Monday, June 30, 2008
A gutless or ill-informed Democratic Congress approved Bush's request for funding for a major escalation of covert operations in Iran late last year.... at about the same time that the National Intelligence Estimate (released in December) concluded that Iran had halted its work on nuclear weapons in 2003.
The administration didn't want to hear that kind of talk. Bush questioned the N.I.E.'s conclusions, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain all bobble-headed into line in his dismissal of the report.
But, evidently having second thoughts about the headlong rush down the hawkish road The Decider wants to travel, Gates and the "Joint Chiefs of Staff are 'pushing back hard' against White House pressure to undertake a military strike against Iran.... 'at least ten senior flag and general officers, including combatant commanders have weighed in on that issue."
And late last year Gates met with the Senate Democratic caucus where he warned of the consequences of a preemptive strike on Iran.... "We'll create generations of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America." Asked if he was speaking for Bush and Vice President Cheney, Gates replied, "Let's just say that I'm here speaking for myself."
Admiral William Fallon, former head of U.S. Central Command in charge of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, was outspoken in his reservations about an armed attack on Iran.... which resulted in his resigning under pressure in March.
What about Congress?.... "The Democratic leadership's agreement to commit hundreds of millions of dollars for more secret operations in Iran was remarkable.... 'The oversight process has not kept pace - it's been co-opted' by the Administration.... The process is broken, and this is dangerous stuff we're authorizing.' " according to someone familiar with the process.
How did that happen? "After September 11 the President signed an Executive Order giving the Pentagon license to do things that it had never been able to do before without notifying Congress.... called 'preparing battle space'.... circumventing congressional oversight."
While an overwhelmed America watches these events with alarm and frustration at being led further into the explosive Middle East quicksand by the reckless Bush/Cheney cabal, the no-longer-hibernating Russian bear, and oil-hungry China are seizing the day.
As reported by assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration Richard Perle in "Coalition Of the Ineffectual,"..... (WaPo) " 'A successful multilateral coalition' is how Condoleezza Rice described those countries, 'united in confronting Iran,' on which the administration's Iran policy critically depends.
" 'A complete failure' is Barack Obama's description of the Bush administration's Iran policy."
Perle points out that they are both right, but that the "coalition that Rice thinks is a success, and Obama a failure, is, at best, a 'do-nothing decisive' group, with at least half its members - Germany, Russia and China - maneuvering for self-serving advantage in their dealings with the mullahs in Iran."
"Russia continues to assist Iran's nuclear program while selling Iran advanced weapons. China is prowling for oil deals and selling advanced weapons. German businessmen fill the lobbies of Iranian hotels.... the Russians and Chinese have made it clear that they will not support sanctions that are severe enough to exert any real influence."
And what about Iran?.... "Report: Iran to hit Israel if attacked." (WaPo) "The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard warned that Tehran would respond to an attack against it by barraging Israel with missiles and controlling a key oil passageway in the Persian Gulf," according to a Tehran newspaper report published Saturday.
Soooo...... what has all of this saber rattling produced? "Oil near $143 on Israel-Iran tensions." (WaPo) "Oil rose more than $3 a barrel on Monday to a new record above $143, propelled by heightened market fears of conflict between Israel and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.
"A fall in the U.S. dollar to three-week low versus the euro helped boost the market..... oil prices have jumped more than 40 percent this year, extending a six-year rally, in response to Middle East tensions...."
It's one minute until midnight.... do you know where your government is?
Saturday, June 28, 2008
How good a visual was it on Memorial Day when McCain hosted some of his vice president hopefuls in Arizona and the ever-present cameras caught his wife helping him down the stairs.... a solicitous younger woman escorting her doddering elder.
Apparently thinking this image is a selling point, McCain slap-sticks along, joking on Saturday Night Live that we should be looking for someone "very, very, very, old" for our next president.
Charles M. Blow makes the case for McCain dropping the standup-comic approach to holding the most powerful job in the world in "I'm So Old, (Insert Punch Line)." (New York Times)
Yet, McCain seems eager to call his 46-year-old opponent Barack Obama a "young man." Does he mean like president John Kennedy? Was he a "young man" when he took office at age 43?
What that comment actually points out is how late McCain has come to the presidential party.... the vigor candles are blown, the "change" balloons released, and all that is left are the discarded ribbons and bows of his ambitions.
With the mess the country finds itself in thanks to the Bush/McCain policies, it is doubtful many voters are in the mood to be entertained by a cigar-exploding George-Allen-wanna-be president.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
"Last month he shimmied to the left on energy policy infuriating conservatives with a plan to cap carbon emissions. Yesterday, he shuffled back to the right, demanding an end to quarter-century-old-bans on offshore oil drilling."
Showing off his fancy footwork, McCain grabs for his base, winks at the other voters then "slides to the right on judges and guns, jumps to the left on climate change and foreign alliances, pivots to the right on taxes and Iraq."
Not taking time to catch his breath, or pause to reflect it seems, McCain rhetorically danced in front of reporters at Four Star flags.... he waltzed to the right on "path to victory" Iraq and "lower taxes" economics, swung to the left on immigration and campaign finance reform, then promenaded back to the right on guns and God.
Twirling in place, McCain spoke for the "unique status of marriage between man and woman," while then suggesting he would let states make their own choices.
McCain's Straight Talk two-step leaves us dizzy.
Monday, June 16, 2008
But, during his 2000 campaign, Bush wanted to grab the GOP conservative base while still appealing to more moderate independents. It was only after he was elected to his second term that he dropped the pretense and proclaimed his true power-grabbing Decider ideology.... neither compassionate nor conservative as he continued to recklessly trash American lives, treasure, culture and good name in the pursuit of his petulant "I'm better than Daddy" crusades.
Grabbing pages from The Decider's sly two-prong playbook, last March McCain labeled himself a "realistic idealist".... just as a White House-aspiring then-governor of Texas Bush called for "realism in the service of ideals," playing to both neocon idealists and pragmatists.
James Mann explains today in "What Will the Pillars of His Foreign Policy Be?" the two factions vying for the upper hand in a McCain cabinet.
On one side is the inspiration for McCain's "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" warbling.... neocon favorite Joe Lieberman. On the other side is longtime McCain friend Richard Armitage who as deputy to secretary of state Colin Powell was an Iraq war skeptic who distrusted the hawks nesting with vice president Dick Cheney and then-defense secretary Don Rumsfeld.
Unfortunately, voters won't know what foreign policy pillar McCain's "realistic idealist" campaign sloganeering favors until he is ensconced in the Oval Office as The Decider II. Pray we'll never have to find out.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
George Bush trumpets that things are getting better, we're planting Democracy there.
John McCain proclaims we're winning and he would keep our troops there maybe a 100 years, just like in Korea.... bringing them home isn't that important.
So how to explain "Key Iraqi Leaders Deliver Setbacks to U. S.... Premier Rejects Terms of Proposed Pacts; Cleric Reactivates Militia." (WaPo)
"The Bush administration's Iraq policy suffered two major setbacks Friday, when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki publicly rejected key U.S. terms for an ongoing military presence and anti-American shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a new militia offensive against U.S. forces."
Maliki said negotiations over U.S. proposals for bilateral political and military agreements had reached "a dead end,".... and that he was "astonished by those who are talking about how close the agreement is to being signed."
Meanwhile.... al-Sadr "called for a new armed wing of his Mahdi Army militia to fight U.S. troops." It would operate in total secrecy and attack only American forces.
The actions of Iraq's two most powerful leaders reflect the attitude of Iraqis "across the political spectrum" who have grown intolerant of the U.S. presence.
So once again U.S. citizens are being subjected to a stepped-up propaganda blitz in the face of the November elections. The Decider lied us into the war.... and now he, and John McSame who supports administration policy.... are lying to keep us there.
Fool us once, shame on them.... fool us twice, shame on us!
Friday, June 13, 2008
Or a forked-tongue John McCain who declared to the Boston Herald yesterday about the expected attack ads against Obama, "I can't be a referee of every spot run on television." (Boston Herald)
What a change from 2004 when McCain strongly condemned attack ads from unaccountable political groups, called 527s.... he seems now to have lost his voice. His Straight Talk compass has gone all wobbly.
In proactive moves, the Obama campaign has launched a site to set the Straight Talk record straight. Was Obama born in America? Does he put his hand over his heart when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance? For the truth about these and other vicious rumors, one can now go, and send rumor-besieged friends, to Fight the Smears.... for the real straight talk.
Putting to good use his three years of experience as a community organizer, Obama's campaign is sending 3,600 volunteers to 17 swing states this weekend, each committed to six consecutive weeks of full-time political work.
This isn't the usual here's-your-teeshirt-and-doughnut effort... to be chosen, volunteers were required to answer essay questions, supply references and go through a telephone interview with campaign staff members in exchange for training in community organizing techniques called "Obama Organizing Fellowships."
While McCain stages, with the help of Fox News, town-hall styled meetings populated with gushing flatterers, Obama's organization is.... organizing.
Since McCain can run, but he can't hide, from his support of Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq, tax cuts for the wealthy and the floundering economy, he's turning to last century's politics of personality and personal destruction.... while Obama swamps the swiftboats and flexes his "Yes we can" connectivity and involvement skills.
Supporting the smear campaign about to be launched against Obama, conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan arrogantly said on MSNBC last night to two Obama boosters objecting to such tactics.... "you run your little campaign, and we'll run ours."
How out-of-touch of him.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter, wrote for the majority of the court, "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."
This historic decision supports the "balance between personal liberties and national security."
Justice had been red-coded by the Bush administration. It stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear detainee challenges to their confinement, imposing instead combatant status review tribunals, made up of military officers with the power to determine if a detainee was an "enemy combatant."
Now that fundamental right to challenge has been restored.
Supremes.... Hear! Hear!
And, the result of president Bush's "chip-on-the-shoulder" temperament..... "he has proved mean, vindictive, surly, controlling and impatient, as befits his guns-at-the-ready gait".... the arrogance of self-importance.
The Decider's farewell limp around Europe reflects the "damage a flawed temperament has done to trans-Atlantic ties. Europeans got tired of being scowled at."
Indeed. And it probably didn't help that the resistance of Germany and France to the invasion of Iraq resulted in then-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld referring to them as "Old Europe."
Old and wise.
Cohen hopes for "some fresh thinking, but above all a fresh spirit, a fresh temperament."
He's obviously not referring to John McCain whose jaded rhetoric and hair-trigger temper promises more of the same.... after all when asked on the Today show yesterday if he knew when American troops could start to return home, McCain responded.... "No, but that's not too important. What's important is the casualties in Iraq." (Huffington)
That about sums up the Bush/McCain world view, bringing our troops home from a deadly occupation that is sucking the national treasury dry, gutting our military, and isolating us from the world community.... while not making us safer..... is "not too important."
Not too important?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tkacik muses over a flaw in this generation of women's-rights activists: "They lack a certain bedside manner. At times, a pungent cocktail of indignation and impatience fueling veteran feminists through this primary season has seemed suicidally poisonous.
"Witness Geraldine Ferraro's threat to vote in the general election for John McCain because she found Barack Obama's campaign 'sexist.' (Sweetie, McCain is an antiabortion Republican who has explicitly stated his intention to nominate Supreme Court justices in the mold of John Roberts. He also, incidentally, traded his first wife -- who'd been disfigured by a car accident -- for his second in the matter of a month.)"
All of this unseemly Hillary-supporter rage and whining ignores Obama's against-all-odds historic win, as Tkacik points out, it is "harder in this country to be born a black male than a white female."
A vote for McCain would also keep us mired in Iraq. Feminists should worry about that.... although the young Obama-supporting feminists seem to get it. Tkacik recounts the "soul-shattering story about a man in Basra who beat his daughter to death for forming a crush on a British soldier....."
"Honor killings have long been practiced in Iraq, but they have grown more common as women's rights have been curtailed under the reign of fear imposed by the chaos of the occupation and the puritanism of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr."
Before acting like vindictive women scorned, perhaps Ferraro and others with similar grudges, should step outside of themselves to view the larger picture. The first African-American presidential candidate who opposed the Iraq war and supports feminist issues, as opposed to supporting the injustices and blows to women's rights spawned by The Decider and carried forward with gusto by McSame.
Hillary feminists.... don't look for progress on her "it's all about me" path. It's not the way forward.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Bloggers have been loudly, harshly and many times inelegantly sounding the alarm against the presidency of Hillary Clinton. But most don't hate her. They hate what she stands for.... a by-right dynastic candidate; and what she became.... a resume'-stretching manipulator.
In fact, one has to wonder if there is really anything more to the Clintons than chest-pounding politics and goal-post shifting.
Was Bill really a political wunderkind, or were savvy advisers.... like James "It's the Economy Stupid" Carville, and Dick "I Can't Stand Them Now" Morris.... really the wind in his political sails.
During Hillary's campaign, Bill appeared egocentrically out-of-touch.... his rants jarred, his scolding and blame-shifting reminded voters of the "As Bill and Hill Turn" soap opera of their White House years.
While Hillary trumpeted what she stands for.... she didn't mention that when given the chance for action she fumbled badly.
Bill charged Hillary with heading up a universal health care initiative. Instead of listening and compromising to make gains, she met behind closed doors and hoarded her power and decision-making to the extent that even the Democratic Congress rejected her highhanded proposal. The Democrats lost their Congressional majority in the next election.
What this long campaign season has exposed is for Hillary.... who couldn't and wouldn't recognize she lost until her own supporters tip-toed into her fantasy to suggest she concede.... that it is her way or the highway.
We've had nearly eight years of that type of messianic ideologically-rigid executive. A weary and discouraged electorate yearn for someone who can lead the country away from the Bush administration's destructive, "stay the course" corporate-serving governance.
Hillary's ambitions and policy-wonk skills seem to be well-served in her position as Senator from New York. She should stick to what she's good at and cast herself as the next Ted Kennedyesque Lion of the Legislature.
But, placing the power of the Oval Office, or the close-to-power vice presidency, in Hillary's obstinately-unyielding hands, with Bill as the loose cannon careening about the premises, was, and still is, to be loudly resisted.... however inelegantly.
And, that was the bloggers cause!.... not hate.
Monday, June 09, 2008
The Decider, a legend in his own mind, has been trying to spit-polish his dismal approval-ratings and legacy by comparing his record on Iraq, terrorism, trade and other misfires to other presidents who were unpopular in their time.... Harry S. Truman, William McKinley, Franklin D. Roosevelt and honest Abe.
But, while Bush envisions "a distant future in which Iraq is a tranquil democracy, Palestinians live peaceably alongside Israelis and terrorism is a tactic of the past," historians have reached far different conclusions.
"In an informal survey of scholars this spring, just two out of 109 historians said Bush would be judged a success; a majority deemed him the 'worst president ever.' "
Still, his laughable comparisons are his only irrefutable arguments as he leaves the Oval Office in a flurry of legacy-retooling dust.....in response to Bob Woodward's question on how history would judge him, The Decider said..."We don't know. We'll all be dead."
What Bush has failed to grasp, however, is that the dead can speak from the grave....
Not just the graves of the thousands of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of victims of the Iraq war, but the grave of the hopes of so many Americans who looked to the Bush administration for justice and fair stewardship only to find they were buried under Bush-administration-facilitated corporate favoritism and greed.
Instead of trying to reframe his legacy with bogus comparisons, The Decider should just heed his own twisted logic.... "If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure." He didn't succeed.....
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Tim Russert said on his Sunday political discussion show this morning that Robert Kennedy presciently and hopefully proposed during his 1968 campaign that it was conceivable that in 40 years in America we might have a "Negro president."
It's forty years later.... 2008.... and we have an African-American candidate for the presidency, and ironically it's also forty years since the assassination of this champion of equality, Robert Kennedy.
Hillary Clinton did her best to forestall this monumental accomplishment of an African-American questing for the Oval Office, hoping instead to make history herself as the first woman president. She failed partly because she failed to appreciate the Titanic proportions of this clash of destinies, unable to see past her own feelings of entitlement and inevitability.
This myopic predestinationism cost her Iowa, it cost her disorganization after Super Tuesday, it cost her for-granted black voters, .... and in the end, it cost her credibility as it fell to her dodging-sniper-fire truth-twisting, reminding voters of the excruciating "what 'is' is" Clinton White House years.
As Hillary disparagingly said of Obama's oratorical skills.... she gave a nice speech Saturday in finally acknowledging Obama as the choice of the Democratic party. She said all of the right things, in the right way. But we all know, this was just the latest Hillary makeover in order to get what she wants, undoubtedly the president-in-waiting second slot on the ticket.
But it's Obama's destiny that will shape the country now.... and the country will move past the Clintons and their it's-all-about-us theater. What Robert Kennedy hoped for is now the nation's best hope.
Friday, June 06, 2008
"Which brings us to the sorry idea that Barack Obama should choose to have Hillary Clinton down the hall in the West Wing, nursing her disappointments, her grievances and her future presidential ambitions while her excitable husband wanders in the wings of America's political theater with his increasingly Vesuvian temper....
"Clinton, having risen politically in her husband's orbit, is a moon shining with reflected light. Were Obama to hitch himself to her, he would reduce himself to a reflection of a reflection."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This from former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezinski on MSNBC's Morning Joe on the inadvisability of Obama naming Hillary as VP. He pointed out that with the Clintons living across the street from the White House they would be.... "a government in exile, and a government in waiting."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
And, this from Eugene's Robinson's "What He Overcame" (Washington Post):
"A young, black, first-term senator -- a man whose father was from Kenya, whose mother was from Kansas and whose name sounds as if it might have come from the roster of Guantanamo detainees -- has won a marathon of primaries and caucuses to become the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. To reach this point, he had to do more than outduel the party's most powerful and resourceful political machine. He also had to defy, and ultimately defeat, 389 years of history."
Thursday, June 05, 2008
You're a POW? Being held for ransom?
No, you're a Hillary Clinton supporter last Tuesday attending her televised final primary-season election-night event at Baruch College. (ABC News) Held hostage to Hillary ambitions.
You hear head barkerTerry McAwful declare Hillary the next president of the United States, you hear her crow how she won the final contest (Montana polls hadn't closed yet, Barack Obama won) and how she would be the best president even though Obama became the presumptive nominee at least thirty minutes before her you'll-hear-only-what-we-want-you-to-hear speech.
You see, the TV audience must see only happy, enthusiastic Clintonites chanting for their Evita.
In her weirdly out-of-touch speech Hillary asks her supporters to go to her website and let her know their thoughts on moving forward.... or more to the point, send money to help pay off her campaign debts since you can't leave a comment without going to her contribution page.
Not a word about rallying around Obama, just flunkie-fronted hints on that final-primary day that she might like to be VP, or perhaps she'll take her fight to the Denver convention.... or who knows what, in Hillary's "it's all about me" world.
Now, amid much soap-operaish handwringing, and pressure from her flagging, disillusioned and deserting fellow Democratic lawmakers, she's announced she'll "suspend" her campaign on Saturday.... you know, quit stomping her sour grapes.... and "extend my congratulations to Senator Obama and my support for his candidacy." (WaPo)
But she's not conceding, oh no. Who knows what can happen she has mused, after all Robert Kennedy was assassinated during his presidential campaign in June.... forty years ago today as it happens.
It's past time for Hillary's badly-served supporters to come out of their "it's all about Hillary" bunker, and into the sunlight of hope and change. Yes you can!
Monday, June 02, 2008
Told that they couldn't do this, Michigan nevertheless pushed their date forward.... so, the Rules and Bylaws Committee took away Michigan's delegates to the national convention and declared their primary illegal.
Harold Ickes, Hillary Clinton's point man on the committee, voted for this sanction.
Accordingly, Barack Obama and John Edwards, two of the three leading Democratic candidates, removed their names from the ballot.... Hillary Clinton did not.
Hillary's position before the committee last Saturday when this issue was revisited, was that since she got all of the votes.... except uncommitted.... she should get all of the delegates. Ickes argued for this position on her behalf.
The name for this proposal is "chutzpah," made by a candidate not interested in party unity.... heck, not interested in the party at all.
Although Obama had majority support on the committee to split the delegates 50-50, he compromised with a 59-69 split in Hillary's favor, reflecting the Michigan Democratic party's "fair reflection" of what the vote would have been if not flawed.
Hillary wasn't happy, and Ickes reserved her right to take it to the Credentials Committee even though he voted with the committee for the sanction in the first place.
Levin, and others, will undoubtedly keep pushing to knock Iowa and New Hampshire from first-in-the-nation status. One thing is certain, this unnecessarily messy Democratic primary will assure that their primary process will change by 2012.