They demanded we trust them because they, and they alone, knew best.
They proclaimed they, and they alone, could and would keep us strong and safe even though it turns out it was them foolishly pushing us into danger with their international chest thumping and posturing. They then proceeded to jeopardize us further with their laxity and inattention to the very details needed to actually keep us safe and strong.
When the almost inevitable blowback came, they expressed dumbfounded surprise, but still insisted we trust them, and them alone, because they were supposedly the only ones capable of bringing to justice those attacking us. Worse, they were secretly delighted because they believed it gave them a blank check to seek fulfilment of their hearts’ fondest desires, things they could never achieve otherwise in a sane society. In a cosmically comic irony, the violent response of others to our earlier ignorant arrogance was declared an excuse for new egregious excesses of our own, excesses unrelated to the real task at hand, catching criminals.
Reason, rationality, research, and reflection were all declared useless baggage. Common sense? How quaint. Something apparently to be ridiculed.
Impatient to proceed with their secret agendas, they then proceeded to lie about the most critical aspects of what they were doing and why. Heedless of possible consequences, they surged forward unprepared for future needs or end games or contingencies for the usual glitches and unintended effects that plague all wars. After all, according to them, they and they alone knew best. Plans? “We don’t need no stinkin’ plans” seemed to be their operating motto or at least their modus operandi. God was on their side or at least they declared it was. 9/11 - the violent precipitating event of our current troubles was perceived almost as a “gift from God” encouraging them to indulge in their own previously stalemated lust for violence against Unbelievers.
In any event, it became clear they had absolutely no trust in the rest of us at all, we who would have to carry out and bear the burdens of the policies they declared. Interestingly, they alternated between being terrified of us and dismissive of us. They certainly did not trust us with the truth having no confidence at all in their own persuasiveness to win any debates on the merits. They still don’t trust the courts, the Constitution, the Congress, the voters or the small portion of the press they could not isolate, intimidate, mislead, or bribe with perks.
Astonishingly, they lied about even things they did not have to lie about. They became almost textbook cases of the pathology known as “pathological liars.” Aided by their exclusive possession of all the nation’s “Top Secret” rubber stamps, they could lie with almost impunity.
Secrecy became an end in itself, especially useful to cover up mistakes and lies. Their cone of silence was broken only when revealing a state secret might prove useful to attack anyone who disagreed with them or might have proof of lies. This is yet another in the cornucopia of ironies they have gifted us. Having loudly declared secrecy was imperative and inviolate, they felt free to ignore or sacrifice it at whim. It did not seem to matter the cost to the country of the secrecy violations by themselves. That was somehow “different” and legal solely because they were the ones doing it.
When their lies or inconvenient and contradictory facts are ultimately discovered, they pretend it did not matter. It is sometimes so obvious they are wrong, they appear to be downright delusional. Their grasp on reality is becoming increasingly questionable at best.
Nevertheless, they successfully seized the carte blanc they demanded after 9/11 to do exactly what they wanted even before. They began diverting resources, bodies and money. They got all they claimed they needed. But, although a massive hemorrhaging of blood and money continues to pour out and has never stopped or slowed, about the only thing they have shown is that success in seizing power and deluding their own country is not necessarily a predictor of success in doing so in others. Beyond the subversion and perversion of this country’s former ideals, none of their stated goals, except the most minor of ones, one that could have been accomplished in other ways, were successfully accomplished.
That was probably because they tended to fire the people who understood the problems. They replaced those who knew how with liars, self aggrandizers, incompetents, zealots, crooks and even traitors (assuming the word “traitor” includes those who blatantly ignore the words in their oath of office about swearing to defend the Constitution). Many of the flunkies installed by them seemed to see it only as an opportunity to line their own pockets.
All of them, the ones in charge, the ones responsible for where we are today, repeatedly told us the task was almost finished. They told us so often that the phrase “mission accomplished” is now officially an oxymoron, an antonym for the words “success” or “completion.” Yet, what they really did was make the problems far worse, perhaps now unsolvable thanks to them. Plus, they irresponsibly cost our treasury and our grandchildren trillions. They cost thousands of our finest young dead, thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, more maimed mentally or physically. That doesn’t even begin to count the totally innocent women and children diminished as “collateral damage.” They cost us our morality, our good word, our trust, our unity, our ability to respond to disasters or future threats, and possibly even our future. They immeasurably weakened us in so many ways. They strengthened those who resolutely hate us, for good reason it turns out. So far the only things they have “accomplished” are to fulfill the fondest dreams of terrorists and those who wish us harm.
There is no end in sight as long as they are in charge. They have screwed it up so bad that thanks to them, and them alone, we can no longer “win” Iraq by any conceivable meaning of that word and the results of getting out are now almost as bad as staying. It is being to appear the only person who might have been able to do as much permanent harm to us would have been for the partisan Republicans sitting on the Supreme Court to have put Osama bin Laden in the Oval Office instead of Bush.
Yet, somehow when everything goes horribly wrong, as it has, they blame others, never ever themselves. For a religious person, the plagues we have been saddled with might make it appear that God is so irritated at those in Washington, he is aiding the other side.
Despite all that, despite the mounting evidence of stupidity and wrongdoing and costs, they still refuse to allow genuine debate and routinely refuse to listen to anyone who might disagree, no matter how conclusive the arguments or proof. They certainly never actually change their core tactics or use other tools. They cannot see anything of value in approaches except using force to get their way.
They seem incapable of cost/benefit analysis. Like a spoiled petulant child, they are utterly incapable of being sufficiently adult to admit when they are wrong so that it can be fixed. They are a party of rich white boys who continually cry “Wolf!” Worse, they have been downright thuggish in attacking anyone who disagrees even mildly on anything. They want to continue forever doing what clearly does not work.
On top of being steadfastly, unchangingly dishonest and/or outright stupid, many have turned out to be unbelievably corrupt. It can probably be said with little exaggeration they have never been right on any subject except how to steal elections, let alone any decision having anything to do with Iraq. It can probably be said as well that all the bank robbers plus all the welfare cheats of all of our history put together have not stolen, wasted or broken as much as this particular gang.
Why then are we still listening to anything they have to say? Why aren’t they impeached or already in jail? Why would anyone consider voting for any of their crowd? Not one is fit to be elected dog catcher, let alone run the country.
Granted, the Democrats have been the brightest of bulbs and they have their shares of liars, gutless wonders, cheats and moral degenerates. Yet, occasionally one or two of them break ranks and decide that their country and their oaths of office are more important than merely obtaining re-election. We can no longer assume that of Republicans.
They demanded we trust them because they alone knew what to do. Well, they got the honor, the power, the money, the volunteers, the opportunity, and year after year to do exactly what they wanted and what they said would work. The bill for Iraq is now due and rightly it is theirs and theirs alone. Let’s make them pay.
Many Progressives and Liberals are gleefully pointing to evidence suggesting a truly deserved disintegration of the Republican Party. We should not be so sanguine however.
Regardless of the disarray their titular headless horseman delivers, he and his Neocons are not the only Republicans. After all, . . .
- Who owns or controls most of the ever decreasing number of mainstream media news outlets? (It doesn’t matter what the reporters find or want to say if they are not allowed to say it or can’t get a paycheck.)
- Who not only admits to secretly spying on Americans, but thinks it is a good idea? And, how likely it is they wouldn’t also use it to find potential blackmail of opposition candidates? (If someone thinks the other side is traitorous, then it is but a short step to believing that justifies any means to stop them.)
- Who builds and supplies most of the electronic voting machines and won’t allow inspection of the software codes or encourage paper duplicates of the ballots? (It doesn’t matter if you get the votes if they are not counted or reassigned.)
- Who currently appoints the investigators and prosecutors looking into voter fraud? (If potential voters or candidates can be intimidated, it matters little who they favor.)
- Who seeks out for appointment the most partisan possible judges, the ones who seem to care more for electing their fellow party members than honoring their oath of office? (If protecting those who put them in power seems more important than abstract principles, kiss the Constitution and its safeguards goodby. The number of them is going to increase between now and the election, not decrease.)
- Who had control of most of the legislatures after the last census which allowed new gerrymandering to take place? (With the next census still years away, a close to majority of seats in Congress still may be unassailable. And, the “coalition” of elected Democrats remains what only could be described as fragile given the diversity of opinions within that party. Anything less than a veto proof, filibuster proof, legislature means gridlock.)
- Who is master at exploiting the gullibility and irrationality of voters? (If lies or re-labeling are shouted loud enough, long enough and with a straight face, belief or at least confusion ensues. The fact that one person out of every four still is stating Bush is doing a good job and that one out of every two thinks Saddam had something to do with 9/11 speaks for itself.)
- Who still insists that “terrorism” or other diversions can only be handled by a dictator permanently in charge? (For most people, if theyare kept scared, they tend to be willing give up all to be safe even if the safety is an illusion, especially if there is no inference with their shopping or tv schedules. Too bad, the track records are never closely examined or compared against the rhetoric.)
- Who has been the prime beneficiary of the transfer of trillions of dollars from the lower and middle classes to the ultra rich over the past few decades? (Money still buys elections and the fact that some Democrats allegedly are drawing more openly disclosed campaign contributions prior to primaries reveals little about what can be tapped by Republicans once the post convention battle begins.)
- Who controls the stock market, the banks, and most of the means of production still remaining in this country? Who can impoverish traditional Democrat workers and their families simply by changing interest rates or moving factories or money overseas? (It used to be that there were penalties attached to such things. Now there are profits to be made and as a “bonus” organized opposition is crippled.)
Combine all that with the unending incompetency and fearfulness of the Democrat “leaders” selected. If you need any further evidence, merely re-examine the results of the last two presidential elections and how different the outcome seemed at the time given the demographics. The Republicans probably cannot be blamed for the abysmal choices Democratic Party members made on who to run, but they do get a large share of the responsibility for resolutely shifting the arguments from the issues to unrelenting and unfair personal attacks. Maybe no voter bothers to listen to the issues anyway, but it is still depressing.
In any event, the current crop of Democrats in office astonishingly seem to have positioned themselves for getting tagged with both “losing” the Iraq fiasco and, if the coming recession doesn’t happen quick enough, that too. How is that even possible when Bush and his boys controlled every choice along the way? Doesn’t anyone remember anything? Yet, here we are.
Worse yet, some of the Democratic contenders seem to harbor envy of the exercise of unconstitutional, even criminal, powers exercised by the current occupants of the White House.
So, what solution? Maybe none, but here are at least a few thoughts.
1. Start writing. Write your local and national newspapers and magazines. Single out reporters by name. The addresses are easily available. Ask your local librarian for assistance if needed. Write your friends and relatives too. Remind them how critical the situation has become. Write your politicians, the agency heads and even CEOs. Remind them you are watching and shining a light on what they are doing. E-mail, snail-mail, text, handwritten notes. It doesn’t matter. What matters is you contacted them. Surprisingly, so few actually do contact others that even a few dozen letters can seem like a tsunami. Sometimes literally a handful can sway legislation as evidenced frequently by the FCC actions. We have millions of residents in Oregon, yet only about a thousand people on average write in each week of which about a hundred are published. The odds for you are one in ten at a large paper. At a small local paper, the odds of getting published start to approach 100%. Cost to you? A little time and stamps.Better yet, do all those things in person.
2. Start calling and visiting. You will be amazed how easy it is to speak to even the very top people in most organizations. Think it’s not possible? I have had governors, CEOs of large corporations and even Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” fame returns calls direct without even having their secretary on the line first. Your local representatives will often fall all over themselves welcoming you. Just be brief and to the point. Seek a specific action and follow up to see if it is accomplished. Let them know you care enough to be persistent. If nothing else, attend the meetings and carcases. Cost to you? A little time and gas for the car.
3. File complaints. For instance, if the wrongdoer is a lawyer like the Attorney General and he suggests, say, that torture is constitutional, file a complaint with the state Bar Association and demand to know why he should be allowed to direct federal attorneys in Oregon. File a complaint with his home state’s bar to seek disbarment. Similar tactics are available for other licensed professionals. Contact their licensing agencies depending on who the miscreant is and what he does. The Better Business Bureau, numerous consumer protection and investigative agencies, the Ombudsman for the paper if it has one, the Postal Inspector if mail is involved, these are but a few of the possibilities. Filing a complaint usually cost nothing (unless it is a court complaint). Get on the agencies websites and get the forms. Remember, if the wrongdoers are tied up defending themselves in court or elsewhere, they have less time to get into mischief. Cost to you? A little time and stamps.
4. Before you start suggestions 1 through 3, do your research first. Have the facts and figures already at your fingertips when you talk to others. If they ask you a question or have an alleged fact contrary to your position, say you’ll get back to them and do more research. The answers are there. Get informed and stay informed. There is plenty of hard, convincing, downright indisputable evidence available on just about every issue in contention.
5. Suggestions for reading and listening material include The Nation, The Atlantic, “Counterspin,” mediamatters.org, truthdig.com, truthout.com, buzzflash.com, and commondreams.org. The latter two have links to others. If you need occasional levity to relieve the almost unrelenting bad news, try “The Daily Show” and dilbertblog.typepad.com.
Will it help? Don’t know, but it can’t hurt.
Dear Newsweek Editors and Owners:
I have been a long standing subscriber to Newsweek, but your announcement that, of all people on earth, you plan to hire Karl Rove appalled me beyond belief.
Conservatives deserve a voice. I may not agree with all they say, but they have an important viewpoint that should be part of any debate. And, there are plenty of honest, moral, open, courageous Conservatives. There are intelligent, insightful, witty Conservatives capable of debating on the facts, the law and the issues rather than personalities and ego. In fact, there are even some genuinely conservative Conservatives left on the scene.
Why then have you chosen a proven ethics-abusive, narrow minded, dismissive, dishonorable, even vicious partisan who is a self avowed antagonist to many of our most precious Constitutional principles? Why have you given a formerly respectable outlet to someone who has been systematically attacking our way of life? Mr. Rove has not only been proven consistently wrong on most of the important issues (other than getting Bush elected), but probably should have been indicted in one or more of the scandals deservedly plaguing his boss’s administration.
Frankly, you have done enormous harm to Journalism. Your judgments are not longer to be trusted or given the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, please cancel my subscription with the first issue of your magazine that gives Rove a new forum for lies.
I doubt anyone other than one of your interns will ever read this, but God help America. Surely, Newsweek no longer will.
The Neocons’ favorite justification for legalizing torture is the now infamous “we’ve captured a terrorist who won’t tell us where the bomb is hidden.” That rationalization is popular and persuasive to some probably because it contains an unstated false premise - that we actually have captured a genuine terrorist who has useful information. This "Jack Bauer Scenario" also presupposes guilt, a determination our founding fathers insisted should be determined in a more methodical process, notwithstanding the brilliance of "24" tv scriptwriters in eternally ferreting out all terrorists.
Given the Keystone Kops the Neocons tend to put in charge of things, the likelihood of them really catching a competent terrorist who has hidden a bomb somewhere rather than just setting it off immediately is probably less than you being eaten by a shark in Kansas. Moreover, both studies and anecdotal information from professional interrogators indicate that physical torture seldom produces reliable information. It is not that the torturee won’t talk, it’s that he or she will say absolutely anything to stop the pain or drowning, true or not. In addition, other techniques, including drugs, have proven more productive even in the short run when circumstances frighten those who say all our rights must be violated.
Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, let’s grant the Neocons their fantasy scenario, but change one aspect of it. Let’s suppose there is a genuine terrorist and he personally hid a bomb under the White House. Hmmm. On second thought, maybe we should say it’s hidden elsewhere since many wouldn’t mind it going off there unless it was big enough to take out the Smithsonian and National Museum of Art as well. No, let’s say instead the bomb is buried under an orphanage somewhere and we discover proof positive (as opposed to this Administration’s usual mere suspicions, assumptions and ideology). Let’s assume for once we got lucky and traced the unknown evildoer who buried it to a high rise residential building with a thousand people in it, 666 of which are innocent women and children and 332 of which are innocent men. We don’t know who among them is the bomber, but let’s say Jack Bauer has discovered the secret bomber has been residing on that particular street.
What do you do now Neocons? Torture everyone in the building? The Neocons insist it is okay to abandon the Constitution if it is just one foreigner. Is it okay to abandon it for a thousand people? Or, should we torture just the men? (Yeah right. No one under 21 ever was recruited to cause harm and no woman ever had a grievance against our society.) Torture just those who are of a darker skin tone or foreigners with an accent on the assumption that only they would bomb a building? (Oops, forgot about Timothy McVeigh, didn’t we?) Torture only the non-Christians? (I don’t think any of our abortion clinic bombers though claimed they were Muslim.) Torture just those wearing turbans? (That’s going to irritate pretty badly the entire country of India and all its Hindus and turban wearing Siekhs, not to mention everyone of that religion living in this country.) Torture only those who have guns in their homes? (Wow, that would be a tough one for the Neocons who also tend to be almost pathological when it comes to defending the portion of the Constitution regarding freedom to have guns. Their willingness to abandon almost all other Bill of Rights Amendments is almost amusing considering that Neocons insist even one regulation or hinderance of the right to own armor piercing 50 caliber rifles capable of bringing down passenger liners puts us on a “slippery slope.” ) So, what about torturing only those who have a two days growth of beard and non-blond hair? In other words, Central Casting’s concept of villains?
Remember, this scenario leaves 999 maimed and scarred on their bodies and/or their minds trying to find the one terrorist hidden among them. Neocons though seem to be saying that torture is still a good idea even then because we save more lives than will be lost. That is an unproven conclusion, but okay, suppose we know the bomber is somewhere in a city of a 100,000 and we know the bomb is a nuclear one which might kill 100,001? Still a good idea? The cost/benefit ratio is greater on the side of benefits by one. (Remember, this scenario leaves 999 maimed and scarred on their bodies and/or their minds trying to find the one terrorist hidden among them.)
Heck, let’s say the bomber is in Portland and the nuclear bomb is a hydrogen one shipped into the port of New York or LA. Now the saving ratio is perhaps ten to one. As to Portland, should we say . . . too bad? That’s the risk you take of living in a “war zone?” Collateral damage so to speak?
Neocons would probably gleefully wipeout liberal Portland given the chance although they might not be too energetic considering that only savings New York and LA rather than, say, Houston.
Neocons would probably gleefully wipeout liberal Portland given the chance although they might not be too energetic considering that only savings New York and LA rather than, say, Houston. The way to combat such nonsense is to counter with something Scott Adams suggested in his blog as a possible way to negotiate a settlement with Iran to prevent them from getting the bomb. He suggested we offer Iran the testicles of Bush and Cheney in exchange for a permanent inspection right to insure no bombs are being made. IF THERE IS EVEN A 1% CHANCE THAT IT WOULD WORK, WE MUST TAKE IT!
General David Petraeus, a former commander of the 101st Airborne Division on its last tour in Iraqis currently in charge of Bush’s “surge” efforts there. He will be returning shortly to pontificate on how Bush’s latest plan to “win” the war supposedly has been going. The snippets he has leaked to date suggest he will proclaim it’s, metaphorically, going great guns. In an alternate view published recently by the New York Times, seven sergeants who have actually been on the streets carrying out the surge provided their own personal observations and they could not be more contrasting.
What the two versions reveal is that there are basically two types of soldiers in most wars, those with the rank of major and above and those with the rank of captain and below. The former see the war as symbols on a map or, at closest, from helicopter height. These days, their's is the world of air conditioned comfort, hot meals, and clean, even pressed, uniforms. The only natives they meet tend to be just the local warlords and ward healers, usually corrupt ones at that. These upper rank officers, the ones with lots of gold braid and shiny brass, may get out in the field occasionally, but seldom for long. And, far too many never listen to those below them, particularly those in the enlisted ranks. The field grade officers, a misnomer, typically remain isolated even when completely surrounded by obsequious underlings.
The soldiers actually in the field, the grunts, those at the sharp end, see the war very differently. They see it up close and personal. They can’t miss the puddled blood and splattered gray matter. Perhaps circumstances force them to lie in it at times. They get to smell the indescribable stench of long dead or burned flesh that never leaves the nostrils once experienced. They taste the grit. They freeze. They bake. They hear, or worse, actually feel in their chest, the uniquely terrifying deep krump concussion of mortars dropping nearby. They understand that unlike in the movies, it does not matter how much a super soldier you are if the mortar shell decides to share your foxhole or if the AK-47 bullet happens to share the same airspace. They walk at night unable to see the trip wires, notwithstanding the high tech starlight scopes and infrared gear they wear. They often have reason to curse the limits of technology toys, particularly the untested new ones foisted on them by defense contractors more interested in surging profit than supporting the troops. They know the limits of human endurance by packing 80 pounds of gear on their own backs and eating cold MREs. They experience the real effects of the war, not the sanitized versions the history professors will later write. The grimy sweaty enlisted men and the lowest ranking officers actually leading them on foot learn all too well what war does to both to their own friends and the civilians they were there to protect. Interestingly, the enemy combatant sometimes earns greater respect than the REMFs who “lead” our own troops only from bunkers located far in the rear.
In any event, the view of war from the perspective of the ordinary infantryman carrying a rifle and searching buildings is one of almost relentless stress, worry, dirt, thirst, pain and fatigue. The one good thing, and occasionally very bad thing when death sickles a buddy, is the close comradery that can develop from the shared, often communal, experience among those fighting the war as captains, lieutenants, sergeants and privates.
These two very different views of the same conflict; i.e. the “higher highers” vantage point versus those scuttling, sometimes literally, on their bellies seeking cover, are so dramatically different that it is almost as if they are fighting different wars. Neither can really understand the other, yet both desperately need to communicate because each has critical information the other lacks.
The best commanders, sadly they’re quite rare, seem to be those who have endured enough close combat at some point in their careers to develop a genuine and lasting empathy with the enlisted ground pounders permanently assigned to kick down the doors. It needs to be long enough for the commander to discover that the enlisted men have useful and practical information. It needs to be long enough for the adrenalin rush to hard wire the experience into muscle memory. Merely earning the combat infantry badge is not enough. That only necessitates being under fire once. Unfortunately, what is probably needed for the lessons to really take hold is to be under fire long enough to lose someone they really cared about. That is when they finally learn the uncountable costs of combat and to not be wasteful of others’ lives. They certainly need to have taken the combat tour assignment for something more than just getting their ticket punched to show they met all their future promotion requirements.
Is General Petraeus one of those commanders men in uniform would consider worth following up a hill? I don’t know. Having served in the 101st Airborne myself, I hope so out of unit pride. But, if it becomes a question of whether to believe the seven doubting sergeants who have been carrying out Bush’s “surge” house to house or believing some general arbitrarily put in power by Bush, my inclination is to put more trust in the observations of the ones who happened to have observed events at grenade distance. They may not have the “big picture,” but the big picture type of guys like Bush’s buddies seem to have been uniformly and horribly wrong.
Besides, when breaking in doors and interacting with civilians in other ways, it is pretty easy for the average boot wielder to get a pretty good feel for at least whether or not the locals are genuinely interested in behaving. Body language is quite eloquent in situations like that. The number of bobby traps discovered divided by whether or not the locals give warnings before such traps are discovered the hard way equals the pucker factor. It is usually a far better predictor than the ideologies and egos of those at high levels who never have contact with the average citizen of the country sought to be subdued.
And, since we are not trying to simply exterminate the populace, isn’t that the one key question in Iraq; i.e., whether they are really interested in behaving themselves? As almost every guerilla war in the past century seems to have shown, until the populace decides they really want to have peace and solve their own problems, it becomes just a bottomless pit. On that subject, the cynical pessimists (which combat troops usually become after extended months under fire) are less likely to indulge in wishful thinking except the wish to go home. Therefore, is General Petraeus routinely seeking the unfiltered comments of his enlisted men who go out beyond the concertina wire every night? If he is, I would feel more confident that his reports will be reliable.
What is bothersome regarding the unknown qualities of General Petraeus is that Bush is not known to allow anyone in a position of authority who might disagree with his particular world view, even in private. Bush unconsciously seems to prefer someone more incompetent than himself so that he can look good in comparison. (How else would you explain “Heckofajob” Brownie for instance.) Consequently, a logical fear is that General Petraeus might be another crony type or an ambitious one. After replacing all the generals who accurately predicted the mess before the war even started and got fired for saying so, it is hard to have confidence that Bush’s latest selection is unafraid to report reality.
Even if General Petraeus is fully competent, inclined to speak his own mind and has good intelligence regarding Iraq’s present situation though, there probably will not be any genuine two way communication between him and Bush. In fact, General Petraeus might be expressly ordered by his commander in chief not to convey any message or facts contrary to the White House daily delusions. Remember, although Bush obviously likes to pretend he is a warrior by dressing up in flight suits, he was too gutless actually put himself where he could even hear the sound of guns which means he has no shared combat experience on even war in general, let alone Iraq, despite his brief sneaks into the county at night. Once again, it suggests what the seven sergeants and those like them have to say on whether the surge is serviceable is more likely to be accurate than what a higher ranking politically appointed general has to say.
It should be noted I have nothing per se against those who quite wisely seek to avoid places where you can be killed. If Bush had confined himself to hiding out during the Vietnam War, that would merely have been self preservation instincts at work. I do have a problem though when the person hiding out insists that the war is a great idea and that others go in his place. The reason I draw the distinction is because when our “deciders” lack that shared sacrifice under fire so important to comprehension, it almost insures a lack of understanding as to both the realistic capabilities of our soldiers and the full costs when trying to conquer.
Let us hope General Petraeus is one of the good commanders who can still remember when he was younger huddling scared in the same hole as his men. Let us hope he recognized that others had valuable information. Let us hope he has the cajones to attempt to educate his boss. A good start might be for General Petraeus to bring those seven sergeants with him on his next visits to the White House and Congress.
If Bush would ever listen to what the troops actually have to say, as the seven sergeants have attempted to share, we would be a lot stronger or wiser, at least not have as many dead and wasted. Of course, that would require that Bush actually care about the troops he so willfully expends.
[Written by a former SSG, 3rd/187th battalion, 101st Airborne, Vietnam era. Lawlessone was his radio call sign.]
Looking back and contemplating who would have been a better choice to serve as President, the urge to compile a list becomes irresistible. Here’s my top ten.
1. Bill Moyers. Intelligent, honest, researches before speaking, acts on facts rather than his guts, humble, appears to be genuinely compassionate rather than just mouthing the words for political gain, and is not tainted with cronyism and corruption. Last but not least, he always speaks excellent English instead of frequent gibberish. While he is not a professional politician, considering how badly the pros have been serving us, that’s a plus.
2. Al Gore. Since he actually won the election, it is only fair thing to include him, not to mention how he has proven to be so superior - intellectually, ethically as well as morally - to Bush. With the Academy Award, all he needs to complete a trifecta is the Nobel Prize although a Pulitzer or two wouldn’t hurt. Bush on steroids might have been an apt analogy for Gore if baseball Bonds had not put muscle juice in such disfavor.
3. Mike Bloomberg. Gosh. It is so refreshing to discover a politician acting like an adult should; i.e. showing he is not too embarrassed or too stubborn to change mind based on new info. Someone who is a fiscal conservative to the extent of believing in paying his bills while not wasting capital on capriciousness, yet still someone who seems to respect basic rights and recognizes there are some things that only government can do. If you stop to think about it, that’s probably what a true majority of Americans actually believe and how they try to lead their own lives.
4. Bill Maher. I know. He’s a comedian. But, at least he is an intentional one rather than a sad clown who shocks us by inadvertently initiating awesomely stupid stunts. How about where he is caught on film molesting the female leader of the German Republic or talks to the leader of Great Brittan with his mouth full of food? Funny stuff. Not so funny are the games played in Iraq. Sure, Maher has no foreign policy experience. That didn’t disqualify Bush though. Maybe Maher could make us laugh instead of cry as to how the White House is run.
5. Any Dead President with the operative word being “dead.” At least a dead president could do little harm. Well, come to think of it, maybe it shouldn’t be the dead Reagan. His devotees still manage to create a lot of mischief in his name.
6. Someone Selected at Random from Phone Book. Ancient Athens did it. Yes, Yes. Statistics insists that selecting office holders by lottery would result in a certain percentage of mental defectives and crooks. Fortunately though, the percentage would be smaller.
7. A typical 13 Year Old Boy. Granted, that would be putting a self centered, trash talking, violence loving, mean spirited, unthinking, hormonal driven, partially educated, braggart in the Oval Office. At the same time, at least it would have been no worse than Bush on a typical day.
8. Anyone Who Got at Least a “B” in Math, History, Geography and Social Studies Without Cheating. Come to think of it, anyone who got a B in even one of those subject and was capable of remembering what they learned would be a better President than the one we got.
9. Osama bin Laden. Yeah, I know. On the other hand, if the Republican Supreme Court had anointed bin Laden instead of Bush, at least we would have known he was a dedicated enemy of our Constitution, our ideals, our democracy, our economy, our environment, our workers, our children, our elderly and our soldiers. Better yet, we could have listened to what he said and known to do the exact opposite which is what we should have done with Bush all along.
10. Next to Last Person on Earth. Well, maybe there are a few more people than that worse than Bush. I acknowledge it. After all, I would not want anyone to think I am deliberately exaggerating or indulging in hyperbole here. But, you must admit the list of those who would have caused less harm is so long, it very possibly would be easier and shorter to list those would have been worse than Bush.
Who’s on your list?
Other than the fact that Bush is utterly delusional and divorced from reality, why isn't he appearing more afraid of the day when a new President has access to the White House files? Surely, given what has already been found out about the many formerly secret and highly illegal activities, he must be worried about what will be disclosed when Cheney is no longer stamping all incriminating evidence “top secret” and forbidding staffers to be subpoenaed. Perhaps he forgot the classification of something as secret can be reversed just as easily as Bush himself already declassified and disclosed more important national security matters such as the Phlamegate “outing.”
Does he . . .
1. . . . believe he has actually done a great job and committed no crime? Not even Nixon seemed to believed that.
2. . . . believe that he can keep everything buried? Like cornered beasts in a cage, the Republicans are already starting to turn on and bite one another. Heck, some Republicans may want to investigate just to clear themselves of Bush’s tar baby taint.
3. . . . believe that the next President automatically will pardon him as Ford did Nixon to supposedly “heal” the country? That seems to assume a lot, especially if the Democrats gain control as seems likely given the way the nation is headed.
4. . . . believe that the Democrats are too timid, weak or ineffectual to pursue the matter once he is out of office? Well, he may be right about that in light of the timid, weak and ineffectual response of the Democrats over the last seven years on just about everything. The voters though may replace irresponsible Democrats as well as Republicans in the next election with office holders who actually care about their oath of office to defend the Constitution.
5. . . . believe that he is untouchable because all his life someone has bailed him out of his many, many, many failures? Sorry Bush, the law of averages finally catches up to almost everyone. Murphy’s Law should have stopped him far earlier, but it is a “law” of a sorts and does seem to work. Besides, no one on earth, not even Bill Gates has enough money to bail the country out of the fiscal mess he has created, let alone the moral and ethical ones.
6. . . . believe that there are no prosecutors smart enough to convict him? Granted, the prosecutors normally selected by Republicans such as Ken Starr, Alberto Gonzales and the dufus who almost got the Padilla case (where the defendant freely admitted guilt of being a terrorist) thrown out of court tend to be an amazing collection of bumbling barristers unable to tie their own shoes. Nevertheless, not every available prosecutor is a Right Wing hack put into office solely for his or her slavish adulation of Bush. Out of the million or so licensed attorneys out there, there are many relatively bright prosecutors fully competent of finding at least one criminal act for which Bush should be jailed or turned over to an international tribunal.
7. . . . believe he will be forgiven for frivolously wasting lives, not to mention our treasury, our security, our military, our soil, our air, our forests, our country’s integrity and honor and allies, and you name it ad infinitum? Good luck on that one, Bushie. Those of us who want to prevent such fiascos in the future see a need to bring you to justice if for no other reason than future crime deterrence and dictatorship avoidance.
8. . . . believe that even if disgraced and punished he will ultimately be seen as a Christian martyr in future histories saving civilization from the Muslim horde? Okay, he is free to hope for that so long as he spends a long time in jail first.
9. . . . believe that the unshakable 25% who still faithfully support him will bust him out of jail? They are a rabid unreasoning bunch to be sure, but as unthinking cult-like followers, it is not evident that they would even be capable of sufficient independent thought to pull that off.
10. . . . believe Cheney will successfully pull off a coup and entrench fellow Neocons in power for the next several decades. He did come close to establishing an despicable dictatorship and apparently dreamed of family hereditary appointment like Caesar or Napoleon hoped. Fortunately, the minions he entrusted to accomplish that permanent takeover were just too incompetent. If you use the Keystone Kops as your Korp of Korruption, you get a komedy of errors. A tragic comedy perhaps, but a happy ending for the rest of us.
Nah. It’s probably none of those. Bush probably really is just delusional and divorced from reality.
[more irreverence at http://resistence-is-possible.blogspot.com]
I can see only ten potential reasons why those currently (and hopefully temporarily) in control of the Democratic Party so cravenly caved in to Bush and conspired with him to violate the Constitution and our fundamental freedoms by granting him near dictatorial powers for spying and searching without warrants:
1. They have never bothered to read the Constitution. Maybe all they have time to read is bribe requests from lobbyists.
2. They do not understand or have forgotten how central it is to our democracy and what we stand for in the world. D’oh.
3. They can’t read or are of such minimal intellectual capacity that they cannot comprehend the plain meaning and obvious intent of the words. It makes Bush’s stumbling through a children’s story while 9/11 was in progress seem professorial in comparison.
4. Their copies of the Constitution are missing several important pages. I wouldn’t put is past Bushites to razor blade all copies they can locate, but I am beginning to doubt the ability of Democrats to notice.
5. They don’t care or they are lazy, or incompetent or cowards afraid of a fight. From their actions over the last several years, this is sadly an emerging pattern.
6. They have been bought off or being blackmailed. Wouldn’t it be an interesting irony if whatever blackmail is being used was obtained by this same illegal power the Executive Branch has been using for years to secretly search communications?
7. They are more interested in preserving their perks of office than they are obeying their oath of office in which they expressly swore to defend the Constitution. The oath, by the way, is not to defend people or places from attack by terrorists, but to defend the CONSTITUTION.
8. They do not recognize how easily the power to spy and search without warrants can be abused. Nothing prevents it from being used against Americans for purely partisan purposes such as finding dirt to blackmail or destroy political opponents. This is especially possible when there is little or no oversight such as a neutral court to help, at least a little, to discourage violations. That is why the founding fathers made the absolute prohibition such a key and highlighted provision. If the ambiguous prohibition against infringing the right of “militias” to bear arms has been interpreted so broadly that it is perceived as allowing everyone to have any guns they want, then surely an explicit and unequivocal prohibition against searches without warrants ought to be enforced as written.
9. They do not believe Bush and his monomaniacal cabal are capable of using the power in ways not allowed by law. Actually, if this is the reason, it falls into the gross stupidity category already mentioned above since how could anyone who reads not be aware of what Bush and the minions he exemplifies have been doing?
10. They see themselves gaining control of the White House and want the power to spy and search without warrants for themselves.
Keep in mind that to prevent this particular assault on the Constitution, all the Democrats had to do was simply not bring the bill up for a vote. Nothing else. It would have automatically died a natural death this Fall. They did not need to fear a Presidential veto. They did not have to worry about a filibuster stalling work in Congress for a lengthy period. They did not have to worry about having enough votes to win. They did not have to worry about looking ineffectual. They would have greatly pleased their constituents. There would have been little harm as evidenced by the fact that the millions of violations by Bush for literally years so far has not actually accomplished anything useful in saving the nation for harm. The Democrats did not have to even take a position one way or the other and would have had cover by claiming it was not their fault. They could have legitimately said hundreds of bills never see the light of day and there are other things of more importance claiming attention on their limited time. Consequently, they had little worry that doing nothing could be effectively used against them when running for office.
Why then did the Democrats bizarrely go along with a lengthy extension of the surveillance and wiretapping of Americans without warrants outrage? It is not clear which of reasons speculated above resulted in such gross offenses against the Constitution, but whatever the reason, it is scary. We apparently need to replace the present Democrats in Congress as well as the President and all his followers.
Maybe what we need on ballots is a “NONE OF THE ABOVE” option when voting so that a new election is immediately held and none of those running at the time are permitted to be in the new race.
Let’s see if I understand this correctly. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution of which it is a part expressly state no searches shall be allowed without warrants. Together they are the governing documents for our society.
The Bush Administration however was secretly and illegally searching without warrants for years although through the entire period there was an easy and quick way to obtain warrants in a totally secret court even after the searches had already been completed. That latter Act, passed in a time of unreasoning fear and shortsightedness, is called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA. Its allowance of retroactively granted warrants is or should be of questionable validity. After all, anything allowing searches without warrants is of questionable constitutionality given the unambiguous prohibition in the supreme law of the land, not to mention the inherent danger of such a power being abused by the party in control of the Executive Branch. There is too much of a temptation to use it to spy on political opponents seeking dirt to blackmail or silence them. Remember after all, the Neocons touting Bush as the second coming have already publically declared at various times anyone who disagrees with them is ipso facto a “traitor” and guilty of “aiding” our enemies.
Despite Bush and his buds having an ostensibly legal Act on the books granting them permission, if they would just follow a couple of minuscule requirements, to do want they wanted, basically to secretly spy on just about anyone they wanted and search damned near all communications, they chose to ignore the Act in its entirety. The Administration implicitly acknowledged literally millions of violations. Arrogantly, the President did not even bother to seek the sweeping powers granted under FISA to invade privacy. He insisted he has an absolute right to do such searches and spying regardless of what that or any other law says. In fact, Bush and the Bush apologists seemed perversely proud of the fact that they were ignoring the Constitution. They practically bragged about it and used it in political campaigns seeking to keep them in power.
It is easy to see why the President felt he could openly thumb his nose at the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. The Republican Party dominated Congress at the time and rubber stamped whatever their anointed Caesar did or desired. To show their complicity in the destruction of the Constitution and its safeguards, rather than impeach the President for admitted violation of his oath of office to defend the Constitution as written, the then Republican dominated Congress passed a new Act declaring the Constitution should be ignored on this point. Fortunately, the potential oppression under that new Act was not made permanent. It was about to expire and the Republic was about to be saved, at least from that particular attack on freedom. Hallelujah.
Better yet, the Republicans no longer controlled Congress and it would not matter that they still made the Supreme Court and the White House bark a Neocon Republican tune. The current Democratic Party leadership, had been elected for the primary purpose of putting a break on the imperialist cravings and excesses of the Bush Administration and had the ability to block re-enactment. Best of all, surely they would oppose re-enactment since they had been complaining mightily about the many, many ways Bush and his boys have been trashing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They had also been complaining that bills they attempt to pass themselves to rein in Bush II’s reign were getting vetoed or threatened to be vetoed, frustrating their efforts.
Here, they did not have to experience the frustration of a veto. They did not have to face the painful decision of using any of the 10,852 other reasons they had to impeach Bush, Cheney, Gonzales and others in the Bush monarchy continuing to gleefully violate their oaths swearing to defend the once proud and useful Constitution. Since the dictatorial searches without warrants “law” pasted by the Republicans was about to run out of its own accord, it was the perfect opportunity for the Democrats to do some good finally with their majority position in both houses. All they had to do was do NOTHING. Nothing at all, which is something they seem to be good at. They could have simply keep their mouths shut and not bring up a renewal of the obnoxious and dangerous spying law for a vote. It would have finally died of its own accord. It would have been VETO PROOF for once since the Prez cannot veto what is not passed nor can the Supreme Court overturn not passing a law.
Amazingly, astonishingly, mind blowingly though, the emasculated wimps in the Senate whose symbol is a jackass have decided to let the President continue his violations of the wording of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
I cannot decide if current slate of Democrats in control have never read the Constitution, have only read a copy with pages missing, don’t think it is important, believe their oaths of office are quaint anachronisms, feel their personal power is more important, are gutless, are lazy, are incompetent, still believe anything emanating from Bush’s mouth or some combination of those. Do the Democrats want the spying/searching power for themselves now that they assume they will gain control of the White House?
Rather than acquiescing to Bushies constant demands for Kingship, rather than seeking how closely they can shave the Constitution, why aren’t the Democrats seeking to expand civil rights and protections or at least attempting to return them to something more closely resembling the actual wording of the Constitution and Bill of Rights? Why are the Democrats saying the new extension of the Presidents right to search and spy without warrants is only for a short period of time? Forget tacking on minor restrictions which the President has already promised to veto or ignore, why was there a vote to extend at all? Why, why, why?
Why aren’t they listening to their constituents or re-reading their sworn oaths of office? Moreover, why aren’t they looking at the general track record and proclivities of the Bushies on issues such as this when the Bushies assert such a power is needed? Has anyone in the Administration or the pundits who applaud and encourage him ever been ultimately proven right on anything? Anything at all?
We need to undo everything Bush and his minions have done. We need to undo them loudly to let the world know we are no longer a proto-fiefdom operating on whim and ego. We need to replace everyone who was ever hired or appointed Bush or at a minimum those who didn’t quit in disgust or get replaced. Why are we then perpetuating Bush aggrandizements such as his warrant less searches and ubiquitous spying on Americans?
I am starting to think we need to replace all the current leadership of the Democrats as well as all Republicans. This latest fiasco has lead me to wonder if we wouldn’t be better off having office holders at all levels selected at random similar to how jury pools are chosen. That way we might at least have a statistical chance of putting people in office who have common sense, are honest, ethical and honor the genius of our Founding Fathers who designed a marvelous document. Granted, statistics suggest a certain percentage of those who might be randomly selected for office would be morally deficient or mentally incompetent, but the percentage would be smaller apparently than what we have now. In any event, I for one am tired of the Constitution being trashed by both parties so blatantly.
At a time when Republicans are terrifying in their attempts to establish a lasting dictatorship, why do the Democrats have to be so gullible and ineffectual? Is it a sign democracy in this country is doomed? It will be unless we let the Democrats know their actions on things like renewing the warrant less searches law are unacceptable.
You are not going to believe it. Go to the White House website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/07/20070717-3.html# and read the July 17, 2007 Executive Order in which Bush announces that he plans to give the Secretary of the Treasury power to, among other things, seize all assets of anyone in this country even suspected of posing a "significant risk" that they might disagree with any Iraq goals or policies of Bush. It supposedly will be confined to those suspected of undefined "acts of violence," but considering it extends to future suspected acts as well and considering Bush already has the Secret Service arrest even spectators at campaign event for merely wearing a contradictory t-shirt, not to mention he often conflates all dissenters and opposition as traitors, there is good reason to fear how he will interpret the possibility those he does not happen to like or trust might commit supposedly violent acts.
Executive Orders have the force of law and this one is scary as hell in its implications. Unfortunately, except through the Ron Paul website, no one in Congress or running for office seems to have even mentioned it.
Frankly, I would not want any President to hold such power, no matter how much I might agree with the Chief Executive on other things. And, my by now well justified lack of trust in the Bush Administration not capriciously exercising such total power is infinite.
My guess is not even the most rabid right winger on the Republican Supreme Court would uphold it when tested, but in the years it would take you to fight it through the courts, you could be without access to a dime of your assets the entire time. It gives the power to seize your home, your paychecks, your car simply because of suspicion, not proof or conviction.
If this particular Executive Order is not a "High Crime or Misdemeanor" against the Constitution as well as a violation of the President's Oath of Office, what the hell is? This is exactly what the impeachment remedy was designed by the Founding Fathers to protect against. What does it take to get our elected representatives and senators off their rear ends and convene for the process?
The only saving grace in this whole frightening effort by Bush and Cheney to apparently grant themselves essentially unrestricted control is that they have so broken our military, our domestic law enforcement agencies and our obviously ironically named "justice" department, is that they might not be able to accomplish their hoped for effective abolishment of the Constitution's ideals.
Would someone please explain to me why a bill of impeachment has not been filed against President Bush, Vice President Cheney and possibly Attorney General Gonzales.
When you gave your own oath of office in Congress, you solemnly swore to personally defend our Constitution. Since I, and apparently nearly a majority of your constituents, already suspect no one in the nation today is working harder to subvert the Constitution than those particular officials, I do not understand why an impeachment is not already underway. Given the magnitude of the potential harm, we want to know, one way or another, if our fears are correct.
An impeachment is not only an important component of the Constitution, one the founding fathers mentioned several times, it is an investigative process with the power to force revelation of the truth under oath backed up by penalties for perjury. It was expressly designed for grave times such as these. Since we don't have the "no confidence vote" alternative of European countries, it is something we desperately need at the moment.
Filing an impeachment is not a Constitutional crisis itself. It is the genius way the drafters of the Constitution enabled us to prevent or cure any such crisis, a way to avoid the civil disobedience and even war possible when the public loses confidence in the government. It is, or should be, the adult way to finally allow, or if necessary force, dialogue on issues which are tearing us apart.
Filing an impeachment is not a pre-ordained end result in which the accused are automatically removed from office. It is simply the beginning of a necessary procedure to protect the Constitution and the nation from the occasional individuals who, because of power hunger, arrogance, ignorance or incompetence, feel the Constitution should be ignored. Perhaps these three individuals are innocent, but let the evidence, not cowardice, determine that. We need the “transparency” of government which impeachment can provide. Besides, even if Congress affirmatively acts on the impeachment and concludes removal of the offending official from power is mandated, it does not impose any actual punishment such as jail or a fine. Assuming they are not caught in a material lie under oath, there are no consequences to anyone removed from office other than embarrassment. Moreover, if they renounce the errors of their ways before a final vote, admit their mistakes and allow open oversight to insure it does not happen again, the process can be suspended.
Impeachment should not be frivolously invoked and never for a purely partisan purpose or advantage, but it must not be eternally “off the table.” If these acts of which those three are accused are not considered “high crimes and misdemeanors,” then what is? Unfortunately for our country, if impeachment is not occasionally used, it will be lost as a future protection. Do you want to be responsible for that happening?
If you do not initiate an impeachment, then you yourself weaken the Constitution by making that particular check and balance worthless. Silence is tacit approval of whatever malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance the accused have done.
So, do the right thing, for the right reason and do it right now. Convince us that your failure so far to impeach this particular President and his underlings is not merely because you hope your party wins the office and has a chance to cloak your own candidate with the monarchical powers Bush and Cheney and Gonzales have been trying to usurp unto themselves.
Bush Junior apparently has decided that Libby, an Administration senior official found guilty of deliberately lying under oath while being questioned about his admitted leaks of a national security secret regarding CIA personnel, should do no jail time for his crimes.
Obviously, the Republican campaign ads had it wrong. Why should al-Qaida ever want Democrats to win when they can have a helpful fellow like Bush and his buddies in the White House? So much for the supposed promises of Republicans to safeguard our national security and keep convicted criminals behind bars. Frankly, King Bush routinely does more for terrorists in a month than a battalion of terrorists can do in a year.
Can you imagine what McCarthy and Goldwater would have said if a Democratic President had let the criminal go? Hell, can you imagine what Bush Senior would have said. After all, he got in office on the strength of his opponent supposedly letting convicted Willie Horton out of jail early.
It was a nice additional touch of irony that Bush Junior, who routinely ordered the torture of detainees and death sentences for the mentally ill, called the few months to be spent in a cushy US prison as "excessive."
The exact figures are a little hard to confirm, but it certainly looks like the number of US troops killed from the initial invasion of Iraq through Saddam’s toppling was only a few hundred. Even counting all the deaths back home on 9/11 itself, the combined total is still less than we have lost since the occupation/pacification of Iraq started dragging into infinity.
The comparison between our pre and post occupation losses is even more pronounced if we count all casualties including mental problems, not just the deaths. Once we start looking at dollar figure drains on our treasury and economy from just conquering versus sticking around for “peace keeping” and “nation building,” the adverse cost comparison becoming truly staggering.
What that suggests is we should pull out immediately and say we will be back if they ever try anything again we don’t like such as looking at us cross-eyed. (After all, since they didn’t really have anything to do with 9/11 or have the nukes we thought, it must have been the Saddam’s sneer that justified invading).
It certainly calls into question the thinking of those who insist we must stay to keep them from attacking us later. Haven’t any of those geniuses who got us into this mess and want to keep us there ever heard of that quaint concept called cost/benefit analysis?
[more irreverence at resistence-is-possible.blogspot.com]
If anyone in the Republican Party had the common sense of an elephant, they’d promptly fire whoever is in charge of recruiting Republican prosecutors. Think about it. Is the entire GOP utterly incapable of finding even one truly competent lawyer within its ranks?
Look at the disaster of Special Prosecutor Ken Starr - millions of dollars and hundreds of staff utterly wasted for years chasing Clinton. It is hard to believe nothing could be uncovered in any of thousands of White Water transactions scrutinized.
Look at the White House counsel selections, Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Myers. They earn the title of Dumb and Dumber. Or perhaps Torquemada and Toots.
Look the circus created by the entire upper echelons of what probably should be renamed the InJustice Department. Monica Gooding for instance came from a law school of the quality that advertises on matchbooks, a place where you “learn” more about the rulings of Jehovah than the rulings of Judge Learned Hand. Out of the tens of thousands of lawyers annually applying for government legal jobs, surely they could have done better than Ms. Out-of-her-League Gooding.
Was she there primarily to make the newest boss, Alberto Gonzales, appear well qualified in contrast? If so, that failed too. The Gonz has proven to be so incompetent himself, he should be referred to as the “Attorney Corporal,” certainly in comparison to John Ashcroft, the prior Republican Attorney General. Of course, that particular boob’s own stature was no great shakes on the universal scale either (as illustrated by his insistence on covering the statute of Justice so that a bare bosom would not show). Remember, Ashcroft only got the top legal beagle job offer in the first place because he was available due to him being so bad at politics he lost his bid for a congressional seat to a dead man.
The dry rot penetrates all levels. As hard as it is to believe, the Keystone Koppers selected by the present Administration to showcase its machoness by bringing captured alleged terrorists to justice are even worse. In the trial of Jose Padilla for example, a self proclaimed and loudly so terrorist, they couldn’t get the death penalty even though the defendant had openly confessed to all the crimes. In fact, due to the federal prosecutor’s committing serious ethical violations during the trial while prepping its witnesses, they came damned close to having all charges dismissed by the judge. Incompetence, they name is Republican prosecutor. The nincompoop prosecuting that case made even “Heckofa job” Brownie appear talented in comparison. It makes you wonder if the Republican prosecutors can be trusted to tie their own shoe laces without an instruction manual written in words of one syllable.
Not a week seems to go by without a fresh revelation of misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance by Republican hired prosecutors. Could they have “passed” their bar exams the same way Bush was “voted” into office in Florida or Ohio? Perhaps Diebold has the concession on electronic grading of bar exams.
The latest fiasco involves the boneheaded prosecutors at Gitmo who managed not only to get three terrorist trials kicked for lack of jurisdiction, the results threaten the entire system of prosecuting those detainees. If you were Al Queda, you’d never want the Republicans to lose power. Despite stripping the Constitution to arm themselves with vast new investigatory and prosecutory weapons that would have delighted Stalin, Republican selected prosecutors still seem to end up shooting themselves in the foot. So much for the idea that it is the Republicans who will protect us from criminals.
Why have the Republicans been so uniformly ineffective in finding and hiring competent attorneys who happen to be Republican? Obviously, there must be many gifted as well as honorable attorneys who register as Republican. Perhaps it is because the “deciders” on who gets the jobs fiercely value loyalty to the Republican platform over expertise, experience, ethics, business sense or even common sense. Actually, it is personal loyalty to Bush that is even more important than loyalty to traditional GOP principles since, after all, Bush seems to ignore much of what the Republicans once stood for. Either way, loyalty is definitely deemed more sought after in candidates than such trivialities as upholding and defending the Constitution as called for in the sworn oath of office of federal prosecutors. Either way, truth, fairness, impartiality and justice for all, once the defining objectives for our justice system get short shrift when Republicans are picking those who prosecute.
One only has to look at the recent firings of the eight regional Attorney Generals. There are only 91 AGs altogether. Canning eight represented almost a tenth of the total. Most astonishing of all is that they were all Republicans and fired not for incompetence (which would be a good reason), but for not being enough of a salivating Bush Savant.
The apparent goal, overtly professed, was to convert the entire Justice department and all its bureaucrats into an arm of the Republican party dedicated toward one goal, achieving a permanent Republican dictatorship. They apparently did not feel they could achieve their goal by mere persuasion or the power of their ideas. They resorted instead to just grabbing power. However, since not everyone who grew up loving our country believes the system should be corrupted for that purpose, not even all Republican zealots, perhaps that explains why only underachievers achieved prosecutor appointments when Republicans are appointing.
In one sense, we probably should be thankful. If the Republicans had selected competent lawyers, their heavy handed attempt to convert our democracy to a permanent Republican controlled dictatorship might have succeeded. Let us hope they don’t find someone better at locate competent Republican prosecutors. That way, the next Administration will get to spend a lot of time prosecuting Republicans.
Another Memorial Day has come and gone. Looking at all the white marble monuments marching orderly over the graveyard hills it makes me remember it’s been a monumental half decade or so of wasted effort in Iraq with enough new monuments accumulated to build a monolith. Enough blood spilled to float a battleship. Enough money burnt to have powered up all kinds of alternative energy plants so we wouldn’t even need to crudely steal the crude oil buried under that desert.
If memory serves, it’s been a time span stretching longer than either of our other World Wars. And, those were wars where we conquered vastly greater forces than the handful of terrorists taunting us do today, forces who back then indulged in even greater evils than suicide bombers, beheadings and IEDs. Unfortunately, the Middle Eastern wars soaking up all our efforts these days threatens to be infinitely longer than our longest bellicosity to date, the Vietnam fiasco. Worse, it is continually getting worse rather than better. And, every determination of whether and how to disengage appears to be dictated by a delusional dimwit whose track record has been one of ruination of almost every job undertaken his entire life, someone who even got his jobs and positions in the first place only out of favoritism, family fortune or fanaticism. So, maybe it’s finally the moment in time to figure out who lost Iraq.
Yeah, I know. We haven’t had the desperate heli escape from the embassy rooftop just yet, but Iraq is lost. Really, the only thing other than the final body count and treasury scraping is to assign blame.
Who deserves the blame for the colossal disaster that is breaking our military, bankrupting our treasury, losing our friends, lost our honor, killed our children, mortgaged our future, and made us a nation of habitual hypocrites? Or, possibly even more degrading and pitiful - a laughing stock, a gaggle of buffoons lead by a clown. Who gets the well earned loser label for the next 50 years or so as to why we will ultimately be kicked ignobly out of Iraq, not matter what we call it to disguise the defeat?
Hmmm. Let’s see. It was Bush who picked this fight, in fact already sought it well before the excuse arrived. It was Bush who ignored evidence an invasion of Iraq was not needed and then lied to us about what he was going to do and why. It was Bush who abandoned as “quaint” all the time tested, non-lethal, inexpensive options to accomplish the alleged goals. It was Bush who insisted we could do it on the cheap and that the Iraqi’s would strew our path with flowers. It was Bush who got absolutely everything he wanted to play with. Troops, weapons of mass destruction, literally pallets of cash were all his for the asking. He even got, although he did not openly ask for it, a secret trashing of the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, and the New Testament, not to mention just about every useful history, social studies, psychology, games theory and statistics book ever written. It was Bush who fired all the guys who guessed right about what would happen and promoted all those who got it horribly hopelessly wrong. It was Bush festooning his disciples with so-called “Metals of Freedom” for crushing freedom. It was Bush who continues to close his ears (and what passes for his cognitive mind) to the advice of those who have proved far wiser and more experienced than anyone around him on the subject of the Middle East factionalism.
It was Bush who chose to ignore the one successful military tactic his pappy proved could work in the Middle East given our small army of high tech toys; i.e. build a genuine coalition, smash the enemy hard, then promptly leave after announcing “We’ll be back if you ever scare us again.” That actually accomplished what was needed. (Yes Georgie, Saddam did have a nuclear weapon program; however, between the Israelis and your dad, it was smashed long before 9/11.) If we had done that (i.e. quick thrashing and exit), we not have exposed our vulnerabilities. There would not have been time to play on our divisions. They might still be scared of us if we did.
Even without the coalition, we could have destroyed Saddam’s offensive capability and not totally destabilized the region for our few friends if we just got out quickly. We could actually have done it on the cheap with few men; provided, we got skipped the “nation building” you yourself claimed wouldn’t work. Flipflopper. Granted, we would still have been an aggressor nation to launch a pre-emptive strike, the kind we used to say we despised when others did it. The killing of innocent men and women without a real cause has a cost, but it could have worked for the limited purpose originally claimed of insuring no nukes. Laughable though it may sound today, we might have been applauding Bush as a genius if he had simply followed his father’s play book. Think about it. That route could have avoided almost all the disasters that have followed from Bush Junior’s attempt at a “Penny Ante Putsch.” Bush would still be an embarrassing, merit less hack. Nevertheless, at least he would not be going down in history as the worst President - EVER.
So, since it was the Great “Decider,” Bush the Second, from day one choosing absolutely everything as to why, when, what, where, who and how and who continues to make all the wrong decisions on strategy and tactics. Since it remains Bush, Bush, Bush, gleefully smirking, taking vacations, and announcing Mission Accomplished despite every evidence to the contrary that his course was and is folly. And, since the only surge is in flag draped body bags, WHO LOST IRAQ?
Why, the Congressional Democrats of course. Them and, their dithering diarists, the Main Stream Media.
What? You thought I would say Bush? That would be like picking on a flounder for being flat. Yes, of course he did all those things alluded to. Maybe we should convert the Chief Crazy Horse Mountain carving into a Chief Crazy Bush sculpture. We need something that large to depict the monstrous scale of his frat boy follies. At the same time, there was a force in existence that could have, should have, stopped that infantile infection on the body politic. A force that was educated, trained and put into place for the primary reason of distinguishing fact from fiction and doing something about it. Unfortunately, the Congressional Politicians and the Press seem to be too gullible, too clueless, too lazy, too gutless and/or too ineffective to discover, prevent or halt the child hiding in the Oval Office from wreaking his malicious malodorous mischief. For that reason, as the adults on the scene, to their everlasting shame, it is the Congressmen and the Press who lost Iraq.
There is still a chance to redeem themselves. Not “win” Iraq. Not restore our soldier’s lives or our lost trillions. None of those are possible any more. That may have been possible at one time, but it cannot be done now, not at any price a sane person would be willing to pay.
Hint: the Democrats currently in charge and any political pundits with credibility left might try reading the Constitution. Humbled and marginalized though it has become, there is still some pretty good reading there. Try Article II, Section 4 for starters. In other words, between now and 2008, the Congressional Democrats should finally act like the adults they are supposed to be and take away Bush’s dangerous toy, the Presidency. You can take out his attack dog and consigliere simultaneously if they scare you, but take them out you must.
If it does not happen by then, we ought find some competent replacements who can do the job.
“A STRUGGLE TO UNDERSTAND THE PREZ’S PUZZLING PENNY ANTE APPROACH TO HIS SUPPOSED STRUGGLE FOR CIVILIZATION”
Our feckless leader, George Bush, continually proclaims in increasingly strident rhetoric that continuing to occupy the countries we invaded is important. Nay, vital to our future. He insists it is not merely an ego trip or an attempt to steal oil or a chance to wear a flight suit and pretend he is courageous, but a “struggle for civilization itself.”
Okay, let’s take him at his word for the moment. Perhaps he has better information than the entire rest of the world. Perhaps he accidentally got something right. Perhaps God does speak directly to him.
In any event, his call to arms is a serious proposition and deserves full consideration. We are willing to march into the abyss and indulge his every vainglorious whim. BUT... if this is truly a “struggle for civilization itself” as asserted, if this is truly a task suggested directly to Bush by the voice of God himself, if this is truly the most important aspect of the current Administration, then we have some questions.
Dear President Bush . . .
1. Why aren’t you demanding your own children join the military? It looks like the military could use every warm body available if what you say is accurate. Even if the girls are addiction prone or even fearful cowards like yourself, they could still scrubs pots and peal potatoes in a military Mess Hall if nothing else and free up others for combat.
2. In fact, why aren’t you instituting a draft to induct all the children of your fellow Warhawks into the War’s efforts? Don’t we need them for the “surge” before the Army if permanently broken?
3. Why aren’t you donating your vast family fortunes, particularly the unearned portions, to either the War’s efforts or its side effects? After all, you presumably won’t need it if you fail and civilization collapses into barbarism. Show us you mean what you spout by sacrificing to the cause what you Republicans treasure most - your personal treasure.
4. While we are on the subject, why aren’t you taxing your friends who are making billions war profiteering by price gouging and jailing the many who are engaging in theft and corruption? Make them give it all back so that we can fund your follies.
5. Why aren’t you using all the tools at your disposal such as the diplomatic ones that have proven to work in the past? We realize that you are terrible at diplomacy. Anyone who gropes the female head of state for Germany on TV obviously hasn’t a clue in that regard. Nevertheless, there are some talented people out there assuming you haven’t finished culling all the career foreign service employees in the State Department yet because they might be secret Democrats.
6. Since you are always talking about how we must do things if there “is even a 1% chance” they might be successful, how about offering your testicles to Iran for instance in return for a halt to their nuclear weapons program and full inspections? They could brag about it, but we wouldn’t care if it worked. Either way, it would be a literally minuscule price to pay and well worth it if we got what you have been demanding from them. Surely there is a 1% chance of it working. Moreover, it would not even be painful with anesthetics.
7. Why aren’t you instituting a crash project to completely eliminate the need for gasoline? Of course, that would bankrupt your oil buddies, but look how much it would harm those states that don’t like us like? It would remove a major source of their power over us not to mention reducing their ability to build weapons of mass destruction.
8. Since your own efforts seem to be failing miserably, why aren’t you resigning so that someone more competent can complete the task?
9. Why aren’t you at least firing those who have been proven wrong and rehiring those who got it right? Get rid of all those hacks who were appointed solely because they were Republican campaign contributors, but haven’t been doing a “heckofajob.” Give them a Medal of Freedom, which is not longer worth anything anyway, and terminate them.
10. Why don’t you stop smirking? It may take plastic surgery to do it, but we simply cannot take you seriously as long as you look like a frat boy just back from a panty raid.
The bottom line is that we don’t mind following you if this is a struggle for civilization. We are civilized folks and want others to be civil even if we have to kill them to civilize them.
We don’t mind, well, we don’t mind too much, enduring sacrifices if what is at stake is really a new Dark Ages, but we are not stupid. Well, at least most of us are not stupid, at least those not currently appointed by you to run government agencies.
The point is we don’t blindly follow leaders anymore like your namesake, George Custer. At least, we don’t do so forever. So, if you are going to insist this is a struggle for civilization, logic says you too must act like it.
We allowed you to get away with the “Do as I say, not as I do” scheme back in the Vietnam era when you were hiding from combat while ponticating that others should die in your place. That was back when you were just the drunken frat boy living off your rich parent’s money though. That only works once. Now you are the President. The “Exampler” as well as the “Decider.” Consequently, act the part if you want us to believe you. Be the First Family to do the things that need to be done.
In other words, answer the questions and then we can discuss what to do about the struggle for civilization. Until you do, we see it as merely a struggle to keep you from wrecking the place until we can throw you and your friends out.
Answer: Congressional Democrats!
I would call them chickens, but in actuality poultry is far more courageous than most elected Democrats. Perhaps the Democrats should trade in the jackass and adopt the amoeba as a symbol.
Why the outburst of name calling you ask, particularly when Bush is obviously infinitely worse on all counts? Well, normally, calling an adult a derogatory name has little effect. It is, or should be, the old "sticks and stones" response once we are past kindergarten. But, apparently calling the Congressional Democrats names scares the hell out of them and goads them into action. Or, in the case of Bush calling them "surrender monkeys" on Iraq, cowers them into inaction.
Perhaps calling the Congressional Democrats names for knuckling under to Bush's vetoes and not taking the difficult course of finally getting out of that Middle East fiasco might counterbalance their fear accumulated from being falsely labeled by Republican war hawks as supposedly "not supporting the troops" or the biggest lie of all - "losing Iraq."
The Congressional Democrats seem to bend in the wind coming from blowhards in the White House. Perhaps if the wind blows hard enough the other way with countervailing accusations of the same specious type, they might finally stand up and stay standing up for long enough to do what is right and needed. Get us out of the folly overseas.
Or, Alternate Ways to Eliminate Traffic Jams
The May 7, 2007 US News & World Report cover story was entitled “America’s Worst Commutes.” The article bemoaned the nation’s growing traffic jams and how people were wasting valuable time stuck on the roads trying to get to work.
The traffic jam problem is serious, but it is a self inflicted wound. Unfortunately, the reporter on the topic spent his column space merely repeated the usual homilies (mass transit, special lanes, etc.) while belittling some promising, while admittedly partial, solutions and choosing to ignore others entirely or was negligent in uncovering them.
For instance, there are primarily only two city models in the US - the “LA model” where housing and business are widely separated and the “San Francisco model” where they are not. Sadly, the former with its freestanding houses, each surrounded by large lawns and cul-de-sacs going nowhere, has been declared as well as promoted by publications like US News over the years to be the American dream. Zoning laws now expressly forbid usage mixing in most of the country. In other words, residential zones are here and the places where they must go when they wake up are way over there. Consequently, people cannot walk to work, restaurants or entertainment. A potential elimination of a major chunk of the resulting vehicle traffic problem would be to change the zoning laws and/or provide incentive for workplaces to be near home much like groceries and schools are (or at least used to be).
There are other, more subtle, ways to discourage the sad LA model we have spent the last six decades building. A massive tax on gas, second cars, and parking spaces would provide a market incentive. (If the new revenue generated was used to fund alternative energy sources, that would be a bonus.) There would surely be hardships and dislocations with those who chose unwisely to live in the barren ‘burbs, but perhaps less than feared and assuredly it would be better to do it now before permanent grid lock develops. (Rationing works too, but there are more possibilities for favoritism, cheating and corruption with that type of approach.)
There are also better and cheaper techno fixes too than the ones the US News reporter bothered to mention. For example, encouraging new ways to work and shop at home helps. Is going to the office from 9 am to 5 pm five days a week the only practical way to produce? Surely not. What about supervision, you say? Hard to see if a worker is sleeping on the job if he is at home? That is where new and even off the shelf technology, such as keyboard monitoring, might be useful. If you can monitor your pets from the office over the internet and if customer service can be provided from India, why can’t home workers be appropriately supervised using some of the same techniques? Although, the real test ultimately is, or should be, what and how much the worker produces rather than where and how it is done.
About thirty years ago, I was caught in traffic stalled in a snowstorm watching a ski tourer pass me on the way to work at Downtown Denver. The normal half hour one way trip was increased to two hours. I vowed never again to live further away than I could walk to work. The unintended consequence of that decision was that over the decades it has been almost like finding an eighth day in each week. I suddenly had use of ten to twelve hours per week, 500 hours a year or more, I could devote to other things thanks to not being forced into a car, breathing fumes that same length of time. And, that doesn’t count the small fortune unspent on gasoline, not to mention keeping that money out of the hands of oil producing counties and companies who seem to hate us.
The next time an investigative report is done on the subject, it would be nice for the country if the investigators dug deeper. They should interview those innovating rather than just those wringing their hands.
From the Office of Attorney Generalissimo Alberto Gonzales
“I, (insert name of incompetent hack) , pledge undying personal loyalty to El Jefe, the glorious George Armstrong Custer Bush, and do solemnly swear exclusive allegiance to the current Republican Platform of military aggression, class warfare, religious indoctrination, arrogance, and intolerance for which it stands.
As to the quaint old Constitution, I promise to uphold at least the Second Amendment and whatever specific part gives sole power to the President to rule everyone else without question. I reserve the right however to invoke the Fifth Amendment when I am caught shafting the Constitution or a Congressional Page/Intern, whichever comes first. Oh yeah, I also promise to obey some of the Ten Commandments if they do not inconvenience me too much.
I understand that I serve to pleasure the President. I also understand I will be fired if ever my performance at torturing terrorists, traitors, illegal immigrants and Democrats (which are all often one and the same) fails to exceed the political aspirations of my boss because firing for lack of political zealotry and poor job performance are hereafter one and the same.
I swear this so help me God, God Jehovah of the Old Testament of course (not that wimpy liberal Jesus of the New Testament). And, except when the FCC can hear me, I will faithfully and fully swear at anyone who disagrees on anything.”
[Footnotes from the Federal Human Resources Department to all new Republican Appointees regarding oath taking: (1) “When do I get my Medal of Freedom?” should not to be the first question after giving the oath. (2) Once the oath is given, you can no longer lie to Congress until you have cleared the exact wording of the lie with Karl Rove. (3) promptly make an appointment with the Preventive Maintenance Department to have a computer specialist show you how to permanently delete embarrassing e-mails. And, (4) meetings with your future campaign exploratory committees and interviewing recruiters from K Street lobbyist firms for future jobs must be conducted after regular business hours or on weekends.]
[Special footnotes for appointees who have law degrees: (1) Be sure to turn in your ethics exemption cards before accepting bribes. (2) When taking calls from indicted Congressmen, please use only the red “scramble” phone to insure the conversations remain private. And, (3) If you have not already done so, please provide a copy for our files of your law school transcript confirming your grade in Constitutional Law 101 was a “D” or lower]
Class warfare was re-initiated back in the eighties. Although the war is an undeclared one, it is clear anyone making less than $100,000 a year is losing.
It is war about numbers. The ultra rich have the dollars on their side and the numbers are big. They have been using it to attack the only number everyone else still has on their side - voter totals. The latter is a superior number if the people recognize they are under attack and finally decide to vote on the subject.
Unfortunately, thanks to the multi-leveled economic attacks against those who work for a living(lobbying/bribery, control of media, spin when caught, anti-union laws, job outsourcing, attention redirection, name calling, vote fraud, theft, thuggery, etc.), the uberrich have been quite successful so far in reversing all the gains Americans have made since the days of the first Robber Barons.
The poor have been marginalized, exhausted, made ill, sold drugs or killed off. The middle class have been unwittingly distracted, deceived, out maneuvered, or out shouted. Even the mildly well off have been under attack without realizing it. They were bought off or co-opted with the illusion that they might someday be allowed to join the already unconscionably rich. Ironically, while that is the quintessential "American Dream," it has about as much mathematical chance of coming true as the lower classes' eternal dream of winning the lottery. Sadly, the ladders to the upper 1% levels have been pulled up behind established super rich by right of declared entitlement. With the exceedingly rare exception, usually self made like Gates, the titled aristocracy and self described “noblemen” of yore have nothing on the greedy offspring of gazillionaires.
Hopefully, the instinct for self preservation of the rest of us might kick in one of these days as the 99% look at the 1%'s lifestyle and ask why the 99% should pay for it. Hopefully, the concepts taught by Jesus (which have been hijacked by the greedy rich in this struggle) will be rediscovered and taken back. Hopefully, some of those who are the paid lackeys of the richest of the rich will find their conscience and re-read the principles for which this country once stood.