Wolfowitz Blames His Girlfriend

May 15, 2007 at 9:38 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Paul Wolfowitz | 3 Comments

wow, I didn’t notice this, but in his letter to the board of the Bank, he effectively blames Shaha Riza for his breaking bank rules in giving her a pay raise above bank regulations!

In a written response, Wolfowitz maintained that he acted in good faith in seeking to resolve an obvious conflict of interest. He accused the bank’s ethics committee of forcing him to oversee the raise for his longtime companion, Shaha Riza, as compensation for her transfer to a different job. The ethics panel was afraid to confront her, Wolfowitz said, because its members knew she was “extremely angry and upset.”

The ethics committee told Wolfowitz he could not directly supervise Riza, who also worked at the bank, after he arrived in 2005. He said, however, that the panel declined to oversee her job transfer and compensation, instead ordering him to handle those tasks.

“Its members did not want to deal with a very angry Ms. Riza, whose career was being damaged as a result of their decision,” Wolfowitz said in his response to the investigating committee’s report. “It would only be human nature for them to want to steer clear of her.”

Wolfowitz added that the chairman of the ethics panel thought that “due to my personal relationship with Ms. Riza, I was in the best position to persuade her to take out-placement and thereby achieve the ‘pragmatic solution’ the committee desired.”

Wolfowitz effectively blamed Riza for his predicament as well, saying that her “intractable position” in demanding a salary increase as compensation for her career disruption forced him to grant one to pre-empt a lawsuit. He is scheduled to appear before the board this afternoon. The board is expected to begin deliberating on how to respond as soon as tonight. Board members are inclined to issue a resolution expressing a lack of confidence in Wolfowitz’s leadership, senior bank officials said.

Wow, I hope she has already dumped him. And of course, it wasn’t Wolfowitz’s fault. He just simply caved in to the demands of a woman. He’s not corrupted, it was the woman, right, Mr. Wolfowitz? After all it was Eve who took the first bite, right? What a sad little man.

You Cannot Fight Corruption With Corruption

May 15, 2007 at 9:27 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Paul Wolfowitz | 3 Comments

We’re living in a Shakespearean tragedy today in our world. I’m quite positive William Shakespeare would have had a field day with the cast of corrupted characters ruling our world today, from Bubble Boy George Bush, to “Voter Fraud” Karl Rove, to “I don’t give a damn what you say” Dick Cheney, on down to “Fighting corruption” Paul Wolfowitz. What a sad cast of characters, and boy what damage are they doing to the world around us.

I believe when history looks back at what ignited the great battles of the last days, everyone will point to the decision to invade Iraq by the Bush administration as the root cause. But that’s just my opinion.

In any case, this post is about Paul Wolfowitz, who Bush appointed to head the World Bank. Mr. Wolfowitz is an idealist (the worst kind really) who thought he could forcibly change the world around him (so did Lenin). He gave a sweet deal to his girlfriend, against the World Bank rules, and got caught. The Bank determined that Mr. Wolfowitz violated bank ethics, and now Mr. Wolfowitz rejects that determination, calling it “unbalanced” and “flawed.” Of course he would. He’s a corrupted man. He sees no problem giving out a sweet deal to his girlfriend, knowingly violating Bank ethics. The great irony (and why he’s a great Shakespearean flawed character) is that he’s supposedly pressing the World Bank to fight corruption in the world around him. But…when you fight corruption as a corrupted individual, why would anyone give you any time of the day? Why would anyone listen to you? Does Mr. Wolfowitz not realize that he is at the heart of the undermining of his own idealism? Does Mr. Wolfowitz not realize that his priorities are all messed up? If he truly believed in his ideal, fighting corruption, would not the right thing to do be to step down when you yourself have been caught doing corruptible things? Or is Mr. Wolfowitz a liar? Does he in fact NOT believe in his ideals? If not, just what kind of man is he?

The panel said Wolfowitz believes the blame lies with others and not with him.

It said he did not accept the bank’s policy on conflict of interest and tried to bypass rules that he believed did not apply to him.

“The ad hoc group concludes that in actuality, Mr Wolfowitz from the outset cast himself in opposition to the established rules of the institution,” it found.

“He did not accept the bank’s policy on conflict of interest, so he sought to negotiate for himself a resolution different from that which would have applied to the staff he was selected to head.”

Is Mr. Wolfowitz saying that an idealistic crusader fighting against corruption is a man who blames others and cannot accept responsibility and accountability for his own actions? Is that what Mr. Wolfowitz sees as an idealist against corruption? Is he this blinded by his pride? Step down, Mr. Wolfowitz. Be an honorable man for once in your miserable life. Show the rest of your neo-cons what honorable people do: take responsibility for their own actions.

Are Three Soldiers Worth Losing Iraq?

May 14, 2007 at 11:09 am | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Military, violence, War | 4 Comments

Insurgents attacked a convoy, killed four American soldiers and took captive three other. Now the United States military, through their idiotic pride, has sent 4000 American soldiers searching through all of Baghdad for these three soldiers. That’s four thousand Americans pounding on doors, breaking them down, doing everything counter to smart counterinsurgency strategy, just so they can get those three soldiers back. And now, the insurgents are warning Americans to stop looking for them.

So a question for Americans. Are the lives of those three soldiers really worth possibly losing everything you are fighting for in this surge? Actions have consequences, some of them far more severe than some of you realize. The reason I ask this question is because to Iraqis, this looks like their lives are worth absolutely nothing to the Americans. What happens when Iraqis get kidnapped and held for ransom? Do Americans use 4000 soldiers to go searching for them?

I can’t think of a worse response to three soldiers kidnapped than overwhelming military force. Somehow this is eerily familiar. Hmmm, what other such incident occurred recently in the Middle East that ended up being the worst response the country using overwhelming military force could possibly do?

Finally, I thought the military was learning to be adaptive. Apparently not. Does the military not realize that by following its “traditions” it binds itself? This is a weakness. Can’t they see this? The whole notion of not leaving anyone behind is a weakness and it is being taken advantage of by insurgents for a greater purpose, i.e. the turning of Iraqis against the Americans.

So, are three soldiers worth losing Iraq?

Sealed at the Palmyra Temple

May 13, 2007 at 9:09 pm | Posted in Christianity, Church, Eastern Europe, Mormon, Religion, Romania | Leave a comment

Hey everybody,

Over at our family history blog I’ve written a new post about our most recent trip to the Palmyra temple, where we celebrated the sealing of Jess—Jaime’s sister—and Joe and their two lovely children. Please read it. I also wrote about who Jaime and I sealed, someone close to my heart, sealing him to his wife.

Enabling Terrorism

May 13, 2007 at 7:43 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration | Leave a comment

Are FBI informants usually in the business of nudging along “alleged terrorists” to more dire plots? That seems to be the case in the Fort Dix Six.

It was August 2006 when one of the young Muslim men accused of plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix first broached the idea, according to the authorities. Talking to an informer who was secretly taping the exchange, the young man said that he thought he could round up six or seven other men willing to take part, and that a rocket-propelled grenade might be the most effective weapon, the authorities said.

And he had one more notion: He wanted the informer to lead the attack, according to a federal complaint. “I am at your services,” the young man is quoted as telling the informer, who had presented himself as an Egyptian with a military background.

That moment, recorded on tape and submitted in federal court this week in Camden, N.J., as the authorities charged six Muslim men in the plot, captures something of the complexity of using informers in terror investigations. The informer, sent to penetrate a loose group of men who liked to talk about jihad and fire guns in the woods, had come to be seen by the suspects as the person who might actually show them how an act of terror could be carried off.

Interestingly, when pressed for heavy weaponry, the “suspects” backed off…

And when efforts to finally get the more potent weapons seemed close to producing results, the informer presented a list of possible arms that could now be bought. The list included fully automatic machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. But it was the men who scaled back their ambitions.

In fact, one of the suspects, Dritan Duka, seemed taken aback by the informer’s listing of the heavy artillery. Mr. Duka appeared to ask the informer if there was anything more he should know about the informer’s background or intentions, including whether he was religious. Asked why he seemed alarmed, Mr. Duka said to the informer, “There was some stuff on the list that was heavy.” And he added an expletive.

In the last recorded conversation cited in the complaint, the men opted only for the machine guns. They would “hold off” on anything more.

So here’s the key question, if the informant had not infiltrated this “terrorist cell” would these six have done anything more than create videos and go targetting at a shooting range in the Poconos?

And of course the elephant question in the room is, why now? This plot has been known about (heck there was an informant entraping the poor saps) for well over a year. No weapons had been purchased, no date for an incident had been set, i.e. there was no “imminent danger” so why reveal this now?

Bush is Feeling the Pressure

May 13, 2007 at 6:45 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq | Leave a comment

The first paragraph of this article in the LA Times about Iraq’s attempts to pass a good oil law is instructive in one very important way: Bush is indeed feeling pressure.

It has not even reached parliament, but the oil law that U.S. officials call vital to ending Iraq’s civil war is in serious trouble among Iraqi lawmakers, many of whom see it as a sloppy document rushed forward to satisfy Washington’s clock.

Keep up the pressure, Democrats in Congress. Bush is feeling the heat. It’s unfortunate that the result is a “sloppy document” but we can’t expect anything standard or above from this administration.

General Petraeus Warns Against The Use of Torture

May 11, 2007 at 5:34 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, Military, Torture, violence, War | Leave a comment

In an open letter to his troops, General Petraeus warned them against the use of torture, after that recent survey was released showing that many American soldiers found they were willing to employ ethically and morally questionable techniques to garner information:

The top U.S. commander in Iraq admonished his troops regarding the results of an Army survey that found that many U.S military personnel there are willing to tolerate some torture of suspects and unwilling to report abuse by comrades.

“This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we — not our enemies — occupy the moral high ground,” Army Gen. David H. Petraeus wrote in an open letter dated May 10 and posted on a military Web site.

He rejected the argument that torture is sometimes needed to quickly obtain crucial information. “Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary,” he stated.

Dude, General, you probably should tell this to your bosses first, before telling your troops.

Pentagon Tells Underlings To Shut UP

May 10, 2007 at 9:29 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Military | 1 Comment

The Pentagon is telling everybody to shut up and not talk to Congress about anything.

The Pentagon has placed unprecedented restrictions on who can testify before Congress, reserving the right to bar lower-ranking officers, enlisted soldiers, and career bureaucrats from appearing before oversight committees or having their remarks transcribed, according to Defense Department documents.

Robert L. Wilkie , a former Bush administration national security official who left the White House to become assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs last year, has outlined a half-dozen guidelines that prohibit most officers below the rank of colonel from appearing in hearings, restricting testimony to high-ranking officers and civilians appointed by President Bush.

The guidelines, described in an April 19 memo to the staff director of the House Armed Services Committee, adds that all field-level officers and enlisted personnel must be “deemed appropriate” by the Department of Defense before they can participate in personal briefings for members of Congress or their staffs; in addition, according to the memo, the proceedings must not be recorded.

Deemed appropriate. I.e. vetted enough to ensure Bush loyalty. After all, you can’t trust the underlings to stick to the “appropriate” script.

Condoleezza Rice Led Chevron’s Public Policy Committee During Oil For Food Scandal

May 10, 2007 at 9:23 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, Iraq | 4 Comments

Well well well…remember the days when conservatives were crowing over how France and Russia were evil for participating in the oil-for-food scandal? Not to mention of course Kofi Annan’s son? Yeah, they had a field day with that one, reinforcing their beliefs that the UN was of da devil! Well, we learned last week that Chevron also participated in the oil-for-food scandal, yeah, the Chevron from America. And guess who was an important executive for Chevron in those days? Why none other than Condoleezza Rice.

Digby has the details:

Hullabaloo is proud to present another episode of “Imagine If This Were A Democrat” this week starring Condoleeza Rice:

Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, is preparing to acknowledge that it should have known kickbacks were being paid to Saddam Hussein on oil it bought from Iraq as part of a defunct United Nations program, according to investigators.

According to the Volcker report, surcharges on Iraqi oil exports were introduced in August 2000 by the Iraqi state oil company, the State Oil Marketing Organization. At the time, Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, was a member of Chevron’s board and led its public policy committee, which oversaw areas of potential political concerns for the company.

Ms. Rice resigned from Chevron’s board on Jan. 16, 2001, after being named national security advisor by President Bush.

Our show will take you back in time to a world where the entire political and media establishment rose up in horror at the merest rumor of impropriety among the president’s advisors and cabinet — to a time when editorial writers would have thundered about the unacceptability of a former National Security Advisor and current Secretary of State having even been remotely associated with such illegality and malfeasance. Indeed, in that era, it would have been considered inconceivable that someone under such a cloud could possibly be allowed to continue to represent the nation abroad in times of such great peril. Calls for resignation would be loud and boisterous.

So let’s see, Chevron participates in the oil-for-food scandal and hides this from the world. Rice is the public policy committee chair “which oversaw areas of potential political concerns for the company,” and stayed silent. Huh…

Do regular Republicans realize just how badly their leaders are wrecking their party? Why do they still show such strong support for these criminals?

To Democrats in Congress, a Warning: Restore Habeas Corpus

May 9, 2007 at 10:23 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, Democrats, Republicans | Leave a comment

House Democrats are floating the possibility of tying the restoration of Habeas Corpus to the new attempt at funding the Iraq and Afghanistan war. Awesome. Do it guys! Do it now! Overturn the worst law to be passed under the Bush administration: The Military Commissions Act (or we can call it the anti-Habeas Corpus Act, or more appropriately, the Torture Act, or the I’m The American Dictator Act).

As Glenn Greenwald writes:

But none of that even matters. The right to be free of arbitrary executive imprisonment is — and, since the founding of America, always has been — a defining and distinguishing attribute of our country (notwithstanding shameful instances in our past where that right has been denied). All citizens — including, actually especially, those sent to represent the people in Congress — have an obligation to protect that right from government officials who seek to abolish it.

Having disgracefully abdicated that responsibility back in September because they wanted to win the midterm elections, Democrats — now that they have won — can cleanse their historic sin only by committing themselves, not symbolically but in actuality, to the restoration of habeas corpus. Whether they are willing to do so will speak volumes about their true character and about whether their November victory will result in anything other than some televised hearings. If Democrats are too afraid even to take a stand against the Bush administration in defense of this centuries-old core American liberty, it is impossible to imagine any even minimally risky stands they are willing to take.

Democrats were quite cowardly back in September. They do have a chance now to save face, to do what is right. They have the votes. Force it back on the President. Let him threaten another veto, this time, vetoing the right of habeas corpus. Let it be public. Let the world know where the President of the United States, one George W. Bush really stands, publicly and clearly. If he chooses to veto this, he will go down in history as vetoing the right of habeas corpus. What President of the United States wishes to have that tied to his legacy?

Do it, Democrats! No more cowering.

Americans, contact your Congressional Representatives. Let them know you stand for the right of habeas corpus. Force this right back where it belongs.

Write Your Representative

Contact Nancy Pelosi’s Office

Washington Office:
235 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0508
Phone: (202) 225-4965
Fax: (202) 225-8259

Contact Senator Harry Reid’s Office

Washington Office:
528 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2803
Phone: (202) 224-3542
Fax: (202) 224-7327

Let them know you are behind it. Let them know the people demand their rights back.

Republicans Set September As Benchmark

May 9, 2007 at 9:59 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, Republicans | Leave a comment

Perhaps they don’t realize this, but Republicans, by continually remarking waiting until September to judge progress in Iraq, are really setting a benchmark. As Meteor Blades writes on DailyKos:

They’ve joined the timetable bandwagon.

September.

If the escalation ain’t cutting it by then, says Roy Blunt, Arlen Specter, Gordon Smith, John Boehner, Susan Collins and others, then something has gotta change.

Forget what you previously heard that timetables undermine the troops, give a terrible advantage to the insurgents, and amount to a craven surrender in the Global War on Terror™. Those are Democratic timetables. What we have here are Republican timetables, which are patriotic, strategic and a wise conservation of U.S. military resources. This isn’t “cut and run,” no sirree. This is letting the Iraqis work things out for themselves.

Or maybe September is another Friedman Unit.

Americans Disapprove of Bush’s Veto

May 8, 2007 at 3:37 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, Democrats, Iraq, Republicans, violence, War on Terror | 2 Comments

(UPDATED)

54% of Americans oppose Bush’s use of the veto last week, and most Americans trust the Democratic Congress over the White House on Iraq.

Unfortunately, the numbers are not where they need to be. Too many Americans are still being frightened by Bush and company’s rhetoric. How to break through that…yeah, that’s going to take some time. I really do think when Americans step back and look objectively at this period in their history, they will be ashamed of what has transpired since Bush and the Republicans came to power. Hopefully they will come to this realization quick enough to break the Republican party for decades to come.

(Update)

I like how Michael over at Discourse.net puts it:

I am part of the majority. Why is it so silent?

Silent or not, I do think that the electorate will take its revenge at 2008. Bush is making Hoover look good. And Hoover defined his party for over a generation. We’ll get the enablers.

Indeed we will.

Six “Islamic Terrorists” to Attack an Army Base?

May 8, 2007 at 1:50 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Torture, Vietnam | 1 Comment

(UPDATED)

WTF?!?!?!

You gotta be kidding me. The Bush administration is REALLY getting desparate if it is charging six men with the stupidest plot ever conceived. Apparently these six “Islamic terrorists” were going to make an armed assault on an army base in New Jersey.

The federal government Monday charged six alleged “Islamic radicals” with plotting to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

The six were arrested Monday night, the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey said in a written statement, and are expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Camden, New Jersey, on Tuesday afternoon.

“Their alleged intention was to conduct an armed assault on the army base and to kill as many soldiers as possible,” the office said.

The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office scheduled a news conference later on Tuesday to discuss the case.

One of the suspects was born in Jordan, another in Turkey, the attorney’s office said. The rest are believed to be from the former Yugoslavia, “either U.S. citizens or living illegally in the United States.”

Three of the six are in the U.S. illegally, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the criminal complaints.

Now let’s just think about this. An armed assault on an army base. You know, where professional American soldiers train with their weapons to kill and defend their lives. Six men were going to attack an army base. Six men. Against an entire army base. Uh, just why did the FBI intervene? Seriously. Why did they stop this laughable plot from being executed? Frankly, I don’t think there could be any other way to bring about some humor in this “war on terror” than to let such a ridiculous plot be executed and show how stupid Al-Qaida really is.

Or….

Could it be that this is yet another “fake” story, probably derived from a tortured prisoner in Gitmo. After all, that’s how the Bush administration “knew” about Jose Padilla’s apparent dirty bomb plot, from torturing KSM (or the other guy). But when it came to show their evidence, they had none. Huh, perhaps because it wasn’t actually true, and KSM was telling Americans what they wanted to hear.

(update)

TRex over on Firedoglake adds some interesting insight into “domestic terrorism.” Because of course we’ll have our news coverage be drowned out now by these New Jersey Jihadists. TRex points out the recent threats of domestic terrorism that somehow doesn’t make the big news:

So, expect this to be in heavy rotation in the media cycle over the next couple of weeks. They’re going to milk it for every last possible fear-mongering, freedom-squelching, race-baiting drop that they can squeeze out. You’re actually going to miss the Anna Nicole frenzy. You think I’m kidding, don’t you?

I guess the thing that chaps my ass about the whole thing is that there were two other major domestic terror plots uncovered last week, but what has Wolf Blitzer had to say about that? Nothing. Nil.

But just for the hell of it, let’s review.

First off, there’s the southern-fried militia I like to call the Alabama Asshat Brigade.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Five members of a self-styled Alabama militia were denied bond Tuesday after a federal agent testified they planned a machine-gun attack on Mexicans. A sixth man accused of having weapons and explosives components in his home was approved for release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Armstrong said he could not grant bond because of the agent’s testimony and the large number of weapons — including about 200 homemade hand grenades and a launcher — that were seized in raids last Friday.

And what were they going to do with those guns and grenades?

Kill as many Mexicans as possible.

Adam Nesmith, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that the five men planned an attack on Mexicans in a small town just north of Birmingham, and went there on a reconnaissance mission April 20.

Nesmith said one of the men told an informant that the group, which calls itself the Alabama Free Militia, saw government agents as “the enemy” and had a standing order to open fire if anyone saw government agents approaching.

The sixth man is charged with being a drug user in possession of a firearm. A federal agent testified they found two rooms loaded with guns and possible explosives components, including fireworks, ball bearings, primers, mouse traps, light bulbs and fertilizer.

A lawyer for one of the men has said the case has been overblown by authorities. He said his client began stockpiling items partly because of the scare of the Y2K computer glitch in 2000.

Right. And I bought a whole new spring wardrobe because I like to ride the escalators at the mall.

Then there was this little token of love from the “culture of life”:

AUSTIN, Texas – A bomb was left in a duffel bag in the parking lot of a clinic where abortions are performed, but a bomb squad safely detonated it.

An employee found the package Wednesday in the parking lot of the Austin Women’s Health Center, authorities said. The immediate area, including nearby Interstate 35, was evacuated briefly.

The device “was configured in such a way to cause serious bodily injury or death,” said David Carter, assistant chief of the Austin Police Department.

So, that’s two other domestic terrorism plots with actual weapons (which the Jersey Jihadi and the Florida Warehouse Gang never got around to acquiring, by the way) in a week. Of course, because they were going to kill Mexicans and women seeking abortions, well, that’s just not sexy like the Nightly News needs for ledes. Those stories barely merit a passing mention, whereas our unarmed Islamic fantasists in Trenton are going to be absolutely ubiquitous.

well said. He also quotes from Wonkette:

UPDATE: The kids at Wonkette have precisely the correct attitude on this one.

Ok. So, the plot was: six dudes from New Jersey buy some guns and storm Fort Dix. The Fort Dix that is full of lots and lots of Army reservists with way, way more guns. And, like, extensive military training and [expletive]. Yes, thank god these terrorists have been caught and locked up before they could be killed within minutes of deciding to carry out the dumbest [expletive] terrorist plot we’ve ever heard of.

Say “Amen”, somebody!

AMEN!

Sunnis Learn the Power of Deadlines

May 7, 2007 at 3:02 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, War | Leave a comment

Wow, I’m impressed, the Sunnis are threatening to walk out of the Iraqi government by May 15 (which is just next week!!!), if there are not major changes to the Iraqi Constitution. This is major.

Iraq’s top Sunni official has set a deadline of next week for pulling his entire bloc out of the government — a potentially devastating blow to reconciliation efforts within Iraq. He also said he turned down an offer by President Bush to visit Washington until he can count more fully on U.S. help.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi made his comments in an interview with CNN. He said if key amendments to the Iraq Constitution are not made by May 15, he will step down and pull his 44 Sunni politicians out of the 275-member Iraqi parliament.

“If the constitution is not subject to major changes, definitely, I will tell my constituency frankly that I have made the mistake of my life when I put my endorsement to that national accord,” he said.

Specifically, he wants guarantees in the constitution that the country won’t be split into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish federal states that he says will disadvantage Sunnis.

There is a reason why he’s put such a short deadline. It seems the Bush Administration, among its multitude of other ineptitudes has forgotten to do something:

Al-Hashimi’s Iraqi Islamic Party was key in getting Sunnis out to vote in the December 2005 election. Sunnis had been reluctant to take part in the political process, and many were only convinced to do so with the promise of changes to the Iraqi Constitution. Al-Hashimi said the United States co-signed those changes, and now a year and a half later nothing has been done.

Without a change to the constitution, he said, “The situation would be a disaster for Iraq.”

He added, “I would like to see the identity of my country, in fact, restored back.”

So for a whole year and a half, the United States has not done anything they have promised regarding changing the Constitution to mollify Sunnis. I’m not really surprised. So the Sunnis are using one of their most powerful cards: deadlines and real threats of withdrawals. (Again for some reason threats of withdrawals work everywhere else in the world but here in stubborn America…why is that?) If they withdraw from the government, it will probably collapse, seeing that it would not be anything what it is supposed to be.

So yeah, the surge, it sure looks like it is working well, no?

Iraq Prognosis

May 6, 2007 at 10:20 pm | Posted in Iraq, Military, violence, War | Leave a comment

Juan Cole has a guest commentator write about his prognosis for Iraq. The writer is a Vietnam veteran. His prognosis is quite troubling, and realistic. This will not end well for us, unfortunately.

Republican Goofballs

May 6, 2007 at 10:18 pm | Posted in American politics, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Republicans | 5 Comments

Two quotes to consider here. This is your Republican party today, folks:

First, Mitt Romney, a fellow Mormon, but certainly not a fellow politically, who had his campaign strategy leaked to the Boston Globe a while back. In that, his strategy was to disparage France. (Why France, when Romney served his mission there, shows that his priority is winning an election over even his most cherished moments—unless he really hated his mission).

Enmity toward France, where Romney did his Mormon mission during college, is a recurring theme of the document. The European Union, it says at one point, wants to “drag America down to Europe’s standards,” adding: “That’s where Hillary and Dems would take us. Hillary = France.” The plan even envisions “First, not France” bumper stickers.

So, we know that his campaign strategy is to attack France (even though a very conservative man was just elected President in France, promising stronger relations with the United States—one has to wonder what Romney will do to take back his words if (not when) he becomes president…) In any case, here is Romney at last week’s Republican debate:

In France, for instance, I’m told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up. How shallow and how different from the Europe of the past.

Huh? Let’s back up a second here. Mitt Romney served a mission in France. He ought to know the culture of France pretty well. Secondly, does America really want someone representing them that doesn’t even understand the culture of the country he used to live in for two whole years? Thirdly, as the writer at Discourse.net writes:

I don’t care if he’s tripping, or getting his information from watching French sex comedies, but surely this level of ignorance about Europe ought to disqualify someone from serious consideration for national office?

I personally believe Romney knows French culture just fine, and knows that his remark is really a lie. It speaks volumes about the audience he is targeting and their love of ignorance regarding other cultures. As long as they (his audience) get the right fill of disparaging comments about France, regardless of their accuracy, they are content. Is this really the Republican party today? What does disparaging France, especially with misleading and false statements, get you?

The second Republican goofball to mention is Rep. John Boehner. Atrios quotes him:

Boehner today:

“Over the course of the next three to four months, we’ll have some idea how well the plan’s working. Early signs are indicating there is clearly some success on a number of fronts,” he said.

Boehner, 1/23/07:

BOEHNER: I think it will be rather clear in the next 60 to 90 days as to whether this plan is going to work. And, again, that’s why we need to have close oversight, so that we just don’t look up 60 or 90 days from now and realize that — that this plan is not working. We need to know, as we — as we’re — we move through these benchmarks, that the Iraqis are doing what they have to do.

What a goofball.

The Republican Candidates: Ten Middle-Aged White Men

May 4, 2007 at 7:24 am | Posted in American politics, conservatives, Democrats, liberals, Mitt Romney, Republicans | 6 Comments

The Huffington Post has on its front page today the following picture:

Ten Middle-Aged White Men

Is anyone surprised that the Republican field has ten white middle-aged men as their candidates for president?

Look at the Democratic field: a woman, a black man, a hispanic, and four white men.

What do you all think about this difference?

HUBRIS!

May 2, 2007 at 8:45 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, World Events | 5 Comments

Oh My Goodness!

Read Paul Wolfowitz’s secret memo to his staff.

Wow…

The Law Does Not Apply

May 2, 2007 at 2:02 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, freedom, George W Bush, King George, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, Thoughts | 4 Comments

(UPDATED)

Following my last post, here is yet another conservative, a Harvard professor arguing that the president is above the law, and that the “law does not apply” in some circumstances. Glenn Greenwald has the best analysis of the article in question, from the Wall Street Journal. Harvey Mansfield writes:

The best source of energy turns out to be the same as the best source of reason–one man. One man, or, to use Machiavelli’s expression, uno solo, will be the greatest source of energy if he regards it as necessary to maintaining his own rule. Such a person will have the greatest incentive to be watchful, and to be both cruel and merciful in correct contrast and proportion. We are talking about Machiavelli’s prince, the man whom in apparently unguarded moments he called a tyrant. . .

The president takes an oath “to execute the Office of President” of which only one function is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” In addition, he is commander-in-chief of the military, makes treaties (with the Senate), and receives ambassadors. He has the power of pardon, a power with more than a whiff of prerogative for the sake of a public good that cannot be achieved, indeed that is endangered, by executing the laws. . . .

In quiet times the rule of law will come to the fore, and the executive can be weak. In stormy times, the rule of law may seem to require the prudence and force that law, or present law, cannot supply, and the executive must be strong.

Truly this is not something America was founded on. In fact, if I recall my Revolutionary War history correct, we fought AGAINST “one man rule.” Er….

As Greenwald puts it:

But more so, one would hope that no response is really necessary, since most Americans — outside of the authoritarian cult that has followed George W. Bush as Infallible War Leader — instinctively understand that America does not recognize such a thing as a political official with the power of “one-man rule” that overrides the rule of law. That we are a nation of laws, not men, is so basic to our political identity that it should need no defense.

And for those with any lingering doubts about how repugnant Mansfield’s vision is to the defining American political principle, I would simply turn the floor over to the great American revolutionary Thomas Paine (.pdf), writing in Common Sense:

But where says some is the king of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.

The point here is not to spend much time arguing that Mansfield’s authoritarian cravings are repugnant to our political traditions. The real point is that Mansfield’s mindset is the mindset of the Bush movement, of the right-wing extremists who have taken over the Republican Party and governed our country completely outside of the rule of law for the last six years. Mansfield makes these arguments more honestly and more explicitly, but there is nothing unusual or uncommon about him. He is simply expounding the belief in tyrannical lawlessness on which the Bush movement (soon to be led by someone else, but otherwise unchanged) is fundamentally based.

This is why he is published in The Weekly Standard and The Wall St. Journal — the two most influential organs for so-called “conservative” political thought. All sorts of the most political influential people in our country — from Dick Cheney to Richard Posner to John Yoo and The Weekly Standard — believe and have argued for exactly this vision of government. They literally do not believe in our constitutional framework and our most defining political values. They have declared a literally endless War which, they claim, not only justifies but compels the vesting of unlimited power in the President — “unlimited” by Congress, the courts, American public opinion and the rule of law.

Let me write those words of Thomas Paine again: in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. Just so it is clear what conservative thinkers are proposing: absolute governments where the king is the law. However, in free countries, the law is the king. Even the president, the “one man” is subject to that law, WITHOUT EXCEPTION.

Conservatives ought to be asking themselves why they think this way, or why they provide a platform for this kind of thought to be spewed forth these days. Do most conservatives really believe this? That the president is above the law? What ever happened to believing in what the Founding Fathers taught? Isn’t it conservatives that keep attempting to hark back to those “better times?” Really, when was the last time someone like Mr. Mansfield read Thomas Paine? Thomas Jefferson? John Adams? Is this what kind of government they intended to create? Please! But this is the kind of government conservative thinkers are proposing now. Conservatives ought to think carefully about this. Do they really want to be known as the ideology of the tyranny?

(Update)

Andrew Sullivan shows some examples of conservatives threatening not to participate.

If, as seems likely, the Democrats win the next election and pursue a different strategy in the war on terror, will the conservative movement support a commander-in-chief under such circumstances? Victor Davis Hanson makes a veiled threat here:

All these Democrats now, for three or four years, have not just opposed George Bush, and not just opposed neoconservative idealism, but they’ve demonized it to such a degree that they’ve almost made Bush the equivalent of the enemy. And Bush has a lot of supporters in and out of the military. So now they think that they’re elected, people like yourself and I are going to jump back up and say you know what? They’re the president, we’re going to support them at every opportunity. We probably will, but there’s going to be a lot of us who won’t, because they’re going to say they nitpicked, they were counterproductive, they wanted the people in Iraq fighting us to win. It’s almost as if you burn down the house, and then you want to reoccupy it, or if you destroy the system of bipartisan dialogue, and then suddenly when you’re president, you say let’s restore bipartisan dialogue. But they’ve so demonized people on the conservative side of the aisle, that it’s going to be very hard for them to create unity.

The insinuation – “Bush has a lot of supporters in and out of the military” – is repellent. But it’s telling. If the pro-Bush right loses this debate over how to fight this war, do not expect them to be gracious losers. They could be even more vicious against a future Democratic president at war than the anti-war left has been to Bush.

Victor Davis Hanson is of course a Hugh Hewitt Townhall man…

“The Only Thing That Can Save This Country Is A Military Coup”

May 1, 2007 at 7:46 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, Military, violence | 1 Comment

Your conservative pundit, ladies and gentlemen:

“When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.”

I wonder, just what salvation does he seek from a military coup? Perhaps this conservative pundit should read up on military coups some more. Take a look at the list of coup leaders. Is this the kind of person you think will save this great country of ours?

* Muammar al-Qaddafi, leader of Libya (1969–)
* Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea (1979–)
* Lansana Conté, President of Guinea (1984–)
* Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso (1987–)
* Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of Tunisia (1987–)
* Than Shwe, Military General, Head of Junta, Myanmar (Burma) (1988–)
* Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, President of Sudan (1989–)
* Yahya Jammeh, President of The Gambia (1994–)
* Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff and President of Pakistan (1999–)
* François Bozizé, President of the Central African Republic (2003–)
* Sonthi Boonyaratglin, Chairman of the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy in Thailand, Present President of the Council for National Security (2006–)
* Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Head of the Fijian Army, Acting Prime Minister of Fiji (2006–)
* Jose Ramos-Horta, Acting Prime Minister of East Timor (2006-)

Conservative pundits have been known to be fearful of actually expressing what they truly believe. The more and more they lose power and influence, one wonders, will they finally be emboldened to really say what they mean?

Finally, to all sane conservatives out there, why do you guys give these fools a platform through which they can spew forth their bile?

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