Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The President should accept Rumsfeld's resignation.

There is a tipping point which I believe we have reached in the ongoing drama of whether Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld should resign.

The news for the last week or so has been afire with the revelations of the Haditha massacre last November. It is not just the massacre that warrants Rumsfeld's resignation, but also the subsequent coverup by the Marines in which they officially declared that the civilian deaths were the result of an insurgent IED explosion.

The guiding principle for effective leadership has been the recognition by management that they are responsible for the overall conduct and performance of the people they manage. Rumsfeld has overseen the Department of Defense as it has lurched from one disaster to the next. There appears to be no willingness to admit failures except in the broadest sense, and no system by which upper management at the Pentagon is to be held accountable for these tremendous blunders.

At the end of the day the person ultimately responsible for our nations military is the commander in chief. I believe that the resignation of Bush would be accepted by the nation and the world with dancing in the streets. Frankly the mans history shows a record that would tend to give me hope for his resignation, as Bush in private life undertook major endeavors, ran those enterprises into the ground, and then turned the mess over to others as he moved on to the next failure. However to follow that pattern in the current position he holds would be such a monumental admission of failure, which is against the very core being of Bush to do, that he would go down in history as one of the greatest failures not just in American Presidential history, but in the history of world leadership.

The Secretary of Defense on the other hand is not an automatic 8 year term who serves the entire course of the administration that appoints him. It is quite common for the position to be recycled. What is not common is for the same Secretary to oversee a chain of unmitigated disasters and to keep the job. In fact the root of these problems can in large part be traced to decisions made by Rumsfeld. The lack of post invasion planning, the encouragement of harsh treatment of detainees, the lack of accountability of upper brass when detainee abuse exploded on the scene and now the Haditha massacre and subsequent coverup... and this is not the entire list of mistakes by any stretch of the imagination.

When Abu Ghraib burst on the scene Secretary Rumsfeld twice offered his resignation to the President who saw fit to not accept on both occasions. I believe that the Haditha massacre and coverup ought to be the trigger for another resignation letter from the Secretary, and this time the President would be well served to accept.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Al Gore for President...

I am clearing up what must be a burning question for vast hordes of Club Lefty readers. I endorse the (yet to be announced) candidacy of Al Gore for President in 2008.

There has been noise that Barack Obama is interested in making a run at the office. I fully believe that one day Obama will be President, but I would like to see him get some political seasoning. I also am not keen on seeing another Democratic candidate carrying the standard of the party straight from the Senate. Governorships seem to be a nice platform for launching a candidacy so maybe Obama could run Illinois for a while and then run for President.

Senator Hillary Clinton is married to one of the best Presidents this country has ever had. The only factor that keeps him from the pantheon of the Greatest Presidents is that he never did face a crisis of huge magnitude. However I fear that Ms. Clinton and the people that surrounded Bill as he progressed have taken the wrong lesson from his rise to power and success in governing. The lesson of Clinton is not that Democrats should lean to the right in order to be elected. Clintonism was based upon a persona that people instinctively liked with a nearly bottomless intellectual interest in the political minutiae that Clinton made a part of his Presidency. We still see this when Clinton gives a speech that goes on at length on the details of global poverty, while making the subject interesting for the lay person to follow.

Hillary needs to find her likability factor in order to capitalize on the lessons provided by her husband. I'm afraid at this point she has lost that affability factor in a drive to appear tough and lean to the right. One issue in which she must... simply MUST evolve her thinking.... is the Iraq war. There simply is no way in the world that a pro war candidate will ever win the nomination for President on the Democratic ticket.

If she were to gain the Democratic nomination for President I would absolutely support her against the Republican candidate. I rather suspect however I will be supporting a different candidate in the primary.

Another possible candidate is Senator Russ Feingold. He is a very attractive candidate at this point in the game but I fear he will simply become another name in a big field of candidates whose overall message will be dissipated and his candidacy will dissolve with a stretch of mediocre showings in the primaries. I also have the dislike of him going into the race from the Senate... which I believe is a prime target for opposition research based upon votes on obscure subjects which can be made to appear very damaging on a case by case basis. 'I was for it before I voted against it' is just such a case, which anyone who cares about the minutiae of Senatorial procedure understands perfectly well, but which was devastating to Kerry in the larger scheme.

Al Gore on the other hand has already won. He beat Bush in 2000 in the popular vote nationwide, and the majority of voters in Florida intended to vote for him as well. What Bush won was the vote of Supreme Court Justices and that was it. His message is cogent for the circumstances we as a nation face today. His speech in response to the revelations of the NSA spy program last fall was an absolute primer on the subject of political opposition in the face of a lawless administration. His stand on global warming, even as the Bush administration continues to try to keep our nations collective head in the sand on the issue, is scientifically sound and alarming in the implications of continued inaction. Gore appears passionate about the issues that are most important to our nation at this time. Calling the administration out whenever he is given the chance, even as Hillary seems determined to triangulate her base away, makes Al Gore the clear choice for those who see things as I do for President in 2008.

Now we just have to convince him to run.

Separation of powers is now the watchword.

Rep. James Sensebrenner, (R. WI) chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is hopping mad about the FBI raid on Rep. William Jefferson's (D. LA) Congressional office. He held hearings on the matter today and titled said hearings "Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?"

Let me answer the question posed by Sensebrenner in his hearings title. No. But I must admit that if naming conference hearings were some sort of gauge as to the seriousness of the chairman of the committee, no one can now doubt Sensebrenner is highly motivated.

If anything it seems that the Congress now has the impression that Congress critters are sacrosanct from the control of any other branch of government if they simply stay put in the halls of Congress. It reminds me of the game tag I played growing up where there was a safe zone in which a target could not be tagged. If the Congress member simply keeps all their documents in their office on the hill, they never need to worry about those documents being used in a judicial or law enforcement proceeding.

The problem that lead to the FBI raid on Jefferson's office was his unwillingness to comply with a subpoena. This was an ongoing issue. After it was clear that Jefferson held himself above the law in this case (see how long you would stay free on the streets if you simply blatantly ignored a subpoena) the Justice Department gained a warrant. So we see here that the evidence being sought after was twice requested through the judicial branch, with the final request being pre-emptory in nature coming in the form of a warrant, which was served by the FBI.

This hardly constitutes a dictatorial type reach for unconstitutional power by an out of control administration. There are PLENTY of examples of just that type of power grab that Sensebrenner and the Republican rubberstamp stoolies have been more than willing to ignore. One is left to wonder why Sensebrenner is blowing a gasket on the Jefferson search when there is so much other stuff that is worthy of the public wailing and gnashing of teeth...

The answer seems clear to me. If the FBI can get that info from Jefferson's office, they can do it from any other Congress critters office as well. The fact is that the taint of corruption, the truly massive scandalous conduct by the entrenched powers that be, is by and large a Republican affair. Even though Jefferson is a Democrat, the partisan nature of the hue and cry from the hill ought to be obvious to any who care to look at this honestly.

To be honest, I do think that there probably was a bit of partisanship in the zeal of the administration to carry out their law enforcement duties in this case. I imagine the outrage from the Republicans on the hill came as a total shock to the Administration. Duke Cunninghams (R. formerly CA) office never was raided. But the overall principle of the matter is enough in this case for me to excuse the seeming partisanship of the administrations actions in favor of justice, and to set the precedent of how recalcitrant Congress critters will be dealt with going forward.

Barney Frank was spot on in his defense of the FBI on this one while pointing to the inconsistencies of the House leadership. Here are some choice excerpts from his one minute speech on the floor of the House of Representatives:
What we now have is a Congressional leadership, the Republican part of which has said it is okay for law enforcement to engage in warrantless searches of the average citizen, now objecting when a search, pursuant to a validly issued warrant, is conducted of a Member of Congress.


So I think it was a grave error to have criticized the FBI. I think what they did, they ought to be able to do in every case where they can get a warrant from a judge. I think, in particular, for the leadership of this House, which has stood idly by while this administration has ignored the rights of citizens, to then say we have special rights as Members of Congress is wholly inappropriate.
Let's not hold our collective breath waiting for the Republicans to find their voice on the basic constitutional principles involved with the many legitimate examples of overreach by the Bush administration. And let's not be surprised at the uproar from Republicans on the hill over an action that could bring many of them low if successfully allowed as a precedent. What we ought to be surprised about is the knee jerk response by Democratic leadership and the Congressional Black Caucus in rushing to defend one of their own, even when it is clear that Jefferson is a scoundrel and miscreant. It is time for the leadership and the CBC to stand up and prove that all the hot air about culture of corruption and so on is not just wasted energy. After all, what better opportunity is there to prove the honesty of your belief, than when it affects someone who's on "your side".

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Blair confirms lapdog status

Telegraph Co. U.K. has the story (hat tip Raw Story ) detailing how Tony Blair made three significant changes to a keynote address he made during his recent trip.

The changes came in parts of Blair's speech dealing with his outlook on Iran, the World Monetary Bank, and Global Warming. It is apparent that the alterations insisted upon by the Bush administration irritated Blair as demonstrated by the following portion of the article linked above, yet he still knuckled under and altered the speech.
Another planned section was intended to take a tough line on global warming and the Kyoto Treaty, which Washington still has not signed.

In the event, Mr Blair merely claimed: "We must act on climate change", but did not go into detail. At this point, as a mobile telephone rang in the audience, he even made a joke about American interference. "I hope that isn't the White House telling me they don't agree with that," he said. "They act very quickly, these guys."
It is clear that Blair considered the treatment he recieved in this case to be the near equivalent of a Godfather preapproving a hoods speech at a family gathering. We are now given the final confirmation that Blair is entirely subservient to his masters pulling the strings in Washington D.C.. Can anyone imagine if Bush were to visit England with a message not approved by the Blair government, that he would be silenced? This is a decidedly one sided relationship.

Further the next time someone from this administration claims to be the great democratic enablers for the entire world, let us question why it is that our allies are given the very words they must utter when they come to our shores. Freedom of speech? Only if you are an administration parrot.

However this story will not be given any coverage in the U.S., and few if any questions will be asked about this of any administration officials. Any previous administration who made such a large public display of defending democracy that tried to pull such a stunt would have caused a feeding frenzy of gotcha journalism. The fact is that this actually is such a routine example of this administrations ham handed attitude towards any sign of dissent that it will hardly elicit any notice at all from this side of the Atlantic.

The real question is, how will the British, where Bushism is an obscene word, react to the final proof that their p.m. is the closest thing that can be had to being, in a literal sense, George Bush's lap dog.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The anatomy of a bad headline

"Enron Verdict Divides Former Employees" blares the headline affixed to the A.P. article written by Angela K. Brown. This headline is now part of the record at the Houston Chronicle, (1st link above),, The Washington Post, The Drudge Report, Salon, and many more widely read sites soon to come, due to the viral nature of A.P. article sharing.

What is wrong with the headline? Mainly that the employees in question actually are not split in the least about the jury's findings. The differences are the degree of satisfaction over the guilty verdicts.

The article gauges the opinion of three ex Enron employees: Sheri Saunders, Brian Cruver and Richard Evans. Cruver and Evans reaction to the actual guilty verdicts real time were rather laid back. Saunders squeals in joy at the news. Yet both Cruver and Evans believe justice has been served.

Terming the reactions of these ex employees as divided is like saying that a roomful of Red Sox fans were split in their opinions when they won the World series because some of them were jumping up and down and screaming, but there were others who were sitting in their chairs with their arms and legs extended, and yet others rolling around on the floor with gleeful smiles on their faces. An objective viewer, knowledgeable on the facts would wonder if maybe the headline writer was a Yankees fan because it is pretty clear what the case really is.

There is actually not one mention of any ex employee of Enron who disagrees with the verdict. Anyone just skimming headlines would certainly be excused if they reached the opposite conclusion without reading the entire article. I'm just left wondering why the A.P. would choose to put such a misleading title on this story in particular?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Interpreting Bush.

The A.P. report on the Bush-Blair get together has the following item of interest:
In unusually introspective comments, Bush said he regrets his cowboy rhetoric the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks such as his "wanted dead or alive" description of Osama bin Laden and his taunting "bring 'em on" challenge to Iraqi insurgents.

"In certain parts of the world, it was misinterpreted."
Actually Mr. President, the problem with those statements was not that they were "misinterpreted" or any other such poofuffery you might wish to throw at us as you consider your blunders in hindsight. In fact the truth of the matter is that the bring 'em on blunder was directly addressed by Bush to the infant insurgency in Iraq:
"There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on."
Now Bush is trying to say he didn't mean what he actually said and that it was all a misinterpretation. Being incommunicado in Arabic myself, I would have to wonder if the interpretation of the words "bring it on" from English to Arabic would be roughly along the lines of, "let us eat pie together", and the President was actually offering an olive branch. I rather suspect that is not the case.

How do you misinterpret "wanted dead or alive"? The President who is so proud of saying what he means and meaning what he says now wants us to believe it is our fault for getting him all wrong with two of the most famous statements of his Presidency.

Using this new Bush comprehension of the English language, we are now able to understand that "mission accomplished" actually means that there are thousands of casualties down the road. "Heckuvajob" means pack your bags... Actually now that I consider this novel approach by the President, he very well might have a point! Deficit means surplus, legal means illegal, black means white... yeah! I get it now.

What Bush really means... a parody

Check out how the President ends the statement he made announcing that he was ordering the records seized from the offices of William Jefferson sealed for 45 days.
Let me be clear: investigating and prosecuting crime is a crucial executive responsibility that I take seriously. Those who violate the law - including a Member of Congress - should and will be held to account. This investigation will go forward, and justice will be served.
Let us take this statement clause by clause and dissect what the President actually means.

When Bush says, "Let me be clear": he means let me obfuscate and dissemble while sounding concise and tough. But it sounds better to say "let me be clear" than the opposite.

When Bush says, "investigating and prosecuting crime is a crucial executive responsibility that I take seriously", he actually means: stonewalling and obstructing justice is a crucial executive activity. He still has Karl Rove on the payroll. The same man who now admits he helped expose a CIA agent, and then was instrumental in obstructing the investigation into that event is currently part of the very administration that now so vociferously lays claim to the legal high ground.

In fact just listening to administration justifications and protests about the NSA spy program has convinced me that installing and conducting a criminal enterprise is a crucial executive activity. One that Bush does indeed take seriously.

Curses on Jefferson for bringing us to a point where Bush seems like the agent of reason for sealing records seized with the issuance of a warrant. Bush and his administration toadies ought to be the ones trembling at the thought of FBI agents kicking down the door to get the goods on a criminal enterprise.

Bush says: "Those who violate the law - including a Member of Congress - should and will be held to account." He ought to have placed an asterisk at the end of that sentence with a footnote reading as follows: "This does not necessarily apply to certain executive branch personal, certain defense department personal, the nsa, the upper management of the major oil companies, any current member of the fortune 500, certain lobbyists, or anyone recognized by the head of homeland security, the secretary of interior, or the vice president or his designated representative pursuant to clause 463.5 subsection 64 paragraph 13 of federal registry entry 21095 in the year of our lord 1924."

When Bush says: "should and will be held to account" he ought to have followed that with the following sentence. "If that Congresscritter is a Republican the investigation and prosecution of said member will be left to the lower/midlevel career members of the DOJ who actually care about this kind of thing. This will only be allowed if the perp was so blatant in their misconduct that the national news is running stories showing the misdeed being committed. If on the other hand the person in question is a traitor Democrat, this will go straight to A.G. (stands for Ah'm Gonzo) or some political appointee directly under AG's supervision."

Finally when Bush says: "This investigation will go forward, and justice will be served" he really meant it. However he had to be reassured repeatedly by advisors prior to putting that out there that he wasn't talking about the Plame outing, or NSA spying, or Tom Delay, or prewar use of intelligence, or... well you get the point.

CBC should wake up and do the right thing.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi evidently has had an acrimonious meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus in regards to the whole William Jefferson (D L.A.) affair. Evidently the CBC considers that Pelosi has singled Jefferson out for discriminatory action by requesting that he resign his seat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Please! Pelosi didn't single Jefferson out for anything. He is the cause of his own troubles. If the CBC insists on defending Jefferson after he is caught on tape accepting $100K in bribes, and then is busted with $90K plastic wrapped in his freezer, they are choosing to diminish their own standing as a group. They ought to do the right thing and/or allow Pelosi to do it in their stead should they choose to remain silent on the issue. Insisting that Jefferson be treated normally after all this business comes to light is simply not acceptable.

There is no intrinsic right of an accused criminal to continue in a position of trust or power, or even continuing in their normal course of standard living between the time they commit a crime and the dropping of an indictment. If that were the case city jails would only be about 1/4 full at any given time. When a crook was busted committing a crime they would be served a notice to appear, and if the prosecutor saw fit to issue an indictment THEN the perp could be inconvenienced. Regular life doesn't work like that and neither should the life of a Congressman.

I understand that Pelosi must be scared to death of alienating this powerful bloc in the Democratic caucus, but it is not her fault they are being unreasonable. She very well may do the Democratic cause a favor by standing up for the right thing despite the unreasonable stance of the CBC on this one. Show some backbone and what not.

It is clear at this point that Jefferson would be doing his party, the House, his constituents, and America as a whole a favor by ending the spectacle and resigning. Jefferson may be the cause of a split in the Democratic party, and the loss of cohesion going into the mid term elections, resulting in a lack of support for Democrats in congressional races, in turn resulting in the House staying in Republican hands. Jefferson could singlehandedly give this administration free rein to govern it's final two years with a continued lack of oversight from a Republican controlled House, while still winding up in the pokey because he broke the law. How selfish is that? How shortsighted and ego driven?

The CBC should encourage Pelosi to do the right thing, and if she can't get that from them she ought to go forward without their support and do it on her own.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A golden opportunity missed by Pelosi

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and minority leader Nancy Pelosi have reached across the aisle to express bipartisan dismay at the raid by the FBI on the offices of Rep William Jefferson (D La).

Shame on them, but especially shame on Pelosi. As I posted yesterday, I and a whole lot of others who share my concerns have been very vocal regarding the separation of power. My voice has been raised loudly in protest of the administrations power grab on several issues directly bearing on the separation of powers.

But the bloggers who feel like me and myself have also been hot and bothered by the heavy handed stench of corruption that has settled over national politics while Republicans have exclusively held the power. With the raid of Jefferson's offices by the FBI, Pelosi had a golden opportunity, without sacrificing principles regarding the separation of powers, to show how Democratic leadership reacts to a scandal involving one of it's own. In fact a principled stand would have reiterated the notion that the rule of law applies to everyone, including Congress and the President. Futhermore the notion that the current party in power would be seen defending corruption, even when it is from a Democrat, would support the narrative that Republicans are invested in a culture of corruption. Democrats castigating one of their own over this issue as the Republicans defended him would provide proof of the very narrative the Democrats are trying to tell the American people going into the midterms.

Now we are witness to the mainstream press feeding us the line that corruption affects both parties, and Pelosi has fed right into that line. Anyone who cares to look at the issue knows full well that there are small fry crooks on both sides of the aisle, but the huge... the massivley explosive type scandal currently enveloping Washington entirely involves Republicans. Pelosi allows the mainstreaming of the equation of the small time crook with the Abramoff scandal by seeming to question, in concurrence with the speaker, the right of the FBI to raid the crooks office.

Furthermore there is no separation of powers issue here in the first place. The FBI had a warrant. There is no clause in the constitution that offers an umbrella from prosecution for members of Congress. In fact there were very particular protections in the case of this raid to make sure that not all of the papers in Jefferson's office were gone over by investigators. There were in effect 2 layers of purview of the documents in question. They were collected, reviewed by a judge, and any documents the judge determined pertained to the investigation were then turned over to prosecutors.

Any normal crook facing a warrant would have their office busted into and the FBI investigators on the case going through the suspects effects entirely. Jefferson was granted special status as a Congressmember and the separation of powers doesn't mean that he can get away with being a crook!

I'm sure Pelosi's first instinct is to start swinging away at anything coming from the administration, but this time she is wrong. She ought to have realized that straight away when she saw who else was on her side on this one.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Daily briefing no longer fun!

I have been following the White House daily briefings online, and I must say that the difference between Tony Snow and Scott McClellan is very telling. For one, I am no longer able to count on automatically going to the transcript and being able to pound out a post based upon the daily trainwreck that was the McClellan briefing.

Just the methodology of Snow and McClellan are diametrically opposed. I could read the transcript of the answers provided by McClellan when he was there to kick around and form a perfect mental tape of how any particular answer sounded. The rising inflection as McClellan rattled off a pat answer to a hard question. The monotone delivery of a standard issue answer to a ho hum question. It was just all the same.

Now there is an actual human being who is well versed in public appearances doing the job. There are actual sentences that a regular person might say, that have intelligence as a guiding principle, not just based upon a talking point. Just reading the transcript truly is to read the difference between Dr. Seuss and JRR Tolkien.

Here are some examples of questions taken from today's press briefing. I will first provide the standard talking point answer that Scott McClellan would nearly certainly have given, and then copy and paste the answer Tony Snow provided straight from the White House web site.
Q: The House today passed overwhelmingly the Palestinian Antiterrorism Act, which cuts off aid to many NGOs in the West Bank and also denies visas to members of the Palestinian Authority, presumably including Mahmoud Abbas. What is the administration's view of this? Will you veto it if it gets through the Senate?

McClellans answer to this question would have run roughly along these lines:
President Bush is working hard with our allies on the hill to address this very important issue. The American people understand since September 11 that our government is fighting terrorism around the globe, and that we are doing this with the help of our allies in the middle east, including Israel. So our allies in Congress have worked with the President and know how he feels about this very important issue which the American people think we should continue to work on.
Here by contrast is the answer given by Snow, who it turns out is actually a human being!:
MR. SNOW: Well, we did not support that measure precisely because it does tie the President's hand in some of the activities that I was talking about just now, which is providing humanitarian aid. We think it unnecessarily constrains. This is an issue that we are pretty certain is going to come before a House-Senate conference, and we hope that those differences will be resolved there.
Notice the difference there? Not one fall back by Snow to September 11. Not one mention of the American people. You could not just pick this answer off the page and run it through google and see it pop up verbatim in three past White House briefings.

Here is another example:
Q: You said that if Iran attacked Israel, we'll come to the aid of Israel. I wonder if you'd be a little bit more specific. Would we be supporting them in their retaliation against Iran, or would we ourselves be retaliating against Iran?
Here would be the McClellan type answer:
The President understands that Israel is a democracy, and he understands that democracies do not attack their neighbors. The American people realize that after September 11th we were engaged in a global war on terror. Our enemies are ruthless and vicious killers who hate democracy. So my answer to you is that the President has previously discussed how Israel is a partner in the war on terror and we will continue to talk about how important democracy is in that very important region of the world.
But here, by contrast is the answer given by Tony Snow:
MR. SNOW: I don't -- I'm not going to give you a specific answer because I've given you a general answer to a hypothetical question. I cannot give you a specific answer to a hypothetical question.
Unfortunately from my (proudly liberal) perspective, the White House briefings given by Snow really have lost a lot of the pizazz they used to have with McClellan. Maybe Snow will fall into some sort of repetitive syndrome much like we experienced on a daily basis with McClellan. Until he does though it makes finding the subject matter for post from the daily briefings alot harder.

FBI gets it right, angers House leaders

The FBI raid on the Congressional offices of William Jefferson (D La) has sparked an outcry from Congressional leadership.

Republican speaker Dennis Hastert and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi both expressed misgivings about the FBI raid. I say to both of these characters, too freaking bad!

Spare me your separation of powers moan on this one. Separation of powers has been a continual and strident theme on this blog since it's inception. Now that some crook gets his office raided Congress finds cajones to go there? I for one would be far more impressed if Congress got the concept of separation of powers on some other important issues which need attending to like the President arbitrarily making up his own laws with signing statements and so on.

Besides, this is NOT the administration just randomly going after some liberal Congress member in a sudden burst of dictatorial executive mania. There was a warrant to carry out this action so we have two branches of government conducting oversight on an obvious crook in Congress.

I am very disappointed with Pelosi on this. Hastert I would expect because there are a whole lot of members in his caucus who have a very real interest in not having the crud in their offices exposed. But Pelosi and the hill Democrats want to run against a culture of corruption. What better way to show your sincerity on the issue than to give Jefferson a very public excoriation, and then shutting him out of the Democratic caucus. But Pelosi reflexively has to go to the aid of a crook just because he is a Dem. Let Hastert look after the crooks Nancy, and turn away from them lest ye be tainted with the stench of the very effluent you rail against.

Wow... in this post I have defended the Bush administration and slammed around two Democrats. Do not worry my friends. I haven't taken leave of my senses, if you believe I had any in the first place.

Bazell is wrong about I.D.

Robert Bazell, the Chief Science and Health Correspondent for MSNBC writes an article titled Stop whining about intelligent design . Here are a few choice quotes from his editorial, and my response to each point.

Bazell writes:
Scientists should stop whining about threats to the teaching of evolution and spend more time discussing values. The thought occurred to me recently when I was attending my son's medical school commencement.

Following the well-trod path of a graduation speech, the dean, a highly regarded physician and scientist, told the new MDs they would face many challenges. These included, he said, a world where science endured constant assault as evidenced by the recent attempts to bring "intelligent design" into the curricula of Dover, Pa., and other high school districts.

Young physicians will indeed have a tough time of it. For example, what are the life-saving limits of expensive high-technology treatments? When have they accepted too many promotional gifts from pharmaceutical companies? Should an experiment be done on humans just because researchers have the tools to try it?

Teaching evolution properly in secondary school will have little impact on these difficult issues.
Fine then... if Mr. Bazell wants to frame this debate in terms of values, what kind of value is it to teach our children religious dogma in science class? Does Bazell seriously contend that it is some sort of value for future generations to be raised in scientific confusion and/or ingnorance? Science is science. I'm all for a healthy discourse of all sides of the issues in our schools, but if there is no scientific validity to a given cause then there is no "side" to legitimately teach in science class. The best "value" we can give to future generations is to give them the best education we can without letting the dogmatics throw them into confusion. Let the science be science, the religion be religion, and keep our focus on what is what.

How would the dogmatics feel if there were a sudden drive to start teaching evolution in sunday school. After all we want our children exposed to all sides of the issue right? I suppose what is good for the goose would not be good for the gander from the theologians point of view, or from mine for that matter. I just happen to be consistent on the matter.

Bazell continues:
Science is something very specific. It is a means of understanding the world around us by posing hypotheses that can be tested with experiments or observations. But science can never help us make moral or value judgments like those the new physicians will face.

Serious efforts in biology and medicine can no more ignore evolution than airplane designers can ignore gravity.
So if future dogmatics propose that the law of gravity ought to be replaced by the law of 'divine attraction between objects' with a thesis based upon Gods will on all objects equaling gravity, we can rest assured that Bazell would think that rocket scientists et al ought to just keep quiet about the controversy. Let that crowd concern themselves with such matters as the values of the day, not whether or not future generations have the most rudimentary understanding of a basic scientific precept. Bazell himself affirms the basic scientific validity and value to medicine of evolution. Yet he appears to be more concerned about a debate on values than science standing up for itself in the classroom. Which stand I would reiterate, I consider to be a value of itself that ought to be defended.

Finally, who is to say that we can't have both debates at the same time. Must we be so preoccupied with values in science that we crumble and surrender to the dogmatics when they demand equal time in science class lest we lose our focus on values? We can and should do both in my opinion. This post on my blog affirming my belief that science class ought to teach science does not somehow mean I am suddenly forgetting about the ethics of mad scientists conducting human experiments. I can concurrently be for science and against mad scientists, much the same as I can actually walk and chew gum at the same time.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Stop the silly happytalk!

President Bush today spoke about the "incremental progress" that is being made in Iraq. For Bush the swearing in of the Iraq government was a "watershed event" and he says that "freedom is moving".

The odd thing about this story is that the link provided above leads to MSNBC. That site also is running a story on the same day as the Bush speech that quotes coalition forces saying about the situation in the city of Ramadi, "we don't have control of this". The article has this to say about the way coalition forces see things in that city:
For troops, status quo unacceptable
However, the status quo with its bloodletting doesn't sit well with the troops.

"We just go out, lose people and come back," said Iraqi Col. Ali Hassan, whose men fight alongside the Americans. "The insurgents are moving freely everywhere. We need a big operation. We need control."
The following description in the story shows that the security situation in Ramadi is far far worse than previous rotations of Americans had to deal with:
Photos highlight contrast of then and now
Inside a palatial Saddam-era guesthouse near the Euphrates River - now a fortified U.S. base where sand-filled barriers and camouflage netting surround even the portable toilets - Marines stare in wonder at photos of U.S. troops deployed here less two years ago.

The pictures show their predecessors riding in open-topped vehicles, often with little armor. They show freshly painted buildings, since destroyed or splattered with gunfire. They show U.S. troops walking through a downtown marketplace, a casual outing unthinkable today.

I could link to other examples that show accurately the appalling state of things in Iraq. The BBC report on how unsafe it is to report on how unsafe it is, and the ludicrousness of Blairs dash into the greenzone. The fact is however, unless you are a hopeless Bush apologist, you already know the truth. Iraq is to stability what a spark is to gunpowder.

Yet today the President claims that the situation in Iraq is incrementally improving. The formation of the Iraqi Government brings us yet another turning point. Freedom is on the march and the world can look in wonderment at the formation of a liberal democracy in the very heart of the middle east.

Well guess what Mr. President... We ain't buying it. Well most of us aren't anyway. There are a few died in the wool koolaid drinkers who will still believe you this time, I'm sure. The rest of us have heard this baseless happytalk all too many times before and stopped believing it long long ago. It is precisely due to this unrealisticly rosy outlook that the Presidents credibility is at an all time low.

People who are able to look at reality and see the truth, know full well that nothing except the names in the suits has changed over there. When tomorrow brings word of the mounting American death toll and the next massive car bomb targeting Iraqi recruits, which it will, Bush's happy talk will have saved precisely zero lives. The war goes on and no amount of bluster and swagger will stop it. And the Presidents credibility suffers each time he tries to tell us that happy talk is what is true, only to have his speech punctuated by news of another deadly day in Iraq.

Only leadership that is able to acknowledge the true state of affairs, leaders who take off the rose colored glasses and look smolderingldering gray and blood red (not rosy red) reality that is Iraq will be able to lead us from the mess this President has created. Bush is incapable of such honesty in leadership and his word on Iraq is manifestly dishonest.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hastert rants @ Cheney, or how to get a private meeting with the king.

Robert Novak's Friday column details how House Speaker Dennis Hastert unloaded both barrels at V.P. Cheney, and this was no hunting accident. According to Novak the administration really tweaked House Republicans by seeming to make Porter Goss the scapegoat for troubles with the intelligence community. As Novak writes in his column:
Critics of Goss claim that, as a legislator, he was a poor administrator (the complaint that habitually follows a high-profile sacking in government). But they do not appreciate the anger Bush generated among Goss' friends in Congress. One senior House Republican, asking that his name not be used, told me: ''Porter was unceremoniously kicked in the butt. He was treated with contempt.''
Goss was taken from a safe seat in the House after the President prevailed upon him to undertake to clean the CIA of anti administration personnel. Goss is a personal friend of Hastert and highly regarded by the Republican leadership of the house. The word of Goss' sacking was a bolt from the blue for his former comrades. Hastert spoke with John Negroponte two days prior to the removal of Goss and this was not mentioned in that conversation.

Evidently Hastert, who is not known for heated rhetoric, was so hostile with Cheney that he was penciled in for a private meeting the President Bush to discuss the issues. This apparently is a response to a decided lack of communication between the White House and House leadership regarding the Goss sacking. Another interesting aspect of Presidential communications with people he should be partners with is how this reflects on his relationship with the CIA. Novak says that speculation is that the President is waving a white flag to his critics at the CIA. To quote Novak:
A president waging a global war against terror can hardly function with an intelligence agency whose employees make off-the-record speeches against his policies, contribute to his political opponents and leak secrets to the news media. Was getting rid of Goss the equivalent of a white flag of surrender?
Considering this reporting by Novak, let me do just a bit of pontificating. If all one needs to do to get an audience with the king is to get up in the veeps grill and let him smell your bad breath and wipe a bit of spittle from his face after your rant where is the line for veep interviews? It is well past time for Cheney to get an earful from a liberal I say. And a dignified exchange of profanity on the Senate floor doesn't count here either.

What is up with the President just doing everything in his power to tick of his allies on the hill? This is just another example of the President considering that the Congress just isn't a serious part of government. If the Congress did not have the inherent right to issue subpoenas, I am convinced this President would not care one wit whether or not Republicans kept power after the midterms. He has no use for Congress as he leads, and he just wants to keep things the way they are, where Congress really has minimal use for him. If he does hear from Congress it usually is a bother.

Good for the CIA for fighting tooth and nail against an ideological purge instigated by this President. They fought back after the President attempted to place the blame on them for his administrations misbegotten and manufactured drive to a needless war that turned into a disaster. The facts are the facts, and they do indeed tend to have a liberal slant. Now that the President has not been able to bend them to his will, and is really starting to take hits for the battle, he is pulling out the agent he sent in to conduct the purge.

I for one am thrilled Bush is waving the white flag, and in the process of doing so has disenchanted his allies on the hill. It's a two fer... and the President has had to eat it from both sides on this one.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Newsflash! We are unsettled.

Yesterday was a banner day for nonsensical Presidential gibberish and silly photo ops . For example we have this doozy of a statement from the press gaggle right after the goofy dune buggy photo op:
" I think it helps to have the President out here, seeing the part of the area of the country that one time was overrun by people coming in here, that's beginning to get settled down because of a strategy that's being employed. And so I really want to thank you all for greeting me. Plus I liked riding in the dune buggy."
First, I think that if English is going to be the official language of America, someone ought to tutor the President. He is setting a horrible example in this regard. But isn't it great to know that the Presidents plan which has yet to pass congress, move one national guard member to the border, or do anything at all except focus heat on the subject, has already begun to settle down the issue. We at least know that no immigrants crossed that stretch of border during the 1/2 hour the President and his entourage were bumbling about. Amazing results there!

Evidently the word settle somehow got stuck on the talking points loop in constant circulation through the Presidents tiny little mind because he went there again in an interview with David Gregory:
GREGORY: Let me ask you about your leadership. In the most recent survey, your disapproval rating is now one point lower than Richard Nixon's before he resigned the presidency.

(heh heh heh...)[that was bhfriks addition, not part of the transcript. But it fits so freaking well I couldn't resist!]

You're laughing, but ...

BUSH: I'm not laughing, I just ...

[the president clearly was laughing... why he says he is not is just beyond me]

GREGORY: ... why do you think that is?

BUSH: Because we're at war, and war unsettles people. We got-listen, we've got a great economy. We've added 5.2 million jobs in the last two-and-a-half years. But there's a-but people are unsettled. They don't look at the economy and say life is good. They know we're at war and I'm not surprised that people are unsettled because of war.

The enemy has got a powerful tool, and that is to get on your TV screen by killing innocent people, and my job is to continue to remind the people it's worth it. We're not going to retreat hastily. You know, we're not going to pull out of there before the job is done and we've got a plan for victory.

GREGORY: But they're just not unsettled, sir. They disapprove of the job you're doing.

BUSH: That's unsettled.

[No seriously... he said that. Its part of the transcript.]
Hoo boy... the absolute unmitigated gall of Gregory is appalling! The president responds to a question about his lack of popularity by saying the people are unsettled, and Gregory pops off with we aren't unsettled, we just don't like him. Seems like Gregory has determined that the people are somehow settled with their lack of appreciation of Bush's leadership. Someone force a feeding tube down his gullet, we need to infuse that boy with some administration koolaid and in a hurry!

Okay... all snark aside, the notion that war unsettles people is novel to say the least. Traditionally war has united us actually. But when an unjust war is fought badly, we as a nation can be expected to lose confidence in our leadership. It is not war per se that has lead to this Presidents fall in the polls, it is the war he chose, and then the way he chose to fight it.

So Gregory is spot on here, and the President just can't seem to understand. If anything the President opponents are very settled, and it is his traditional base that are losing their steadiness in their support. Blaming all this on the war alone hardly addresses the base cause of this loss of support for this administration. It certainly is true that the public is losing faith in this war and that is not helping matters for the President. But the reason he is losing that support is because of the over riding issues that are apparent with his governance as a whole. The incometence, arrogance, lack of willingness to acknowledge the facts, and corruption are the most basic reasons we do not like this President. That applies to all issues not just the war. These traits lead us to needless war, and then soured the public on that war as the tragedy unfolds before our eyes. The traits also lead to a burgeoning federal deficit, the lack of response to Hurricane Katrina, the Dubai Ports disaster, the loss of international support at the very time that support is most needed in the war on terror, and the list goes on and on and on.

The gist of all this is that I, and I suspect that most of those who hold my political beleifs, are quite settled. It is this administration, their toadies in the rubberstamp Congress, and their politcal base that are unsettled now, and for very good reason.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Republican moderate = Republican water carrier.

Today Senator Russ Feingold had it out with Senator Arlen Specter over the proposed constitutional gay marriage amendment. Senator Specter has the power to shut this amendment down and he disagrees with the amendment, but he voted to bring it to the floor of the Senate. The vote was passed down party lines and the amendment will now be debated in early June by the full Senate.

The reason these two Senators had their falling out is that Feingold did not appreciate the committee debating the amendment in private. What we actually have here is Senator Specter providing himself political cover with the voters in his district who like him being moderate, so that he could vote to move the issue to the floor but not very publicly. One must then wonder why Specter would vote for an amendment he opposes?

His claim is that the amendment should be considered by the full Senate even though he will not support it. The fact is that the amendment has no chance of gaining the 2/3rds majority needed to pass. If he would simply cast his vote against the amendment as he claims to actually feel he ought to, the amendment would die in committee. This process is actually quite a common occurrence with Senate business. If a piece of legislation can not get support in committee, it does not get considered by the full Senate, whether or not individual members believe it ought to be considered. Specter has the power, the votes, the right and the lack of personal agreement on the amendment, and knows the amendment has no chance of passing the full Senate, (read is a waste of their time) yet he still wants it considered by the full Senate? Obviously the unsuspecting public is missing part of the story, if we just listen to what Specter is telling us, because this just doesn't add up!

The whole story is that the Republicans want this issue debated on the Senate floor as a sop to their koolaid drinking base. When Specter says this issue deserves to be debated by the whole Senate he actually means the Republicans want to talk about this in order to try to get some more votes from their radicals. He is trying to bring out the same wing nuts that he is so fond of claiming to be different from.

This actually continues a long string of Specterisms, whereby he publicly proclaims some constitutional stand against the party machine, while he helps keep that same machine well oiled and functioning. He's been blustering for the last six months about the NSA spy program. What has he actually done to stop that program or even to find out what the heck is really going on in the first place? Blustering is the extent of it. He made some waves by talking about how it would not be productive for the President to nominate a judge who would overturn Roe/Wade... Did he then insist that the nominees sent to him answer the questions given them on this issue, or allow obviously anti-choice nominees to non answer with platitudes and wait and sees, and eventually vote for them.

This then is Specterism defined: To publicly proclaim your distaste for a given position or candidate, while using your influence to further the interests of said position or candidate.

Bush's Dukakis tank photo moment

There comes a moment in each failure of a given political movement where a defining scene is provided that gives the public a defining mental image of political failure. A moment in time when a politician "jumps the shark" as it were. One of the most famous in modern history is the Dukakis tank photo op which proved disastrous in his 88 campaign for President.

Today I stumbled across an image that is nearly as silly. So obviously staged, yet completely devoid of meaning, an image of an abject failure pulling out all the stops to get a bit of approval. This image is just goofy. I would love for others to pick up on this photo and use it to laugh at this abomination until the midterms. What is this image of buffoonery? Check it out:

Yep... now we have the President off in a dune buggy to round up some illegal immigrants. I suppose the notion of having him land on an air craft carrier just off the Mexican border was tossed because that had already been used...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Murtha's latest brings a question: Are the insurgents evil?

The administration's capitol hill nightmare come to life, Rep. John Murtha, today disclosed that the internal investigation by the Marines into the events of Nov. 19th in the Iraqi town of Haditha, shows that U.S. forces engaged in the wholesale massacre of innocent civilians. The claim by Rep. Murtha has been independently corroborated to MSNBC by military sources who said of the incident, "this one is ugly".

When I read this story my memory flashed back to last Friday's Larry King Live program (hosted by John Roberts) which featured a round table with radio talk show hosts Randy Rhodes and Ed Schultz representing the left, while Kevin Miller and Dennis Prager reprehensabled the right. Here is Prager trying to nail liberals on the nature of the Iraq insurgency:
Would you say that by and large the people that we are fighting in Iraq are evil?

RHODES: No. They're Iraqis, and we occupy their country.

PRAGER: OK. OK. There you go, folks.

RHODES: There's a civil war going on.

PRAGER: That is what the left believes. We are not fighting evil.
What do the koolaid drinkers have to say about the good and evil side of things when it comes out that Marines slaughtered innocent Iraqis with full malice of forethought? Is it so black and white now, Mr. Prager? Rhodes is absolutely spot on about what we are facing with this insurgency. And I'll wager that we created more than a few insurgents and militant sympathizers with what we did in Haditha.

Are those insurgents evil, Mr. Prager? Or just mad as hell that we killed their family members? Or maybe Prager doesn't believe that any insurgents were created at all by this incident... and that a bag of gold will someday fall out of the sky and land on his porch making him independently wealthy by the will of God.

How many insurgents and their supporters do you suppose we created in 2003 when we tortured the prisoners of Abu Ghraib? Do you believe those people just left that prison eventually and decided to support our efforts there? What about their family members? Please do not tell me you believe that the prisoner abuse was a wise course of action to take to stamp out the insurgency.

Here is an example of this straight from the horses mouth as it were:
Abu Ayoub, a 35-year-old living in Baghdad, is a member of the Islamic Army. He spoke to IPS in the Adhamiya neighbourhood.

"When the occupation forces entered Baghdad, they killed my brother in front of my eyes. He was wounded and bleeding but the occupation forces didn't allow me to save him. When I tried to save him they began shooting at me and after a few minutes my brother died. After that I swore to fight them to the death."
The very nature of what we are doing feeds the insurgency. We are occupying their nation. By definition, when we act militarily in their land we create a resistance. We create further resistance when we kill innocent citizens, which can not be helped. If they all agreed with us this would be a no brainer! We would not be needed there if they saw things the way we do. By necessity then, being occupiers in order to enforce our will, we feed an insurgency.

In no way do I intend to say that we are the side of evil here. In fact I honestly support the military members who have been put in this horrible situation and wish them nothing but good luck in getting back home. The men who started this are intensely ignorant, unable to accept truth, and capable of any action to get their way, but I honestly believe in their puny little minds they thought they were doing the right thing. They truly believed democracy would flower and all that rot... The nearest I can get to calling them evil is to say that they should be tossed from office for ignoring the constitution and severely punished for okaying the torture of detainees in our control.

I honestly believe that there is a small percentage of the foreign fighters in Iraq who are truly without conscience in regards to what they believe as to the rules of war. I can assure you of this however. These same unconscionable jihadists, on moral grounds alone, would pluck their own eyes out of their bleeding skulls rather than watch one night of television programming that Prager or any random neighbor of his might enjoy. Evil? From the perspective of the beholder evil may be the extermination of every living thing in an old testament city, a carbomb in a crowded marketplace, a company of Marines out of control in a nearby village, or a woman in the shower for a soap commercial.

But I do not believe evil is the citizen of the country who has seen a family member or loved one die at the hand of an occupier, and then picks up a rifle...

Prager might feel better about his position with the drawing of the line, the black and white perspective, all or nothing etc... But he is only fooling himself and those who believe him when he spouts off. We need an honest assessment of the way things are in order to go forward productively. Honesty can be uncomfortable at times, but lets not engage in a discussion about the evil them v.s. us, the side of holiness and pretend that leads us anywhere but further down the pit we are in right now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Da Guvenator creates traffic jam while signing traffic law

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law that is designed to ease traffic congestion in California. Normally such a signing would hardly be cause for a post on Club Lefty, but the genius p.r. stunt people in the Governors office thought it would be a good idea to set up a lectern in the middle of a busy California freeway and have Arnold sign the bill there!

This is a picture of the literal (and I do mean literal) result of Arnolds signing of the bill to ease congestion on Californias freeways:

So all the people who sat in the traffic jam caused by the Governors signing of the anti traffic congestion measure ought to feel very lucky that relief is on the way, and that Arnold doesn't appear to have any other plans to help with the problem at this point.

I do believe there are several other bill signing ceremonies that might be highly entertaining for the viewing audience. The next time Arnold signs an anti drug law, I would love to see him do it while lighting up a blunt. (Or perhaps more appropriately for this bill signing he could have someone inject some steroids into a butt cheek.) If he ever signs an immigration bill let him do it in the back of a van filled with 27 illegals careening down the freeway. How about an anti vagrant law where the Governor has to dig through a dumpster to find the pen and the bill to sign.

Informed vs. consenting

Senator Hatch told reporters today that two FISA judges were informed about the NSA spy program.

The difference between being informed, and consenting to the program is a chasm that must be understood. Senator Hatch is careful in his wording and later clarifies that to his understanding the judges never gave their approval to the program with this wording:
When asked if the judges somehow approved the operations, Hatch said, "That is not their position, but they were informed."
This then appears to be a repeat of the Congressional, so called, oversight of this program which the administration makes a point of harping on. Lets make this clear for any koolaid drinkers who might read this blog. If a person is advised of a program, but is not able under penalty of law and under threat of exposure of national secrets in contravention to their clearance, to make any sort of disclosure or correction to the program, then the person being briefed has in no way consented to the program.

The distinction between informed and consenting is truly the crux of the entire crisis facing the White House on this issue. Is there even one pundit who would argue that if the appropriate committees had given their consent, and/or the FISA judges had consented, that the President would be in the hot water he finds himself in now? There actually are not many pundits who would argue that the administration would not have been given this authorization if they had pushed for it immediately after September 11. The fact is that the Republican Congress is trying their best to give the administration this authority right now in an attempt to cover past transgression. What the administration chose to do at the time this could have been handled correctly however, was an attempt at providing themselves a veritable figleaf by being able to claim that the other branches were informed.

It is clear that the administration took the people who they felt ought to know, in order to provide the figleaf, and put them in a position where they were told the generalities of the programs but given no recourse to dissent. There are two examples of letters to the administration expressing concern about the program from Democrats after they were briefed. But if the administration takes someone to the secure room and tells them this is the way it is, you can't do anything about it, you can't even speak about this with your staff, and the secret letter you might write will not make an iota of difference, I fail to see how that fulfills an oversight role by either Congress, or the FISA judges. Clearly then, the only oversight conducted here is by the administration itself, with limited briefing of the other branches of government who are rendered powerless to conduct any oversight role in the program.

One of the principle architects of this anti-democratic abomination of a program is currently being considered by the Senate for confirmation as the new head of the CIA. Let there now be REAL oversight, and if General Hayden is not fully forthcoming in his responses, do not even allow him through committee to a vote on the floor of the Senate. If the Republican toadies in Congress do not get some back bone on this in a hurry, they have only themselves to blame for the coming certain ruin that befalls them with the November elections.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The call to civility.

There are three recent examples of high profile Republicans making public calls for a more civil tone in today's political discourse.

John McCain appeared at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and made a plea for we who disagree with him on the Iraq war to do so nicely. He did this in such a way as to appear to make a plea to those on the religious right to not be too harsh on him in his presumed upcoming attempt at the Republican nomination for President.

To Mr. McCain I simply say, good luck. If that crowd determines they do not like you, and you are close to winning a position they do not want you to have, then you ought to know better than to call upon them for civility. These are the same people who smeared McCain in 2000, using the most outrageous and unsubstantiated smears... as they repeatedly have done and will again. If this crowd gets the notion that he isn't one of them, they will assuredly let nothing stand in the way of their chosen candidate, including McCains good name. Again. To not be expecting this, or to call upon the better angels of their nature is to be naive to the extreme.

The two other examples I wish to consider in this post are related, in my opinion. I watched Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press this weekend and was struck by the famed right wing bomb thrower of the mid 90's calling upon Americans to be more civil in our discourse. As a matter of course I try not to pay much mind to Newt, so this may be a theme of his of late which I am just now picking up on.

The other occasion for a Republican to call for civility is from none other than President Bush. Repeatedly he calls for respectful debate, or for conversation that does not affect the morale of the troops, or a variety of other ways of saying that we should all play nice.

The reason I believe Newt and George are in the same league with these calls to political civility is because I am convinced they both take this tact because their side holds the power. Am I to believe for an instant that if Democrats held the power today that Newt would be agent of reason and civility? The example provided by the man himself screams to anyone who knows an iota of history that the answer is obviously NO! The transgressions of the Democratic machine in Washington in the mid 90's when compared to the Republican machine of today are simply paltry in comparison. Wrights book deals? Whitewater? What... no one gets tortured or needless wars started or full blown constitutional crisis'? Try for one instant to convince me that if Democrats were in power right now with all this going on that Newt and the gang wouldn't be screaming their lungs out.

The same goes for this President with a bit of a twist. Sure Bush never did come out and say that Kerry shot himself to get that purple heart. But by gum he stood by and watched while his team did the dirty work and he benefited from it. Bush was not in the Brooks Brother riot to stop the recount in Dade County in 2000, but he benefited from it. Where was the call for civility then you hypocrite of the first order? Need I go into all the other times that Bush surrogates have been directly responsible for the smearing of his opponents? The McCain call for civility directly harkens to this chicanery from the Bush team.

So now that the lies and deception, the outright fraud and power hungry anti-constitutional power grabs by this criminal gang are being exposed and people are getting po'd about it all... NOW they want us all to be nice. Well TOO FREAKING BAD!

The truth of the matter is that this is upsetting. We will not be nice as we point out the facts because the truth here is ugly. So buckle down and get ready for the ugliness to hit the fan, because it has got to come out in order to save this country. We can be nice and let them just walk all over us, or we can get a bit mean about it all and make them answer.

You can't just lie and start wars because some fanatical cabal wants to do it. You can't just start spying on us. You can't expose people who are just trying to do their jobs because they do not tow your line. This is America! You can't be king here, and if you try, us freedom loving patriotic types are liable to get a bit uncivil about it all. At least what people are mad about today has a bearing on reality, and isn't some made up accusations thrown into the mix to drive a candidates polling down.

Which is a game this crowd knows how to play all to well. So spare us the crocodile tears over lost civility, because we all know better. If the history of the ones crying the loudest over the tone of the discourse were not so replete with examples of shrillness and uncivility, they might be more believable right now.

McCain is the only Republican who can make this plea in anything approaching an honest manner, and he's doing it to try to fend off the extreme right of his own party. Maybe McCains call for niceness will provoke a response from that crowd and we can start down the long road to a pleasant political discourse. But in the meantime I can assure you that I do not believe Democrats ought to unilaterally disarm when it comes to this issue. Let them have it!

Speaking of uncivil types... one word about the Rove/Leopold affair from my perspective. In case one of my readers is unfamiliar with what I'm about to get into, Jason Leopold reported @ that Karl Rove had been indicted. Evidently according to Leopold's sources the indictment was sealed (?) and Rove was given 24 hours to get his affairs in order.

Leopold clarified over the weekend that 24 hours meant business hours, so according to everything I understand about the meaning, the announcement should be sometime 05/16. Frankly, as of Monday evening 05/15, I'm not buying it. To be honest, Jason Leopold could be the White House spokesperson as far as his integrity is concerned in my book.

If Rove were indicted Friday there is no way on Earth that that secret would hold all the way through Monday evening at this point, with the exception of the Leopold sources. If it leaked to Leopold it would have to leak elsewhere. Leopold has an overriding interest in this story going public right now, so I hardly think he would bind his source to inform him alone. Leopold should be begging this character to confidentially leak to someone in the MSM.

If on the other hand an indictment is announced tomorrow, I will forthwith offer a sincere apology to Mr. Leopold.

Friday, May 12, 2006

How the "popular" NSA scandal really hurts the President.

According to many of the polls recently the NSA scandal is an issue that most Americans are split or actually agree with George Bush on. The Washington Post has a poll that seems to show strong support for the program, with 65% support for the President on this issue.

This may seem to be a bit of a boost for the President, but let us consider the issue for a moment.

Who do you suppose are the ones most vehement in opposition to this program? Libertarians, and died in the wool conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Joe Scarborough. Do not get me wrong. I don't claim that this means that the Howard Deans and Arriana Huffingtons of the world are on board with the President on this one. (Just for the record I strongly oppose the program. This President hardly needs to be given yet more unchecked power.) However I believe that a very substantial percentage of the core opponents to this massive spy program are small government, don't register my gun, keep your law out of my back yard, paleoconservative types.

The President wants to be known as a principled decision maker who does not cave under opposition. The fact of the matter is that most of the bed rock conservatives a lot of polls show he is losing, are in reality what he wants us to perceive him as. Strongly principled, unwavering, deeply set in their beliefs and not liable to be swayed. Now the President they voted for is setting up the largest data base in the history of the world to keep track of who they call?

Most die hard real conservatives understand the danger of letting a freedom go because in so doing they are not affected. Search my car? A lot of people don't mind because there isn't anything illegal in there. These paleo types however do mind because they have a right to mind. Track who I call? A lot of us think I'm not calling Osama so go ahead and do it. I have a feeling however that a lot of the base of President Bush will mind, precisely because it is the NSA who is doing it and that just rubs them the wrong way.

So the President may be perceived by a majority of the people to be doing ok with this program. It is the demographics of the people who do not like this who ought to really concern his supporters. If 3/4 of the people who reluctantly support this program can not stand the President because of all the other stuff he does, where as 3/4 of the people who disagree with the program are his core base... I see a big problem for the President.

Now I've seen plenty of analysis that calls the validity of the polls showing support for the program into question. I tend to agree that the types of questions and what not are influencing the outcomes on these polls. Some polling company calls up and asks, "If the next terrorist 9/11 style attack could be prevented by tapping American phonelines, would you support that program", of course the overall result will affirm the Presidents position. But the overall point of this post remains. The President ought to consider who it is answering they do not support the program before taking comfort in the fact that the program is popular.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Setting the record straight, with dishonesty.

Tony Snow has jumped into his new job as chief talking point justifier with some combative headlines in response to various news stories. These tidbits which you can find on the White House website are termed "setting the record straight". In each case that I have seen in which the "record" has been straightened, the truth of the matter is that the administration actually obfuscates the issue in question.

For example, May 11th (today) we have a record straightening titled: Setting the Record Straight: AP's Misleading Military Recruiting Article.

The title in question reads: "Army Guard, Reserve Fall Short Of April Recruiting Goals."

In order for this title to be misleading we ought to expect that Snowjob would prove that the Army Guard and Reserve had not fallen short of their recruiting goals, correct?

What we actually get are all kinds of facts and figures that seem to indicate that the military as a whole are meeting recruiting goals, that the guard in particular is meeting goals set for the entire year, and that recruiting has been great for quite some time. But what about the actual headline that needs to be rebutted. The headline that reads that the "Army Guard, Reserve Fall Short of Recruiting Goals"?

That part turns out, according to the same White House toady that says that he is setting the record straight to be true! Check this out as copied and pasted straight from the Whitehouse site: "The Army Reserve, Air National Guard, And Navy Reserve Fell Short Of Their April Goals Partially Because Of High Active-Duty Retention."

There it is, in black and white. The Guard did miss it's recruiting goals, the White House has corrected an already factual headline, and Tony Snow is the one who is being misleading here, not the A.P..

Here is another example of this administrations deception. Here is the title for the page in question: Setting the Record Straight: The ABA Finds Brett Kavanaugh Is "Indeed Qualified to Serve on the Federal Bench"

Reading that one would be led to believe that if the record needed straightening on this issue, then someone must have written that the ABA had said that Kavanaugh was not qualified to serve. Well one would be mistaken for using this apparently sound logical approach, because the title of the A.P. story that is being corrected actually reads thusly: "ABA Downgrades Rating For White House Aide From Well-Qualified To Qualified."

Now I'm sure there is a significant amount of the koolaid drinking population that would read this and furrow their brows in indignation that the A.P. had been wrong with their headline. But when the correction to the story states that the ABA finds Kavanaugh qualified, and the headline says that the ABA downgraded Kavanaughs rating from "well qualified to qualified"... you can see where a sane person would be left scratching their heads in bewilderment. The A.P. had it right and the record was not in need of straightening in this case.

I full well suspect that we will be seeing much more of this type of weasely obfuscation going forward. So I would like to thank Mr. Tony Snow for taking over the public face of the White House and going further down the path of deception rather than starting with an insistence on a bit more honesty and forthrightness from this administration. What did you expect?!

The President wants us to trust him...

After reading that title I'm certain several of my readers broke into giggle fits. What I'm posting about today is the Presidents reaction to the news that the NSA spy program is monitoring the domestic communication of tens of millions of Americans. (Click the above link to at your own risk as we all know how concerned this crowd is about your privacy rights.)

The first four words of the Presidents statement are: "After September the 11th". So we now can rest assured that our phone calls need to be tracked because we might be plotting the next 9/11. Frankly I'm sick and tired... Sick And Freaking Tired, of having this date of national grief, this date that united not just the American public but the entire world in common voice against our terrorist enemies, being used for the partisan political purposes of this disaster of an administration. In my pipsqueak of a voice on the internets I call for the President to cease and desist in his continued hijacking of this shared national date of unity and pain. He sullies the memory of those victims by continuing to bastardize the meaning of that day. This behavior reminds me of the craven ghouls who roam a battlefield immediately after the slaughter, plundering the dead bodies of the hero's for their own short term enrichment. Politically speaking, the President has thrived by plundering the memory of that horrid day, and he will not stop until we as a people rise in righteous indignation and demand that he stop.

The purpose of the Presidents statement this morning was to in effect, ask us to trust him. Ask this most cowardly, dishonest, and untrustworthy of failed Presidents to give him our trust one more time. As the President so famously misspoke, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me... fool me twice... We can't get fooled again!"

The same failure of a President who once declared that he was a uniter not a divider wants your trust. The man who promised to halve the deficit wants your trust. The man who promised to capture Osama dead or alive wants your trust. He promised to restore honor and integrity to the White House, to be a President of all the people, not just those who voted for him, claimed to have actually found WMD in Iraq, lied about them being there in the first place, has signed laws which he clearly states he does not intend to follow while claiming to protect the constitution, I could seriously make this sentence into one of the longest on record if I continue in this vein... this repeatedly proven dishonest failure wants you to trust him! We can't get fooled again Mr. President.

I have one final point in this (anti-Democratic ballotbox hope crushing Cohenesque) diatribe. I must respond to the oft used talking point that the President regurgitates with the second to last sentence in his statement. In defending his unconstitutional spy program the President says: "So far we've been very successful in preventing another attack on our soil."

I would like to try a bit of an experiment with any reader who cares to play along. Consider the following scenario. On September 12th 2001, you are visited by a time traveler (play along!) who tells you that the Presidents response to the terrorist attack then so fresh in your memory, would result in the deaths of thousands of Americans then living, while the ranks of the very terrorist organization responsible for that smoldering pile of rubble on your T.V. would be flushed to overflowing. Would you then consider that under any circumstance such an outcome would be a success? What if your seer also told you that even though nearly the entire world you lived in then stood in support of America, that in a matter of a few years we would be disdained and hated by large majorities of foreign populations and blatantly scorned by many foreign governments. If you still think that you could then consider that knowledge in such a way as to think we were being successful, how would you feel if you were told that America would become notorious for the abuse and torture of prisoners in our control, in the name of the war on terror. If you still think now, that with that knowledge then, you would think we were successful in our war on terror, then you my friend are a confirmed koolaid drinker of the 1st order.

So no, we have not had another attack on American soil. But 2,600 of your fellow citizens have been killed half the world away. Ask those families if they think the fact that they died there and not here makes their dying less painful. The intrinsically cynical and uncaring attitude that gives more importance to a persons life because they are in America than any other U.S. citizen sent overseas ought to be striking to anyone who truly considers the matter. Once the death toll in Iraq climbs over 3,000 and we have sacrificed more lives than were taken in the September 11th attacks, are they still going to talk about fighting them over there rather than over here? Those dead and wounded soldiers are Americans too!

I haven't even touched the outrage the average Iraqi must feel at having to be the front line in the war on terror when they had absolutely ZERO to do with September 11. But they aren't American so who the freak cares right?!

I reject this administrations rationales and unprincipled con games. We simply MUST check this with a Democratically controlled chamber in Congress (preferably both) and the removal of this disastrous failure of a Presidency as soon as legally possible.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

White House: For ABA qualified rating before being against it.

Today the ABA rated President Bush's nominee for the 5th circuit, Michael Wallace, as unqualified. Of course the White House reaction to this was to disagree and reject the ABA rating.

A quick scan of previous reactions to ABA ratings of high profile judges demonstrates what can only be considered a long standing track record of support from the administration for the findings of the ABA. Consider this statement by President Bush regarding the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito on January 9, 2006: (warning, clicking that link, and every link following in this post, may prove costly to your right to privacy, as it loads a page hosted by, and we all know how concerned they have been about your privacy lately)
Sam Alito is eminently qualified to be a member of the bench. I'm not the only person who feels that way -- the American Bar Association looked at his record, looked at his opinions, looked at his temperament, and came to the same conclusion, that he is well qualified to be a Supreme Court judge.
One of the best resources for tracking official White House blather on Judicial nominations is the official judicial nominations page at The first headline for May 8th reads: Setting the Record Straight: The ABA Finds Brett Kavanaugh Is "Indeed Qualified to Serve on the Federal Bench" Reading the link provided, one finds a lengthy exposition that supposedly corrects an A.P. story that is headlined "ABA Downgrades Rating For White House Aide From Well-Qualified To Qualified." Of course the A.P. story is correct, and the White House is apparently setting the record straight on an already accurate record. But the point of all this is to show how important the White House finds ABA ratings.

Here is an official statement by the President on the nominations of Justice Priscilla Owen and Judge Terry Boyle, given to the senate on May 9, 2005.
Four years ago today I nominated Justice Priscilla Owen and Judge Terry Boyle to serve on the Federal courts of appeals. Four years later, neither has received an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Both have been rated well-qualified by the American Bar Association, the highest ABA rating a judicial nominee can receive.
Note how the oft repeated "up or down vote" talking point is swiftly followed with the ABA qualification talking point. This WAS a classic reprise of Republican judicial nominee talking point 101, until the wingnuts destroyed Myers without an up or down vote, and now the White House has suddenly decided that the ABA isn't really in tune after all because they finally have rejected a nominee.

I'm certain I could spend the next couple of hours going through the White House archives and dredge up dozens of other examples of Bush/administration toady use of ABA ratings to pump up the nomination of these judges. But I think the point has been made sufficiently.

That then is the true state of affairs in this administration. As is the case with every other issue, consistency and integrity are secondary to political expediency. If the ABA rates your nominees as qualified or well qualified, then let us trumpet the ABA ratings. The fact that Mr. Wallace is the very 1st nominee to be rated unqualified by the ABA should indicate that this is hardly a bunch of lefty lawyer types who have it in for Bush. Yet the one time that the ABA finds a nominee not qualified, they are wrong and should not be listened to. How disingenuous is that?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Funniest Huff Post headline ever.

The current headline at the top of the The Huffington Post blares: Bush Refuses To Hug Or Kiss Katherine Harris....

This is the picture that accompanies that headline. (please sit down & prepare for a fright)

No wonder the President wouldn't hug her. I wouldn't touch her with YOUR ten foot pole!

Where-in I further ruin Democratic hopes by ranting about Cohen

Richard Cohen posits in the Washington Post that the angry left of the Democratic party are on the path to ruining the chances of the Democrats at the polls.

I would like to remind Cohen of how well the placid, meek, unresponsive and weak Democrats who for so long turned the other cheek in response to insidious attacks from the right, did at the polls.

Let the example of Michael Dukakis (whom I think is great and would have made a fine president) be Cohens answer to this charge. Dukakis when asked in a debate if he would support the death penalty were his wife to be murdered responded with a nice, steady, concise, informative, but robotic answer. When Willie Horton became a cause celeb in that race the Dukakis campaign response was wonky, nice and fact filled in an attempt to establish the good things he had done for the crime rate in Massachusetts and so forth. It wasn't until the last days of the campaign that Dukakis finally started fighting back against this viciousness, and when he did he started gaining ground. But to little to late.

By all that is holy we Democrats have had enough of this crap! When they call us unpatriotic, weak on crime, and not good family people (or in Cohens case regarding Stephen Colbert, not humorous) the right response is to rise in righteous indignation and set the record straight in a forthright manner. Your freaking right I don't appreciate it! And if we get a bit unpleasant over this type of stuff then Mr. Cohen is going to have to deal with it. Not funny? Try lying to get us into a needless war and then guffawing about searching for the missing WMD. HAH! That was a real riot Mr. President!

The next example of Mr. Democratic nice guy is the 2004 campaign of Kerry (whom I think is great and would have made a fine President). Attacked on his war record by the most inveterate, dishonest, craven political hacks imaginable, Kerry chose the high road and ignored those charges for nearly a month. We have a war hero in a time of war dragged through the mud and being nice about it. We seriously, once again, have had enough of this crap!

Let the right know this full well. The day of the nice guy liberal weak knee pushover is history brother.

And please consider this Cohen. The President is at 31% approval right now, not because the far left are being push overs and subservient to our opposition. We are giving it back in angry spades right now and if the success of this tactic is not readily apparent then you seriously need to start paying attention. We are on a roll and we are not being nice about it either. We are changing the political dynamic of this nation with our bad attitude Mr. Cohen, and we will not stop just so you do not have to get any more angry emails. Tell you what Cohen. Write an attack on Michelle Malkin or any of her ilk and then get back in touch with us about the "angry left".

One final point about all this. I don't hear the pontification about how damaging the absolutely vile tactics of the Republicans, a couple such tactics which I mentioned above, hurt their prospects at the polls. If some right wing freakazoid shrilly lying about the record of a war hero is not cause for loss of standing at the polls, then lets not pretend that the left finding some gumption is hurting Democrats. Frankly there is no comparison between the validity of the two sides. Cohen gets upset that someone emails him that he would not know funny if it hit him in the face? That is honestly an example of hate from the left?

Guess what Cohen. You wouldn't know the political dynamic in this nation if it hit you in the face. And hit you in the face it has!

Monday, May 08, 2006

They insist on reminding us why Bush is a failure.

The Washington Post brings us an article which describes how Department of Agriculture staffers were sent a rather unusual email. These flackeys are now being requested to work pro Bush Iraq happy talk talking points into their run of the mill Agricultural speeches.

Evidently this is part of an administration wide effort to dispense the happy Iraq koolaid by any and all members of the cabinent, no matter how far off their job may be from Le affair Iraq. Can you imagine the consternation if you were scheduled to give some presentation to a local school district on the school lunch program and had to work in the Iraq happy talk? Thank you Mr. President for that awkward moment in many an ag flunkies life.

But I honestly do not mind this new drive by the administration to keep Iraq front and center in everything pertaining to the administration. Frankly when I read the article I had to keep asking myself "how dumb can they really be?"

This could not possibly be a mandate from Karl Rove. He might be vicious, even to the point of treasonous behavior in the pursuit of political goals, but he can't be this stupid. It seems clear that if anything the Iraq quagmire would be the last thing the administration would like to continuously reminding us about. But if they really want to keep reminding us of the biggest reason that Bush is a failure, more power to them.

It seems to me though that the smart way to go for this administration would be to change the subject everytime Iraq came up. Can you imagine the hilarity if the Defense Department started offering daily briefings that barely touched on current events in Iraq before skipping on to events completely unrelated to anything to do with the war? ... Upon further consideration, that really is sort of what happens every day anyway. The administration line of happy talk about this war is in no way grounded in reality. But the thought of the Defense spokeperson expounding on the validity of labeling catsup as a vegetable in school lunches in an effort to dodge the Iraqi questions brings a smile to my face.

Having everybody in the administration talk about Iraq really could have been a strategy devised by Howard Dean.

In the same vein there is one other matter that should not have surprised anybody, but still is a bit aggravating. The Presidents nomination of this Hayden fellow to head the CIA.

This President has overseen the gutting of the CIA as an effective intelligence gathering agency. Team Bush declared war on Langley after the WMD did not magically appear in the Iraqi desert, and the CIA didn't roll over and pretend that there had never been any doubts that they were there. This CIA tactic is otherwise known as being historically accurate, and that is a big no no with this President. Porter Goss was brought in to oversee the ideological cleansing of the CIA, even to the point of admonishing agency workers that they worked for the President. (Odd... I always was under the impression that they worked for America, and if the President was insistent on being wrong that they had a duty to try to set him right.)

Now that Goss is tied to hookers for contracts, and gets run out of town, the President gets all up in the CIA's collective face with the Hayden nomination. And by doing so he gets all confrontational with anyone who doesn't support him lock stock and barrel on the domestic spying issue. With one nomination he makes it well known to any who care that he intends to put the final nail in the CIA coffin, and the architect of the NSA spy program is getting a promotion.

Well guess what Mr. President. At 31% approval, this in your face my way or the highway attitude ain't gonna cut it! Because you sir are being recognized as a dishonest, idiotic blowhard and not many of your foot soldiers on the hill are going to be willing to contintue kowtowing to your every hairbrained idea up to election day when you try to kowtow them straight over a cliff!

Please just keep acting like the gung ho simpleton you are Mr. President. At least through November anyway.

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