Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A long time ago, in an election far far away

First let me give a bit of explanation as to how I came across the subject matter for this post. Raw Story has excerpted a long portion of Bob Woodwards State of Denial. At the bottom of this excerpt Woodward details how Richard Armitage came to join the Bush team. When I read the following Bush quote my jaw fell into my lap. "I will defend the American people against missiles and terror," That was the statement by candidate George Bush at the Citadel September 23, 1999.

I copied those words and used the Google to look up that speech. The dichotomy of the Presidents statements as a candidate and his policies as President is absolutely breathtaking!

Here is Bush in 1999:
Building a durable peace will require strong alliances, expanding trade and confident diplomacy. It will require tough realism in our dealings with China and Russia. It will require firmness with regimes like North Korea and Iraq
I am certain that if then candidate Bush had been able to see the condition of American alliances exactly 2 years after giving this speech he would have been proud. Immediately after the attacks of 9/11 the international community stood with us in a monolithic wall of support. Just for a couple examples of this, there were candlelight vigils held on the streets of Tehran to show support for America. Frances Le Mond newspaper was headlined "We Are All Americans". FRANCE!!...you know the anti-American bastion of European obtuseness... It is this Presidents belligerence and bull headed refusal to listen to allies that has lead from the heights of international support two years after giving this speech at the Citadel, to the formerly unplumbed depths of international standing in which we find ourselves today. If only the President could have truly understood the value of his campaign rhetoric.

Besides the idea of building a durable peace when considered in 2006 is just a pleasant dream. Ahhh the idyllic days of 1999... We are in a long long war and we all know it. And this is thanks in no small part to the horrible policies of this administration.

The next statement from the Citadel speech to consider is the one mentioned in State of Denial: "I will defend the American people against missiles and terror." How sad is this promise, given just short of two years prior to the worst terrorist attack in the history of the planet. Two years before 9/11 we have more empty rhetoric by the President. If only he could have understood the absolutely critical duty he set for himself, would he have then ignored that duty? Maybe he would have called off his vacation when the daily briefing titled "Osama determined to strike inside the United States" was given to him. Maybe he would have instructed his team to pay attention to the threats rather than pooh poohing Richard Clarke and Clinton transition team as they raised the warnings to deafened ears. If only we could go back in time and impress upon the candidate the true importance of his rhetoric.

Here's a real laugher from then Candidate Bush:
A volunteer military has only two paths. It can lower its standards to fill its ranks. Or it can inspire the best and brightest to join and stay.
After you stop laughing at this quote, you can click here for the the Google page for "lower standards military recruitment". I think it's clear that the Presidents policies have hardly helped retain the best and brightest, unless you consider forcing them to stay via stop loss as some sort of great Presidential success in this regard.

Candidate Bush:
We will defend the American homeland by strengthening our intelligence community – focusing on human intelligence and the early detection of terrorist operations both here and abroad.
I am just struck by the absolute sadness of this. If only these grandiose sentiments had been acted upon in good faith the result would be a much more hopeful world than we see today. Accurate intelligence was not appreciated by this administration as they led us to needless war in Iraq. It is clear this war is disastrous to our cause in the war on terror. How positively maddening to see this empty rhetoric. I want to travel back in time and scream from the rooftops to make them see how important their failures to heed their own rhetoric will prove.

Let us consider one promise by Candidate Bush I wish he would have ignored:
Our military and our nation are entering another period of consequences - a time of rapid change and momentous choices.

As president, I will begin an immediate, comprehensive review of our military - the structure of its forces, the state of its strategy,
That's all fine and dandy as long as we do the reviewing and consider the consequences of all this neuvo military thinking. This technological mumbo jumbo satelite laser in the sky stuff isn't going to occupy a nation. The Powell doctrine (an overwhelming number of troops with specific missions) was more suited to the task at hand with the invasion of Iraq, but the President and Secretary Rumsfeld saw fit to try out their new fangled strategeries. They can't be made to see the folly of their plan so we find ourselves stuck in a quagmire they created, but can't be prevailed upon to do what it takes to get out of.

I wonder what other speeches from that campaign would look like with the benefit of hindsight? I well remember Candidate Bush promising and blustering about how America should not be nation building. I'm sure there are many more examples.


HOLY Cow... Katherine Harris provides a scare to kick off an already scary day!

In the same vein, this quote from Wapo's write up on the slow motion disaster that has been the Harris campaign, fits the Halloween theme perfectly.
Before he became the first of three campaign managers to quit, Jim Dornan programmed his cellphone to play the theme song from "The Exorcist" when Harris called.
I wonder if Wapo timed this story to come out on Halloween because of the scary scary subject matter? Whatever the case, I would like to thank Ms. Katherine Harris for providing some great theater during this election season and look forward to her upcoming tell all book.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Presidential stump speech: Disastrous

Over the weekend I saw a clip on T.V. showing the President at a campaign event talking about the "Democrat" plan or lack there of for the war in Iraq. Of course this caused me to go into a dither because I felt it was perfectly reasonable to wonder what the heck the White House plan for Iraq has been, and how well that plan has progressed. Thus I determined to make my Monday post a scathing indictment of the Presidents attempt to bludgeon Democrats for a situation he is entirely responsible for.

In order to research this post I looked up the speech that President Bush is giving during this final week of campaigning. Reading through this speech I found myself becoming progressively perplexed as to the real effect of this speech. How could any audience who hears this speech leave the event with a determination to allow the President continued unfettered power in pursuing policies that have proven so conclusively to be horrendous failures.

I am convinced that these audiences are examples of a sort of mass delusion that has overtaken the extreme right fringe of our nation. There is no fact, no reason, no justification, no proof that can be offered that would sway them from their predetermined belief that this President can not err. Let us consider a couple of instances offered by the speech of just this mindset.
[Pres. Bush] We will win this election because Republicans understand the values and priorities of the American people. We will win this election because our priorities and our values do not shift with the latest political opinion poll or focus group. (Applause.) We will win this election because we got a good record to run on.
Republican values like those represented by the dozens of prominent Republicans forced to resign from office in disgrace because of Abramoff or not being able to keep away from the kiddie help, or taking bribes to move legislation and so on and on and on...and on. I mean how the President tosses this applause line into the speech in the first couple of minutes and manages to say it without breaking into evil laughter is a mystery to me.

The Republican record is one of fiscal disaster, foreign disaster, natural disaster disaster... quite frankly their record is disastrous. The first test of having audience members who are died in the wool koolaid drinkers was passed with flying colors as the applause for the sterling record of Republicanism died down and the President proceeded.

A little further into the speech the President says:
Let me start with taxes. Max and I have a philosophy: We believe that you know how to spend your money far better than the federal government does. (Applause.)
Actually this is a case where the President is correct ... but for all the wrong reasons. The fact is that Republicans have proven, whats the word here..., DISASTROUS stewards of our national budget. Let me draw an analogy between what the President is saying here and something that could happen in real life. (Not that the budget disaster overseen by the R's isn't real enough mind you, but it's kind of abstract.) You need to have your couch cleaned. You can rent a machine, or choose from professional couch cleaner D, or R. Cleaner R tells you that professional couch cleaners suck, they always have, you can't trust them and you are much better off cleaning the couch yourself. Cleaner D promises you the finest job replete with special add ons, bells and whistles, done by the best cleaners in town, for a bit more cost. For some reason, known only by you and God, you hire cleaner R. Cleaner R takes your couch, bathes it in acid, field dresses a deer over it, lights it on fire, and then drops it off a pier. When the smoldering hulk of your couch is delivered back to you, the light goes off in your head... AHA! Cleaner R was disastrously correct. Professional couch cleaners have always sucked and they always will... I rather like my analogy so I'll just leave it alone and proceed to the next Presidential stump speech idiocy.
[Pres. Bush] We captured a fellow named Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The intelligence community believes he was the man who masterminded the September the 11th attacks. I thought it made sense -- if our most important job is to protect you, it made sense to find out what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew. (Applause.) In other words, we've been giving the professionals the tools necessary to defend America in this new kind of war.

And recently -- recently, there were votes in the floor of the House of Representatives, in the floor of the United States Senate to provide these critical tools. In other words, Congress voted on these tools. And I want everybody in this district and in this state and around the country to understand those votes, because they were critical votes. And it shows the difference of attitude between the two parties, and the leaders in the two parties, about our responsibility to protect you.
Frankly what the President is talking about here is the one issue that for me demonstrates the absolute depravity of this administration. They have couched their language in such a way as to make torture of human beings acceptable. The notion that this President and his apologists have taken it upon themselves to redefine the language in order to cajole America into taking the path tread by the monsters of history breaks my heart. We never will be able to take this back. But let us break down the particulars listed by the President in this abomination of a speech.

The President says that after capturing K/S/M that all the reasonable people who thought about it determined it would be best to find out what he knew. So far so good. The fork in the road between tyrannical monster and intelligent interrogation is how we get information, and the veracity of what we get from this guy. Once we have him strapped to the waterboard, we have chosen the path of the inhuman tyranny we used to rail against. I contend that all information gleaned from that point on is useless. He says what he needs to say to get the torture to stop. He will rat out the queen of England if that's what it takes. The President may spout off about the valuable information we get from these techniques, but forgive me for discounting the danger represented by some character with an acetylene torch to the Brooklyn Bridge. The outlandish nature of some of the "plots" exposed by terrorists suspects while being tortured is hardly a strong point in favor of the tactic. In fact it was under torture that Ramzi bin al-Shibh provided testimony that supposedly linked Iraq with Al Queda efforts to acquire WMD. This was entirely made up to stop the torture, but it gave this administration fodder to lead this country to war.

So what of the recent vote that the President claims shows Democrats are not willing to give him the tools to fight terrorism? The President had carte blanche to fight the war on terror as he saw fit and has disastrously botched it. Period. When he was being allowed to torture and disappear whom he saw fit (until the Supreme Court Hamdan decision that is) look at how effective this administration was at conducting this war. Is losing the near unanimous support of the international community for our cause positive? You can trace a good deal of that loss of support to our treatment of detainees. Has sacrificing as many lives in Iraq as we lost in the 9/11 attacks (that milestone will be reached late this or early next year) proven an effective way to combat terrorism? A truly objective look at this shows the answer is conclusively no, which is further born out by our intelligence community. Please forgive me Mr. Bush (actually forget about forgiving me, because I don't need it from you) if I conclude that your notion of fighting terrorism has strengthened our enemies and led to an explosion in anti-American sentiment. You have weakened our cause substantially Mr. President. You are the top agent for Al Qaeda based in Washington D.C..

Please spare the speechifying against Democrats and get your own house in order Mr. Bush.

I could seriously write another 10 paragraphs on the absolute paucity of logic that makes up this speech. I've already gone on long enough however so I'll put this to bed.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cheney: Mrs. Darth and Snow hold forth

A couple of stories relating to Dick and Lynn Cheney are floating about that piqued my interest today. First we have this laugher from the White House press conference:
You got Dick Cheney, who had been head of an intelligence committee. He's been the Secretary of Defense. He's been the Vice President. He's not a guy who slips up, and he's also not a guy who does winks and nods about things that involve matters that you don't talk about for political reasons. Sorry.


Q To say that Vice President Cheney doesn't make mistakes like this, he did go up and curse a senator to his face on the Senate floor, and accidentally shot his friend, so he's not perfect. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: No, I mean, it's just -- that's -- that's a great line, but it's not germane. Yes, Helen.
Indeed it was a great line, and I think it is germane actually. Either Darth doesn't slip up or he does... and I think it's pretty much established that he does. So now we find ourselves asking where that 'slip up' line is drawn. In the case in question (conservative talk show host & Cheney obviously talking about water boarding), Cheney slipped up and affirmed that America tortures detainees. The administration might think it can redefine the word torture to not include this technique just by dint of Orwellian authority to do so all it wants, but the precedent and common sense is clear on this one. Water boarding is torture, and Cheney says it's ok that we do it and will continue to do so.

Next comes Darths wife Lynne. When Wolf Blitzer asks her to consider that her husband thinks torturing detainees is ok, even after several of them have been proven innocent of having any ties to terrorism, she responds with this headshaker:
I think that you might be a little careful declaring someone has 'clean hands.'
I won't bother to go through the litany of people who have been released after being tortured or rendered to foreign nations to be tortured, only to be found innocent of any involvement with terrorism. Indeed the statement by Lynne here is highly instructive of the attitude of these right wing koolaid drinkers. Rather than charging her husband and his boss with being careful about who they round up and torture, she charges Wolf Blitzer with being careful when describing the proven innocents who have had their lives ruined.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The values party loses it

There are 2 ad campaigns I would like to draw your attention to. I find it instructive to look at the controversial attack ads of both parties and contrast them. The most famous examples have been hashed over pretty extensively: the white woman flirts with black candidate ad from Tennessee has been pulled by the Republicans after causing an uproar, and Rush Limbaugh has provided all sorts of fodder for Democrats after his over the top response to Michael Jay Fox's stem cell ad.

The first ad to focus on is on behalf of Dr. Victoria Wulsin who uses the words of Representative Jean Schmidt from the floor of the House of Representatives. The reason the ad is so effective is that Schmidt calls a decorated war hero (John Murtha) a coward in the speech and is roundly booed. The ad is absolutely truthful in using Schmidts own words to damn her. Schmidt is in a dither because of the ad, and the reason for her concern is another study of her absolute lack of intelligence on grand display for the world to see.

She has sent two letters to the Wulsin campaign pointing out that the rules of the House do not allow for footage of proceedings on the floor to be used in campaign ads. The absolute ludicrous nature of the complaint ought to be readily apparent to any who care to consider the positions of the principles involved. Schmidt is bound by the rules of the House because she is a House member. Wulsin is a (very important distinction coming alert) private citizen!

There are several things that Wulsin may do that Schmidt may not because of this important distinction. Did you know for example that Schmidt may not use her capitol hill office to call campaign donors from? But wonder of wonders, Wulsin may use any office she wishes to use to call her donors from. Amazing! The absolute silliness of Schmidt getting all huffy over this is very instructive here. Maybe she ought to have considered how this would play in a campaign before she got up on the house floor and slandered a war hero. To be honest, Schmidt comes out of this entire affair looking doubly idiotic: once for the insult and again for invoking house rules on a private citizen.

The next ad comes from a Republican. If you do alot of surfing of liberal blogs you may have seen this on Eschaton. Republican Mike Fitzpatrick is running an ad against his opponent, Democrat Patrick Murphy, which calls Murphy a liar in regards to his record as a prosecutor.
The ad, which features the standard deep-voiced narration and ominous music, claims Murphy's frequent statement that he "prosecuted some of the toughest criminals in New York" is untrue.
Oddly enough, the liar in this regard is actually Fitzpatrick, not Murphy. Eschaton links to the appointment letter which gives Murphy the title "Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York." Atrios also links to an extensive write up at Phillyburbs.com that conclusively proves Murphy did prosecute high profile cases from West Point (including an instructor accused of child molestation). The final nail in the coffin of the Republicans smear campaign is provided by Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan, dean of the Academic Board at the United States Military Academy who says flat out that even though he did not endorse any candidate in the race he knows Murphy did not lie about his employment as a prosecutor.

The party that purports to speak for Christian conservatives provides yet another very public example of the lack of moral compass when it comes to achieving their goals. I'll wager that Fitzpatrick spouts off at every opportunity about family values and all the other code phrases we know the right uses to signal the evangelical base that he is their guy. This is the same party that sends the hand picked messenger of God, President George Bush, to campaign for an admitted adulterer who carried the affair over the course of 5 years and who has to loudly proclaim his innocence of charges of choking his mistress. This is the same party running ads in Tennessee that are flagrantly racist, the party led by men who proclaim waterboarding is not torture and we do it and intend to continue to do so, the party of Abramoff, I mean the display of immorality by Republicans is breathtaking. Yet because their leaders mouth the platitudes the evangelical sheeple want to hear, the Republicans continue to count on those votes cast in the name of morality. Even while harboring known child predators and then installing them in positions to oversee exploited children, just so long as the words are right the conservative Christians don't care. Badmouthing gays (even as the closet doors fly open revealing multitudes of Republican leaders and top level staff) and being pro life over rules ALL else... To me those priorities are just twisted.

So who cares if they lie a little in their campaign ads. I challenge any Republican who cares to try to show me an example of a Democrat so blatantly lying in their campaign. This isn't about some policy disagreement or not seeing eye to eye on the stats in question. This is a Republican saying his opponent is lying about prosecuting crimes... and himself being exposed as a liar in doing so. Pathetic... but what can you expect?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"You could not have tortured me enough to vote for Mr. Kerry or Mr. Gore"

The quote I've used for this title is from Maj. General John Eaton. Mr. Eaton says this while urging Americans to vote for Democratic leadership in Congress in the upcoming election. Lest anyone worry that I've misquoted the good general or have mischaracterized his meaning in the article let me copy and paste the pertinent parts.
Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004, agrees that Democratic control of Congress could be the best way to wrest control from the Bush administration and steer the United States away from a gravely flawed strategy in Iraq. "The way out that I see is to hand the House and the Senate to the Democrats and get this thing turned around," Eaton explained, adding that such sentiment is growing among retired and active-duty military leaders. "Most of us see two more years of the same if the Republicans stay in power," he said. He also noted, "You could not have tortured me enough to vote for Mr. Kerry or Mr. Gore, but I'm not at all thrilled with who I did vote for."
There is another formerly high ranking military member heavily quoted in the article as well. Maj. Gen. John Batiste was also a lifelong Republican until this election and also feels that a change in Congressional leadership is necessary to check this administrations disastrous policy in Iraq.

If Democrats see significant gains in active duty military and family members voting for them this election we may well see races which have no recognition at this point as being competitive suddenly having the Democrat make a race of it. If those who could not be tortured to cast their vote for the Democrats of the past have now had enough of the Republicans they voted for, this election is going to see a true blue tidal wave.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Republicans: democracy loses because of democracy

John Gibson on Fox news has finally just come out and said that voting for Democrats is the equivalent of supporting the terrorists. Here is his quote:
"If Democrats who hate Bush and who hate the war in Iraq win, the insurgents win. I'm sorry but it's true. America will set a date to get out and Jihad will have carried the day."
Let us consider the utter vapidity of this sentiment, a sentiment that has gained increasing traction amongst that class so very desperate to keep control of the Congress in Republican hands. According to this reasoning, George Bush is responsible for leading this nation into a pre-emptive war, the outcome of which will determine the very survival of western civilization as we know it. To "lose" in Iraq is to allow Jihad to carry the day. I suspect if this actually is the case one must wonder how it is that we have arrived at such a seemingly intractable pass.

I contend that we have been brought to the point that our Republican leadership has handed militant Jihad a victory on a silver platter, and now find themselves resorting to blaming the Democrats who had next to no say so in the conduct of the policy. The current state of affairs in Iraq has ZERO to do with American domestic political dissent. The failure of Iraq has much to do with rightwing fantasy nation building being based on misconception and political cronyism. Indeed if Iraq is to be deemed by history to be a victory of militant Islam over democracy history will point the finger of blame squarely at those who promulgated the policies that led to the disaster.

It simply is not tenable to stake the very success of our democracy on a policy that must succeed, but is doomed to failure based upon the possibility of changing leadership in Congress, or the Presidency for that matter. If the leadership of this nation had had any notion in 2002 that the path they were embarking upon would lead through violent occupation even through the 2004 election I am convinced they would have reconsidered the entire affair. It was Rumsfeld after all who sought to convince us very early in the war that military action would not likely last 6 months, and Bush's "mission accomplished" speech will be noted as one of the greatest gaffes in the history of Presidential 'misunderestimation'.

Policies that determine the success or failure of the nation as a whole nearly by definition must be bi-partisan in nature. Do not give me this business that so and so Democrat voted to allow the President the ok to go at it with Saddam. That vote was called during the heat of the 2002 midterm election for an obvious reason. The coming war with Iraq was used as a campaign issue to show Democrats who did not support the war as being weak and somehow supporting terrorism. The vote for the war by most Democrats was a political calculation from fear of being called weak.

The very divisive nature of the Iraqi war on a global scale was apparent from the beginning. For so much to be staked on an enterprise, engineered from the start in such a way as to antagonize our formerly stalwart allies, can only be labeled foolishness. The west opens a front in the war on terror where no hostilities were necessary, and in so doing alienates most of the rest of the world. The nature of the war on terror calls upon us to strengthen these international bonds, not cast them aside.

Why is it that in such time of crisis that the President and his party insists upon dividing this nation one from the other based upon political parties. Can you imagine Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor insisting the only Democrats be allowed to form policy and have a voice in the war that followed. Lincoln saw the ugliest politics that can be imagined used against him, but he welcomed those Democrats who could help see the nation through the civil war. Dividing along political party lines in time of great crisis does not strengthen us. I am a true believer in the absolute need for the west to win the 'war on terror'. It is this deeply held conviction that leads me to the conclusion that in buildling political empire Republican leadership has harmed the interests of this nation, and will be judged harshly.

So now Gibson and his rightwing brethren in arms threaten voters with imagery that invokes the specter of victorious Jihadists bringing death and destruction to our very way of life, should voters exercise their democratic right in the "wrong" way. The Republican National Committee as we speak is running an ad featuring the words and imagery of Al-Qaida. Keith Olbermann's masterful rebuttal of that ad is truly inspiring. Osama walks hand in hand with Ken Mehlman in bringing fear to our televisions.

Make no mistake on this question of partisanship in time of crisis. After 9/11 this nation was united as never before behind the leadership of George Bush. The President saw fit to use this political capital as the platform to lead this nation into the quagmire of Iraq, and to attack Democrats in the crass pursuit of political power. It is his partisanship and insistence on devotion to his wrongheaded view of the world by any who deal with him that has lead to the current state of polarized affairs.

It seems obvious to me that any enlightened leader who saw the stakes as such that the very nature of our democracy was to be determined by the outcome would reach across the aisle for unity. Insistence that the other side agree with you in the face of incontrovertible evidence that you are wrong does not constitute bipartisanship. Scaring voters in an attempt to influence the very fundamental expression of democracy (voting) by claiming the democracy they live in is in danger should they vote for the other guy hardly speaks well of the course you have set this nation upon. If the stakes are that important, to allow the entire enterprise to be brought low because of political blundering and partisanship, can only be considered the infliction of a grievous injury on American interests by the Presidents own logic.

We have finally reached the point that Republicans must resort to threatening us with ruination if we exercise the fundamental right of democracy. How sad is that?

I'm a wild eyed Google bomber

And I'm proud to be one too. Fellow bloggers who feel like I do about the importance of this election can find the code for these links here, @ MyDD.

Clicking one of these links will load a story that provides "opposition research" on the Republican Congresscritter/office seeker in question. Thanks to Chris @ MyDD for the code.

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl
--AZ-01: Rick Renzi
--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth
--CA-04: John Doolittle
--CA-11: Richard Pombo
--CA-50: Brian Bilbray
--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave
--CO-05: Doug Lamborn
--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell
--CT-04: Christopher Shays
--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan
--FL-16: Joe Negron
--FL-22: Clay Shaw
--ID-01: Bill Sali
--IL-06: Peter Roskam
--IL-10: Mark Kirk
--IL-14: Dennis Hastert
--IN-02: Chris Chocola
--IN-08: John Hostettler
--IA-01: Mike Whalen
--KS-02: Jim Ryun
--KY-03: Anne Northup
--KY-04: Geoff Davis
--MD-Sen: Michael Steele
--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht
--MN-06: Michele Bachmann
--MO-Sen: Jim Talent
--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns
--NV-03: Jon Porter
--NH-02: Charlie Bass
--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson
--NM-01: Heather Wilson
--NY-03: Peter King
--NY-20: John Sweeney
--NY-26: Tom Reynolds
--NY-29: Randy Kuhl
--NC-08: Robin Hayes
--NC-11: Charles Taylor
--OH-01: Steve Chabot
--OH-02: Jean Schmidt
--OH-15: Deborah Pryce
--OH-18: Joy Padgett
--PA-04: Melissa Hart
--PA-07: Curt Weldon
--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick
--PA-10: Don Sherwood
--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee
--TN-Sen: Bob Corker
--VA-Sen: George Allen
--VA-10: Frank Wolf
--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick
--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Monday, October 23, 2006

Obama Should Run in 08... For Veep

There is all sorts of speculation on the possibility of Barack Obama running for President in 2008. I saw his appearance on Meet the Press and it looks very much like he's got the bug.

I really like Mr. Obama. I think he can win a nationwide election and he would make a fantastic President. The only drawback I've seen to this assessment is his lack of experience in political leadership. I think the perfect solution to get him this experience, and to give him a step on the ladder to becoming President would be for him to not run in the 08 primary, and accept a spot on the national ticket as the Vice Presidential candidate.

A dream ticket for me would be Al Gore/Barack Obama. I think if Gore announced his candidacy and his intention to select Obama if nominated by the Democrats, he would be a shoe in for that nomination, and probably win a landslide general election.

Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama would also make an interesting ticket. I wouldn't expect as certain a victory as Gore/Obama in the general. The main problem Hillary has is a perception that she is not electable. I think Obama would go along way to making her candidacy more palatable... even if the extreme right would run a scorched earth campaign to keep her from the White House. Of course given the history of Rove/Atwater, what do you expect in any case.

Whatever the top of the ticket, I think Obama on the ballot makes for a very attractive team. It would give him much needed experience which is the main concern against his being at the top of the 08 ticket.

For that matter I think a veep tour by Hillary would significantly increase her prospects for success with a future run for the Presidency.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Using Security for Politics Defined

Think Progress has the video of a member of the House Intelligence Committee admitting that he had the security clearance for a Democratic staff member revoked as political retribution. This is just another example of ethics taking a back seat to power in Republican Washington.

The original suspension was announced due to a supposed investigation into whether or not the staffer had leaked the classified NIE estimate on the Iraq war a couple of weeks ago. The Republican Chair, Peter Hoekstra now turns out to have taken the action at the request of Ray Lahood (R. crook) in response to the release of the report that detailed the misdeeds of Randall Cunningham (R. theif) by Rep. Jane Harman (D. trusty).

We have the trustworthiness and honesty of an innocent staffer called into question due to raw political chicanery by the Republicans on this committee. They have absolutely no proof that this staffer is anything but a loyal patriotic hardworking member of society, but they are willing to drag him through the mud out of sheer spite. They know no bounds... honestly.

Here is yet another example of the Republicans playing games with security for their own political purposes. Starting with selective leaking of classified info that backed their side, through the Plame debacle, even to the sacrificing of basic constitutional principles in the pursuit of votes... they only care about one thing. Power. They will sacrifice anything to keep it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pace on Rumsfeld: Holy Warrior.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace defended the leadership of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by saying the following :
"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country,"
I always get nervous whenever someone tells me that a leader is being led by God. Even if I agree that a leader is doing wonderful things and I agree with them up and down the line, I hesitate to ascribe divine guidance to that leader. The fact is that he or she is human, and at some point they will assuredly fall short. When that happens I don't believe God is to blame for the downfall and ought not be drug into the mud through no fault of his/her (Gods) own.

What really gets me though is when people ascribe divine purpose to leaders who are self evident disaster zones in our national experience. If Rumsfeld is being guided by God, how is it that Rumsfeld incorrectly told the nation that he knew the precise location of Saddams non existent weapons of mass destruction just days into the war? How is it that a divinely guided Rumsfeld told our service members in Aviano Air base that the war was not liable to last more than six months? God told Rummy to disband the Iraqi army? Not send in enough troops... accept torture of military detainees leading to one of the biggest black eyes to American standing in our history... act like an arrogant fool to anyone who tried to open his eyes... I mean the list goes on and on! Watch Woodward talk about his book. This is a disaster of biblical scope, and we are to believe that the architect of our plan there is led by God?

Pace might think Rummy is some kind of 'Holy Warrior', but when I consider Rummy and what he has wrought all I think is 'Holy Crap'!

BREAKING NEWS!!!!! Or is it?

I spend alot of my work day bopping about the webs looking at various news sites trying to stay informed of the issues. Just now I clicked over to MSNBC for the 27th time today to see what they may be reporting a bit differently from the last time I checked in 12 minutes previously, and I was not disappointed.

BREAKING NEWS The announcement is highlighted in bold white block capital letters backdropped by a field of red. Of course my attention is drawn to what must be a block buster story of world import. I glance to the right of the alert and read the following headline. "Student dies after being stabbed at Florida high school bus stop".

what? I mean seriously... what? How is it that a local tragedy suddenly becomes international headline material.

Something is desperately wrong with the media today. I actually like MSNBC and this isn't going to change my opinion on them. But when this type of no consequence sensationalism is substituted for actual news, we are all cheated in a way. Why does this particular story get the blaring headline, but the signing of the military commissions bill by the President, and all the attendant consequences of truly historic magnitude is left to Keith Olbermann commentary for coverage. The truly ingrained corruption by this Congress and Administration warrant occasional paragraphs when the players plead guilty. What it took to make it all really blow up on the media was some perv getting caught diddling the Pages online.

Sensationalism substitutes for news on an all too common basis these days. I think our discourse is cheaper and stupider for it.

[Update: Immediately after posting this story I went back to MSNBC. They now have breaking news that the Orange County Republican Party is asking Tad Nguyen to drop out of his race due to the offensive mailing I posted about in the story immediately below this one.]

Republican Hypocrisy: It burns! It burns!

Holy moly... you really can't make this stuff up! According to The A.P., via Yahoo News the people responsible for mailing letters trying to scare immigrants in Orange County Ca. from voting is... get ready for it... the Republican campaign for a Vietnamese immigrant!

The letter specifically states that not only is it illegal for illegal residents to vote, but also for any immigrant to vote. Here is the exact verbiage of the letter:
The letter, written in Spanish, tells recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."
By the standards set forth by the letter, the Republican candidate running against Loretta Sanchez is ineligible to hold the office he seeks because he can not be a registered voter. According to the story "Tan D. Nguyen, [is] a Republican who immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam as a child"

I am quite simply aghast at the notion that someone would immigrate to our nation, and try to subvert the very democratic process that defines this nation, by claiming those who take advantage of the same opportunities provided to him by America are not eligible to vote. The absolute gall! Someone ought to corner this man and ask "have you no shame sir?"

I suppose he would make a great addition to the crowd currently infesting Washington D.C. To bad for him he didn't pull this stunt back when people were buying the Republican line, because it probably would have worked.

There have been laws broken here. It quite simply is illegal to threaten an American citizen with legal action if they exercise their right to vote. How ironic it would be if Mr. Nguyen were to find himself going through a deportation hearing due to his intimidation of lawful immigrant voters in his pursuit of elected office. I actually would not support his deportation, because I wouldn't want to ruin his life over this, but I have a feeling my kindness is probably wasted on a very cold and small man.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Me to Nora: Durn tootin we'll investigate!

Norah O'Donnell poses the following question to a Democrat on MSNBC:
Can you promise then that when Democrats-if they retake the House of Representatives and Senate will not issue tens or hundreds of subpoenas to the White House when it comes to Katrina, Iraq and a number of other issues and essentially make the President's final two years in office a living hell if you will and mean that nothing gets done in Washington?
Of course Nora is trying to forward a Republican talking point that they think will turn off middle of the road voters. They think the nation will be hesitant to pull the lever for a Democrat who will investigate this administration. I just wonder why this is supposedly a pro Republican issue in the first place. To Nora and any other talking head who wants a pre election promise to leave the dirty laundry alone after the election I say loud and clear: Forget it.

We are coming and we are going to do what we can to get to the bottom of this whole sordid mess the wingnuts have fostered in D.C. Because it is the RIGHT thing to do. Republicans once cared about things like right and wrong. There were over 160 hours of hearings in the Republican controlled Congress about whether or not the Clinton White House used the Christmas invitation list to fund raise!

One of the reasons the Congress ruled by this crowd is so intensely unpopular is because they have forgotten what their role in our Republic is. They are not supposed to be the hand maidens of the administration. They are separate branch charged by the Constitution to be a check on the executive.

So now the President is mired with popularity in the mid to upper 30 percentile, large majorities think his Iraq policy is wrong, America is on the wrong track, and that he is not doing a good job... but Nora wants Dems to take it easy on him if we vote them into power? It seems to me that promising to emulate Republicans in this regard would be a losing position. In fact if strong majorities of the country think the President needs to be checked the winning position would be to promise to provide that check.

Even Republicans know this. It's why you see the President having to go across the country in the dead of night to closed events in order to raise money from the base. Why do you think the political commercials featuring Bush are being run by Democrats hanging the Presidential albatross around the necks of Republicans. Is it coincidence that Republican candidates for national office around the nation are featuring their differences with the administration? They know, as the entire nation knows that the relationship between this Congress and President has led to disaster.

Yet now Nora wants Democrats to promise to play nice when they come to power? I think not only should we not make the pledge she asks us to, but we should promise to do precisely the opposite. It's a winner in todays political environment.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Another perversion in memory of the victims

Today marks one of the darkest days in the history of this great nation. Today marks the day that habeas corpus was lawfully done away with, and torture was lawfully allowed upon the command of the President.

The nation is waking up to all the darkness, lies and criminality of this administration and their rubberstamp Congress. Nearly all of this can be traced to the use of 9/11 as a political tool to give the President anything he wanted. Yet again, today the ghoul President signed this patently horrible law "in memory of the victims of Sept. 11."

If I were related to a 9/11 victim I would be highly peeved right now. To use the memory of my loved one in order to alter the fundamentals that have made this nation the greatest ever is just unacceptable. It is time to take the 9/11 arrow from the political quiver of this horrible man and let these victims rest in peace.

Actually, despite the fact that I'm not directly related to a 9/11 victim, I'm highly peeved anyway. 9/11 was a horrible day for the entire nation. Building political empire on the rubble of that day is to entwine what was, and should be, a unifying force, and somber memory for all of us, with the crassest of political endeavor.

The President has already involved this nation in a needless war based upon the so called "lessons of 9/11". The dead of that day should be honored in our memories, but this President uses them to justify foreign policy disaster and death on a biblical scale. This simply is a disgusting example of grave robbing for political gain.

This needless war, justified by 9/11, has resulted in the loss of a virtual monolith of opinion both internationally and domestically that stood with us in the war on terror immediately following the attack. I believe that the great irony of the Bush Presidency is that despite repeated promises in the 2000 election to be a uniter not a divider, that we actually see it was Osama Bin Laden that united the entire world with 9/11, and it is President Bush that has proven to be the great divider.

Dividing us in the name of 9/11 truly is a travesty.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Of Newt and Kuo

In light of the recent controversy over David Kuo, I found this report of how many residents of the White House would support a Newt Gingrich candidacy for President very interesting.

To flesh out the context, Mr. Kuo has impeccable credentials as a so called Christian Conservative. He claims that Christians are being used by the White House, that their leaders are ridiculed, that everything the White House does is for politics alone, and that Karl Rove is a lout.

Now comes word from this same group of White House Pharisies that they could get behind the candidacy of one of the men who led the fight to impeach Bill Clinton, while he was conducting an affair of his own. Focusing on that issue, the article in U.S. News quotes White House insiders (called "top Bushies") as saying:
As for his [Newt's] past marital infidelity, they think it's a nothing-burger, especially if he faces Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose hubby had his own problems she'd rather forget.
To me this isn't about the opponent Gingrich would face in the 2008 Presidential election. I wonder about the message this would give to the so called family values crowd that the Republicans so desperately depend upon for votes. Is this particular demographic, so famous for passing moral judgement from on high, willing to promote an admitted hypocritical horndog as their candidate?

Let me remind the reader that Newts marriage was ruined by his infidelity, where as Hillary and Bill are still an item. In no way do I claim that the Democratic candidate for President ought to be a paragon of personal virtue. But after the example provided by Republicans of how they inspect and nit pick the morality of the other side, they really ought to choose their Presidential candidates with caution. I would not expect Gingrich to survive the Republican primary based upon this issue alone, but admittably I'm not the best expert at gauging the Republican mind.

I must conclude that this little blurb from U.S. News points to the absolute tone deaf nature of the Bush White House to the issues that matter most to their Christian base and provides very timely proof that Mr. Kuo is spot on with his observations. I feel compelled to thank these top Bushies for the demonstration that proves the case of Mr. Kuo.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

William S. Lind nails it.

Antiwar.com carries a column by William S. Lind that I consider a must read. Check this out:
A Marine friend just back from Ramadi said to me, "It didn't get any better while I was there, and it's not going to get better." Virtually everyone in Washington, except the people in the White House, knows that is true for all of Iraq.

Actually, I think the White House knows it too. Why then does it insist on "staying the course" at a casualty rate of more than one thousand Americans per month? The answer is breathtaking in its cynicism: so the retreat from Iraq happens on the next president's watch. That is why we still fight.

Yep, it's now all about George. Anyone who thinks that is too low, too mean, too despicable even for this bunch does not understand the meaning of the adjective "Rovian." Would they let thousands more young Americans get killed or wounded just so George W. does not have to face the consequences of his own folly? In a heartbeat.
This is really sick territory we are going into here. Sacrificing thousands lives so that the inevitable retreat from Iraq happens under the next President? Thats just unforgivable.

The rest of the article doesn't pull punches on the Democrats either. My hope is that we at least have the chance to see if Mr. Lind's prediction that Dems will prove as horrible in congressional leadership as the Repugs is actually true or not.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Carbon dating scandal...

The Republican talking points manual for deflecting questions on all the scandal and corruption in their midst calls for them to incessantly mention old democratic scandals. I mean old... as in 1st time voters were not even born when these scandals happened. If you have listened to any wingnuttery of late you've heard the familiar refrain: Gary Studds boffed a page, Rep. Shays in Connecticut tearing into Chappaquidick when Kennedy comes to town, and I'm fully expecting Willy Horton to make a comeback.

Fine! If Republicans want to throw mud at the wall by dredging up old dem scandals, we can play the same freaking game. I'm sick of my parties ancient foibleists (hah! new word) being used to swiftboat us right now... it's time to respond in kind!

Who can ever forget the infamous William W. Belknap (R. criminal). Impeached in 1876 by a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives (back when they did this thing called oversight) for taking money for trading post assignments! SHAME on you Republicans... shame.

Then there is the awful example set by Oakes Ames (R. slumlord) who in 1867 when appointed head of Crédit Mobilier of America, (they might be of America, but they sound of France which should have been a big clue, with all due respect to my French friends) a company created to protect investors on the trans continental railroad from incurring losses to their investments, allowed Congressmembers who had voted on funding to cover charges incurred by CMA at face value rather than true market.... Well to be honest the details on this one are a bit dry. Suffice to say that it doesn't look to good for the R's on this one either!!

Lets bring this to a more contemporary level shall we. Edwin C. Denby (R. villain), 1922, Teapot Dome. I just KNOW what your thinking right now. "Oh snap... no he did'n... he did NOT just go teapot dome on the Repugs". Lets just let that sink in a bit and then proceed to the next one shall we?

I suppose this early in the game, going straight for the monolith of immorality that was Richard Nixon (R. crook) would be too simple. It turns out however that he was into pretending laws didn't apply to him very early in his political career. Consider the Checkers Speech in which Nixon tried to convince America that the $18K of illegal campaign contributions he was busted with was really money gained from the sale of a mink coat and a dog... or something just as silly. He couldn't do it with a straight face but lucky for him most of the nation was tuned into the speech via radio.

I think the point I'm trying to make here is that going back in history to bring up old stuff on the other guy probably comes across as a bit of a desperate ploy. With that in mind we also should consider Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Tom Delay, Bob Ney and the rest of the Ohio Republican party, Bernard Kerik, Bill Frist, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich and nearly every Republican leader responsible for the impeachment of Bill Clinton, most due to their own sexual immorality, Ralph Reed... I mean do I need to go on? I'm not one tenth of the way through the list of contemporary Republican scandalocracy.

Oooh, another new word! Lets use it...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Focus on the Family toady goes insane.

Holy moly... prove the immorality of a Republican leader and watch their heads essplode. The most recent example can be found at Raw Story. They have the transcript of an interview by Kyra Phillips of Tom Minnery, who is vice toady mouthpiece for holier than thou pontification (otherwise known as Vice President of Public Policy) for Focus on the Family. Here are some of my favorite quotes by Mr. Minnery:
Well, I think Anne has it wrong when she says that homosexuality is something that is regarded as shameful in Washington. I think that, more and more, homosexuality is something that liberal politicians and the Hollywood set prizes. And I suspect that may be why the Republican leadership did not act faster to clamp down on Mark Foley. They didn't want to be subjected to the complaints that they're homophobic, they're bigoted, such as a lot of us are every day. That hurts after a while, and I suspect that plays into this.
How one person can fit all the misconceptions into one paragraph is simply amazing. I love the way that Minnery manages to blame the gays for Hastert and his crowd not correcting Foley. We all know how beholden Republican House members are to the homosexual agenda! When will the oppression of our poor straight Republican lawmakers come to an end?

Here is a priceless Minneryism:
...The other half is the bottom-up view, how people view their own congressmen or their own congresswomen is very significant.
Now I'm certain in Minnery's innocent little brain there is nothing untoward in discussing the voters looking at their congressmen's from the bottom up. In the context of the Foley scandal however I think it is positively hilarious! I know I'm crass but I couldn't help myself... If you need to have the reasons for the mirth explained to you just go pull the lever for your local Republican bootlicker and congratulate yourself on your superiority to the rest of the nation.

Here is where Minnery displays a breathtaking lack of historical perspective:
I think I would say we wish that all people would abide by the historic moral standards of Western civilization, which come to us from the Bible. That would be better for a whole lot of people regardless of whether they buy into the teachings of Jesus Christ or not. Western morality has served us well, and I hope it will continue to do so.
Historic Western Civilization comes from the Bible? In case Minnery doesn't understand this, he is not a spokestoad for the vatican. If Minnery understood the morality of the times during the rise of the 1st great democracies he would be shocked and appalled. Ancient Greece was as close as can be imagined to a literal den of iniquity. Ancient Rome is still legendary for it's hedonistic excess. Even the example provided by Minnery of civilizations passed to us from biblical precedent offer many horrendous examples of immorality and evil. The children of Israel routinely acted like genocidal maniacs with Gods blessing. Biblical precepts explicitly allow slavery and bigamy. Eight of the Ten Commandments if passed into law would be judged blatantly unconstitutional with only the prohibition on murder and stealing passing the smell test.

Indeed western liberal democratic principles have benefited America greatly, and that benefit was mightily enhanced by the separation of church and state. Theocracy might sound like a great idea to Minnery, but our founding fathers were wise enough to give us protection from that form of government.

What kind of priorities are these?

While considering the news of the last couple of weeks, I was struck by the contradiction offered by the leaders of our nation on basic attitudes towards morality. Consider for example the following article by MSNBC dated from January of 05:
The number of Arabic linguists discharged from the military for violating its "don't ask, don't tell" policy is higher than previously reported, according to records obtained by a research group.

The group contends the records show that the military - at a time when it and U.S. intelligence agencies don't have enough Arabic speakers - is putting its anti-gay stance ahead of national security.

Between 1998 and 2004, the military discharged 20 Arabic and six Farsi speakers, according to Department of Defense data obtained by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military under a Freedom of Information Act request.
In case you need a reminder there was also another event that occurred in 2005 that recently has had major ramifications in the Foley scandal. Mark Foley was appointed co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. This happened after at least two separate warnings from fellow Republican House members regarding his behavior to House pages.

One must wonder at the priorities of the leadership in Washington D.C. when patriots who offer a desperately needed service in very short supply which directly affects the well being and safety of our Armed forces and homeland in time of war are given their walking papers because they are gay. But known perverts who demonstrate the willingness to abuse their power are elevated to chairmanships with oversight over the very activities and perversions they are guilty of in the first place.

Let me clarify this. The Foley issue isn't about him being gay. If he had been hitting on teen age girls his offense would have been just as bad in the eyes of the law, if not the koolaid drinkers of his party. Foley's offense is that he was in a position of power and acted like a perv to kids. He was put there by Republican leadership after they knew he had a problem. So to reiterate: if he were simply gay, but had not been picking up on the kiddy help, everything would have continued without a hint of scandal. Conversely if he were straight, and hitting on the teenies... that would have been a problem.

The perverse nature of these policies truly is striking. America is in desperate need of translators because of the Iraq war. The ability of these translators is not affected in the least by what gender they find attractive. Yet we boot translators if they are outted. All this while House Republicans put the figurative wolf in charge of the kiddy hen house.

Frankly this juxtaposition between discharging those most qualified for needed jobs while hiring those least suited for the task follows a long and cherished tradition by the group currently in power. No bid contracts, neocon flunkies being hired to rebuild Iraq, industry officials appointed to lead governmental agencies with nominal oversight on that officials industry, hiring a horse assosiation politico to oversee FEMA... the list just goes on and on. This cronyism has led to the waste of our blood and treasure on a massive scale.

And they want us to believe that they are the ones to vote for if you are concerned about Americas security. Shouldn't Republicans at least be expected to get this type of priority straight before they lecture the rest of us on how superior they are at keeping us safe?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bush is no Washington

The N.Y. Daily News has an article that is getting a bit of attention from my fellow lefty type bloggers. The focus of most of these blogs is on how the Presidents mood has taken a turn for the worse with the recent political setbacks for the Republican party. The Presidents prickly nature is legendary and this story just adds to that legend. The part of the story that was news to me was the following part, at the end of the article:
Bush is less worried about his standing with history, telling aides that George Washington's legacy is still being debated two centuries later.
Frankly I don't know where to begin with this logic. Who is debating the legacy of George Washington? He is considered one of the greatest Presidents in American history. Until this assertion by President Bush, I was unaware that George Washington's legacy was up for debate. This matter is settled, and it is only the modern day Georges need to obfuscate the already certain verdict of history on his own failed policies that leads him to throw mud at the legacy of the nations leading founding father.

Let me bastardize the response of the late great Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle in one of the greatest political flamages of history. In response to President Bush's understanding of George Washington, I say: Mr. Presdident, I didn't know George Washington, Washington was not a friend of mine, but Mr. Bush, you are no George Washington.

There are so many differences between the two men that to list them all would lead to a 10 page tome. Let me just focus on the one difference that truly points to the chasm between the men. Washington at several points in his leadership, both of the Continental Army and then as President, put aside the temptation to hold power that he felt should not be invested in a single man in a democracy. In the face of this great personal temptation for the realization of unfettered power, Washington declined in the best interest of his nation. Indeed Wasington was the perfect man at the perfect time to lead the colonies into independence in such a way as to make their progeny the greatest nation on the face of the earth.

George Bush on the other hand has failed in the same test of power sharing. Given a compliant Congress and sympathetic courts Bush has expanded executive power. Using the tragedy of 9/11, Bush has used fear and obfuscation to further expand his power. He has not needed to worry about oversight by Congress. He has used the so called signing statement to re-write legislation he does not favor and then sign the law as he has written it against all constitutional precepts. Indeed he claims the ability to do this based upon his so called constitutional right to oversee a unitary executive, while ignoring the most basic constitutional separation of powers.

The Vice President is unapologetic in his belief that the executive branch ought to be given unfettered power, and Cheney has been supported steadfastly by Bush. Even in the face of unqualified failures of policy on a global scale, causing death and suffering of biblical scope, this President claims that those who do not agree with him are fools and support our enemies. He is unwilling to admit the possibility of his own falibity and insists upon pursuing policies which have been demonstrated to be wrong headed in the face of disaster. Indeed, on several occasions President Bush has seemed to indicate his own belief in what he perceives to be the divine nature of his calling.

All of this points to an enduring drive by President Bush to expand his political power. This to me is the glaring difference between Bush and Washington. This difference is magnified by the fact that Washington tended to follow a path guided by intellectual curiosity and wisdom, where as Bush tends to walk a path guided by dogma and self assuredness whatever the consequence.

To be sure Washington was not a perfect man, but his political skill and self sacrifice makes him one of the greatest leaders in American history, well placed for the emergencies that he faced. Until President Bush called that truth into question that is.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Baldies broadside, today focused on a letter from Iraq

This letter home from a Marine in Iraq is honestly a must read. I'll copy, paste & comment on some of my favorite quotes from the letter, but please go read it yourself.

Quote #1:
Most Profound Man in Iraq — an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."
That adds perspective I had never considered. We hear about the problem of foreign fighters from the administrations perspective all the time. Turns out they are spot on about that, but not in the way they intend.

Quote #2:
Biggest Outrage — Practically anything said by talking heads on TV about the war in Iraq, not that I get to watch much TV. Their thoughts are consistently both grossly simplistic and politically slanted. Biggest Offender: Bill O'Reilly.
Brother Olbermann is gonna have an absolute field day with this. I can't wait!

Quote #3:
Most Surreal Moment — Watching Marines arrive at my detention facility and unload a truck load of flex-cuffed midgets. 26 to be exact. We had put the word out earlier in the day to the Marines in Fallujah that we were looking for Bad Guy X, who was described as a midget. Little did I know that Fallujah was home to a small community of midgets, who banded together for support since they were considered as social outcasts. The Marines were anxious to get back to the midget colony to bring in the rest of the midget suspects, but I called off the search, figuring Bad Guy X was long gone on his short legs after seeing his companions rounded up by the giant infidels.
HAH! Rounded up by the giant infidels... now that's funny stuff. I'll pass on the countless Abu Ghraib/midget jokes that spring to mind because the humor provided by the Marine stands alone.

Good luck to this Marine and those serving with him. May he, and they, return home safe and sound.

Root them out.

Walter Pincus writes an article in the Washington post that details the use of waterboarding through out recent history. The report is very informative and I would recommend reading it simply for the historical perspective on this issue. It was not until the very end of the article that something jumped out at me. Pincus describes the techniques that were approved by the White House and says:
These were cleared not only at the White House but also by the Justice Department and briefed to senior congressional officials, according to a statement released last month by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Waterboarding was one of the approved techniques.
If this is true I must tell you that I am simply shocked. Were there any Democrats who were briefed on this? If there were I am prepared to take a stand against them as continuing to serve as members of the Democratic party. I don't want them! They need to be rooted out because they have failed as public servants to take any action against what will historically be noted as a mark of shame on this nation.

I understand these briefings are highly confidential and to leak information would be to break the law. At what point does the conscience of our leaders not allow them to silently stand by as the President turns to monstrosity? Say that a Congress member were to be secretly briefed that the President intended to commit a genocide. At what point does that member stand up and say this is not acceptable and if not stopped immediately we will bring it to public light!

It is my belief that any member of Congress who knew that the administration intended to explicitly torture detainees, and allowed that to pass in silence, ought to be voted out of office at the very least. They can not give the excuse that the law prohibited them from doing the right thing. The law prohibited the President from allowing this in the first place. To stay silent while knowing that an evil is being forwarded in Americas name is not acceptable.

I focus on possible Democratic culpability in this post because anyone who knows a bit about this blog knows I spend most of my time ripping up the Repugs. This post should not be taken as any sort of excuse for Republican Congress members who were briefed. They are as culpable as any possible Democrats in the same boat.

Fifteen years hard labor. That was the sentence given to the Japanese war criminal convicted of waterboarding American service members in WWII. Those responsible for this behavior in modern times had better pray that when the accounting for their actions finally happens that their judge is more inclined to leniency.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Baldy's Thursday Broadside

Following are my quick hit takes on some of the major headlines of the day.

1: President Bush has issued another signing statement today that is getting a lot of attention. The signing statements by the President always start with his intention to interpret the law "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority" My take? The Presidents constitutional authority is to veto the bill if he thinks it is bad law. There is no constitutional authority for the President to write the law as he likes it and then sign his own law. But I ask the few who read this blog... do you honestly believe that a Republican rubberstamp Congress will stand up to this unconstitutional power grab? We must elect Dems to save our very constitution. It really is that simple.

2: The U.S. military has determined that the current violence in Baghdad is a critical turning point in the war. My take? What about the several dozen other critical turning points? I mean would we would be in this sorry state of affairs if Rumsfeld had had the intelligence to take advantage of several early war turning points. Rumsfeld decided to disband the Iraqi army. He has made several massively boneheaded decisions... and now he leads our forces into another critical turning point. We desperately need new leadership to actually make the best of these land mark events because Rumsfeld and crew have been disastrous to the cause. Frankly they wouldn't know a crucial turning point if it blew up as they passed it by the side of the road.

3: The above mentioned Baghdad turning point is going to be rounded without the assistance of an entire brigade of Iraqi police. Their brigade was disbanded after being tied with death squads and kidnappings. My take? Have we not come full circle? From the days when Saddams uniformed goons ran around grabbing his political enemies off the street to modern day uniformed goons running around grabbing people who aren't the correct sect off the streets. I thought we were there to end that sort of thing, but then I've always been a bit gullible...

John Mark Karr: Republican for Congress?

John Mark Karr (who falsely confessed to killing Jon Benet Ramsey) is set to be released from custody today after having charges for owning child pornography dropped due to lack of evidence. Which makes him a top notch candidate to move to Florida and run to replace Mark Foley in the House of Reprehensables...

On a serious note though, one must wonder what society can do to protect itself from people who can not be proven to have committed a crime, but are obviously dangerous none the less. I mean who among us with small children in our families would feel comfortable with John Mark Karr living in our neighborhood? It is perfectly clear that he represents a danger but apparently there will be no way for society as a whole to protect ourselves from him.

If in the future Karr winds up convicted of molesting children, or (if possible) even worse... who will answer for that?

Hastert struggles to keep the base

MSNBC ends their report on the Congressional Republican Page Sexual harassment Gay Internet Sex Scandal, (here after referred to as Foleygate in this post) thusly:
[Republican Speaker of the House Dennis] Hastert said "people funded by George Soros," a liberal billionaire who has plowed millions into this and other election campaigns, want to see the scandal blow up. And he warned that when the GOP "base finds out who's feeding this monster, they're not going to be happy."
I absolutely agree with Mr. Hastert believe it or not. Much as a broken clock is correct about the time twice daily, speaker Hastert has hit upon a truth. Upon consideration this truth shows a tremendous danger for Republican candidates across the nation.

The fact is that Foley's behavior was not egged on by Democrats. Nancy Pelosi was not holding a gun to Foley's head as John Murtha manipulated the fingers of the predator in order to make those "overly friendly" emails. No Democrat hypnotized Foley into taking time off a vote in order to diddle a page over the internet. This monster is quite simply a Republican creation.

Furthermore, after Foley's little monster was discovered Republicans had the ability to strangle it in the crib. It was the Republican determination to just warn the pages to stay out of Foley's sphere of influence that allowed the monster to live and grow. How creepy is it to know that while Foley was giving those emotional farewells to the pages from the House floor, that those same pages had been warned about his behavior.

Indeed this must look like a particularly ferocious and loathsome monster from Mr. Hasterts perspective. When he first became aware of this beasty it was just a cute little ogre baby involving Foley and some creepy email. Now it has mestatized to something that directly threatens to decapitate Republican leadership of the Congress. So now he wants his constituents to believe this monster is a problem created and fostered by the Democratic party.

I'm certain that there is a certain portion of the population that honestly believe Hastert has a case. Consider the repeated examples of Fox and other media incorrectly labeling Foley as a Democrat. Consider the koolaid drinking pundits who insist (despite ample evidence that the whole affair was brought to light by Republicans) that Democrats held this under their belts until the month before the midterm election. There is an ample audience for Hastert's discombobulation. But the deeper truth is this.

There are large portions of the Republican parties religious base that can not tolerate the thought of their vote contributing to the continued power holding of people who would knowingly hide a gay pedophile in their midst. Indeed the voters in Foleys district are actually being asked to cast a vote for him, in order to elect a Republican replacement. Could any truly moral person cast that vote? Whatever justification you may put upon that vote, to ask a person with any moral standing to actually vote for Foley is beyond the pale.

Also, consider that to cast a vote for a Repulbican house member while Hastert remains as house leader is to indirectly support a leader who is responsible for not ending Foleygate three years ago. When the leadership is chosen do you honestly expect any Republican house member to vote for Nancy Pelosi or John Murtha? Of course not. Voting for a Republican is voting for Republican leadership of the House or Senate.

Foleygate goes to the core of the Republican base. Hastert must make this a Democratic issue, as must the rightwing media and wingnut punditry. The only question remaining is how many more "family values voters" will turn their back on the Republicans due to the blatant dishonesty of the argument being used in a desperate attempt to keep them on board. Isn't there a commandment that prohibits bearing false witness? How quaint.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Baldies Wednesday Broadside

Following are the bald headed freaks take on several issues grabbing headlines today.

1: First Fox news, and then the Associated Press reported that disgraced Republican ex house member Mark Foley was actually a Democrat. My take? Just lying about it doesn't mean it's true, except to a few million viewers who love to drink the koolaid. There's no reaching them with anything resembling the truth anyway. Besides Foley wouldn't be allowed to join us if he wanted to. Next thing you know Fox & A.P. will be trying to convince the nation that another widely despised, disgraced, and discredited Republican politico is also a Democrat. Well we don't want George Bush either!

2: Congress has earmarked $20 million for an end of war celebration to commemorate victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. My take? Could this bunch of koolaid drinking wingnuts possibly be any further out of touch. Mission accomplished, last throes, and now time to party. This is the equivalent of the control room at a nuclear plant being the scene of a rowdy party as the core melts down. We shall celebrate despite the blaring alarms and death outside our little cocoon.

3: Hillary Clintons opponent has released a fundraising letter that in pre-Foley times would have been huge news for it's over the top nature. In this letter he says that Hillary's "ruthless campaign to seize power is a serious threat to a secure future for America." My take? This Spencer character is certifiable. The entire nation knows this guy is going to lose horribly. It seems to me that he would be well served to do so with a bit of dignity. Throwing this kind of stuff at the wall hardly speaks well for him, but then again he is a Republican. What did we expect? Keeping this in mind, when Spencer decides to finally go negative it really won't be pretty!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Just a reminder... Iraq is still hell

I realize that as a liberal blogger that it is incumbent upon me to thump on Republican ex congressman Mark Foley being a perv. I could make a lengthy post detailing that this is not the fault of his sexual preference, or Democrats, or the page on the other side of the screen, or the enemies of democracy in the world. All these canards have been floated by Republicans on the Foley issue and they all can not stand the smell test. But I would like to draw the attention of anyone reading this post to a horrible and ongoing truth.

Iraq. The name of that nation turned hellhole alone brings death to mind. Now comes the news that 15 service members have been killed since Saturday. 8 died yesterday.

Unless you dug around for the news, you probably hadn't heard this. The news lately has been a continual drumbeat of Foley, Woodward, Foley, Rice, Foley and Rumsfeld. And Foley. To be sure all this news has contributed mightily to the crumbling of Republican hopes going into the midterm election. But...

There are 15 families who as I post this entry into my obscure little blog really could care less about who Foley was diddling online. 15 families whose grief must be so overwhelming that the Woodward reporting on the events that led to their sons, and daughters untimely demise really has no meaning right now.

These 15 families are added to the thousands of American families who have already been shattered. And they are the first of thousands more dead to come should this President and his advisors be allowed to continue this absolute folly. Not to mention the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of deaths by Iraqis. This dreadful tally will be the historical legacy of our President. And of the generation that allowed this to take place. George Bush is not Satan. He is just enthralled by the Angel of Death due to his own ignorance and bull-headed nature.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Baldies broadside

Following is my take on several headlines in the news today.

Issue 1: Bill Frist says the Taliban ought to be a part of Afghanistan's national government. My take: If an Afghani villager went to the media with this proposal, Bush would see to it that they spent hard time in Guantanamo. This is the final proof that Iraq was a huge distraction from the true W/O/T in Afghanistan. Any Democrat who said the same thing would find themselves instantly demonized, so I can't wait for the next Frist campaign when his opponent morphs Osama's face into Frist's on t.v.

Issue 2: Republican speaker of the House Dennis Hastert knew for quite some time that Republican Representative Mark Foley had a boy page problem, but did nothing to protect these kids. My take? Republican pedophile enabler, Republican pedophile enabler, Republican pedophile enabler... repeat as needed until election day. Aww heck... in districts that are gerrymandered to be completely Republican, toss in the word gay with the above description. Even better use the term homoh-sayxee-wall when describing this if you are a candidate from the deepest reddest southern states. Having the FBI kick off another investigation into various Republicans is pretty old fare, so lets just focus on the Republican gay pedophile stuff and see how far that takes us.

Issue 3: Conventional wisdom is that the midterm elections are liable to result in Democratic gains, but control of the house or senate by Democrats remains questionable. My take? Has there ever in the history of any democracy been an election where an entire slate of candidates has been demonstrated to be incompetent, bumbleheaded, ignorant, prideful, willful, dangerous, greedy, lying, (the list goes on and on but I need to stop somewhere kiddies) yet there still was a chance that party would come out of the election still holding power? If Republicans hold onto all power after this election that will be effective proof that our democracy is hopelessly broken. Never has one side been so conclusively proven time and again to be so completely wrong, with no consequence at the polls. Will it happen this time? We shall see what we shall see.


I have just finished reading an article in Rolling Stone that details the systematic torture of a detainee held in Guantanamo Bay.

The administration has promoted the torture of detainees while telling us they do not torture as defined by them. Let us consider the use of "stress positions". The recent bill that passed the House and Senate allows the use of this technique.
In the interrogation room, Omar's interviewer grew displeased with his level of cooperation. He summoned several MPs, who chained Omar tightly to an eye bolt in the center of the floor. Omar's hands and feet were shackled together; the eye bolt held him at the point where his hands and feet met. Fetally positioned, he was left alone for half an hour.

Upon their return, the MPs uncuffed Omar's arms, pulled them behind his back and recuffed them to his legs, straining them badly at their sockets. At the junction of his arms and legs he was again bolted to the floor and left alone. The degree of pain a human body experiences in this particular "stress position" can quickly lead to delirium, and ultimately to unconsciousness. Before that happened, the MPs returned, forced Omar onto his knees, and cuffed his wrists and ankles together behind his back. This made his body into a kind of bow, his torso convex and rigid, right at the limit of its flexibility. The force of his cuffed wrists straining upward against his cuffed ankles drove his kneecaps into the concrete floor. The guards left.

An hour or two later they came back, checked the tautness of his chains and pushed him over on his stomach. Transfixed in his bonds, Omar toppled like a figurine. Again they left. Many hours had passed since Omar had been taken from his cell. He urinated on himself and on the floor. The MPs returned, mocked him for a while and then poured pine-oil solvent all over his body. Without altering his chains, they began dragging him by his feet through the mixture of urine and pine oil. Because his body had been so tightened, the new motion racked it. The MPs swung him around and around, the piss and solvent washing up into his face. The idea was to use him as a human mop. When the MPs felt they'd successfully pretended to soak up the liquid with his body, they uncuffed him and carried him back to his cell. He was not allowed a change of clothes for two days.
This article details the horrible effects that the policies forwarded by the President have had on this detainee. Quite frankly the path chosen by this administration is that tread by the monsters of history. There can be no forgiveness for these actions. No law can make this right. To put this bluntly, the administration is responsible for war crimes, and as the article states the case before an international court would be an easy one to prove.

Our leaders have chosen to institutionalize the use of torture on people they determine are enemy combatants. In the particular case of Omar Kadr, I have no doubt that he was caught in the field of battle. But that fact does not give our government the right to act like over 200 years of constitutional law and military history needed to be forgotten. The emergency we face is no reason to do away with those principles that have lead us to become the strongest nation in the history of the world. Indeed the perverse nature of this administration by foregoing those principles that have led us to our stature can not be forgiven. They weaken us with these tactics and our cause is manifestly harmed by the continuance of these policies.

This can not be simply forgotten or ignored. If you are an American citizen they have done this in yours and my name. We must not allow this to go without notice. The example set by this administration must be met with a response that will discourage future leaders from being tempted to make the same mistake. They must be held accountable for this.

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