Monday, April 30, 2007
One last chance Mr. Bush.
I contend that the President is passing by a golden opportunity. Yet Bush's pride and willful stubbornness necessitates that he veto the bill, and is going to be the ruination of the Republican party. The case can be made that if troops are trying to pacify Baghdad through the 2008 election that we will see the installation of a long term Democratic majority in Congress, with only rampant cronyism, corruption and stupidity on a Delay/Frist type scale by Democrats at some point in the distant future bringing Republicans back.
The President is being given the chance to end this, and to hang some of the consequences of what will certainly be a very ugly post occupation aftermath on the Democrats. To paraphrase his argument he could say, "I had to sign this bill to fund the troops so the Democrats own the result". Can you imagine being Republican candidate for President or Congress in 2008 as things stand now? You would have to be deep in prayer on a daily basis that Bush comes to his senses and takes Iraq off the table going into the election. Those candidates must lay awake at night trying to think of ways to get Bush to sign this bill!
Bush recently had another chance for a scintilla of redemption, if he had embraced the Baker/Hamilton commission findings. However, that plan was dead on arrival due to the same reasons that the spending bill is. Baker/Hamilton expressly stated that there could be no "victory" in Iraq and the solution was not to keep up an occupation and trade blows with the insurgency for the foreseeable future either. When Harry Reid is attacked for saying this war is already lost, I wonder if the people attacking him were so vociferous when Baker/Hamilton said essentially the same thing?
Quite frankly, George Bush no longer cares a wit about anything but his own self centered, ego maniacal image. I dare any koolaid drinker to try to prove that Bush thinks America will "win" this war. How? When? What is "win" anyway? Does Bush honestly think a future Congress and President will not pull the plug in the first 100 days of office, and be loved by the nation for doing so? It is clear that Bush is running out the clock to pass the buck to the next President in a sick and twisted effort to place the blame on them. George Bush does not care about the national good. He is willing to sacrifice hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis in a failed effort to escape the inevitable final judgement of history; that his Presidency was a disaster... the worst ever. If anything, this deadly mule headedness will sink the estimation of historians for Bush to even lower depths, and the future President who extricates us will not be castigated for doing so.
The best course of action for this President would be to take the life line Congress has tossed to his floundering administration. George Bush claims to receive guidance from his heavenly father. Let us hope that Bush is given divine inspiration to end this by signing the bill. (It is hard for me to imagine a holy calling to continue this wanton debacle... in fact I think Georges Godar was severely off target when he initiated the invasion in the first place) That would truly be a miracle.
On the other hand, there is a political conundrum facing the Democratic Congress. When the bill comes back, the RIGHT thing to do is whatever they can to end the war. They can not over ride the veto, but they can pass another bill with time lines and send it back again. These bills do provide funding for the troops and it would be the Presidents obstinacy which would result in shortages if he refused to sign and funds ran out. Also time is all on the Democrats side on this. The more time goes by with Iraq continuing to literally explode the less Republicans in Congress are liable to support continuing the folly. So the right thing to do is what ever it takes to end the war. Again, if they succeeded in this they would be open to political heat because the after math of withdrawal WHEN it happens is going to be horrendous.
BUT the politically opportune thing to do is for Democrats to throw up their hands at the Presidents obstinacy and give him what he wants. Let the war continue and use it as a cudgel through the 2008 elections. Democrats voted as soon as they could for timetables, but Republicans supported the Presidents veto! If voters do not support indefinite war in Iraq (hello 70% of the American people) then you should vote for a Democratic Senate that can over ride a Presidential veto, and/or a Republican filibuster.
How sad is it to consider this war as a political cudgel or tool for use by one or the other side. Let this be a lesson for future Presidents. The nation only goes to war when it absolutely MUST do so. There should be political unanimity for future conflicts. The consequences for attempting to deceptively lead the nation to war should be severe. Let future Presidents bring a united America to bear on our enemies, not use our enemies to divide us one from the other.
Finally, I suppose there is another way to look at this. President Bush has proven so deadly inept and wrong headed that allowing him to oversee a withdrawal may end in yet another disaster. I can see him trying to make his corporate buddies a buck on the endeavor, outsourcing the nuts and bolts planning, and having it melt down halfway through the withdrawal. Withdrawing in the face of the enemy is a tricky proposition and it will have to be done with care and foresight. I'm not sure Bush is up to the task. His heart isn't in it in the first place, and history serves to show a decided lack of success in grand scale endeavors Bush launches.
But we are where we are. We do need to get out and that should be as soon as is safely do-able. If this is undertaken with Bush at the helm, at least we have a Democratic Congress to oversee the process!
I am honored, and my own list.
I am sort of floored to be honest. Sometimes I'll read one of my posts and just throw up my hands at what I consider to be overwrought and confused writing. I know very well what I'm trying to say, but when I bash it out in a post quite often it seems to be a rambling mess. I very rarely include pictures with my posts, so that also causes me to fret about the blog seeming to have basically the same boring message day after day. As you can see by all this, my efforts here are framed with self doubt.
Therefore, having Kvatch vouch for Club Lefty as a thinkers blog really is an honor. His blog Blognonymous is a great addition to my blogroll, and a very entertaining read.
In the spirit in which Kvatch made his post, let me now give my list of 5 blogs, beyond Blognonymous, which I reccomend.
I always check in with Blue Gal. She can be counted on to have intelligent posts on things which most of the mainstream media and big boy bloggers are not paying any attention to. She is well on her way to becoming a "big boy" or big gal on the blogging scene as it is, and watching her grow has been a pleasure.
Agitprop is simply hilarious! They are not entirely devoted to political humor, and the serious posts are cutting and insightful to be sure... but I go there for the photo shopped fun fun fun.
The next is a twofer. I'm contributing to All Things Democrat, and two of my fellow contributors have great blogs. Authors Ricky Shambles at Cause for Concern and Kate Chase at Cut to the Chase each offer fantastic writing and very intelligent takes on politics. There have been recent additions to the contributors at All Things Democrat and I'm certain they have fantastic blogs as well, but I have yet to actually peruse their blogs so I'll withhold judgement at this point.
Next, I especially appreciate Jesus was a Liberal for focusing on politics from a liberal Christians (me too!) perspective. That perspective does not have sufficient voice and I fear the impression by the world at large of Christianity as practiced by Americans has suffered as a result.
Let me wrap up with a nod to Prague Twin. After all, it seems that everyone else who has taken the trouble to make their top 5 list has him on it, and for good reason. P.T. uses his blog to issue pearls of wisdom about the world of finance (even posting a well thought out rebuttal on this blog regarding my take on gas prices), and to lay down the hammer on conservatives. For example, this thread of emails betwixt Twin and Nathan Tabor of the Conservative voice is very entertaining. I bow to Twins persistence in trying to get a straight answer in the face of quite stubborn refusal to provide those answers on the part of Tabor.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Repost: Administration: We blew it bigtime, but trust us now
Administration: We blew it bigtime, but trust us now...
After perusing and consideration of the white house plan for victory in Iraq, for whatever little good it does, I call for congress to implement the Rep. John Murtha plan for withdrawal of American forces from the Iraqi theater. I would also appreciate the administration moving toward the Murtha proposal, but it is clear they will not budge.
Read the white house document and consider what has transpired in the Iraq war to this point. There are two short term goals for victory that have to do with the security situation in Iraq: "Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists," and "standing up security forces". The Iraq war started in March of 2003. After three years we have seen a stark reversal regarding the first short term goal of making progress in fighting terrorism, and only sputtering progress on training Iraq forces. In fact the decision of this administration to disband the standing army after the invasion cost us dearly in regards to this goal. If after 2 1/2 years of this sort of progress on the security goals in the short term has brought us to this pass, how can we expect this administration or the Iraqi government to reach longer term security goals without a commitment of American forces for many many years to come? Is this really what the administration, congress or the citizens of America signed up for when considering whether or not we should invade Iraq?
I could post the various statements from back in the day here, but we know them all too well. Cheney talking about being greeted as liberators, Rumsfeld speculating on a six month engagement, all the halcyon predictions of quick and certain victory with no forebodings of the quagmire we see today. All cost free with open spigots on Iraqi oil wells. And now according to the very document put forth by the white house we can expect that the quagmire will continue for the foreseeable future. So we have come to see that the administration was absolutely wrong with the justifications used to get us into Iraq, horribly blundered the post war planning, and actually invited the Iraqis to strike us when George Bush implored those who would attack us to "bring it on". Nice bluster there Mr. president, but I'll bet you'd love to have those words and about ten other such silly statements and actions back in hindsight. But now that they have written up a "declassified" version of how they will reach Iraqi Utopia, we should realize they are right about this call and forget about all that other unpleasantness? As the president says: "Fool me once and shame on you. Fool me twice and... ... Won't get fooled again".
Lets face facts here, (something president Bush is loathe to do). All the rosy fluffery in the victory plan regarding the inspiring buildup of the Iraqi military is simply not supported by the facts. According the congressional testimony of General John Abizaid:
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: General Abizaid, there was a report sent over, I think last June, that three of the hundred Iraqi battalions were fully trained and equipped, capable of operating independently. What is that number now?At this rate we'll be down to zero independent Iraqi battalions sometime in January! *snark* (One has to keep ones humor in such dark times) But yet again... I digress. Read this article in the Washington Post from June 10, 2005, for a real feeling about how the progression of training the Iraqi military is coming along.
GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: The number now is, if you're talking about level-one trained --
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Yeah.
GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: It's one.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: At one battalion?
GEN. JOHN ABIZAID: Right.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: The previous report was you had three battalions. Now we're down to one battalion.
"I know the party line. You know, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, five-star generals, four-star generals, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld: The Iraqis will be ready in whatever time period," said 1st Lt. Kenrick Cato, 34, of Long Island, N.Y., the executive officer of McGovern's company, who sold his share in a database firm to join the military full time after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "But from the ground, I can say with certainty they won't be ready before I leave. And I know I'll be back in Iraq, probably in three or four years. And I don't think they'll be ready then."Then consider that Iran has reached an agreement with Iraq to be involved with training Iraqi military units and you may understand how deeply involved we are in a simply impossible undertaking. Who believes the U.S. is interested in training and arming the Southern Iraq arm of the Tehran Republican Guard?
Thus I am convinced that the training of the Iraqi military has not quite proven to be the wonderment of human endeavor presented by the administration.
One other point on the victory plan regarding security in Iraq. Let us consider this mission statement:
We are helping the Iraqi Security Forces and the Iraqi government take territory out of enemy control (clear); keep and consolidate the influence of the Iraqi government afterwards (hold); and establish new local institutions that advance civil society and the rule of law in areas formerly under enemy influence and control (build).This is the so called clear, hold, and build strategy for security improvement. I'll believe we have a chance of making this work just as soon as the road from the Baghdad airport to the city proper is pacified. If we can not control this one stretch of road that is so vitally important to our mission there, it doesn't make much sense to go about thumping our chests about Fallujah and Tal Afar and so on.
So those of us non-koolaid drinkers are left to wonder what should be done with this mess. Well Representative Murtha offers another solution. As soon as we safely can, withdraw from Iraq, but leave two forces in the region to respond to threats. A quick reaction force for threats and emergencies that require immediate attention, and an "over the horizon" contingent of Marines that could be used for a bit longer term yet still temporary resolution to a given situation. This strategy is not America running despite the absurd resolution brought to the house floor by the Republicans when Murtha made his proposal. But it is an alternative to the continued quagmire that this administration has landed us in. You can check out Rep. Murtha's statement on the war for further detail about his proposal.
I'm still struggling with my stance on leaving air bases in Iraq after a withdrawal to support the Iraqi government in hopes of stopping a civil war. So since I'm still torn I won't even attempt to integrate the two proposals until further notice. Who knows... maybe one night I'll wake up with an epiphany and bash out a solution here. Where it will sit in a solitary wait and eventually be lost to the sands of time.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Lt. Col. Yingling's truth to power, appended by moi
ARMY LT. COL. PAUL YINGLING is deputy commander, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment. He has served two tours in Iraq, another in Bosnia and a fourth in Operation Desert Storm.I think this mans service to his country is laudable, and would challenge anyone who attacked his motivations in expressing himself to give their own credentials for comparison with Lt. Col. Yingling's. By and large those who challenge what this man has to say will be found to have taken advantage of deferments to avoid service in Vietnam, or to be members of the infamous fighting keyboarders, whose sole service to this nation is literally cheerleading the effort in front of web cams.
Having dared the rabid right wing pundiots to challenge the good Lt. Col, let me now admit that I do have one small addition I would have added to his overall message. However I will not pretend to have ultimate knowledge or infallible logic on the issue. I'm certain Yingling would chew me up and spit me out in a one on one debate over any possible differences... but I'd last longer than your average koolaid drinker! In fact it very well may be the case that the issue I will raise with this post can be explained in such a way as to perfectly match Yingling's and my own points of view.
Lt. Col. Yingling writes a scathing review of military leadership regarding the conduct of the Iraq war, and he calls upon Congress to intervene in order to try to correct the problem:
These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress.Here is the addendum I would add to his reasoning: I do concur that the generals have failed, but only because the military goes to war with the leadership they are given, not with the leadership they would like to have. It is the Presidents role to fill those spots with good leaders. It is the President who appointed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the President refused to sack him after the Iraq adventure was proven to be sadly off the tracks.
It was the Rumsfeld doctrine which led to the undermanned occupation of Iraq. Here is Lt. Col. Yingling's take on this:
The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq's population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America's generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as "Fiasco" and "Cobra II." However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.Conducting a search of the article serves to prove that "Rumsfeld" does not receive one mention from Lt. Col Yingling. Yet it was Rumsfeld who ignored the established military precepts described so well by Yingling. Those generals who disagreed were sidelined and the generals remaining learned that lesson all too well. You might argue that the generals who were left to carry out administration policy ought to have shown more courage in public, but I believe history shows that they simply would have been replaced by generals willing to play along to get along. This is borne out by Bush's treatment of the top generals in place when he proposed the surge. They (Generals Pace and Abizaid) disagreed with that policy and were replaced by generals who think the surge is a viable way forward.
Given the lack of troop strength, not even the most brilliant general could have devised the ways necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. However, inept planning for postwar Iraq took the crisis caused by a lack of troops and quickly transformed it into a debacle. In 1997, the U.S. Central Command exercise "Desert Crossing" demonstrated that many postwar stabilization tasks would fall to the military. The other branches of the U.S. government lacked sufficient capability to do such work on the scale required in Iraq. Despite these results, CENTCOM accepted the assumption that the State Department would administer postwar Iraq. The military never explained to the president the magnitude of the challenges inherent in stabilizing postwar Iraq.
I think Lt. Col. Yingling recognized this problem, but he holds his fire on this particular aspect because in his current role as a high ranking member of the Army it is not seemly for him to criticize civilian leadership. Indeed, searching the article for "Bush" turns up only one mention of the President, which is included in the above quote. Yet it is a given that the President is the commander in chief and ultimately responsible for the condition of this nations military. President Bush's culpability in this is even greater considering the rubberstamp Congress he dealt with until last years election. If the President is given every cent and approval for every nomination he wants, it rings hollow to only find fault with those whom the President is appointing. At some point a pattern of the President appointing yes men to important posts becomes evident, in every aspect of the administration, not just the military.
The closest Lt. Col. Yingling comes to criticizing civilian leadership is with this quote:
Neither the executive branch nor the services themselves are likely to remedy the shortcomings in America's general officer corps. Indeed, the tendency of the executive branch to seek out mild-mannered team players to serve as senior generals is part of the problem.Even if my approach is to place the blame for the ills of today's military leadership at the feet of the President and Secretary of Defense to a much greater extent than Lt. Col. Yingling does, I think his proposal to fix the problem is confirmation of the case I forward. He does not call on the President to take action. He doesn't call upon the Secretary of Defense to step into the breach with a drive for sweeping reform. Yingling calls upon the Congress to take several steps to fix this problem. I think the recommendations by Lt. Col Yingling would bring fire and brimstone from the Bush administration if Congress ever saw fit to take his advice. Can you imagine the heat if Congress rejected a Bush appointee because they did not demonstrate sufficient educational aptitude or the capability to speak a foreign language?! Yingling does not advocate a general should be rejected on such grounds alone, but he is definitely calling for a greater role in Congressional oversight of Presidential appointees with an eye to those types of qualifications. His solution bypasses the civilian chain of command, because that chain of command has failed abysmally.
Let me wrap this up with a huge caveat here. I truly am trying to ascribe a position to him which Lt. Col. Yingling does not come outright and take. I admit it. I think there are reasons he can not say what I am saying here, but then again, it may well be the case that he believes the entire problem with military leadership is systemic to the nature of the military system. He certainly does spend time pointing out those shortcomings. In fact, arguing against my own point of view, Yingling does advocate that officers who did not agree with the course of events in Iraq should have spoken up publicly, in what can only be seen as public opposition to civilian leadership. Maybe in not taking it to civilian leadership himself, Yingling confronts the conundrum posed to the same generals he thinks ought to have raised these issues publicly.
Caveats aside though, I agree with everything he writes... I just have the addendum I have spelled out regarding those who lead the military leaders.
The Tenet bandwagon
I refuse to go there. George Tenet is telling us what we already know. It will be news when he tells his tale, under oath to the relevant committee of Congress.
Tenet is the latest in a string of former administration officials who have seen the light... but only after their chance to affect the disaster they helped create has long since passed. And they always seem to see the light in the pursuit of filthy lucre. As the true scope of the disaster becomes clear those who helped create it, but now find themselves on the outside looking in, scramble to disassociate themselves from their role in initiating the greatest strategic blunder in American history.
Make no mistake about it. Tenet was one of the main advocates for the drive to this disastrous war in Iraq. For me the ultimate proof of Tenets willing role is that he literally provided the backdrop to Collin Powell when Powell presented the case for Iraqi WMD to the U.N. That speech is a moment which has gone down as one of the greatest diplomatic embarrassments in this nations history. Just google up an image of Powell's speech, and you'll see Tenets furrowed visage, giving the weight of the CIA to the sewage being spewed from Powell's mouth. Strange... I don't recall ONCE during that speech when Tenet tapped Powell on the shoulder with a sudden realization that Powell should "clarify" some portion of his presentation which Tenet realized was not true. As is the case with the entire freaking speech. Remember, this speech was given one and a half months prior to the invasion. At that very late date it is clear that Tenet was not only on board the march to war bandwagon, he was willing to give his personal imprimatur for administration officials making the claims.
Tenet didn't seem to upset about his role in this debacle as the President slung the medal of freedom around his pudgy neck.
Only AFTER the meltdown is well past fixing does he pipe up with confirmation of what we've known all along. I say it is too late. If Tenet wants to rehabilitate his public image let him testify to Congress, under oath. And while he's up there I would like to hear an apology, rather than his post facto whining about the dishonorable nature of the thugs he saw fit to enable. Until he does something concrete (not self serving) to try to reverse the error, I'm not going to trumpet his tell all facts as proof of what we've already known the entire time.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Mitt Romney channels George Bush
People who follow the news and have managed to not swallow too much of the administrations koolaid know that President Bush has said some stuff that really makes no sense what so ever. Some stuff he says even HE can't believe. For instance: Here is Bush, just 6 months after 9/11, on the importance of catching Osama Bin Laden:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.Odd how earlier in that press conference Bush had expressed his "deep concern" about Iraq, but Osama? Not so much. But thats besides the point. The notion that Bush was not concerned about Osama was so flabbergasting that even Bush could not believe he had said it when John Kerry mentioned it in a debate during the 2004 campaign.
Kerry: Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?"Well the story that made me shake my head in disbelief today is buried in an A.P. article surrounding an interview with Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for President. Romney is going for the red meat Republican crowd by channeling Bush on Osama, because Romney apparently is not very worried about Osama either:
He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned."
We need a president who stays deadly focused on the real war on terror.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.
In the interview, Romney also:I'm calling foul on this sentiment. It is worth moving heaven and earth to catch the criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of American civilians.
_Said the country would be safer by only "a small percentage" and would see "a very insignificant increase in safety" if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power. "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person," Romney said. Instead, he said he supports a broader strategy to defeat the Islamic jihad movement.
How much money did and are we spending to botch the execution of Saddam Hussein. How much turmoil has been caused for that little feather in Bush's cap? Saddam was not responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians. Romney is on board the Iraq war hook line and sinker which is best demonstrated by the fact that he supports the surge. Of course running for the Republican nomination means having to hold that view, and this may just be another case of Romney discovering a right wing viewpoint in primary season.
Be that as it may, the fact is that Romney's current views on the Iraq disaster hardly bode well for his determination to support a broad strategy to defeat Islamic Jihad. We have played directly into the hands of Osama Bin Laden and those who support him by conducting this war, and pretending otherwise isn't going to make it better. If anything, Romney's viewpoint of Iraq and Osama would lead to a continuation of Bush's policies. That truth alone may help Romney in the Republican primary, but it will spell doom if he makes it through to the general election.
Tenet swings... and misses
Frankly I do not understand Tenets malfunction on this. In his new found role as aggrieved administration victim Tenet claims that "slam dunk" was used to make the case that the CIA was vouching that Saddam did in fact have those weapons. In fact what Woodward reported within a year of Tenets statement was exactly what Tenet is saying now: That Tenet had said that the case to be made for Iraqi WMD was a slam dunk. The Woodward quote is "slam dunk case". "Case" in this context clearly means the argument to be forwarded, not the actual circumstances that will prove out when the action being argued is taken. All the hot air expended on "slam dunk" following Woodward's book was in that context, and that context is well understood. If Tenet did not like the way his quote was used in the meantime, he should have spoken up well before April of 2007.
Tenet tells 60 minutes that he did believe that Iraq held WMD. One is left to wonder what his issue is then. Is his justification now that he only meant then that the administration should put forth a better case for something which ultimately proved untrue? And we should nod our heads and rub our chins in contemplation at the shoddy way in which he was handled? He thought they weren't being persuasive enough to make a case which is now clear ought not have been made in the first place. Good point Tenet! The whining about your reputation and trustworthiness is certain to change minds with logic like that.
His argument would only be valid if, at the time in question, Tenet had been sounding alarms and trying to stop the rush to war based upon faulty and cherry picked intelligence. He could then protest that the slam dunk quote was taken out of context. He didn't do that. In fact, in this context, it appears Tenet was fully on board and cheer leading a more effective push to war based upon his faulty belief in the WMD. How then does his current logic exonerate him?
Tenet did know certain facts which ought to have led to him to raise alarms and try his best to find the truth of the matter well before the war started. How is it that after he took the Niger/Iraq uranium claims out of a Presidential speech in October of 2002, but that claim was included in the 2003 State of the Union address, that Tenet did not immediately find out how that had been done. Beyond questioning the intelligence ginned from the dissidents and tortured from suspected Al Qaeda agents detained by America, the State of the Union address alone should have brought Tenet to question the entire affair.
Finally let me just observe how disingenuous Tenet appears in now crying after accepting the medal of freedom for his role in this, and then staying silent for 4 plus years. Now that the obvious error of the war is clear for all but the most blind to see, one of the principal architects of the case that was made is crying foul. Guess what Tenet. You made your bed with those folks, so you have to sleep in it. He'll make plenty of money with his blood stained book, and self servicing book tour, (I can not WAIT for that Daily Show) but Tenet will always be associated with this Iraq debacle. He may not like that, but it is as it should be.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Wow... Rahm lets it all hang out.
I think the speech is spot on. I am about to suggest one addendum, but before I do let me specify that I realize Emmanuel was probably constrained by time. If he could have made the time, I think it would have been a perfect addition to this speech for him to take 10 minutes and explain how the Republican controlled Congress was crucial to allowing this to happen.
The lack of oversight, and rubberstamp nature of the Delay/Frist Congress was exactly the wrong remedy this nation needed in the face of an over reaching President. Maybe Rahm can give a speech in the future about just how that happened. It may cause him some discomfort with his colleagues, but the way that Congress enabled Bush is a crucial part of the story.
Finally he could wrap up with a take on how the media played along as well, in a third speech.
Ben Graber, (D. Florida) must be defeated
To breifly recap, when Colbert interviewed Wexler, he was running unopposed for the congressional seat in his district. Colbert dared Wexler to say something that would lose him the election if he were opposed. Colbert then asked Wexler to complete the sentence “I enjoy cocaine because ...” and Wexler rose to the challenge by saying: “because it’s a fun thing to do.”
Reading the recap in print hardly conveys the hilarity of that moment. Wexler was obviously joking, and that segment was positively hilarious, mainly due to that moment.
After that appearance various political leaders have disparaged appearing on the Colbert Report. This will be the 2nd post in a row where in I say that despite my appreciation of the Democratic Congress to this point, I believe the leadership of my party in Congress has got it wrong, this time regarding Colbert. A great example is provided by Eleanor Holmes from Washington D.C. She has an ongoing... erm... dispute, with Colbert and has appeared multiple times on his program. Evertime I see Holmes debating Colbert I am impressed by her quick wit and good natured toughness.
Make no mistake about it, there are times when Colbert can really cut up someone he's interviewing. The one I remember most of all was the Republican from Georgia who sponsored legislation to have the 10 commandments posted in public schools. Colbert zinged him by asking him to name the commandments, which of course was tremendous fun as the Rep. squirmed and finally admitted that he did not know them. It was hilarious.
Anyway, Congressman Wexler has some primary challenger in his district promising to make the Colbert appearance an issue in the upcoming primary. Ben Graber is acting like maybe Wexler wasn't joking after all...
“There are many ways to look at it,” Graber said. “Maybe he was shocked and the truth came out.”No Graber. There are not many ways to look at this one. Frankly if this attack on Wexler is allowed to gain any sort of footing, it will be a sad day in American politics. We need more humor, not less in todays acidic political environment. Graber's take on Wexler is part of the problem. He is being disingenuous and opportunistic when he thinks he sees a chance to garner political power. "There are many ways to look at it" indeed. I have never heard of Graber prior to today, but with statements like that I feel entirely comfortable in inviting him to renounce his Democratic membership and become a member of the Republican party. This is something I would expect from Karl Rove!
If Graber succeeds the lesson will be loud and clear. That lesson is one that will affect all of us. Our politicians will become even more hide bound by scripted talking points, mortified that deviating from the focus group tested line will result in fodder for some future challenger. Graber must not just be defeated in the primary, he must be crushed and frankly humiliated.
The wrong view of impeachment from Pelosi
Believe it or not, I do not approve of the way in which Kucinich has approached this issue. He is a bottom tier Presidential candidate, which makes this appear to be a political ploy by a relatively minor player in an election season. Kucinich appears to be a political Don Quixote, tilting at windmills by himself as the rest of the world looks on in bemusement.
The pity is that I absolutely agree with Kucinich that the Vice President should be impeached. But impeachment is made more difficult if it is perceived as being an entirely partisan effort on the part of a struggling Presidential candidate.
It is necessary to build the case for impeachment by appealing to Republicans as well. The case to be made is that the lawlessness of this administration must not be allowed to go unpunished lest future leaders be allowed to behave in like manner with impunity. This is a bipartisan issue. If Hillary Clinton of Barack Obama wins, and decides to continue in Bush style, it will be too late for Republicans to discover their error. I realize it may seem silly for me to want to appeal to Republicans in making a case for impeachment, but there MUST be sanity left on the other side of the aisle. Enough common sense to see the danger to this nation and try to stop it. It should be made clear that impeachment is not because the Vice President (and President) is conservative... it's because they have broken the law in several respects, defiantly proclaimed their intention to continue the practice, and that is unacceptable regardless of the administrations political leanings.
I fear the Republican approach to impeachment under President Clinton has caused the process to become so cast in a political light that impeachment will never be used, except as political retribution. It is a vital tool given us by the founding fathers and must not be surrendered on the altar of the crass political warfare of any generation, especially ours. There are times when it must be used, and the case of an administration defiantly breaking the law even after being caught doing so, using deception to take the nation to war, breaking international treaties, and allowing the torture of detainees which casts a dark stain on our nations honor are just such examples.
Nancy Pelosi was asked her views on impeachment and had this to say:
"And frankly, for impeachment, George W. Bush is just not worth it. We have great work to do for the American people."I've found myself pleased with many aspects of Congress under Democratic rule. But on the aspect of impeachment I must say that I believe Pelosi is 180 degrees off course. It is precisely because of the great work to be done for the American people that this congress must build the case and then take the constitutional remedy of impeachment. What greater cause could there possibly be for the American people than to send the message to history. This President ruled in a way that was not acceptable, and the ultimate remedy provided by our founding fathers was used in order to halt that.
Please don't think that I'm calling for what in effect would be a political coup leading to Pelosi ascending to the Presidency. Under optimal circumstances in my point of view, the Vice President should be impeached first, allowing the President to appoint a successor before his own impeachment. We would then finish the current term with the person appointed by Bush.
I am left to wonder if current Democratic leadership is considering the implications for the next President, who is nearly certain to be a Democrat without some sort of electoral shift on a grand scale. Is Pelosi in effect planning on giving the next President a Democratic Congress, and a blank check. Republicans would sound pretty silly howling about whatever happens then, and they would do well to think of that possibility.
In fact if the President sinks to even lower levels of public approval, and even higher levels of disconnect with reality, it may behoove Congressional Republicans to see the light and cut their ties by moving impeachment on their own hook.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
-adjectiveThe last quote in the definition of obtuse fits President George W. Bush like a glove. Today's example of Bush saying something so stupid that he has to know he sounds like an imbecile, but deciding to say it anyway is this gem (via TPM Muckracker):
lacking in insight or discernment; "too obtuse to grasp the implications of his behavior.
slow to learn or understand; lacking intellectual acuity; "so dense he never understands anything I say to him"; "never met anyone quite so dim"; "although dull at classical learning, at mathematics he was uncommonly quick"- Thackeray; "dumb officials make some really dumb decisions"; "he was either normally stupid or being deliberately obtuse"; "
Last November the American people said they were frustrated and wanted change in our strategy in Iraq. I listened. Today General David Petraeus is carrying out a strategy that is dramatically different from our previous course. But the American people did not vote for failure, and that is precisely what the Democratic leadership’s bill would guarantee.So the President is actually blaming the Democrats being victorious in the election for forcing him to do the surge. If only the American people had voted for Republicans instead, the surge would not have been the answer! Some statements are so obviously idiotic that trying to point out the fallacy is to give the statement more credit than it deserves. This is one of those cases.
The President seems to think that using sophomoric logic to push his agenda is a winning strategy. I'm certain he has been given this impression by the unqualified success these points always seem to be with his base of koolaid drinking drones. Right now the 30% who support the President are busily putting out the new talking point pearl of wisdom passed from on high. Let the word be spread from Fox to the right wing blogosphere: The American people elected Democrats in order to signify support for a surge. Oh yeah, also mention that Senator Reid is a traitor, and we have to fight them over there or they will fight us here, for the idiotic right wing talking point trifecta.
Americans by a wide margin see through these lies. How it is that the red meat Republicans have come to the point of supporting a President who is so obviously dishonest after THEY brought the nation the impeachment of President Clinton based upon lying about an extramarital affair? George Bush capitalized on that in the 2000 campaign:
Campaigning in 2000, Texas Gov. George W. Bush would repeatedly raise his right hand as if taking an oath and vow to “restore honor and integrity” to the White House. He pledged to usher in a new era of bipartisanship.George Bush has proven very effective at uniting the nation, against the war in Iraq, and his leadership in general. And now the same right wing stalwarts who brought us the impeachment of a President because he wouldn't spill his guts about an affair find themselves figuratively manning the barricades as the last line of defense for one of the most corrupt, dishonest, deadly, divisive, costly and unconstitutional administrations in this nations history. Irony, thy name is Republican.
The dual themes of honesty and bipartisanship struck a chord with many voters and helped propel Bush to the White House in one of the nation's closest-ever elections.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Reinforcing failure and feigned retreat: Boring tactical stuff
I wonder if the terrorists and insurgents played possum when the surge was announced in order to suck more American forces into a battle which can not be won militarily. There are two ways to look at this. First, we have been induced to reinforce defeat, which as a military axiom is something that should never be done. The correct tactical military aphorism here is to starve failure and reinforce victory. Next, we may have unwittingly played straight into the hands of the enemy as they made a feigned retreat.
Feigned retreat is one of the oldest tactics in the books. From as small as the basic squad level engagement with a small group of men, seemingly, fleeing from the enemy only to lead them into a trap, to as large as grand scale army movements. Robert E. Lee was famed for posting his undermanned army in such a way as to lead the hapless commanding Union general to confidently march his army into crushing defeat. Joseph Hooker was the unwitting victim of one of Lee's such stratagems. In carrying out his plans to crush Lee, Hooker thought his position was so advantageous that prior to the battle starting Hooker declared "may god have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none". This quote is Bushesque. Over the course of the following week Hooker's army would be soundly beaten by Lee, who had fewer men and defied conventional military understanding by splitting his force 3 ways in the face of a greater army.
Lee would follow that victory with another stunning victory over John Pope. Despite Pope declaring at various times through out the encounter that Stonewall Jackson's corps (which initiated the battle on it's own) of Lees army would be destroyed, it was Pope's army which ended the engagement streaming in defeat back to Washington. Pope's near Bushism was when he datelined an order from "headquarters in the saddle". Right until the fatal final hour Pope was convinced he had Lee right where he wanted him.
Modern day warfare provides examples of use of this type of tactic on a grand scale. The battle of Midway turned the tide of WWII in the Pacific. American forces led by Chester Nimitz ambushed the Japanese navy and destroyed 4 aircraft carriers. The Japanese were fed intelligence reports that there were no American forces in the area, and they planned to draw off any forces that would interfere at Midway with a feint into the Aleutian islands. They were sucked in unawares and the results of that battle changed the course of history.
So when the President announced his plan to surge the troops, and the Shiites very publicly called for the end to sectarian killings in Baghdad, and the first couple of months were a bit calmer than normal... was that the other side sucking us in deeper? This month is one of the deadliest for U.S. forces since the start of the war, and as I write this post there is news of a suicide bombing with 9 dead Americans. 9 more devastated families, and for what reason we must ask? To assuage George's ego so the final movement happens on the watch of his successor, rather than with him at the helm? History will note this and condemn this man as the disastrous failure he has worked so diligently to become.
I have no doubt that the President has reinforced failure. I just wonder if future historians will tell the tale of how we were induced to do so by a seeming moment of calm as we prepared the surge.
Has the President promoted himself?
I believe strongly that politicians in Washington shouldn't be telling generals how to do their job. And I believe artificial timetables of withdrawal would be a mistake. An artificial timetable of withdrawal would say to an enemy, just wait them out; it would say to the Iraqis, don't do hard things necessary to achieve our objectives; and it would be discouraging for our troops. And therefore I will strongly reject an artificial timetable withdrawal and/or Washington politicians trying to tell those who wear the uniform how to do their job.There are several wrong headed notions in this statement. For instance, the last time I checked the President is a policitician in Washington who is telling Generals how to do their jobs. Perhaps he has promoted himself from his civilian role to Generalisimo or something. Frankly with Bush's penchant to play military dress up, he should give himself some medals as well... or just accept them from his adoring crowd of koolaid drinking drones.
Please don't misunderstand me here. Politicians in Washington dictating military affairs is positively demanded by the constitution, which I support whole heartedly. The part that galls me is how the President pretends that the Generals all agree with him... but only after he has sacked the Generals who were telling him his surge wouldn't work. The Generals have spoken Mr. Bush, and they actually didn't like your plan.
In fact we would be far better off if the President would only heed his own advice and listen to his Generals, and that has been true from before the start of this Iraq debacle. The President has ignored the advice of his military leadership since before the war started, proclaiming the while that his generals had the say so, and sacking those who did not tow the administrations line. Yet now the President wants to lecture us on letting the Generals do their jobs? Quite frankly that is silly, and an alert press corps worth it's weight in spit would not allow this type of illogic to just sit there without challenge.
If the President waxes eloquent on how mistaken passing a timetable would be, it would serve us well to consider how mistaken the policies set forth by this administration have been. From the very beginning this entire debacle was ginned up with misleading and falsified intelligence and the effectiveness of the administrations efforts have not improved since then. Abu Ghraib is another example of a bone headed policy by this President going off the tracks. Even the execution of Saddam Hussein was mishandled in such a way as to send him from the mortal plane as a martyr for the Sunni cause. Simply based upon past performance, I am comfortable in saying that the President's record in forseeing mistakes in Iraq is abyssmal. It is entirely understandable if he were to be ignored entirely when he makes these pronouncements of doom.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Underhanded Dems! Deceptively using rules!!
“The Democratic majority has made clear they will stop at nothing to use the rules to provide political cover for their members and avoid substantive debate,” said Representative David Dreier of CaliforniaClearly Dreier thinks that Democrats are being underhanded because they are using rules, and Republicans know that rules are made to be broken... or something like that.
I'm actually serious about the Republicans routinely breaking the rules. The house under Republican control was governed for years as the fiefdom of Tom Delay, who didn't mind breaking the rules to get his way. I don't recall Dreier going all crybaby on us when Delay was extending the time for members to vote on various bills as Delay and his henchmen strong armed their members to vote their way. Remember Delay breaking the rules by offering a bribe to a congressman for a crucial vote on a hard fought bill? I wonder if Dreier remembers? This is a very small portion of the rampant corruption and rules breaking Republicans conducted as leaders of the house. Having a Congress which follows the rules may be a shock to the Republicans, but it looks like the American people are relieved.
What kind of chutzpah do the Republicans demonstrate when they cry about Democrats using the rules to push their issues? Even now we have had two FBI raids on Republican House members in the past week, and Democrats have to be assailed by a Republican for USING THE RULES! I think the Republicans would be well served to discover the rules, and start abiding by them.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Rove: So wrong, he's actually right!
In a question-and-answer period after his speech, Rove was asked whose idea it was to start a pre-emptive war in Iraq.Ding Ding Ding! Rove nailed that one, but for all the wrong reasons. Rove is trying to make the point that the war in Iraq was an unavoidable consequence of Osama attacking us on 9/11. So what he says is true, but what he means is not. In fact his meaning is precisely the opposite of the case, because the lesson we should have taken from 9/11 would have led us to foster international alliances in a united effort to fight terrorism, isolate the extremists and to try to win the hearts and minds of the region rather than inflaming them against us to an even greater extent than was already the case.
``I think it was Osama bin Laden's,'' Rove replied.
The fact is that it was exactly Osama Bin Laden's intention to provoke us into a military quagmire with 9/11, and Bush needlessly played straight into the terrorists hands by doing so. Afghanistan was the unavoidable war, and the war which Democrats from 9/11 to this day support and want to see through. No one has ever threatened to cut off funding for Afghanistan or set timetables. The international community stood with us in that war, and still are there actually. But then Bush had to start a needless war in Iraq, and play directly into the hands of Osama and the fanatics in doing so.
Bush's idiocy in Iraq has turned the world against us, from historical levels of support immediately after 9/11 to depths not seen in our history. The Iraq war has fueled Al Qaeda's recruitment and wasted the lives of over 3000 fighting Americans. This war has actually cost us more lives than did the initial attack which Rove mistakenly cites as justification for the war. In effect, we've offered the terrorists another 9/11 and they've taken it. Our budget is being sucked dry and the military is stretched to the breaking point. So yeah, this is precisely what Osama wanted, and our President with Rove at his elbow saw fit to give him on a silver platter.
Let me finish with my oft stated and highly inflammatory indictment of President George W. Bush. He may as well be considered the top recruitment officer for Al Qaeda, based in Washington D.C. Frankly, Rove nailed this one, even if by accident.
Bush aggravated with Gonzo,should look in mirror
Bush does not think Gonzales did anything wrong in dismissing the prosecutors, according to aides, but has been aggravated by his friend's clumsy, shifting explanations of what happened.The President is skating on very thin ice if he's gonna start holding it against people when they give shifting, clumsy explanations. In fact shifting clumsy excusifying is a hallmark of this President, his spokes toadies and the entire Republican establishment. Why is Fredo suddenly out of favor with the President for simply doing what the President and everyone else associated with him does all the time? It would be like me copping an attitude with a friend of mine, for blogging!
Let us be honest with ourselves. When these Republican operatives talk about shifting clumsy explanations, that is a euphemism for lying. It would be refreshing to hear a Republican tell us the unvarnished truth, and the above quote is actually a great example. I think we would be SHOCKED if whoever had given the quote had just said "the President is aggravated about Gonzales lying", which is what they were saying, without actually saying it.
There is a good reason these mealy mouthed liars (it is embarrassing to even watch them most of the time) are so prevalent through out the Republican establishment. They simply can not be honest and tow the party line. Dick Cheney is the absolute king of shifty, clumsy, ham handed, wrong headed rhetoric, (read inveterate lying) and he's not facing the heat from Bush... as far as the outside world can see anyway. Nearly any speech or interview given by Cheney includes outright falsehood, permutations of history, and the use of various linguistic gymnastic techniques, that would lead an honest person to blush in shame around decent company.
Indeed, President Bush started and has continued the Iraq war on "clumsy shifting explanations" (commonly defined as lies). This raises the question, how many people have died because of Fredo's shiftiness (lies)? In fact I suppose we can understand how Al's boss would be a bit peeved at him. The American people are ostensibly the boss of President Bush, and we certainly seem to be peeved with him!
Speaking of the relationship of lieutenants to bosses, the paragraph following the above quote in the WAPO article is eye opening:
What happens if he [Gonzales] does not [fix the situation with his testimony to Congress] remains unclear. No one in the White House believes Gonzales can say anything that would get Democrats to drop the matter, but his supporters hope he can be confident and consistent enough to explain his role without providing more ammunition for critics. Should he stumble, some Republicans said, Gonzales has a responsibility to fall on his sword, sparing Bush having to ask.Hear hear! Much the same as Bush has the responsibility to fall on HIS sword (figuratively speaking to be sure) sparing his boss, the people, having to ask as well. The President has had multiple chances to get his story straight, to tell the truth and try to stop the bleeding, and he has consistently refused to take the necessary steps. He should do the honorable thing at this point, recognize that he has lost the faith and trust of we the people, and resign.
Of course that will never happen. The notion that the President would do the right thing has long ago become a fanciful delusion.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
R Senators: White House tools how much longer?
1st: Richard Fricker at Consortium News reports that the White House fed talking points to Republican Senators that turned out to not be entirely accurate. By entirely accurate, I mean remotely, or in any way truthful.
Those talking points concerned the appointment of Tim Griffin to replace fired prosecutor Bud Cummins. Senator Hatch was sent out to give the line that Griffin was Cummins "right hand man", which is news to Cummins. Furthermore the much vaunted prosecutorial experience of Griffin was wildly overstated. In fact two sources told Fricker about the mess left after Griffins stints in various legal roles. They describe indictments written so sloppily that superseding documents had to be submitted. The general need to clean up messy work left by Griffin is described as "Tim work" after Griffins first name.
If I were a Republican Senator and had the talking points I was sent from the administration proven to be completely false, I would be just a little peeved right now! It's hard enough carrying the label Republican without having the White House order you to completely sacrifice any semblance of objectivity by forwarding outright falsehoods in order to defend the indefensible. To be expected to just spread these lies on behalf of an administration so devoid of logic, and holding public support in the low 30's must really be galling. It's almost like the White House doesn't care who else they ruin, if their credibility is going down they are taking as many with them as they can!
2nd: Read the official Senate record (about 3/4 down this page) for Senator Rockefellers take on the recent vote on Intelligence funding for this fiscal year. Everything seemed to be moving along fine on this vital piece of legislation, when Republicans were given the word by the White House that too stop that bill was a test of party loyalty. Loyal Republicans were expected to not allow a vote on the bill. The reason for the sudden change in attitude? The bill included language which would have made the White House tell the Senate about the CIA's secret prison system, which is still evidently in full force despite the Presidents assurances that the detainees previously held in that system had been transferred to Guantanamo Bay.
So Senatorial Republicans, again, take marching orders from a discredited, shameful administration in order to provide them political cover. How long will they do that? At some point, if the President's approval remains in the low 30's and the national mood against Republicans turns even more bitter due to his failed administration, some toady at the White House is going to call the Senate Republican toady with the daily marching orders, and get told where to put them.
You already see that happening in the case of Gordon Smith. Faced with what promises to be a tough re election in a historically blue state, Smith is backing away from the administration every chance he gets. Why should McConnell of Kentucky, Coleman of Minnesota, Sununu of New Hampshire, Collins of Maine, and the other Republicans up for re election have to fall on their swords for this loser? What do they run on if they continue down the road they have taken lately? I am an apologist for the worst President in American history... vote for me!
At some point in the near future I expect a wholesale flight from this administrations boneheaded positions on the part of Senate Republicans. They will have to cut themselves loose from the good ship Bush, or sink with him into the depths. Beyond trying to save their own jobs, they would be doing the right thing... after many years of playing along and allowing this disaster to unfold.
It's been a bit of a struggle
After the massacre I typed up a bit of a blurb advising readers that I would not be posting out of a sense of respect for the tragedy, but then I decided to try to continue blogging as normal and deleted that blurb. In keeping in touch with the blogosphere it was clear that the event would be used for political purpose, which to this point I have stayed well clear of. But my overall logic for continuing to post followed the lines of "if the other side isn't going to give a moment of silence, my side can't be expected to simply unilaterally surrender".
But it has been very difficult. I honestly wish I had gone with my instinct on this rather than trying to force out opinion when my heart wasn't in it...
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Quite possibly the stupidest question in history
Q Our son is on the U.S.S. Nimitz, headed for his third Iraq tour. And, Mr. Vice President, if the Democrats succeed in cutting off funding for the war, will his squadron's jets sit idle on the carrier because they have no fuel?The utter depth of stupidity demonstrated by this question can hardly be plumbed. The Democrats are actually funding the war, with a timetable! The Democrats are not cutting off funding for ALL military endeavors after that timetable is passed... Actually, I feel so vapid even responding to this utterly dumb question that I don't even want to continue.
I'm not sure who these folks are on WLS radio in Chicago, but good lawd yall! Let us hope and pray that with demonstrations of shining intellect like this, they are not influincing too many impressionable people out there.
If you think you hear "but Clinton did it" a lot...
A fine example of an inverse usage of the Clinton did it logic was posited by Condoleeza Rice. She (falsely) argued that the Bush administrations singular lack of action regarding terrorism early in the first term was due to the Clinton administration failure to leave a plan to deal with the threat. So if Clinton didn't do it, we should be understanding if Bush didn't do it either!
There are many other examples of the 'Clinton did it too' logic by Bush apologists, ranging from signing statements to breaking the FISA law. Invariably the Bushies logic falls apart under scrutiny.
But just think of what future generations of administration apologists will be able to justify with the simple argument that Bush did it too.
How will the loud mouthed right wing loony toons like it when they are kicked out of venues with President H.W. Clinton, because their views are not shared by her? Well, the Bush administration is "making viewpoint-based exclusionary determinations". Speaking of absurd legalisms how do you suppose the vast right wing sound machine will sound if a President Obama decides to use hyper legalistic lawyer talk to justify breaking international treaties? Somehow Al Gonzales managed to redefine torture and label the Geneva conventions quaint. Do you think Republicans are going to be happy when a Democratic President decides to attach signing statements to legislation, fundamentally altering the intent of the law beyond all constitutional principles? I rather doubt it.
Frankly, I don't believe this will actually be much of an issue with future Democratic Presidents because I for one would feel pretty weak having to base justifications for obvious wrong headed policy on the fact that someone I thought was a horrible President had done it as well. So how does that reflect on the Bushies?
Monday, April 16, 2007
Read this! Spread it around...
This is a must read.
Learning the disastrous lesson of 2000
I think it is instructive to step back even further and consider this administrations overall approach to once unshakable constitutional rights, from the very beginning.
This President was installed after having lost the popular vote by over 1/2 million votes, with the Supreme Court stopping the recount in Florida. From even before being sworn into office, the anti democratic, authoritarian seeds we see blooming in this administration were planted. The lesson of 2000 was that the system could be gamed in order to get your way, and concern for fundamental constitutional principles like one person one vote was a sure way to lose. What we see with the Justice Departments current drive to suppress votes across the nation is the logical fruition of installing President Bush because of vote suppression in Florida in 2000.
The attacks on 09/11 2001 have been used to further erode constitutional rights. There really is no more succinct a way to express this than the famous quote by Republicans arguing to give the President more unconstitutional powers... to paraphrase: "You don't have any constitutional rights if you are dead". The perfect response to this is 'give me liberty or give me death'... a clarion call which has rung true through out this nations history. That is until the abomination which is the Bush administration took unheard of liberties with our liberties by turning us into a bunch of sniveling cowards! The security of a dictatorship is not what America is about, but it is implicit in the warning of death abrogating civil liberties. Death will come to every single human being on the face of this earth. The liberties here-to-fore given to American Citizens, we believe, were given to all mankind inherently. Those rights still make us singularly American. The rights of the constitution have applied to only a small percentage of mankind, and this administration is making that small percentage even smaller.
Terrorism was also used to justify the disappearance of American citizens. If the President determines that someone is an enemy combatant, that person can "legally" be simply disappeared. This is not hyperbole, or an exercise in fanciful thinking. This nightmare has actually happened to American citizens. Not only that, but that citizen was driven to insanity by the brutal treatment visited upon him by our government, in what can only be termed cruel and unusual punishment for a crime which he was not even charged with at the time he was brutalized.
So I look back on that first liberty taken with our basic democratic rights and feel a bit angry still. The lesson of 2000 was learned all to well, and this nation is still paying for it. To be honest, I'm not sure this nation can recover from the set back. We can't very well start from scratch without a horrible cataclysm. But how do we recover these rights which have been surrendered?
What I have described (and this is all well known, there is no controversy regarding these violations) to this point is only a small portion of the truly devastating damage done the constitution by this administration. This in the name of conservatism no less!
Sorry folks... The only solution I have isn't going to happen. I think George Bush and his cronies should be impeached, and then tried for their various crimes. If found guilty they ought to face the full force of the law, and there should not be pardons given. I think this is the only possible way that future leaders will learn a constructive lesson from this disaster. Otherwise, if Bush and the gang is allowed to simply fade away with nothing less than low poll numbers to send him along, there really is no lesson there.
But there was a lesson from the very first time the Bushies saw fit to chip away at a fundamental right. They got their way and got away with it in 2000, and they have learned that lesson all too well.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Death to the talking point...
There are talking points on everything. On why the change to the Patriot Act which allowed prosecutors to be appointed without Senatorial review ought to be kept. On the weaknesses of the various prosecutors who were pushed out, and the strengths of their proposed replacements. On Clinton firing the prosecutors when he came to office... it just goes on and on and on. In fact the Justice Department was not bashful about this either. Document after document is prominently noted as being talking points. Draft talking points, Talking points as amended, talking points for approval, talking point talking point talking point.
One is left to wonder what sort of implosion would occur if one of the sheep were cut from the herd and went off message for a news cycle.
What I'm about to say is the equivalent of me farting the wrong way down a wind tunnel. It truly makes zero difference, but it does make me feel better.
Those who rely upon talking points to further an argument should be recognized as being intellectually lazy, and their opinions ought to hold considerably less weight than a person who makes their argument using their own logic. Using talking points in fact is intrinsically dishonest. The opinion being expressed is not original. A political party may as well manufacture an army of robots which can be programmed on a daily basis to simply parrot the talking point generated by the opinion leader. It is the equivalent of drinking the koolaid dished out by the cult leader. The followers original thoughts and feelings are suppressed in order to mindlessly echo that which the leader wishes...
This is not to say that merely agreeing a talking point is somehow dishonest. But to mindlessly parrot the talking point as your own opinion is. There are talking points from the left that I agree with. But I don't express those points word for word as I hear them and attempt to make it appear as though I'm expressing some great truth.
I find it troubling that the people in charge of the Justice Department can not seem to carry on a cogent conversation about the prosecutor firings without having a list of talking points to fall back on. Can you imagine the talking points being downloaded into Alberto Gonzales cpu as he prepares for his upcoming testimony? No wonder he has to cram so hard... he has to retain a veritable tome of talking points!
So what are we to do about this? I say we point out the talking points talkers and ridicule them for being the mindless Borg they are. Dare them to go off script and see if they can make sense expressing their own logic. I would like the term talking point to be used much the same as communist or nazi is. "You are using a talking point! Why don't you tell us what YOU think?"
Thursday, April 12, 2007
The people a President surrounds himself with are instrumental in the success, or lack there of, of the Presidents tenure. Scmitt is convinced that not only is Bush the worst ever, but he has determined to pad his "lead" in the category before he leaves office. It seems to me that one of the biggest reasons Bush is such a failure is because of his choice of people like Cheney and Gonzales. It may be possible for a self centered, whiny, intransigent little bully to not be considered so horrible if he were to let competent people run his administration. When you have all the character flaws evident in President Bush magnified by incompetent yes people, it's not hard to see why this administration is setting such a high standard of awfulness.
So here is the proposition set up by Scmitt's post. What other "worst evers" have populated the administration?
Here are a couple more for consideration. Worst ever Secretary of Defense: Donald Rumsfeld. It is Rumsfeld's misbegotten experiment in post modern warfare, known as the Rumsfeld doctrine, that led to inadequate force levels in Iraq. The fact that the deadliest military force in world history has been fought to a standstill by 20,000 insurgents with home made bombs is all that needs to be considered in regards to Rumsfeld's effectiveness at leadership in time of war. His insistence on experimenting with the tried and true methods of warfare were coupled with a prickly personality which alienated Rumsfeld from his subordinates, fellow administration members, and Congress. The disastrous nature of Rumsfeld's reign of error is acknowledged by people with widely divergent outlooks ranging from John McCain on the right to Al Franken on the left.
Worst ever U.N. Ambassador: John Bolton. The President nominated Bolton but could not move that nomination through the Republican controlled Senate. Foiled by his own party, Bush used a recess appointment to give Bolton a chance to be the worst ever. In fact it seems that Bolton was positively determined to be the worst, and would have considered himself a failure had he been perceived in any other way. One remarkable note from Bolton's tenure was his ability to unite Republicans and Democrats... in opposition to his leadership. This was best illustrated by a letter signed by 59 ambassadors who served 5 administrations all objecting to Bolton's continued abuse of his office. In what can only be considered a fitting end for a disastrous tenure, the administrations attempt to have Bolton confirmed failed a 2nd time, again with Republicans in power, as reiteration of the bipartisanship Bolton brought to affairs in Washington, against him. The last time I saw him, Bolton was on the Daily Show insisting that President Lincoln only hired yes men. Doris Kerns Goodwin set the record straight on the next show.
I think having 3 top cabinet positions, and the top American ambassador led by strong candidates for worst ever must spell doom for success of any President. And there are many other sub cabinet level positions that qualify for worst ever as well. Worst ever FEMA director: Michael Brown. Worst ever Supreme Court nominee: Harriet Miers (you have to be pretty bad when it is the Presidents own base who robble robble against you). Worst ever Presidential council: Alberto in a worst ever two-fer... he is the guy who signed off on the torture memo and he found some legalism which he thinks justifies illegal wire tapping by this administration... you actually have the Presidential council giving opinions which would lead to the Presidents impeachment in nearly any other time in our history.
You get the point I'm sure... No wonder Bush is The. Worst. President. Ever. He's surrounded himself with many of the worst evers in their own right.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Lindhs parents appeal for mercy: Lindh moved to solitary
But what did they expect?! Black is white for this administration, up is down, backwards is forwards etc, etc, etc... An appeal for mercy would naturally be taken as a good reason to make the terms of imprisonment harsher. Duh! The parents should have requested that Lindh be executed... that would probably have caused this Alice in Wonderland administration to declare his parents home a halfway house and move him there for the duration of his term.
The logic employed by Lindh's parents is entirely valid. Australian David Hicks was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment to be served in Australia for essentially the same charge that Lindh plead guilty to. This sentence was sanctioned by the Administration, and was an obvious political favor for the Australian Prime Minister. The logic of having the administration give an Australian leniency because of politics, while holding an American for years on end, and then worsening the condition he is held under when approached for leniency, simply cannot be fathomed. It seems I think that an awful lot about this horrible administration lately... More and more they simply can not be fathomed.
Actually it can be fathomed if you consider the type of people who would do that. I think George Bush is the ultimate bully, given ultimate power, and using it to arbitrarily mete undue torment on those who he controls. When I consider the mindset that a bully works under it fits President Bush nearly to a tee. He is petulant, quick to anger, can not be reasoned with, convinced of his own infallibility, surrounded by yes men, and determined to accumulate more power for the executive branch. If he doesn't get his way Bush throws temper tantrums. This proves very difficult to avoid, because his way is nearly invariably wrong headed.
Thus we see people who give anti Bush speeches or write articles and books he does not like added to the no fly list. We see scientists who disagree with him stopped from talking. Detainees are dissapeared, tortured, and given show trials. Wars are fought for wrong headed reasons. The entire demeanor of this man is that of a blustering, insecure, dimwitted bully.
Congress: Giving us what we want.
First the spokestoady filling in for Tony Snow alerted us that the American people wanted a change in policy in Iraq, and by surging more troops into Iraq the President was merely giving us what we want. This is figuratively the same as telling us that because we wanted off a hot frying pan, we have had our wishes fulfilled by having been deposited into the fire.
Here is precisely what Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino had to say about public approval for the surge:
The American people have wanted change in Iraq, and they got it. The president announced a new policy on January 10th that was quite different and divergent from where we were before.It is obvious the change the American people want in Iraq is not a bigger version of failure. If we could take back the entire affair we would by a wide margin. Frankly I find it mind boggling that 3/4 of Republicans still think the war is a worthy effort. If not for that base of administration koolaid drinkers, support for the war would be in the single digits.
Which segue's nicely into the 2nd part of this post: The A.P. Ipsos poll showing increased support for Congress under Democratic control. Congressional approval is the highest in a year, and Congress has more favorable marks than the President. The 40% approval of Congress is up 15% points from the last poll taken when Republicans had control. Nancy Pelosi in particular has higher approval (47%) than disapproval (43%).
A plurality are now exactly split with 39% each believing the country will be better off now that Democrats control Congress, or thinking it will not make much of a difference. 21% believe the country will be worse off. It's always easy to pick out the administrations koolaid drinkers portion of the polls respondents. Those 21% comprise a large part of the 27% who think the country is going in the right direction.
But heres the part that stood out for me. After all this good news about the people liking Democrats in control of Congress, and thinking they will do well etc etc... there is this question:
How confident are you that President Bush and the Democrats in Congress can work together to solve the country's problems?In other words even as public opinion for Congress steadily increases, the people do not expect Congress to be able to get along with the President. It seems to me that the people WANT Congress to confront this administration. The more this Congress obstructs this Presidents rolling disaster of an administration, the more popular Congress will be.
-Very confident, 3 percent (5)
-Somewhat confident, 24 percent (35)
-Not too confident, 40 percent (35)
-Not at all confident, 33 percent (25)
Beyond appealing to Congress' inherent interest in popularity, the other goodness that comes from them battling Bush at every turn is that doing so is the best thing they can do for the nation. There is no use in appeasing Bush or his koolaid drinking followers. They can not be reasoned with. Fight them at every turn and do the right thing for America.
[update: erm... I've actually gotten my terminology a bit off. It wasn't my father in law who passed, but my step dad. So news of my father in laws death were pre mature which I'm certain will come as a relief from his perspective.]
Sunday, April 08, 2007
The White House knew about Kerik BEFORE nominating him...
President Bush was determined to push the nomination through even after Kerik's legal issues were found out by White House aides who were charged with vetting the nominee. Alberto Gonzales also plays a prominent role, conducting several long interviews with Kerik, and then giving the go ahead for the nomination to proceed. The WAPO story makes it clear that it was the President's determination to keep the pick a secret, and to make the announcement quickly that led to Kerik's nomination proceeding. This despite the White House finding out about Kerik's ties with the Mafia and sundry other ethical troubles.
"They knew 100 percent of it," Ray said. "There was no way they didn't. I was driving the ball on that."The Ray quoted above is Lawrence Ray, who was ratting on Kerik to the FBI starting in 1999, trying to stave off a federal indictment for mafia activities. The White House even had an attorney who worked in the same office which indicted Ray question Kerik. Beyond that the White House also found out about four other illegalities which Kerik is being investigated for. Again, all this was known by the White House before the joint appearance by Kerik and Bush to announce the nomination.
Poor Scott McClellan played the fool on this one too.
The White House explanation has shifted significantly. Just after Kerik withdrew, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that "we have no reason to believe" he lied and that it "would be an inaccurate impression" to say the vetting was rushed. Now current and former White House officials assert that Kerik lied "bald-faced," as one put it, and say they erred by speeding up the nomination.By "we" McClellan was strictly accurate because neither he, nor any of the reporters he was speaking with were in the know evidently.
So why did they rush the nomination forward? Clearly the President was determined to get his way, and a bit of corruption by the man he wanted wasn't enough to stop him.
"That's a president-of-the-United-States, 'I don't want anyone to know, I want to announce it on Friday' [deal]. It drives people to not follow all the normal procedures."This actually was one of the first examples of the administrations cavalier attitude about ethics and the Presidents will to have his way no matter what kind of damage he may do to the government he purports to lead.
One is left to wonder though. Is there really no consequence to flow from the President knowing that a person is under suspicion of felonious conduct, and still nominating that person? Aren't there laws about who can or can not serve in the administration? As "they" say... there oughtta be a law! If a person is disqualified to serve in an office, the President may not nominate that person to serve in said office. duh.
I guess we are just very lucky that Congress was in session during this process. I can just imagine the crisis that would have befallen the government if Kerik had been installed via a recess appointment.
Friday, April 06, 2007
BAT: Let him without sin pass the first religious law
One of the most instructive examples posed by Jesus in regards to his take on the law of his time is when he was presented with an adulteress in the temple. Let me briefly describe the event. The law of Jesus' time condemned this woman to death by stoning for her transgression. The scribes and Pharisees were presenting Jesus with a trap, trying to get him to denounce the law of Moses and thereby be guilty of transgression himself. But Jesus answered in a way which has resounded through the ages. He said: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her".
The simple and irrefutable logic left those who would trap Jesus speechless and they left him and the woman in the temple. Jesus then told the woman that he did not accuse her, and told her to go and sin no more. He saved this woman's life while giving an example of the forgiving and tolerant law which he brought to replace the old law, while exposing the scribes and Pharisees hypocrisy. This was a philosophical trifecta and has resonated through the generations to gain mythical status.
I love the imagery of Jesus, using a truth so obvious, the logic so plain, that his enemies who thought they had drawn the perfect trap found themselves dumbstruck and just turn and leave. Seeing that in a modern day political debate would be truly amazing. Can you imagine if John Kerry had made some salient point in one of his debates with Bush, and Bush had just rubbed his chin for a few seconds and then turned and walked off the stage? I would have laughed so hard I cried... But I digress!!
One of the most popular sayings in the Christian community is what would Jesus do? I believe it would be absolutely fantastic if our lawmakers took this approach, and actually considered the teachings of Christ. I fear that many conservative Christians practice a decidedly old testament type of religion, more closely related to Judaism than to the teachings of Christ. It is the law of Moses that condemned the adulteress to death, and the wisdom and compassion of Jesus that saved her.
I find it hard to believe that Senator Jesus Christ from the great state of Oregon would vote for a law that would put a first time offender in prison for years on end for possession of crack. How about President Jesus Christ pushing for authorization of a needless war with deception and lies? Simply trying to even imagine how Jesus would be treated in today's cut throat political environment is instructive. I can see the attack video now... Jesus' faces morphs into Osama bin Ladens with the breathless lowtoned voice and the sinister music in the background: "Jesus was executed for sedition against the state, but now he wants us to trust him with our security?!"
By his own words, Jesus had every right to pick up a stone and commence the execution of that woman. He was the only man who had not sinned. But the example he would have provided had he done that would have been so un-Christ like that it is difficult to imagine how he would have continued in his work. What is the example provided then by the leaders who proclaim themselves to be Christians while approving the execution of prisoners, and the torture of detainees? Are these lawmakers themselves untouched by sin? Being responsible for needless war with the deaths of tens if not hundreds of thousands is Christlike? Not in my understanding of Jesus!
Here's what Jesus would have done in today's world. Just what he did in ancient Israel. He didn't march to Rome to convert the emperor. He didn't even try to make the puppet King of Israel see the light. He didn't seek political power. He spent his time with the poor and hungry, the prisoners and the working people. Back in his day Jesus did not seek the high class politicos. Those he witnessed to were politically silent. The only power they held was the possibility that they would one day revolt against the powers that were. And revolt was in the air alot during those days. It's one of the reasons the powers that be thought Jesus was so dangerous actually.
I have no reason to believe that Jesus would follow a different course if he were amongst us in the flesh today. In fact we see it if we know where to look for it. We see it in the volunteer, and the prison minister. In the soup kitchen and the person who gives his time for the less fortunate to better themselves. We normally don't see it in the windy politician who makes the greatest show of faith. The sad fact is that those most likely to be the noisiest in their public displays of faith these days are most likely the least Christlike amongst us, being filled with pride and self importance, and forwarding policies which do not reflect the teachings of Jesus.
Let him without sin pass the first law which condemns a transgressor to death. Let him without sin start the next war which kills people by the thousands. I rather suspect the truly Christlike amongst us are not passing laws. They are minimally concerned with the massive political issues of our times and are neck deep in helping those Jesus helped in his day.
Let me wrap this up with my compulsory disclaimer whenever I wax eloquent on religion. I speak from my perspective alone. I do not pretend that I am a great bastion of correctness or wisdom. I do not pretend to understand the will of God or to be his conduit to humanity. If you feel differently than I do, more power to you, and I would love to explore those differences.
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