Harry Reid, a Shame to All Democrats

December 21, 2007 at 9:56 am | Posted in Democrats, Harry Reid | 11 Comments

How the mighty have fallen. Mr. Harry Reid, you are a shame to the Democratic Party and you, sir, must step down as the Majority Leader in the Senate. You have abrogated your Constitutional responsibility to hold the Executive branch accountable, and instead bent over and let them give it to you all year long. It is time for you to go back to Nevada. You, sir, are not worthy of being the Majority Leader in the Senate. You undermine members of your OWN party! who are trying to stop the abuse of power by this administration. That is unconscionable!

It is time for someone like Chris Dodd to take the leadership reins in the Senate. Or a Russ Feingold. Someone who will not cower to the megalomaniac Republican.

Please, Mr. Reid, step down.

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Various Items

December 15, 2007 at 6:52 am | Posted in America, American politics, Barry Bonds, baseball, Bush Administration, CIA, Civil War, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democrats, Ethiopia, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, mukasey, Musharraf, Pakistan, Peace, Republicans, secret combinations, Somalia, Terrorism, Thoughts, War, World Events | Leave a comment

There are a few items in the news today that I feel are important.

Justice Department Seeks Delay in CIA Tapes

Surprise, surprise. The Bush Administration Justice Department does not wish for Congress to really know what was going on at the CIA when they destroyed evidence. What do you think, Mr. Chuck Shumer? Ms. Diane Feinstein? Was Mukasey worth this? Did you really think he would allow you into the deepest darkest corners of the Bush administration? Serious, high crimes have been committed by the Bush administration, ordered from Bush himself. Do you really think he would let you in?

Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating they have been at allowing the Bush administration and the minority Republicans to thrash them so many times? Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating it is for citizens to see them capitulate at the mere THREAT of filibuster. LET THEM FILIBUSTER ALREADY! Let them do it guys! Let’s see Republicans talk themselves to death! Let them truly be obstructionist. Why do you give them such political victories, by both giving in to their demands without making them sweat for it, and letting them take the public relations coup?

I think we need new Democratic leadership. Y’all are cowards. Yes, you Mr. Harry Reid. Yes you, Ms. Nancy Pelosi. What do Bush and the Republicans have on you? Why do you bend over for them? STOP IT!

Musharraf Lifts Pakistan’s State of Emergency.

Heh, one wonders why. Let’s see, the reason given for the state of emergency two months ago was a threat to the state of Pakistan by Al-Qaeda. Now that the state of emergency was removed, can anyone point to any reduced threat from Al-Qaeda? Any evidence? Are they still a threat to Pakistan? Hmmm.

Maybe the real reason had to do with Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which was about to rule against Musharraf. Let’s see. Musharraf declares emergency, martial law, basically. He removes justices from the Supreme Court he didn’t like, and places ones on there that would rule in his favor. He arrests some thousands of lawyers—a true threat to the viability of the state, no doubt—-but, well…nothing really drastic done against the stated threat, Al-Qaeda. Huh.

So, who, besides Musharraf, can even consider the upcoming elections as anything but fair?

Ethiopians said to push civilians into rebel war.

This piece of news is important because Ethiopia entered into Somalia at our request. We again farmed out what we should have done to someone else. Now that someone else, in this case, Ethiopia, is stretched too thin. Because many of its troops are in Somalia, Ethiopia does not have enough to deal with the rebels in a really dry region between Somalia and Eritrea. This is bad because it is undermining the strength of a fairly stable country on Africa’s horn. Meanwhile, over in Somalia, the Islamic militants increase their power.

Huh, I wonder if Bush will pull a Bush senior move and send soldiers into Somalia just before he gets out of office forcing his Democratic successor to handle his mess.

Sealed off by Israel, Gaza a beggar state

I don’t get Israel. I don’t think they realize the enormity of the problem in Gaza, and that by continuing to starve them out, it will only be worse for them. 1.5 million people is a hell of a lot of people. I’m sure Israel would love it for them not to be there anymore, but there is no way for that to happen.

It is really sad. A peace conference photo-op was done at Annapolis just a few weeks ago, but notably absent are the conflicting parties. Where was Hamas? Where was Hesbollah? Where was Iran? Interestingly, where was Iraq? How can you make peace with your enemy if you do not invite them to a peace conference?

Voters offer mixed responses on Clemens’ HOF chances

On baseball here. The Mitchell Report has certainly increased baseball talk, here in mid-winter. I’ll be fascinated to see what happens in the Spring. But I wanted to quote from Ray Ratto, who is quoted in this piece. I think he makes some very interesting points in regards to baseball, the Hall of Fame, numbers, and more importantly, the business itself.

“I would vote for Bonds on the first ballot, as I would vote for Clemens, because the Hall of Fame isn’t church,” Ratto said. “It’s the history of baseball, and this is part of the history of baseball. I can assure you that Bud Selig will be voted into the Hall of Fame, and he is the commissioner whose name will be linked with the steroid era by first ignoring it, then profiting from it, and finally blaming others for it.

“I know that Cap Anson is in the Hall of Fame, and he was instrumental in the creation of the color line, which is way worse than PEDs. So this discussion ends up being an excuse for people with no institutional memory or understanding to claim a moral superiority they’re not really equipped to display.”

I always liked Ray Ratto. I grew up in the Bay Area and read his opinions frequently. I think he says it best here. Firstly that the Hall of Fame already includes cheaters, as well as racists and womanizers. It isn’t church. We don’t need to deify these players.

More important is his point about how the business of baseball profited from these past 12 years of steroid and human growth hormone abuse. I remember seeing a comment from a reader on CNN.com who said that Barry Bonds was being used. This commentator wrote when Barry was indicted by the grand jury on perjury. Barry Bonds may be done playing baseball for good. But that is a point rarely made.

Barry Bonds was indeed used. Bud Selig was silent because Barry Bonds brought in money. Look at just this last year’s revenue, over $6 billion dollars, according to sources. $6 billion dollars. That’s almost as good as America’s most popular sport—where enhancement drugs are also abused—football. On what did those baseball owners profit? On juiced up players of course. How much revenue did the San Francisco Giants get from the year 2000-2007? Shall we look at what profit Peter Magowan made during that time? How about Steinbrenner and the Yankees?

Baseball millionaire owners profited from their players getting juiced. And who gets blamed now? The players of course. Rape them for all they’ve got and then throw them to the trash compactor when you’re through with them. Who is the public face of the San Francisco Giants? Barry Bonds of course. Who is the money behind the San Francisco Giants? Peter Magowan. Who will pay for the juiced player? Barry Bonds of course. Who will profit from the juiced player? Peter Magowan.

Remember that.

Mitchell Report can’t be good for baseball’s short term business

Read for yourself:

George Mitchell’s steroids report hasn’t just rocked the game of baseball. It figures to shake the business of baseball, too.

As an industry, MLB has been even hotter than Josh Beckett in October. It posted record revenues of $6 billion this year. Baseball has more than doubled its take of a decade ago and is closing fast on the NFL as the top-grossing league in sports.

The Mitchell Report, though, could jeopardize that run. Maybe Commissioner Bud Selig just couldn’t stand too much prosperity. He ordered up the Mitchell Report and re-focused attention on a problem that, in many fans’ eyes, had faded as a concern.

Just remember who profited on baseball’s steroids. Not the players who get the fans’ wrath. Oh no. People like Bud Selig. I wish we had our priorities straight, here in America.

Shame On You, Harry Reid!

October 19, 2007 at 10:34 am | Posted in corruption, Democrats, Harry Reid, NSA Warrantless Tapping, secret combinations, warrantless wiretapping | 3 Comments

Glenn Greenwald writes:

I wrote about many of yesterday’s developments concerning telecom amnesty and warrantless surveillance in this morning’s post, but I want separately to highlight one critical fact. Citing various media reports, Jane Hamsher last night noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — in violation of all Senate customs and rules — apparently intends, in essence, simply to ignore the “hold” placed on the FISA bill by Chris Dodd and bring the bill to the floor for a vote (and certain passage).

I was somewhat skeptical of that interpretation. The one “principle” which all Senators share is the sacred holiness of their customs and institutional prerogatives. As Jane notes, Reid has never dishonored a “hold” before from his own caucus, and virtually never dishonors “holds” even when placed by the most far-right Republicans Senators. It seemed inconceivable that he would simply refuse to recognize a “hold” by one of the Senate’s most senior members on a bill of this importance, and the media accounts seemed vague on that score.

As a result, I emailed Reid’s office to ask if they actually intended to override and ignore Dodd’s “hold” and this is the patronizing (though crystal clear) dismissal I received back as a “response” from Reid’s spokesman, Jim Manley:

Reid will work with Dodd and other Senators to correct the deep flaws in the Protect America Act.

Clearly, Reid has nothing but contempt for Dodd’s principled stand, which was generated by (and in response to) the actions of tens of thousands of Americans concerned about our constitutional liberties and the rule of law. Reid is dismissively brushing that all to the side — as usual — to ensure the safe and smooth passage of a Draconian bill jointly demanded by the Bush administration, the telecom industry, and their lobbyists.

There is a reason that the Democratic Congress has been as accommodating to the Bush agenda, if not more so, than even the GOP Congress led by Bill Frist and Denny Hastert. It is because that is what their leadership, repeatedly, chooses to do. Dodd needs to demonstrate that yesterday was not a one-time event by demanding that his “hold” be honored, and the other Democratic candidates, as well as others in the Senate who claim to want to stop this bill, ought to do more than issue empty, right-worded statements and stand with Dodd to block this bill by any means available.

Why, Senator Reid, why? Why do you wish to provide telecom companies with RETROACTIVE IMMUNITY? Clearly because you wish to provide them immunity retroactively, it clearly implies there was some lawbreaking in the past by these companies, the kind of lawbreaking that will get these telecom companies into some serious trouble, and could even bring them down. Stand for your principles, man! Stop accepting their money! Don’t be like the Republicans! Shame on you, Mr. Harry Reid. You really are no better than the Republicans.

The Grand Failure of Democrats in 2004

October 9, 2007 at 3:52 pm | Posted in American politics, Democrats, secret combinations, Supreme Court, Torture | 4 Comments

Here we start getting to the reasons why Democrats not winning the White House in 2004 will hurt us as Americans for a good long while to come, and why hardcore conservatives weep with joy. Because decisions like these from the Supreme Court today.

A German citizen who said he was kidnapped by the Central Intelligence Agency and tortured in a prison in Afghanistan lost his last chance to seek redress in court today when the Supreme Court declined to consider his case.

The justices’ refusal to take the case of Khaled el-Masri let stand a March 2 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. That court upheld a 2006 decision by a federal district judge, who dismissed Mr. Masri’s lawsuit on the grounds that trying the case could expose state secrets.

The Supreme Court’s refusal, without comment, to take the case was not surprising, given that a three-judge panel for the Fourth Circuit was unanimous. Nevertheless, today’s announcement prompted immediate expressions of dismay, and it could exacerbate tensions between the United States and Germany.

The Fourth Circuit acknowledged the seriousness of the issues when it dismissed Mr. Masri’s suit. “We recognize the gravity of our conclusions that el-Masri must be denied a judicial forum for his complaint,” Judge Robert B. King wrote in March. “The inquiry is a difficult one, for it pits the judiciary’s search for truth against the executive’s duty to maintain the nation’s security.”

The ordeal of Mr. Masri, who is of Lebanese descent and was apparently the victim of mistaken identity, was the most extensively documented case of the C.I.A.’s controversial practice of “extraordinary rendition,” in which terrorism suspects are abducted and sent for interrogation to other countries, including some in which torture is practiced.

The episode has already caused hard feelings between the United States and Germany, whose diplomatic ties were already frayed because of differences over the war in Iraq. Mr. Masri’s lawyer in Germany, Manfred Gnjidic, said the high court’s refusal to consider the case sends a message that the United States expects other nations to act responsibly but refuses to take responsibility for its own actions.

“We are very disappointed,” Mr. Gnjidic said in an interview today with The Associated Press. “It will shatter all trust in the American justice system.”

Indeed it will. So sad.

Cowards, the Whole Lot of Them!

October 9, 2007 at 5:46 am | Posted in Congress, corruption, Democrats | 7 Comments

Damn those Democrats in Congress! They are more afraid of being branded “soft on terrorism” than listening to their own DAMN CONSTITUENTS! Wake up you stupid idiots!

Vietnam All Over Again

September 27, 2007 at 5:35 am | Posted in corruption, Democrats, Iraq | 2 Comments

You know you are redoing Vietnam when NONE of the top Democratic candidates can promise to pull all troops out of Iraq before their term is up in 2013. There’s no chance in hell the Republican candidate will pull the troops out.

Just giving a dose of reality folks. Whether we like it or not, our brave leaders will NOT listen to what the public wants and will keep sacrificing OUR children (NOT theirs) for a war we do not agree with anymore, a war we never should have fought. Our generals are making the same mistakes they made in Vietnam, presenting to the American people a false sense of reality, hyping the good and dismissing the bad like your worst car-salesman nightmare, knowing full well exactly what they are doing, knowing full well that the mission is not going well, but not caring to tell their bosses, WE THE PEOPLE, what’s really going on.

How shameful.

George Bush on Vietnam

August 23, 2007 at 8:20 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, corruption, Democrats, George W Bush, Iraq, Vietnam | 1 Comment

all the gory details. Apparently comparisons to Vietnam only work when they are politically convenient for you.

The really sad part is that Senate and House Democrats will cower to this idiot. Com’on boys and girls, show some guts! Stand up to the Boy Emperor and let the world know just what a weak idiot is running our country these days. Or forever be remembered in history as enablers of this madman.

Senate to Call for Special Counsel to Investigate if Gonzales Perjured Himself

July 26, 2007 at 10:28 am | Posted in Alberto Gonzales, American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, corruption, Democrats, Perjury, Republicans, secret combinations | 4 Comments

Nice! At last, some real action. Good work Democrats!

A group of Senate Democrats called Wednesday for a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales perjured himself regarding the firings of U.S. attorneys and administration dissent over President Bush’s domestic surveillance program.

“We ask that you immediately appoint an independent special counsel from outside the Department of Justice to determine whether Attorney General Gonzales may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress,” four Democratic senators wrote in a letter Wednesday, according to a draft obtained by The Associated Press.

“It has become apparent that the Attorney General has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements” to the Judiciary Committee, they added.

UPDATED:

And here’s a great video of Jon Stewart getting past all the b.s. to what it is really about:

Raw Power vs The Rule of Law, or Why Democrats Can’t Do a Single Thing About Bush

July 19, 2007 at 9:49 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, liberals, Media, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Scooter Libby, secret combinations, Thoughts, Torture, violence, Voter Suppression, War, War on Terror, Washington DC, World Events | 8 Comments

I have closely observed the goings on of my government (as best as I can seeing how secretive they want to be) these past five years, ever since Bush decided to go to war with Iraq back in the summer of 2002. (Read Bill Schneider’s “Marketing Iraq: Why Now?” where you can read Andrew Card’s comment: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” They decided over the summer to attack Iraq. The rest was all a matter of marketing, selling it to the American public). They got the war rammed down Americans’ throats, with an extremely complicit media rooting the Administration on, damned be anyone that stood in their way.

The corrupting influence of raw power began immediately after 9/11. I’m sure in the very first seconds of realizing the potential power the Executive could yield, the Administration probably had good intents, but those were just a few seconds. They realized just how much power they really had: raw power. And they realized they must keep it a secret, for if it really got out, they would be forced to follow the rule of law, and not the rule of raw power. They took advantage of all the support (90% approval ratings and support from many nations around the world) and ran with it as far as they thought they could go. Karl Rove told Republicans in January of 2002 to run with the war in the November elections and they would win seats. They did and they won seats. They got the war they wanted, on the cheap, small force, shock and awe military might that defeated a ragtag worn down Iraqi military in three weeks. No surprise there. No wonder so many neo-conservatives and their allies chortled after the war, and drank in their wine of success.

Reports and studies, however, were there from the beginning that all was not well, and that continuing down this path would lead to serious problems for America. The most serious is the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Unchecked, the Bush administration began, right from the start, right from 2001 and early 2002, to employ power beyond what is written in the Constitution. Why? Because they saw what raw power there was in the Executive Branch and they took it. Even so, they knew they were doing wrong, or they wouldn’t be so secretive about it. Only those with something to hide, hide something. So right from the start, the United States of America began torturing people, employing techniques learned from the Soviets and the Nazis. They kept this as much of a secret as they could. For they knew if this were to get out, they would be in trouble. The American public still had more raw power over the administration, at least until after the 2004 presidential election. Once that election passed and Bush won, their raw power achieved the ultimate. For the next four years, no one could stop them. So some of their secrets could get out. In fact, by slowly getting out, the secrets became acceptable. Like any watcher of pornography, you can justify the soft porn at first, but you cannot justify the hardcore. Once you get enough of the soft porn, the hardcore becomes acceptable and even desirable. It soon becomes a part of who you are.

In 2006 something wonderful happened. America broke out of the spell of this administration and its evils. A lot of Democrats and liberals (and many independents) were hopeful to see a change.

Unfortunately that is not going to happen. You see, the Bush administration has tasted of raw power and they will not let go. In fact, even if the Democrats get a veto proof majority in these next 18 months, there is nothing to hold back the Bush administration from simply defying the veto overrides of Congress. Note with what impunity the administration is telling private citizens not to show up for Congressional subpoenas! They even claim executive privilege over documents related to Pat Tillman’s debacle. Why? Because they can. There is no raw power above them, so why should they listen to anyone or do anything for anyone? They answer to none but themselves.

We must realize that there is only one thing that can actually end this raw power by this administration over these next 18 months and that is a full on revolution where the American people rise up and kicks this administration out of power. Congress has no raw power to impeach this president. He will simply defy their will. Why should he bother with Congress? He has no incentive. He has nothing to lose.

America has not been in as dangerous and precarious position as it is today. We must go back to the rule of law. For the rule of law to have any real effect, those who broke the rule of law must be punished and held accountable. Otherwise, what is the purpose of law? Without any punishment, there is no law. Unfortunately this will not happen, and we will have to deal with the administration as currently constituted for the next 18 months. We will have to deal with a possible military strike on Iran. We will have to deal with attempts by this administration to fix the next election so that they ensure a Republican president and a security and secrecy over what they have done these past six years. What Republican candidate today is going to actually hold anyone in the Bush administration accountable for their crimes? What Republican candidate today will punish anyone in this administration?

For that matter, what Democrat will truly do what needs to be done? I bet that even they will come up with some rationale about healing the wounds of Bush’s divisiveness and let them get away with it. Again, if there is no punishment, can there really be a law? If there is no law, what do we have?

Jack Balkin writes about why this is so important:

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

This administration is by far the worst that America has ever seen. But it is far more dangerous than that. Their policies and their use of raw power has done serious and potentially permanent damage and harm to the rule of law and the Constitution. Note for example the audacity of Sara Taylor claiming her oath to the president rather than to the Constitution. When corrected, now how smugly she replied:

Leahy: And then you said, I took an oath to the President, and I take that oath very seriously. Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?

Taylor: Uh, I, uh, yes, you’re correct, I took an oath to the Constitution. Uh, but, what–

Leahy: Did you take a second oath to the President?

Taylor: I did not. I–

Leahy: So the answer was incorrect.

Taylor: The answer was incorrect. What I should have said is that, I took an oath, I took that oath seriously. And I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the President.

Leahy: No, the oath says that you take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. That is your paramount duty. I know that the President refers to the government being his government — it’s not. It’s the government of the people of America. Your oath is not to uphold the President, nor is mine to uphold the Senate. My oath, like your oath, is to uphold the Constitution.

This was an unscripted moment showing the reality of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Loyalty is NOT to the Constitution, but to the president. Because the real raw power is not in the Constitution, but in Bush and Cheney. Note also Cheney’s ludicrous claim that is was not part of the executive branch, and thus cannot be held in check by any rules or regulations. These are but a few examples of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. (Heck, let’s not even bring up Scooter Libby!).

What can be done? At this point we must continue to reveal the secrets, show Americans just how much the Bush administration is not for the Constitution they took an oath to uphold. Continue forcing them to explain themselves. History will be the judge. If the administration attempts to start a fight with Iran, we must take to the streets and say NO! It won’t do much to actually stop them, but that’s all we can do, unless we’re riping for a real revolution.

A Realistic Assessment on Progress in Iraq

July 14, 2007 at 5:23 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Media, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Saudi Arabia, secret combinations, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | 3 Comments

Whatever you do, if you want a real assessment about the situation in Iraq, do NOT listen to the President of the United States. Read Patrick Cockburn instead, for example. What will you learn? You’ll learn that, yes, Iraqis did progress on a few of the 18 benchmarks, but all the areas where they improved were insignificant, and the areas where Iraqis must have improved, about six benchmarks, Iraqis made absolutely no improvement at all. Things like security and politics. The very important stuff. No improvement at all.

The White House yesterday sought to suggest possible change for the better in Iraq by saying that there had been satisfactory progress on eight of the 18 goals set by Congress. Unsatisfactory progress is reported on six, unsatisfactory but with some progress on two and “too early to assess” on a further two.

The picture it hopes to give – and this has been uncritically reported by the US media – is of a mixture of progress and frustration in Iraq.

The wholly misleading suggestion is that the war could go either way. In reality the six failures are on issues critical to the survival of Iraq while the eight successes are on largely trivial matters.

Thus unsatisfactory progress is reported on “the Iraqi security forces even handedly enforcing the law” and on the number of Iraqi units willing to fight independently of the Americans. This means that there is no Iraqi national army but one consisting of Kurds, Shia and Sunni who will never act against their own communities. Despite three years of training, the Iraqi security forces cannot defend the government.

Set against these vitally important failures are almost ludicrously trivial or meaningless successes. For instance, “the rights of minority political parties are being defended” but these groups have no political influence. The alliance of Shia religious and Kurdish nationalist parties that make up the government is not keen to share power with anybody. This is scarcely surprising since they triumphantly won the election in 2005.

There have been some real improvements over the past six months. Sectarian killings in Iraq have declined to 650 in June compared with 2,100 in January. So-called “high-profile” bombings, including suicide bomb attacks on Shia markets, fell to 90 in June compared with 180 in March. But it is doubtful if these are entirely or even mainly due to the US surge.

The fall in sectarian killings, mostly of Sunni by Shia, may be largely the result of the Mehdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr being told by their leader to curb their murder campaign. It is also true that last year, after the attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006, there was a battle for Baghdad which the Shia won and the Sunni lost.

Baghdad is more and more Shia-dominated and the Sunni are pinned into the south-west of the city and a few other enclaves. As Sunni and Shia are killed or driven out of mixed areas, there are less of them to kill. Some 4.2 million people in Iraq are now refugees, of whom about half have fled the country.

The real and appalling situation on the ground in Iraq has been all too evident this week. Thirty bodies, the harvest of the death squads, were found in the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday. The figure for Tuesday was 26 and, in addition, 20 rockets and mortar bombs were fired into the Green Zone killing three people. This was significant because they were fired by the Mehdi Army, who had been upset by criticism made on them by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. By way of gentle reproof they shelled his offices in the Green Zone.

What does this mean? It means that the surge is not having the intended effect. That is, if the intended effect was indeed a progress in security and political resolutions in Iraq, the surge has not succeeded, and probably will not succeed no matter how long we continue pressing this surge. The problem we are facing here at home is two fold. The public is now dead set against the war, and the military does not have any new fresh troops for the fight. A government cannot go to war without the nation behind it. Once it loses the nation, it will fairly quickly lose the war. The reason is that the soldiers come from the nation. Now, the military will run out of new soldiers to send to Iraq next April. Once April comes around what is the military going to do? They don’t say. Why not? Because their civilian bosses at the White House order them to remain silent. Why? Because it would hurt them politically.

Listen guys, the Republicans, by continuing this charade will lose badly in the November 2008 elections. They don’t seem to realize this. They believe that the American public will somehow never ever consider dropping them all. They figure that the more they filibuster Democratic legislation the more they can paint the Democrats as unable to rule. But this time the Americans will not forget (as they usually do with their massively short term attention span) that it was the Republicans who pressed for this war. This is important because if it were not for the Republicans, we’d get more honest assessments about this war and about what to do with our dear soldiers who fight for us. Instead, April will come around and well, we’ll still be living in denial while our soldiers come home wounded and weakened, stretched to the limit, and not the fighting force that can or will win our battles for us. This is very dangerous. Republicans would rather not talk about that. Neither their cohorts who control the media (see for example this latest evidence that even the New York Times would rather portray a political situation in Republican light—liberal media indeed).

What should happen?

In the real world, what should happen, especially when it comes to war, is to end the politicization. Republicans must stop using the soldiers as political fodder against Democrats. It must end. Were regular Americans to realize just how much the soldiers have been used by Republicans for political points, well, maybe many of them, the conservative kind, don’t mind the hypocrisy. In any case, it must end. It won’t unfortunately. But this is what should happen. We should look realistically at our situation now. We should assess just where this war has taken us, just what the costs have been. Will we actually do that? Not likely. Why not? Because partisan politics has gripped our nation at just the wrong time. Who is to blame for that? Karl Rove of course. As long as he is still employed we will never get an honest assessment.

The best solution for America right now in regards to Iraq is to begin talking about a way out of Iraq. The British were able to do so. We could learn a lot from the British it seems. One of the lessons is that you have to plan a good escape from the situation. The problem with Vietnam, and unfortunately the problem we will face with Iraq, is that we did not have a good plan of escape. So in the end you had a helicopter on top of the embassy with thousands of people trying to take it. What a shameful way to leave. Who is to blame for that? None other than Nixon of course. He orchestrated the ending of the war so that it would cast a bad light on the Democrats. But it was he, in the end, who left Vietnam the way he left it. George Bush does not wish to talk about how to leave Iraq. He would rather punt that on to the next administration (at this point assuredly a Democratic one). The moment the next administration withdraws the troops, he, from the sidelines, will criticize and demonize the next administration for failing in Iraq, and for not continuing his “grand crusade—er mission.” Why would he do this? Because in his heart, George W. Bush does not care about the troops as much as he cares about scoring political points for his Republican party.

The British withdrawal from southern Iraq also opens a window into our future for us to see what would happen with a withdrawal of foreign occupying troops. The Shi’ite militias turn on each other. This is the expected outcome. Why? Well, we go back to our realistic assessments. We keep pretending to believe that somehow the new Iraqi “army” will be loyal to the “government.” But please, let’s be honest. The real power lies in the militias, and will do so until the Americans leave to let the militias work it out on their own just how to run a large country the size of Iraq. What may really end up happening is that Iraq breaks down to tribal groups, as before World War I. Who knows, that may be what is actually best for a region like Iraq. The problem is that our world today prefers the nation-state. How would tribal organizations manage in such a system? Especially one like Iraq with all those lucrative resources?

In any case, Iraq will not fall to Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida’s presence in Iraq is small, and homogeneous. Their power is nowhere near that of the Shi’ite militias or the Kurdish militias. Will the Shi’ites try to murder all the remaining Sunnis? Not if the Sunnis have their own militias who protect their own. Also, if Iraq goes tribal, it won’t remain so for long. Here is where you get into the danger of a possible regional conflict. Iran will most likely eat up the Shi’ite south and east while Saudi Arabia will take in the Sunnis in the west. Will Saudi Arabia (or the United States) allow Iran to take possession of such a large amount of land with oil? Of course not. What about Turkey and Kurdistan? Turkey does currently have 140,000 troops on the border with Kurdistan. Turkish leaders have to think more of domestic politics than their obligations to foreign powers. The domestic politics demand action against the Kurds.

It really is unfortunate, and very tragic that we cannot have a realistic assessment about our actions in Iraq. The American people deserve to know the entire situation so they can make a realistic decision on whether or not to follow the president’s plan or some other. Whipping up the frenzy of Al-Qaida does nothing to solve the problem. I really hope Republicans can understand this. At this point, I am not holding my breath.

Quote of the Day – Peggy Noonan

June 2, 2007 at 5:14 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, Democrats, George W Bush, liberals, secret combinations | 5 Comments

The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic–they “don’t want to do what’s right for America.” His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, “We’re gonna tell the bigots to shut up.” On Fox last weekend he vowed to “push back.” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want “mass deportation.” Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are “anti-immigrant” and suggested they suffer from “rage” and “national chauvinism.”

Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens?

Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speech writer, and until recently Bush pom pom cheerleader, as quoted at Firedoglake.

I’ve said before, Republicans don’t like a taste of their own medicine. It’s truly enlightening to see how they react when their Dear Leader attacks them, even though they are, as she claims “concerned citizens.” Indeed, as she says, “why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens?”

Should we even attempt to highlight the thousands upon thousands of times that the White House and indeed even Ms. Noonan spoke insultingly and with hostility towards concerned citizens who happened to oppose the President’s plans? Note for example Ms. Noonan’s crowing over Bush’s 2004 re-election win. Savor, indeed, Ms. Noonan.

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.

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.

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?

What Would the Founding Fathers Do? and Other Matters

April 19, 2007 at 7:58 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cho Seung-Hui, Congress, Democrats, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, liberals, McCain, Middle East, Military, nationalism, Republicans, secret combinations, violence, Virginia Tech, War, War on Terror, World Events | 9 Comments

( Updated )

Many things in the news today that are noteworthy. The first is the foolish childish John McCain joking about bombing Iran. Continue Reading What Would the Founding Fathers Do? and Other Matters…

Give ’em Hell Harry!

April 18, 2007 at 7:52 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democrats, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, War | 2 Comments

Senator Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with the President today, and from this report, it seems the petulant boy emperor was none too happy to hear such stark truth in his face! Continue Reading Give ’em Hell Harry!…

If The Phone Is Not Ringing, Voter Fraud is Calling

April 13, 2007 at 12:55 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, Democrats, Republicans, secret combinations, Voter Suppression | Leave a comment

Jim Harper writes at Cato-at-Liberty:

That’s something like the predicament of searchers after the menace of voter fraud, who can’t seem to find much of it. The New York Times today reports that “scant evidence” exists of a significant problem.

Voter fraud is the idea that individuals might vote multiple times, in multiple jurisdictions, or despite not being qualified. This is distinct from election fraud, which is corruption of broader voting or vote-counting processes. While voter fraud (and/or voter error) certainly happens, it is apparently on a trivial scale. It probably has not changed any election results, and probably will not do so if ordinary protective measures are maintained.

This is important because voter fraud has been used as an argument for subjecting our nation’s citizens to a national ID. The Carter-Baker Commission found little evidence of voter fraud, but went ahead and called for adopting REAL ID as a voter identification card. One of the Commission’s members apparently retreated from that conclusion, having learned more about REAL ID.

For proponents of a national ID, if the phone’s not ringing, that’s voter fraud calling.

So true. This is dear to Karl Rove’s heart, because it cloaks his real desire to suppress Democratic votes with an issue no one, of course, wishes were around. See, Karl Rove knows the enforcement of stringent laws, such as presenting ID and other verifications at the polls will disproportionately affect the poor, who tend to vote Democratic. Whatever works to lessen the strength of Democratic voters, that’s what Karl Rove targets. And this is the math he was talking about in November last year, when he predicted Republicans would win. He of course was wrong, because he didn’t calculate just how strongly voter discontent with the war in Iraq really is now. But when you put all the pieces together, the elections, the US attorney purge, that’s what this is about: the suppression of Democratic voters at the polls, because Republicans really are a minority when all the numbers are in.

Celebrating One Year of Political Blogging

April 11, 2007 at 7:05 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, Church, conservatives, Democrats, Evangelicals, family values, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iraq, liberals, Middle East, Military, Mormon, neo-conservatives, Religion, Republicans, Romania, Utah, War, War on Terror, World Events | 4 Comments

One year ago, I wrote my first post on my blog. Back then it was called RHMD’s Thoughts on Politics. This was my first post: Continue Reading Celebrating One Year of Political Blogging…

Congress Has FINALLY Listened to the Will of the People

March 27, 2007 at 5:46 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, Democrats, Iraq, Military | Leave a comment

The Senate, under Harry Reid’s leadership voted to reject a provision to remove the language from the House version of the military funding bill that calls for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq by 2008. Well done, Congress. You FINALLY listened to your constituents. Keep it up Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. You are doing a good job.

And yes, if George W. Bush vetoes this bill, he is essentially saying that he does not support the troops. Congress has approved the funding (well almost, the Senate still has to work out their version). If Bush doesn’t accept the funding, then it is HE who chooses not to support the troops. Congress did its part. The president must do his and sign this bill.

What It Is Really About – 2008 Of Course

March 26, 2007 at 1:05 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, Democrats, George W Bush, Republicans, Voter Suppression | Leave a comment

You know why Rove hatched up his plan to remove those US attorneys? The states they are in are key. It is all about the elections. It is all about 2008.

See, McKay, up in Washington didn’t press ‘voter fraud’ against Democrats (because of course the evidence was scant and flimsy—but of course Republicans never cared about actual evidence—see Iraq WMD for example), and he was outed. Iglecias in New Mexico didn’t rush a possible indictment against Democrats in 2006 and even got pressure calls from Rep Wilson and Senator Domenici (at home no less!!!). He didn’t budge (because that was the law) and he was outed. So on and so forth.

This is about elections, it always was and always will be. Think back to Tom DeLay’s attempts to redefine Texas politics with his illegal redistricting plan. It’s always about getting just enough seats to keep their party in rule? Why? Take a look at the past three months of Democratic control and all the skeletons they have found in the Bush administration closet by just barely shining a small light of oversight. Power corrupts, everybody. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Power is also very addicting. The more you get of it, the more you want.

The more I think about it, the more I fear what might happen in 2008. What cards does the Bush administration have up its sleeve to ensure that a Democrat does not win the 2008 election? Will it come again to a Supreme Court decision? They’ve got their conservative judges on the court as they wanted. Will it come to ‘voter fraud’ cases? If they have their way, their USA attorneys will press false charges against Democratic voters, suppressing just enough votes for a win. Can everyone not see how this stuff just stinks of tyranny?

Last April, while the Justice Department and the White House were planning the firings, Rove gave a speech in Washington to the Republican National Lawyers Association. He ticked off 11 states that he said could be pivotal in the 2008 elections. Bush has appointed new U.S. attorneys in nine of them since 2005: Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. U.S. attorneys in the latter four were among those fired.

Rove thanked the audience for “all that you are doing in those hot spots around the country to ensure that the integrity of the ballot is protected.” He added, “A lot in American politics is up for grabs.”

The department’s civil rights division, for example, supported a Georgia voter identification law that a court later said discriminated against poor, minority voters. It also declined to oppose an unusual Texas redistricting plan that helped expand the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. That plan was partially reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Frank DiMarino, a former federal prosecutor who served six U.S. attorneys in Florida and Georgia during an 18-year Justice Department career, said that too much emphasis on voter fraud investigations “smacks of trying to use prosecutorial power to investigate and potentially indict political enemies.”

Several former voting rights lawyers, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of antagonizing the administration, said the division’s political appointees reversed the recommendations of career lawyers in key cases and transferred or drove out most of the unit’s veteran attorneys.

Bradley Schlozman, who was the civil rights division’s deputy chief, agreed in 2005 to reverse the career staff’s recommendations to challenge a Georgia law that would have required voters to pay $20 for photo IDs and in some cases travel as far as 30 miles to obtain the ID card.

A federal judge threw out the Georgia law, calling it an unconstitutional, Jim Crow-era poll tax.

In an interview, Schlozman, who was named interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City in November 2005, said he merely affirmed a subordinate’s decision to overturn the career staff’s recommendations.

He said it was “absolutely not true” that he drove out career lawyers. “What I tried to do was to depoliticize the hiring process,” Schlozman said. “We hired people across the political spectrum.”

Former voting rights section chief Joseph Rich, however, said longtime career lawyers whose views differed from those of political appointees were routinely “reassigned or stripped of major responsibilities.”

In testimony to a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing this week, Rich said that 20 of the 35 attorneys in the voting rights section have been transferred to other jobs or have left their jobs since April 2005 and a staff of 26 civil rights analysts who reviewed state laws for discrimination has been slashed to 10.

He said he has yet to see evidence of voter fraud on a scale that warrants voter ID laws, which he said are “without exception … supported and pushed by Republicans and objected to by Democrats. I believe it is clear that this kind of law tends to suppress the vote of lower-income and minority voters.”

Other former voting-rights section lawyers said that during the tenure of Alex Acosta, who served as the division chief from the fall of 2003 until he was named interim U.S. attorney in Miami in the summer of 2005, the department didn’t file a single suit alleging that local or state laws or election rules diluted the votes of African-Americans. In a similar time period, the Clinton administration filed six such cases.

Those kinds of cases, Rich said, are “the guts of the Voting Rights Act.”

Our democracy is under attack by Republicans who are trying any trick they can think of to limit the number of Democrats voting. They know they don’t have the actual physical numbers in a straight fight—in our nation, more people align themselves with Democrats than with Republicans—so they have to get dirty in order to get even. This from the party that claims is in line with Christian principles.

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