Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins has died.

She has done all she could to live on in our hearts.

I remember her voice in the wilderness, when no one else was willing to express on the public stage what I and the rest of liberal America were thinking. She spoke truth, and she normally cracked me up even while making those devastating political arguments.

She is just one of a kind. She can not be replaced.

I am sincerely pleased that she saw the good guys take the Congress in her final days.

She will be sorely missed.

She's in heaven right now sitting at a typewriter, and telling truth to power.

Kinsley on the sacred leak

I remember long long ago when Michael Kinsley used to be the 'liberal' host on CNN's Crossfire. He was often opposed by Pat Buchanan, but Robert Novak was a regular on the right as well. Kinsley was a sort of hero of mine at the time. I thought his arguments were well informed, articulate and generally carried the day. I used to be a regular caller to a nationwide conservative talk show at the time, and remember being very proud when the host began comparing me to Michael Kinsley.

So it is with heavy heart that I must announce my complete disagreement with Kinsley in his take on the prosecution of "Scooter" Libby. Kinsley's point of view may be found at with an editorial titled: Free Scooter Libby!

To Kinsley, this is a case of the sanctity of the freedom of the press being attacked. Kinsley argues that Scooter should be freed in order to protect the sacred leak (or, in Kensley's opening line,"There is no holier icon in the church of the first Amendment than the anonymous leak" and later he refers to "this sacred object, a leak") but I think he confuses freedom of the press with obstruction of justice. And I do not believe these two terms necessarily conflict when it comes to the holy icon of the anonymous leak.

Scooter Libby is accused of perjury due to the prosecutor being asked to find out who leaked the name of Valery Plame as an undercover officer with the CIA. Kinsley makes the equation between Libby's current travails and the impeachment of Bill Clinton thusly:
Libby is charged with perjury, not with the leak itself. But some might recall that perjury, and not illicit sex, was the charge in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton a few years ago. And many people—including me—felt that prosecutor Ken Starr had set Clinton up: perjury is not good, but there had been a fundamental unfairness in forcing Clinton to choose between committing perjury and revealing information he should never have been asked for. Libby's case is similar, isn't it?
Thus to Kinsley the worthiness of prosecution for perjury flows from the severity of the original matter being investigated. If the matter should not have been investigated in the first place, or the questioning by the prosecutor strays into areas that ought not be explored, the perjury per-se is not valid, by Kinsley's logic.

I would answer the question posed by Kinsley with a firm no. Libby's case is not similar to Clinton's. The charges in the two cases are similar but the underlying events leading to the investigations are very dissimilar. Libby wasn't lured into a perjury trap over an illicit affair. Libby lied because he was trying to cover up the possibility that he broke the law by exposing an undercover CIA agent. In fact he lied in an attempt to completely deflect attention from the office of the vice president in connection with the entire affair.

Kinsley defeats his own purpose by admitting that the issue being studied by the prosecutor in the first place is justified, even by the reasoning of most journalists when he says:
...a leak of the identity of an undercover officer can be against the law. This is a law that even most journalists think is reasonable. This law cannot be enforced if one of the parties to an illegal conversation is protected by the Fifth Amendment's right against self-incrimination and the other party, as journalists wish, is protected by a reporter's First Amendment immunity from testifying.
Yet Libby did not assert his fifth amendment priveliges when questioned by the prosecutor. If he had he most certainly would not be facing perjury charges. Rather he perjured himself in order to stonewall the investigation. As Prosecutor Fitzgerald famously said when announcing the indictment of Libby, the umpire had sand thrown in his eyes by this obstruction. The underlying issue was obfuscated by Libby's behavior. Who can know what charges would have flowed if the administration had been completely open about it's involvement in the leak? To say that since no charge flowed from the original leak means there was no case in the first place is to ignore the umpire having sand thrown in his eyes, and proclaiming since he did not call an out on the play that nothing really happened.

Kinsley's argument here may better apply to the jailing of Judy Miller. I think there is a better case (but still not entirely valid, which sentiment I will justify if pushed) to be made on her behalf regarding prosecutorial excess. The journalistic protections afforded by the constitution as interpreted by Kinsley, and those who most vociferously advocate freedom of the press, applies to the journalist rather than the leaker. Journalists are the ones protected under the doctrine of the sacred leak. The only protection afforded the leaker is the assurance that the journalist will keep the source secret.

One further matter that argues against Libby is the stated wish by the administration to get to the bottom of the entire affair. The administration proclaimed from the rooftops that the President was for getting to the bottom of the issue, and wanted everything exposed and what not, while his underlings are doing precisely the opposite behind the scenes. You can't have the President proclaim that anyone who leaked would be held accountable, and just expect everything to go away when the Veeps office starts throwing sand in the eyes of the ump. Either the administration was being disingenuous all along, or the bad apples should have been exposed, and Libby's behavior provided cover to these bad apples. My opinion is that the administration was being disingenuous, because it fits the pattern very nicely.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another reason Bush may have a go at Iran

The signs are plentiful that this administration is keen on starting a conflict with Iran. The most widely accepted justification for this is that Bush does not want to leave office with the growing threat of a nuclear armed Iran undealt with. The neocons fear that any future President will be unwilling to strike Iran, so it has to be Bush.

That reasoning is certainly compelling. But I was considering the state of the region today and suddenly had an epiphany. What if Bush feels compelled to take Iran down, because it is his policies that have led to Irans preeminent position in the middle east?

When President Bush was sworn into power Iran was effectively isolated. They were surrounded by enemies with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq. George Bush (correctly) responded to 9/11 by taking the Taliban out of Afghanistan. Replacing the Taliban with a pro western style democracy would have worked well in continuing to contain Iran on their eastern frontier, and the need to replace the Taliban after 9/11 was self evident.

But the real assist to Iranian regional domination came with the inexplicable decision by President Bush to topple Saddam Hussein. If we are to believe the policies and rhetoric of American Presidents since Jimmy Carter, we know that Iran has been a chief supporter of international terrorism. Saddam Hussein? Not so much. Yet following the ouster of the Taliban, and in the name of the "War on Terror", Bush chose to attack Iraq, effectively catapulting Iran to regional domination.

Bush very well may consider that Iraq was a mistake, not just because of the quagmire and regional destabilization it has caused. It is a mistake because is basically fulfilling the dreams of the Iranian Ayatollahs. Bush may consider that the only way to recover from promoting Iranian interests as he has to this point, it is necessary for his administration to take them apart to the best of their ability.

Stop the Webb 08 talk folks...

First, let me tell readers that this post is not meant as an attack on Jim Webb, Democratic Senator from Virginia. I think he's wonderful, and his response to the Presidents State of the Union was great. In fact I vividly recall his parting shot, advising the President that if Bush could not see fit to lead America out of Iraq then the Congress would see fit to show the way. When I heard that I got all pumped up!

So lately I've seen a few wild eyed lefty types proclaiming that Jim Webb ought to run for President in 2008. There are a couple of reasons I don't think this is going to happen.

1: Senator Webb himself seems to level headed to let the ambition affect him. I think Webb has landed in a spot in his political life where he can have a great affect on the issues that matter to him. I think he will take care of the business at hand before moving onto bigger and better. He just comes across to me like that type of guy. Level headed, sincere, and one to finish the job he starts.

Which isn't to say that at some point in the next couple of cycles that Webb may not become infected with the Presidential itch. I just don't think it's happened yet, and I don't see that happening until he puts his mark on the Senate.

2: I would like to see Webb in the Senate for more than two years. Let us pretend that the proponents of a Webb Presidential run had their wildest dreams come true. That would give him about a year of Senatorial experience, then we'd be deep into the primaries and election. It is clear the Webb is determined to make his way in Washington and has proven very effective at this early stage in the game on matters that concern him. I wouldn't mind seeing him in the Senate for another couple of decades if he keeps this up. At least another 10, and then perhaps run for the Presidency.

3: What happens to Webbs Senate seat if he wins the White House? I hardly trust Virginians to replace Webb with another Democrat. Admittedly, Virginia is trending blue, but I think if Webb is sworn into office as President in 2009, George Allen handily wins that seat back. That might be great fun for the media to watch as the two bicker back and forth for the next 8 years, but it would not be good for the Democratic party, or the nation.

To be George Allen-ed

I read a story by Carrie Budoff at The Politico titled: New Fear: Being 'George Allen-ed'. Ms. Budoff goes into a bit of detail about new efforts by politicians to keep complete control of the message in the age of You Tube and the blogosphere.
In Republican campaign strategy sessions and conference calls, candidates and consultants are invoking Allen's name as a verb -- to be "George Allen-ed" -- and devising tactics to avoid a fate similar to that of the former Virginia senator, taken down by a shaky, 51-second video that volleyed around the country via YouTube.

"You have to assume there is a recording device of some kind on you at all times -- that is what I am telling all of my people," said Sen. John Ensign, Nev., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which will work with 21 incumbents up for re-election next year.
It may be the case that modern times require modern techniques in order to be successful in politics. But to give the Allen experience special significance in this regard is totally off base in my opinion.

I'm not casting aspersions on the story by Ms. Budoff mind you. She did not coin this term. It is the Republicans in fear for their careers going forward, who decided to call a politician being shown in less than flattering terms all around the internet as being George Allen-ed. Ms. Budoff is merely writing about the term, she didn't create it.

But what happened to Allen is hardly indicative of someone being caught unaware and then having a foible captured on video and posted on You Tube. Allen pointed to someone holding a video camera and did a very stupid thing. If anything, being George Allen-ed ought to mean knowing full well that you are being taped, and acting like a fool anyway. If politicians need lessons in how to avoid doing something so idiotic, that does not bode well for their ability to stay out of these situations going forward as it is.

The same goes for the Conrad Burns incident discussed in the story. Then Senator Burns was caught on camera dozing off during a hearing. Was this hearing somehow off limits to cameras and Burns got burned by someone sneaking in an illicit recording device to capture Burns in a moment of weakness? Nope. The cameras were there in front of God and everybody, and all activities taking place at the hearing were available for the entire world to see. If Burns didn't want to be perceived as a dottering old man, he ought to have gotten a full eight hours sleep the night before and had some coffee on hand.

Burns didn't get zinged by the modern age, he got zinged by himself. The same goes for Allen.

Monday, January 29, 2007

On verbiage

Democratic protests over the habit of President Bush to drop the ic and refer to Democrat appear to be having a positive effect.

This came home to me when I was listening to the Presidents weekly radio address on C-Span. I remember twice hearing him say "Democratic". This was in marked contrast to the State of the Union, where in the President had to go off script to congratulate the Democrat, rather than Democratic, majority in Congress.

In fact the use of the label Democratic in the context used by the President was actually a bit of a shock to my system. I'm so used to hearing him leave off the ic, and stewing about it, that when he got it right I was honestly impressed.

The Presidents mannerism in giving his weekly radio address is markedly different than when he gives campaign speeches or otherwise addresses the nation for some special reason. He is nearly robotic, monotone, reminiscent of Joe Friday almost. Typically it is hard to imagine how even his most ardent supporters would find the typical Presidential radio address exciting. This is the only time I can recall being pleasantly impressed with something the President said in a Saturday radio address.

If furthermore appears that the correction first noted in the Saturday radio address is not a fluke. President Bush has said that dropping the ic from the State of the Union was an oversight. Spokespeople for Nancy Pelosi graciously responded to the Presidents answer to the controversy by taking him at his word. One can make very compelling arguments against taking the President at his word based upon past experience, but this will be an easy test to prove. Can we take the Presidents word on his use of words? I must admit, based upon the Presidents Saturday address, to this point his word is correct.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Defending Frank Sinatra from a rightwing whacko

I honestly do not know how to begin this post. Lately there has been a bit of an uproar over some freakazoid "preacher" who has made a song titled "The Bible Says". The chorus of the song consists of our brother in love repeating "God hates a fag" over and over and then ending with the admonition that "if you are a fag, god hates you too".

Frankly, I do not want to link to this characters site. I don't even want to type his name in because he does not deserve the attention from the one or two pairs of eyes that would see him based on reading my blog. I as a Christian object strenuously to having this character act in this fashion under the auspices of spreading the gospel. The message is objectionable, reflects badly upon Christianity and is not theologically sound.

That said, there are several hundred other preachers out there pulling stunts I find objectionable and I don't take the time to bash my calloused fingers against the keyboard in an effort to debunk them. What gives with this character?

Well part of his site... (I will reluctantly provide a link, but please please please do not give him your traffic unless you feel a need to check my veracity...) is a page you link to if you click the link for "gay bands". This is a page with a listing of bands to keep your family away from because of the supposedly gay influence of the band.

The absolute ludicrousness of the list can be understood by seeing that the idiot who compiled the list included Frank Sinatra on it.

I don't care what you think about Italians, Swing, The Rat Pack, or anything else, but if there is one thing Frank Sinatra is not, that is gay. (I would toss in the obligatory "there wouldn't be anything wrong if he were gay" line, but why bother!) Frank Sinatra was simply a legendary ladies man. He veritably exudes heterosexuality from every pore of his body. Every dulcet tone crooned by that man was pitched just so as to prove imminently seductive for the opposite sex. Frank Sinatra gay... HAH!

I can not emphathize enough how preposterous it is to include Sinatra on a list of music to keep from your family because of the gay influence it would bring. I recall Sinatra giving advice on dating when I was a teenager. He did this because he KNEW his way around the ladyfolk, and the world KNEW it. His number one thing never to do on a date?: Yawn. Classic! He could have said "light a fart on fire" or some other such obvious answer, but he was being serious and it is a great answer.

There are other bands on that list that honestly have no business being there. Ted Nugent? Mr. Right Wing, great white hunter, offend all the immigrants in Texas, Confederate flag wearing Ted Nugent is on this freaks list of Gay Bands. Un freaking believable!

And to top it all off, this gay bashing preacher sings his song in a pink button down shirt. Take a look in the mirror you homophobic piece of turd. I might think you are hatefull, but I won't pretend to judge what God thinks about the matter.

The first 08 commercial, gimme a break

If I were to guess when we might expect to see television ads being aired in relation to the upcoming Presidential race, I would have expected that sometime in late summer or early fall of this year. The primaries commence in January next year so six months of commercials to try to win the early primaries seems appropriate, if a little irritating to me.

Well silly me! The first commercial for the 2008 Presidential campaign has already aired... It occurs to me that which ever genius decided to move the christmas ad season from after Thanksgiving to mid summer annually is behind the drive to run ads for a primary that is happening in one years time. Brilliant!

Guess who is running the first commercial for the 2008 Presidential campaign? It's not Hillary. It's not Dennis Kucinich in a desperate ploy to get a bit of play and some name recognition going. Romney, McCain, Giuliani, or Obama? Not the culprits... It is Representative Duncan Hunter.

Duncan Hunter was never someone who was going to get my vote. But I believe this is just cause to not simply with hold support, but to fervently work against his candidacy. All advertising for Presidential candidates for the next two freaking endless, torment filled, arduous, maddening years may be traced to Hunters initial commercial featuring him using the border fence as a backdrop. Well done Mr. Hunter... May the power hungry ambition which led you to run a campaign commercial one year prior to the first primary be scoffed upon, and then lost to memory in the sands of history.

On a personal note

I work customer service for a major, and I do mean MAJOR company. Since just after I started this blog I have worked on a team that takes escalated calls, and trouble shoots questions that front line agents have. After working on the "A-team" (assist team) for over a year I have requested to be moved from that team back to the floor. That change will start next Monday.

Normal rotation for the A team is 6 months. The company knows that it is stressfull and can lead to burnout. Most of my interaction with customers are because the customer is highly perturbed about a given issue. Yep... I'm the guy you get when you can't get what you want from the person you call, and demand to talk to their supervisor. Taking calls from agents is more pleasant, but the issues they provide normally are difficult and challenging as well.

The company has been making noise since last summer about rotating out, but I went to my supervisor and told him I wanted off at the first oppurtunity after my wife told me I ought to get off the team. Thats a sign I could not ignore!

So what this comes down to is my routine at work is about to shift dramatically. I'm not certain how this will affect my blogging, but we shall see what we shall see.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I was bopping about the internets today and stumbled over two very interesting sets of statistics. I for one have always hated math, but my wife was a math major so we offset each other very nicely. It is always a bit of a thrill when I look at some number or calculation and it is broken down well enough for me to grasp the concept, without having to burden my poor little brain.

First let me draw your attention to this story at Crooks and Liars. They show a poll conducted by Fox News which Crooks and Liars thinks is noteworthy because Fox is obsessed with Rosie Odonnell. But look at the responses for "never heard" of on that poll. 1% of respondents have never heard of the Democratic party. This poll is taken of registered voters! 1 percent of registered voters who resonded to the Fox News poll have never heard of the Democratic party. How is that even freaking possible?!

The next set of numbers I found very interesting come from the message boards of the 700 Club. You did read that correctly... the message boards of Pat Robertsons 700 Club.

Let me first describe the link adventure which landed me on the 700 Club's message board. I have recently started paying a bit of attention to Andrew Sullivans blog. I do not agree with him on more than a few issues because he tends to be conservative, and I tend to be liberal. However, I respect him for his principles and well reasoned approach to the issues at hand. Reading him brings to mind the days of yore when I first got involved in politics. I was liberal then as well, but the conservatives I opposed were principled, respectable and sane. Todays Republican leadership have strayed far from the true conservatives I respected, and still do respect, of that day. There are still some around, but when you come across them these days they are nearly uniformly opposed to the direction this President is leading the nation. Andrew Sullivan went into the war as a staunch Bush supporter, but has since evolved to hold diametric opposition to the Presidents policies in Iraq.

Today while perusing Sullivan I clicked a link from his blog to a post on Beliefnet by David Kuo. Kuo was an integral part of President Bush's early efforts at the faith based initiative. Kuo eventually left the administration and later wrote a book describing the disrespect of the administration for evangelicals and how Bush was using them for political purpose alone.

So I linked from Sullivan to Kuo, whose post regarded the weakening of support for the Iraq war by evangelicals. Kuo notes these people are being lost by Bush and no one could have imagined this would happen with his most ardent and loyal supporters. The meat of Kuo's post details the messages being left at the 700 Clubs message board that seem to indicate a strong oppositon to the surge. So I linked to CBN from Kuo, and found a post that included the set of numbers I'm about to comment upon.
able806 1/11/2007 10:58:06 AM
...The amount of money we have spent on this war is staggering. A total of 350 Billion dollars and counting. This is more than enough to help many of the interal situations we have in the US now. The US budget for Iraq in FY 2006 comes to $3,749/Iraqi. This is more than double their per person GDP. It's like spending $91,000 per person in the US. Why not just bribe the whole country?
That is one of the most concise, well reasoned and devastating posts based upon a mathematical equation I have ever seen. It makes absolutely perfect sense. It is so good I choose to simply note it's worthiness and not even try to expand on the concept. Well done able806.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cheney: "confident violence will abate"

Today on the Situation Room Dick Cheney is interviewed. Here is some of the online blurb given by at CNN regarding this interview, with my response interspersed:
Vice President Dick Cheney dismissed the growing ranks of bipartisan critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, stressing instead in an interview to be aired in full this afternoon on the "Situation Room" that "there has been a lot of success" in the war-torn country.
By "a lot of success" the Vice President is talking about the swelling ranks of our real enemy Al Qaeda, managing to send that ruthless thug Saddam to the afterlife as a martyr, inflaming world opinion against us, death and destruction on a biblical scale... and the list of what is wrong with this war could go on and on. Just whose side is Cheney on here? Based upon this one statement alone I believe the Vice President ought to resign.

But wait! It gets better.
The vice president cited Iraq's "democratically written" constitution and three national elections as evidence of progress, while expressing confidence that the violence will abate.
Oh no he did'n... Vice President Cheney just can not get over the notion that the insurgency is in it's last throes. By adding up the numbers provided at I count 1,397 fatalities to American forces in Iraq since the last time Cheney talked about the insurgency dying down. Again, simply based upon the inability of the Vice President to grasp the true nature of this war, and for hearkening back to one of the most embarrasing pronouncements made by any administration toady in the course of this war, I believe Vice President Cheney ought to resign.
"We still have more work to do to get a handle on the security situation, but the president has put a plan in place to do that," Cheney said.
Saying we still have work to do on security is simply a preposterous understatement. Using that term in relation to the current situation in Iraq entirely underestimates the nature of the disaster the Vice President so blithely helped lead us into. Actually that is the point of the entire interview as I read it. To obfuscate the disaster, to downplay the consequences, to pretend it is ok... to serve those who still believe another dose of the koolaid.

I only hope that this interview of Cheney is given wide play. The opinions he expresses are manifestly wrongheaded, and instructive as to why the administration has lost all credibility on the war. There is a certain portion of the population who will be heartened by Cheney's blather, but the vast majority of Americans, if they hear this, will be reminded why this administration is not worthy of their support.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

He just couldn't resist...

To follow the last post, I note with dissapointment that the President altered the speech he was to deliver to congratulate the Democrat majority rather than the Democratic majority. This is veritably 1 step forward and 2 steps back. 1 step in getting it right in the speech as it is written, 2 steps back in not being able to pass the snub by.

A small signal?.

The White House released excerpts of tonights state of the union speech and I noticed one thing very quickly. Gone are the references to the Democrat this or that. Back is the correct usage, beginning with the President referring to the Democratic majority in Congress.

This is just a release given prior to his speech. I am hopefull that the speechwriter was instructed to make this alteration to what has been a very irritating mannerism by the President in a drive to intentionally mislabel the Democratic party.

However, if in the course of giving the speech the President catches that little correction and persists in refering to the Democrat majority, that alone will send a signal as to the true bipartisan nature of the White House going forward.

I'm not saying that making this correction will lead to political peace and happiness through out the land. But it is a step in the right direction.

My advice to the Republicans

Following the example set by Frank Luntz at the Huffinton Post, let me offer some well intended advice for my friends on the other side of the great American divide. Not following the example set by Luntz, I will actually try to make my advice constructive rather than condescending and self serving to my political point of view.

My first and most important piece of advice is given in complete honesty. It is not meant as a personal affront to Republicans. I know what I'm about to suggest will raise their hackles, but the truth of the matter is that I believe if they do this, their chances at redemption in the eyes of the public would be greatly enhanced. So now that I have you all primed for this blockbuster here it is... Put a muzzle on President Bush.

I used to be worried that my viscerally negative reaction to watching the President speak was due to my admittedly extreme partisanship. However when the President gave the surge speech a couple weeks ago, I was able to watch that entire speech end to end. I usually can tolerate a normal Bush speech for less than a minute before becoming to enraged and or disgusted and or embarrassed to be able to watch it any further. But with the surge speech his demeanor was markedly different. Replacing the swagger and bluster was a solemn, contemplative and troubled man. The speech did not turn my opinion on the war, but it did prove to me that my reaction to the normal style of the President in speaking was not based upon extreme partisanship.

Unfortunately for the President, the surge speech was a notable flop. I must conclude that the subdued version of Bush was no more able to convince the public than the assertive blustery version. I suspect it actually cost him points with the red meat conservative base. Obviously, the American people have determined to tune the President out. So whenever he makes some supposedly enormous speech or goes on a campaign style swing in order to raise support for an issue, he just irritates the left and the rest of the nation does not notice. Obviously the state of the union speech is constitutionally mandated so he will have to speak tonight, and next year... but to my Republican friends I advise a Presidential muzzle as a very effective first step to redemption.

Next for Republicans to rebound, they need to be able to collectively and individually admit error. The Bush administration has erred in many many... many respects, yet the best the President is able to muster in acknowledgement of these manifest errors by the truckload is to say "where errors have been made" he is responsible.

Even after the administration admits that the stated cause for launching the war in Iraq were wrong, they insist that they would still conduct the invasion under the same circumstances. What is the point in admitting an error while boasting there would have been no change in your conduct if you had not made the error in the first place?

This attitude of humility when faced with your own obvious error would serve the entire right wing noise machine as well. The most recent glaring example was that of Iraqi Police Captain Jamil Hussein. He was the source for hundreds of A.P. reports from Iraq, but when Hussein was used to source the story about Sunni Muslims being burned alive on the streets of Baghdad, the Iraqi government and Coalition propaganda machine went into full overdrive. The right wing blogosphere, went berserk demanding that A.P. "produce" Hussein, or scrape and grovel before the world. The A.P. stood by their source because they knew he was a real person, and frankly the absurdity of the keyboard commando's demanding action of any sort on the ground in Iraq is just laughable.

Well of course... it turns out the right wing blogosphere was wrong. Jamil was and is real. What was the reaction of the right wing bloggdiots to this? Chest thumping about how this proves how unreliable A.P. is, doubts as the the story that caused the controversy in the first place... just about any sort of reaction except something like "we were wrong and we admit it".

Being arrogant in the face of manifest failure based upon wrong headed policy would be regrettable, but acceptable if it happened once every few years on matters of no great import to the nation. But getting it wrong and then being immature little brats about it going forward impresses the nation and the world with the notion that you can not be trusted. My litmus test for anyone to be taken seriously while holding forth on the future course of the war in Iraq is for them to be able to say that the initial invasion was an error. If you can not demonstrate the clear headed thinking needed to reach this now obvious conclusion, you do not demonstrate the ability to judge the course of future events accurately in my opinion.

Next, if Republicans are truly interested in bipartisanship going forward, can we please get some of the language in common usage by your spokespeople cleared up? First and foremost, let us refer to the Democratic party, rather than the Democrat party. Refering to the Democrat party is a gimmick some Luntzian/Rovian type thought would be a good idea based upon convoluted word smithing in order to denigrate the opposing party. Well it is irritating and does not bode well for future bipartisanship if you can't even get the name right.

I could go on at great length regarding more steps Republicans could take in order to recover some influence. Stop running campaigns in the mud, stop pretending that God himself is on your side, start telling the truth about whatever you are talking about... the list could go on and on. But I know that no part of what I've suggested thus far will ever be taken into serious consideration, and nothing I could say going forward will be either.

Gore's semi-perfect storm

There is a near convergence of seemingly unrelated events that I believe combined will put Al Gore in the national spotlight. The recent announcements by more than a few ambitious pols intending to be our next President make me wonder if Gore might use the upcoming swell of publicity to forward his own candidacy.

Let me be perfectly honest. I fervently hope Gore runs. I would support him whole heartedly in the primary and general election. I understand the excitement and historic nature of Obama and Hillary as candidates, but my appreciation of Gore has gone back decades.

So here are the events that will combine to raise Gores national profile. His documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. The Oscars award ceremony will be held on Feb. 25th.

The other event in relation to Gore occurs next week, when over 600 scientists will release a report to the U.N. reporting in exhaustive detail that humans are the main factor in contributing to a sudden increase in global warming. I only wish the U.N. would delay releasing this report until the end of February in order to coincide more closely with the buzz about Gore's documentary.

The U.N. report does not involve Al Gore directly, but it bears upon the issue which is his calling. If the alarm bells regarding global warming go off for the entire population as they ought to, Gore would be the natural leader of the nation as we attempt to come to grips with the issue.

These then are the two events I believe may combine to bring Gore to the national stage with a calling to run for the Presidency. However, as I noted in a recent post, the nation right now is focused on the war in Iraq. On that issue in particular let me point out that Gore was absolutely prescient prior to the invasion in speaking against it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why this years SOU isn't very important

I expect a major theme of various news outlets going forward to focus on the importance of the Presidents upcoming state of the union address. The standard line will approximately follow the construct of "this is one of the most important speeches President Bush will ever give. This is his final chance to speak to the American people and try to save his floundering Presidency."

I disagree with this logic. I contend that the only way this years state of the union address goes down in history as significant beyond typical such occasions is if the President takes this opportunity to denounce the strategy he steadfastly clings to in pursuing the war in Iraq. I would be amazed if the President did that, so I fully expect reaction to the speech from the nation to be ho hum.

The number one issue on the collective mind of the nation is Iraq. The state of the union speech as commonly understood does not focus on a particular issue. Thus, I don't believe the President can be charged with trying to change the subject when he rolls out his initiatives on health care and nuclear power and what not. However, the issue the nation is focused upon will be the 800 pound gorilla in the speech, and the President will not be announcing anything beyond what we already know about his approach to that gorilla.

There can be no question that the Presidents credibility on the Iraq issue is a shambles. The vast majority of respondents in poll after poll reflect the opinion that the President is not trustworthy or honest, and this feeling can be directly attributed to his fantasy based outlook and resulting pronouncements on the war in Iraq. Thus, the nation will view the state of the union with a heavy dose of well earned scepticism, and if the President follows the script on Iraq there will be nothing to indicate that he is deserving of any other attitude.

In order to make this speech important, the President has to go off the reservation on his Iraq policy. To me the most important speech this President has made was his address to the nation a couple of weeks ago spelling out his change of course in Iraq. That speech was not well recieved, precisely because of the Presidents inability to let go of his fantasy based policy. He announced a change of course that was not really a change at all. That speech was his chance to signal a determination to turn around a disastrous policy based upon the recommendations of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group. When the President announced his determination to carry on as he has been the entire while, he lost that chance, and that to me was the important speech.

Gonzales followup

On Thursday I posted a bit of a heads up on a controversy underway at Daily Kos over the purported statements of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the lack of guarantee of habeas corpus in the constitution. At the time, I decided to hold my fire on the controversy. In considering the issue with 20/20 hindsight I'm glad I chose to hold my fire, even if I made that decision for the wrong reason.

When I heard that Gonzales had questioned the constitutional guarantee of habeas, my reaction was that I had not seen the exchange and that Adigal, who originally raised the issue at Kos, must have misheard or mistaken Gonzales. I thought there could not possibly be any way the Attorney General would make such a seemingly empty headed statement.

However, searching Kos for diaries tagged habeas corpus brings forth many diaries based upon the Gonzales quote. While most of these diaries understandably question the logic of the Attorney General there are several that actually give his assertion credibility. You can imagine my surprise at this turn of events, and let me assure the reader that when all is said and done, I do believe that the basic concept of habeas does have solid constitutional standing.

To flesh this out, let us first describe the events in question. Gonzales did question the concept of the guarantee of habeas in the constitution. Here is a description of that exchange:
"There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there’s a prohibition against taking it away," Gonzales said. "Wait a minute," Specter interjected. "The Constitution says you can’t take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there’s a rebellion or invasion?"
Here is the section of the constitution regarding the writ of habeas corpus in particular:
The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
In a diary sublty titled Habeas: Gonzales NOT Wrong , diarist neoperiapt gives a very well reasoned case, including precedent, that Gonzales was not technically speaking wrong. Based upon the reasoning demonstrated in that diary, and the examples of precedent I am willing to concede the point that, strictly from a narrowly interpreted point of view, Gonzales makes a valid point. HOWEVER...

I believe the negative construct used at times by the founding fathers in their logic does not make the positive right in question non valid. For example the founding fathers construct of the first amendment reading that congress "shall make no law" regarding the issues at hand has not been used as logic to deny the rights enumerated. I suppose one could conclude that the constitution does not expressly give citizens the right to free speech, but in prohibiting laws that restrict speech, the effect is the same. To refine the point, I would simply say that the establishment of a double negative (shall not suspend) is the equivalent of the establishment of the positive. You may make the case that, strictly speaking the positive is not explicitly granted, but the effect is the same.

Also, I believe there are other sections of the constitution that do not mention habeas in particular, but serve to establish the right. The 4th and 5th amendments in particular expressly prohibit the siezure of a person without due process, and that grand jury proceedings are to be used when a person is siezed. Without using the term "habeus corpus" in particular, it is clear that the founding fathers gave us that protection by expressly spelling it out. The 6th amendment further clarifies that these proceedings must be carried forth in a speedy manner, and that the accused be allowed to confront the witnesses against them. Again, none of this would be possible if the government could hold people without proving a case against them, in contravention of habeas.

Out of all this, I must conclude that, based strictly upon an extremely narrow interpretation of what the constitution says about habeas in particular, that it does not explicitly grant the right. That right is inferred in the negative construct of the habeas clause, and expressly granted without using the term "habeas corpus" in the 4th through 6th amendments. Therefore I rule in American Constitution V Gonzales that the case against Gonzalez is dismissed on a technicality. But we all know the score Mr. Gonzales so don't try it again.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Holding my fire on Gonzales

I read Daily Kos on a regular basis and read a post there that reported on an exchange between Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Senator Arlen Specter. Prior to forwarding this story, let me advise that after approximately six hours of internet research, with no report to confirm the Kos article by any news source I can find, and not having access to transcripts of the proceedings and not having seen them myself, I am a little dubious about this.

The original Kos diary that grabbed my attention is titled: Gonzales: Constitution does NOT guarantee Habeas Corpus by user Adigal. Part of that diary reads:
Gonzales commented that the Constitution did not guarantee habeas corpus, and Specter sounded astounded. He said that the Constitution explicitly states that habeas corpus can only be suspended in the case of invasion or rebellion.

Gonzales disagreed again, saying that the right to habeas corpus is not actually in the Constitution. Specter reiterated his point, saying that Gonzales was going against common sense.

When I read this I expected to be able to load any mainstream news site and read some sort of breaking news tag that the Attorney General had just announced his opinion that the plain language providing habeas corpus protections in the constitution had just been rescinded by Gonzales. To me. reading this for the first time, I must admit to being shocked.

Just in case anyone has any doubts, Article 1, Section 9 of the constitution reads:
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
How that is not clear, and how it could somehow be a question for debate is beyond me.

Well I'm at work so I can't watch C-Span of the hearings. In researching this particular exchange, I am not able to independently confirm that Gonazales actually said it. Which leads me to one of two conclusions. Either Adigal heard the details of the exchange entirely incorrectly, and caused a major firestorm on Kos (the original diary was recommended to the rec'd list, and it was diaried onto the front page based upon the verbiage as quoted by Adigal) based upon a non happening, or the major media have entirely dropped the ball on a major, and I do mean MAJOR story.

I'm withholding judgement at this point, until I can watch the hearings on reruns of C-Span. But let me tell you that if Adigal has it right, I will consider it a huge failure of the mainstream media to cover a mistaken belief by the Attorney General, such as has rarely if ever been exposed. I'll guarantee that if Gonzales asserted that the constitution did not guarantee the right of freedom of religion, there would be a huge uproar about that. So we shall see what we shall see...

In the meantime I'm off on Friday, so I won't be here for you all to kick around til monday. I'm certain that high keening wail I heard just now is the sound of mourning from the masses. Or maybe I just have bad gas...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My litmus test on Iraq punditry

An interesting phenomena has reared its ugly head of late. There is an entire class of ruling and pundit class desperados who originally supported the invasion of Iraq, but have turned their backs on the mission as it has degenerated into a quagmire.

The main argument posited by this group is that the concept of removing Saddam was justified, but the execution of the occupation by the Bush administration has been horribly botched, leading to disaster. Indeed, considering the Presidents recent attempts to admit error in conducting the war, and his stated dissatisfaction with the outcome to this point, we may even lump the President into this group. It seems that all but the most rabidly die hard near idiotic wingnuts from Mars are still defending the conduct of the war to this point.

I have one litmus test for any possibility that I will consider the judgement of these people in a serous manner going forward. Any person who supported the war in the first place but now wants to be taken seriously as a critic must express the opinion that the invasion was a mistake.

The admission that the original concept was mistaken, even if the admitter was an early supporter of the war, buys credibility in my eyes. It is easy to see how someone could be hoodwinked in the leadup to the war with the Powell presentation and constant drumbeat. I can see the point of those who would say that only after it was proven that there were no WMD, and Saddam was not allied with Osama, that they started to understand the true nature of affairs.

Given this criteria, it is not possible to now take the President or his administration seriously going forward. Indeed unless Hillary Clinton quickly comes to this realization, she is not credible in my eyes either. In fact it may already to late for her on this score. If she does it now, it may look like she did it for crass political purpose alone, not from an ability to independently form the correct judgement.

Let me close this post with a justification for the logic in this post. My point with all this is, how can someone be trusted to accurately form judgements on issues going forward if they prove incapable of admitting a truth that is plain for the entire world to see. If you can not be brought to admit the plain and simple truth, you can not be trusted to form an accurate opinion as to how to proceed going forward. This becomes clear when you consider the disaster we find ourselves in. The administration still claims they would invade again under the same circumstances. And it is that self evident lack of judgement, made even after the truth of the mistakes that led us to invade were revealed for all to see, that led to the mistakes of the occupation and the quagmire we find ourselves in right now.

To tie this to current policy making and punditry, it is that same lack of judgement that leads the President to call for the troop surge in the face of unrelenting opposition by the American people, the world, the Iraqi government and people, his own generals, and the rest of the sentient universe. How delusional does one have to be to get so wrong so often as the President has proven through the course of time? And how delusional does one have to be to think that this time, he has it right? It is akin to having the bus driver who drove this nation into the quagmire of a ditch insist on being the driver of the tow truck to pull us out.

Lawfullness makes a comeback... too late.

Today brings the good news linked that President Bush will not authorize the NSA spy program going forward. The administration intends to operate under the auspices of the FISA court in order to wiretap telephone calls to the United States.

A lot of punditry are greeting this as a victory for constitutional principles and seem to be willing to close the book on the entire sordid affair. I am not willing to let it go so easily. The President is guilty of repeatedly violating the law, and allowing him to wrap up the question by bringing himself into compliance with the law, while being preferable to no correction at all, is not an acceptable resolution.

To me the entire issue is emblematic of the question of how this administrations misdeeds will be dealt with. Is simply admitting the error and taking steps to correct it going forward sufficient. I say no. The example set by this administration and our response to it will set the bar for future generations of American leadership. We allow the President to escape the recourse set forth by the constitution only at the peril of future generations of Americans.

What President Bush wishes to do in the NSA spy case in particular is to, in effect, have us forgive him for blatant lawlessness with a promise to not commit those crimes going forward. The analogy may be drawn between the administrations approach, and the person chronically guilty of shoplifting, who, when first caught, expresses their intention to continue the behavior going forward. Only when the situation is such that the shoplifter is compelled to answer for that behavior (a Democratic takeover of Congress) do they agree to correct their ways. Would that person not be held to account for the past transgressions? Why then ought the President be allowed to have blatantly broken the law, even proclaiming his determination to continue the practice when it became known, with impunity?

It is not just desirable to impeach this President. I consider it imperative. Given the disdain shown by this President to lawfulness when it did not suit his purpose to be lawful, our generation will either give the constitution meaning, by following the recourse provided in that document when faced by lawlessness in our leadership. Or future generations will only consider impeachment a highly partisan maneuver. Used only when the party in opposition wants to sully the legacy of the President, ala Clinton for an extra marital affair. The nation, our progeny, and the entire world knows full well. If Clinton was eligible for this recourse because of a stained blue dress, then Bush's rampant lawlessness leading to the subverting of the 4th amendment, and the deaths by Americans by the thousands virtually cries out for impeachment.

To not do so will be for us to subvert the constitution in our own way.

Awww Man!

So I got to work after a 3 day weekend, PLUS one day at home because of inclement weather... and tried to load the blogger "dashboard". Turns out that page has been blocked by my works internet filter!!!

So I was a bit peeved... but I think I've hit upon a solution. As I bop about during the workday, when the inspiration hits, I will bash out a post and archive it in hotmails draft folder. Then when I get home, I'll pull the days posts, copy and paste them, and thus continue with some sort of content on Club Lefty going forward.

So without further ado, look above this post, chronologically speaking, for the results of my first day of hotmail draft folder blogging... I hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Boxer is right!

To preface, all links in the following post link to extremely right wing news and commentary... If you want to give them a hit by clicking a link feel free, but I'm not encouraging you to do so.

Fox News and the Murdoch media empire, along with the White House sound machine, (of course this means the entire right wing-blogosphere will follow in kneejerk reaction that would make Pavlovs dog seem like chaos defined) are in high dudgeon because Representative Barbara Boxer told Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice the truth. Here is what the whole (manufactured) bru ha ha is all about:
"I'm not going to pay a personal price," she [Boxer] said. "My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family."

Boxer talked about families losing loved ones and soldiers in hospital burn units. "These are the people who pay the price."

Rice said evenly that she understands the sacrifice of service members and families.

"I visit them. I know what they're going through. I talk to their families. I see it. I could never and I can never do anything to replace any of those lost men and women in uniform, or the diplomats, some of whom. ..."

Boxer cut her off.

"Madam Secretary, please," she said. "I know you feel terrible about it. That's not the point. I was making the case as to who pays the price for your decisions."
The truth is the truth, and Boxer, Rice, Fox News, Tony Snow, the wingnut blogs, and the military families know it. The truth is that Barbara Boxer, Condoleeza Rice and most of the American people are not the ones sacrificing for the war in Iraq. Under the Administrations plan, I won't sacrifice. My daughter is too young to serve. The only sacrifice the Presdident is making is to his political career. His daughters are not being called to service in Iraq. I'm not aware of any immediate relative of the Presidents who is serving. There are very few family members of any policy makers at all who are at risk because of the policies being debated here. Senator Jim Webb is a notable exception, and Senator John McCain's son is soon to be deployed as well.

Feeling faux outrage over this issue does not change the facts. What Boxer is pointing out here is that Americans in general are not being asked to sacrifice on a personal level. She's not slamming childless single women. She's not slamming people who do not have children in the military. She's not slamming anyone at all! She is just being honest.

I especially appreciate how the N.Y. Post anticipates future partisanship with the following insight:
The vapidity - the sheer mindlessness - of Sen. Boxer's assertion makes it clear that the next two years are going to be a time of bitterness and rancor, marked by pettiness of spirit and political self-indulgence of a sort not seen in America for a very long time.
The mindlessness in this whole affair is by the right wing lunatics pretending that Boxer has somehonw defamed Rice by stating the truth. Frankly, reading as the apologists of this administration prattle on about political self indulgence kicked in my involuntary gag reflex. Political self indulgence is personified by this administration and the former Republican rubberstamp Congress. We've seen unmatched political pettiness of spirit (the President actually said voting for Democrats means the terrorists win and America loses, how much pettier can you possible get?) from the very people this N.Y. rag carries water for on a daily basis. Their extremely loud and obnoxious proclamations regarding the mote in the eye of the Democrats would hold much more meaning if they had been 1/2 as vociferous regarding the board in the Republics (commonly referred to as Republicans) eye.

The fact remains. Boxer, Clinton, Rice, Bush, Cheney, Hastert, Rumsfeld and most, if not all of the rest of the gang who had so much to do with leading us into the quagmire of Iraq will not pay a personal price for their mistakes. If having this pointed out to them is so freaking hard on their poor little psyches, imagine how tough it would be for them if they found out a loved one were killed or maimed in the mistaken war they are responsible for starting. Having the truth pointed out to them is a very small measure of the anguish they are responsible for giving to thousands of American families.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Frame this: Bush is, was and always will be wrong

Rarely in the course of public events have we had occasion to witness a policy maker be so utterly incapable of sound judgement in decision making as is the case with President Bush.

This is the case that must be made to the American people. But I fear the case is being made too late.

I fear that no matter the public outcry, no matter the will of Congress, no matter the opinion of former world allies, no matter what anyone else thinks... this administration will proceed to further damage American interests with the policies they pursue. I sense a constitutional crisis looming that will prove a very dangerous time for our nation and what we have stood for through the years until very recently. The damage done to American interests by the bad policy of this administration is bad enough.

Make no mistake about it. This one point is so very important. If I've written the following truth once, I've written it 50 times: Iraq is hurting the American cause in the war on terror. The war in Iraq does indeed weigh heavy in the war on terror. That weight is against American interests. Expert after expert, opinion from the National Intelligence Estimate to the common sense of the average American demonstrates the damage being done to our interests because of the war in Iraq. The President and this administration are flat out wrong to invoke the war on terror as a reason to continue the war in Iraq. They MUST know that, because is it so freaking obvious.

The self evident nature of the mistaken assumptions this war was launched upon ought not be forgotten in this debate. Do not forget that the same people now arguing that Iran and Syria are causing our troubles, that Maliki is a rock of democracy, that we should never leave until Iraqi affairs are to our liking, and so on and on are the same ones who told us before the war that Iraq could launch their freaking gas attacks on U.S. cities via balsawood model airplanes. They were completely out of touch then, have demonstrated that disconnect with reality time and time again since then, and now want us to accept their proposals which they claim will lead us to victory from the quagmire their own wrong headed policies have led us into...

The logic of those who follow them after all this simply defies belief.

Somehow us Democrats are supposed to be afraid that standing up and being honest about this is to be perceived as weak on national security. The truth is that this administration has drained our treasury, and weakened our military because they are consistently wrong in matters of policy. It is this administrations mistakes that weaken our military and our cause in the war on terror, and telling the truth about that is standing up for the American cause.

The speech...I was shocked

Let me preface this post with a notice to those who may be familiar with my way of thinking regarding this President. What follows may be a bit surprising for you.

I was able to listen to the Presidents entire speech.

This too me is extremely significant. Under normal conditions I can only stand several seconds of talking by President Bush before my attitude becomes such that I must change the channel. I typically find his demeanor grating, his malapropisms embarrassing, his logic unsound and his overall presentation (as if the audience were all two year olds) objectionable.

The Presidents logic is still as unsound as ever. He repeatedly invoked the James Baker/Lee Hamilton Iraq Study Group findings while announcing policies that directly contradicted that groups proposals. And the nation was still subjected to the stuttering mispronunciation so typical of the President. I particularly object to the Presidents insistence upon use of the word "nucular", and can't help but think whenever he does that that the man with his finger on the button ought to correctly pronounce nuclear.

However something was different about the President last night. His bluster and campaign style sneer were gone last night. As the speech wound along I thought periodically, "how odd... I am not compelled to change the channel. I am actually listening to a speech by President Bush." I remember muttering under my breath at one point "nucular!" but that was the extent of my visceral reaction to the Presidents style.

The end of the speech in particular was noticeable for its variance from what this President, and for that matter past Presidents as well, have practiced. Here is a copy of the transcript as provided by the White House directly: "We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours. Thank you and good night."

As long as I can remember, Presidential addresses have ended with a variant of "And God bless the United States of America". It is as if the President coded that message in language regarding the "author of liberty". But as I watched the speech end last night I remember turning to my wife and saying "what was that?!" It is as if the President were trying to not invoke God almighty at the end of his speech in an attempt to not offend those who do not have his religious outlook. Frankly it was the capper of a weird speech from my perspective.

I found myself actually greeting this speech with a sense of relief. Not because the President is announcing any particular policy shift I agree with. Rather I'm relieved that it is proven that I am able to tolerate the President when he is being tolerable. It is not just me being horribly prejudiced regarding all things Bush that brings forth the typical loathing I feel when I hear him... There is a reason for it.

That for me was the big epiphany of this speech.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bush slaps down Jim Baker

Ben Goddard over at The Hill tells of a rumor floating about Washington that ought to be highly instructive of the politics of Iraq. Here is what Goddard says:
A rumor making the rounds among those close to the Bush administration is instructive about both Washington, D.C. and the White House. The story goes that former secretary of state and co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group James Baker was in the Oval Office briefing the president and vice president on what that report would recommend. Vice President Cheney was so upset by what he was hearing that he abruptly stood up to leave the room. “Sit down, Dick,” Mr. Baker growled. “You need to hear this.”
While the truth of the rumor is in question, there can be no doubt as to the truth of the matter when it comes to the administrations reaction to the Iraq Study Groups report. While Baker may have slapped down Cheney during the White House briefing, it is Cheney and Bush who slapped down Baker and the ISG's report. It was DOA, and the decision to surge troops into Iraq is the President shoveling the last bit of dirt over the ISG's recommendations.

I can not help but wonder at James Bakers state of mind at this point in history. He is Mr. Republican, wants to be known as the elder statesman of America, and is the veritable godfather of the entire Bush family. It was James Baker that headed the legal team in Florida that stopped the vote counting in 2000, and saw George Bush installed as President despite losing the popular vote nationwide by over 600,000 votes. And there in lies his problem.

Rather than going down in history as the elder statesman, he may be recognized as the architect of the effort to install this nations worst President ever into office illegitimately. We saw the anti-democratic seeds planted in the 2000 election debacle. We have graduated from lawyers trying to stop the vote counting, to lawyers trying to gut the 4th amendment and allow the NSA to tap domestic phone calls. We see the seeds started as the violent intervention of a Republican mob in the canvassing of the Miami Dade votes, grow to fruition as the administration removes ancient rights, older than America itself, such as habeus corpus. Bitter fruit from the seed planted and fostered by Jim Baker, in what was the very first inkling of the short shrift this administration would give to basic democratic principles when it did not suit their interests.

So Baker must have felt a little self interested in the outcome of his effort to pull Bush's fat out of the fire with the Iraq Study Group findings. Baker offered Bush an out, and Bush slapped Baker down by escalating the conflict. This then is the bitter fruit harvested by Baker for spearheading the effort that saw Bush selected to the Presidency, and then trying to provide Bush with the means to extricate himself from Iraq.

Crushing Rumsfeld, and making it up.

In his speech tonight, President Bush is apparently going to admit to making a mistake in conducting the Iraq war, by not sending in enough troops early in the occupation.

This is the final repudiation of the Rumsfeld doctrine. Actually this appears to be the President not only repudiating Rumsfeld, but blaming him for the state of affairs in Iraq at this point.

Of course the President will not directly say the former Secretary of Defense was actually the root cause of the failure. But anyone who knows the history can see the meaning of the coming admission of past mistakes plainly.

This must be a bitter pill to swallow for Rumsfeld, who carried the water for Bush and the neocons for a long time. When President Bush spent years pointing to the Generals on the ground in Iraq as being the deciders of troop levels, he was pointing to the men Rumsfeld put there. These same generals are now being moved from the scene of the carnage in a further rebuttal to Rumsfeld. If Rumsfeld were dead he would be rapidly rotating in his grave...

What this escalation means, following fast on the heels of the Rumsfeld resignation, is that all the past rhetoric praising Rumsfeld and expressing confidence in the generals... basically the entire foundation of the Presidents military strategy in Iraq, has been wrong. This of course is on top of all the wrong reasons (WMD, Saddam in bed with Osama etc...) that led us to invade Iraq in the first place. The basic strategic error in opening a new front in the war on terror, (admittedly a flawed term, but one I use based upon common usage) when we had no need to do so, inflaming the opinion of those we need to sway to our side in the war and losing broad based international support for our cause is, for many who have considered the consequences of the decision, the greatest strategic blunder in American military history. (Good lord I HATE sentences like that... I'll try to do better.)

My point is, the administration started the war based upon a mistake, and conducted what the President will now admit is a mistaken policy in occupation, and now wants us to trust him to get it right. How freaking STUPID does he think we are?

Not only were the basics of the entire affair based upon mistaken policy, but it is clear that the administration used Iraq as a melting pot of untried idealistic proposition. Rumsfelds occupation scheme is actually a perfect example of this. The Rumsfeld doctrine called for less manpower, and more technology to dominate the battlefield. This doctrine was a stunning success in both the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, but is proving a horrible failure in the occupation of those nations. The basic lesson here is that predator drones and computerized tank turrets are great at taking out the army of the other guy, but not very good at winning the hearts and minds of the population we have just taken governance of. Unfortunately for us, Rumsfeld decided to test his theory in real life in Iraq, forsaking the previously held Powell doctrine calling for overwhelming force. Testing this theory has lead us to quagmire, and to the Presidents late conversion to the (proven through out history) Powell doctrine, as far as he is able to execute that doctrine at this point.

Another example of the administration using untested idealistic proposition as policy leading to disaster was the decision to have the occupation authority in Iraq immediately after the invasion be populated with people chosen based upon their political beliefs, rather than the scope of expertise they brought to the issue they were handling. Thus you have young Republican hill staffers and fresh out of college young Republican potentates being sent to Iraq to set up their stock exchange, and power grid. You have Iraqi law codifying a flat tax, and the de-Baathification of the Iraqi infrastructure.

The notion was to make Iraq a proving ground for neoconservative ideals in government. The result has been a rolling trainwreck of human misery. Iraq was to be held as a model of neoconservative governance, until the disastrous consequences of those policies took hold at which point blame devolved upon Al Qaeda, Syria, Iran, Saddamists, militias, Democrats, bloggers, the French, The U.N., ... well, anyone or group who wasn't a neoconservative and had an opinion on Iraq actually.

Indeed the overarching notion of democracy flowering in the middle east based upon force of American arms being deployed to install a democracy in Iraq is a basic construct of neoconservatism. We were to be greeted as liberators, showered with flowers, amidst the neoconservative ideal in the land of milk and honey, or oil and money rather. What a tragic, deadly mistake this administration made in pursuing that idealistic fantasy.

What is my point in all this you may wonder? That the administration has simply been making this stuff up as it goes along, has lead us into endless quagmire because of this, and now wants to continue to make it up. It is time for realism to take hold of our Iraq policy.

The President will be admitting an error by not putting enough troops on the ground. In order for us to know the President now comprehends the reality of the issues at hand he must also admit error in starting the war to begin with, in setting up the Bremer Iraq administration, in de-Baathification and disbanding the Iraqi military, in not stopping the lawlessness and looting immediately following the invasion,... I'm sure you get the point. In order to show he has a true grasp on reality, the President must forsake the reality his administration tried to create in Iraq.

By throwing Rumsfeld under the bus the President has started down that road. I might be wrong about this prediction, but I don't expect him to proceed any further with the admissions of error.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More, more stuff you can't make up...

Yesterday I posted regarding a piece of news I thought was so absurd that reading it would cause the normal reader to re-read and then triple read the information presented because the story defies belief. Today brings another such example, and oddly enough both stories revolve around the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki.

First, regarding yesterdays post, we have further details regarding the origination of the plan to surge. Senator Smith carried on in some detail in yesterdays press conference and gives further confirmation that Maliki is the author of the plan. According to Smith:
"He (Bush) went at great length to say how impressed he was that Prime Minister Maliki would come to them with a plan as to what was needed to restore the political processes of Iraq," Smith said. Bush thought that "because this was their (the Iraqis') proposal, they would come through," Smith said.
Again... I can not IMAGINE the line of thinking taken by the Commander in Chief. Even if Maliki were the originator of this plan (which he is not, the call for more troops into Iraq has been made by many people since before the war began) having the President present the plan as originating from the Iraqi's rather than our own military, or even himself hardly inspires confidence. Conservative opinion has argued long and hard against giving control of American forces over to foreign influence. Yet now the President makes a big to-do about Maliki having given him the surge plan? Again... I find this unbelievable.

Maliki is part and parcel of the Shiite establishment in Iraq. I think it is beyond the pale that an ally of the Shiite death squads, and an ally of Iran, is the man our President claims is responsible for the idea of placing an additional 20,000 troops into harms way.

Today's stuff I can't make up comes directly from the fetid mouth of Maliki himself. He gave a press conference and was asked about reports that the Americans had requested that he postpone the execution of Saddam by 10 days in order to avoid a conflict with the start of the Sunni celebration of Eid. Maliki informs the world that he declined to delay the execution because... of tensions in Iraq!
"The situation in the country was shaky with many rumors about possible deals between Saddam and the government," Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told reporters.

"These rumors, which were started by Saddam's defense lawyers, created tension among the people, and we felt the necessity of terminating this man who was troublesome in his life and troublesome in his death."

Hussein, 69, was hanged December 30 after being convicted for his role in a 1982 massacre in Dujail, a town north of Baghdad. (Full story)

Al-Maliki acknowledged that Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, asked him to postpone the execution by 10 days to two weeks.

"We refused because of what I described earlier: The tension in the country was high," al-Maliki said. "We didn't want to leave the door open for trouble, and we didn't want the victims' families to take to the streets in protest."
The absolute vapidity of this line of reasoning leads one to question the sanity of the one making the statement. Because of "tension" the Shiite dominated Government decided to execute Saddam on the day that Sunni's start the Eid celebration? Next, they can wait for Easter and make a mockery of executing a Christian with their little cell phones and what not.

Frankly if Maliki wishes to use the bad attitudes of his citizenry for justification, what could he not justify? Tension in Iraq? Who could have imagined!

Maliki's creativeness in describing the logic leading to Saddams execution ought to be expected. He is a creature of the Bush administration.

Monday, January 08, 2007

More stuff you can't make up

Sometimes you read something in the news and find yourself re reading, and triple reading the sentence you have just read. Here is a doozy of a breaking news story straight from the lips of Gordon Smith, the Senator from my state... George Bush advises Congress that the plan to surge troops into Iraq is from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

I seriously am not making this up. I mean, how could I? Here is the direct quote, in this case from KGW news:
Smith said he was surprised to hear Bush say the idea for more troops came from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who presented him with the plan when they met in Jordan a few weeks ago.
Gordon Smith is surprised by Bush saying this is Maliki's idea? I passed the point of surprise over Bush babble years ago! I can just see President Bush addressing a bunch of Congress critters... and when he gets to the part about the origins of the plan to put 20,000 more Americans into the meat grinder coming from Maliki the room just becoming an uproar. How else would reasonable and sentient policy makers respond to such a claim by the President?

There are people in America right now who will actually believe this is true, because the President says it is. However, I do not believe Gordon Smith is one of them. Frankly for that matter, neither am I, nor I suspect the average person reading this post. Because sane people have given up on hearing truth from this President long long ago!

But let us, just for the sake of kicks and giggles agree to take the President at his word on this particular claim. Here we have Maliki, who thinks his own job is tough and wishes he could quit, presenting a plan to insert over 20,000 additional troops into Iraq. He wants out... but not before sending more of our military in. Here is Maliki who stopped our forces from blockading Shiite neighborhoods while trying to find one of our translators who was kidnapped evidently being the decider, yet again, as to the deployment of thousands more Americans.

We have come to the point that George Bush ignored the calls from Generals, Senators, and pundits, from since before the war began, to put substantially more troops into Iraq. The problem with increasing troop presence in Iraq then, is the same as the President is facing now. It was, and is politically unpopular. The difference between all those times and now is that there are no other options available. It is surge, or go home. So after ignoring all the advice through the years to surge, the President wants us to think he has seen the light becasue Maliki supplied him the plan? Un freaking believable! Literally un freaking believable.

On a side note, I was poking about looking for info on the meeting between Maliki and President Bush in Jordan in late November when I came across this ludicrous quote by the President: "Bush said he wanted to begin troop withdrawals “as soon as possible. But I’m a realist because I understand how tough it is inside of Iraq.” The mind boggles at the President passing himself off as a "realist". Frankly that quote is laughable on several points, but also very sad. One is left to wonder, if the President actually understands the nature of the Iraqi civil war, how in the world is he signing off on a plan to put more of our troops in, at the behest of Maliki, according to him?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Stonewall leading to impeachment

The administration has pulled a legal stunt that is just typical of their approach to investigations of possible administration wrong. White house visitor logs have now been sealed from the public due to a secret memo that was signed by the Secret Service and the White house. This unusual step was taken the day after a federal judge ruled in favor of a watchdog group investigating White house visits by Jack Abramoff.

I certainly do not believe this particular memo will lead to the downfall of the Bush administration. I do believe this type of activity is instructive of a classic cause for legal difficulty on behalf of parties who try to play too cute with the law. Now take what follows with a brick of salt grains... I certainly am not a lawyer nor do I play one on t.v.. However...

It seems to me that if the administration believes that it can simply sign memo's in order to void judicial review of the administration, that could be construed as an obstruction of justice. The memo comes to light not because it was entered into the federal registry where it could be appropriately studied and noted by the interested parties. This was a secret memo which was revealed during a legal proceeding in an attempt to quell an investigation which needed the records.

Frankly the intent of the White house in drawing up this memo was clear. To throw in another legal loop hole, drawing out further appeals, basically stone walling the investigation which was looking for the records. The legality of the document in question is an open issue that now must be resolved. By the time this process wends it's way through the courts for final adjudication by the Supreme Court, this administration will have been replaced.

I think the White house has obstructed justice in this case in particular. I do not claim this will lead to impeachment. But I do believe this example, if repeated often enough when the administration faces Congressional hearings will lead to impeachable offenses, as the White house tries to stonewall the Congress... Heres my logic in making that claim.

The third article in the impeachment of Richard Nixon was a charge detailing Nixon's contempt of Congress, specifically relating to Nixon's refusal to give "subpoenaed papers and things" to the committee considering impeachment. Who amongst us believes that President Bush is going to be fully forthcoming with the papers and things this Congress requests?

I fully expect a massive stonewall effort on the administrations part going forward, and beleive this effort of itself may lead to the impeachment of the President. If Congress were to not hold him accountable for this, it would be an error that may have lasting consequences on the very foundations that form our system of government. The lesson for future Presidents is that it is ok to stonewall. The effect, should this be allowed, on the Congress's ability to fullfill its constitutional obligations would be very harmful. This precedent should not be allowed to go forward unchallenged.

Then again, maybe I'm all wrong and the administration will be fully forthcoming with everything requested by the Democratically controlled Congress. I do hope you were not drinking anything when you read that last sentence, as I would hate to be the cause of a spit take ruining your computer monitor.

When it comes to impeachment, there are many many items that must not be allowed to go forward unchallenged. Future Presidents must be provided the lesson that they are not allowed to torture detainees, lie to the public and Congress in a drive to needless war, imprison American citizens with no process of law, write their own legislation which he then signs as law, or any of about a half dozen other aggregious unconstitutional offenses. If the constitution provides the remedy of impeachment for a purpose, the purpose simply must be applicable to this administration in particular. If these activities by this administration do not warrant impeachment, impeachment will never warranted. The drive for impeachment ought to be framed as a constitutional imperative. We must take the ultimate constitutional remedy provided now, or forever decline to do so going forward.

So let the President stonewall Congress. It will simply be another mark against him in the inevitable accounting he must answer, by either history and/or during the impeachment hearings.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Who is Jamil Hussein and why you should care.(final update)

One of the stories I spouted off about caused a rather subsantial increase in hits on my obscure little blog. I titled that post "Who is Jamil Hussein and why you should care".

To briefly recap the controversy, Jamil Hussein was the source of the A.P. story about the burning alive of six Sunni's on the streets of Baghdad. The Iraqi interior ministry questioned the existence of Jamil, and they were echoed CENTCOM. This caused the right wing blogosphere to raise a hue and cry, demanding that the A.P. "present" Jamil, or scrape and grovel for forgiveness.

The A.P. stood by the story, confirming it with other independent eye witnesses, and affirmed the existence of Jamil Hussein. Rather than the wingnuts and Malkinites letting it go, they redoubled the sniping, which in turn garnered a scathing letter from the Executive Editor and Senior V.P. of The A.P.. I cover that in this post.

Ever since then the uproar by the right wingers has been... well loud and obnoxious. But today brings news that ends the controversy, once and for all.

The interior ministry has confirmed the identity of Jamil Hussein, and is issuing a warrant for his arrest because he has had unauthorized contacts with the media.

Jamil is a captain in the Iraqi police, and assigned to the Khadra police station precisely as reported the entire time by the A.P. The spokesperson for the interior ministry did not answer questions as to how the interior ministry had erred in not finding Jamil in a list of their employees, or why that error was not corrected until six weeks after they made it.

To my friends from the right, and I know from the comments that more than a few found me here due to me posting on this story in the first place, I simply ask... when will you ever get it right? Michelle Malkin and the rest of her ilk have taken yet another hit to their creidbility. How they can be so consistently wrong yet still be taken seriously is an absolute mystery to me. To simply blindly trust the interior ministry and CENTCOM, who proudly pay to put propaganda into the Iraqi media, is simply mind boggling. And then to persist in that blind trust even after the news provider in question affirms it's source is just inane.

To be honest I'm writing this entire post pretty much off the cuff and will probably regret not throwing in umpteen links and what not. But this story is important enough, and proving the utter void of logic or critical reasoning on the part of the right wing blogosphere that I have to just let it fly. I'll probably put a more intelligent response to all this together for everybody to ignore over at Kos!

Making Baghdad Bob proud

Remember Baghdad Bob? He was the official spokesperson for the regime of Saddam Hussein during the invasion of Iraq. It was his unfortunate duty to tell us black was white, sweet was sour, and the tanks rolling through the streets of Baghdad just a few hundred yards from the site of his press conference were not the invading Americans... who were committing suicide at the gates of the city... At the time this was all very humorous.

Well I think we have a contender for most absurd explanation from an Iraqi spokesperson in an attempt to declare the obvious truth is actually not what it appears to be. Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffaq Al Rubaie gives the world his interpretation of the tawdriness we all saw at the Saddam execution. In describing the taunting of Saddam with a chanting of Moqtada, Mowaffaq explains:
"Basically they were doing their congregational prayers and supplications, and they mentioned at the end of their supplication the name of Moqtada," Rubaie said
In the context of the issue at question, it is clear that Moqtada is not being "mentioned" at the end of a prayer. It is shouted, in a chant... in an obvious attempt to humiliate Saddam. I'm not an expert on Islamic traditions, but I'm fairly certain that shouting the name of a sectarian leader is hardly an integral part of Moslem prayer and supplication. I may be wrong about that, but I'm willing to bet that I'm not.

Clearly Mowaffaq is prevaricating, just based upon the logic he posits on the chanting issue alone. Then he ramps up the absurdity level and pops off with the following explanation as to why the attendees of the execution followed the hanging by dancing around Saddams body:
"This is the tradition of the Iraqis - when they do something they dance around the body and they express their feelings," he said. "What is wrong with that?
I freaking KNOW Mowaffaq is lying... If Iraqi's danced around dead bodies because of some sort of weird national tradition, there would be endless dancing in the streets of Baghdad. The city would be a veritable carnival of dance, and the dancing dancers that dance them. The best dancers in the world would hail from Iraq, and they would be famed for their stamina.

Or Mowaffaq is full of it. I rather think the last option is the one that is true.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Brother Olbermann gave one of his classic rebuttals to administration insanity on last nights Countdown. Olbermann's statement regarded a report by the BBC detailing how the President would call for a surge in troop numbers in order to provide security in Iraq. In making this call according to the BBC, the President would appeal to Americans to support the surge in the name of sacrifice.

I honestly and truly appreciate Keith Olbermann. He is providing an indispensable service to the nation by being the only cable news program that is not tilted to the conservative point of view. Olbermann is passionate, articulate, intelligent, humorous, and I'm glad he's on the side of sanity. His special comments are masterful works of commentary.

Having said that, I in large part actually disagree with Brother Olbermann on the tenor of his latest comment. The point by point logic he used to reach his conclusions was flawless as usual. However, in general, I believe he places entirely too much weight on the meaning of the call to sacrifice coming from the White house.

Do not get me wrong. I agree with Olbermann that what has been asked of the nation, and what is being asked going forward is too costly by far. This war wasn't worth the blood of one American soldier, or worth one single tax payer dollar.

But when the President calls for a surge and appeals to Americans to sacrifice, how does that affect the average American? He's doing this on the backs of the military. The military families have already been called upon to sacrfice tremendously, and the President only promises to increase the measure of their sacrfice. But the average American? If you are not in a military family, what exactly is this President asking you to sacrifice?

There are sacrifices the President could ask of us that would be helpful in the war on terror. (Please forgive the use of an imperfect term, but the war on terror is common usage for the struggle we find ourselves in.) He could ask for the wealthiest Americans to pay a bit more in taxes in order to fund the effort. Yet today he "authored" an editorial in the WSJ in which he stated unequivically that he positively will not raise taxes. He could request higher gas milage standards be passed in order to wean our nation from a dependence on middle east oil. If he were to really go off the deep end the President could even ask for the institution of a draft in order to build up a depleted military. But to do any of this would be to sacrfice something which the President could NEVER be called upon to give away. Political standing.

The President knows that to truly ask the general American public for actual sacrfice would to even further decrease already rock bottom support for his policies. The President is not willing to sacrifice any of his public stature or what may remain of his political capitol in a true call for sacrifice on the part of Americans.

However he thinks he can coax a few more supporters onto his side of the great divide if he makes them think they are sacrificing by supporting a troop surge. If the public is told that to support the surge is to sacrifice, maybe a few will believe it and support the surge out of a misplaced altruism. Thus we have an appeal for sacrfice, but not really.

So to me, brother Olbermanns take on the Presidents call to sacrifice precisely plays into the hands of the President in trying to make it appear that the surge actually will require sacrifice from the nation as a whole. The President is not making that call at all actually. He wants to appear to be doing so, but what the President really calls for is more of, more of the same. He wants you to continue to go shopping, not pay as much as you had to under Clinton and balanced budgets, and generally continue being fat and happy.

Let me again state... The sacrifice here is by the military families and members. I think it reaches the height of political cynicism to make it appear that the nation is being called to sacrifice even as we are told to go shopping. Let us acknowlege the sacrifice of those who are truly giving to the cause, and not pretend that it is you or me if it truly is not the case.

And to Olbermann and any of his supporters who may read this post, for what it's worth... keep up the good work. The true measure of honesty in dealing with a given issue is the ability to speak against those who you normally agree with. Olbermann is very much appreciated, and I look forward to his next special comment.

Starting a meme (sports related)

So I've decided to try to start a meme... something that I can trace to my own effort to start and becomes a widely accepted theme in society as a whole. It may work, it may not, but we'll see how it works.

My meme has to do with the Fiesta Bowl. In a previous post I discussed how certain plays were spectacular and important enough to recieve their own names. For example, "The Immaculate Reception". Well I've decided to try to give the play that put Boise State into overtime vs. Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl it's own name.

I went to the MSNBC college football message boards and started a discussion. My idea was to name the play "The Slingshot". The name sounded good to me because it sort of describes certain aspects of the play, and also was the weapon used by David to slay Goliath.

However on the MSNBC boards someone suggested we call it the "God loves Potatoes" play. I immediately took a liking to that and suggested we term the play... the Hot Potato. That name has been positively recieved, so I'm on a drive to start this meme. If it works, and popular sporting culture always refers to this play as the "Hot Potato", remember... you heard it here first!

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