Thursday, November 30, 2006

The President Addresses Congress

The following post is inspired by this (link) letter from the President to Congress dated 11/30/06. The concept for this post popped into my head while searching the internets for something to post on. I'm not sure how it will fly, but who can ever know without giving it a go. If you like it, leave a comment. Of course if you don't like it I'd like to know that as well!

The Scene: The House chamber is bustling, guests being seated in the gallery, House and Senate members talking amongst themselves, all waiting for the moment that has called them together. The chamber door creaks open and the House cryer steps ceremoniously into the chamber.

He announces loudly: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States of America"!

The President walks down the center aisle greeting members on his way to the podium. The reception this year is decidedly less enthusiastic than past such events, and Mr. Bush spends the decided majority of time on the right side of the aisle. Senator Lieberman actually has to step into the aisle to plant a sloppy wet one on the bemused President, who replies with a pat on the Senators butt. The two look at each other in a seemingly passion filled moment, filled with sorrow and yearning, then break away.

Bush approaches the podium and even before he can raise his hand to acknowledge the gathered dignitaries, the polite applause fades away. The President turns from the podium and begins to speak loudly enough to be heard throughout the chamber:

"Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)"
The Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate nod slightly, forcing smiles. The President turns back to the podium and commences, in his authoritative southern drawl.
"I am transmitting an" (slight pause to form the next word) "alternative plan for locality pay increases"
A slight buzz runs through the chamber, the President pauses, glancing sharply upward as if searching for those who have rudely interrupted his discourse, and as the buzz dies down proceeds again.
"payable to civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems" (pause for dramatic effect) "in January 2007".
The Republican half of the chamber erupts into wild applause. The camera pans to the Democratic side of the chamber to show stony faces on unmoving bodies... except for the lone standing ovation from that side of the aisle being provided with enthusiasm by Senator Lieberman.

As with all of his public speeches the President finishes each sentence with emphasis, saying 2007 as if he has ordained the creation of that year straight from the formless ether. When the applause from the Republicans and Lieberman dies down, President Bush continues in an affectation of southern homeliness.
"Under title 5, United States Code, civilian Federal employees covered by the GS and certain other pay systems would receive a two-part pay increase in January 2007:"
Wild applause erupts from both sides of the chamber, and the gallery! The President is talking an issue this audience nearly to a member understand, and truly appreciate. After a solid minute of wild and raucous applause the chamber settles down... with a low buzz in the air, making the President have to raise his voice ever so slightly in order to command attention.
"(1) a 1.7 percent across-the-board adjustment in scheduled rates of basic pay derived from Employment Cost Index data on changes in the wages and salaries of private industry workers, and (2) a 6.9 percent locality pay adjustment based on Bureau of Labor Statistics' salary surveys of non-Federal employers in each locality pay area."

The Presidents normally choppy syntax is being severely challenged by this mumbo jumbo, and he makes a mental note to have a word with the speechwriter. As he speaks he looks intently at the teleprompter, giving the audience the impression that the President is carefully sizing up the audience as he talks. Periodically the President will look directly ahead into the camera, in order to finish a sentence that has been set to memory.
"According to the statutory formula, for Federal employees covered by the locality pay system, the overall average pay increase would be about 8.6 percent. The total Federal employee pay increase would cost about $8.8 billion in fiscal year 2007 alone."
A ripple of laughter circles the room. Once $8.8 billion would have been considered real money. Nowadays $8.8 billion seems like a tremendous earmark to keep the natives happy. More than a few audience members begin to anticipate a Presidential announcement pushing for higher federal employee pay increase. What better way for the President to try to cozy up with the new congress?
"A national emergency, within the meaning of chapter 53 of title 5, has existed since September 11, 2001, that includes Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom."
Wow! The President is linking a federal payroll pep talk with the war on terror. Bravo Mr. President, Bravo! The Republican side of the audience breaks into perfunctory applause while the Democratic side, with the notable exception of Senator Lieberman, sits in silence...
"The growth in Federal requirements is straining the Federal budget.Full statutory civilian pay increases costing $8.8 billion in 2007 alone would interfere with our Nation's ability to pursue the war on terrorism."
Oh SNAP! No he did'n... he did NOT just throw the Federal pay increase into doubt in the name of the war on terror! The audience falls into dumbstruck silence, the veritable calm before the storm. The President senses the suddenly icy mood of the congregation and proceeds with steely resolve frosting his trademark Texas drawl.
"Such cost increases would threaten our efforts against terrorism or force deep cuts in discretionary spending or Federal employment to stay within budget."
The silence of the audience is being replaced by a growing angry murmur and the President must raise his voice to be clearly understood. In raising his voice he suddenly gives the impression to impartial observers that he is irritated by the entire affair.
"Neither outcome is acceptable."
The word acceptable is spit from the Presidents mouth, enunciated as one would spew the name Satan at a Pentecostal exorcism.
"Therefore, I have determined that a locality pay increase of 0.5 percent would be appropriate for GS and certain other employees in January 2007."
A smattering of applause is drowned out by the swelling angry clamor. A quick glance at the previous years tax returns for those who are mutedly applauding the President would show proof that each applauder is a Republican multi millionaire.... and (of course) Lieberman. The President has to nearly shout to be heard over the din.
"Our national situation precludes granting larger locality pay increases at this time!"
The final half of the last sentence is drowned out by indignant cries and general commotion in the chamber. Individual words from the gallery can be made out over the uproar... ugly words like impeach, and waterboard.

The President looks belligerently at the gathered dignitaries and waits for the hub bub to subside. Eventually the noise in the chamber has subsided to a low buzz and the President continues.
"Accordingly, I have determined that under the authority of section 5304a of title 5, United States Code, locality-based comparability payments for the locality pay areas in amounts set forth in the attached table shall become effective on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2007."
In his haste to end this obviously uncomfortable scene the President has resorted to the staccato monotone style he uses for the weekly Saturday radio address to the nation. However he does not have the luxury of producers or 2nd takes, so the actual syntax and pronunciations of the past sentence are horribly mangled.
"When compared with the payments currently in effect, these comparability payments will increase the General Schedule payroll by 0.5 percent."
A high pitched keening noise is heard prominently from the gallery. This is the sound of the reaction of congressional spouses calculating the hit this means on the 2007 household budget.

The President pauses and looks intently at the crowd. He clearly was thinking this line would draw applause, and is visibly taken aback by the lack thereof. With a glazed look, clearly uncomfortable at the turn of events the President continues.
"Finally, the law requires that I include in this report an assessment of the impact of my decision on the Government's ability to recruit and retain well-qualified employees. I do not believe this decision will materially affect our ability to continue to attract and retain a quality Federal workforce."
Decorum in the chamber is now a forgotten memory. The audience seethes with hostility, Democrat and Republican alike, with the notable exception of Joe Lieberman, who looks decidedly uncomfortable. The President decides to bail out of an obviously doomed flight, and machine guns the end of his speech.
"TothecontrarysinceanypayraiseabovewhatIhave proposedwouldlikelybeunfundedagencieswould havetoabsorbtheadditionalcostandcouldhaveto
freezehiringinordertopaythehigherratesMore overGSquitratescontinuetobeverylow (2.0percentonanannualbasis)wellbelowtheoverall average"quit"rateinprivate enterprise."
The Presidents face has taken on a nearly purple hue, so he stops to inhale deeply. He gives up on any pretense of personal outreach to the audience or the cameras as he buries his attention into the sheaf of papers on the podium.
"ShouldtheneedarisetheGovernmenthasmany compensationtoolssuchasrecruitment bonusesretentionallowancesandspecial salaryratestomaintainthehighqualitywork forcethatservesourNationsoverywell."
As the President is escorted out the back door by an obviously alarmed secret service, he is chased from the hall by the angry ruckus of the chamber audience, and the dissonant sound of one, ex Democrat(ic) senator from Connecticut applauding politely...

May I have honey mustard with my crow?

So while in contemplation yesterday evening, I remembered a post from this past April wherein I predicted an attack on Iran by President Bush in an attempt to influence the midterm elections.

One of my greatest criticisms of President Bush is his inability to admit error. It seems to me that if I wish to keep any shred of credibility going forward that I would not echo the Presidents failure in this regard.

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

My prediction then is that in the weeks immediately prior to the November election we will see a bombing campaign on Iran.
I now proclaim for any who care to listen that I was wrong in my October surprise prediction. I make no excuses... I was simply off base in thinking this would occur.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Presidential lame duck status official.

There can be no worse feeling for a man accustomed to the wielding of absolute power than to be faced with the awful truth that he has become irrelevant. President Bush is having just that moment today. Mark your calendars: today the world told the President, in no uncertain terms, that what he decides really doesn't matter anymore.

There are three major events that combine to demonstrate the lame duck status of President Bush on the international stage.

First, the day following the President drawing a hard line on negotiating with Iran about Iraq, those two nations announced the signing of a security arrangement. Ouch! Next thing you know, our good buddy Canada is going to open diplomatic relations with our hated enemy Cuba... oh wait. They already have that. Well you get the point!

Second, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki snubbed the President by cancelling a planned meeting that was scheduled to take place today. Not only did he cancel that meeting, but his staff crowed that they "insisted the meeting be canceled" rather than giving some perfunctory excuse begging off for the time being.

The fact is that al-Maliki was in Jordan on schedule, but he didn't like the thought that Jordan was going to be a party to the talks. In fact, in a small way this shows again the irrelevancy of President Bush, because Jordan was going to set the agenda to include a discussion of the Palistinian/Israeli issue, and Maliki wasn't into that. The point here is that Bush wasn't setting the agenda, but King Abdullah was. Remember the good old days when Bush could just massage his way through world leaders until he reached his chair and then bogart the conversation. The Presidents 'My way or the highway, you are with us or against us' blustering has now been replaced by 'what would you like to say', 'yes sir, can we talk about this now' weedlingism. (Is that a word even? Well it is now!)

The third event proving Presdiential lame duck status on the international stage was the Foriegn minister of Pakistan saying that Nato should accept defeat in Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban! Can you imagine being the poor soul who had to tell the President this tidbit of news. Actually chances are that the President doesn't even know about that yet. The staff must be waiting for better days to drop that one on him. I'd love to be a fly on the wall of that room... at least to be a heavy armored nuclear powered bulletproof super fly, because there is certain to be some intense fireworks when the President hears that one.

The sad fact is however that President Bush continues to hold the ultimate relevancy for hundreds of thousands of servicemebers and their families. The President can pretend to be the decider of events beyond his control for the next two years, (unless he is impeached **wink wink nudge nudge**) and keep these soldiers in harms way despite all the evidence showing the folly of his ways.

Friday on the conner

Today's post that grabbed my attention at NRO's The Corner, was the following head scratcher from Andy McCarthy:
Mark, I couldn't agree more about U.S. credibility, and this "exit strategy" stuff is infuriating — although it is probably natural if the appearance is that we're adrift. That's why I think the heart of the matter is "the continue to target al Qaeda" part. That goes to the government's credibility with Americans.

The primary mission, post-9/11, is to defeat this enemy. If people start to think our government believes that can be done by delegating the problem to other governments (particularly new, struggling ones), that would rightly be seen as a severe breach of trust. On the other hand, if we recommit unambiguously, in word and deed, to routing al Qaeda and its state sponsors (the Bush Doctrine as originally articulated), most Americans will pleased and our international credibility will take care of itself.
How is it that the neoconservative answer to any question on international affairs is to stay the course in Iraq. We have a prime example for how the stated goals of the Mr. McCarthy are directly contradicted by the actual outcome of his stated strategy (stay the course until victory, whatever that means) for reaching those goals.

McCarthy urges us to stay the course in order to combat Al Qaeda. In fact the entire justification for staying the course in Iraq is to combat the people who attacked us on 9/11. The conflation of these two issues is maddening, and self defeating. Again... for the 17 millionth time, and I'm certain McCarthy realizes this by now even if he refuses to accept the truth of the matter... Iraq had no hand in 9/11. PERIOD! In fact our invasion of Iraq has led to the expansion of Al Qaeda recruitment on a catastrophic scale. We have self evidently defeated our own stated purpose of fighting those who attacked us on 9/11 by invading Iraq, and McCarthy pounds his chest and calls for this mistake to be seen through to it's bitter conclusion.

Furthermore in blithely accepting the loss of international credibility as a foregone conclusion to the struggle against Al Qaeda, McCarthy calls upon us to pursue policies that again directly harm our interests in the struggle. Al Qaeda is not the governing party of a nation. We have already ousted their benefactors in Afghanistan. The enemy at this point is an amorphous conglomeration of cells and groups who are determined to harm us where ever they can reach us. So invading a country or holding territory does not address this particular enemy. To be effective in this struggle America MUST have prestige and the support of every nation we can ally ourselves with.

To adopt a bellicose or intransigent attitude in this struggle with nations who do not threaten us is self defeating because of the nature of the struggle we are involved in. Straining relations with these nations means they will not give us cooperation that we must have to stop Al Qaeda. Would we cooperate with a nation who disappeared our citizens, or just acted in a hostile manner to us? We are currently holding a man accused of blowing up a Cuban airliner years ago... and we won't turn him over to Castros government because of hostile relations between Cuba and America. This is a case example of how international cooperation is necessary in order to effectively combat terror, with us harboring the terrorist, but failing to recognize the lesson of our own teaching.

Tossing another nations citizens into Guantanamo Bay or rendering them to outsource torture means those nations are not inclined to give us the support we need after our transgressions are found out. Going it alone because we have alienated most of the rest of the world against us hardly bodes well for our success in the war on terror.

I really wish these neocons would just stop and give some thought as to the true nature of the global war on terror and how our actions affect our goals. It is easy to beat the war drums and insist on stay the course... and it is hard to admit the error of your ways, especially when those errors have resulted in the needless deaths of scores if not hundreds of thousands of innocents. The scale of these mistakes are biblical. But not admitting these mistakes in the face of incontrovertible evidence against you, and insisting that the mistake continue, only worsens the error, thereby worsening the moment when you must face the reality of what has been wrought in your name.

Dear Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

I read with interest your open letter to the citizens of America. I would echo your belief in the shared greatness of our two nations peoples and the evident desire of both to higher aspirations and goals for humanity.

There is much in your letter that I believe to be true, but there are a couple of issues which need to be addressed from my perspective. It is a simple matter to boost each others egos and congratulate one another on our respective grandeur. It is in discussing the differences between us however that true progress can be made in breaching the gulf which currently separates us on the world stage.

The very first issue you broach on a substantive level is that of Palestine. I share your concerns on this matter and believe that reaching a solution to this problem is vitally important to solving the turmoil in the Middle East. So I admit that your discourse on this issue was disappointing from my perspective. You masterfully detail the wrongs being experienced by the Palestinian people, but no where in your letter do you acknowledge the right of Israel to exist. The solution to the Israeli/Palestinian issue is not entirely one sided in nature. I too have a problem with blind support by the Bush administration for Israel in all matters. But the response is not to blindly support the Palestinians in return.

You sir would be well served on the world stage, if not the Arab stage, to take a simple step. Acknowledge the right of Israel to exist. Take that step and the willingness displayed by the west to deal with you will increase dramatically. Starting from the position that Israel should be destroyed, which you have stated on several occasions, is actually a non starter.

In fact I would contend that you, Mr. Ahmadinejad, by acknowledging the right of Israel to exist, could take huge step in solving the main cause of regional strife these days. By taking this step you would stand to benefit as a widely acclaimed man of peace, responsible for initiating a landmark movement to peace in the Middle East and instrumental in solving a problem that plagued mankind with wars and turmoil for half a century. Taking this simple step allows both sides of the issue to talk with the prospect of reaching a mutually satisfactory conclusion.

On the other hand, you may choose to dig in your heels and insist that the only viable solution is the removal of Israel. This will not solve the issue and only leads to further conflict and distrust. In truth I understand that political concerns on the home and regional stage lead to the recognition of Israel being a difficult proposition for you. But as long as we are talking with each other, consider how this step would appear to the audience you addressed in today's letter. It is me and those who think like me that you are trying to reach after all.

My second issue with your letter has to do with the absolute lack of detail regarding your pursuit of nuclear technology. I understand you have the right, and make the claim, that this pursuit is only in regards to peaceful uses. It would have been helpful to address this issue in your letter. I might understand your perspective on this, but there are many of my fellow Americans who are hearing your side for the first time as they read your letter. Give us your affirmation that you do not seek nuclear weapons, and allow this claim to be verified, and there are reasonable people here who will breathe easier.

There are issues you express yourself on which I agree with you as well. And issues which need further discussion to reach a mutual understanding. But I need to wrap up this letter so I'll simply say thank you for writing your letter Mr. Ahmadinejad. One day soon I look forward to leadership in this nation that allows our nations to sit at the same table to talk about these issues rather than having to write each other open letters back and forth across the internet.

Sincerely, Bhfrik

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Who is Jamil Hussein and why you should care.

A controversy has erupted over the widely reported story of the six Sunni's who were burned alive last Friday in Baghdad in apparent retaliation for the deadly carbombings of the day before.

The A.P. oringinally reported the story based upon the eyewitness account of Jamil Hussein, a longtime source from the predominantly Shiite Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad. Mr. Hussein is reportedly a police officer in that neighborhood.

The controversy erupted after the U.S. military issued a letter calling the veracity of the report into question and claiming that there was no Jamil Hussein employed as a police officer in the Hurriyah neighborhood. Here is the pertinent quote directly from the release by CENTCOM:
We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee. We verified this fact with the MOI through the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team.
Wow... Mr. Hussein, the source of this horrible story detailing sectarian torture of an unimaginable nature, is not who the A.P. says he is. Of course the right wing blogosphere picked this up and went into a veritable frenzy about the biased reporting of the A.P. and detailing how wrong they had been with every report ever having been sourced to Mr. Hussein. Clearly this was a case of the librul media making up stories that are intended to wrongly portray the state of affairs in Iraq to be violent and chaotic, when anyone who knows the truth knows Iraq violence is comparable to what we have in Washington D.C., or New York and so on. Bad Bad Librul Media!

But, further examination of the question at hand serves to show that it is in fact CENTCOM who is off base here, and the A.P. has been besmirched unfairly. Here is the A.P. follow up report:
The Associated Press first reported on Friday's incident that evening, based on the account of police Capt. Jamil Hussein and Imad al-Hashimi, a Sunni elder in Hurriyah, who told Al-Arabiya television he saw people who were soaked in kerosene, then set afire, burning before his eyes.

AP Television News also took video of the Mustafa mosque showing a large portion of the front wall around the door blown away. The interior of the mosque appeared to be badly damaged and there were signs of fire.

However, the U.S. military said in a letter to the AP late Monday, three days after the incident, that it had checked with the Iraqi Interior Ministry and was told that no one by the name of Jamil Hussein works for the ministry or as a Baghdad police officer. Lt. Michael B. Dean, a public affairs officer of the U.S. Navy Multi-National Corps-Iraq Joint Operations Center, signed the letter, a text of which was published subsequently on several Internet blogs. The letter also reiterated an earlier statement from the U.S. military that it had been unable to confirm the report of immolation.


Seeking further information about Friday's attack, an AP reporter contacted Hussein for a third time about the incident to confirm there was no error. The captain has been a regular source of police information for two years and had been visited by the AP reporter in his office at the police station on several occasions. The captain, who gave his full name as Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, said six people were indeed set on fire.
So the A.P. reaffirms the identity of their source even after CENTCOM says their research shows no such person can possibly be their source. Seems like the A.P. have nailed down their bona fides on this one. This couldn't possibly be CENTCOM getting mixed up in trying to slant the news right? Just to be sure though A.P. goes around interviewing other witnesses, and they all tell a remarkably similar tale. The gory details follow so if you don't want to read what CENTCOM is trying to hide from you stop reading now:
On Tuesday, two AP reporters also went back to the Hurriyah neighborhood around the Mustafa mosque and found three witnesses who independently gave accounts of the attack. Others in the neighborhood said they were afraid to talk about what happened.

Those who would talk said the assault began about 2:15 p.m., and they believed the attackers were from the Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He and the Shiite militia are deeply rooted in and control the Sadr City enclave in northeastern Baghdad where suspected Sunni insurgents attacked with a series of car bombs and mortar shells, killing at least 215 people a day before.

The witnesses refused to allow the use of their names because they feared retribution either from the original attackers or the police, whose ranks are infiltrated by Mahdi Army members or its associated death squads.

Two of the witnesses — a 45-year-old bookshop owner and a 48-year-old neighborhood grocery owner — gave nearly identical accounts of what happened. A third, a physician, said he saw the attack on the mosque from his home, saw it burning and heard people in the streets screaming that people had been set on fire. All three men are Sunni Muslims.

The two other witnesses said the mosque assault began in earnest about 2:30 p.m. after the arrival of the four vehicles filled with arms. They said the attackers fired into the mosque, then entered and set it on fire.

Then, the witnesses said, the attackers brought out six men, blindfolded and handcuffed, and lined them up on the street at the gate of the mosque. The witnesses said the six were doused with kerosene from a 1.3-gallon canister and set on fire at intervals, one after the other, with a torch made of rags. The fifth and sixth men in the line were set afire at the same time.

The witnesses said the burning victims rolled on the ground in agony until apparently dead, then the gunmen fired a single bullet into each of their heads.
Which should lead us who are interested in accuracy and truth in the opinions we spew forth on a daily basis to wonder, when can we expect all the right wing bloggers who castigated the A.P. on this one to issue corrections? Suffice to say that I will not hold my breath waiting for that to occur.

The Conner watch begins

I try to keep a schedule of posting at least once each weekday on this obscure little blog, but I quite often find myself casting about for material worthy of a post. Yesterday I stumbled over the fertile hunting lands of NRO's The Corner, and found a seemingly endless variety of subject matter on which to base daily posts. So let me proudly announce my once daily feature (for the time being anyway) which I will call The Conner Watch.

Today's Conner Watch is brought to us courtesy of a couple of conservative readers of The Corner who are trying to lift the sagging spirits of long time contributor Jonah Goldberg. It seems that these koolaid drinkers are convinced that going into Iraq was the right thing to do in spite of the overwhelming and inconrtovertable evidence that indicates otherwise. For example the first letter writer says:
The Iraq war was not a mistake. It is easy to forget in the spectacle of watching the Iraqis butcher each other trying to build a stable government, but much was accomplished with this war:
The writer establishes his credentials as a koolaid drinking wingnut of the first order directly off the bat by asserting that the Iraq war was not a mistake. Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the writer intends to prove that everybody in the entire world except for his little band of idealogical brethren has it wrong! This should be instructive, and a bit fun as well.
1. The toppling of a regime that was a constant threat to its neighbors and, potentially at least, to us.
I would say that the threat posed by Saddam to his neighbors was very effectually neutralized with the 1st Gulf War. The strategy of containment following that war worked extremely well and there was no prospect of Iraq destabilizing or invading it's neighbors until we disrupted the natural state of affairs by occupying them. As for the potential danger represented by Saddam to America, that assertion can be shouted about any nation on the Globe. Venezuela represents a potential threat. As does Ethiopia, Mexico and Romania! Potential means "possible as opposed to actual" as defined by the dictionary. The true test on this question regarding who we ought to invade must be reached by proving the case that any given country actually did or does pose a threat in reality. It is already conclusively proven that Saddam did not pose that threat.
2. Removing the Iraqi threat allowed us to move our troops out of Saudi Arabia. The US presence in the Kingdom was the #1 motivator for Bin Ladenism, and the long term benefits this will have after Iraq are hard to calculate but will no doubt be significant.
How is a sane person supposed to consider this logic and not simply throw up his/her hands in frustration and walk away. Our invasion of Iraq removes the #1 motivator of Bin Ladenism? That is truly mind boggling. Thats like claiming that pouring gasoline on a grass fire removes the primary ignition source that caused the original fire... The ranks of Al Qaeda have exploded (seriously, no pun here) in numbers, their influence in Iraq (which was NIL under Saddam) has burgeoned and we are handing them a victory on a silver platter. Invading Iraq to combat Bin Ladenism?! How can you fathom that logic? After you recover from that giggle fit you must be mid way through let us move onto the next point.
3. Worst possible case scenario, we retreat to Kurdistan. No matter what happens in Greater Iraq, the liberation of the Kurds and the implantation of a nascent democracy there is a genuine success.
Hmmm... worst case scenario? Try this on for size! Turkey goes ballistic with the notion of Free Republic of Kurdistan sitting on it's southern border, and allies with Iran who has their own issues with Kurdistan. Iran under this worst case scenario already has Southern Iraq as a frontier colony and these Iraqi Shiites are not going to let Kirkuk just slide into Kurdish rule without a struggle. Worst case scenario? Us propping up a stable Free Kurdistan is actually a very positive scenario... we would be lucky to have the writers worst case scenario come to fruitiion.
4. Also in the worst case scenario, we retreat not only to Kurdistan, but also to Kuwait. The virtual military encirclement of Iran will remain, and that is important. An encircled Iran, even with a nuke, is a far different scenario than the opposite.
Iraq is not Vietnam redux, it is more like Korea: a defective outcome, but one that can be made into lemonade if we just keep our wits about us.
So now the writer, having already incorrectly asserted that Iraq was a threat, and the war in Iraq helps in the fight against Bin Ladenism, asserts that the final outcome of the worst case scenario in Iraq is an isolated Iran. Again, one must wonder what the heck this writer was smoking when he uses this logic. We have taken out one of Irans biggest enemies and freed millions of their religious brethren in arms in southern Iraq. How this weakens or isolates Iran is really a mystery as far as I'm concerned.

I would love to take off on the other letter in this post, but I've already gone on for an excessive amount of wordage... So check in tomorrow for the next installment of The Conner Watch!

Monday, November 27, 2006

My goodness... the stupidity of it all.

So I'm bopping about the internets as usual looking for interesting stuff in the tubes on which to comment about. Lo and behold, somehow I found myself on the NRO's website looking at possibly the stupidest piece of analysis ever written in the history of the universe. 10,000 monkeys sitting at 10,000 keyboards for 10 years straight could not possibly have written a more vapid article than this! The writer (Victor Davis Hanson) has taken various liberties with basic historical events, and wrapped those events with circular logic to make his specious argument. Without further ado, here is the link to his article titled Why Rush To Talk?

Mr. Hanson's argument attempts to show the historic futility of talking with those who are dealing with the threats of a given time. However whilst demonstrating the futility of talking to those affiliated with the Nazi's just prior to WWII, Hanson makes the following colossal historical error:
(And of course, later British feelers in 1940 to the Soviet Union in hopes they would stop supplying Hitler ores and oil while the Luftwaffe was hammering London were futile.)

Fast forward to spring 1945, suddenly all these neutrals had systematically cut ties with Nazi Germany, and were scrambling to find ways, informally or officially, to tie themselves with the Allies. Only the perception of the course of the war had changed and the leverage that comes with winning.
The absolute absurdity of this is apparent, so I won't regale my readers with a basic rundown of the true role played by the Soviet Union in WWII. Suffice to say they did not wait until the spring of 1945 to finally come around.

Hanson's overall point in all this can basically be summarized by the adage that seems to have guided the Bush administration for the past six years. Talking with your enemy shows weakness and equates to appeasement. Unfortunately, we see the sad results of this line of thinking stuck fast in the Iraqi quagmire and in the tattered remains of international support which immediately following 9/11 was near monolithic. We can only hope that a resurgence of realism by the adults being brought in to guide the administration through it's final two years leads to a ringing repudiation of the Hanson doctrine.

Of course, having already written the most inane piece of logic imaginable, Hanson delivers the coup de grace by urging the President onto victory in Iraq while preparing to cronfront Syria and Iran:
In general, we should neither seek to negotiate nor threaten either regime, but instead very quietly press ahead with winning in Iraq, and galvanizing allies to prepare sanctions against both—while preparing for the worst.
"Press ahead with winning in Iraq"!?! What planet... nay what galaxy is Hanson coming from? Who slipped him what drugs? Seriously, quietly winning in Iraq is going to happen like the New York Yankees are quietly going to win the Superbowl. Quietly winning? If we manage to win at all I say we do it very loudly... thumping our chests and pointing to the miracle of our achievment as final proof that God is on our side.

I don't make my way through the internet tubes to NRO's The Corner very often, but if they provide material like this on a regular basis I might have to bookmark them.

Civil or not?

I'm certain that with all the talking heads chattering about whether or not the situation in Iraq constitutes a civil war yet, the title of this post would lead readers to conclude that I'm tossing my two cents into that debate. I'm not. It is a civil war and that's all there is to it.

What this post is about actually is to wonder at how we can expect domestic politics to proceed in a civil manner. This question comes to mind due to the atrocious consequences of this Presidents administration and the terms that will shape future debates of these issues.

How can someone be civil while accusing the opposite side of the aisle of supporting policies responsible for the needless deaths of thousands. Can you be civil while deploring institutionalized torture? Try being civil while accusing the President of knowingly and blatantly breaking the law on multiple occasions and being proud of doing so.

You see, I've been on the other side of this type of debate. I remember the outrageous histrionics of the koolaid drinkers when Bill Clintons dalliance was all the rage of the nation. They seriously lost their kool and there are many many examples of this. Ann Coulter and her cadre were seriously unhinged!

So how are we who now seek to expose the failings of the Worst. President. Ever. supposed to keep this civil? Is that even possible?

I see the horrible state of affairs in Iraq and I find it hard to stay civil. My soul cries out to stand on the rooftop and scream condemnation for those who have led America to this. My nation, which I have always loved (I get goose bumps when I hear the national anthem sung well) has been led to disaster by a pigheaded man who did this by tossing over 200 years of policy and experience out the window... in the name of fear! My nation has been led to disaster and split along partisan lines by men who explicitly approve of the torture of prisoners. I'm supposed to stay civil with my discourse? HOW?!

So it comes down to this question: Exactly how do you accuse someone of being a murderous, torture loving, impeachable, dunderhead in a civil manner? If you know the answer to this please please please let me know.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Tom Hayden Reports and I decide...

Tom Hayden has posted on the Huffington Post with what seems to be good news on the face of it. Hayden reports that the U.S. has opened contacts with insurgent leaders with the goal of reaching a cease fire.

I sincerely hope and pray that outcome is able to be reached. If we can have peace in Iraq by negotiating with the insurgents, that would be absolutely wonderful. I say this in all seriousness. I also believe that Haydens reporting of this is top notch work and a valuable read for anyone interested following events in Iraq.

I fear however that if things go as detailed by Hayden that we will merely be subsituting the violence filled scenario we now find ourselves embroiled in with an even more violent scenario.

Basically Hayden describes how the Sunni insurgents are laying out proposals that have been offered since 2005. The reason these proposals are getting a hearing now is because the mid term election showed the administration that a change had to be made. Neoconservatism is on the outs and realism is making a surprise comeback. So what is the problem I am so worried about?

We are talking with the Sunni insurgents. Ought not these talks be inclusive of Shiite and Kurdish factions as well? The laundry list detailed by Hayden depicts a wishlist addressing Sunni concerns, but many are at the expense of the current faction with most of the political if not real power in Iraq. Let us consider some of the proposals in question.
Multinational Force [MNF-I] activities aimed at controlling militias to be expanded.
The difficulty in this proposal ought to be clear. There is a reason al-Maliki has been reluctant to take care of these militias. By and large they are Shiite, and as long as Iraq remains a democracy the will of the Shiite will normally carry any political issue. One of the reasons al-Sadr is trying to stop al-Maliki from meeting with President Bush next week is because Bush isn't liable to be proposing options that are palatable for the Shiite. In essence when the Sunni start proposing that the MNF take a predominant role in suppressing militias, they are requesting our assistance in their side of the civil war.
The US-controlled Multi-National Force [MNF-I] would be redeployed to control the eastern border with Iran.
Again, a proposal which can only be seen as a Sunni attempt to try to weaken their Shiite opponents. Iranian influence on Iraq is nearly entirely on behalf of the Shiite dominated south. It might be a grand idea to thwart this, but lets make no mistake as we proceed to do so that this is not a friendly gesture to the Iraqi Shiite.

Many of these proposals are imminently sensable and should be carried forth not as part of a platform of peace, but because the proposal is the right thing to do. Of course America ought to stop the torturing of Sunni's under Iraqi government control. All the torture ought to stop, not just of Sunni but everyone else currently under arrest. This should not be a negotiating point and the fact that it is is an ugly mark against our occupation of Iraq.

So here is what I would like to see happen. If we are talking to the Sunni insurgents we ought to announce it. And we ought to invite al-Sadr to the table as well. Invite all the parties who are interested in the final outcome to the table. Make this effort along with a high profile attempt to bring resolution to the Palistinean/Israeli conflict and we just might start down the path to stability in the Middle East.

If the solution with the Sunni insurgents involves U.S. arms being employed to quell Iraqi Shiite ambition I'm afraid we are in for much worse to come. (How worse is possible is nearly unimaginable I'm aware, but it is) So far most American casualties have come at the hands of those we are currently negotiating with, with due respect to Cindy Sheehan whose son was killed fighting Shiite militia. All the hot air about Iranian arms funding the insurgency is hokum. The British pulled their forces to the Iranian border several months ago and while the rate of attacks against their forces dropped dramatically, they have no evidence to back U.S. claims of Iranian subterfuge. So we might want to insure the Iranian involvement stays at a minimum, but if we make a show of this without getting the Shiite to play along we will be provoking a needless fight.

From the American perspective, I believe getting into an armed conflict with the Shiite majority in Iraq would be a true disaster. Even if we succeed, what was the point of the entire endeavor? To go replace one oppressive Sunni dictator with another at the cost of thousands of American lives, and billions if not trillions of dollars? Not acceptable!

We need to bring everybody to the table, not just the people we aren't getting along with now. To accept a one sided resolution to the conflict most likely would not bring resolution in any case.

Novak: For uncermemonious job removal before against it.

Bob Novak has written a column in which he expresses dismay at the way the President chucked Secretary Rumsfeld under the bus immediately following the mid term elections.

I don't recall the same level of dismay from him when it became clear that Novak had been used to expose a covert CIA agent because her husband was telling the truth about the events leading to the Iraq invasion. In fact I do not recall Novak ever expressing dismay that exposing Plame also exposed the CIA front company, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, and it is perfectly clear alot of other people were thus exposed and endangered because of this.

How could Novak not understand the way this administration works based upon the previous travesty involving tossing a key player overboard, (Plame headed the CIA's WMD working group) in which Novak played so pivotal a role?

I can not help but roll my eyes when Novak expresses this sense of dismay over Rumsfelds ouster. The partisan hypocrisy which motivates Novak could not be clearer. Rumsfeld's ouster does not result in ruining national assets or exposing key players in our intelligence gathering operations. Yet because Rumsfeld is a favorite of the neoconservatives which Novak has hitched his wagon to, Novak is troubled.

To Novak I say: You sir, most of all, ought to have seen this coming. Spare me your partisan tears until you pound out a column about how troubled you were about the way Valerie Plame was treated... which we all know just ain't gonna happen!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A short post to say thank you

If you are reading this I would like to thank you for reading my obscure little blog. And I do hope you and your loved ones are having a good thanksgiving... even if you are reading this from a country other than America and don't celebrate the holiday.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy bubble syndrome

I was struck by the emptiness of National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley when he described the interaction of President Bush with the citizens of Vietnam during the Presidents visit.
"If you'd been part of the president's motorcade as we've shuttled back and forth," he said, reporters would have seen that "the president has been doing a lot of waving and getting a lot of waving and smiles."
So Hadley seriously wants to convey the message that the Presidents motorcade excursion through the streets of Hanoi should be viewed as a triumph for American outreach. Just like my assertion that this post on my obscure little political blog is bound to have the same literary impact on the world as War and Peace. Because it will you know... I'm saying it!

This reminds me of the Presidents initial outreach to the gulf region after Hurricane Katrina hit. You may remember after Katrina hit and the President ate cake with John McCain, and strummed a guitar in San Diego, how he hopped on Air Force One and overflew the gulf region. The pictures of the President peering at the devastation through the pexiglass at 30,000 feet were meant to convey a sense that he was on the job and felt the pain of the people as they suffered on a scale of biblical proportions... But that message was not what America perceived... and Bush had to work hard with repeated trips to ground level in order to try to turn the perception around. The President never really succeeded in conveying what he wanted to in this regard, in large part because the initial impression caused by his actions immediately following Katrina were, in fact, accurate.

Outreach and public interaction for this administration involves carefully constructed and stage managed events intended to convey a positive message regarding the subject at hand. The administration is desperate to convey all things they are involved with as being good and positive, even when the policy at issue is a manifest disaster. Thus we see the President declaring mission accomplished, followed by an endless series of corners turned and watershed landmarks all intended to show how wonderful things are going in Iraq. Thus we hear the President exclaim heckuvajob Brownie even as masses of American citizens fester in squalor and disease scant miles from the scene of that declaration. The administration must not be shown to have made bad policy, and in order to carry this illusion to fruition the President MUST live in his bubble. To be exposed to truth in these matters is to come face to face with the failings of your policy... a scenario that frankly no one, least of all Bush, can imagine.

Piercing this happy bubble with an unpleasant dose of reality can result in a bad experience for the bearer of truth. Administration officials had to compile a dvd of various news accounts from the gulf coast after Katrina to wake the President to the true nature of the emergency at hand. As the Newsweek story linked above details, there simply was no one willing to tell the President the plain and awful truth.

Many times the results of the Bush happy bubble syndrome is simply embarrassing when considered objectively. Heckuvajob Brownie? Please! The chief of staff right then and there ought to have ordered somebody to shake the President out of his stupor... there is work to do! Unfortunately the impact of the happy bubble is deadly as well. The obvious disconnect with reality on Iraq dating back to mission accomplished is sad proof of this. I think the Presidents recent nonsensical pronouncement that the lesson of Vietnam as applied to Iraq is "we'll succeed if we don't quit" is another embarrasing example of happy bubble syndrome. He said this from Hanoi! Was this just before or just after greeting the Vietnamese delegation under the looming bust of Ho Chi Minh? That statement is postively breathtaking with it's various misconceptions and rewriting of history. It must be the result of the Presidents happy bubble.

The sad fact is that this President is supremely insulated. Only administration toadies, pre selected audience members and the occasional world leader is able to reach the President. The notion that this man would mingle in any meaningful way with the rabble of Hanoi is preposterous. Waving from the tinted windows of his armored limo as the convoy whisked him from point A to point B is what the Vietnamese ought to have expected from this man. Why should they expect better than the American people get?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Murdoch caves to the American public

Rupert Murdoch has withdrawn the backing of Fox News from the O.J. Simpson non confession. Mr. Murdoch gave the following statement regarding the decision to can the project:
"I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project," he said. "We are sorry for any pain that his has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."
Speaking only for myself, I am positively thrilled that the will of the American public is so important to Murdoch. I look forward to a siesmic shift in programming on Fox News reflecting the will of the people, as proven by the last election, to end the war in Iraq. All the new programming in support of stem cell research will be a welcome relief. I wonder if Vice President Cheney is still going to insist that hotel rooms he stays at have all televisions tuned to Fox News once they start running the stories that slam him around... in tune with Murdochs newfound respect for American public opinion and knowing that Cheney is held in near universal loathing by said public.

Monday, November 20, 2006

From the Duh files: Gas prices increase

Republicans think you are stupid. They thought if they managed to bring down the price of gas for a couple of months before the election that you would forget Iraq, Katrina, congressional crooks, Jack Abramoff, ... you know... all the stuff that really made it hard to run as a Republican in the last election.

The final proof is out. Starting in August the average price of gasoline fell dramatically, reaching a low with the Lundberg survey of over 5000 gas stations nationwide on November 3 (immediately prior to the midterm election) at $2.18. The same survey taken on November 17 shows an increase of a nickle... with the price of a gallon being $2.23.

There it is in black and white folks. It is as obvious as the monitor you are looking at right now to read this post. Prices fall to benefit Republicans, and as soon as they no longer need that boost in approval ratings the oil barons commence to stealing from you again. In fact I predict gas prices at record heights within a year and expect to hear Republicans saying it is because Democrats are in power!

If they are not careful the obvious villainy of these oil crooks will become too obvious to just ignore and Americans will elect people who will do something about it. Congress might just have the votes to do it now, but it will never pass the Presidents veto pen.

I especially like the rhetorical hoops Lundberg jumps through in order to not broach the obvious politically motivated timing of all this:
Lundberg said the halt in price declines showed "a mini-glut" of crude oil that began accumulating in August with the end of the summer driving season has been "soaked up," leading to "a normalization" of supply and demand.
Yes... no election time frame shenanigans, no oil barons trying to help their buddies... just a mini glut that has been soaked up. Do not waste your beautiful mind thinking about the various incongruities of all this. We experienced an anomaly and now things are back to normal. If making truly obscene profits taken directly from the wallets of every driver is normal that is.

Wouldn't it be embarrassing to be a oil baron toadie having to make up excuses for this? They may be able to pay the best speechwriters some big bucks to make the logic sound as good as it can sound, but no matter how much lipstick they put on this pig it still looks pretty ugly.

Well I'm just going to come right out and say to the many people who had to live around me (insufferable, honestly I feel your pain) during this past election... I told you so!

Plan plan everywhere a plan, so why won't they work?

Plans to solve the situation in Iraq are flying about fast and furious. In every plan politically acceptable to the Bush administration I notice a glaring lack of a vital component for success. These plans all reach solutions based upon what we would like to happen in Iraq, not on what the Iraqi's want to have happen to themselves.

The only "plan" that has any other type of outcome is redeployment, and letting the Iraqi's sort it out amongst themselves, which the President is determined to not allow.

The Pentagon has the latest entry into the plan game with three seperate plans. Termed "go long, go big or go home", only one of these can be considered politcally acceptable to the Bush administration. The acceptable plan must be go long (draw down troop levels but leave an occupation force in Iraq to train security forces for decades to come). Go big (slam about 100,000 more troops into Iraq and put down the insurgency via force of arms) and "go home" (self explanatory and the option which is the closest to what we ought to do in Iraq) can not be accepted by this President for the following reasons.

On "go big", to accept this option is to admit a mistake by accepting Rumsfeldian war plans calling for current troop levels since the end of the invasion. The prospect of Bush admitting such a mistake is not concievable. Sorry to John McCain, but this plan will have to sit on the back burner til 2009, when he is sworn in... or not!

On "go home", this plan comes the nearest to what must be done in our best interests in the region. Short of taking Bush through a time machine to try to talk some sense into his own thick headed noggin back in 2002 that is. The trouble with all other plans is that we set out with a predetermined notion of how Iraq looks like at the end of the day. Only the go home plan lets the issue be settled by Iraqi's for Iraqi's.

When it comes to go home, I believe there are ways to try to accomplish this without a growing regional war. We need to immediately begin the steps to bring this to conclusion on terms favorable to Iraqi's of all sides. To do this doesn't mean that we sit in our western think tanks drumming up proposals to do this or that with Iraq. It means talking to people who are leading the fight against you.

There is only one group in Iraq which I believe ought to have no part in the dialouge which needs to happen. I have no trouble freezing Al Qaeda out of the discussion. I beleive if given the chance at peace on their terms, the insurgency would be happy to toss Al Qaeda from Iraq. Iraq didn't have an Al Qaeda issue until we invaded. They are taking advantage of a strategic blunder by this administration and doing so masterfully.

Any other group currently a part of the insurgency ought to be included as far as is possible in trying to reach a solution. And I do not mean included as in granted amnesty if they play along with Maliki and our vision for Iraq. We need to bring them into a dialogue, and once we have them all sitting together we tell them to work it out because we are moving along. Then we pull across the Turkish and Kuwaiti border and leave a rapid response force right there in case terror camps start popping up in the Sunni triangle.

The Iranians and Syrians are setting up a regional confab, and the Iraqi's have agreed to come along. I would suggest Malaki, Ahmeedajadude, and Assad invite Al Sadr, a representative of the Sunni insurgency, a Kurd, a Turk, Jordan, Saud, Kuwait, and General Abizaid to the table as well. We need a plan based upon the best interests of those involved if we expect them to accept it, not based upon what we think everyone over there ought to accept. Indeed we are doomed to fail if we think that an Iraq of our creation is going to be the outcome because we decree it to be so.

Indeed, I believe we are doomed to another two years of failure at least. If President Bush comes around on Iraq I'll happily admit the error of my ways, but I won't hold my breath waiting for him to start making sense.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Proud of being wrong, and when to stop preaching

Today brings two widely reported stories that, to me, shows the doggedness of Republicans in sticking to wrong headed propositions.

President Bush is visiting Vietnam, and told the world that the lesson of the Vietnam war as applied to the Iraq war is to not give up. "We'll succeed unless we quit" are his exact words.

After his "thumping" at the polls, we have President Bush absolutely refusing to acknowledge the will of the American people. In fact he wants to directly contradict that will by sending just enough troops to give the message that we are not going to pull out, but not enough to satisfy John McCain and the hawk wing of his party.

The President understands the lesson of Vietnam like I understand the inner workings of a hydrogen bomb. Which is to say he knows what the end result was, but not the reason it all blew up in our face!

The next example of Republican obtusity (is that a word? it is now!) was how Congressional Republicans re-elected the same leadership that had guided them through the last several years and led to the Republican loss of House control. (Should we start calling them Republic Congress members like they are always talking about Democrat members... Nah, we aren't that childish.)

Both of these actions by top Republican leadership demonstrate a bull headed determination to not admit failure. To be defiantly and proudly wrong.

I encourage them to continue in this mindset for the next two years at least. It is this sort of idiocy that led to the only election in modern American history in which one of the parties did not give up a seat in Congress. Be proud of that stupidity! It is a thing of beauty to behold from the perspective of an American liberal. But it must be very irritating to thoughtful Republicans...

One more thing to cover while talking about brain dead Republicans. Check out this "concession letter" from the most fervidly rabid wingnut Christianist in the great state of Minnesota. By way of background the race was between the incumbent state Senator Satveer Chaudhary, a practicing Hindu. His opponent was Republican Rae Hart Anderson who sent the following concession letter via email, rather than the more conventional telephone call.
Congratulations on winning the District 50 senate race. Your phone is "busy" doubt with good wishes!

I've enjoyed much of this race, especially the people I've met...even you! I see your deficits--not all of them, and your potential--but not all of it. Only your Creator knows the real potential He's put in you. Get to know Him and know'll be more interesting even to you!

The race of your life is more important than this one--and it is my sincere wish that you'll get to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He died for the sins of the world, yours and mine--and especially for those who accept His forgiveness. His kingdom will come and His will be done--on earth as it is in heaven. There's more....I love belonging to the family of God. Jesus is the way, the truth and offers His life to you and each human being. Pay attention...this is very important, Satveer. Have you noticed Jesus for some moment in time, yet???

God commends His love to us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Death came upon all and was defeated by the superiority of Jesus' life and His tomb is empty. God in Christ is reconciling the world back to Himself, with offered forgiveness--this is one choice we get to make nose to nose with the living God--fear Him and you need fear no other. Become His family and know the love of God that passes knowledge. See Isaiah and the Gospel of John...good reading while waiting for fishes to bite.

God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:17

Jesus Christ lives in His earth family by His Spirit. He said He'd be back, and He said it first. You could invite Him to make the race of your life 'eternal'. God waits to be gracious to each person that knows they need to be forgiven. Do you? I think you do. Just ask. Christ won eternal life for you and said so. Take Him at His Word. Take some time to get acquainted with this power-filled Jesus...God with us. You could be a temple of the living God, by invitation---yours, TO GOD. :) There's nothing like belonging to Christ...not winning, not money, not's the best.

Good wishes and better wishes...until you wish for the best!
I'm proud of my belief and will tell anyone who cares to know that I am a born again Christian. In fact when appropriate I enjoy talking about the spiritual side of life and why I believe as I do... Hopefully I set an example that reflects well on my beliefs. But the example set here by Anderson seriously makes me cringe! The state of being that would lead a losing candidate to write the winner of the race a letter like this, calling it a concession, is beyond my scope of understanding. But then again, (I would like to think that) I'm not completely bonkers!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hey Beck: I am the enemy

One of the most famous scenes in the history of film is from the movie Spartacus. After the slaves have been defeated the might of Rome is represented by the centurion who demands to know of the vanquished prisoners which of them is Spartacus. The famous scene has all of the slaves claiming to be Spartacus rather than giving their leader over to a slow and painful death.

I am reminded of this because of the line of questioning used by Glen Beck on newly elected Representative Keith Ellison. Representative Ellison is the first Muslim ever elected to Congress. Beck goes right for the jugular with this question:
BECK: OK. No offense, and I know Muslims. I like Muslims. I've been to mosques. I really don't believe that Islam is a religion of evil. I -- you know, I think it's being hijacked, quite frankly.

With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, "Let's cut and run." And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."
Let there be no mistake. Mr. Ellison is indeed the enemy Mr. Beck. As am I. As is Keith Olbermann. As is Markos Mousilitas and Arriana Huffington and Howard Dean. As are millions upon millions of other well informed, reasonable, non koolaid drinking, people who do not see things your way Mr. Beck.

We are not the enemy who wants to blow you up, or terrorize you into giving up your freedoms. We are the enemy who refuse to blindly accept wrong headed leadership that drags our nation into needless war. I and those who agree with me by the millions reject and fight against the use of torture in our names. We stand for constitutional principles that your leaders, Mr. Beck, wish to dispense with in the name of fear. We fight the fear you and your leaders foster each election season. We stand against blindly questioning the loyalty and patriotism of a Muslim simply because his politics do not comport to our own.

Truth be told, I believe full well that Beck and those who have his point of view consider Mr. Ellison, me, and those who agree with us, to be more of a danger to themselves than terrorists ever will really represent. These wingnuts are smart. They realize the chance of them actually being killed by a terrorist as they talk to the camera or sit at the keyboard are less than being struck by lightening as you are being stabbed through the heart by a stingray during a lunar eclipse. But Ellison, me and the rest of us are trying to destroy their carefully constructed right wing fantasy world. So yes Mr. Beck... I am the enemy.

Indeed Mr. Beck, with the Bush record on terrorism, (exploding membership in Al Qaeda, inflaming the Arab world against us, not catching Osama when he was there to be had, starting a needless war that detracted from the true war on terror, and the list goes on and on) I think the question you are asking may better be directed to your side of the political divide. Every election brings us a campaign of fear that Al Qaeda would be proud to sponsor, to the point that their leaders are prominently featured in your cause celebre commercials. The monolithic support both internationally and domestically for our cause in this struggle immediately following 9/11 has been burned to ashes by the bellicose nature of President Bush. This support is absolutely crucial to success in this struggle. I believe the case could be made that President Bush should be considered the top recruiting agent for Al Qaeda's Washington D.C.'s branch.

So yes Mr. Beck... I am the enemy. I will do everything politically feasible to stop the disastrous slide this President and those who carry his water such as yourself and the pathetic Mr. Limbaugh have started this great nation down.

When is Fox not Fox?

The answer to the question posed by this title is that Fox is Fox, but the answer Bill O'Leilly wants you to believe is this: Fox is not Fox when you are a "culture warrior" working for Fox News Corp and Fox Television airs the "non" confession of O.J. Simpson.

Here is the story. Billo is peeved that that rascal O.J. is going on television and making money by telling the world what it might have been like if he had been the killer. Billo is peeved that Fox Television is broadcasting this, after NBC declined. Billo really wants us to understand that the network paying to air this dung is not in anyway affiliated with Fox News Corp because he says:
"Here's a man many believe did kill those two Americans, Nicole Brown Simpson being mother of his two children. Yet Simpson is participating in a project that is exploiting the murders. Shamefully, the Fox Broadcasting Unit is set to carry the program, which is simply indefensible, and a low point in American culture. For the record, Fox Broadcasting has nothing to do with the Fox News Channel."
Actually for the record, in this case Fox is Fox. They have the same owners. Fox Television routinely shows bits by Fox News (imagine that) much the same as they show bits by Fox Sports (wow). Fox Sports also has the same owners... just in case you were wondering. In fact Radar contacted the spokepersons for Fox News and Fox Television who oddly enough turned out to be the same guy! Imagine that. I'm sure that Billo will be issuing clarifications as to his confusing the various Fox entities any day now.

To really dot the I on all this, the publisher of the "non" confession book in which Simpson describes what it would have been like if he were the killer is (you already have this figured out I bet) Billo's publisher. With all this in mind I will now hold my breath and wait for Billo to return all that dirty blood splattered filthy lucre these culture cretins have been sending him... Holding my breath... still holding... waiting... want to breath but I wont... turning blue now waiting for Billo to do the right thing... holding... AWW HECK! I must be an idiot thinking Billo would ever let loose of a dirty blood splattered dollar bill.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pentagon Advisors Iraq Survey Group Four Point Plan for Victory

The Guardian Unlimited has an article that details President Bush's determination to commit more troops to Iraq. This controversial move will be done under the guise of the Iraq Study Group. The "bipartisan" findings of the group are currently being considered, but the final proposal is expected to take the form of a 4 point victory strategy being developed by Pentagon officials who are advising the group.

Odd how this news directly contradicts initial reports that the Iraq Study Group would rule out "victory" for America in it's final proposals. Frankly having the Pentagon get involved with the final outcome of the report, and call it a victory strategy means to me that the White House can not accept reality and must attempt to make things up as they proceed. It is the same exact problem that has led us to the current state of quagmire, and how anyone knowing the history of this mess could expect anything other than more of the same results is beyond comprehension.

Let us consider the 4 parts of this "victory plan":
Point one of the strategy calls for an increase rather than a decrease in overall US force levels inside Iraq, possibly by as many as 20,000 soldiers. This figure is far fewer than that called for by the Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain. But by raising troop levels, Mr Bush will draw a line in the sand and defy Democratic pressure for a swift drawdown.

The reinforcements will be used to secure Baghdad, scene of the worst sectarian and insurgent violence, and enable redeployments of US, coalition and Iraqi forces elsewhere in the country.
The solution as far as the White House is concerned to the hole they have dug us into in Iraq is to grab more shovels and dig faster. They can not admit making a fundamental error by not sending enough troops to begin with so they will not send the extra 100,000 that McCain and those who want to move in with more manpower want to send. But our forces in Iraq are manifestly undermanned so they have to send in additional troops... in effect playing the boy sticking various appendages into the dike as the leaks spring forth. McCain had it right on Meet the Press from the wrong perspective. You either put in the force you need to take care of the business you need conducted, or you pull out now because to keep the status quo means withdrawing later, with nothing to show for it but more dead Americans.
Point two of the plan stresses the importance of regional cooperation to the successful rehabilitation of Iraq. This could involve the convening of an international conference of neighbouring countries or more direct diplomatic, financial and economic involvement of US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Remember the good old days when this White House could snub allies who did not support our invasion of Iraq by not allowing their businesses to have contracts rebuilding Iraq? Things have degraded to the point that not only do we want our allies talking about this, we want our regional enemies in the talks as well. I think this is a very positive step, but I really am having difficulty accepting this administrations sincerity in extending the diplomatic hand in this case. Their record speaks for itself. If they prove me wrong on this, good for them and I'll readily admit it when I see it. The sad fact is that in calling for regional diplomacy, the administration is pointing to a glaring reason we find ourselves in the mess we are in. This administrations notion of diplomacy to this point has been defined as "you are with us or you are against us".
Point three focuses on reviving the national reconciliation process between Shia, Sunni and other ethnic and religious parties. According to the sources, creating a credible political framework will be portrayed as crucial in persuading Iraqis and neighbouring countries alike that Iraq can become a fully functional state.

To the certain dismay of US neo-cons, initial post-invasion ideas about imposing fully-fledged western democratic standards will be set aside. And the report is expected to warn that de facto tripartite partition within a loose federal system, as advocated by Democratic senator Joe Biden and others would lead not to peaceful power-sharing but a large-scale humanitarian crisis.
So the blather we've heard since 2004 about having Iraq be a flower of Democracy and freedom is no longer operable? Because it was tough from this side of the divide to constantly be talking about how wonderful a Islamofascist state of Iraq would be!

In all seriousness... Bush is willing to toss the major talking point after he had to flush the WMD talking points in order to make this work? So exactly why are we there? Why did we go in the first place? WMD weren't there, now Democracy is no longer the goal... so we evidently went to establish a client state for the new regional overlords in Iran. Just before we bomb Tehran? Brilliant!!!... now pass me an Odouls.

My final point on point three of the Pentagon Advisors Iraq Survey Group Four Point Plan for Victory is to wonder at the efficacy of trying yet another western type politically driven solution. What if the Iraqi's want something we haven't even conceived of yet? If the south wants to be annexed by Iran, how does that fit into yet another political solution from Washington? Here's a grand political scheme for you. Pull out and let them sort it out. Keep some rapid response nearby in case the terror camps pop up, and hope and pray that what results is better than what we got rid of.

Onto point 4:
Lastly, the sources said the study group recommendations will include a call for increased resources to be allocated by Congress to support additional troop deployments and fund the training and equipment of expanded Iraqi army and police forces. It will also stress the need to counter corruption, improve local government and curtail the power of religious courts.
There you have it! The newly elected Democratic Congress gets all bipartisan by supporting the Presidents my way or the highway, the last election doesn't mean anything, omnibus spending bills from now til eternity, plan for Iraq. Oh yes... Congress should also agree to deliver a bag of gold to the porches of all citizens, and do so without raising taxes or increasing the deficit.

Tony Snow talked the other day about various Democratic positions, all of which he termed to be non-starters. The last point of the Pentagon Advisors Iraq Survey Group Four Point Plan for Victory is itself the ultimate non starter. If Democrats knuckle under and let this President actually expand the war, they will have forgotten everything they stood for that won them this mid term election. I would be very disappointed if they allowed that to happen.

And just who is it that is all talking up training and arming the security forces of the Baghdad/Mehdi/Sadr/Your Shiite Group of Choice Name here, wing of the Iranian (thats right... Iranian) Peoples Liberation Army? It seems to me that we have plenty of proof that this may not be the best course of action. I can see it now. The campaign commercials for the Republicans challenging Democratic imcumbents... showing the incumbents picture morph into Al Sadr's. The low toned breathless moderator saying "Representative Smith voted to arm and train the same group who now vows to destroy Israel... and now Smith is asking for your vote?!"

Every dollar, every life, every creative thought we pour into this quagmire in a vain attempt at what we consider victory are resources, lives and thoughts that ought to be applied to other pursuits. Pursuits that have a prospect of success. If Baker and his group want to give us real proposals, that would be welcomed. If they want to become spokes people for continued administration failure... they just need to come up with a victory plan that calls for a few more troops. Unfortunately it seems they are determined to take the course that leads to deeper quagmire.

On Pelosi...

Listening to the professional political chatter heads, I find my opinion of Nancy Pelosi swinging from sort of favorable but mainly undecided to decidedly favorable.

Pelosi has really put her credibility on the line in the Hoyer/Murtha power struggle. She is sending a clear signal which I think those who deal with her will be well served to remember as she takes the speakership. Stand with Pelosi and she will stick her neck out to stand with you. Cross her and she will do what it takes to give you your comeuppance in return.

This is the first fight Pelosi engages in as leader of the House Dems. She is showing anyone who cares that she will fight for her causes and should not be trifled with.

I previously supported Murtha for Dem leader in the House but that support was rather tepid. I like Murtha because he has been a lion on the Iraq issue. His joining our side of the debate allowed the opposition to the administration policy to become mainstream. Now it is the administrations policy that has become marginalized in no small part thanks to Murtha.

Overall I don't have anything against Hoyer that would stop me from supporting him for a leadership position in the House. I'm certain his politics are fine and on many issues I'll bet he stands closer to my side than does Murtha. A decided mark against Hoyer is that he staked a position decidely to the right of Murtha on Iraq, despite Hoyers recent protestations to the contrary.

That said, my support for Murtha for leader of House Dems is now solidified due to the example set by Pelosi. She is giving her ally her best effort in this. She wants Murtha on her team, not someone she has previously butted heads with, and who can blame her. Frankly I think her stand on this is a good sign of things to come if she manages to pull it off.

To me, this entire affair shows more about Pelosi than Murtha or Hoyer. And I like what I see right off the bat.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We don' need no stinkin' plan, so heres mine!

(If you already have read friks rants about the war on terror and so on this may be old ground for you. If not read on at your own risk!)

Given access to the daily Republican talking point session, it is obvious that one of the major points being distributed for media consumption goes like this: "Democrats do not have a plan for Iraq! No plan, no plan, Democrats = no plan for Iraq. Totally planless... no plan Democrat no plan Iraq Democrat no plan". Or something like that.

First why the heck is it that Democrats are expected to suddenly have the solution to the Iraqi quagmire? This logic is similar to a pedestrian on a busy sidewalk looking in on a chess game. As the game proceeds the player of the white pieces develops a horrible strategy, mistakenly gives away pieces, and winds up in an untenable position. That player then accosts the bystander to come up with a plan for White to win, and tries to cast aspersions on the bystanders chess playing ability when the impossible answer is not forthcoming.

Democrats had next to no say in the implementation of this policy. The (Republican) administration has gotten itself into a situation that really has no good solutions. Now it is up to Democrats to figure this out? Please.

But wait. Friky has a solution for you. This solution is in the context of the overall war on terror. (I understand this term is not exactly accurate for the struggle we find ourselves in, but it is commonly accepted and used) I don't think Bushco will like my plan but here it is.

My plan in the war on terror is to admit our mistakes and correct them. The Iraq war is a drain and diversion from our cause in the war on terror. Many times in the past I have affirmed my belief in the absolute necessity for liberal western type democracy to win this struggle.

There is a military component to the war on terror, but where there is no military component, one ought not be created. The military aspect of this war was and is the war in Afghanistan.

I propose that we redeploy from Iraq. We deploy a rapid response force in a friendly neighboring country that will have them (Kuwait and or Turkey) to deal with any possible emerging threats from Iraq that develop on a case by case basis.

We should move at least half the force currently being chewed up in Iraq into Afghanistan. We ought to fight the true military front in the war on terror with a will to win it. There is strong bipartisan support for success in this theater. We should also take a portion of the billions currently being tossed into the black hole of Iraq and use that money to begin the reconstruction and modernization of Afghanistan. A modernized Afghanistan which still honors it's Muslim heritage would be a tremendous success in this war. Afghanistan is the nation that we ought to be talking about standing up and standing down, fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here and so on. Those talking points are childish in their logic, but the grain of truth from which they are built in no way applies to Iraq.

This would also free up resources and good will in the international community which is very needed for the other side of the war on terror. The diplomatic and law enforcement side of the issue. We need international good will to succeed in this, and we have frittered it away in Iraq and with our detainee policy. We need to stop the bleeding forthwith and begin to repair these relationships. We need to demonstrate that we are the good guys in this fight by doing what is right, and fighting for what America has always stood for. Close Guantanamo. Prove our case against terrorists when we can with fair trials. Apologize to the world because we have tortured and make clear with verifiable methods that we will stop the practice. These actions have no bearing in a military sense, but are politically necessary to begin to win the war on terror.

Until we begin down this road of correcting our mistakes in this struggle we will continue a fruitless effort, devoid of any but a few die hard allies, as the rest of the world sits on the sidelines watching as we blunder about.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Another Friky endorsement

There is a runoff election for LA. House district 2 between Karen Carter and William Jefferson. Jefferson is the current Democratic incumbent, and he simply MUST lose.

If the name William Jefferson does not ring a bell with you, you are probably wondering just why the Frikster is so determined to send him packing. My friends, this Jefferson character is a sleazy, corrupt, mealy mouthed, fork tongued, rascally CROOK! This is the guy whom the FBI busted with $90,000 in his freezer. (insert obligatory cold hard cash joke here) This is the same guy who commandeered a company of LA. National Guard who were conducting rescue operations in New Orleans after Katrina to move his household belongings to safer environs.

Karen Carter simply MUST win this race. Let there be no mistake on this. Jefferson embodies all the corrupt lousy crookedness that America just voted so resoundingly to remove from office. Carter is the candidate being backed by the national Democratic party for very good reason. Carter MUST win this. The prospect of having Jefferson representing this district as a Democrat while he's hauled into court and winds up in prison really is not bearable as far as I'm concerned. Go Carter!!

The Cat in Iraq

I've noticed lately that administration toadies have taken to commiserating with the public attitude about Iraq by saying that conditions are not "getting better fast enough".

This of course is more illogical hot air from the administration intended to show the American people that they get it, and they no longer want to stay the course. However what the 'not getting better fast enough' line really shows is this administration still does not accept reality on the ground in Iraq. If they were telling the truth here they would be saying that it's getting worse, and the speed of deterioration is increasing.

Iraq getting "better faster" is the same sort of logic that would have been displayed by Christopher Columbus if he had determined the easiest way to travel from Portugal to Spain was by setting sail to the west and nearly circumventing the globe. Each mile away from the shores of Portugal would have been a mile in the wrong direction... except by the logic of the die hard navigator determined to make his point.

To say Iraq is getting better or improving in any sense of the word at any speed what so ever is to attempt to establish a false premise. Let me try to establish the facts on the same level the administration speaks to the public. Iraq is not improving at snails pace, its not improving like cars race, it's not improving like Vietnam, it's not improving Sam I Am.

No way to win hearts and minds.

According to Joe Lieberman on Meet The Press yesterday, the U.S. must continue to fight the war in Iraq in order to win the hearts and minds of the Arab world. Here's what he told Timmeh:
If we can build a free and independent Iraq, it will be a significant victory in the larger war for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. We’ve got to try to create an alternative path to the future in the Arab-Islamic world than the one that al-Qaeda offers.
This quote from Lieberman has win some type of award for stupid statement of the year. We are winning the hearts and minds of the Arab world by occupying Iraq? The mind boggles when considering the logic that leads the Senator to flatly declare that black is white.

Imagine if America were a third world nation and not the worlds superpower. Then imagine if some freakazoid from Quebec went and blew up a bunch of people in China. How would Americans like it if China decided the best way to win the hearts and minds of those crazy N. Americans was to wipe out the government of Quebec and then go invade... Kansas! Or whatever state you live in. North Americans in general would feel quite threatened and peeved by this, and Americans in particular would be absolutely livid. Why figuratively take your war on terror to my backyard if the terrorists come from the backyard three doors down? What a horrible way to win hearts and minds.

Using Joes logic one would suppose the best way to boil water is to stick it in the freezer. The best way to speechify effectively is to duct tape your mouth shut. Up is down, good is bad... and we are winning the hearts and minds of the Arab world by the occupation of Iraq.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Me to Carville. Shut up.

James Carville is one of several "big name Democrats" (from now on BND's) making noise about replacing Howard Dean with Harold Ford as chair of the Democratic party. This is one time when I am nearly speechless.

The reasoning of these BND's is quite simply laughable. To quote the article "Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities. " Huh?

Without that strategy the Democrats don't come close to controlling the Senate. Jim Webb wasn't considered a serious challenger to Allen 6 months ago and by the old rule book he is a token candidate in a lost cause. There are Dems from deep red states now holding seats held by R's who would never even have been recruited if not for the Dean strategy.

Frankly why these BND's are now sniping at Dean is beyond me. If Dean oversee's a losing effort then lets discuss tossing him out of leadership. But the results of this election were unarguably revolutionary in scope, in favor of the Democratic party. Now is the time for these old blood Dems to stand and cheer... we can argue strategy in a couple of months when the Presidential primaries start heating up.

These DLC, BND types need to sit down and shut up if they can't get on board. The party is moving on without them if they won't get on board.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Will Bush ever learn?

As soon as the President sent the nomination for John Bolton to the Senate he was shot down in flames. The nomination was actually sent within 1/2 hour of the Presidents meeting with Nancy Pelosi. Frankly one has to wonder what the heck the President was thinking when he sent this nomination to Congress. I'll guarantee it wasn't bipartisan happy thoughts. If anything, this smells very Rovian to me. Hold a meeting with the Dems and follow up with a highly charged partisan ploy while everyone has the bipartisanship fresh in their malleable little minds.

Not only should this nomination be denied, the President ought to pay a political price for this. He blatantly issued this nomination immediately after meeting with Democrats in a supposed show of bipartisanship. I'm trying to think of an appropriate retaliation to this provocation... Like holding up some Presidential pet project that would otherwise be easily passed. The retroactive get out of jail for illegal spying bill the President wants passed doesn't count either. In fact that is another blatantly partisan piece of dung that needs to be thrown back on the porch of the White House.

For the President to try to portray himself as reaching across the aisle in a spirit of bipartisanship while pulling this stunt shows the true nature of this administration. He has a very very short time to stop acting like a spoiled brat little child or he might just find himself being spanked and sent to his room.

Stand up early or lay down later

President Bush has announced an agenda he would like to set for the lame duck session of this Congress. Among the items he would like passed are having John Bolton confirmed for U.N. ambassador and a law making the NSA spy program legal retroactively.

Democrats must stand now and stop these two initiatives in particular. Frankly if the President has any sincerity in his recent calls for bipartisanship, he will not ask the lame duck congress to consider these controversial issues. It appears that Lincoln Chaffee is on board with the need to stop Bolton in particular. If the President actually puts these issues over to the lame duck Congress we can expect a long two years. Anyone who looks at this knows these issues in particular are highly divisive and partisan in nature.

Allowing these initiatives to go forward without a knockdown dragout fight will send the signal that Democrats in Congress will roll over when faced with controversy. If the President really wants to pick this fight that sends confrontational signal loud and clear. If the Democrats do or don't stand up and fight this that also sends an unmistakable signal as well. Democrats in Congress can allow this President to run roughshod over them when he chooses to, or they can stand up starting with this session going forward. I suggest if Bush picks this fight, Democrats do not lay down.

Props to the other side...

Here is another post that is liable to make regular readers of this blog wonder if someone has slipped some wingnut koolaid into the coffee that Frik has transfused into his blood stream throughout the day.

Folks I must tell you that I am very impressed with the performance of Senators Burns and Allen in the days following the election. From the perspective of the left, after the 2000 debacle, I can't imagine just letting elections that are this close slide by without fighting it out. The difference in VA is approximately 7000, out of over 2 million votes cast. Control of the Senate hinges on this race. I understand full well that the prospect of making that difference up is minuscule, but I wouldn't blame a candidate with these issues in the balance for fighting this to the bitter end.

The same goes for the Montana race. AP is now reporting the Burns will concede that race, having lost by around 3000 votes. The percentage is higher for Burns to overcome in making up that difference, but 3000 votes out of over 350,000 cast would be worth fighting over from my perspective. Again, maybe the 2000 recount and Ohio 2004 have made me a bit more of a die hard in this type of circumstance. But I must admit that the example of Allen and Burns in this matter has earned my grudging respect.

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