continue making these disastrous mistakes. Thousands of needless deaths and dollars by the hundreds of billions have been frittered away as the chattering class who cheered us into the mess cheer us deeper into the quagmire. Now it has gotten to the point that pundits who supported the initial invasion, but nit picked the troop levels as being to low, are somehow presented to the public as administration critics!
So why should I as a lefty take these pundits seriously... especially when they can not be brought to admit the obvious errors they made in the past and continue making from the inception of the war to this very day? Not only should they not be taken seriously... they should be working in the freaking cubicle I'm sitting in right now trying to formulate workable sentences (hah!) in between the calls, and the people who lead the net roots should be filling the time slots of the talking heads shows and casting votes to deal with the problem.
Here is actually a great example. Jon Stolz of Vote Vets is very busy lately going from show to show taking on the right wingers these shows prop up next to him. Stolz appeared on Hannity and Colmes today. Given the history of the Bush administration, and Hannity's oft proven nonsensical take on American policy, why isn't it Hannnity who is going from show to show filling 5 minute debates, and Stolz who has his own Radio and Television program?
In fact Stolz broke down the frustration of the left on this entire issue perfectly when he said to the administration spokestoady he was debating: "you’ve spun me once, you’ve spun me twice, you’re not going to spin me a third time, I’m sorry" In other words, to paraphrase the President, spin me once, shame on... shame on you, spin me... you won't get spun again.
There is a reason Keith Olbermann runs the fastest growing news program on cable television these days. Americans are sick of the spin from the wingnut filled all spin zone. Brother Olbermann is the ONLY show on cable not being run by a right wing zealot. Chances are that few if any of those right wingers would ever admit that the war was a mistaken endeavor... and we won't get spun again.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
What Craig's Case Says About The Legal System
I can not fathom how someones foot would innocently cross the imaginary wall extending below the stall divider to the floor, to rub against the foot of someone sitting in the next stall.
I do not find Craig's explanation for the hand gestures believable. Who would pick up a piece of toilet paper from the floor of a public restroom. The notion that a U.S. Senator was policing that stall with his bare hands is just silly. Therefore I do believe the officers assertion that Craig ran his hand along the bottom of the stall divider, and in conjunction with the foot rub, that was an unmistakable signal as to Craig's intent.
Purely from personal experience, I find it difficult to imagine the conjunction of horrible happenstance it would take for me to perform those two actions, neither of which I can picture doing alone, both in the same trip to the restroom leading to my wrongful detention for soliciting in that restroom.
My wife asked me what was wrong with what Craig had actually done. Supposing he is guilty of soliciting, if there is no cash transaction, what is actually wrong with hitting on someone in a public setting. It may have been my partisan nature coming to the fore but I immediately exclaimed that children use that restroom. Imagine if you had to take your child to the restroom and happened across that sort of activity. Also I noted that the police had received complaints about activities in that restroom which initiated the sting in the first place.
But there is a rising tide of opinion, which I find persuasive, that what Craig actually did here ought not be illegal. One must presume that had the man sitting in the stall next to Craig not been an officer, and Craig started hitting on him from the next stall over, that the man could have simply declined the advance and carried on. Maybe the real legal issue should be cases where the encounter was actually consummated in the public restroom, not just initiated there.
One blogger persuasively argues that men hitting on women in public is actually commonplace and pervasive... to the point that many women must consider what they wear, what time of day they leave their homes and various other seemingly mundane considerations which men never have to think about, simply because of the never ending nature of the sexual advances. If our women folk have to deal with this on a daily basis, what makes the occasional encounter with the amorous gay suitor so difficult to deal with for straight men? Good question actually.
Which makes me reconsider the question asked me by my wife. What did Craig do wrong here? I concede the answer from a strictly legal point of view may indeed be nothing what so ever. From the point of view of Craig's Idaho right wing nutso base, I'm certain he did a lot wrong in their moral point of view. But I'm honestly not sure that a guy hitting on a guy in public is wrong... assuming they go to a private place to do whatever it is they want to do.
Beyond all this though is what Craig's guilty plea says about our legal system if he is to be believed. With news breaking that Craig is reconsidering his resignation from the Senate, as well as hiring a high priced lawyer with an eye to withdrawing the guilty plea, what are we to make of the fact that he pled guilty to the charges against him.
Craig argues that he just wanted to sweep this all under the rug so he pled guilty to make it go away. The question I would ask the reader is how many people do you think might plead for reasons beyond being guilty. Craig is claiming innocence despite pleading guilty. In effect he is claiming a false confession... by now saying what he once affirmed is actually not true. For those who support him consider the likelihood that Craig is the only person in the nation who finds himself in this circumstance. The chances that he is the ONLY one in this position are nil actually.
Craig is a sitting U.S. Senator for goodness sake. He passes laws for a living! If a sitting lawmaker finds himself in this very awkward circumstance (and he is to be believed regarding his innocence) then the rest of us lowly people should feel very much concerned about the possibility of being railroaded by the legal system. How many innocents now languish in jail after being given no good out but a guilty plea to a lesser charge. How many people wrongfully admit guilt when being interrogated for hours on end by hostile police officers?
I'm not so much interested in what Craig will have to say about gay rights if he manages to hold his job going forward. He already claims that it was all a big mistake and, if anything, he may attempt to prove his heteroness by further bashing all that might be construed as promoting gay causes. What I wonder about with this entire affair is if we will ever see a bill sponsored by Senator Craig and pushed by his supporters which is meant to make it easier for innocent people to prove their innocence, after they have been ramrodded through the judicial system.
And finally, let me close by going back to the partisanship which makes me what I am. To be honest here, I might not think that Craig should be held to a legal accounting for his actions in that bathroom, but be that as it may, I honestly hope and pray he decides to make a big legal fuss out of this affair. I can't think of anything more damaging to Republican prospects than having some long legal proceeding as Craig attempts to withdraw his plea going on for months on end just as we get into the 08 campaign season. From strictly a political point of view, I can't help but think that Republican leadership are pulling strings right now trying to make sure the Craig stays retired.
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