end the permanent long-term dead end babysitting service

March 23, 2007 at 3:35 pm | Posted in American politics, Congress, Democrats, Iraq | 2 Comments

Rep. David Obey criticized the Washington Post editorial board. He said:

Let me submit to you the problem we have today is not that we didn’t listen enough to people like The Washington Post. It’s that we listened too much. They endorsed going to war in the first place. They helped drive the drumbeat that drove almost two-thirds of the people in this chamber to vote for that misbegotten, stupid, ill-advised war that has destroyed our influence over a third of the world. So I make no apology if the moral sensibilities of some people on this floor, or the editorial writers of The Washington Post, are offended because they don’t like the specific language contained in our benchmarks or in our timelines.

What matters in the end is not what the specific language is. What matters is whether or not we produce a product today that puts pressure on this Administration and sends a message to Iraq, to the Iraqi politicians that we’re going to end the permanent long-term dead end babysitting service. That’s what we’re trying to do. And if The Washington Post is offended about the way we do it, that’s just too bad.

So well said. Beautiful. The American people are behind you, Mr. Obey. Don’t listen to Republican scare-mongers. End the babysitting NOW!

On Rove and Myers Testifying Not Under Oath

March 20, 2007 at 4:44 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress | 5 Comments

The White House, continually acting stupidly, won’t agree to Rove and Myers testifying under oath and in public. They offer the following conditions for Rove and Myers testifying:

Questioning of White House officials would be conducted by a Member or limited number of Members, who would be accompanied by committee staff. Such interviews would be private and conducted without the need for an oath, transcript, subsequent testimony, or the subsequent issuance of subpoenas. A representative of the Office of the Counsel to the President would attend these interviews and personal counsel to the invited officials may be present at their election.

Now, if the White House has nothing to hide, if it did nothing wrong, just why would they need to keep Rove’s and Myers’ testimonies private and not under oath? If you have the truth behind you, what do you fear?

Joshua Marshall states the obvious:

Let’s be honest. Presidential advisors testify all the time. They don’t have the same responsibilities vis a vis Congress as members of the executive departments. But they can and do testify. There’s only one reason why you agree to ‘talk’ to Congress unsworn, in private and without a transcript: because you want to be able to lie or dodge questions in a way that’s too embarrassing to do in public.

Kos adds to the obvious:

What the White House is really saying is, “We reserve the right to lie.” Otherwise, if they intend to tell the truth, why would it matter whether they’re under oath or not?

That’s a weird message to be sending out…

The signs are pointing to Democrats not backing down. Rove’s and Myers’ testimonies WILL be under oath, as they should be. Com’on Mr. Rove, what have you got to hide? Ms. Myers? What are you afraid of?

Glenn Greenwald has a great post about the huffing and puffing of those on the right when Clinton evoked executive privilege, which most assuredly Bush will try to do (and lose). Here is Tony Snow, Bush’s Press Secretary in 1998 on executive privilege:

Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time.

One gets the impression that Team Clinton values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public’s faith in Mr. Clinton will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold the rule of law.

Well said, Mr. Snow.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has the following to say:

“After telling a bunch of different stories about why they fired the U.S. Attorneys, the Bush Administration is not entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Congress and the American people deserve a straight answer. If Karl Rove plans to tell the truth, he has nothing to fear from being under oath like any other witness.”

Finally, Obsidian Wings has this extra on Kyle Sampson, who may find life tough in the near future:

Also: you can see Kyle Sampson not just lying, but drafting dishonest letters for his superiors to send to Harry Reid under their own name, in part 3.7 of the documents, pp. 48-9 and 53-5 (pdf). He tells Gonzales that “I am not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the Attorney General’s decision to appoint Griffin”, and puts almost the same statement in his draft of a letter sent to Harry Reid under the signature of Richard Hertling, the Assistant Acting Attorney General. I honestly can’t imagine why anyone would hire him after this, except for political reasons. And if someone does hire him to curry political favor, I can’t imagine they’ll trust him much.

More good analysis:

What’s Bush’s Game

What Happens Now

Senate Votes To Debate Iraq Pullout

March 14, 2007 at 12:21 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, Democrats, Iraq, Republicans | 2 Comments

Well well well, the Senate voted 89-9 to have a debate on a pullout of Iraq after all. I wonder why Republicans suddenly let go all their opposition to this debate. I wonder if it is meant as a distraction from all the bad news coming out of the Justice Department. I wonder if this is their way of “throwing Democrats a bone” as a way for them to not focus as strongly on Gonzales……after all, they still have veto power, because Democrats do not have 60 votes to overturn a veto, so let Democrats have their debate, energize the base, and change the subject. Sounds like pretty normal Republican tactic.

Republicans On Cutting Funding For Troops

February 22, 2007 at 10:17 am | Posted in American politics, Congress, Iraq, Military, Republicans, War | 14 Comments

well well well, this is what I get for being out of the country in 1995 and missing out on this little nugget….apparently while President Clinton was waging a war in Bosnia, House Republicans voted to cut funding for operations in Bosnia, effectively putting American soldiers in harm’s way and effectively recreating Vietnam all over again. But it’s okay to cut off funding for American troops when a Democrat (especially one name Clinton) is president. But you dare try and cut off funding for troops when a Republican is president and you’re EVIL!!!

Dick Polman has some good quotes from Republicans arguing for cutting funds:

And here’s the most priceless factoid: A Texas Republican congressman, Sam Johnson, is leading the current push for the aforementioned bill that would bar any restrictions on the Iraq war money…yet this same congressman uttered these remarks on the House floor, on Dec. 13, 1995: “I wholeheartedly support withholding funds… Although it is a drastic step and ties the president’s hands, I do not feel like we have any other choice. The president has tied our hands, gone against the wishes of the American people, and this is the last best way I know how to show my respect for our American servicemen and women. They are helpless, following orders.”

Huh, how ’bout that! Here is the same Sam Johnson on how we must remain “always faithful” to our troops:

So – little did I know back in my rat-infested 3 x 8 dark and filthy cell that 34 years after my departure from Hell on Earth… I would spend the anniversary of my release pleading for a House panel to back my measure to support and fully fund the troops in harm’s way….and that just days later I would be on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives surrounded by distinguished veterans urging Congress to support our troops to the hilt….
…Today, let my body serve as a brutal reminder that we must not repeat the mistakes of the past… instead learn from them.

We must not cut funding for our troops. We must stick by them. We must support them all the way…To our troops we must remain…always faithful.

Always faithful eh? Except when it is politically inconvenient, that is.

A Republican Calls for the Murder of American Congressmen

February 16, 2007 at 8:52 pm | Posted in Abraham Lincoln, Congress, Republicans | Leave a comment

That quote comes from a Washington Times reporter who erroneously and falsely claimed it was Abraham Lincoln who said it when it wasn’t.

Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged. — J. Michael Waller

As Glenn Greenwald has clarified:

But this quote is completely invented. Lincoln never said it. This “quote” was first attributed to Lincoln by J. Michael Waller in Insight Magazine, in a 2003 article revealingly entitled: Democrats Usher in an Age of Treason. But as Waller himself now admits,the quote attributed to Lincoln is completely fraudulent. Waller wrote in an e-mail to FactCheck.org (h/t William Wolfrum):

The supposed quote in question is not a quote at all, and I never intended it to be construed as one. It was my lead sentence in the article that a copy editor mistakenly turned into a quote by incorrectly inserting quotation marks.

It was Waller, in The Washington Times’ Insight Magazine, urging that anti-war Congressmen be hanged — not Abraham Lincoln. But to justify their plainly un-American assault on our most basic constitutional liberties, neoconservatives like Gaffney simply invent quotes, attribute them to Abraham Lincoln, and continue to use them long after they have been debunked.

So Republican Congressmen who use this quote ought to ask themselves why they use a false quotation which basically calls for the murder of their fellow Congressmen…how far has the Party of Lincoln fallen….

Quote of the Day – Abraham Lincoln

February 16, 2007 at 6:01 pm | Posted in Abraham Lincoln, Congress, War | 3 Comments

When the war began, it was my opinion that all those who, because of knowing too little, or because of knowing too much, could not conscientiously approve the conduct of the President, in the beginning of it, should, nevertheless, as good citizens and patriots, remain silent on that point, at least till the war should be ended. Some leading democrats, including Ex President Van Buren, have taken this same view, as I understand them; and I adhered to it, and acted upon it, until since I took my seat here; and I think I should still adhere to it, were it not that the President and his friends will not allow it to be so.

On his opposition to the war in Mexico of 1848.

As Maha states: “Good think nobody hanged Mr. Lincoln back in 1848, huh?”

So as war proponents now tell Americans to sit down, shut up and get back in line, or be labeled traitors and criminals, remember the words of Abraham Lincoln himself, who, upon disliking the way the war was run, turned against President Polk. And guess what Representative Lincoln even went as far as to introduce legislation to hold President Polk accountable!

Huh, how ’bout that?

The Start of Something Good

January 5, 2007 at 12:42 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, Democrats, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, Republicans, War, War on Terror | 8 Comments

Democrats officially took control of Congress yesterday, in the start of something good a right direction for America. Congress will now actually act as the Congress of the United States of America, and not the Congress of the Bush Administration. Thank you America for voting for Democrats in November. You’ll see a remarkably improved Congress, (but then again after the utter debacle of the 109th Congress, you can only go up).

In the House, Democrats did not skip a beat between formally taking control and getting to work on what they have called their hundred-hours agenda. Last night, the House nearly unanimously approved a broad package of internal rules changes designed to sever the cozy links that have developed between lawmakers and lobbyists.

The changes would prohibit House members or employees from knowingly accepting gifts or travel from a registered lobbyist, foreign agent or lobbyist’s client. Lawmakers could no longer fly on corporate jets. In addition, congressional travel financed by outside groups would have to be approved in advance by the House ethics committee and immediately disclosed to the public.

The measures were approved 430 to 1, with only Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) voting against it. This was a remarkable change considering that House Republicans could barely pass a far weaker measure last May and ultimately did not enact any measure because they could not reach agreement with the Senate. But voters in November identified corruption as one of their primary concerns, and the House responded yesterday.

“It’s amazing what an election will do,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

No kidding! It is very refreshing, and one wonders why Republicans voted against this same measure last May…….

Over the next two weeks, Democrats in the House plan to enact new homeland security measures, increase the minimum wage, allow federally funded stem cell research, permit the federal government to negotiate lower prescription-drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, cut student-loan interest rates and fund alternative-energy research by rolling back tax breaks for oil companies.

This is a good start.

But of course the big elephant in the room is Iraq, and Bush is attempting to tie Democrats hands by forcing a surge now (one wonders why he didn’t ask for this surge anytime before. for three whole years he said “there’s no decision on an increase of troops”).

What should Democrats do about the surge? Should they give Bush the money he seeks? The American people don’t want it. The generals don’t want it. The Iraqis don’t want it. The AEI (American Enterprise Institute) and the Bush Administration are the only ones who want it. Why should Democrats go along?

I think they should go ahead and give Bush his surge, but with one caveat. If it fails, it will cost Robert Gates his job, (because Congress cannot fire Bush—except with an impeachment, but that word is political dynamite). This is the role of Congress. It must hold the Executive accountable. If there is failure, the Executive who failed must be fired.

When else has the Executive been held accountable?

Also, this op ed in the LA Times is a promising sign of things to come regarding the Republicanization of the military.

The partial de-Republicanization of the military is a hopeful sign — and not just for Democrats. A politicized military presents a threat to democratic ideals of civilian control. Over the last 30 years, the Republicanization of the military also has had a deeply distorting effect on public debates about national security, making it almost impossible to question Republican national security policies without being labeled “anti-military.”

As we struggle to move beyond the horrors of Iraq, we desperately need to develop fresh approaches to changing security threats. That requires a military that isn’t partisan — and political leaders who won’t make posturing in front of the troops a substitute for responsible policies.

Let us hope and pray it continues in this direction.

Hypocritical Republicans Cry Foul

January 4, 2007 at 4:54 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, Democrats, George W Bush, King George, Republicans | Leave a comment

Awwww, poor Republicans. They are huffing and puffing that Democrats will keep them out of the legislative process in the first 100 hours. Funny that they weren’t concerned about minority rights when they were in power.

Omitted from McHenry’s plea for fairness was the fact that the GOP had ignored Pelosi’s 2004 request — while routinely engaging in the procedural maneuvers that her plan would have corrected. Was the gentleman from North Carolina asking Democrats to do as he says, not as he did?

“Look, I’m a junior member,” young McHenry protested. “I’m not beholden to what former congresses did.”

Anne Kornblut of the New York Times asked McHenry if his complaint might come across as whining.

“I’m not whining,” he whined.

Then President Bush says:

“We’ve all been entrusted with public office at a momentous time in our nation’s history,” Bush said. “And together we have important things to do. It’s time to set aside politics and focus on the future.”

Forgive the incredulity. Didn’t Bush wait to fire Rumsfeld until AFTER the election, so as to not affect the election?

Or how about Bush’s Wall Street Journal Op-ed? As Howard Kurtz relates:

And what issue has the president decided to put his muscle behind? Let’s examine the words of George W. Bush:

“One important message I took away from the election is that people want to end the secretive process by which Washington insiders are able to slip into legislation billions of dollars of pork-barrel projects that have never been reviewed or voted on by Congress. I’m glad Senator Robert Byrd and Congressman Dave Obey–the Democrats who will lead the appropriations process in the new Congress–heard that message, too, and have indicated they will refrain from including additional earmarks in the continuing resolution for this fiscal year.

“But we can and should do more. It’s time Congress give the president a line-item veto. And today I will announce my own proposal to end this dead-of-the-night process and substantially cut the earmarks passed each year.”

Let me get this straight. After six years of a Republican Congress earmarking truckloads of pork for home districts, much of it for Bridge-to-Nowhere projects, Bush has suddenly decided–the day before the Democrats take control–that earmarking is an outrage?

How convenient.

It’s still a good idea to make it harder for lawmakers to slip costly goodies into bills. But when has Bush exhibited much concern for the inner workings of Congress? Whenever he’s been asked about the Foley scandal or Tom DeLay’s problems, the White House line has always been, that’s a congressional matter.

This is classic Bush. Steal the spotlight from your political opponents as much as you can.

By the way, Dick Pohlman quite effectively rips Bush’s political op-ed.

Democrats’ First One Hundred Days

January 2, 2007 at 4:01 pm | Posted in American politics, Congress, Democrats, Republicans | 7 Comments

Democrats in the House are going to sideline Republicans in the first one hundred days in power. This is a smart move, though for the short term a reneging of their election promise to work with Republicans. It is a smart move though, because this allows them to push popular legislation that has not seen any light under Republicans, and it will show Americans that Democrats can legislate well. I do have the sense that after the first one hundred days, Democrats are going to work with Republicans on other, more troubling and difficult issues. It is what should be. They don’t have any reason for not working with Republicans. If they don’t work with Republicans after the first one hundred days, I’ll be openly critical of Democratic House leadership.

Racism and Bigotry Alive and Well in Your Congress America

December 20, 2006 at 1:38 pm | Posted in American politics, Bill Clinton, Congress, conservatives, Evangelicals, Mexico, Muslim, Religion, Republicans | 3 Comments

Representative Virgil Goode (not living up to his name) shows that racism and bigotry is alive and well in Congress. Just who is he trying to score points with? Which hearts is he trying to inflame? What fire is he trying to stoke? Continue Reading Racism and Bigotry Alive and Well in Your Congress America…

You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me!

December 11, 2006 at 3:23 pm | Posted in American politics, Congress, Democrats, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Military, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, Republicans, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Our government needs to use Google to gather information about Iran and their nuclear program. You’ve got to be kidding me! Meanwhile John Walker Lindh can walk right up to Osama Bin Laden and join his group, a soft white boy from NoCal. Dude!

And on a similar note, a diarist on DailyKos provides a questionnaire that should be required of all new incoming Congressmen, especially the House Intelligence Committee head. Wouldn’t you think it is important of them to know this if they are to create laws on this?

Meanwhile, in Pakistan the Taliban are creating a mini-state……

They Still Don’t Know The Enemy

December 9, 2006 at 8:51 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Congress, Democrats, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Lebanon, Republicans, Syria | 2 Comments

Jeff Stein writes in the CQ that leaders of Congress still do not know the enemy. The incoming House Intelligence Chair, Mr. Reyes (a Democrat) much like the Republican leader he asked earlier this year, did not know the fundamental differences between Shi’ites and Sunnis. Such as which sect Al-Qaida belongs to, and Hezbollah:

Now the five-term Texas Democrat, 62, is facing similar unpleasant surprises about the enemy, this time as the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

That’s because, like a number of his colleagues and top counterterrorism officials that I’ve interviewed over the past several months, Reyes can’t answer some fundamental questions about the powerful forces arrayed against us in the Middle East.

It begs the question, of course: How can the Intelligence Committee do effective oversight of U.S. spy agencies when its leaders don’t know basics about the battlefield?

To his credit, Reyes, a kindly, thoughtful man who also sits on the Armed Service Committee, does see the undertows drawing the region into chaos.

For example, he knows that the 1,400- year-old split in Islam between Sunnis and Shiites not only fuels the militias and death squads in Iraq, it drives the competition for supremacy across the Middle East between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

That’s more than two key Republicans on the Intelligence Committee knew when I interviewed them last summer. Rep. Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and Terry Everett, R-Ala., both back for another term, were flummoxed by such basic questions, as were several top counterterrorism officials at the FBI.

I thought it only right now to pose the same questions to a Democrat, especially one who will take charge of the Intelligence panel come January. The former border patrol agent also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.

We warmed up with a long discussion about intelligence issues and Iraq. And then we veered into terrorism’s major players.

To me, it’s like asking about Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: Who’s on what side?

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

That’s because the extremist Sunnis who make up a l Qaeda consider all Shiites to be heretics.

Al Qaeda’s Sunni roots account for its very existence. Osama bin Laden and his followers believe the Saudi Royal family besmirched the true faith through their corruption and alliance with the United States, particularly allowing U.S. troops on Saudi soil.

It’s been five years since these Muslim extremists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center.

Is it too much to ask that our intelligence overseers know who they are?
Civil War

And Hezbollah? I asked him. What are they?

“Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…”

He laughed again, shifting in his seat.

“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

“Pocito,” I said—a little.

“Pocito?! “ He laughed again.

“Go ahead,” I said, talk to me about Sunnis and Shia in Spanish.

Reyes: “Well, I, uh….”

I apologized for putting him “on the spot a little.” But I reminded him that the people who have killed thousands of Americans on U.S. soil and in the Middle East have been front page news for a long time now.

It’s been 23 years since a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed over 200 U.S. military personnel in Beirut, mostly Marines.

Hezbollah, a creature of Iran, is close to taking over in Lebanon. Reports say they are helping train Iraqi Shiites to kill Sunnis in the spiralling civil war.

“Yeah,” Reyes said, rightly observing, “but . . . it’s not like the Hatfields and the McCoys. It’s a heck of a lot more complex.

“And I agree with you — we ought to expend some effort into understanding them. But speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.”

Reyes is not alone.

The best argument for needing to understand who’s what in the Middle East is probably the mistaken invasion itself, despite the preponderance of expert opinion that it was a terrible idea — including that of Bush’s father and his advisers. On the day in 2003 when Iraqi mobs toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, Bush was said to be unaware of the possibility that a Sunni-Shia civil war could fill the power vacuum, according to a reliable source with good White House connections.

If President Bush and some of his closest associates, not to mention top counterterrorism officials, have demonstrated their own ignorance about who the players are in the Middle East, why should we expect the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee to get it right?

Trent Lott, the veteran Republican senator from Mississippi, said only last September that “It’s hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what’s wrong with these people.”

“Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion?” wondered Lott, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after a meeting with Bush.

“Why do they hate the Israelis and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference?

“They all look the same to me,” Lott said.

He’s doing a little better than the Republicans did Mr. Stein asked earlier this year, but still unacceptable. Shouldn’t we know a little more about our enemies than we do? I mean, the more we know about them the easier it will be to discover their weaknesses and defeat them. Sun Tzu was a smart man.

Inside the Worst Congress EVER

December 8, 2006 at 6:39 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Congress, Democracy, Democrats, Foley, King George, Republicans, Santorum | 2 Comments

Rolling Stone has the cover

and cover story on the worst Congress ever in the history of the United States. And before anyone starts saying this is a partisan swipe, seeing that it was a Republican led Congress, a recent Rasmussen poll shows the 109th Congress has only a 13% approval rate. Who in the world gets only a 13% approval rate! I’m sure more Iraqis approved of Saddam than Americans approved of the 109th Congress! Over at the TPMuckraker, they highlight the lowlights of this most infamous Congress. But I would just like to quote from that Rolling Stone article. He says it far better than I can:

But the 109th Congress is no mild departure from the norm, no slight deviation in an already-underwhelming history. No, this is nothing less than a historic shift in how our democracy is run. The Republicans who control this Congress are revolutionaries, and they have brought their revolutionary vision for the House and Senate quite unpleasantly to fruition. In the past six years they have castrated the political minority, abdicated their oversight responsibilities mandated by the Constitution, enacted a conscious policy of massive borrowing and unrestrained spending, and installed a host of semipermanent mechanisms for transferring legislative power to commercial interests. They aimed far lower than any other Congress has ever aimed, and they nailed their target.

“The 109th Congress is so bad that it makes you wonder if democracy is a failed experiment,” says Jonathan Turley, a noted constitutional scholar and the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington Law School. “I think that if the Framers went to Capitol Hill today, it would shake their confidence in the system they created. Congress has become an exercise of raw power with no principles — and in that environment corruption has flourished. The Republicans in Congress decided from the outset that their future would be inextricably tied to George Bush and his policies. It has become this sad session of members sitting down and drinking Kool-Aid delivered by Karl Rove. Congress became a mere extension of the White House.”

Congress To Actually Work Five Days A Week Just Like the Rest of Us

December 6, 2006 at 4:45 pm | Posted in American politics, Congress, Democrats, Republicans | 5 Comments

heh, the irony. Republicans claimed these last six years that they were the party of hard work, and of real work, yet in the House, under Republican leadership, their work week began on Tuesdays and ended on Thursdays. Yes, that’s right, two and a half days of work per week!

For much of this election year, the legislative week started late Tuesday and ended by Thursday afternoon — and that was during the relatively few weeks the House wasn’t in recess.

Must be a tough life being a Congressman….the 109th Congress, under Republican leadership worked for a total of 103 days!

That’s seven days fewer than the infamous “Do-Nothing Congress” of 1948.

Now that Senator Reid and the Democrats are taking over, Congress will now meet five days a week, just like the rest of us.

Showing just how ridiculous and out of touch with reality Republicans continue to be, read the following:

“Keeping us up here eats away at families,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. “Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families — that’s what this says.”

So, according to Mr. Kingston, anyone that is away from his family five days out of the week will see his marriage suffer, and his family fail…

What do you all think? Should Congress work the same amount in their jobs as the rest of America, or should they get the special treatment they got under Republican leadership?

Why Do Mormons Still Support Bush So Strongly?

December 3, 2006 at 4:32 am | Posted in America, American politics, Cheney, Christianity, Church, Congress, Democracy, Democrats, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Lebanon, Military, Mormon, Religion, Republicans, Rumsfeld, Syria, War on Terror | 12 Comments

I’m really befuddled. Why do so many Mormons still support Bush?

Just today, his departing Secretary of Defense, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld sent Bush a memo which he, no doubt, leaked to the press as well, which in effect calls the Iraq strategy a failure. One fascinating aspect about this memo is how he recommends the very same policy John Murtha recommended ONE YEAR AGO! Here is what Rumsfeld said:

Another option calls for redeploying American troops from “vulnerable positions” in Baghdad and other cities to safer areas in Iraq or Kuwait, where they would act as a “quick reaction force.” That idea is similar to a plan suggested by Representative John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, a plan that the White House has soundly rebuffed.

Here is what John Murtha said one year ago:

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

This was the typical reaction from Republicans:

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) declared: “Murtha and Democratic leaders have adopted a policy of cut and run. They would prefer that the United States surrender to the terrorists who would harm innocent Americans. To add insult to injury, this is done while the president is on foreign soil.”

Here is another conservative:

In a statement that has angered, embarrassed and humiliated Marines around the globe, one of our own — a retired Marine Corps Reserve colonel — has called for the legendary fighting force to retreat from Iraq and surrender to the terrorist organization that has killed thousands of Americans at home and abroad. He has even called for the United States to enter into negotiations with al Qaeda. This vermin’s demand for retreat, surrender and negotiations with the enemy is so committed to assisting al Qaeda in their efforts in Iraq that he has posted his unspeakable demands on his website in the form of an official statement.

The traitor, Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha, agrees 100% with Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al Zarqawi that the Marine Corps, which is mangling the enemy on a daily basis in Iraq and suffering comparatively light casualties, should lay down its arms, call it quits, and abandon the people they are defending in the fledgling democracy of Iraq.

Furious Marines from wars as far back as World War II are spitting mad at the cowardly colonel and many want his head on a stake in the middle of the Marine Corps Commandant’s lawn. Personally, I would not soil that good earth with so vile and despicable a piece of offal.

Encouraging retreat is viewed as aiding the enemy by the Marines and is a violation of Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is punishable by death. Currently serving Marines, active duty or reserve, who encourage surrender are in violation of Article 100 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, an offense also punishable by death. Because Murtha is retired, he is virtually assured of not being prosecuted.

However, he will be celebrated by al Qaeda and other terrorists around the world. At this very moment, al Qaeda communications specialists are likely prepping pieces of propaganda using Murtha’s traitorous tirade as a tool to recruit fresh killers by showing them that even an American Marine (apologies to Puller) believes his allegedly beloved Corps is so inept in battle that retreat and surrender are the Marines’ best option and perhaps should, in fact, be added for the first time to the Leathernecks’ vast, quasi-mythical repertoire of operational art and battlefield strategy.

Murtha joins the likes of traitor Clayton Lonetree, the Marine security guard who gave top-secret intelligence to the Soviets, and traitor Robert Garwood, the Marine who went over to the enemy during the Vietnam War and was involved in holding and abusing US prisoners of war in North Vietnam while wearing the uniform of the enemy.

The Marine Corps is famous for its members standing their ground and winning fights against outrageous odds. Battles with names like the Peking Legation, Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh and Fallujah decorate the hallowed halls of Corps history. Especially repugnant is how Murtha is insisting upon surrender while the Marines are decimating the enemy en masse.

Marines should ask Murtha if Chesty Puller would order retreat and surrender before the enemy.

John “The Jellyfish” Murtha should be shunned by all Marines and, if possible, legal steps should be taken to prevent this betrayer from being buried in a national cemetery upon his demise.

And yet another:

Jack Murtha’s call for immediate disengagement took him far outside the boundaries of legitimate disagreement. He has never been able to articulate any plausible basis for his position on Iraq. There is a simple reason for that. There isn’t one.

Reasonable people cannot differ about whether or not the United States should press forward with our war against the terror masters. For the time being Iraq is inevitably the principal front in that war. A congressman who tries to duck his share of the responsibility for prosecuting that war is displaying moral cowardice. Any American who recommends retreat is injuring his own country and calling his own patriotism into question.

Almost all the Democrats in the House understand this, which is why only three of them would vote on the record for retreat.

We mark the boundaries of legitimate disagreement by the way we characterize arguments that lie outside them. What Jack Murtha did last week wasn’t just wrong. It was cowardly and disloyal. That’s the truth and Jack Murtha deserves to hear it.

But, Mr. Murtha was right. And now the departing Secretary of Defense agrees with Mr. Murtha’s recommendation. I wonder if we will hear the same venom, the same call for his head from these same people as they did to Mr. Murtha. I doubt it.

Anyways, that’s a side topic. Let’s get back to Bush. His departing Secretary of Defense released a memo that states clearly that their Iraq policy is not working. Meanwhile, Bush continues to look cheerful even as he says:

“I recognize that the recent violence in Iraq has been unsettling,” Bush said.

Unsettling? Fifty-One people just died today in three coordinated market blasts. Unsettling? Why do Mormons still back this guy?

Worse yet, no leader in the Middle East supposedly trusts the Bush Administration to get it right.

But instead of flaunting stronger ties and steadfast American influence, the president’s journey found friends both old and new near a state of panic. Mideast leaders expressed soaring concern over upheavals across the region that the United States helped ignite through its invasion of Iraq and push for democracy — and fear that the Bush administration may make things worse.

President Bush’s summit in Jordan with the Iraqi prime minister proved an awkward encounter that deepened doubts about the relationship. Vice President Dick Cheney’s stop in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, yielded a blunt warning from the kingdom’s leaders. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s swing through the West Bank and Israel, intended to build Arab support by showing a new U.S. push for peace, found little to work with.

In all, visits designed to show the American team in charge ended instead in diplomatic embarrassment and disappointment, with U.S. leaders rebuked and lectured by Arab counterparts. The trips demonstrated that U.S. allies in the region were struggling to understand what to make of the difficult relationship, and to figure whether, with the new Democratic-majority Congress, Bush even has control over his nation’s Mideast policy.

The Saudis are warning Cheney, Rice gets at best a cool reception in Israel and Palestine, Bush was snubbed by the man he needs desparately in Jordan, King Abdullah of Jordan warns of more civil wars in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Iran continues quietly to build their nuclear program. Syria continues interfering in Lebanon, and the world now further distrusts America.

So I ask again, my Mormon friends, why do so many Mormons still think this guy is a good guy? Do we not believe that by their fruits we shall know them? What are the fruits of President Bush? A divided America, civil war in Iraq, further civil wars possible throughout the Middle East, no one trusting Bush. Could any president have done more to weaken America’s standing in the world than Bush has these past six years? No. That’s not only bad for America, but that’s also bad for our church. I am asking that you join with me in calling for the resignation or impeachment of President George W. Bush. Believe in your conservative principles. Where’s the shrinking of the government? I’ve not seen it these past six years. Where’s the fiscal responsibility? Why are we putting our wars on credit cards for our children to pay? Why are we going to war with countries based on faulty intelligence, and then when things start going bad, we blindly, stupidly, stubbornly say we need to “stay the course,” when staying the course is the worst possible option to choose? There are so many things wrong with the Bush administration, so many ways that they act counter to Conservative principles. How can you guys still back him? Is it because he throws you a bone—whether it be gay marriage, or abortion, or tax cuts—so you stay mollified and silent while he goes counter to all your other conservative principles?

I pray that you consider my request. Before this gets even worse. Think about it, how can Bush act effectively with the rest of the world if he is no longer taken seriously by anyone?

Can An American Congressman Be Sworn In On the Qur’an?

December 1, 2006 at 7:51 pm | Posted in American politics, Congress, Democracy, Muslim | 24 Comments

Conservatives are whining that newly elected Congressman Kieth Ellison wants to be sworn in using the Qur’an instead of the Bible.

In a column posted Tuesday on the conservative website Townhall.com, Dennis Prager blasted Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison’s decision to take the oath of office Jan. 4 with his hand on a Quran, the Muslim holy book.

“He should not be allowed to do so,” Prager wrote, “not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American culture.”

He said Ellison, a convert from Catholicism, should swear on a Christian Bible — which “America holds as its holiest book. … If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress.”

But…technically and legally, there are no Constitutional requirements that one has to use a specific book for the swearing in. So can Mr. Ellison be sworn in on the Qur’an? What do you all think?

What He Said

December 1, 2006 at 7:47 pm | Posted in American politics, Congress, Democrats, Iraq, King George, neo-conservatives, Republicans, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Josh Marshall on conservatives blaming Democrats for Bush’s failure in Iraq:

With the second try, Kurtz carts out a new culprit: the Democrats. While acknowledging the administration’s tactical missteps along the way, Kurtz now argues that the real villains in this whole sorry mess are dovish Democrats. As he says …

From Marshall’s posts, you’d think that all Democrats were Iraq hawks–comfortable with the idea of the Iraq war itself, so long as the war involved more troops, or only against the war because of prudent calculations about troop requirements. In fact, a huge chunk of the Democratic Party was against the Iraq war from the start, and would have opposed it even if–no, especially if–they thought that war could be won … The dovish inclination of the Democratic base has acted as a major constraint on our policy in Iraq.

I commend the whole piece to you. But the essence of the argument is that Democratic doves have exaggerated Bush’s screw-ups, constrained his ability to address problems and are in fact the root cause of Don Rumsfeld’s cartoonish version of military transformation, which has played a key role in the unfolding of the disaster. In so many words, waging this war as long as the Democratic doves were around was just too much for the president, though he made some mistakes along the way too.

Some arguments — and that is his argument — are so silly as to require no mockery.

The first thing to do or say is to class this with the rising political chorus against accountability which is now the theme song of the Bush-adulating right in DC. But the argument is so vapid that a little bit more requires saying…

………

…What excuse does President Bush have exactly? His party has controlled the Congress with lockstep majorities for his entire presidency. The one exception came in the senate from 2001 to 2002. And that was before the war even started. If I’m not mistaken we’ve been treated to half a dozen years of commentary and news about how the Democrats were defeated, impotent, divided and generally just lame. Since he was so early and outspoken in his criticism, I assume this means Howard Dean prevented President Bush from winning the Iraq war.

But really, how can the president blame anything on a powerless minority in Congress and not indict himself as the weakest and most pitiful chief executive the republic has ever had?

President Bush has had the great benefit of what was up to quite recently a gelded opposition, a pliant press corps and a public inclined to give the commander-in-chief most benefits of the doubt because of the scarring wound of 9/11. Yet, taken together, these folks tied his hands and kept him from winning the war.

If this is really the argument I think we can forget about whatever happened in Iraq and say that President Bush is simply too lame a leader, too big a buffoon on history’s stage, to be president at all. How can you hope to defeat Saddam Hussein or al Qaida or even Kim Jong-Il if you can’t even hold go toe-to-toe with Charlie Rangel?

The whole thing is sad. Establishment conservative commentary has devolved into a what looks like a latter-day Scholaticism focused on finding more and more improbable arguments — insurgents on the head of a pin — for why President Bush isn’t responsible for the catastrophe that has become of the policy he and his authored, planned and executed, more or less singlehandedly, for going on four years.

George Will Just Doesn’t Like Jim Webb

December 1, 2006 at 1:53 pm | Posted in American politics, Cheney, Congress, Democrats, Republicans | 2 Comments

That’s all I could make of rather childish smear of the new Senator from Virginia. He’s apparently flummoxed that the Senator elect really didn’t want to spend time with Bush. And when Bush asked about his son, Mr. Webb said he wished to see his son home from Iraq. Mr. Bush said, “I didn’t ask about that!” with the arrogant petulance becoming the Boy Emperor. Mr. Will glosses over Mr. Bush’s insulting manner (of course, because Mr. Bush does no wrong…) and harangues Mr. Webb for daring to stand up to the president and show him the same respect he showed Mr. Webb. Imagine that.

Mr Will says:

Webb’s more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being

That’s a gross offense in Washington for Mr. Will? Really? I wonder why he was silent about Cheney telling Leahy to go —- himself not long back? On the Senate floor no less! Is the Vice President above the need for civility? Mr. Will continues:

In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves.

You mean like most Washington pundits?

Based on Webb’s behavior before being sworn in, one shudders to think what he will be like after that. He already has become what Washington did not need another of, a subtraction from the city’s civility and clear speaking.

Really, Mr. Will, you really are full of yourself and pretty delusional. To think that Washington has been civil before the arrival of Mr. Webb really demeans you, Mr. Will. Please, if you are going to call someone out for not being respectful, while being silent when another does something far worse, you really undermine yourself, and present yourself as simply a partisan hack.

Jose Padilla, The Man Who Will Bring Down George W. Bush

November 30, 2006 at 4:31 pm | Posted in American politics, Cheney, Congress, Democracy, Jose Padilla, King George, Military, Republicans, Torture, War on Terror | 2 Comments

We’ve got a very important showdown approaching in the courts over Jose Padilla who might just be the man who will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and lead to the complete downfall of George W. Bush. This former gang leader was arrested with great public fanfare (John Ashcroft proudly parading on TV from Moscow!), and declared by Bush himself to be an “enemy combatant” to be held without any Constitutional rights, even though he was an American citizen. Thus anything that occurred to him while held incommunicado for nearly three years in a military brig, came at the blessing and order of the president himself. If Mr. Padilla is allowed to publicly state what occurred to him, it might provide enough legal power to charge President Bush with ordering torture and the violation of the Constitution, the War Crimes Act, not to mention the Geneva Conventions…all on an American citizen, captured on American soil. Is the president above the law? Can he really arbitrarily say who is an “enemy combatant?” Can he arbitrarily name any American he desires as an “enemy combatant?” If the accused is not offered a chance to challenge the detention and accusation, how can we trust that the president did not make a mistake? Note in the case of Mr. Padilla that upon nearing an embarrassment at the Supreme Court, the Bush Administration abruptly shifted Padilla’s case back to the criminal system rather than the military. Is that a mistake? Furthermore, he is no longer accused of planning a radiological dirty bomb now that he is in the criminal system. Is that a mistake? How can we tell if no one is allowed to challenge the accusation?

The Founding Fathers were very prescient when designing our system of government. They did not wish to see a strong executive. They saw the corruption of power by their King George in England. Cheney has a history of wishing the executive were more powerful than allowed by the Constitution and the designers, our Founding Fathers. This is not the right direction for America, and will only lead to more violence, death, destruction and woe for our country. Pull back, conservatives. Come back from the brink. Join us in demanding from lawmakers the removal of Bush and Cheney from power. This must end.

Hail To King Cheney

November 26, 2006 at 7:46 pm | Posted in American politics, Cheney, Congress, Democracy, King George | Leave a comment

Boston Globe has an excellent article that highlights Cheney’s career to show just what disdain this man has for the rule of law, the checks and balances of the Constitution and of the Congress. The sad part is that we have yet two more years to deal with this seeker of power. What do you all think? Are the fruits of his labors these past six years good for America?

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