Friday, April 28, 2006

This is NOT a headline...

I'm one of the feeds for the Impeach Bush Coalition banner, so I'm hoping the headline on this post speaks for itself. If on the other hand this post is still featured on the IBC headline banner, and you've linked over to read this story, just be aware that the headline is accurate. This post has to do with various happenings in my life.

Specifically there are 3 major events. First I've already alerted people who read this blog that I'm engaged. The date is 06/03. The only reason I mention that again is because this all kind of fits together...

Second: My fiance and I lived in the same complex with 4 other tenants. Everybody was served with eviction notices a couple of weeks ago so the landlord could do some repairs. So you can imagine the consternation this caused with an upcoming wedding,... and then an eviction! So we found another place, and spent all of the last weekend moving. I lived on the 3rd floor and she lived on the 2nd floor of the building we were in. The new apartment is on the 2nd floor. So you can imagine all the pain and heartache with stairs that we encountered during the move. Furthermore Carrie and I had an arrangement whereby if I did all the hauling she would do all the packing and unpacking, so I had a pretty intense stretch of physical exertion. But the move, for the most part on my side of the bargain, has been completed.

Third, and probably most surprising of all considering the first two events: I've quit smoking. Now I wouldn't make that type of announcement if I had quit a couple of days ago. I actually smoked my last ciggy 3 weeks ago last saturday. What brought this on was me sitting at work about a month ago and feeling my heart beat skip all day long. This wasn't painful, but I'm a forty, obese, and was a long time smoker so I was a bit concerned about an irregular heartbeat suddenly just happening. So I went to the emergency room and they diagnosed me with premature atrial contractions or PAC. This normally isn't dangerous, but I recall telling my fiance on the way to the ER that this was it! I'm gonna quit smoking... and by golly it looks like I've gone and done it. If anyone is interested leave a note and I'll tell how I went about it.

So just to recap, I feel like I've had the crap beat out of me, I can't take a smoke break, I'm clueless about current events except what I can glean between calls from work, I'm worried my ticker is going defunct, and there is a wedding that needs a whole bunch of planning... Nothing much happening in my life!

Our national soul, and other musings

Reading the most recent ramblings from President Bush made me cringe in embarrassment. The thought that this man represents us as the American President is just mortifying.

Bush Says Anthem Should Be in English is the headline of the story I read. Reading the quotes from the President is like watching a high speed train wreck in slow motion. Check out this Presidential foo puffery:
"One of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul," the president exclaimed. "One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us."
I'm certain that while he was saying this that Bush thought he sounded profound and intelligent. Upon seeing this in the written word however, I'm left with one simple question. What in the world is our President smoking these days?

The Presidents statement is loftily worded but entirely bereft of meaning. What exactly does the President mean when he talks about America not losing our "national soul"? Do nations have souls, and if they do does having a debate jeopardize it? It seems to me that if nations do have souls, that Americas soul is steeped in debate. Debate is central to whatever it is that America stands for or it's soul if you will. Historically debate need not be polite in order for America's greatness to continue flourishing.

I would contend that if America does have a soul that this administration has contributed mightily to it's condemnation by ok'ing the torture of human beings in our control. This one policy change by this administration single handedly reversed over 230 years of American military custom. This single policy shift is responsible for one of the greatest stains on our collective national honor in history. What has that decision done to our collective soul mr. decider?

What has your policy shift from no first use of nuclear weapons, and towards pre-emptive war done to our national soul Mr. President? We seemed to do fine with policies set for sixty odd years that led our nation to a position of sole global predominance. Yet now Mr. Bush comes riding into town and decides to change the basic security policies carried forth by many consecutive Presidents that proved so successful, leads us into a nightmare in Iraq based upon this cowboy attitude, and now seems to be preoccupied with making the same exact mistake in Iran. Yet Bush is so concerned about our national soul because of debate. Pick the log from your own eye before concerning yourself over the mote in our nations eye Mr. President.

Enough about the nations soul. Let us examine the Presidents contention that we have all sorts of different people in all different walks of life bound as one nation under God. As is typical of the man, the President seems intent on dividing us rather than uniting us. The very nature of the proclamation that we are bound as a nation under God excludes those citizens who do not believe in God. I believe we are one nation bound under freedom. Let those citizens who do not believe in God, or believe in a different God than President Bush worships, enjoy their place in America free from the religious pressure inherent with the sentiments expressed by Bush.

In case you haven't noticed, President Bush is not missing any opportunity presented to him to grasp like a drowning man at every chance to cling to his rightwing Christian base. The other day he spoke about being guided by "the Almighty" in making foreign policy decisions. The President full well understands that he's lost everybody who is not strictly a rightwing faith based koolaid drinker when it comes to his presidency, and to lose that base would be the final indignity.

I could go on and on about the Presidents tortured logic on display this morning. He believes that the national anthem sung in Spanish holds less meaning than when it is sung in English. I mean... honestly. Meaning is meaning. The value of a word is the same for a person able to understand both languages the communication is spoken or sung in. The value is greatly enhanced however if a person is not able to understand the words in one language but is able to in another. Therefore, for many people, the value of the national anthem is absolutely zero when sung in English, but holds great meaning when sung in Spanish. For many English speakers the value of the anthem is meaningless when sung in Spanish for that matter. But to each group the value is what it is, and the President proclaiming that one language is preferable doesn't necessarily make that the case for everybody concerned. This seems like a basic use of logic to me, but who knows what is going on in the vacuum between Bush's ears.

I seriously get chills and goosebumps when I hear the national anthem sung well. I positively love the song. And I do not speak any other language but English. However I for one would be positively thrilled if the anthem would be translated and sung in many many languages. Let freedom ring! In all languages... and do not begrudge those who do not speak your tongue the simple pleasure of expressing the anthem as they understand it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Peace Grannies prevail !

The judge in the N.Y. trial of 18 grannies has acquitted each and every one of them of charges of obstructing a military recruitment centers entrance.

I just LOVE the reaction of these grannies as described in the N.Y. Times when they heard the verdict:
The women, sitting in the jury box at the invitation of the judge, to make it easier for them to see and hear, let out a collective "Oh!" and burst into applause, rushing forward, as quickly as elderly women could rush, to hug and kiss their lawyers, Norman Siegel, the former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Earl Ward.

"Listen to your granny, she knows best!" crowed Joan Wile, a retired cabaret singer and jingle writer who was one of the defendants.
I suppose the prosecution ought to consider themselves very lucky that they did not win, because the thought of being rushed by a pack of military recruiters intent on hugging and kissing you can not be very appealing.

The details in the N.Y. Times about the trial are just hilarious. For instance each grandmother was called to testify in her own defense, and only one chose to plead the fifth. And that was in response to being asked her age!

Then there was this exchange:
Isn't it true they were blocking traffic? Ms. Miller asked, cross-examining Ms. Lear. Ms. Lear replied that if someone had wanted to go through, she would have moved over. "I'm a very polite person," she said.

"I'm sure you are," Ms. Miller agreed.

Wasn't their real objective to get publicity by being arrested? "Did you personally believe you were going to be allowed to enlist?" Mr. McConnell asked Ms. Dreyfus.

"I wasn't sure," she replied. "I do have a skill set." She is a facilities manager and "could be used to deploy equipment," she said.

But, the prosecutor insisted, was she prepared to go to war?

"Yes," Ms. Dreyfus replied. "I was totally prepared. I had just recently gotten divorced. I was ready."

The grannies burst out laughing, and a red blush spread, once more, over Judge Ross's face.
HAH! Just gotten divorced and ready to enlist by gum! I suppose with the drive lately by the military to fill the ranks that she is lucky she wasn't enlisted during this protest.

Can you imagine being a prosecutor on this case and having to cross examine these obviously intelligent, feisty, humorous, grandmothers? What a nightmare!

I hereby would like to propose that April 27 be declared national Grannie day, because these women really are national treasures.

People across America who are alarmed at the direction this country is being led by the Washington Republican machine ought to love the Peace Grannies theme song.
Amen patriot Grannies... if only our leaders showed 1/10th the wisdom you have gained in your years on this planet.

The latest outrage

The Washington Post reports on the GAO finding nearly 900 examples of soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan being harassed by the government for debts incurred after the soldier is discharged. To further literally add insult to injury, most of these cases involve soldiers who are wounded in battle.

In one case discussed at the end of the article, the actions taken by the government to collect a debt from one of these veterans resulted in the family sending their 11 year old daughter to live with relatives out of state because they could not afford to keep her. This truly is an outrage. Our government is responsible for splitting that family up after that child's father served overseas! Family values can not possibly mean conducting business like this.

These soldiers in large part are being tagged for debt owed to the military because they lose an upgrade in pay after leaving a combat zone. The military has an antiquated computer system that often does not down grade their pay for several pay periods. So when the government realizes they are paying these wounded fellas too much they try to collect the overage. The reports also notes a minority of such occurrences as happening when the government bills for everything from medical bills (wha?!) to equipment left on the battlefield (again... wha?!).

Clearly this is not the fault of the soldiers. As Michael Hurst, a one time Army finance officer is quoted in the article: "It's a complete leadership failure," he said. "We can't expect the soldiers to notice mistakes in their pay that the paid professionals have failed to notice and correct." With this in mind I propose that any further harassment/billing of veterans first be submitted to that soldiers former payroll officer!

Frankly I find it outrageous that the Pentagon can waste billions of dollars on sweetheart deals with Haliburton and Star Wars, but they sic collectors on men and women who have been maimed while serving overseas. Clearly these veterans are not obscenely wealthy, paid lobbyists, oil tycoons, Bush Pioneers or Halliburtonistas, so they can not expect respect or consideration by this administration. The only way this ever becomes an issue is for it to be brought to the attention of Congress in an election year.

Support our troops. As in... honestly support them with policies that help them. Don't just talk and bluster about how you support the troops, then sic the collectors on them. Shame!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rumsfeld: Weapon of mass stupidity.

All Headline News has an article which describes the most recent silliness from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says, "A successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors and that has a government that's representative of the various elements within the country would represent an enormous success for this region."

"It would add to prosperity for the region.
So far so good! If the insurgents would just lay down their arms, the Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd agree to play nice and share, and everybody sang kum bay ya together in Iraq the entire region would be better off.

Of course if a UFO were to zap my car with a wealth-ray and turn it into solid gold I'd be far better off as well. And the chances of Rumsfelds dream occurring are about the same as mine happening as well. But it is nice to imagine, and just taking what he said so far I actually would have to agree with him. Unfortunately Rumsfeld has to keep moving his lips in an attempt to make some political point and thereby entirely destroys any semblance of intelligence gained by his previous speculations:
"It would be something that all of the neighbors would benefit from, except Iran."

Rumsfeld explains, "Iran's view of the world is quite different, and [a successful democracy in Iraq] would represent a failure from the standpoint of Iran."
For those of you who may not know the basic and rudimentary history of the Persian Gulf, let me just bring you up to date with a few basic truths. Iraq under the reign of Saddam Hussien fought a horribly bloody and atrocity filled war with Iran. When Saddam was captured Iran actually made a request that they be allowed to try him for war crimes. So believe me when I tell you that Saddam was hardly a friend of Iran.

Indeed our removal of Saddam from power has allowed the Shiite majority in Iraq to gain political power. This same Shiite majority is heavily allied with the Iranian government as can be seen by anyone who cares to take half a moment to look at the issue. I suppose that Secretary Rumsfeld is relying on the notion that you will not take a moment to study these ties, because if he really thought his audience knew the slightest bit about the politics of the region he certainly would not have said what he did.

Looking at this solely from the viewpoint of who in the region benefited by our invasion, it clearly is the case that Iran is one of the big winners in the game. Now I full well understand that the administration hates the notion that it helped Iran, but the facts as they stand at this time clearly indicate that this invasion was clearly a boon Saddams greatest enemy.

So yes Secretary Rumsfeld, we have helped Iran by taking out Saddam. Flapping your gums isn't going to make history go away so please stop treating us like children. That is great advice to this whole craven lot in this failure of an administration actually!

Culture of life indeed.

Raw Story links to The North Country Gazette regarding a report of another example of a law that George Bush signed in 1999 costing another family the life of a loved one:
The central issue in the Andrea Clark case is the same as that in the Terri Schindler Schiavo case, whether the state should be able to sanction the removal of a human being from life support.

What's even more significant in the Clark case is that the Texas bill that allows health care providers to end a human life despite the wishes of the patient and the patient's family was signed into law in 1999 by President George W. Bush as Texas Governor. However, in 2005, he rushed back to the White House from Easter vacation to sign a bill rushed through Congress which was designed to save the life of Terri Schiavo because of his "presumption in favor of life".
I would like to point out that the issues actually are not "the same" or even similar at all. In the case of Terri Schiavo, the person given immediate control of her affairs when she was incapable of self determination was her husband. Indeed this system fits very nicely with the whole family values plank in the Republican platform, and generally speaking is the way most people would have their affairs handled if put in Schiavo's condition. Michael Schiavo therefore was acting in his wifes best interest from a legal point of view. In the case of the Texas law however, the advocates of the patient are allowed to be overruled by the hospital in question, leading to the death of the patient over the express wishes of that patients immediate family to keep them alive.

In the comments to Raw Story about this article there is a post from Jon G. that makes the same basic error in comparing the Schiavo case with the Texas law. That comment reads:
Why are you for this lady's life but wanted michael schiavo to be able to kill his wife Terri and were critical of the republicans for trying to save her? Oh, you can scream 'sanctity of life" and be critical of Bush this time.
I would like to be the first to point out to Jon that liberals and Democrats did not make Bush sign the Texas law. Neither were we responsible for his shameful pandering to the extreme wingnut side of the Republican party with the Schiavo debacle. So it is entirely President Bush's fault that he now finds himself having seemingly taken completely contradictory stances on end of life issues. When I say seemingly, it is because looking at this issue closely we can see that he is actually consistent in both cases. The President appears to have sided with the notion that the immediate family ought not have end of life decisions, whether in the case of the Texas law where the hospital may determine to let the patient die against the families wishes, or in the Schiavo case where the extremists were determined to remove the choice from her husband, who legally is her guardian. Truly, the only contradiction here is the political appearance of both actions. The President appears to be willing to hasten the end of life with the Texas law, but fighting tooth and nail to extend life in the Schiavo case.

It futhermore appears in the most recent case as detailed in Gazette the hospital is acting despite her own as well as her families wishes. The Gazette describes the womans conditions thusly:
"Andrea, until a few days ago, when the physicians decided to increase her pain medication and anesthetize her into unconsciousness, was fully able to make her own medical decisions and had decided that she wanted life saving treatment until she dies naturally", Childers said. "We have learned that this is part of the process, when hospitals decided to declare the "medical futility" of continuing treatment for a patient.

"Andrea, when she is not medicated into unconsciousness (and even when she is, and the medication has worn off to some degree) is aware and cognizant", her sister said. "She has suffered no brain damage to the parts of her brain responsible for thought and reason or speech. She has only suffered loss of some motor control. The reason that the physician gave to medicate her so much is that she is suffering from intractable pain in the sacral region (in other words, she has a bedsore that causes her pain). This is not reason enough, in our books, and we are trying, as we speak, to get Andrea's medication lowered so that she can speak to us.
Now that is truly an unconscionable state of affairs. How a hospital can medicate someone to unconsciousness, and then determine on her behalf, over the express wishes she made known while able to communicate, and against the wishes of her guardians, that further treatment is in vain truly reeks of 1984 Orwellian type consequences of bad law. A law that again, was signed into being by then Governor George Bush. And she is being allowed to die because of bed sores? Against her expressed wishes... I mean this really is a travesty.

I fully support the right of people to make their own determination on end of life matters. I am proud of Oregons assisted suicide law, twice supported overwhelmingly by the voters. A person who does not wish to live their last days in unrequited agony should be allowed the dignity of a peaceful death. I make the comparison with the tragedy of September 11, when the people trapped in the towers were faced with the same awful choice in effect. Can anyone considering their plight honestly begrudge those who finally ended their own lives by leaping from the towers rather than being consumed by the flames and dying in agony? The obvious answer to any sane person, be they Republican or Democrat is that you can see the horrible choice those people faced and would not gainsay their final decision. Only the most uncaring fundamentalist extremist could possibly condemn these victims. How then does their circumstance differ from that faced by the terminally ill patient who wants to be allowed to determine the nature of their final days?

With this belief on my part acknowleging the right of the patient to determine their own treatment with these types of decisions, to me this means if Terri Schiavo let her husband know that if she were ever to be hopelessly incapacitated that she would wish to die, then her wishes ought to be honored. And if the Texas patient determines that they would like to live to the bitter end, and has expressed this wish previously, then that wish ought to be honored as well. Let the patient decide. Not the Governor, or the President.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Stupid logic

Check out this reasoning in an article by Reuters regarding a possible timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq:
Republicans, led by the White House, have resisted imposing any kind of timetable to start the withdrawal of the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, saying that would only fuel violence.
The absolute dearth of intellectual input into this argument is simply breathtaking. A timetable would fuel violence? Apparently whoever thought this up has not been paying attention to reality because it is quite apparent to anyone who cares to notice that all this time there has not been a timetable, and the violence has steadily increased.

Clearly then the koolaid drinkers have thought up a talking point that sounds good if the listener has no idea about reality, but is absolutely laughable to anyone who has a clue. If you follow where they lead us then by golly let us remain there indefinitely for the sake of peace and security in Iraq. The question really is, can they say this to you with a straight face?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bush and the almighty. Frik gets all religious on you.

President Bush (warning: that link is to, click at your own risk) gave a talk today in Orange County California. There were a couple of things he said that really caught my attention.
I based a lot of my foreign policy decisions on some things that I think are true. One, I believe there's an Almighty, and secondly, I believe one of the great gifts of the Almighty is the desire in everybody's soul, regardless of what you look like or where you live, to be free. I believe liberty is universal. I believe people want to be free. And I know that democracies do not war with each other. And I know that the best way to defeat the enemy, the best way to defeat their ability to exploit hopelessness and despair is to give people a chance to live in a free society.
Should it not concern those of us who are sane that George Bush is determining to go to war because of his perception of the Almighty? Looking through the above quote there are several times that Bush prefaces a notion with the words "I believe". What if he is wrong?

History shows us that if George is proven to be wrong that no amount of evidence will sway his view. Let us consider then the consequences of the possibility that President Bush is wrong but dogmatically refuses to be swayed from his incorrect view of the will of the Almighty.

Whenever I describe mans conception of God I like to use the example of the ant on the airport tarmac who happens upon a 747. Now to this ant, that plane is massively powerful, extremely noisy, and could destroy his entire world with no effort whatsoever. That plane is eternal to the ant who will live for a few days and then pass on, while the generations of ants awareness of the 747 remains as it seemingly always has been and always will be. The ant understands the plane only insofar as a brain the size of a pin point will allow his perception to extend. So despite the truths the ant thinks it knows about that plane, the ant is far far far from truly understanding the workings of the jet. That ant has no conception of the mechanics or the economics of the monstrosity it encounters.

To me, mankinds understanding of God can be seen in the analogy of the airplane and the ant. We may think we know, but there is just no way that we ever truly will know the ways of God in our current state. I for one am certain that there will be an enlightenment at some point in all of our existences and when that point comes I can't help but think we will be amazed at the lack of understanding we carried on with in our time on Earth.

So with my belief that humans have no way of truly knowing the nature of God comes a very healthy distrust in those humans who claim to know Gods will. To me, all one can do is do the best you can do to be a good person and the rest will have to sort itself out. But there are those who truly believe they have a pipeline to the will of God, and now it seems one of those delusionals is our commander in chief.

I was raised the son of an Assemblies of God minister so I am very familiar with the apocalyptic traditions of American Protestantism. I find it particularly worrisome that a man who thinks he understands the will of the Almighty has the power to unleash the very type of scenario envisioned in Revelations. What is to stop him if he truly believes that it is Gods will, and he is the servant of the Almighty? Indeed all the recent trials and tribulations of the administration may very well fit with this view of the world. Revelations clearly predicts the persecution of true Christians during the end times. It may be that Bush would see his troubles as nothing more than further proof of his role in doing the work of God.

With the news that the administration is considering a nuclear first strike on Iran, the changing of policy under this administration from nuclear use only in response to an attack to the possibility of 1st use, the Presidents oft stated belief that he is carrying forth the will of God, and the inability of the President to consider that he may be mistaken, my worry meter arrow has gone past the red zone.

I find it interesting the President Bush focuses on the gift of the Almighty to mankind being an inner craving for freedom. There is one overriding drive that all of mankind holds above any other desire, and that is the desire to live. I have no doubt that mankind wishes to live in freedom, but has our President forgotten the whole live part of that equation? I believe it is the condition of humans to desire to live peacefully, and that the desire for a particular form of government is secondary in most peoples consideration. I wonder at the efficacy of our moral standing if we are more than willing to apply the words of Patrick Henry to nations half the world away, and give them liberty while raining death on them. Henry's clarion call was a statement of how he felt about himself, not what he believed ought to be our policy to other nations.

Two stories become one.

There were two stories over the weekend that demonstrate the duplicitous nature of the Bush administration. These two stories seem to contradict each other, but actually both fit nicely with the now dawning realization by the general public that this nation was shamefully misled to a needless war.

The first article to consider is the interview given by President Bush to the News Telegraph of Britain. In this interview President Bush states unequivocally that the final decision to invade Iraq was not made until 48 hours before the start of hostilities.

The President furthermore puts forth some effort to rebut the notion that the decision was actually made many months prior to the invasion as shown by the Downing Street Memos. (Which memos we must remember have never been questioned as authentic, and indeed which memos disclosure led to the prosecution of those responsible for exposing them under the state secrets act.) Regarding all this the President says:
"I took the decision after the ultimatum," Bush said emphatically. "I didn't want to put troops in Iraq unless I had to. And Tony didn't want to send troops unless he had to. I guess in the UK there's all kinds of rumors about 'we made the decision nine months ahead of time'. It's just not true.
Note that the President, in effect, calls the minutes of the meeting with Tony Blair (the Downing Street Memo) a rumor. Trying to paint a proven fact as an untrue rumor simply shows the extent to which this President, who once touted his own integrity, has sacrificed that ideal on the alter of political expediency.

Given the disaster that Iraq has become, Bush is stuck trying to rewrite documented history. He does this by attempting to equate the facts as rumor, and then substituting his own narrative as true history. Unfortunately for Bush this is not working, and in trying to rewrite history President Bush is doing enormous damage to his credibility.

The second story I want to cover in this post is one of the reasons why Presidential credibility is at such a low these days. The following story gained far more notoriety than the interview with the British paper, but I believe the narrative provided by both stories when considered concurrently illustrates precisely the problem faced by this President.

The other story to consider in the context of Bush lying us to war is thanks to Tyler Drumheller, former head of CIA covert operations in Europe, who has given an interview to 60 minutes' Ed Bradley. Mr. Drumheller states in no uncertain terms, that the administration was told of intelligence that questioned the administrations drive to prove that Iraq continued to possess WMD. According to Mr. Drumheller, (and various other sources) each time the intelligence did not fit the policy of regime change, that intelligence was not given consideration.
the real failure was not in the intelligence community but in the White House. He says he saw how the Bush administration, time and again, welcomed intelligence that fit the president's determination to go to war and turned a blind eye to intelligence that did not.

"It just sticks in my craw every time I hear them say it's an intelligence failure. It's an intelligence failure. This was a policy failure," Drumheller tells Bradley.


"The idea of going after Iraq was U.S. policy. It was going to happen one way or the other,"
Mr. Drumheller describes the case of Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, described as a member of Saddams inner circle as a case in point. When the administration was made aware that the inner circle of Saddam was penetrated by the CIA they were thrilled with the news. However when Mr. Sabri told his handlers that Iraq had no nuclear weapons program or even stockpiles of WMD, the response by the administration was to ignore him.
"The group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they're no longer interested," Drumheller recalls. "And we said, 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said, 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.'"
Is this not an interesting juxtaposition? Saturday we have an interview of the President in which he states in no uncertain terms that the decision to invade Iraq was not made until 48 hours prior to the invasion actually happening. Yet the very next day we hear from a top level CIA operative who gives us the down and dirty details that prove exactly the opposite of the Presidents contention. It seems that no matter how hard he tries, the President can not remake history to be what it is not, and in continuously trying to do so he is further destroying his already ruined reputation. The President would do well to stop pretending that continuing the bluster and lying will make this all go away. The only way for him to stop the bleeding is to step up and admit the truth that everyone except the most ardent koolaid drinkers can see. America is big on forgiveness, but small on being blatantly lied to.

Let me ask you... who do you believe is telling the truth here. If you believe the President is being honest with us, but the CIA agent is lying, I have some ocean front property in Utah I believe would be a great investment opportunity for you.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Regarding this whole message thing...

Whenever I hear/read/see, etc... the oft repeated canard that Democrats have some sort of need to present a unified message, and that until we do so we can not win elections, I feel my blood pressure rising. Why the party who has (to paraphrase Jon Stewart) 3% of the power with 49% of the vote, should have to be the guiding light for America out of the pit the Republicans have led us into really is baffling. It's like saying "I can't imagine things getting much worse than where we have been led by the Republicans, but I'm gonna keep on voting for them because the Dems don't have a plan!" This makes as much sense as not evacuating of a burning house because you have yet to arrange housing after you move.

But for the sake of this post, let me concede the point. Just for the next few minutes let me agree that a unified message detailing a parties plans while governing is important. Let me ask you... what exactly is the message of the Republican party?

It used to be that the message was President Bush can do no wrong, so if he wants to do it, we'll go along with him. Politically speaking, that was fine as long as the President was riding high in the polls. But as his popularity has slipped away, is that really a message that can be counted on to help Republicans keep their grip on uncontested power? I for one don't think so.

What is the Republican message, if they can no longer be politically viable with blind allegiance to their floundering President? Their message boils down to an overdriving need to keep the reins of power in order to protect a Presidency that the public overwhelmingly feels is a failure. They can not turn away from the policies of the President. To do so would be to admit that Democrats are right. In that case, why vote for a Republican who disagrees on the occasional issue with the White House but votes for 90% of the rest of the Republican agenda? You can vote for someone who will disagree with just about everything the President is doing, and by gum we can see what a mess he's gotten us into!

You think Democrats need a message... think about the burden of the message that Republicans have to carry into the midterms!

As far as it goes, if the Democrats do need a message, lets be honest with ourselves. George Bush is President. Democrats in Congress are not going to be able to push their agenda around with Bush riding herd. Why then ought Democrats pretend that if we are elected we will then be able to lead the nation from our current straits?

This then ought to be our message: "Elect us to put a rein on President Bush's failure of a Presidency." This type of message diametrically opposes the default Republican message of trying to protect Bush. With these competing messages the debate is nationalized and focused on one of the least popular Presidents in American history. That my friends would be a recipe for a tidal wave victory for Dems in the midterms, in my humble opinion.

So the next time someone asks you what the Democrats message for the midterms is, ask them what message the Republicans are taking out there!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cheney relying on proven liar for Iran intel.

Raw Story reports on the use of Manucher Ghorbanifar by the office of Vice President Cheney as an "intelligence asset". Leave it to Cheney to use a discredited, disgraced, and proven untrustworthy Iran-Contra figure with an agenda for intelligence about Iran.

Both the CIA and Congress have determined that Mr. Ghorbanifar can not be trusted. The Congressional report on the Iran Contra affair notes the CIA's determination that "Ghorbanifar... should be regarded as an intelligence fabricator and a nuisance". Yet for some odd reason Mr. Cheney has decided to put Ghorbanifar on the payroll as an intelligence asset. Why?

It is clear that we see the Vice President following the example set by this administration when Chalabi was used to justify the Iraq invasion. Chalabi, like Ghorbanifar was determined prior to the invasion to be largely untrustworthy , but somehow the rosy scenarios he painted of the Iraqi occupation and the cooked up intel from his organization was used to justify the war. It is clear at this point that dissidents of regimes targeted by this administration are used by the neocons despite any and all previous sins committed by the dissident.

In the case of the use of Chalabi for intel, it is now clear that he was wrong with everything he claimed. Let us not fall into that trap again, despite the best efforts of the Vice Presidents office to lead us there.

Confirmation that down is up, from the Harris campaign.

The A.P. reports on the results of a new poll in the Florida Senatorial race. Here is the part of the story that confirms that Katherine Harris is a dead red died in the wool koolaid drinker, even to the point that down is up...
Nelson was favored by 56 percent of those surveyed, compared to 27 percent who preferred Harris in the poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

A similar poll two months ago had Nelson ahead 53 percent to 31 percent.

"It's a tough environment for Republicans now," Harris said Wednesday when asked about the latest numbers. "I'm confident that we'll continue to only go up."
At this rate, if her campaign "continues to only go up" in the polls, another couple of months from now she will have the support of less than 20% of the Florida electorate. Maybe Harris ought to start hoping that things will turn around and she will start going down in the polls.

With mathematical skills like she now demonstrates, it is no wonder that it was largely due to her handling of the Florida vote recount that George Bush was given the electoral votes from that state.

Listen to this ringing endorsement from the Florida Republican Senator:
Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, said Wednesday that the race has failed to jell for the GOP.

"She's obviously behind, the money is behind and it's certainly a concern," Martinez said. "As long as Katherine Harris is the only candidate the best thing we can do is be supportive and be helpful."
As long as Harris is the only candidate in the race? He is virtually BEGGING for another Republican to challenge her! He is actually saying that if she were challenged that they would no longer be supportive and helpful. In fact with back handed endorsements like this you might make the case that they are not being supportive or helpful in any case.

Finally we wind up with a comparison of the campaign war chests with this:
Lately, Harris' Senate campaign has been plagued by staff defections and fund-raising difficulty. While Nelson has $10.3 million in his campaign account, the Harris campaign has $3.7 million.
But I thought Katherine had determined to bankrupt her family in order to give her campaign $10 million in funding. I gather from these figures that Ms. Harris has not reduced her finances to the point that she is standing on the street with a card board sign. And just looking at the numbers at this point, you would have to wonder at the wisdom of her sinking any more funds into this black hole of a campaign. But of course it is now apparent that Katherine actually believes down is up, so maybe she is just nuts enough to spend her inheritance on this boondoggle.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another ethically challenged Republican bigwig...*yawn*

Reporter Gary Wright of the Charlotte Observer reports on the indictment of Sam Curry. Mr. Curry was once a U.S. attorney, a Superior Court Judge and former head of the North Carolina Republican party. The story says that this character was "a protege of former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms".

Mr Curry, being a good Republican, is so opposed to rich people paying taxes that he set up a criminal scheme to help them avoid the evil tax man. Reading from the article:
The indictment, unsealed Tuesday, alleges that Currin and two co-defendants concocted arrangements so that wealthy U.S. citizens could evade federal income taxes. Currin and the two co-defendants also are accused of preparing fraudulent documents to deceive the Internal Revenue Service.
If found guilty the maximum sentence for this former Republican leader is 60 years in jail. Part of the charges against him include giving misleading testimony during a grand jury appearance and requesting that a lawyer give false testimony regarding his case. Is it just me or is there something in the genes of Republican leaders that makes them unable to tell the truth?

I googled some of the names that we have associated with this scandal. Right away I found an article written by co-conspirator Howell Woltz (PDF format) in 2002. The article goes on at some length about the wonders of the Bahamas for investment purposes, and includes the following choice quote:
These non-government organizations that were created by the G-7 nations, have used terms such as "blacklisting" and other scurrilous labels and methods to pressure the economically free nations to become taxing socialists like the U.S., Canada, France and Britain have become over the last few decades.
Of course if a person believes the U.S. government are "taxing socialists" it is the capitalistic patriotic duty of that person to break the law to help others avoid paying their taxes. Makes perfect sense to me! Mr. Wolts is a martyr of capitalism. Whatever crime he committed in this whole affair was serious enough that prosecutors do not want to grant him bail during his trial.

I went and did a bunch of googling on a bunch of names and believe you me, this is a twisted web. Sterling group keeps popping up, and they have had previous run ins with the law over offshore banking. But I'll leave it to some investigative journalist to sort through the whole sordid affair! (I won't be holding my breath though)

So we have yet another ethically challenged Republican big wig. It happens so often these days that it barely causes a ripple. I feel quite certain that a former Democratic U.S. Attorney, and state chair being busted for this type of thing ten years ago would have sent the press into a frenzy...

The worst president ever: semi officially.

Sean Wilentz has written a column for Rolling Stone that really is a must read.

The lengthy list of qualifications that lead Rolling Stone to term Mr. Wilentz as "one of Americas leading historians" can be found here . The judgement he passes on the Bush administration is cogent, factual, and devastating.

Mr. Wilentz demonstrates both on the international and domestic fronts how the policies of this President have resulted in monumental failures. Wilentz describes how even though the manifestations of failed policy are legion, that this President is incapable of changing those policies. This bull headed attitude in the face of failure is perfectly summated by Professor Wilentz thusly:
Bush has failed to confront his own failures in both domestic and international affairs, above all in his ill-conceived responses to radical Islamic terrorism. Having confused steely resolve with what Ralph Waldo Emerson called "a foolish consistency . . . adored by little statesmen," Bush has become entangled in tragedies of his own making, compounding those visited upon the country by outside forces.
There is no doubt that the President is resolute and steady in his goals. That does not make him right. When the President says that he will not govern according to the polls, we may only wish that while ignoring polls the President would heed the signs of failure and govern accordingly. President Bush is simply incapable of doing so.

Speaking of polls, Mr. Wilentz also shows how the President has squandered the most favorable ratings in the history of the Presidency, immediately after September 11, to near historical record lows of approval for his governance today. Mr. Bush had the opportunity to reach greatness in the pantheon of American leadership because of the circumstances he found himself following that historic day. Yet the President has chosen to squander the good will of the public, both domestically and internationally, by pursuing policies that divide us against ourselves. The constant harping on September 11 in pursuit of partisan goals that have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism is nothing short of apostasy. They have taken an event which united us, an event of monumental historical significance, an event which literally changed the world, an event of horrid tragedy and national trauma, and bastardized it for their own political goals. Can you imagine the absolute depravity that would have been signaled by FDR if he had used Pearl Harbor to further his political goals? Imagine radio ads against Republicans in that time claiming they were weak on the war. It simply is unimaginable. Yet that is precisely what this President has done.

Using the tragedy of September 11 as a springboard to launch a needless war in Iraq will be thought of by future generations as near madness. Not only was this war unnecessary, it was the exact wrong action to take in conducting a global war on terror. This war arguably is one of the, if not the, greatest strategic blunder in American military history. We find ourselves bogged down with no end in sight. Our military conveniently provides targets to our enemies and is fomenting rebellion by occupying Iraq. Our leaders have been shown to be liars even as we face other threats internationally where-in our intelligence will not be taken seriously. We have alienated the rest of the world, from providing a united international front in the war on terror immediately after September 11, to now being distrustful and hostile to American goals and this President. The fracturing of the international coalition against terrorism due to this needless war in Iraq is precisely the opposite of what we truly need to effectively combat terrorism.

Indeed, in using September 11 to further his partisan agenda, and then insisting he is right after being repeatedly proven wrong, this Presidents governance has simply been a disaster.

I especially found Mr. Wilentz description of what generally makes presidents either great successes or failures enlightening. Basically the circumstances presented the President offer most of them a mediocre standing in the pantheon of their peers. It is the Presidents who govern in a time of crisis that are either deemed great or failures. Buchanan, widely acclaimed as the worst president ever, prior to Mr. Bush, governed as the southern states prepared for secession. His lack of action in that time is considered disastrous. Lincoln and Roosevelt both saw the nation through great wars, using their circumstances to unite the nation and govern wisely. Bush's great opportunity was provided by Osama Bin Laden on September 11, and this President has proven a manifest failure in response, dividing the nation during a time of war by being openly hostile to Democrats, and not correcting obvious mistakes in his policies.

I do believe that Mr. Wilentz has made a very strong case. President Bush may well be one of the, if not THE worst President in American history.

The big question regarding Rove

Karl Rove has been demoted and now will mainly coordinate the White House effort in the mid term elections. The big question I have is this: Does Karl Rove still hold a security clearance?

Mr. Rove has already demonstrated his willingness to breach security in order to attack a political opponent. For this man to have continued to hold his clearance after this breach was apparent for the entire world to see is an egregious error. Should any Democratic candidate for Congress have any secrets that Rove could use to Republican advantage who would not put it past this man to release those details anonymously? He's already shown a penchant for precisely that sort of behavior!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Saber rattling costs YOU big bucks...

The recent spate of stories regarding the administrations apparent drive to war with Iran has resulted in a sharp increase in gas prices. This in turn will result in even more obscene profits to the already fantastically wealthy oil merchants.

The last several years have seen steady increases in gasoline prices, and at the same time big oils profits soar. All this happening while the Republicans in Washington pass favors to their oil buddies. Now it seems that all that the President has to do in order to increase the price of gas, and the profits of the oil barons, is rattle that saber a bit. The notion that these greedy tycoons are benefiting from the bellicose attitude of the President, at our expense, is really irksome as far as I'm concerned.

Unfortunately this is a win/win for the President. He gets to look tough while the rest of the world worries that he might be crazy or stupid enough to use the nuclear option to stop nuclear proliferation. (What kind of paradoxical thinking is that? That seems Orwellian on a grand scale... we may actually pre-emptively nuke them to stop their nukes.) And his pals in the oil industry are given yet more profits.

So the next time you gas up and wind up paying out the nose, remember to thank President Bush and his saber.

Monday, April 17, 2006

My Representative in Congress is Peter Defazio!

I would like to shout that from the figurative rooftops in the blogosphere. My area here in Oregon has repeatedly voted for Representative Defazio , and by gum we will be doing it again this year. You may be wondering why in the world the frikster is carrying on about Mr. Defazio right now... right?

It's because of THIS ! As related by Raw Story:
Two Democratic Congressmen have written letters to President Bush on the heels of a growing number of news reports that American forces may have already begun military operations in Iran, RAW STORY has found.

Both House members express concern that if the stories are true, then the president may have acted unilaterally without first obtaining proper authorization from Congress.


Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) intends to introduce a resolution "expressing the sense of the Congress that the President cannot initiate military action against Iran without congressional authorization" soon, and is forwarding his letter to other House members to collect additional signatures.

"We are writing to remind you that you are constitutionally bound to seek congressional authorization before launching any preventive military strikes against Iran," DeFazio writes.
Representative Defazio then proceeds to chew up and spit out the logic proffered by this administration and it's apologists, regarding the constitutional roles given Congress and the President in making war.
As you know, Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power "to declare war," to lay and collect taxes to "provide for the common defense" and general welfare of the United States, to "raise and support armies," to "provide and maintain a navy," to "make rules for the regulation for the land and naval forces," to "provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions," to "provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia," and to "make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution...all...powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States." Congress is also given exclusive power over the purse. The Constitution says, "No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law."

By contrast, the sole war powers granted to the Executive Branch through the President can be found in Article II, Section 2, which states, "The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into actual Service of the United States…"
Mr. Defazio then goes on for about five paragraphs in destroying the administrations interpretation of their constitutional role. He brings up everything from the federalist papers to the historical precedent set by several of our founding fathers.

Representative Defazio closes the letter by heading the administration off at the pass you just KNOW they are going to try to cross. He clearly says the legislation passed in response to September 11 is not justification to attack Iran.
We also want to go on record that the Authorization of Force Resolution (Public Law 107-40) approved by Congress to go after those responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our country does not, explicitly or implicitly, extend to authorizing military action against Iran over its nuclear program. The legislation specifically says, "The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons." There is no evidence that Iran was involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks. Nor is there any evidence that Iran harbored those who were responsible for the attacks.
Mr. Defazio effectively pre-empts the nearly certain administration tactic of invoking September 11 to pursue their goals in Iran. But that won't stop them from using that card, because that is the only thing that the administration knows to use in order to prop up a disastrousforeignn policy.

And just in case the President could use lawyer speak to somehow read an okay to attack Iran in the resolution authorizing force in Iraq, Mr. Defazio makes it clear that won't work either:
Further, the Authorization of Force Resolution (Public Law 107-243) approved by Congress to go to war with Iraq does not extend to military action against Iran over its nuclear program. This resolution only authorized you to "(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." Like P.L. 107-40, there is no explicit or implicit authorization on the part of Congress in P.L. 107-243 that would allow you to attack Iran without first coming to Congress to seek a new authorization.
All in all this letter is truly a shot over the bow of the administration regarding a possible headlong rush to use of force against Iran. Rep. Defazio cogently dissects any possible justifications the administration may attempt to use in a rush to war.

So now I hope you can see why I would like to shout from the figurative internets rooftop that my congressman is Representative Peter Defazio! Way to go, Defazio...

Hamas statement is not acceptable.

Hamas has attempted to justify the suicide bombing of a bus stop and nearby restaurant which killed 9 people and wounded dozens. They say this was a legitimate tactic in the face of Israeli aggression.

This is not acceptable. As the ruling party of the Palestinian authority, Hamas has done incalculable damage to it's own cause with this response. Hamas must be brought to understand that giving moral support to terrorists who target innocent civilians is not an acceptable behavior on the part of the leader of their people.

It is time for Hamas to grow up and act responsibly.

I know full well that Israeli bombs and missiles have caused plenty of chaos and death. In no way do I believe that these tragedies are justified as well. I guess the difference to me is that you do not see the Israeli government cheering whenever some bomb kills a bunch of innocent Palestinians. I feel certain however that there will be a heavy handed response from the IDF, and the endless cycle of violence continues.

What a mess this is. What it boils down to is Hamas must recognize that Israel is going to be a nation for the foreseeable future, and maybe they should get around to trying to set up a homeland with this truth in mind. If they persist in cheering on suicide bombers, their homeland will be a long long time coming, and will not be seen while they remain in power.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Iraqi Army: Official temp agency

The Seattle Times has an A.P. article about a policy of the Iraqi Army that is simply mind boggling.
U.S. and Iraqi commanders are increasingly critical of a policy that lets Iraqi soldiers leave their units virtually at will — essentially deserting with no punishment. They blame the lax rule for draining the Iraqi ranks to confront the insurgency, in some cases by 30 percent or even half.

Iraqi officials, however, say they have no choice but to allow the policy, or they may attract virtually no volunteers.
Virtually no volunteers? They have over 50% unemployment, are desperately poor in a land swimming with oil, but if they don't let the soldiers slip off when they want they couldn't fill the ranks. Just amazing!

This hardly inspires confidence in the whole notion that the Iraqi's are gonna be standing up to secure western democracy for themselves.

Furthermore, if the locals can just walk away at any point, how do we know we are not training the enemy? It makes perfect sense for the enemy to put their recruits into the Iraqi army, have them trained with our experts and at our expense, then have them melt back into the countryside to fight us. Isn't this just obvious to anyone who looks at the situation?

The A.P. also reports:
Some Iraqi army officers believe the casual attitude toward unauthorized absences is a good thing because it helps morale among young soldiers who have never been away from home and joined mostly because they need money.

Added Maj. Gen. Jaafar Mustafa, an Iraqi army officer in Sulaimaniyah: "We do not want any soldier to stay against his will, because this will affect the performance and the morale of the Iraqi army. By giving the choice for the Iraqi members to stay or leave, more people will volunteer in the army."
Great points offered up by these officers right? In effect they say 'These are mama's boys so they need to be able to go home every now and then'. These points are so obviously on target that precisely NO other armed force in the world has this policy. But I'm sure they'll come around.

The article continues:
"All the soldiers now, they don't care about the country. They care about the money," al-Kafage said. "It's too easy for them to quit. If someone punishes them, they can throw down their uniform and say, 'Have a nice day.' "

U.S. trainers who oversee the battalion's rookie soldiers, most from the Shiite areas south of Baghdad, echo the complaint.
Imagine that. You are going through Iraqi boot camp and some burly sarge gets all up in your face because you cant march in time. You don't have to put up with that garbage! Just take your stuff and go home. I'll bet discipline in that army is... well, nonexistent actually.

Do you think that when Rumsfeld insisted on disbanding the Iraqi army after the invasion, he ever dreamed that the army that replaced it would be able to disband themselves as a matter of policy.

Baseball is now unholy?

The Associated Press brings us a story which really shows how over the top some people get with pushing their view of morality.
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - A television station declined to broadcast a baseball game because it was being played on Good Friday.

WNEP-TV (Channel 16), which traditionally televises the home opener, won’t be broadcasting tonight’s 7:05 game against Norfolk at Lackawanna County Stadium because it’s Good Friday, the day that Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified.

WNEP President and General Manager C. Lou Kirchen said on an April 5 broadcast: “Good Friday is not an appropriate day for us to do that.”

What?! What is wrong or immoral about baseball? They intend to broadcast a tabloid show instead of baseball? What kind of community standard is that?

If this station really wanted to take a moral stand why not go with 24 hours of religious programming on Good Friday? Do you really need me to tell you the answer here? Because broadcasting 24 hours of religious programming, even on Good Friday, would cost them a ton of advertising!

In effect they are not really doing anything to recognize this as a holy day. They are the same as the Pharisees who Jesus railed against. They make a great public spectacle of their righteousness, but their actual contribution to the spiritual well being of their community consists of little if anything else.

In the meantime... exactly why is baseball wrong again?

The General in charge...

The current state of affairs at the Pentagon reminds me of a story from the Civil War. (warning, dry military history story coming up)

After the battle of Fredericksburg Abraham Lincoln replaced General Ambrose Burnside with General Joe Hooker. This was the latest in a string of defeats, and changes to the union armies leadership.

The Confederate and Union lines were separated by a river, and it was common practice for the pickets of each army to communicate with the other sides pickets. The Confederates were lead by the legendary Robert E Lee, but suffered from a want of supplies and forage for their animals. The running joke across the river between the picket lines was for the Confederates to call out, sarcastically inquiring which General the Union Army was being lead by today. Most times the call back from the Union side was that at least it wasn't General Starvation.

The Pentagon has been lead by Donald Rumsfeld for quite a long while now, but it is clear from the events of the last week that he is having to fend off a revolt from General Dissatisfaction, over his leadership.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

White House considers DeLay for OMB, conservative blog endorses !

No... seriously. The headline on this post is entirely accurate. Here is the scoop.

U.S. News & World Report (hat tip Raw Story) reports a real shocker:
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten is said to be leaning toward selecting an outsider with strong fiscal conservative credentials to take his spot as director of the Office of Management and Budget, according to some insiders.


Sources said that he is considering former and current House members for the post. One associate even suggested that retiring Rep. Tom DeLay was being considered, though the most likely pick would be from a conservative budget association.

I posted about this on Kos in the early morning hours today and one of the responses had a link to this from Powerline :
UPI reports that former Majority Leader Tom DeLay is one of a handful of candidates to replace Josh Bolten as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. If we could get the spending-hawk DeLay of the 1990s rather than the "no more fat to cut" DeLay of more recent years, he'd be a good choice. No one knows more about the budget. And I'd like to see the administration show some support for DeLay.
I absolutely concur with Powerline on this issue. Mr. DeLay should get more support from this White House, and he would be an absolutely fantastic choice for this administrations top budgetary officer. Just to be clear here, I am entirely serious when I say this. I whole heartedly hope that the White House makes this move. In fact I will lend my pipsqueak voice on the internets in order to call upon the White House to hire Tom Delay!

Folks... this really is to good to be true. There is no way the administration will hire an indicted ex politico. I'm sorry to most of my readers who would be thrilled to have the White House hire the very symbol of corrupt, big spending, arrogant, Republican hypocrite that the public is so obviously sick and tired of dealing with.

But then again, hiring DeLay would be so politically stupid, so arrogant, so breath takingly in your face to the reality based crowd... they just might do it! We can only hope.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Time for Jefferson to go...

Raw Story details an ethics complaint filed by CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) against Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA).

I remember seeing Mr. Jefferson on MSNBC at some point soon after the hurricane attempting to justify his use of the National Guard in saving his belongings. To me his logic was singularly unimpressive. He cited security concerns, saying in effect that they were his personal body guard.

The awful conditions in the aftermath of the hurricane did lead to a lawless state of affairs, but it seems obvious to me that the troops Mr. Jefferson took with him could have been put to far better use in helping the rescue/recovery effort. If Mr. Jefferson was so concerned for his safety during this emergency I firmly believe he ought to have waited until the situation was more secure. There is no way that you will ever convince me that Mr. Jeffersons household goods were more important than the need to alleviate the crisis in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.

It is for this lapse in judgement that I use my pipsqueak voice in the uproar of punditry over the internets, to call upon Mr. Jefferson to resign.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Plan to reclassify Nat. Archives was... classified !

The Associated Press used the freedom of information act to get a document from the National Archives that details an agreement between the archives, the CIA, the Air Force and some mystery government agency (the Defense Intelligence Agency) to secretly reclassify previously declassified material. (Warning: PDF format)

Of course the agreement was secret. I think George Orwell would have been proud to dream up such a happening in 1984. The agreement to make public information secret was itself a secret.

Here is the story as reported by the A.P. The original effort to reclassify some material began in 1999, but the agreement is dated March 2, 2002. The rate at which previously public material has been reclassified has soared under the auspices of the Bush administration.

The A.P. speculates about the mystery government agency which could not be identified thusly.
Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation ... also said he found it odd that the agreement named two of the agencies involved in the reclassification program — the U.S. Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency — but redacted the name of a third, arguing it would compromise national security, reveal internal government deliberations and violate statutes against disclosure of specific information.

In Congressional testimony last month, a historian said the third agency was the Defense Intelligence Agency, but archivists refused to address his assertions.
The obvious question here is... why does the mystery agency (The DIA) care, once the whole affair comes to light, if they are identified? The only answer is that they did not want to be embarrassed by their involvement in this debacle. It obviously is not a national security issue at this time... unless you actually believe that Osama learning that the DIA having agents peruse the National Archives shows them an opening for attack. If you do believe that, you either need to start taking your meds, or put down the pitcher of koolaid.

I don't believe that some government agency being embarrassed is, of itself, a valid reason to redact their involvement when a document is released under the FOIA. I hope the A.P. drags the whole affair back into court to get the complete document... just to embarrass the DIA!

Yet another Iran strike story...

Stories detailing administration plans to bomb Iraq are coming fast and furious this week. Now we learn that The Council on foreign Relations knows all about these plans.

In my last post I speculated on a possible October surprise by this administration in an attempt to influence domestic politics. The story from the CFR seems to indicate that the administration may bring on a debate on military action with Iran in July of this year. This would tend to indicate that we can expect the same tactic we saw in 2002, with a debate on military action being brought in the heat of a midterm election.

I have two points to make.

We need to make elections independent of this type of spurious debate. In 1991, then President Bush made a point of not bringing the case for the eviction of Saddam from Kuwait until the midterm election of 2000 had passed. This demonstrates the honorable conduct of Bush 1, in contrast to the crass political conduct of Bush 2. If Iran posed an immediate threat and it simply had to be dealt with in a matter of weeks, there may be a case for this type of conduct. But Iran clearly is not an immediate threat, and any action would be preventative in nature. To cause this issue to be raised during the heat of a campaign seems dirty in some way to me. We can only hope that if events play out as the CFR predicts they will that this administration will be seen for what they are doing and they will pay a price for it.

Second, I wonder if this will actually work in the administrations favor in this particular case. Is America ready for another preemptive war in the Persian Gulf while we are currently witnessing the results of that same type of thinking in Iraq? How does the administration actually expect this to action to play in the broader war on terror and with our few remaining allies? Is our word on the impending threat going to be taken seriously after the example provided with the leadup to the Iraq war? It seems that these types of questions being raised may bring some uncomfortable answers. What happens if the Congress, having learned a lesson about giving this president unfettered power and then being led into the Iraqi quagmire, actually does not give the President what he wants?

I suppose we shall see what we shall see, but I fully expect the Iran question to be a very large issue in the coming election. Let us not forget the lessons we ought to have learned in Iraq.

October Surprise...

Paul Krugman (via ) has written a column which I believe deserves attention. The gist of his article is to compare the leadup to the Iraq invasion with the leadup to a possible strike on Iraq.

The part that really grabbed my attention was where Mr. Krugman speculates on the possibility of this President going to war with Iran in order to change the political dynamic on the domestic front. While Mr. Krugman does not draw a parallel with the Iraq invasion on this count the similarity is there.

The Bush administration brought the issue of Congressional approval to a vote on October 10, 2002. This date was less than a month before the midterm elections. And the issue of approval of the use of force against Iraq was used by Republican candidates around the nation and helped solidify their control of the House and take control of the Senate.

I do not believe the administration will be taking the case for a strike on Iran to Congress because, with the disaster that has unfolded in Iraq, Congressional approval of a strike on Iran is doubtful. With history as our guide then, assuming that there will not be a vote on the issue, how can we expect a strike on Iran to help Bush on the domestic political front? An October surprise is all that is left.

Traditionally when a President uses military force, there is a short term boost of support which follows. The administration may count on this traditional boost to keep the Congress in Republican hands and subpoena power out of the hands of Democrats.

My prediction then is that in the weeks immediately prior to the November election we will see a bombing campaign on Iran. If this pans out the question is, will this blatant attempt to influence an election succeed... again? Or will the public see through this desperate poltical stunt and throw the bums out?

Monday, April 10, 2006

McClellan: Hot is cold, black is white etc etc etc...

Not having alot to work with for my daily post, (nuking Iran, White House ties to election fraud in N.H. on the same day Rove gives GOP elections lawyers a big thank you for keeping democracy safe... you know same ol' same ol') I finally went with a tried and true tactic. I linked to todays press conference (warning, this link goes to the White House website, click at your own risk) by Scott McClellan for some inspiration. He did not disappoint.

Let us examine the methodology of the spokeman for an imploding President. Scott has to face an invigorated White House press corps (remember the days when these folks would meekly raise their hands and pitch a soft ball) and deny reality. Not only does he have to deny reality, he must pretend that administration reality is working even as their world implodes around them.

Let us look at some examples of this: Responding to the editorial by the Pentagons top operations officer at the time of the Iraq invasion, Lt. Gregory Newbold, in which he eviscerates the administrations prewar, and post invasions rationales, McClellan offers this:
Q Scott, you've got a senior officer here who was there in the buildup to the war, saying it was a mistake, saying this war should never have been fought, resources were taken --

MR. McCLELLAN: The President strongly disagrees. It was the right decision to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. And let me talk about why. Remember, September 11th changed the President's thinking. He talked about this in his remarks earlier today. We are a nation at war, engaged in a global war on terrorism. And the President made the decision after September 11th that we were going to go on the offensive, that we were going to take the fight to the enemy. And that's exactly what we are doing. And the President talked today in his remarks about what we have accomplished. And he talked about why it was the right decision to go in and remove Saddam Hussein from power. The regime --
Reading the entire transcript you will see that by allowing the first mention of Sept. 11 to take place approximately one minute into the briefing Scotty has violated a cardinal rule of White House spokesmanship. Sept. 11 must be mentioned inside the 1st 30 seconds of any given presentation or you are off on the wrong foot.

The notion that invading Iraq has assisted our cause in the war on terror is simply ludicrous. This theory has been singularly rebutted and I feel no desire to do so again. On with the McClellan briefing:
Q It has nothing to do with 9/11.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- the regime is gone. It is no longer sponsoring terrorism. It is no longer destabilizing the region. It is no longer undermining the credibility of the United Nations. It is no longer threatening the world.
Black is white! Hot is cold. The region is actually more stable now that we've done this. Simply ludicrous! Kosovo is stable. South Korea is stable. I know stable regions. Stable regions are a friend of mine. The Persian Gulf is not stable! Sheesh... I feel like I'm responding to a robot who has been programmed with only incorrect talking points.

McClellan speaks of Saddam undermining the credibility of the United Nations... I mean honestly. Is it not the height of hypocrisy for an official of the Bush administration to go there? Let us just snicker at this and move along.
Q But, Scott, what he was saying is this wasn't part of the global war on terrorism. In fact, what he said is the actions taken in Iraq were peripheral to the real threat, al Qaeda.

MR. McCLELLAN: Martha, I haven't read the whole article. The President has expressed his views very clearly about how this is part of the broader war on terrorism. He takes a comprehensive approach when it comes to fighting and winning the war on terrorism. And we will prevail. We are leading from a position of confidence and strength, and we will continue to do so going forward.
Of course the Lt. General in charge of Pentagon operations is just wrong about all this, and the President who stepped on the carrier deck in the flight jacket under the mission accomplished banner is right. All the other experts who have expressed their views on how disastrous this invasion was/is are obviously muddle headed nay sayers, and only the koolaid drinkers have it right. You can just see Scotty dipping the ladle into the aluminum kettle for his next sip of administration koolaid.

"We are leading from a position of confidence". Which White House propagandist do you suppose thought that one up? We have been led into a quagmire... by a President who cannot conceive the notion that he may have been mistaken. Leading with confidence, right into the pit. Let us see where else Scotty would like to lead us...
Q Let me ask this follow-up question. No matter when the information was released from the NIE, why isn't it a fair charge to make against this President that he, frankly, played politics with declassified intelligence in the run-up to the war to defend his case for war?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think a lot of people have disputed that. If you look at the evidence, the intelligence is in the National Intelligence Estimate. The National Intelligence Estimate is the collective judgment of the intelligence community. And it was, as I said, the underlying basis for how we viewed Saddam Hussein's weapons program -- not just us, but the Congress, foreign governments, the previous administration, the United Nations. So this was intelligence shared by many people. Now, the intelligence was wrong. And that's why we took steps to correct it and make sure that we have better intelligence going forward.
Of course the declassification of selective portions of the NIE is political in nature. Here is what happened in a nutshell. The President starts taking heat on his use of prewar intelligence. In order to (hopefully) demonstrate that he was playing straight, he declassified the portions of the NIE that backed him up. Which actually PRECISELY demonstrates the problem and in fact the pattern that led up to the war. The President was not honest in declassifying only those portions of the NIE that supported him but leaving those portions that questioned him classified. As it is now apparent that he was not honest prior to going to war about the intelligence. We now know for a fact that not only were the famous 16 words in the state of the union known to be falsehoods when delivered by the President, but the uranium tube as centrifuge claim was known by the President to be false as well. Actually, the selective leaking to make a political point was deceptive, and is yet another example of the behavior by this administration. Scotty knows this I'm sure.

I'm not going to bother going through the whole press conference to point out this sophistry on behalf of the administration. I could type until bedtime doing it.

Just one note on a personal level. I've quit smoking! As of 04/08 early in the morning I smoked my last one, and I'm actually doing well with the project. I was prescribed Wellbutrin to help. Wellbutrin is an antidepresent, but doctors saw that alot of the smoking patients who were taking it were quitting smoking. Basically it makes taking a drag taste like you've just bitten into a turd. And it helps with the mental anguish so many smokers have to go through to quit. I definitely reccomend this drug if any of my readers smoke and want to quit. Plus I have a patch. And it has gone very well!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Yer Durn Tootin

Whenever I hear (read, participate in, etc...) discussions regarding the consequences of a possible Democratric takeover of Congress, one of the first issues that I hear the right get breathless over is that Democrats will get subpoena power. This is always said as the Republican talking head has a worried grin on his face and you can almost see them blanche at the prospect. And the way they say it makes it seem that, to them, this possibility is a point in their favor.

Here are some examples: From the Washington Times:
If, however, Democrats do win a Senate majority in November, the consequences for the Bush administration and the judiciary would be profound. Not only would Democrats control the chairmanships of all Senate committees and subcommittees, but they would also wield subpoena power, which their minority-party status has precluded them from exercising since the Iraq war began, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and following December's revelation of warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency.
Here is Tucker Carlson nervously contemplating the possible disaster facing the President with Chris Matthews: :
Matthews: If Congress changes hands in this next year, these numbers spell disaster. You‘re going to have investigation after investigation. Because the subpoena will be in the hands of the Democrats.

CARLSON: It will be a nightmare.
Here is Tom Delay being interviewed by Matthews :
MATTHEWS: What would happen if Henry Waxman got the subpoena power in the Government Reform Committee? What would happen if John Conyers of Michigan got the subpoena power? Would they go after the president?

DELAY: Sure, they would. They've tried the whole time we've been in the majority, just look at what they've been doing.

Henry Waxman is constantly calling for investigations, mostly frivolous investigations to make political points. John Conyers has even called for the impeachment of the president. What do you think he's going to do if he's chairman of the Judiciary Committee?

MATTHEWS: You have an inside view, Congressman, of what they will do. I know their records. I know their philosophies. But you tell me, the man in the news today, do you believe that the Republicans, if they lose the House, will turn over the subpoena power to people who will try to impeach the president?

DELAY: Absolutely. John Conyers not too long ago held a mock meeting of all the left and talked about impeaching the president, and he's called for impeaching the president. Do you think when he gets the gavel as chairman of the Judiciary Committee he wont try to impeach the president? Of course he will.
It is evident from this exchange that the notion that the administration would be investigated, called to testify truthfully, and possibly impeached strikes Mr. Delay (and a lot of other conservatives judging from what they are saying about the issue) as a point to be considered which may sway voters to vote Republican.

Indeed the issue of Democrats with subpoenas ought to be an issue. The issue however hardly can be considered a Republican talking point in their favor. The public clearly is disillusioned by the single party rule of the Republicans and are liable to demonstrate this by voting Democrats into power. One major factor in the publics restlessness is that the Republican controlled Congress has shown no ability to function except largely as an arm of the Bush administration. Perhaps if the Congress would fulfill the constitutional role given them by the constitution and issued a few subpoenas, the prospects of the Republicans in the approaching election would not appear so bleak.

One other positive aspect to consider is that this issue nationalizes the debate. Every district across the nation that has a voting representative has a stake in this. And it is very simple to understand. Whether you live in Florida or Alaska, if you want a check on this administration, vote for a Democrat. If you like the way this President governs and Congress plays along, vote Republican. This is very simple to understand, cuts across geographic boundaries, and with the failure of this Presidency is a great issue for Democrats.

So yer durn tootin there's gonna be investigations, and impeachment hearings, and so on! Shout it from the rooftops Democrats. And if Republicans want to rush to the aid of their 37% favorably rated failure of a President, by all means let them. If aiding and abetting this administration were a positive all the chatter would be about the Democrats losing even more seats, not winning a tidal wave. Democrats should be cheering each and every time some Congressional Republican koolaid drinker defends this administration.

It seems to me the smart thing to do for a Republican, not in a safe district, who wants to survive this election is to start issuing a few subpoenas of their own.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Another speech, another rant.

Today President Bush gave a speech (warning: that link is to the official site of the Whitehouse, and we all know how concerned they are about your privacy so click it at your own risk) at Central Piedmont Community College. Nearly all of the media attention of this event was coverage of a statement to the President given by a hostile audience member. I would like to focus on what the President actually said in his speech.

Todays speech hit on many of the same themes the President has harped upon for the last several years. Therefore this post may seem to cover alot of the same ground already walked over by the liberal blogosphere and myself. However the reason I'm doing this is because I do not believe the President should be allowed to contribute such wrong headed and factually inaccurate commentary to the dialogue without being challenged. This then is my small part to fact check the Presidents speech.

The historical inaccuracies and other delusions in this speech simply are too much to enumerate with one blog post. So I will simply tackle several and quit when I get tired of typing...

Let us begin by examining the Presidents thought process. He says:
I make a lot of decisions. Some of them you see, some of them you don't see. Decision making requires knowing who you are and what you believe. I've learned enough about Washington to know you can't make decisions unless you make them on principle. And once you make a decision based upon principle, you stand by what you decide.
What the President is saying here in effect is who cares about the facts. It's the principle, so who needs debate? Facts are just inconveniences which offer no insight regarding how an issue ought to be decided because the President is dogmatic in pursuit of policy based on principle. This is painfully evident in many areas of his governance, from the war on science (scientists whose findings disagree with administration principles on everything from global warming to birth control have been screaming about this for years) to the war on terror (where pursuit of administration dogma has led to an explosion in the recruitment of terrorists). So in this part of the speech I would actually have to say that the President is correctly describing his thought process, but it is not the strength he seems to think it is.

In regards to how the President is advised so that he can make these principled decisions he says this:
In order to make good decisions, you've got to rely upon good people. People have got to feel comfortable about coming in the Oval Office and tell you what's on their mind. There's nothing worse than people walking in, say, well, I'm a little nervous around the guy, I think I'd better tell him what he thinks he needs to hear.
The President actually gives a very good description of himself in decrying the very way he acts to aides when given the bad news. The President is notoriously incapable of handling the truth if it is contrary to his preset notion of how the situation ought to be. It was fear of Presidential petulance that kept the staff from approaching him with the truth of the matter when hurricane Katrina wiped out New Orleans. Quite simply, as put in this Newsweek article, President Bush has surrounded himself with like minded yes people, and considers disagreement with his policies to be a betrayal. This ambience of hostility towards dissent hardly encourages those with bad news or contrarian views to really speak their mind. So the President makes a good point by disparaging leadership that will not welcome dissent, and in so doing disparages himself.

The President then says:
The biggest decision I've had to make since I've been your President is putting kids in harm's way. It's a decision no President wants to make. It's a decision I wish I did not have to make.
What?! It seems to me that there is overwhelming evidence that shows that the President intended to go to war well before we went. Mainly thanks to the British records keeping which brings us the Downing Street Memos. In order for us to not believe that the President intended to go to war long before all other means had been exhausted, the Downing St. Memo's must be repudiated, and the White House has never even tried to do that.

Frankly when the President claims that all diplomatic means were exhausted and that the invasion of Iraq was a last resort I feel disgusted. War truly should be the Presidents last resort, yet Bush needlessly took America to war, leading to disastrous consequences which we need not have gone through. Later in his speech the President reiterates the lie that he exhausted all other means before being forced to go to war:
And before a President ever commits troops, you got to try diplomacy at all costs. I'm going to say to you what I said before, putting those kids in harm's way is a tough, difficult decision. And nobody should ever want to do it, because I understand fully the consequences of the decision. And so as I told you, I went to the diplomatic route. I was hoping that when the world spoke with that one voice at the United Nations Security Council, Saddam Hussein would see the reason of the free world.
I swear, this man opens his mouth and lie upon lie gushes forth. The facts are as follows. The security council did NOT vote to give the ok for the Iraqi invasion. In fact America and Britain decided not to present the question to the security council after it became apparent that the measure would not pass. There were inspectors in Iraq at the time under U.N. auspices.

For the President to say that he understood the consequences of his decision is flatly false. The understanding of this President and administration was that we would be welcomed as liberators, greeted with flowers, and freedom would spring forth in the Middle East. The President and his yes men advisors clearly did not understand the consequences of their wrong headed decision and the entire nation must now suffer the consequences wrought by these fools.

If President Bush wanted Saddam to see the "reason of the free world", would not Bush have been well served to listen to the free world himself? We disregarded the opinion of the vast majority of the rest of the world by invading Iraq. It really surprises me that President Bush now councils anyone else to listen to world opinion. Maybe before he comments on the mote in the other fellows eye, he should consider the log in his own.

Here's some more sophistry from the President:
Another lesson is, is that we must defeat the enemy overseas so we don't have to face them here again. And that requires a strategy that is offensive in mind: press the enemy, find the enemy, bring the enemy to justice, never relent, never give them quarter, understand you cannot negotiate with these people. You can't rationalize with these people, that you must stay on the hunt and bring them to justice. This is precisely what we're doing.
Any third grader with the slightest grasp on reality could destroy this logic. Fight them over there so we don't face them here? He really means give them Americans to kill over there so they don't kill us here right? He is actually saying that the lives of Americans are more expendable if they spill their blood on foreign lands. I'm afraid that sooner rather than later we will have expended over 3000 lives in Iraq, which will make the casualty list for America in Iraq more than we suffered in 09/11. In the biggest strategic blunder in American history we will have sacrificed more lives than were sacrificed in the event that the President now says led us to war. All in an effort that has strengthened our enemy by exploding their recruitment and providing them with real world training to further train in their evil ways.

How the freak do you think the Iraqi people feel knowing that we have chosen their nation, which had not one iota of involvement with the war on terror prior to our invasion, as a central front in the war on terror. No wonder the vast majority want us gone asap.

This business about press the enemy, never let up, bring him to justice... is really a crock. One small reason that the Iraqi blunder was so disastrous is that we took our eyes off the ball in Afghanistan. Indeed Osama ought to be brought to justice. Duh! So when the President says that he doesn't really pay that much attention to Osama it sort of makes me wonder if he's back to the bottle. And when it turns out Osama is cornered in some mountain range, that would be a keen time to put in the troops we find bogged down in Iraq and bring the perp to justice.

Honestly... the speech the President gives is simply to replete with falsehoods and foo puffery to take apart on a point by point basis. In the interest of not posting a book I'll let the rest of the speech go without comment.

Except to say shame on you Mr. President. Shame.

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