Will Bush Follow Musharraf’s Lead?

November 5, 2007 at 5:31 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, liberals, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations | 14 Comments

Juan Cole wonders:

If Bush and Cheney are ever tempted into extreme measures in the United States, Musharraf has provided a template for how it would unfold. Maintain you are moving against terrorists and extremists, but actually move against the rule of law. Rubin has accepted the suggested term of “lawfare” to describe this kind of warfare by executive order.

Realistically, how many conservatives would actually be upset if, say, Bush were to keep power and go around arresting liberals…

Romney to Address Secret Combination Group – the Council for National Policy

September 26, 2007 at 3:43 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, corruption, Evangelicals, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations | 13 Comments

Showing that indeed he’s turned to the dark side and forever given up his moderate roots, Mitt Romney will speak to the extremist secret combination group, The Council for National Policy, where Dick Cheney will speak too. Here is what this group thinks:

“The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before of after a meeting,” the New York Times reported.

Hmmm, I wonder why…

What do they want?

In the summer of 1981, Woody Jenkins, a former Louisiana state lawmaker who served as the group’s first executive director, told Newsweek bluntly, “One day before the end of this century, the Council will be so influential that no president, regardless of party or philosophy, will be able to ignore us or our concerns or shut us out of the highest levels of government.”

Huh, sound familiar to y’all, my fellow Mormon readers?

The DailyKos diary I just linked to provides the most information about them, and is aptly titled Sith Lords of the Ultra-Right.

Get to know this secret combination, America. They’ve been ruling the country for twenty of the past twenty eight years.

Poor Relations Between Iraqi PM and General Petraeus

July 27, 2007 at 11:14 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

The Marine Corps Times is reporting on poor relations between the two men who have most to lose if the surge fails, Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki and General Petraeus. The problem is that the two actors want two different things and both are talking past each other. General Petraeus has to satisfy his boss back home who has to deal with domestic pressures while Maliki’s priorities are, well, not the same as that of General Petraeus and the Americans. The article lists the problems they face:

— Al-Maliki, a Shiite who spent years in exile under Saddam Hussein, hotly objects to U.S. tactic of recruiting men with ties to the Sunni insurgency into the ongoing fight against al-Qaida. He has complained loudly but with little effect except a U.S. pledge to let al-Maliki’s security apparatus vet the recruits before they join the force. He also has spoken bitterly, aides say, about delivery delays of promised U.S. weapons and equipment for his forces.

Of course he’s complained about this. There is no way he can ever trust Sunnis in power anymore. That was the whole purpose of his backing the American removal of a Sunni dictator by the name of Saddam Hussein.

— Petraeus is confronted with an Iraqi military and police force, nominally under al-Maliki’s control, that has in many cases acted on sectarian — namely Shiite — not national Iraqi interests. He has faced a significant challenge in persuading al-Maliki to shed his ties to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who runs the Mahdi Army militia.

Heh, I think General Petraeus might have an easier time getting Bill Kristol to renounce neo-conservatism and turn against his best buddy Fred Kagan.

It’s fine for such leaders to really dislike each other and find it difficult to work together. We don’t need to sit at a campfire and sing kumbayas in order to get things done; sometimes you’ve got to slap people around to get them to do what they need to do. The problem in Iraq (out of the bazillions of problems plaguing that poor cursed country) is that even the sharp disagreements are not getting real long-lasting progress done. One really has to wonder why the city of Baghdad after FOUR YEARS still only gets less than one hour of electricity a day! You’d think a far advanced country like ours would have the ability to do this.

So what should happen? Well General Petraeus and PM Maliki do not have to get along, but General Petraeus must be clear (and this should come from General Petraeus’s boss, Mr. Bush who will never do the right thing) that there is a severe consequence if Mr. Maliki refuses to press forward with the political resolutions. The real threat of withdrawal should do the job, or force Maliki out for being too weak. Iraq needs a leader. Maliki is not proving to be a good one. Unfortunately General Petraeus will also not do the right thing, as smart a man as he is. He has for too long towed the Bush neo-con line, and is basically the wrong man for the job. I mean, he’s not even following his own counterinsurgency principles in this surge!

The sad thing is that even in 2009 when (not if) a Democratic leader becomes president, they also won’t remove the troops, nor remove the failed leaders out of power. At least, I’m gearing up for extremely low expectations hoping to finally be nicely surprised by politicians. I’m learning though that upon getting an opening to do bad things, even the most good-hearted politician will choose the bad. So sad.

The Real Fake Hero

July 23, 2007 at 9:54 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, King George, Lord of the Rings, Media, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, Thoughts, War, War on Terror | 14 Comments

This past Saturday my wife and I went and saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The movie was pretty well done, though I do wonder what the “Order of the Phoenix” actually had to do with the plot of the movie—the actual Order members appear at the very beginning and then at the end to save the day (but that’s another story). In any case, the movie was pretty good. I got thinking about a particular aspect of our modern fictional heroes and villains. See I’m also reading Hugh Nibley’s books on the Jaredites and their origins in ancient Asiatic cultures and kingdoms. Absolutely fascinating stuff! Mr. Nibley has opened a window to a world I did not really know about but have been quite curious about for the longest time. The steppes of ancient Asia were quite a bloody, violent, and unstable times, with ruling kings dueling with rivals, capturing kings, having them live in captivity all their lives, so on and so forth. These ancient Asiatic and Jaredite kings were unafraid of battle. In fact, it was their culture that the king took the lead in the battle. They reveled in besting their rivals on the field of battle. In fact, in the account of the Jaredites the two remaining kings, Coriantumr and Shiz battled to the ultimate death and destruction of the Jaredite nation.

In any case, I’ve noticed quite a trend in our stories of late regardless of medium, be it film, television or book. The hero (and the villain too) usually takes the lead, usually is willing to go through hellfire and damnation to achieve near impossible tasks. (These same heroes apparently come out rather unscathed psychologically, but again that is also another story). Jack Bauer takes the lead on “24″. Harry Potter leads the ragtag children of Hogwarts against far more advanced Death Eaters at impossible odds. Maybe their young age makes them not think twice about the fact that they could die very easily at the hands of a Death Eater. And let me just say, if I were a Death Eater, I doubt I would let little kids get in my way of things. But that would ruin the story, wouldn’t it? Leonidas takes charge of the 300 Spartan warriors against one million Persians. Leonidas and his men die in their efforts but their efforts were able to weaken the Persians enough that a few years later they were defeated. Aragorn charges wildly into the mass of orcs in Return of the King, even though it is a foolish move if you think about it. He doesn’t though, because dramatically speaking, charging against the mass of orcs is a far more powerful scene than sitting back strategizing the perils of the kingdom of Gondor at large if the king were to die in battle.

Reality is that when the king leads the battle, the kingdom has a good chance of completely failing, of complete collapse. This is what we learn about ancient Asiatic kingdoms. People wait around until a strongman appears who takes charge, quickly amassing a powerful army that takes control of half of Asia. In no time at all, upon the king’s quick death in battle, the kingdom falls. Modern nations are a vastly different institution, where the ultimate leader stays in the back of the battle sending off the underlings to die for the cause, the homeland, for the state.

I wonder what it is doing to our culture and our mindset when we tie in our hearts and culture the worship of the hero, the soldier, the warrior, the one who, risking all, darts off to battle “evil”, coming back conqueror. Even the most insanest of us all tends to be quite realistic when it comes to his or her own survival. Thus I am befuddled when I see for example this video of College Republicans who speak so easily of our cause against terrorism, but who they themselves do not wish to pick up a weapon and fight.

I don’t mean to pick necessarily on Republicans with this point, it’s just that their example is the most blatant right now. Who do they expect to do the fighting for the cause they speak so proudly of?

We see so many examples in our entertainment, in all mediums, books, television and film, of a worship of the warrior that I really do think it has clouded our understanding of both warfare and tolerating situations we really have no power to control. So many speak of doing “something” about Iran, for example, as if it were not tolerable to have an Iran with nuclear technology. When we speak of not tolerating a nuclear Iran, what does that mean? Do we really have the power to 1) stop Iran from learning nuclear technology? 2) and not further decay our own power?

Reality bites hard. We may have deposed Saddam Hussein. Few doubted our military might and our ability to defeat someone as weak as Saddam. But I wonder if the fakery of fictional characters has so clouded our vision that we think taking massive risks means the risks won’t actually take place? I was watching “A Bug’s Life” with my daughter the other day and I thought some more about this. Flick made a grave mistake when his contraption caused the offering to fall into the river below. That’s fine, a big problem, but fixable. But Flick does not learn the lesson of his mistake, and that is that taking risks could be destructive to the whole tribe. It was quite opportune for Flick and the ants that a bird lived close by, because really, without the bird, something Flick could not control, all his plans were doomed to fail.

Pundits favoring the actions in Iraq talked so often and frequently about how this action would utterly change the Middle East that one really has to wonder how they were believed. Then again no one really asked these pundits just what evidence they had that forcible invasion of a very nationalistic tribalistic state would magically create a pro-Western democratic haven right smack in the middle of a whole slew of other ultra-nationalistic tribalistic states whose influences were and still are far greater and more powerful than the invading army’s influence. We took a high priced risk. We were the hero who rushed wildly at the mass of orcs thinking that, hey it worked in the fictional account, it should work in reality. Aragorn won’t die. He can’t. Frodo will somehow magically make it to the Mount of Doom to melt the ring of Sauron’s power. And more importantly that action would somehow make all the orcs stop attacking to kill Aragorn. Or that Han Solo would appear at the right moment to “surge” and deflect just enough of Vader’s ship to give Luke the opportunity to shoot his guns into the plot-appropriate hole that magically destroys the entire Death Star. We hear plenty in real life from war supporters who say, hey “bomb them all to hell.” “Just nuke the place, that will solve all our problems.”

I used to think that we should restart a draft into American culture, because I used to believe that forcing Americans to serve in defense of their country would make them wisen up about risking so much in wars of choices. After all, interestingly, many of today’s leaders did NOT fight in Vietnam (Dick Cheney had five deferments for “other priorities” for example). But I now don’t think the problem with our rush to wars is lack of fighting by Americans. I think it is our worship of the hero, the warrior, the soldier. Ironically, the Army’s new slogan is an “Army of One.” Heh, it couldn’t be more fitting for our culture of hero worship.

This is not going to change soon. In fact, it will probably get worse before it gets better. Which is too bad, because we’re now in decline in the world around us. The risks were not neutralized, but instead materialized as we were warned. We’ve got many problems ahead of us.

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.

The Real Neo-Conservatives, Unscripted

July 17, 2007 at 12:42 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, corruption, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations | 3 Comments

From their recent cruise in Mexico. They are still in power, until 2009, and hopefully no more.

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.

Bush At 26% Approval

June 21, 2007 at 3:14 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations | 8 Comments

Only three points separate Mr. Bush from the lowest of the low, that good ol’ Republican, Mr. Nixon. And Bush has over a year and a half to reach that point. Mr. Bush’s approval rating stands at 26%.

You know what I say, Bush, keep pressing those immigration reforms that right-wing talk radio just loves so much to talk about. Keep doing it, Mr. Bush. Let’s see if you can do the ultimate flip-flop. You once had 90% approval. Can you make it only 10% near the end of your term? Heck, your buddy in Israel, Olmert, is still stuck at 2% approval! Just keep offending everyone, left and right. Let’s hear more from people like Peggy Noonan who previously praised your Highness but now pout:

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

Keep it up, Mr. President. Who knows, we might even impeach you.

Failed States, the Legacy of the Bush Administration and Republicans

June 19, 2007 at 9:20 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, Somalia, Syria, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | Leave a comment

Republicans and the Christian Right should be well familiar with this particular verse from the Bible, Matthew 7:15-20:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

By their fruits, ye shall know them. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. A corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. Any Christian knows this parable. What does this mean for our world today? Let’s look at the fruits of the Bush administration and the Republican party.

Iraq

A failed state. The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine have released their annual report of the world’s failed states. Iraq is the second worst failed state in the world, only two points better in the rankings than the world’s worst failed state, The Sudan. We’re now well over four years into our war in Iraq. Let’s put that in perspective. World War II, if started on March 20, 2003, would have ended last December or so. What is worse about this is that unlike The Sudan, America has pumped billions of dollars into Iraq with so little to show for it.

That is not to say that all failing states suffer from international neglect. Iraq and Afghanistan, the two main fronts in the global war on terror, both suffered over the past year. Their experiences show that billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy. Just as there are many paths to success, there are many paths to failure for states on the edge.

So I ask you, Americans, and especially Christian conservatives, what do these fruits tell you about the tree from which they come? Now some of you may say, the tree really is terrorism. The answer to that is, no. The tree is America. We entered Iraq with the supposed intent to recreate the Middle East, and Iraq itself. After four years, what are the fruits of our labors? An utterly failed state. Jesus said, evil fruit cannot come from good trees.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Afghanistan

Recently a US airstrike killed seven children along with many others. More than one hundred die in three days of heavy fighting. The Taliban (living over in neighboring Pakistan) continue to plague the Americans now SIX YEARS after we attacked them. Six years. And they are still around? Afghanistan is ranked as the 8th worst failed state in the world, behind only The Sudan, Iraq, and a bunch of African states.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Pakistan

The Bush administration continues to support the highly corrupt and repressive military dictator, Musharraf, regardless of how much he punishes reformers in Pakistan. Pakistan is ranked as the 12th worst failed state in the world. Only Haiti, Central African Republic and Guinea separate Pakistan from her neighbor Afghanistan.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Lebanon

Poor, poor Lebanon, the world’s pawn, played by all parties against her own will. Israelis bomb her to the stone age. Hezbollah is a parasitic virus, destroying the country from within. Syria assassinates her leaders. The United States sacrifices her democracy on the altar of supposed Israeli preference (though if the United States were smart, they would have reined in Israel last summer, because it is in Israel’s best interest to have a stable country to her north. Now because of their idiotic bombing campaign, Lebanon is failing). Lebanon is ranked as the 28th worst failed state in the world.

Palestine

Not a state (and apparently not ever going to be a state), this is probably the worst of Bush’s failures. Is it really in the best interest of our ally, Israel, to have a failed non-state as her neighbor? Is it really in Israel’s best interest to have 1.4 million starving raving lunatics in a 25 mile strip of land right on her border? Is this Condoleezza Rice’s idea of “birth pangs?”

Why are these failed states so important to the world? The Foreign Policy magazine states it well in their introduction:

It is an accepted axiom of the modern age that distance no longer matters. Sectarian carnage can sway stock markets on the other side of the planet. Anarchic cities that host open-air arms bazaars imperil the security of the world’s superpower. A hermit leader’s erratic behavior not only makes life miserable for the impoverished millions he rules but also upends the world’s nuclear nonproliferation regime. The threats of weak states, in other words, ripple far beyond their borders and endanger the development and security of nations that are their political and economic opposites.

These are the fruits of the Republican philosophy to the world. These are the fruits of neo-conservatives. These are not the fruits of good trees. These must be cast into the fire, metaphorically speaking. We must do what needs to be done with these kinds of philosophies, let them pass the way of the dodo bird, to be a relic of history, never to be seen again. At least, if Americans want a better world.

Lawless Thugs

June 11, 2007 at 2:18 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, neo-conservatives | Leave a comment

Did Michael Horowitz of the secret combination, Federalist Society, just issue a threat of retaliation to Scooter Libby’s conviction? Read his words yourself and make your own conclusion. (Thanks to emptywheel).

Disposition of the Libby case will have much to do with whether the country will further and gravely descend into “us v. them” feelings of bitterness and contention. As the Bork case led inexorably to the Clinton impeachment, so can the case before the Court profoundly criminalize and poison the country’s political process with calls for retribution on the part of many who will never believe–never–that Scooter merits criminal punishment or, God forbid, incarceration. It is an irony that Scooter would be the last to support such an embittering development, but the esteem in which he is held is such that any but the most Solomon-like disposition of his case could easily ensure this occurrence.

Emptywheel asks:

What I don’t understand, though, is the target of his threat. Is Horowitz threatening to impeach the second President Clinton (or President Obama) because a staunchly independent prosecutor, appointed by a loyal Republican, prosecuted Libby for covering up Dick Cheney’s role in the outing of a CIA NOC? Is he threatening to attack Democrats because a hard-nosed Republican appointee followed court guidelines and treated Libby with the same sternness he treats African-American drug dealers?

Or is Horowitz threatening to retaliate against Judge Walton himself, who was appointed by George W Bush and recently named by Chief Justice Roberts to the FISA Court? These right wingers aren’t above threatening judges, after all, though it’s not usually the Republican appointees they target.

Such great questions. Digby asks:

Gosh, I’m not sure who these people are who will never — never — accept that Scooter merits punishment and so will profoundly criminalize and poison the country’s political process with calls for retribution, but they sound like a bunch of lawless thugs. In fact, they sound like terrorists, what with their apparent willingness to take down innocent people in senseless acts of revenge and all. But no, apparently these aren’t thugs and terrorists — these are Republican politicians. Go figure.

A Terrorist’s Children, Leverage For Information

June 9, 2007 at 10:49 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, corruption, family values, George W Bush, Gitmo, Middle East, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 23 Comments

This is the newest low of the Bush administration, and obviously one big reason why they’ve wanted to keep the black sites in Europe as secret as they could. Because one of the things that the Bush administration authorized was the capture and interrogation of children of terrorists (such as Khalik Sheikh Mohammed), to be used as a leverage against the terrorists, because hey, who likes to see their children suffer? This is the level to which our country has fallen, where we now torture children.

Andrew Sullivan quotes the CIA about KSM’s sons:

“His sons are important to him. The promise of their release and their return to Pakistan may be the psychological lever we need to break him.”

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has the details.

Today, six human rights groups released a report (pdf) on 39 people who they think the US government might be holding in undisclosed locations, and whose location is presently unknown. (Thus, they are not counting anyone known to be at Guantanamo or Bagram; just people who are missing.) That we have disappeared anyone is shocking, and a violation of treaties we have signed and ratified.

This report has gotten a fair amount of play, but in all the coverage I’ve read, only the Philadelphia Inquirer has mentioned what is, to me, the most awful allegation: that we disappeared young children. The report (pp. 24-26) lists five groups of family members; those who are discussed at greatest length are the sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

She then quotes the article from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“In September 2002, Yusuf al-Khalid (then nine years old) and Abed al-Khalid (then seven years old) were reportedly apprehended by Pakistani security forces during an attempted capture of their father, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was successfully apprehended several months later, and the U.S. government has acknowledged that he was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program. He is presently held at Guantánamo Bay.

In an April 16, 2007 statement, Ali Khan (father of Majid Khan, a detainee who the U.S. government has acknowledged was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program and is presently held at Guantánamo Bay) indicated that Yusef and Abed al-Khalid had been held in the same location in which Majid Khan and Majid’s brother Mohammed were detained in March/April 2003. Mohammed was detained by Pakistani officials for approximately one month after his apprehension on March 5, 2003 (see below). Ali Khan’s statement indicates that:

Also according to Mohammed, he and Majid were detained in the same place where two of Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s young children, ages about 6 and 8, were held. The Pakistani guards told my son that the boys were kept in a separate area upstairs, and were denied food and water by other guards. They were also mentally tortured by having ants or other creatures put on their legs to scare them and get them to say where their father was hiding.

After Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s arrest in March 2003, Yusuf and Abed Al Khalid were reportedly transferred out of Pakistan in U.S. custody. The children were allegedly being sent for questioning about their father’s activities and to be used by the United States as leverage to force their father to co-operate with the United States. A press report on March 10, 2003 confirmed that CIA interrogators had detained the children and that one official explained that:

“We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little children…but we need to know as much about their father’s recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times and they are given the best of care.”

In the transcript of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal, he indicates knowledge that his children were apprehended and abused:

“They arrested my kids intentionally. They are kids. They been arrested for four months they had been abused.””

Hilzoy states this correctly. This is something two-bit dictators would do. Is this something a supposed “Christian” democratic country does? Apparently. She asks at the end:

And note this: the only people who were included in the report are people whose whereabouts are presently unknown. These kids were captured over four years ago. They would be thirteen and eleven now. Does anyone know where they are? Does anyone care?

Not Americans. We’re too concerned about Paris Hilton’s latest sob story about prison. Andrew Sullivan adds:

One of the eeriest aspects of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror has been the inversion of previously held assumptions about the meaning of the West. We fought a war to end torture; we then occupied Saddam’s own torture prison and tortured people there. We fought a war to bring democracy to the Middle East and to show Arabs and Muslims how superior it is as a system; we then spawned chaos, civil war and genocide to brand democracy as a nightmare for an entire generation of Muslims and Arabs. But I recall one moment when I felt most secure about our rationale for the war: we liberated a prison full of children who had been targeted by the monster, Saddam. If ending a regime that jailed children was not right, what was?

Except now we know that the U.S. has itself detained, imprisoned and interrogated children.

He then quotes John Yoo, the mastermind behind the torture regime:

“Cassel: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty

Cassel: Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo…

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that…”

Weren’t we supposed to be fighting AGAINST people like Mr. Yoo? Additionally Michael P.F. Van Der Galien is trying to find out what has happened to those children. To this point, he has not found any information.

What kind of nation makes children disappear?

Prosecuting Children For War Crimes

June 5, 2007 at 3:55 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Evangelicals, Foreign Policy, Gitmo, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

Just to show how utterly devoid of morality and ethics the whole situation at Guantanamo Bay is (and to show how stupid Mitt “Double Guantanamo” Romney really is), read the following analysis of the recent case against Omar Khadr, age 15 when taken by the Americans and placed in Cuba.

What cannot be disputed, however, is that under the UCMJ the military would have no jurisdiction to court-martial someone who was 15 at the time he committed an alleged criminal offense. In order for jurisdiction to attach under the UCMJ the solider must be at least 17 year old for any enlistment to be valid. The reason for this minimum age requirement is obvious: children under this age lack the legal capacity to completely understand the full and legal consequences of their actions.

Even if a child knowingly went down the recruiting office and knowingly presented fraudulent papers in order to enlist, the enlistment would have no legal efficacy. This jurisdictional requirement is more than a well meaning and worthy notion: We understand as a society that it would be unfair and unjust to subject such a child to court-martial jurisdiction because the child simply lacks the legal capacity to make this kind of decision. The United States Supreme Court confirmed this proposition as a matter of policy in the Roper case, wherein it held unconstitutional the death penalty for defendants who were under the age of 17 when they committed the crime charged.

Why, then, is Omar Khadr’s situation different? Are we to assume that because he may be a member of Al Qaeda, he has a greater degree of legal capacity? Are we to assume that children caught up on the battlefield in the war on terror have more choices and options and thus, their decision to join Al Qaeda is more knowing and more likely to be a product of free will then the 16 year-old American who walks into a recruiter’s office with fraudulent enlistment documents? Or, is the decision to try Omar Khadr by military commission for alleged conduct that he engaged in at 15 simply based on the notion that because of what he did and who he associated with, and because of his family ties, he does not deserve certain basic rights and legal protections?

This also raises another troubling question that we have been struggling with for quite sometime. Even assuming that Omar Khadr did in fact throw a grenade at U.S. forces during a firefight in Afghanistan, he clearly does not fit into the category of the “worst of the worst” that the administration claims are being detained and prosecuted at Guantanamo. At most, he was a 15 year-old foot solder doing the bidding of much more dangerous and culpable terrorists. Anyone familiar with prosecuting organized crime or other criminal networks knows that it is generally a waste of time and resources to prosecute the foot soldiers. Instead, efforts are made to “turn” the foot soldiers so that the higher-level leaders of the criminal organization can be discovered and prosecuted.

Why, then is the U.S. spending time, effort and resources, and squandering what little international goodwill it may still enjoy on prosecuting a 15 year-old alleged foot soldier of Al Qaeda? Why weren’t these foot soldiers “turned” and used to go after mid-level and senior members of Al Qaeda? Was it because the aggressive interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo failed to produce the actionable intelligence that the U.S. was hoping for? It seems to us that this prosecution of Omar Khadr is really emblematic of the complete failure of Guantanamo and the military commissions system. While many of the “worst of the worst” remain at large, the U.S. seeks to prosecute a child by military commission who, if he were an American citizen would not be subject to courts-martial jurisdiction because of his age.

This kind of prosecutorial decision highlights as well the consequence of an unfettered grant of authority to the executive in matters involving national security and terrorism. The lack of effective habeas review means that many policy decisions will go essentially unexamined, and that means that Americans will not be able to hold accountable the civilian leaders who have pursued policies that, at this point, seem to spring more from desperation than design. At a minimum, such decisions will do nothing to improve the credibility or legality of the military commissions system.

Mr. Hansen and Mr. Friedman ask a very important question about this particular case and Guantanamo itself. If after FIVE YEARS the Bush administration can’t even prosecute a child foot soldier, just why are we wasting resources on this prison? Why is a foot soldier who when 15 (a child) was picked up because he threw a grenade at Americans being charged when he is not the “worst of the worst?” Why does the Bush administration not charge KSM? Or are they holding his trial until just before the 2008 election?

What kind of country charges a child for war crimes? And what kind of Christian crows for the desire to double these kinds of actions?

Bush Rebukes Putin, Praises Musharraf

June 1, 2007 at 11:08 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, neo-conservatives, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, Russia, World Events | 1 Comment

Proving yet again how foolish President Bush is on foreign policy, his administration is rebuking Russia’s Putin for the slow move away from democracy and openness.

A top Russia expert at the State Department issued an unusually sharp public criticism on Thursday of Moscow’s behavior under President Vladimir V. Putin, describing the Kremlin as bullying its neighbors while silencing political opponents and suppressing individual rights at home.

The comments, approved by the White House, are the latest volley of criticism between Washington and Moscow in recent days. Although the White House said this week that President Bush would play host to Mr. Putin on July 1 at the Bush family compound in Maine, the speech is likely to add tension at a time when the broader dialogue between Washington and Moscow is already taking the most caustic tones since the collapse of communism.

“We do no one any favors, least of all the Russian people and even their government, by abstaining from speaking out when necessary,” the Russia expert, David Kramer, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said in a speech Thursday night before the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs.

That’s fine and all, speaking out against totalitarian moves by the Russian president, but…well, why does the administration keep supporting and praising a non-elected military dictator in Pakistan, Mr. Musharraf, who recently sowed more chaos in his country by firing the chief justice who called for more openness in his country?

Does the Bush administration really feel that it is more beneficial to America’s interests to further push the Russians (with their thousands of nuclear warheads) further away from being an ally? Do they really see it as more beneficial to America’s interests to have another arms race with the Russians? Does the Bush administration not see that by supporting Musharraf’s clearly totalitarian, anti-democratic moves as completely undermining the scorn we heap upon the Russians? What is the point of criticizing the Russians for their anti-democratic moves while we fully support a military dictator’s anti-democratic moves? What effect do we think will come of it? Does the Bush administration really think Putin will see anything but threatening rhetoric?

Rebuking the Russians while supporting the Pakistani makes absolutely no sense. I understand the need to prop Mr. Musharraf, with all the extremists (including Bin Laden) in Pakistan’s tribal regions, but that support undermines and discredits all our other talk of democracy elsewhere. If Mr. Musharraf cannot control his country, and more importantly, help us to destroy Al-Qaida, just what purpose does our support of Mr. Musharraf give us? What is it in America’s interest that supporting him is so valuable? Let the Pakistani wolves have his head. He does not deserve our support.

The Recuperative Power of the Enemy

May 16, 2007 at 11:21 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Military, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 4 Comments

Charles Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar, both leaders in the military (Krulak was the commandant of the Marine Corps and Hoar was the commander in chief of USCENTCOM), write an op ed in today’s Washington Post about the very negative effects of torture in our “war on terror.” I’ll let them speak for themselves, but their main point is very powerful. The use of torture effectively becomes the recuperative power of the enemy, giving them strength where you’d think it would make them cower. This is something a fool like Mitt Romney just doesn’t understand, but one John McCain, who was tortured himself, does. Let me quote from the two writers:

These assertions that “torture works” may reassure a fearful public, but it is a false security. We don’t know what’s been gained through this fear-driven program. But we do know the consequences.

As has happened with every other nation that has tried to engage in a little bit of torture — only for the toughest cases, only when nothing else works — the abuse spread like wildfire, and every captured prisoner became the key to defusing a potential ticking time bomb. Our soldiers in Iraq confront real “ticking time bomb” situations every day, in the form of improvised explosive devices, and any degree of “flexibility” about torture at the top drops down the chain of command like a stone — the rare exception fast becoming the rule.

To understand the impact this has had on the ground, look at the military’s mental health assessment report released earlier this month. The study shows a disturbing level of tolerance for abuse of prisoners in some situations. This underscores what we know as military professionals: Complex situational ethics cannot be applied during the stress of combat. The rules must be firm and absolute; if torture is broached as a possibility, it will become a reality.

This has had disastrous consequences. Revelations of abuse feed what the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual, which was drafted under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, calls the “recuperative power” of the terrorist enemy.

Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld once wondered aloud whether we were creating more terrorists than we were killing. In counterinsurgency doctrine, that is precisely the right question. Victory in this kind of war comes when the enemy loses legitimacy in the society from which it seeks recruits and thus loses its “recuperative power.”

The torture methods that Tenet defends have nurtured the recuperative power of the enemy. This war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in the minds of potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it.

This is not just a lesson for history. Right now, White House lawyers are working up new rules that will govern what CIA interrogators can do to prisoners in secret. Those rules will set the standard not only for the CIA but also for what kind of treatment captured American soldiers can expect from their captors, now and in future wars. Before the president once again approves a policy of official cruelty, he should reflect on that.

It is time for us to remember who we are and approach this enemy with energy, judgment and confidence that we will prevail. That is the path to security, and back to ourselves.

Americans, do not vote for any Republican in 2008. They will continue the practice of torture, a self-defeating practice wherein the torturer loses. This is not the way to victory. The more we continue practicing these “enhanced techniques”—I really don’t care what people call them, torture is torture is torture—the worse off we will be.

Like A Scene out of the Godfather

May 16, 2007 at 11:09 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, neo-conservatives, NSA Warrantless Tapping, Republicans, secret combinations | 3 Comments

Wow, I don’t know who’s jaws did not drop at Comey’s testimony yesterday in front of the Senate. It is a must read, and must view. In fact, here is the video:

Continue Reading Like A Scene out of the Godfather…

Romney Still Supports Torture

May 15, 2007 at 10:14 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, Gitmo, McCain, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Mormon, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Torture, violence, War | 8 Comments

In tonight’s Republican debate, Romney signaled that he still supports Bush’s “enhanced techniques” which as McCain rightly pointed, amounts to torture. Chris Cillizza has the details.

McCain went first. He rejected the use of torture to obtain information, citing his experience in Vietnam as a prisoner of war. “It’s not about the terrorists, it’s about us,” McCain said. McCain added that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” are torture, adding that his position was held by most retired and active duty military officers.

Romney backed “enhanced terrorism techniques” but drew the line at torture. He drew applause with his call to double the size of Guantanamo Bay, rather than close it.

Then again, Romney has not shown to be pretty informed about many things, including French culture, where he served for two years…why would he know a thing about these techniques?

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…

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…

Glenn Beck on KSM and Jimmy Carter

March 16, 2007 at 7:15 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, glen beck, Islam, liberals, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Torture, War | 3 Comments

BECK: You know Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has confessed to 9-11 and trying to kill President Carter. Why would you try to kill President Carter? He’s on your side, for the love of Pete.

Those are Glenn Beck’s thoughts about KSM and his boast that he was going too assassinate Carter. You can just smell the disappointment in Beck’s words that KSM didn’t manage to go through this plot. When this bit of news came out, conservative bloggers were also disappointed that KSM didn’t go through with this plot.

Instead of realizing that these terrorists don’t really care which Americans they kill, and as such, are not aligned with any Americans, especially not a former president, people like Glenn Beck continue pressing the vitriolic and of course incorrect point that terrorists and liberals are fighting on the same side. How childish. As Glenn Greenwald states:

Revelations that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed planned assassination plots against former Presidents Carter and Clinton — especially Carter — are causing great confusion among right-wing Civilization Warriors. After all, as John Hinderaker previously pointed out: “Jimmy Carter isn’t just misguided or ill-informed. He’s on the other side.”

Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air expressed this confusion: “[Mohammed] confessed to 29 plots in all, including the Richard Reid shoebomb plot and planned assassinations of the pope and . . . Jimmy Carter?” These extremists come to believe their twisted rhetoric that Democrats are on the side of Al Qaeda and so they literally can’t understand why Mohammed would want to assassinate his own allies like President Carter.

Anne Coulter is Very Popular Among Conservatives

March 6, 2007 at 10:07 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, George W Bush, Massachusetts, Military, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, neo-conservatives, Republicans | 8 Comments

That’s why she’s just getting a slap on the hand and will continue her crude childish ways. Glenn Greenwald delves further into this cult of contrived masculinity so prevalent in her writings and in conservatives’ beliefs. See, Republicans are pushing an image: “values voters.” This image is that Republicans are macho, masculine, and tough (which might be why in the end Republicans will elect Rudy Giuliani—who better exudes the “tough, masculine” man among Republicans right now?), while Democrats are weak, sniveling, wimpish, feminist cowards. This is the image Republicans want to portray, and in their hearts believe. And this is what Coulter gives them. Continue Reading Anne Coulter is Very Popular Among Conservatives…

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