November 29, 2006

Refusing to Learn from Past Mistakes

This from Dan Froomkin’s op-ed piece in the Washington Post:

'Charlie Savage writes in the Boston Globe about Cheney's relentless quest to expand executive power: "The Constitution empowers Congress to pass laws regulating the executive branch, but over the course of his career, Cheney came to believe that the modern world is too dangerous and complex for a president's hands to be tied. He embraced a belief that presidents have vast 'inherent' powers, not spelled out in the Constitution, that allow them to defy Congress.

'"Cheney bypassed acts of Congress as defense secretary in the first Bush administration. And his office has been the driving force behind the current administration's hoarding of secrets, its efforts to impose greater political control over career officials, and its defiance of a law requiring the government to obtain warrants when wiretapping Americans. Cheney's staff has also been behind President Bush's record number of signing statements asserting his right to disregard laws.

'"A close look at key moments in Cheney's career -- from his political apprenticeship in the Nixon and Ford administrations to his decade in Congress and his tenure as secretary of defense under the first President Bush -- suggests that the newly empowered Democrats in Congress should not expect the White House to cooperate when they demand classified information or attempt to exert oversight in areas such as domestic surveillance or the treatment of terrorism suspects."

'Seymour Hersh writes in the New Yorker : "In interviews, current and former Administration officials returned to one question: whether Cheney would be as influential in the last two years of George W. Bush's Presidency as he was in its first six."

'Thus far, the vice president would appear to be up to his normal tricks. Hersh writes: "The Administration's planning for a military attack on Iran was made far more complicated earlier this fall by a highly classified draft assessment by the C.I.A. challenging the White House's assumptions about how close Iran might be to building a nuclear bomb. . . .

''"A current senior intelligence official confirmed the existence of the C.I.A. analysis, and told me that the White House had been hostile to it. The White House's dismissal of the C.I.A. findings on Iran is widely known in the intelligence community. Cheney and his aides discounted the assessment, [a] former senior intelligence official said."
Meanwhile, as David E. Sanger writes in the New York Times:
'"Mr. Bush spent 90 minutes with commission members in a closed session at the White House two weeks ago 'essentially arguing why we should embrace what amounts to a "stay the course" strategy,' said one commission official who was present."'
Ah, yes------
Ignoring the facts worked so well for this administration the last time they were bent on waging a war.
So, they just keep doing it.

The definition of neurosis:
'Repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different outcome NEXT time.'

November 27, 2006

Hiding the Crime by Committing More

This from The Huffington Post:
Tomorrow, a German man arrives at John F. Kennedy international airport. This seemingly unremarkable event is in fact a moment of personal bravery that ought to spur national contrition.

Khaled E-Masri, the arriving German national, tried to come to the United States once before. When he arrived, he was hauled aside, imprisoned, and then promptly deported back to his home in Germany.

His crime? Being a danger to the United States? On one of the federal government's in famous (and multitudinous) watch lists? Hardly. Khaled El-Masri was declined entry because he had been mistakenly kidnapped by the United States in 2003, taken to a U.S. base in Afghanistan, brutally interrogated, and detained long after the government--at its highest levels--knew him to be wholly innocent of any wrongdoing, or even tangential connection to terrorism. Khaled El-Masri was refused entry because he was an embarrassment. . .
see here for entire article.

November 26, 2006

The Latest Stunt

Senator Brownback was on This Week with George Stephanopolous this morning. He was coy—but it’s obvious, he’s planning a try for the White House.
And, how is he kicking off his campaign? With a political stunt.
He’s planning to take an AIDS test and spend a night in prison.
THAT should solve our nation’s problems, right?

Meanwhile, he’s coupling in peoples’ minds the issues of AIDS and prison.
HELLO, Senator!!! There is NO correlation between being exposed to HIV and going to prison. Unless, of course YOU want to make it illegal to have sex.


I've heard it said that Bush perceives himself as King.
Nope. What he perceives himself as is Emperor--as in Napolean.
Remember--Napolean overreached himself, too.
Marc Kaufman writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush has signed a new National Space Policy that rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit U.S. flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone 'hostile to U.S. interests.'

"The document, the first full revision of overall space policy in 10 years, emphasizes security issues, encourages private enterprise in space, and characterizes the role of U.S. space diplomacy largely in terms of persuading other nations to support U.S. policy."
On rereading the above, I've come to another conclusion.
Seeing as how Bush wants control of heaven and earth--I guess he's actually likening himself to God.

November 25, 2006


Last night, on Washington Week on PBS I heard several soundbytes that were too strange to let pass:
Each of the last several weeks has successively been described as the ‘bloodiest yet’ in Iraq—obviously, things just keep getting worse. This time, among other atrocities, six people were burned alive. And our government just keeps staying the course—though they no longer use the phrase. As if we’re not supposed to notice the lack of change in policy despite worsening conditions.
Here, though, are the Oxymorons:
1] Bush says things are ‘better than ever’ in Iraq.
Meanwhile, he is planning a trip to the region. To
Jordan. The reason? He doesn’t DARE go to Iraq—where things are, ‘better than they’ve ever been.’
2] Bush says he has an ‘Open Mind’ concerning policies in the region.
Well, what can I say? THAT’S certainly a first—assuming it were true—which I am not about to aassume.
3] Bush says he’s going to ‘Listen’ to the other heads of state.
Bush? Listen? I don’t think so.
For all the good it did, before we started out on this misadventure, I protested against going to war.
Then, after we got in there, I moved to the position of:
'Well, we're in the soup now--we have to stay. To abandon the people to their fate after we've totally screwed up their country would be wrong.'
Now, I've shifted again:
I believe we have to get out and we have to get out NOW. Even the most moderate Iraqis don't want us there. That is, after all, the bottom line. It's their country. It's their choice.

If I were a politician, my opponents would call me a 'flip-flopper', I suppose.
Luckily, since I'm not a politician, I'm allowed to change my mind as conditions change without being attacked for doing so.

November 24, 2006

The Thumpin’

Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jim Rutenberg wrote in the New York Times: "Mr. Bush, sounding alternately testy and conciliatory at a White House news conference, said he was 'obviously disappointed.' He portrayed the results as a cumulative 'thumping' of Republicans and conceded that as head of the party, he bore some responsibility. . . .
I saw that press conference. Yes, ‘testy’ is the word.
After Bush conceded, ‘We got thumped,’ a reporter quoted his words back at him to be sure she had them correct. He stopped her and said, ‘It was a “cumulative thumping.” Race-by-race, the differences were minimal.’
Once again, Bush's and my recollections of events differ:
The results were all over the place. There were strongly Red states. There were strongly Blue states. One race I recall [though I can’t remember which] was 71%—29% Democrat. Missouri’s was a minimal race—as was Tennessee. What is amazing is the fact that Missouri has a Democratic senator at all. I’ve lived here most of my life and I don’t recall the last time we had one of those.

So, Bush said the races were close—immediately after saying he and his party had received a ‘thumping.’
Pundits on the right are quick to point out the difference between conservatives and Republicans these days. They have also lined up to say that the races were tight. The majorities were miniscule. Etc.
What only one person has seen fit to mention is that very redrawing-of-the-map that occurred during the GOP watch—despite the best efforts of the Democrats to thwart it.

If you take that injustice into account, the majorities start to look even bigger, don’t they?

November 23, 2006

Being In Charge of Ourselves is NOT demeaning!

President Bush's new head of federal family-planning programs
believes that birth control is "demeaning" to women. President
Bush's appointee, Eric Keroack, would lead the Department of
Health and Human Services' family-planning program - which helps
more than five million people annually at 4,600 clinics

Keroack has dedicated his career to telling women that birth
control and abortion are wrong. He most recently was the medical
director for A Woman's Concern, a network of six anti-choice
"crisis pregnancy centers" in Massachusetts that maintains a
policy that states: "the crass commercialization and
distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading
of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness."

Putting a doctor who opposes birth control in charge of federal
family-planning programs is just plain irresponsible. Help block
Keroack from assuming this influential position! Send a message
To the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt,
urging him to reject Keroack's appointment today. Click here
to get started.

November 21, 2006

GOP Fliers Apparently Were Part Of Strategy

Md. Tactics Similar To Ones in 2002
By Matthew Mosk and Avis Thomas-Lester--Washington Post Staff Writers--Monday, November 13,

The six Trailways motorcoaches draped in Ehrlich and Steele campaign banners rumbled down Interstate 95 just before dawn on Election Day.
On board, 300 mostly poor African Americans from Philadelphia prepared to spend the day at the Maryland polls. . . .armed with thousands of fliers that appeared to be designed to trick black Democrats into voting for the two Republican candidates.
Each worker would receive three meals and $100 and would be picked up on buses and returned to the pickup location the same day. . . .[F]or many voters, it shattered in one day the nice-guy images Ehrlich and Steele had cultivated for years.
Go here for entire article.
I'm sure people get tired of my quoting West Wing at them but still:
This puts me in mind of something Josh Lymon said to then Senator Hoynes:
'I don't know what we stand for here--except we seem to stand for winning--and everybody else. . . not winning.'

Obviously, the GOP has no sense of how this democratic republic, which they claim to support, is supposed to work. It's just about winning----and everybody else not winning.

Oh, and by the way--
Senator Hoynes? He didn't win.
Just like Ehrlich and Steele.

November 19, 2006

Now That It MIGHT Do Some Good--Please Write Your Reps

I sent an email to each of my senators some months ago to tell them to get on the ball with this issue. But, both my senators were Republican and, well, it felt like an empty gesture at the time.
Now, though, with the new breeze blowing through Congress, maybe they'll listen. So, I wrote them again--and I'm asking you to do the same.

It is probable that at least one dirty bomb will be set off in the US in the foreseeable future--and there's no telling where. And, given Al Quida's penchant for multiple strikes, several cities could be wiped out simultaneously.

So, PLEASE write your senators. Please ask others to join in. Let the government know we won't just sit here and let this preventable catastrophe happen.
For your convenience, I'm enclosing a copy of the email I sent. You can simply copy and paste it or you can write your own.
You can google the names of your senators to get to their websites, then send a ms through their 'contact me' pages.
Dear Senator _____________:

During the Cold War, the Mutually Assured Destruction nature of the situation kept the most horrible weapons ever developed from being used.

MAD no longer exists in today's political climate. Someone could place a dirty bomb in Downtown Anywhere and be on a plane hours before it detonated.

Now, we're told, a vaccine that could protect the populace from radiation poisoning is available. This medication could be safely self-administered in an emergency. If it were made available to the general public BEFORE such an occurrence, hospitals could concentrate on the people who were affected by the blast of the bomb--not have to deal with the people [probably numbering in the millions] who were affected by the dispersed fallout.

Strangely, the government has ordered that 100,000 doses of this vaccine be manufactured. That number of doses might cover the people in the top levels of government and their families. Yet, what use is a government without a population to govern?

Please bring this issue to the Senate for discussion and immediate action.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

November 15, 2006

The View from Across the Pond

Julian Borger writes in the Guardian:
"Karl Rove, it appears, is mortal after all. . . .

"'Just because you lose one ballgame, you don't lose your genius,' the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay argued today. But it is clear Mr Rove has lost more than just an election. His plan to build a permanent majority by solidifying the Republican base and wooing social conservatives among Hispanics and black people, lies in ruins. Hispanics voted Democrat by a margin of almost three to one. And stirring up the culture war with contests over abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage, may still have helped win a few seats, but the constant polarising of American politics ultimately alienated centrists, whose importance Mr Rove had scorned in his focus on mobilising hardliners."
John Dickerson writes in Slate: "Today Republican strategists were not talking about the GOP realignment that Rove once predicted but, as one put it, 'a six to 10 year climb out from' Rove's tactics, which have emphasized the base over the political middle."
Puts me in mind of the ‘Thousand Year Reich'. Lasted about as long, too.
Unfortunately, there's no Marshall Plan, this time.

November 13, 2006

More of the Same

From Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post:

‘Moments after the interview, as the president announced that he was replacing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Lowry wrote on his magazine's Web site that "a lot of Republicans are probably yelling right now, 'Why didn't you do it BEFORE the election?'

‘Ingraham said after her show that she is "very confused. Wasn't it just last week that the president said Rumsfeld was doing an 'excellent' job? And hasn't the president consistently said that his war policy is driven by what is happening on the ground in Iraq—not politics or polls?’
What’s the confusion?
Bush consistently says people are doing an ‘excellent’ job or a ‘heckuva’ job or some such—and then sacks them. Hasn’t Ingraham been paying attention?

As to the war policy not being driven by politics or polls—well, what can I say?
This president has repeatedly given himself titles: ‘The Decider’, 'The Uniter' and ‘The Defender’ come to mind.
I have my own title for him: ‘The Liar.’

November 12, 2006

Kos Says It’s Payback Time--I Disagree

From Kos [11/7/06]:
"Republicans in the Senate and House -- secure in their perpetual majorities -- instituted a long list of policies that dramatically discriminate against the minority party in both chambers. In the House, the minority is all but invisible.

But here's the key -- every bit of anti-minority party legislation the GOP implemented these last 12 years better be kept intact by the new Democratic leadership. Let them reap what they sowed. They deserve every humiliation they designed for those in the minority status.
Frankly, I don’t care if the Dems keep all the perks the GOP’ers gave themselves. Except one.

I think the Dems would do well to let the Republicans have a hand in the governing of the country. They were, after all, elected by the people to do just that.

Pragmatically, the best way to be seen as being even handed, not vindictive, willing to work and play well with others is to be even handed, to not be vindictive and to work and play well with the Republicans.

And, over and above how it will LOOK is the underlying fact that this IS still a democratic republic, right? So, the people ARE supposed to have a voice in such matters—like voting for the people they want to have govern them? Without that, what the hey are we doing here?
There’s one thing, though, that I hope WILL be addressed—and very few of the pundits [I’ve seen one so far] have mentioned it.
Back in 2003, the Republicans redrew the map to give themselves an unfair advantage when the people go to the polls.
I’m sorry, that’s NOT Democracy. It’s dictatorship. So, I hope one of the early orders of business will be to again draw the map according to the actual census figures—without the thumb on the scales for either party.

Then, let the people truly have a say in how this ‘Democracy’ is supposed to work.

November 11, 2006

First Things First

I don’t know which of the options outlined below is the right one.

If it had been up to me, I would’ve voted against the war in the first place—but it wasn’t up to me. I didn’t want the job then and I CERTAINLY don’t want it now.

But, the fact is, we need to either get out of Iraq or spend the next few months replacing the plywood trucks there with actual armoured vehicles. Sending in real kevlar vests that won’t break in the middle of a fire fight would be nice. And sending enough troops to actually get the job done so they can all come home would be a really good idea.

Now, THAT’S the way to support our troops.
Sporting yellow ribbons, making up slogans and denouncing political opponents haven’t done the trick.
This morning, after posting this, I heard a sad commentary:
A man called in to Car Talk on NPR from Baghdad. He had a question about how to maintain his truck.

The soldiers are now, apparently, receiving vehicles that are armoured. That's some progress, at least. But the undercarriages of their trucks aren't strong enough to support the armour and the shocks, springs and ball joints are failing--about once per week.

Of course, if a ball joint fails when you're driving down the road, your wheel falls off. This is very dangerous here at home. Can you imagine being in Baghdad when it happens?

This is how Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney et al have supported our troops.

November 10, 2006

To Rumsfeld: 'You’re No Churchill'

Andrew Sullivan wrote in his ‘Daily Dish’:
"In brief remarks, Rumsfeld described the Iraq conflict as a 'little understood, unfamiliar war' that is 'complex for people to comprehend.'

"He then compared himself to Churchill. Yep: still clinical. The truth is: it was Rumsfeld who little understood and was unfamiliar with the actual conflict he was tasked with managing. It was not too 'complex for people to comprehend.' It was relatively easy to comprehend. If you invade a post-totalitarian country and disband its military, you better have enough troops to keep order. We didn't. Rumsfeld refused to send enough. When this was made clear to him and to everyone, he still refused. His arrogant belief in a military that didn't need any actual soldiers was completely at odds with the actual task in Iraq. But he preferred to sit back as tens of thousands of Iraqis were murdered and thousands of U.S. troops died rather than to check his own ego.

"So let me put this as simply as I can: Rumsfeld has blood on his hands -- American and Iraqi blood. He also directly ordered and personally monitored the torture of military detainees. He secured legal impunity for his own war crimes, but that doesn't mean the Congress shouldn't investigate more fully what he authorized. He remains one of the most incompetent defense secretaries in history (McNamara looks good in comparison). But he is also a war criminal: a torturer who broke the laws of this country. The catastrophe in Iraq will stain him for ever. His record of torture has indelibly stained the United States."
I can’t, in good conscience, come out in favor of impeaching Bush—as tempting a target as he is. I fear the damage to the country would be far greater than any satisfaction we would glean from the experience. Unless investigations find more crimes than are currently evident, let’s just pull his fangs, let him finish out his last 2 years, and be rid of him.

We CAN, we MUST, hold Rumsfeld accountable for his policies that have left tens of thousands dead and left the United States in a shambles with a rule of torture as it’s legacy.

November 9, 2006

The Attacks Begin

Yesterday on C-Span, I heard some pretty preposterous statements.
First, a woman came out for ‘protecting marriage.’
**sigh** THAT old saw.
I’m sorry, evidence suggests that marriage has been around at least as long as agriculture, What is that—about 12 thousand years? I don’t think marriage is in any danger. In fact, it’s not under attack. Some folks who’ve been excluded just want to be allowed into the tent.
On the other hand, our way of life is in danger when bigotry and discrimination are allowed to flourish.

Then, a man said: ‘When Democrats get power they reach across the aisle and say they want to get things done. Well, we need to not be taken in.’
Oh. My. God. We know that Republicans have refused to work with the Democrats at all—freezing them out of the decision making processes. I had always perceived that as simple vindictiveness. Now, it sounds as if they actually see that as a Good Thing and look at Democrats who want to extend the olive branch as if they are engaging in trickery.

This man sounded as if he was disappointed that the Democrats might even accept participation by the Republicans. I don't understand that mindset.
So, the Republicans are speaking out AGAINST moving Washington back into a cooperative mode? WHAT do they think Tuesday’s message from the people was? That we want more business as usual? The hubris just doesn’t stop.

November 7, 2006

A Time To Speak

A time comes when silence is betrayal. . . . We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that is so close around us.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

November 4, 2006

Democracy at Work

With all the talk being bandied about concerning impeachment, I was put in mind of something I read years ago:
It was a piece on Nixon’s resignation. I don’t remember who wrote it—so I can’t attribute it—sorry.
It seems this journalist bundled his two young children into the back seat of his car and drove to an area overlooking the White House lawn.

He looked around himself at the peaceful street.
He chatted with his children as he kept an eye on the scene below.
He noted the helicopter as it came into view and settled on the grass.
After a pretty long wait he saw people emerge from the White House and walk to the helicopter. The rotors began to turn, it lifted and set off to take the disgraced President away to the airport to begin his journey home.

And he marveled.
Our government had just changed hands.
It had been done quietly.
Probably, most people were in their homes or places of business watching the events unfold on TV.
There was no disorder.
No people with guns were running in the streets.
There were no screams.
It was a sad day—not a terrifying one.

He turned in his seat to explain to his children what an extraordinary event this was.
Their eyes were closed.
The government had just changed hands and small children didn’t know anything unusual was occurring. They felt secure enough to fall asleep.
And, that was the largest blessing of all.
I may have had the same misgivings in 1974—I don’t remember.
But, given the nature of this administration, I’m not certain an impeachment today would result in the same outcome Nixon’s did.
Today’s administration is worse. It is even more greedy, more power-hungry than Nixon’s was.
Its crimes, to date, are even worse.

If Bush were to go, Cheney would have to go, too. In fact, I have no idea how far down the line of succession we would have to descend to find someone whose hands are clean. And, I’m not sure our country would survive such a cleansing with anything nearing the equanimity as occurred back then.

November 1, 2006

Bush to American People---Believe What I SAY--Not What I DID

Recently, too, the White House announced it's new strategy for the war in Iraq.
Bush isn't going to use the phrase, 'Stay the course.' any more.
That should do it.

Of course, according to Bush, he hasn't BEEN using that phrase.
And he doesn't CARE what those pesky video tapes show! He didn't SAY it--he SAYS he didn't say it--so why won't we just BELIEVE him?

Well, ok, just in case it may have passed his lips a time or two--well, he'll never say it again.
NOW will we get behind his policy in Iraq?