Friday, June 30, 2006

SCOTUS showdown at the GW corral

A 5-3 SCOTUS decision rebuked the Bush WH for putting Gitmo detainees before military tribunals by stating in a voluminous decision that the commissions were unauthorized by federal statute and violated international law. Scalia, Thomas, and Alito dissented. Chief Justice Roberts did not vote since he participated in the federal appeals court that rejected Hamdan's challenge. The nut of the SCOTUS decision:

A principal flaw the court found in the commissions was that the president had established them without Congressional authorization.
Ooo-eee-ooo-eee-ooo. Baa-da-da.

First, the good:
For five years, President Bush waged war as he saw fit. If intelligence officers needed to eavesdrop on overseas telephone calls without warrants, he authorized it. If the military wanted to hold terrorism suspects without trial, he let it.
Now the Supreme Court has struck at the core of his presidency and dismissed the notion that the president alone can determine how to defend the country. In rejecting Bush's military tribunals for terrorism suspects, the high court ruled that even a wartime commander in chief must govern within constitutional confines significantly tighter than this president has believed appropriate.
More good:
...if I wanted to keep Hamdan in custody indefinitely, I'd have to give my reasons in some kind of authentic legal proceeding. The Supreme Court tried to make that clear in 2004 when it rejected the Decider's claims that in wartime he could basically hold whomever he wanted for as long as he wanted, without having to deal with complications such as due process and legal representation....
...Perhaps the greatest impact of the 185-page ruling is that it rejects Bush's claim that the necessity of waging the "global war on terror" gives him extraordinary powers that lie beyond the jurisdiction of the courts. The ruling reminds him of "the court's duty, in both peace and war, to preserve the constitutional safeguards of civil liberty."
And especially good from Christy at FDL:
The article provides a pretty good snapshot on why the GOP rolled out Kate O’Beirne on Hardball yesterday to start spewing talking points about the SCOTUS and the Democrats wanting to unleash terrorists on the world — it’s because no one is buying it any longer, and because the SCOTUS had the balls to call Bushie’s bluff that the WH is now in panic pushback mode.  The Administration is, of course, taking the "hands off" approach to testing the criticism waters, putting the President out to make innocuous statements about respecting the Court, all the while GOP surrogates hit the airwaves vilifying Justice Stevens’ opinion and anyone who would dare step out and criticize the President’s policies.
But the SCOTUS has pulled the curtain back with this opinion, and has shown the shoddy legal reasoning of the Administration for what it is — a hollow prop used to justify egregious power grabs and actions in the name of this nation that no one outside a time of immediate, desperate fear and threat would ever condone.  And once that curtain is pulled back…well, you can’t make the snake oil salesman look like the Great and Powerful Oz any longer, can you?
I dunno. I don't feel optimistic about the upcoming congressional sing-along with Bush. Why?

Here's the bad:
To some degree, the court may have helped Mr. Bush out of a political predicament. He has repeatedly said he would like to close the detention center at Guantánamo, a recognition that the indefinite imprisonment of suspects without trial and the accusations that they have been mistreated were seriously undercutting American credibility abroad. But he set no schedule and said he was waiting for the court to rule.
"The court really rescued the administration by taking it out of this quagmire it's been in," said Michael Greenberger, who teaches the law of counterterrorism at the University of Maryland law school.
Now Congress, with the court's encouragement, may help the president find a way forward. For Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who said a legislative proposal on military commissions he sent to the White House 18 months ago "went nowhere," the ruling was a welcome restoration of the balance of power.
"The Supreme Court has set the rules of the road," Mr. Graham, a former military lawyer, said, "and the Congress and the president can drive to the destination together."
I suspect the preznit's henchmen have their Rubber Stamp Republicans inked up ready to bless God knows what in Congress that will allow the Codpiece to continue his reign of terror on civil liberties as the unitary executive. The dissenting opinions here, here, and here give the Rubber Stamps a road map for writing revised legislation that could stand another judicial challenge. It ain't over yet. But, more importantly, will Democrats have the spine to shut down the printing press ready to roll out what the Bushinistas want?

Saving the worst for last, the ugly:
CAVUTO: Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers wasting no time using today's Supreme Court decision to gain some political points. They were lining up like jets on a runway, declaring this is proof that the president is bungling the war on terror. Reaction now from Ann Coulter...
COULTER: ...I mean, the culture of treason right now, it just -- it has become so pervasive that you just expect Democrats to side with Al Qaeda....
...I mean, this is an appeal, a habeas corpus appeal, from a member of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's driver complaining about the procedures of his court martial or military tribunal. And....instantly the Democratic senators are siding with the Al Qaeda petitioner.
I find Cavuto's following shimmy over to Coulter so representative of the dance of the con-apparatchiki:
CAVUTO: OK. Let me ask you about that, Ann. Let's say it was as big a deal as you have claimed it is. And other Republican senators, by the way, were echoing your exact point today, as was the president.
No kidding, there was a chorus? Ha! Without hesitation the queen of sludge flung more caca at Democrats. Does the newest Stepford wives software update facilitate quicker downloads? Sheesh. Cavuto played the good cop to Coulter's very, very bad cop. Wingnut news theatrics. Entertaining but. Oh, so obvious.

I betcha the con-apparatchiki and the incoming 101st Keyboard Kamikazes will work overtime to heat up public opinion into a lathered sweat, to make it as hard as possible for Democrats to oppose a rancid piece of legislation that the Rubber Stamps will cook up, and to extol the virtues of Republican tough war on terror 'nads on schedule as we roll toward the midterms. The Beltway mamba kings will maneuver and spin to downplay the impact of the Supreme Court's decision and smear Democrats while the wingnut Congress will get busy making the preznit look like the Marlboro man.

Keep your eyes peeled for continued examination of the SCOTUS decision at FDL. I just checked Christy again who has issued a battle cry... "every member of Congress should hear that from all of us." She's right. Read it.

UPDATE: Duh! Christy suggested SCOTUSblog for legal analysis on Hamdan. Good point.

TYPO ALERT: I meant to say Beltway mambo kings but heh... Freudian slip. The mamba is an extremely poisonous snake. Hmmm, that could work since I'm referring to Bushinista strategists and press. Sometimes I correct typos without an uodate but this one seemed too funny to just fix. Ha! On me.

TRex at Late Nite FDL braves wingnutess spittle

My, my. I laughed so hard, I wept. But...when I played the vlog, Fifi the poodle danced in angst, spinning in circles, yipping at each humanoid yelp that emanated from the bug-eyed wingnutess on my 'puter. As I clicked the replay hotlink to review the debacle again--a painful enterprise, I know, but I was too shocked on the first go-round to process bad theater, all the verbal and facial tics, plus the fact that Pam included a child witness to her hissy fit--my poor traumatized furball hid under the loveseat (No, I don't have a pet poodle, but if I did, that's what would have happened to be sure.).

I just had to see the farshlugginer train wreck with my own eyes. Feh! Such a farkrimpteh punim spouting kockamayme ideas! Where did she hide her hoykeh?! Someone should call Child Protective Services to shield the child from future venom-speckled spittle. Puh-leeze!

Had I been smart and less masochistic, I could have stuck with reading the scintillating review of Pam the Wingnutess' vlog by the indomitable TRex, who is one brave soul for ploughing the sludge. Props on the autopsy report, Mr. TRex. For those of you who rubberneck accidents, click the above image or visit TRex at FDL for the vlog with wickedly funny commentary.

If the mainstream press had a ounce of objectivity, they would include some of the wingnutty blogofascist squadrons who "unleash" their indignities on the world such as the Wingnutess' pustules. Amazing what passes as informed comment so totally overlooked by media. So what's new about the mainstream con-apparatchiki? Let us pray they don't start vlogging. Oops! Kinda sorta too late. Way too late.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Middle-class incomes not so good

Kevin Drum writes "the U.S. economy has been growing at a pretty good clip lately but middle class incomes haven't benefited." He links to MaxSpeak on YOYO (you're on your own) economics in a discussion about a new book from senior economist, Economic Policy Institute, Jared Bernstein. A clip from MaxSpeak:

  • Over the course of the current economic expansion, real GDP is up 15%.
  • The Congress is busy killing a moderate minimum wage increase while working diligently to repeal the estate tax.
  • Profits as a share of national income are at a forty-year high. The share of income accruing to the top 1%, after falling in the wake of the bust, is again on the rise.
  • Productivity is up a stellar 15% over this recovery. Real hourly wages of non-managers are up bupkes (-0.6%).
  • New economy cheerleaders expound on the great job market, yet employment growth is up only 2% over this business cycle. The growth for the comparable period over the 1990s cycle was 7% and the historical average for cycles of this length was 10%.
  • Over five million more people are poor in 2004 (most recent data) compared to 2000, including 1.4 million kids.
Had enough?

On Iraq War, Bush insults majority of Americans

President Bush retaliated against a majority of Americans who want withdrawal from Iraq by implying we're white-surrender-flag waving cowards. Bush mischaracterized redeployment as a "retreat" and trashed us Americans with his insults.

In Missouri, while stumping for the re-election of Republican Sen. James Talent, a Bush Rubber Stamp buddy, a senator who pretty much does whatever the president tells him to do, Bush said those who favor withdrawing the troops don't know what's best for America...but Mr. Know It All thinks he does:

"There's a group in the opposition party who are willing to retreat before the mission is done," he said. "They're willing to wave the white flag of surrender. And if they succeed, the United States will be worse off, and the world will be worse off."
First, that "group" is a majority of Americans. Welcome to the opposition party, folks. Second, how can the U.S. be any worse off? Don't answer that. I'm confident with Bush and his Rubber Stamp buddies in office, he could find a way. Third, while 20,000+ Iraqi insurgents (versus 1,500 foreign fighters) wound and kill our troops, we're no safer from terrorism in the U.S. So Bush's spiel doesn't fly and his flypaper theory never has made sense. Plus, since when did Bush speak for the world? Because of Bush's Iraq War, the world now sees the U.S. as a bigger threat to peace than Iran! That's some legacy Bush has bestowed upon America.

Bush plays political razzle-dazzle by emptying his trash mouth upon Senate Democrats who offered a troop redeployment plan for Iraq. But the president--always out of touch with the common folk--doesn't realize that his barbed-wire cowpoke bull also cuts us Americans who support a troop withdrawal. What kind of president emboldens contempt for the people he is sworn to protect and serve? He doesn't exempt us from his own ad hominem attacks! And he didn't shield us from the 9/11 hijackers. Bush was too arrogant or incurious to recognize that the Aug. 6, 2001, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S." memo wasn't just a cover you your ass move by a CIA briefer who flew to Crawford to warn him. George didn't listen then and he certainly isn't listening now. His leadership, if you can call it that, operates in a bubble of partisan politics.

The Decider doesn't care if he divides America six ways to Sunday. He doesn't care that a huge majority of us disapprove of his management of Iraq. He doesn't care about 59 million Americans who voted for Democrat Kerry in 2004. He ignores us--and I don't just mean the Dems in Congress, in governor mansions, and in state legislatures--I mean you and me. Voters. Americans. The un-Republicans. We're not the ones who took bribes, catered to Big Pharma over the ineffective prescription drug plan, sold out to the oil and energy companies; who didn't protect the Gulf Coast when we all could see on our TV screens that the Big One, Katrina, was coming. We are not responsible for invading Iraq with too few troops, or whoops! No post-war occupation plan and no exit strategy. We didn't ruin America's reputation with the world. Bush and his cronies did.

But the president doesn't attend to what we want. We're just cannon fodder in a partisan war of politics. Bush does what he wants with the blessing of Rubber Stamp Republicans such as Sen. Talent of Missouri and all the other wackydoodle dandies in the Senate and the House.

Bush doesn't care about 57% of us who say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

He doesn't care that half of us support withdrawing all U.S. forces immediately or within 12 months.

A White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, announced:
The president is not going to conduct the war based on polls.... His leadership is based on his strategy for victory. A democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will strike a blow to the terrorists and ensure a more peaceful world. As the president has said, we are in it to win.
More talk, talk, talk. Bush has yet to take responsibility for the disastrous mistakes in Iraq. Undaunted and blind to his failed policies, Bush prattles on about victory as if he has a plan.

Victory in Iraq is letting the Iraqis stand up while we stand down. And that time has arrived if you listen to the Iraqis themselves. Yet, on the campaign trail, Bush chews and chums red meat for votes by chortling dubiously to keep his precious Rubber Stamps in office in attacking Democrats, opponents of "stay the course," which includes most of us. Bush has never conducted the war based on what combat generals advised him to do (Clark or Shinseki), on what we Americans want, or on what the Iraqis have recently expressed. So thanks for reminding us, Dana Perino, that the Conman-in-Chief, doesn't give a crap about Americans beyond his own yammering piehole, his precious cat paw, Rumsfeld (what's he got on Bush?), and his political agenda to keep Rubber Stamp Republicans in power so he can continue to play king.

Bush has ascended to the throne as the Great Divider, not as the uniter he promised. What Bush cares about is that sharp-tongued rhetoric arouses enough of his base to cast votes for the Rubber Stamp Republicans who have rolled over for him these past five years. He's counting on us "cut-and-run cowards" to stay home on Election Day. Bush is banking on a tactic that if he can smear us enough, demoralize us into thinking that nothing will change, that we're stuck in Iraq as long as he remains in the Oval Office, we will relinquish our participation in a democratic process called elections. Yup, that's his strategy. You can bet that Bush will imply we're cowards, traitors, quitters, white flag surrender monkeys, and every dirty name in the book to discourage democracy before this campaign season ends.

Democrats John Kerry of Massachusetts and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin offered a withdrawal plan to pull out all U.S. combat troops over the next 13 months and the amendment was rejected 86-13. Thirteen Democrats stood up to Bush's nonplan for Iraq--the greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history. They attempted to offer a real plan for success, to respond to the majority's wishes, and what were we called? Cut and run. Are you gonna stand for this? Are you gonna let an incompetent president smear you?

Since when did Bush--who regularly reads speeches written for him, fancy prose filled with flag-waving, tough talk, patriotic words for our brave soldiers (whose shoes he can't fill)--care about what most Americans want (not what the 1% of the wealthiest Americans want). Ha! You really don't expect the privileged son of a one-term president to understand the needs of working class Americans who are fighting the war, do you? You can have a beer and some laughs with a rich frat boy who loves to party, yuck it up, play golf, and vacation, but you'd be a fool to trust him to look after your family's needs and our national security. This is the guy who couldn't mobilize all that's at his disposal as president to rescue Katrina victims. And he still hasn't.

Bush isn't a president as much as he is the nation's top political operative. Haven't we had enough of rapacious, self-interested, big corporate whoring, oil-profiteering puppets? Is it too much to ask for our elected officials to represent, we, the people?! I think not.

Let's sweep the sludge out of Washington this November. It's time to take back our country with elected officials who won't roll over for Bush.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hot and bothered Jerry Falwell

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. You were so respectful of Rabbi Eric Yoffie and his views about gays deserving equality and then you go and turn into a hot and bothered het-er-o-sex-u-al:

Illicit sex today. Today the world has gone sex crazy. Illicit sex has become the downfall of many in the Bible. Movie stars not married to each other, having babies and making headlines all over the world as though they were doing some great thing. Big deal! Just another moral pervert.
What does Jerry think about adulterer Newtie Poot's oral sex with his mistress "just so Newt could say he did not sleep with her, that woman, Ann Manning? Newt mixed sodomy with deception so wouldn't that qualify him as a moral pervert and technically a sodomite?

But wait, Jerry's not finished:
You know, you almost got to be a homosexual to be recognized in the entertainment industry anymore. Ellen [Degeneres], and all the rest. I love them, pray for their souls, but they're immoral. And the Hollywood scene -- five and eight and 10 marriages -- not something to be emulated.
You almost got to be a homosexual...Almost? Is that like a fetus who will eventually pop out sprinkled in fairy dust wearing a rainbow?

Or did he mean this?

Or this?

Perhaps this?

What about this?


Or these guys?

Hi-o, this must be it!

No, wait. Who's your daddy, baby?!

Falwell's obsession with Hollywood conveniently overlooks who is having illicit sex:
...after Bill vacated the Oval Office and Republicans had installed St. George, 2001 rates on divorce, the number of sexual partners, unwed mothers, teen pregnancy, [lack of sexual abstinence,] and gonorrhea infection in America pointed the finger to culprits on the red-state side of the country.
Is Jerry just ignorant about the facts or is he breaking one of the Ten Commandments? The latter would be, er, immoral.

Obviously, Jerry Falwell isn't God and apparently doesn't know the Big Kahuna very well or he would have heard that the Creator made me gay and lot of other folks.

Ah, freedom of religion! Isn't the First Amendment grand?

Richest nation on earth and the most Christian but...

Adapted from Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann

Could have supporting the Iraq War offered a method of penance for American Christians to ameliorate their guilt for being so well off when so many of their brothers and sisters in the world languish in poverty? Liberate the downtrodden brown-skinned people living in poverty under the boot heel of a heathen dictator and you, too, can be redeemed.

Maybe that's how Bush's war happened besides the blessing of the mainstream press. Maybe Americans aren't as much stupid as they are terrified of a wrathful judgment for failing to act as charitable Christians. OTOH, fear does make people do and say dumb things.

Norman Mailer explained during a Mar. 2, 2006, event at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on What it Means to Live in America Today. He addressed the issue of 9/11 and the reaction of Americans to terror (with emphasis):

. . .in the name of that terror... there is a great American expression that was never used in relation to 9/11. And that expression is, "Hey, baby. Suck it up." Because, in the name of that terror, Bush has gotten away with crimes...crimes against the integrity and the reputation of the state. I'm not going to get into the old Bush speech. Everybody here knows it. But what I'm going to say is look at what he got away with by keeping everyone afraid.

Noam Chomsky put it very well at one point... ...What he said in effect is that there's more fear in America than one can easily explain. Well, I can, I think... I will dare to assume why this terror is there.

It's because this is a Christian country as you know very, very well, from your roots, your childhood roots. And there's a feeling in this country especially from the Fundamentalists that we're richer than we ought to be, and that was not Christ's intention, and they're very uneasy about that. There they are in church devoting themselves on Sunday to Christ, and the rest of the week, they're going gung-ho for money because they find all the envies of their neighbors making money and they want too. And Bush feeds that. He feeds that like the kind of guys who feed fish to seals. And it's just disgusting....

. . .this is a Christian country and it's also the wealthiest country in the world. And the two are not wholly compatible. And Americans are a divided species. All humans are tremendously divided between the best and the worst in themselves and the purest and the most impure motives they have. But in America it's aggravated... because, on the one hand, this country believes in the pity and the love and the compassion of Christ, and on the other hand, it believes beat the hell out of your opponents because if you don't get the money, they will.

And this creates a terror in people. Americans are more afraid of meeting their judge, their judgment, than perhaps any other country on earth. That's my secret belief. They're terrified of the retribution of God, which is why they're all so bloody religious....

. . .Why are people Fundamentalists? I'd say they're Fundamentalist because they live in terror of their sins. I've known so many really good people, decent people, God-fearing decent people who spent their lives being good to others, who die in terror that they're going to receive evil judgments, because they had evil thoughts. Well, multiply that by the country as a whole with this idea that we're doing two things in opposite directions. We're going to be compassionate and we're going to be wealthy beyond measure and that creates true inner disturbance.

Don't kill the messenger, but I think Mailer is on to something. Similar to survivor's guilt, perhaps the inner disturbance has surfaced as a thriver's guilt, a kind of unwelcome neurotic anxiety that can knot the throat if one believes in Jesus the forgiving savior, the "Lamb of God," yet ignoring the state of poverty both at home and aboard, one would face a God of judgment and hellfire. Not all Americans buy the religion trip, but let's say for those who do, they may experience an inner disturbance as Mailer described.

When Bush rattled the chains of people imprisoned by such a belief system, promoting his incendiary mushroom cloud, WMDs are gonna git you rhetoric, oh, the terror that must have aroused. Then, when Bush offered absolution in the guise of liberating Iraqis from the evil, terrorist-supporting Saddam, did the guilty jump on the revival bandwagon? Did the church-goers praise the Republican Jesus and buy the spiel to kick some terrorists' butts and free those poor starving Iraqis? It's a right-wing cliché to shame antiwar protest with the wacky-doodle strawman of being pro-Saddam, unpatriotic, hurting our troops, and aiding the terrorists. How dare the sane and guilt-free keep them from the promise of a gung-ho Rapture. With the Holyland in Iraq's neighborhood, the invasion offered a two-fer and an incentive to cue up a chorus of Onward Christian Soldiers.

The vast majority of Americans didn't and don't have to do the fighting in Iraq, but it was the thought that counted, right? We all are paying dearly and so will our children and grandchildren. How much more penance is required? Voting for Bush, defending the POTUS against criticism, glorifying war, embracing the Republican national security illusion, and forgetting about those missing WMDs in Iraq, yeah, that'll purify the Christian evangelicals and Bush apologists of their sins. What happened to Blessed are the peacemakers? Perhaps that beatitude was traded in for a brand new gas-guzzling SUV with a bumper sticker, Jesus loves you but I'm his favorite.

The problem with adopting an externally-based remedy (get Saddam and the terrorists) instead of directly addressing the source of the inward guilt (not loving one another and retribution) is that an alleviating substitute doesn't last long especially when reality vividly demonstrates that Iraq has morphed into a quagmire and terrorism has increased. The Iraq War has become hugely unpopular as has Bush's mismanagement of the war. Relief from thriver's guilt has fizzled although faithful diehards hold on manipulated by hope in defense of their need to be vindicated.

Some 7,000 American households exceed $100 million in wealth and about 500,000 have $10 million or more, according to Paul Schervish, director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College. And these are the folks Dear Leader rewarded with tax cuts. Imagine the terror.

Someone needs to tip off the anti-wealth redistribution Christians that Jesus was wrong and maybe a Marxist for telling the young rich ruler to sell all his worldly possessions and give the money to the poor. What did Christ know, anyway. Heh?

UPDATE: (12:43 AM) The taboo about money. Maybe something to that inner disturbance. Did you know that one-sixth of Jesus' words in the Gospels is about money?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Accurate news reporting on Iraq War and troop withdrawal plans! Quick! Capture the moment.

Greg Sargent posted comments about an impeccably fair story. Can you believe USAToday had the audacity to publish a fair and accurate news report? Watch out, Susan Page! The lapdogs will howl:

First, note how clearly [Susan] Page specifies that the proposals the public supports are Democratic ones. Also note that she focuses on the larger pro-withdrawal category -- people who "support withdrawing all U.S. forces immediately or within 12 months" -- without focusing more directly on the much smaller number of people who favor immediate withdrawal, which makes the pro-withdrawal position sound more marginal. Read the way Page does it, the numbers show more support for withdrawal within a year than for staying indefinitely.
Also, check out how impudently Page makes it very clear that the Republican-controlled Senate defeated Democratic calls for starting troop reductions. And finally, note the startling 57-31 percent divide between people who want Congress to solve this problem as opposed to people who want the White House to solve it -- a very revealing breakdown of public opinion towards the White House I haven't seen anywhere else.
If there were more reporting like this on these questions, the state of political play in this country would be quite different right now. Guaranteed.
Greg linked to Billmon, always the witty blogger, who had proclaimed, Terrorists win:
Why do the majority of Americans hate America so?
A clear majority of Americans say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday. Half of those surveyed would like all U.S. forces out of Iraq within 12 months . . . In the poll, 57% say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops; 39% say that decision should be left to the president and his advisers.
Since America haters and terrorist sympathizers are now such a solid majority, maybe we should hold an election and disband the country -- or better yet, declare the New Islamic Caliphate!
Ha! Billmon, you scoundrel, inserting reality with a twist of satire into the cut and run spiel from the Beltway. Why you might tempt Lee Siegel to rescind your blogofascist card-carrying status, that is, if he can suspend his contempt for bloggers. Isn't contempt similar to hatred, one of those traits of fascism? Tsk, tsk. Minor detail.

In the USAToday poll that Susan Page cites, 55% think the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq. In the poll conducted Nov. 13-15, 1973–one year after Nixon's re-election and several months after the last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam–60% of Americans thought "the U.S. made a mistake sending troops to fight in Vietnam." And they say it's the left-wing whose nostalgia dies hard. Why do the majority of Americans rate the Iraq War within 5 points of the Vietnam War? To paraphrase Billmon, why do they hate America so?

Limbaugh detained for Viagra

What was Rush Limbaugh doing in the Dominican Republic with a bottle of Viagra without a prescription? According to Christian Aid, the "Dominican Republic (DR) has one of the highest numbers in the world of people involved in the sex trade per capita." A 2001 news item from Wired reports that "the Dominican Republic is one of the biggest sex tourism destinations in the world, thanks in part to Internet sites that extol the country as a single man's paradise." Whatcha up to, Rush? Hmmm?

UPDATE: I failed to mention that Limbaugh's spokesman, Roy Black, said the Viagra prescription, which was in the name of two doctors, was "labeled as being issued to the physician rather than Mr. Limbaugh for privacy purposes." Ah, privacy purposes while in the Dominican Republic. Wink, wink.

UPDATE 2: Billmon provides updates on Limbaugh's (or is that Limpbaugh's?) Viagra trouble. You've got to click the link to see his hilarious graphic, a Jeff-Jim parody! And you made my day, Billmon, commenting on my post above.

UPDATE 3 (4:24 PM) : If you're a Salon Premium subscriber like me, check the Rush Limbaugh Viagra clip at Video Dog. Don't have Salon Premium? See the clip at Your Tube.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Blogofascism spittle

As a longtime subscriber to Vanity Fair, one of my favorite pastimes has been to peruse the latest column from James Wolcott among other VF regulars. When Wolcott launched his blog, naturally I was delighted at the fortuitous opportunity to consume his prose more frequently. Today, my reading pleasure was furthered heightened in examining Wolcott's dissection of "Lee Siegel On Culture" at TNR, specifically in response to two Siegel attacks primarily directed at the liberal blogosphere, we denizens of the Internet who dare to write opinions, document errors, and criticize the crooks and liars eroding our democracy. A clip from Wolcott (with emphasis and added blockquotes):

Lee Siegel has it all figured out. Lee Siegel has everything figured out. He's been unwrapping the bows and ribbons of his intellect on websites for years, including a preening Slate diary a few years ago that nearly got him laughed out of the lodge, yet he disassociates from the other riffraff online, behaving as if has nothing in common with the amoebic nonentities who presume that they too have something to say. TNR Online features a column called "Lee Siegel on Culture," which seems like a naughty thing to do to culture, but let that go for the mo. Here, he has quite a go at those revolting peasants climbing over the hedges and tramping across the petunia beds.
"It's a bizarre phenomenon, the blogosphere. It radiates democracy's dream of full participation but practices democracy's nightmare of populist crudity, character-assassination, and emotional stupefaction. It's hard fascism with a Microsoft face. It puts some people, like me, in the equally bizarre position of wanting desperately for Joe Lieberman to lose the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont so that true liberal values might, maybe, possibly prevail, yet at the same time wanting Lamont, the hero of the blogosphere, to lose so that the fascistic forces ranged against Lieberman might be defeated."
A writer chiding bloggers for their incoherent rage ought not to be so glib about lobbing characterizations of fascism around. It sounds as if he’s lashing out, doing what he laments others doing, only with fancier language and rhetorical footwork. A lot of those who oppose Lieberman are longtime liberals who are tired of him being the Republicans' pet Democrat, and fed up with his unctuous mushmouth pieties in support of Bush initiatives. I suspect that part of the peevishness Siegel and his fellow epicureans of ideas feel towards the angry amoebas of the blogsphere is rooted in the uncomfortable knowledge that sites such as Daily Kos, Atrios, and Steve and Jen’s News Blog proved a helluva lot more right about the debacle in Iraq than the battle cries of the Beltway intelligentsia.
Ouch! That last statement had to sting. See why I love James? He aims then fires and not the reverse.

Picking up on Wolcott's remark about doing what he laments others doing... Siegel employs a sorcerer's trick of projecting a ghastly image of one's opponents to frighten them into thinking they've been horridly disfigured when, in fact, the effigy has been fashioned in the mold of the magician's disowned fetish. A charade. An ugly illusion. In Lee's case, his covert lust comprises a primal drive for recognition and power simmered in a pseudo-intellectual cauldron of stew so bland that a hungry cat wouldn't eat it. Pompous much?

Exhibit A: Siegel's term, blogofascism. He assigned this newfangled word to liberally-bent bloggers in particular–although fascism sits at the conservative extreme of the spectrum, a quibble–and explained it with dictionary coinage, "any tendency toward or actual exercise of severe autocratic or dictatorial control." Poor thing. Someone spit on his tutu. He gets nasty email. He should read my hate mail about my art to witness the definition of fascism that he quoted. Gotten any death threats? I believe the appropriate word Siegel could have selected would have been, "aggressive." Perhaps on occasion, "rude." But blogofascism? The revelation unveils a poor choice of a fragile ego.

Siegel and like-minded media columnists have stirred liberal bloggers' reactions. Steve Benen queries about a rash of anti-progressive blog criticism–from WaPo to the NYTimes to TNR:
On Thursday, the Washington Post's David Broder rejected "liberal bloggers," claiming that "the blogs I have scanned are heavier on vituperation of President Bush and other targets than on creative thought." Today, the New York Times' David Brooks, while specifically lashing out at Kos, characterized liberal bloggers as "small-minded," and described sites as "squadrons of rabid lambs [who] unleash their venom on those who stand in the way."
And then, of course, there's the ugly fight The New Republic picked with Kos, which ultimately led to this thoughtful reaction to the medium from Lee Siegel, the magazine's culture writer:
It's a bizarre phenomenon, the blogosphere….nightmare of populist crudity….hard fascism with a Microsoft face….fascistic forces….beyond the thuggishness, what I despise about so many blogurus, is the frivolity of their "readers."….The blogosphere's fanaticism is, in many ways, the triumph of a lack of focus.
What on earth is going on here? What's fueling all this anti-blog rage? Jealousy? Elitism? And if blogs are written and read by fringe ideologues that don't matter, why are all these major media personalities so worked up?
I smell the fear of a loss of control and envy of an engaged interactive audience. Traditional media readership and viewership has been gushing lost peeps and when mainstream press has its ability to spin diminished and challenged, it could lose its capability to influence audiences, and that spells lost revenue. Kevin Drum comments on Steve's remarks (with emphasis):
I don't know. Maybe it's just a perfect storm of YearlyKos, Ned Lamont, and the TNR-Kos feud. But whatever the cause, it's not doing us any good. Mainstream reporters, despite their generally liberal temperaments, have an odd sort of contempt for actual liberal politicians, who they widely view as being wimpy, pandering, fence-sitting, poll-driven wonks who are hesitant to really speak their minds and insist on giving lots of boring policy-oriented speeches that don't make good copy.
Well, the blogosphere is anything but that, but it turns out the mainstream press doesn't like that much either. I'm not sure how that's going to play out in the long term, but in the short term I have a feeling it's nothing but bad news. "Spittle-flecked loons" seems likely to become the new media CW. Karl Rove must be pleased.
Not doing us any good? Why, Mr. Drum, the media are advertising us! Bring it on, baby.

Just when exactly did mainstream press (of generally liberal temperaments, ha!) recapture its credibility? The bittersweet irony and blowback of decades of conservatives sliming the MSM reputation is that it has lost its potency. Media consolidation and the mis-reporting on Iraq's WMDs has provoked consumers to develop a cautious attitude as they should. Perceptions about mainstream media have dropped into the toilet where they bump against other unethical blobs of excrement: politicians, car salesmen, and telemarketers. Media's criticism feeds the liberal blogosphere's growth...If they say it's bad, it must be newsworthy to click. People aren't as stupid as the dumbed-down news media thinks.

I doubt Karl Rove is all that pleased being a bona fide control freak. He can certainly ramp up the con-apparatchiki into full smear mode–the Broders, the Brooksies, and traditional media to discredit the liberal blogosphere but none can stop the genie that has launched out of the bottle as long as the First Amendment stands.

When mainstream reporters characterize the conservative blogosphere as rabid wingnuts who "unleash their venom on those who stand in the way" (and they won't since they share the same trough) as anyone interested in the complete story can find, then I'll heed the criticism. Until then...The usual spittle-flecked spiel from the propaganda mill.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A peek at Bush's secret cut and run plan

Well, shucky durn. After Republicans and their con-apparatchiki media machine pounded Democrats all week as cut and run cowards and inept at national security, General Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, outlined a troop withdrawal plan today (with a timetable!) in the NYTimes:

WASHINGTON, June 24 — The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.
According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.
Under the plan, the first reductions would involve two combat brigades that would rotate out of Iraq in September without being replaced. Military officials do not typically characterize reductions by total troop numbers, but rather by brigades. Combat brigades, which generally have about 3,500 troops, do not make up the bulk of the 127,000-member American force in Iraq, and other kinds of units would not be pulled out as quickly.
The numbers don't jive with what the Iraqi government wants but this peek at a withdrawal plan is only a trial balloon and since when did Bush listen to generals? The following graf makes me laugh, not mockingly toward Casey or our troops, but at a specific word (with emphasis):
General Casey's briefing has remained a closely held secret, and it was described by American officials who agreed to discuss the details only on condition of anonymity. Word of the plan comes after a week in which the American troop presence in Iraq was stridently debated in Congress, with Democratic initiatives to force troop withdrawals defeated in the Senate.
So Bush did have a secret plan. Ha! Perhaps the anonymous sources offer this plan now to counter any negative public reaction to the defeat of the Democrats' withdrawal plans in Congress since a majority of Americans think the U.S. should begin pulling out troops of Iraq.

Another curiosity. I wonder if Republicans, particularly Senator Catkiller and his amigos at VOLPAC, will revise their attack rhetoric on Kerry? Nah, Republicans don't apologize when they insult and malign Democrats, do they?

Considering the source of Casey's story, the NYTimes, a media outlet criticized by the Bush Administration and its sidekicks, I'd expect to hear disputes over the timetable and the details of the withdrawal plan until July 4th. Independence Day, a symbolic holiday, provides enough ba-sizzle for a tinhorn preznit in a flightsuit to strut his bidness in all his neocon glory. Stage-crafted dog-and-pony theater is what he's good at... showing off and playing dress-up with a smirk. Maybe Bush will repeat an encore performance on Labor Day in time for him to declare victory with more details and military pomp and circumstance to bolster Republican national security creds, complete with a photo op of Iraq's PM at his side. Such political theater could rally the base in kicking off the last campaign push before the midterm elections. That's how this administration works. It's politics all day, everyday, and so predictable.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Republicans smear Kerry and the majority of Americans

A Cut-And-Run Kerry ad that clicks to the VOLPAC site read:

Do you accept the Democrat strategy of retreat to defeat? Should we abandon our Iraqi allies to the terror of Zarqawi's successors?
I swear, reading comprehension in the GOP must have nose-dived into the imbecile range along with honesty and integrity. Republican attack poodles have spun yet another pile of yarn. Redeployment doesn't mean abandoning our "Iraqi allies." Kerry's amendment recognized:
"...the need to keep an over-the-horizon military presence in the Middle East to fight al Qaeda and its affiliates and protect regional security interests. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces, conducting targeted counter-terrorist operations and protecting U.S. facilities and personnel should remain inside Iraq. The president also must move immediately to work with the Iraqis to convene a summit of Iraq’s neighbors and the international community to forge a lasting political settlement to give all Iraqis a stake in the new Iraq.
“A strong national security policy begins with recognizing that our massive presence in Iraq weakens our security and gives Iraqi politicians a crutch to avoid creating stability in their country. As long as 130,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq indefinitely, that country will remain what a series of mistakes have made it -- a crucible for the recruitment and development of terrorists determined to fight Americans and an obstacle to an Iraqi government capable of governing and securing its country. Our troops have done their job in Iraq. It is time to redeploy – to help increase stability in Iraq, and more importantly, to strengthen the national security of the United States.”
Read the rest of the plan, which calls for a redeployment by Jul. 1, 2007.

Kerry, a decorated war vet, knows something about combat but cheesy right-wing spiel in the past and presently from a PAC chaired by Senator Catkiller traitorously calls him cut-and-run. Inadvertently, such tactics also insult a majority of Americans who favor troop withdrawal as several polls have indicated. Out of touch, Republican war elites continue to march out of step with the people they swore to represent.

BTW, where's Frist and the rest of the Rubber Stamp Republicans' distinguished military service? Oh, never mind. Lack of military experience never stopped a chickenhawk from sending others to war.

I go out of my way to avoid health care facilities or service providers associated with Humana Hospital Corporation or Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Senator Catkiller's family business. I will not enrich another self-interested Rubber Stamp Republican. Now I have another reason: one more unwarranted and dirty un-family values smear job spearheaded by a pseudo-Christian. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Billy Boy. Ever heard of bearing false witness against your neighbor?

Bush's secret plan to cut and run

Digby and Josh Marshall both criticized Democrats for their response to this Republican trash talk, the erroneous "cut and run" refrain that media have hyped on behalf of the Bush Administration. Yes, to reiterate Digby's insight, Democrats do need to get more aggressive on Bush's non-plan for Iraq by "telling the American people there is no end in sight and there is nothing they can do about it." In an earlier post, Digby quoted a Gene Lyons column on how this cut-and-run business hasn't historically been a Democratic affair (Dick Cheney agrees).


What can Democrats do about the Republican microphone super-glued to the snouts of media lapdogs? Murtha's stay and pay has a nice counterattack ring for Democrats, however, would such a response break through the froth of Pravda-esque swill? I think not. Not while Big Brother Bush, Inc., lurks. Jamison Foser provides this week's wrap-up on how the con-apparatchiki united in their high-pitched whinnies. Also, The Horse's Mouth records daily the loud neighing from the corral.

I see the recent media fanfare on Bush's alleged bounce as the harbinger of a secret withdrawal plan that will officially surface around a holiday–July 4th or Labor Day–with Bush claiming victory in announcing a phased pull-out of Iraq. Democrats need to recognize what's afoot. And move fast.

In the Republican tradition of cut and run–which is steal the other team's plan while smearing their foresight, assisted by compliant news networks–Bush will withdraw approximately 30,000 troops or more this year in time to impact the midterm elections as I speculated previously. Iraq's national security advisor, Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, said so:

We envisage the U.S. troop presence by year's end to be under 100,000, with most of the remaining troops to return home by the end of 2007.

Don't miss this overlooked tidbit buried in an AP story about the Iraqi security crackdown backed by U.S. troops from yesterday. Via the San Francisco Chronicle (with emphasis):

On the political front, a key politician said the Iraqi government will present a 28-point national reconciliation plan to parliament Sunday that would grant some insurgents amnesty and ask for approval of a series of steps for Iraqis to take over security from U.S. troops.

Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman said the plan to be presented on Sunday also would include a timeline for preparing Iraqi forces to take over the security from U.S. forces in the country.

That would fit with the overall U.S.-led coalition strategy to hand over security in certain regions while withdrawing to larger regional bases to stand ready to in case of emergency. [Sounds like Murtha's plan for redeployment to me!] A final stage would involve the drawdown of U.S. troops from those bases. No specific timeline would be involved in that plan.

Ah, to keep their berths on the U.S. taxpayer gravy train, the new Iraqi government will let the U.S. preznit proclaim the specific timeline, which won't be spun as a timetable for fear of appearing to flip-flop. To paraphrase the Talking Codpiece, the Iraqis will begin standing up so U.S. troops can step time to convince midterm swing voters of the innate Republican national security talent. Bwah-ha!

"There is no finite and UN-approved timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops, but there is a timeline to accomplish the readiness of Iraqi security forces to take over security in the country," Othman said.

So let me lay out the Bush-a-palooza hidden in the message: There is a timeline for Iraqi troops to take over but none on U.S. troop redeployment. And I bet Bush's super-duper secret visit to Iraq has nothing to do with these stunning developments. Yeah, sure. Wink, wink. It's a secret.

POST MORTEM UPDATE: Dumbest post I've ever written rivaled by this howler. Sheeeeesh. When I swing and miss, I do it with gusto. But alas, enthusiasm doesn't affect batting average.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Episcopalians reject ban on gay bishops

Yes, Elizabeth, there is a God. Boston Globe:

The Episcopal vote came just hours before Presbyterians, at a separate meeting, approved a plan to let local congregations install gay ministers if they wish.
In Columbus, [Ohio], wrenching debate over the moratorium on gay bishops stretched over two days in the House of Deputies, a legislative body of more than 800 clergy and lay leaders.
Top Anglican officials had asked the Episcopalians for a temporary ban to calm the outrage among conservatives over the election three years ago of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who lives with his longtime male partner.
More from WaPo and CNN.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Suskind unveils the Cheney Doctrine

I was impressed with Ron Suskind's book, The Price Of Loyalty, on former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill's experience in the Bush Administration. Suskind's new release, The One Percent Doctrine, transports the reader into the disturbing universe of Bush, Cheney, and their bungled war on terror. Barton Gellman, who reports on intelligence and national security for WaPo, reviewed Suskind's "important book" today in, The Shadow War, In a Surprising New Light:

"The One Percent Doctrine" takes its title from an episode in late November 2001. Amid fears of a "second wave" attack after 9/11, Tenet laid out for Vice President Cheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice a stunning trove of new intelligence, much of which Suskind reveals for the first time: Two Pakistani scientists who previously offered to help Libya build a nuclear bomb were known to have met with Osama bin Laden. (Later, Suskind reports, the U.S. government would discover that bin Laden asked pointedly what his next steps should be if he already possessed enriched uranium.) Cheney, by Suskind's account, had been grappling with how to think about "a low-probability, high-impact event." By the time the briefing was over, he had his answer: "If there's a one percent chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response."
This "Cheney Doctrine" let Bush evade analytic debate, Suskind writes, and "rely on impulse and improvisation to a degree that was without precedent for a modern president." But that approach constricted the mission of the intelligence and counterterrorism professionals whose point of view dominates this book. Many of them came to believe, Suskind reports, that "their jobs were not to help shape policy, but to affirm it." (Some of them nicknamed Cheney "Edgar," as in Edgar Bergen -- casting the president as the ventriloquist's dummy.) Suskind calls those career terror-fighters "the invisibles," and he likes them. His book is full of amazing, persuasively detailed vignettes about their world. At least a dozen former intelligence officials speak frankly in public here...
Suskind's enterprise has turned up several scoops, including the important disclosure that First Data Corp., among the largest processors of credit-card transactions, began to give the FBI access to its records after Sept. 11, 2001. Suskind's account is fuzzy on some of the legal questions, but he argues that the operation " swept up the suspicious, or simply the unfortunate, by the stadiumful and caught almost no one who was actually a danger to America." (Emphasis added.)
And these were the guys who America entrusted (not all of us) to get the serious job of national security done? As the Terrorism Index findings indicate, the Bush Administration has failed miserably. Suskind's narrative about a "a mud-caked head" that allegedly belonged to Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second in command, reveals an aspect of Bush that's Stephen King macabre (as if we didn't know):
Bush, who was tracking the transaction, reportedly told a briefer -- "half in jest," Suskind writes -- that "if it turns out to be Zawahiri's head, I hope you'll bring it here."
What on earth for? Don't psychopaths collect body parts and relics as souvenirs to relive their adrenline-pumping accomplishments? Et tu, Bush?

Most revealing, for I have long thought incurious George dropped the ball in preventing 9/11, comes the story that demonstrates the preznit couldn't be bothered with his duties as Commander-in-Chief (unless it involved playing dress-up) in protecting the American people:
The book's opening anecdote tells of an unnamed CIA briefer who flew to Bush's Texas ranch during the scary summer of 2001, amid a flurry of reports of a pending al-Qaeda attack, to call the president's attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US." Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."
Ass? The butt in this story is the arrogant, hardhearted resident of the Oval Office.

After the capture of Abu Zubaydah, thought to be al-Qaeda's chief of operations, in Pakistan in March 2002, the jihadist was shipped to an off-shore secret prison:
Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."
Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States." And over the months to come, under White House and Justice Department direction, the CIA would make him its first test subject for harsh interrogation techniques.
Great. So our intelligence community tortured a mentally-ill gopher for what? To serve at the pleasure of the preznit? For shits and giggles? The torture of Zubaydah could lead one to think so. Suskind interviewed intel officers to conclude that, "Bush ensnared his director of central intelligence at the time, George J. Tenet, and many others in a new kind of war in which action and evidence were consciously divorced." During one of his daily briefings on Zubaydah with George Tenet, Bush told him:
"I said he was important"... "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."
Unbelievable! Expending valuable personnel to follow up on the ravings of a tortured mad man. Not only is Codpiece the most incompetent president in my lifetime, but with these new accounts of sending intel assets and law enforcement on wild goose chases, I have no doubt that the Marquis de Bush relished every minute of his power as the POTUS in lording over his subordinates and the weak. May God help him.

Suskind's book quickens my impatience and concern for us all. Jan. 20, 2009, can't come fast enough for me.

Bush to cut and run with a little help from his friends

Prediction time!

John Murtha was right:

I expect a significant troop withdrawal. [The Bush WH is] trying to find a way to do this.

Just one caveat. The Bush Administration has already found a way to withdraw troops by the midterm elections to boost the GOP's precious voter turnout. The trick for the GOP was to absolve itself of the criticism currently aimed at Democrats as "cut and run" cowards for having suggested redeployment. Dem-bashing instigated from the RNC machine and comrades in the con-apparatchiki has shifted into full throttle. 'Tis the political season.

Such a maneuver called for the cunning and calculation of a 21st century Machiavellian prince, no problem in the Rove camp. It's simple. Just out-source the task. I wondered when Bush made his surprise visit to Iraq if troop withdrawals by November 2006 was the reason for his trip. His corn pone smile and reports of a renewed strut in his step told me, yes.

On cue today, Iraq's national security advisor, Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, writes in WaPo, The Way Out of Iraq: A Road Map. With emphasis:

With the governors of each province meeting these strict objectives, Iraq's ambition is to have full control of the country by the end of 2008. In practice this will mean a significant foreign troop reduction. We envisage the U.S. troop presence by year's end to be under 100,000, with most of the remaining troops to return home by the end of 2007.

Got that? By the end of 2006, and you can bet it will come miraculously in October, 30,000 or more of the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq will come home.

Mowaffak Al-Rubaie goes on to articulate some of the same reasons Democrats have given for redeployment: to deflate the insurgency, validate the Iraqi government's authority, involve Muslim neighbors in rebuilding Iraq, and remove U.S. soldiers as a negative symbol and target for the insurgents:

The eventual removal of coalition troops from Iraqi streets will help the Iraqis, who now see foreign troops as occupiers rather than the liberators they were meant to be. It will remove psychological barriers and the reason that many Iraqis joined the so-called resistance in the first place. The removal of troops will also allow the Iraqi government to engage with some of our neighbors that have to date been at the very least sympathetic to the resistance because of what they call the "coalition occupation." If the sectarian issue continues to cause conflict with Iraq's neighbors, this matter needs to be addressed urgently and openly -- not in the guise of aversion to the presence of foreign troops.

Moreover, the removal of foreign troops will legitimize Iraq's government in the eyes of its people. It has taken what some feel is an eternity to form a government of national unity. This has not been an easy or enviable task, but it represents a significant achievement, considering that many new ministers are working in partisan situations, often with people with whom they share a history of enmity and distrust. By its nature, the government of national unity, because it is working through consensus, could be perceived to be weak. But, again, the drawdown of foreign troops will strengthen our fledgling government to last the full four years it is supposed to.

While Iraq is trying to gain its independence from the United States and the coalition, in terms of taking greater responsibility for its actions, particularly in terms of security, there are still some influential foreign figures trying to spoon-feed our government and take a very proactive role in many key decisions. Though this may provide some benefits in the short term, in the long run it will only serve to make the Iraqi government a weaker one and eventually lead to a culture of dependency. Iraq has to grow out of the shadow of the United States and the coalition, take responsibility for its own decisions, learn from its own mistakes, and find Iraqi solutions to Iraqi problems, with the knowledge that our friends and allies are standing by with support and help should we need it.

Bush couldn't have found a better Iraqi political operative for the job that Mowaffak Al-Rubaie. Newsweek detailed his expertise (with emphasis):

He's a critical link to key members of Iraq's powerful Shiite clergy: Grand Ayatollah Hussein al-Sadr in Baghdad and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Najaf, the holiest city in Iraq. Without the tacit support of the Shiites, who make up a 60 percent majority of the population and look to these ayatollahs for guidance, the American occupation of Iraq would be unsustainable.

Soft-spoken, bearded, bespectacled and courtly, al-Rubaie, 55, was the international spokesman for one of the most feared terrorist organizations in the Middle East during the 1980s, the Iraqi Dawa Party. But he's also a prosperous British-educated physician. He practiced medicine in London for the better part of three decades. (His British patients, for the most part, knew him by his Anglicized name, Mow Baker.) While pious, he is also perfectly comfortable in secular Western society. "Shall we dine and not wine?" he used to joke with guests when inviting them to dinner at his house. And while Western policies toward Iraq went through many changes, al-Rubaie's goal was always consistent: the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

American officials in Iraq are well aware of al-Rubaie's ability to navigate in both worlds; when President Bush landed in Baghdad for Thanksgiving dinner, clearly he'd been briefed. As al-Rubaie remembers their encounter, the president pointed at him and said, "Dr. al-Rubaie, I want you to convey this message to Mr. Sistani. Tell him that I pray to the same god he prays to... Tell Sistani I have nothing but praise for your religion. I have many millions of Muslims in my country back home."

Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf, it should be noted, tolerates the American presence in Iraq, but does not talk to Americans directly. Ayatollah Hussein al-Sadr does talk to the Americans, but as one political operative at the Coalition Provisional Authority explained, the ayatollah in Baghdad "let it be known that Mowaffak is the dearest of all to his heart."

"Access is power," says the same official, "and if you have access at the Oval Office and in Najaf, that's not bad."

When al-Rubaie met the captured Saddam this month, his first question was why the dictator murdered two revered ayatollahs from the al-Sadr family. Saddam responded with a coarse joke. Al-Rubaie has since led the call to put Saddam on trial in a matter of weeks. While it's unlikely the Americans will bend to that particular demand, many others will surely follow, probably growing more contentious as occupied Iraq tries to become, truly, liberated Iraq. And al-Rubaie is likely to be at the forefront of political developments.

But what kind of Iraq does he envision? Would it be a sort of postmodern version of Khomeini's Iran? He insists not.

Al-Rubaie says the Islamist movement has come full circle. In Algeria and Sudan, for example, "we saw a tyranny in the name of Islam," he says. "This is very dangerous—politicizing religion or religicizing politics." In purely practical terms, al-Rubaie explains, Iraq is "like a bunch of flowers. There are Sunnis here, Christians, Muslims, Turkomans and Orthodox, Kurds, Assyrian. So what religion do you impose? The diversity of Iraqi society should dictate democracy and decentralization. That's the alternative vision to Saddam's tyranny of fear."

In the meantime, like most Iraqis, he wants to see his countrymen taking a greater role in bringing order to their homeland, while the Coalition forces step to the rear, ready to back up the regime, [sounds like redeployment, no?] but interacting as little as possible with the people. "The Americans don't understand the culture, the different religions, the psychology," al-Rubaie says as he sits in his sparsely furnished office in the building that houses the Iraqi Governing Council.

A few days before, he says, he was given a full body search by American soldiers as he tried to enter the building—searched right down to the soles of his shoes. "This is humiliation in the eyes of our people," he says in frustration. Yet even while lobbying for greater Iraqi involvement in security matters, he warns that Washington shouldn't rush Iraqis into accepting full sovereignty: "People are not ready. People have not voted here for more than 50 years." Al-Rubaie speaks of the "Baathist virus" implanted by Saddam Hussein "in the software upstairs." "We need to rewrite the software," he says. "We need to rehabilitate the Iraqi people. This will take a long time."

And meanwhile al-Rubaie continues building his own personal constituency. Last summer the holy city of Karbala was draped with banners extolling his virtues. His clan, the al-Rubaie, is large and powerful, and he's worked hard to make sure he keeps its support. But politics remains a high-risk occupation. At least one other member of the Council has been shot dead; the driver of another member was killed when American soldiers opened fire on his car. And then there was the October attack on the Baghdad Hotel, when al-Rubaie himself was injured. Does he feel endangered? "I'm not afraid to die," he says, smiling. "Thank goodness I believe in the hereafter. So I am ready to go." If he survives—and that's a big if for any Iraqi politician—he could also be ready to rule.

Ah, Iraq's Mr. Cellophane to the rescue. Christopher Dickey at Newsweek offers more insight into Mowaffak al-Rubaie's clout, the kind of power an ol' political operative such as Bush would appreciate.

So while the right-wing pummels Murtha-Feingold-Kerry Democrats for advocating redeployment under the attack banner of cut and run, the Decider has already made the arrangements to withdraw a large portion of U.S. troops just in time for the midterm elections.

You heard it here first.

POST MORTEM UPDATE: When you're wrong, you're wrong. I was wrong. But the good news is, the electorate punished Republicans during the midterm elections for many reasons. But a big one was the war.

Con-apparatchik mole, Joe Klein

In the tradition of Dem-bashing Zell Miller, Joe Klein, better known as Joke Klein for his designation as Time's "most liberal columnist" when clearly he isn't, once again scribed the sort of piffle one would expect from barf bagger, Rush Limbaugh. If Klein represents what Time evaluates to be liberal, then how can anyone trust its journalism? I don't. And won't. Buh-bye, Time.

UPDATE: Hilarious! Digby reveals Klein's fascination with the Codpiece.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The con-apparatchiki strikes again

Doesn't Matt Lauer risk emboldening his television competition?

After a certain program of Today show vomitus, one I've blocked from my mind for fear of resurgent dry heaves, I flipped the switch off Perky Katie and Herr Lauer never to return. Ann Curry may be cute, but sorry, Ann, the Today show carries too much baggage. A friend of mine agreed with my blackout by saying at the time before Perky Katie left the show, that it was so obvious that Katie and Matt were loyal Republicans and blatant Bush supporters. Yeah, so much for the SCLM.

When Herr Lauer asked Ron Suskind a typical con-apparatchiki question...don't you risk emboldening our enemies? – do you think Matt could have checked his facts before making an inquiry that frankly makes the Today host look partisan and ignorant? Did Matt miss what our Congress says on most debates about homeland security aired on C-SPAN? Did Herr Lauer think Limbaugh or the 9/11 Commission's report and its national security report card emboldened terrorists with their loose lips? Did he think the preznit encouraged our enemies when Bush promoted the Dubai port deal? Or does Matt stick to his scripted tripe?

Inquiring minds wanna know, Herr Lauer.

War on terror index v. the gospel of disinformation

The air thins at the summit of Mt. Wingnuttia, which might explain the light on substance, kick 'em in the nuts glandular reaction at the GOP. Dumb and deceptive, the pitiful Republican response to the appearance of John Murtha on NBC's Meet The Press and his redeployment plan (as opposed to the non-plan of "stay the course") included propaganda one would expect from a College Republican frat boy:

Today, Congressman John Murtha continued to demonstrate an inability to comprehend that surrendering the central front in the war on terror is not a strategy to defeat the terrorists.

My dear ill-advised RNC. Terrorism has boomed under the faulty national security policies of Bush-Cheney. No wonder Iraq is such a mess under your party's leadership if you can't follow the facts. First, the central front in the War of Terror isn't in Iraq but in... wait for it... America, our homeland, where terrorists actually attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001. How soon they forget! And how could they? After exploiting 9/11 ad nauseum at every given chance? FYI, the terrorist hijackers hit us in NYC and Washington, D.C., not Iraq. Failing to recognize the central front prompted an unnecessary invasion that has stifled progress in the War on Terror. I guess such details prove elusive when one composes political rhetoric meant to smear Democrats and mislead the electorate, words that were never intended to educate or inform. The truth is too scary.

Perhaps such GOP misdirection and Bushian incompetence explains its poor ratings from the Terrorism Index, a bipartisan evaluation compiled by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy Magazine. More than 100 of America's "most esteemed terrorism and national security experts" delivered an assessment that ought to make Republicans blush for their erroneous hatchet job on Murtha. Ah, but the Republicans' strength isn't factual. Theirs is the gospel of disinformation, as Murtha described, "a failed policy wrapped in illusion."

Eighty-seven percent of the Terrorism Index' bipartisan experts said the Iraq War has hurt our national security (with emphasis):

A vast majority think that the world today is more dangerous for the American people. Fewer than two in 10 believe the United States is winning the war on terror. [A bipartisan majority (84%) say we're losing.] More than eight in 10 believe we are likely to face a terrorist attack on the scale of September 11 within the next 10 years.

Over half list Islamic animosity and the Iraq war as the main reasons why the world is becoming more dangerous. The experts put nuclear weapons and materials as the top threat, followed closely by weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as a whole and then terrorism. Only four percent rank Iran as the greatest threat.

The experts also have serious concerns about the effectiveness of the U.S. national security apparatus and sharply criticize the U.S. government's efforts in numerous areas of national security, including public diplomacy, intelligence, and homeland security. They give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a score of 2.9 out of 10 in its functions related to national security, and more than 80 percent of the surveyed experts characterize efforts at intelligence reform to date as "fair" or "poor."

Coming from reliable sources...

Nearly 80 percent of the index participants have worked in the U.S. government--of these more than half were in the executive branch, one third in the military, and 17 percent in the intelligence community.

Other highlights from the full text of the Terrorism Index:

  • Eighty-one percent believe the detention of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, negatively affects the war on terror

  • "Foreign-policy experts have never been in so much agreement about an administration's performance abroad," says Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and an index participant. "The reason is that it's clear to nearly all that Bush and his team have had a totally unrealistic view of what they can accomplish with military force and threats of force."

  • More than half of the index's experts said that creating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has had no positive impact in the war against terror

  • Asked to name the country that has produced the largest number of global terrorists, the index's foreign-policy experts pointed to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan--three of America's marquee allies in the Muslim world.

  • After September 11, however, Saudi Arabia has emerged as the leading theater of jihadist-Salafist thought and action."

  • Eighty-four percent of the experts said they believe a terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001, is likely or certain to happen in the next five years.

  • More than a quarter said a 9/11-scale attack is certain to occur in America within the next decade.

  • Asked about the likelihood of a smaller strike akin to the July 2005 London bombings, 91 percent agreed that such an attack is likely or certain by 2016; more than half said that such an attack could happen this year.

  • Roughly two thirds of the experts said that some part of America's infrastructure--a port, train station, or major landmark--will be targeted.

Perhaps the GOP might want to retract its words against "Murtha Democrats" for advocating a redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq:

Americans have never feared a suicide bombing the way the people of Amman or Jerusalem have. But there may be reason to think that will soon change. A recent study by Rand found that 81 percent of all suicide attacks in the past 30 or so years have occurred since Sept. 11, 2001, and the primary motivation for each of these attacks was a military intervention or occupation such as the ongoing operations in Iraq. The odds that America can continue to elude the world's most popular form of terrorism may be fading fast.

No wonder the Republican Party offered such a boisterous whinny-boo-blah at John Murtha. Can't have people especially moderate swing voters waking up to the harsh realities of Bush's errant foreign policy or the sensible solutions proposed by Democrats. Might make Bush and the GOP look more incompetent and lethally negligent than they already do. If that's possible.

How many terrorism experts do you think work within the political apparatus of the GOP? For that matter, how many terrorism experts work in the Bush Administration? Ha! The Administration has a reputation for hemorrhaging very good analysts with "no dramatic improvement in how spies collect intelligence about terrorist targets." Stateside, the executive branch and its bureaucrats couldn't muster an effective response to America's worst disaster, Hurricane Katrina, and on whose watch did 9/11 happen? Anyone remember the lightning-quick, take-action stance of Bush when the WTC towers were hit? Yeah, a president mesmerized by My Pet Goat is just what America needs during a national security crisis. Just because the preznit talks tough doesn't mean he can get the job done. Apparently, according to terrorism experts, he's failing.

As Karl Rove cranks up his election machine to attack Democratic policies on Iraq and national security, remember that Bush and the Republicans have had five years to fight the War on Terror. Then ask yourself, why is the world more dangerous for Americans now than it was five years ago?

Iraq War – John Murtha has a plan

I stood and saluted Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) as he appeared on Meet The Press yesterday. He spoke passionately and made more sense about the Iraq War than most of the patriotic-sounding hogwash that passes as policy at the WH. Crooks and Liars posted a video clip worth a click but I've pulled some of Murtha's relevant quotes from the transcript. Boy, he kicked Bush's butt and the stay the course crowd with tough, truthful, and sensible answers. Somebody in Washington has answers! Can you believe it? Buckle up your seat belts for a lengthy but Topic A post (with emphasis):

MR. RUSSERT: The president says, “stay the course,” that within the next six months, Iraq will be secure under the direction of the new prime minister, and to do anything less now would be irresponsible.
REP. MURTHA: Well, “stay the course” is “stay and pay.” This is the thing that has worried me right along. We’re spending $8 billion dollars a month, $300 million dollars a day. And to give you some perspective of what that means... Well, you weigh $30 billion dollars. That’s four months of the cost of this war. This port security, if you want to spend more money, it’d would take 47 years the way we’re spending it. Education, the No Child Left Behind, a couple months of the war would pay for that. Whose going to, whose going to pay for this down the road? Our children and grandchildren are paying for this war. And then you have the, the, the emotional strain, the, the, the people who are being hurt.
On the floor the other day, you may have heard this, one fellow says, “We’re fighting this war.” We’re not fighting this war. One percent of the American people, these young men and women are fighting this war, with heavy packs, with 70 pounds of equipment, with helmets on in 130 degrees. That’s who’s fighting this war. And they say “stay the course.” There’s no plan. You open up this plan for victory, there’s no plan there. It’s just “stay the course.” That doesn’t solve any problem.
It’s worse today than it was six months ago when I spoke out initially. When I spoke out, the garbage wasn’t being collected, oil production below pre-war level—all those things indicated to me we weren’t winning this, and it’s the same today, if not worse. Anbar Province. There’s not one project been done in Anbar Province. Two million people live there. They have no water at all, no oil production, they have no electricity at all in that province where is the heartland of the defense. The first six months we went in there, no—there—not a shot was fired, so it shows you how it’s changed.
It’s getting worse. That’s why I feel so strongly. All of us know how important it is internationally to win this war. We know how important. We import 20 million barrels of oil a day—we use 20 million barrels of oil. We know how important, international community. But we’re doing it all ourself, and there’s no plan that makes sense. We need to have more international cooperation. We need to redeploy our troops, [to] the periphery. What happened with Zarqawi could have been done from the out—it was done from the outside. Our planes went in from the outside. So there’s no reason in the world that they can’t redeploy the troops. They’ve become the targets, they’re caught in the civil war, and I feel very strongly about it.
(Videotape, June 12, 2006):
MR. ROVE: Like too many Democrats, it strikes me they are ready to give the green light to go to war, but when it gets tough and when it gets difficult, they fall back on that party’s old pattern of cutting and running. They may be with you at the first shots, but they are not going to be there for the last tough battles. They are wrong, and profoundly wrong, in their approach.
(End of videotape)
MR. RUSSERT: Cutting and running.
REP. MURTHA: He’s, he’s in New Hampshire. He’s making a political speech. He’s sitting in his air conditioned office with his big, fat backside, saying, “Stay the course.” That’s not a plan. I mean, this guy—I don’t know what his military experience is, but that’s a political statement. This is a policy difference between me and the White House. I disagree completely with what he’s saying.
Now, let’s...give you an example. When we went to Beirut, I, I said to President Reagan, “Get out.” Now, the other day we were doing a debate, and they said, “Well, Beirut was a different situation. We cut and run.” We didn’t cut and run. President Reagan made the decision to change direction because he knew he couldn’t win it. Even in Somalia, President Clinton made the decision, “We have to, we have to change direction. Even with tax cuts. When we had a tax cut under Reagan, we then had a tax increase because he had to change direction. We need to change direction. We can’t win a war like this.
[Karl Rove is] sitting back there criticizing—political criticism, getting paid by the public taxpayer, and he’s saying to us, “We’re, we’re winning this war, and they’re running.” We got to change direction, that’s what we have to do. You can’t, you can’t sit there in the air conditioned office and tell these troops they’re carrying 70 pounds on their back inside these armored vessels and hit with IEDs every day, seeing their friends blown up, their buddies blown up, and he says “stay the course.” Yeah, it’s easy to say that from Washington, D.C.
MR. RUSSERT: Is it appropriate for the president’s principal political adviser to accuse the Democrats of cutting and running?
REP. MURTHA: I’s a, a name—they just use that. I say “stay and pay.” And what I mean by stay and pay, and I’m talking about the hardship on the families, the hardship on the troops. And there’s no plan, that’s the thing. It’s easy to say that. ...the public is way ahead of this. The public is two-to-one against what we’re doing, and they want a change in direction. That’s the thing I see the most.
MR. RUSSERT: But in 2004, you had a view that was much different than you had now, and this is what you wrote in your book: “A war initiated on faulty intelligence must not be followed by a premature withdrawal of our troops based on a political timetable. An untimely exit could rapidly devolve into a civil war, which would leave America’s foreign policy in disarray as countries question not only America’s judgment but also its perseverance.” Aren’t you now advocating that?
REP. MURTHA: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. That’s what I said then. And I think in the early stages, you have to judge that. But there comes a time when you got to change direction. There comes a time when you have to say to yourself, “OK, we’ve done everything we could do, we can’t win this militarily.” That’s why—and I talk to the military leaders, I talk to the troops, I go to the hospitals all the time.
So there’s two reasons that I felt it was absolutely essential we change direction. One is the troops themselves and what they’re going through and the fact that 42 percent of them don’t even know what the mission is. And, and the second thing is the long-term stability of this country, our inability to prevent another war because we don’t have the resources. A $50 billion dollar backlog of equipment shortages and so forth. You just have—at some point you just have to change direction.
And if you’re not winning, if you’re losing, and that’s what’s happening. ...when I say losing...we’re losing ground over there and, and we have inadequate forces. We went in, the first place, we didn’t have any reason to go in. We didn’t have a threat to our national security. That’s been proven. Second, we went [with] inadequate forces to get it under control in a transition to peace. Third, the third thing was, no exit strategy.
...I’m convinced, though, Tim, I believe this, I believe the president’s sounding tough, but the president’s also saying it’s now up to the Iraqis. You watch what I’m saying. He’s saying—and the vice-president and the president of Iraq, 80 percent of the Iraqis want us out of there. And the vice-president, president of Iraq said, “We want a time table to get out.” That’s what we need and the president knows that and that’s what he’s going to come up with.
MR. RUSSERT: You expect a significant American troop withdrawal by the midterm elections?
REP. MURTHA: I expect a significant troop withdrawal. They’re trying to find a way to do this. The trouble is it keeps getting worse and they don’t want to admit they made a mistake. You just have—at some point you got to reassess it like Reagan did in, in Beirut, like, like Clinton did in Somalia, you just have to say, “OK, it’s time to change direction.”
MR. RUSSERT: Karl Rove invoked your name in New Hampshire. Let me show you that comment.
(Videotape, June 12, 2006):
MR. ROVE: I want you to think about the consequences of their proposed course of action. If Murtha had his way, American troops would’ve been gone by the end of April and we wouldn’t have gotten Zarqawi.
(End videotape)
REP. MURTHA: They—Let me tell you, they built Zarqawi up. They have 1,000 foreign fighters. This is a civil war, and we did it from the outside, anyway. The good thing about what—when we got Zarqawi, it was Iraqi intelligence that came to the Iraqis that came to the United States. And then from outside the country, from the periphery of the country they went and bombed where Zarqawi was. So there, there was progress from that standpoint. But to say that it wouldn’t have happened is absolutely a political statement.
MR. RUSSERT: You did say, however, in ‘05, “Our military has done everything that has been asked of them. The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily.” The fact is the capture of—or the killing of Zarqawi was a military accomplishment. So the military could do more.
REP. MURTHA: Well, it was a military accomplishment from outside the country. We, we bombed, we bombed it. The, the information came from the Iraqis to the Iraqis to the U.S., and then we bombed where he was. And it—so it came from the outside.’s the problem we have in, in this kind of a war. First, first of all you’ve got our troops in the green zone. President says, “OK, I’m going in. And it was nice to see a democratic country—a democratic organization in operation.” It’s in the green zone. It’s a fortress. They’re not out in, in the public. They’re—they cannot go outside the—when I first went to Iraq, you could drive any place. As a matter of fact, when I found the 44,000 body armor shortages I was out in the division in the field. When I went to Anbar—but now you can’t go outside the green zone. So, so—the, the government’s inside the green zone. So they’re, they’re where Saddam Hussein was.
Then, then let’s take the prison situation. We, we pass in the House and the Senate a veto-proof legislation that they shouldn’t veto and then the president says, “Well, we’re going to continue the same policy.” Now what does that say? We’re fighting a war of ideals and ideas. It’s no longer a military war. We have won the military war against their, their enemy. We toppled Saddam Hussein. The military’s done everything that they can do. And so it’s time for us to redeploy. And Iraqi—only Iraqis can settle this.
MR. RUSSERT: You say redeploy. Again, Mr. Rove challenges that comment.
Let’s listen and give you again a chance to respond to the White House.
(Videotape, Monday):
MR. ROVE: Congressman Murtha said, “Let’s redeploy them immediately to another country in the Middle East. Let’s get out of Iraq and go to another country.” My question is, what country would take us? What country would say after the United States cut and run from Iraq, what country in the Middle East would say, “Yeah. Paint a big target on our back and then you’ll cut and run on us.” What country would say that? What country would accept our troops?
(End videotape)
MR. RUSSERT: What’s your response?
REP. MURTHA: There’s many countries understand the importance of stability in the Middle East. This is an international problem. We, we use 20 million barrels of oil a day. China’s the second largest user. All these countries understand you need stability for the energy supply that’s available in the Middle East. So there’s many, many countries.
REP. MURTHA: Kuwait’s one that will take us. Qatar, we already have bases in Qatar. So Bahrain. All those countries are willing to take the United States. Now, Saudi Arabia won’t because they wanted us out of there in the first place. So—and we don’t have to be right there. We can go to Okinawa. We, we don’t have—we can redeploy there almost instantly. So that’s not—that’s, that’s a fallacy. That, that’s just a statement to rial up people to support a failed policy wrapped in illusion.
MR. RUSSERT: But it’d be tough to have a timely response from Okinawa.
REP. MURTHA: Well, it—you know, they—when I say Okinawa, I, I’m saying troops in Okinawa. When I say a timely response, you know, our fighters can fly from Okinawa very quickly. And—and—when they don’t know we’re coming. There’s no question about it. And, and where those airplanes won’t—came from I can’t tell you, but, but I’ll tell you one thing, it doesn’t take very long for them to get in with cruise missiles or with, with fighter aircraft or, or attack aircraft, it doesn’t take any time at all. So we, we have done—this one particular operation [in bombing Zarqawi], to say that that couldn’t have [been] was done from the outside, for heaven’s sakes.
MR. RUSSERT: Big debate on the House floor this week, and then Congress, the House, voted for a resolution supporting the president. Forty-two Democrats crossed over and voted for the president. Joe Klein in today’s Time magazine writes this, “How is it possible - with 2,500 U.S. soldiers dead, no discernible progress on the ground and a solid majority of the public now agreeing that the war in Iraq was a mistake - for the Democrats to seem so bollixed about the war and for the president to seem so confident? A good part of it is flawed strategy. Democrats keep hoping that the elections can be framed as a referendum on the Bush policy, and Republicans keep reminding the public that elections are a choice, not a referendum.” Do you agree with that?
REP. MURTHA: ...I think we have to have a policy. That’s why I’ve been so adamant about this particular issue. And you see 150 people voted against this resolution. A year ago, it would have been a lot less that that. Six months ago, it would have been a lot less than that. So, so Democrats are starting to come around, and some Republicans. Twelve Republicans came to me after, after this vote and said to me, “Well, you know, I couldn’t vote for it, but I understand what you’re saying.” One very conservative Republican said, “We can’t afford to carry on this war. It’s killing us financially.” And, of course, I say not only financially but the troops are bearing this heavy burden.
MR. RUSSERT: But if the Republicans are capable of showing a contrast between the parties—in 2002, successfully; in 2004, successfully; the Republicans perceived, they hope, as the stronger party on national security—will that work in 2006? The Democrats will be portrayed as cut-and-run and the Republicans as the party of strength?
REP. MURTHA: Well, I think the public would have to be portrayed as cut-and-run if you talk about the Democrats being portrayed [as cut-and-run]—every place I go, people understand what I’m saying. The public has been away ahead. For instance, when I came to Congress in ‘74, I remember distinctly the public—they said we, we’d only win a few seats, we had a two-to-one majority at that time. We won all five of the special elections that year, we lost—we—when Vice President Ford’s seat—only had it for two years, but we won that seat. Then in, in ‘94, when the public turned against the Congress, we thought we’d lose 18, we lost 52 seats.
So, you know, it, it’s easy to them to try to spin the fact that it’s not going to happen. And I think we do have to have legitimate proposals. I think we have to talk about a lot of things besides the war itself, but the war has such a ramification, such—the debt itself is $8.4 trillion dollars. How we going to pay for this? Obviously, we’re going to have to adjust taxes from the higher level, there’s no question about it if you’re going to—unless you want your children and grandchildren paying for this. So we—a lot of problems we have to face. It’s an individual thing. Some areas it’s not as popular as others, but in the long run, a lot of people have changed their mind. It’s changed dramatically from the way it was today, and I think most—well, two thirds of the Democrats agree with my position now.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you think there’s a possibility—or do you ever have pause and say to yourself, “You know, maybe this might work a few years from now and we may have a democratic state in Iraq”?
REP. MURTHA: I, I would hope that, but I don’t see it happening. I measure it this way—when, when they say to me that progress has been made, I say give me the facts. Incidents have increased, doubled in, in the last six months. Oil production below pre-war level, electricity below pre-war level. Every single measurement that I use is either below pre-war level or is going backward. IEDs have gone up substantially. The number of insurgents have increased.
Now, got to keep in mind, we’ve got 130,000 troops in Iraq and, and yet these things have happened. Now, why have they happened with our troops there? Because we’ve become the enemy. We have to change our policy, we have to change direction. We all want the same thing, we want something to happen, we want a democratic government, but that’s not happening the way we’re doing, so we got to do it differently. Internationally, diplomacy is the key and we got to restore confidence. Our credibility is in the tank, as you well know. The whole world looks at us like, like we’re, we’re the bad guys. And some of the thing—it’s ideas and ideals, and unfortunately, we’ve lowered our standards with some of the statements this administration makes below the standards the United States usually has.
MR. RUSSERT: Are you concerned if we got out you could leave behind complete chaos, which could become a real haven for international terrorists, another Afghanistan pre-September 11?
REP. MURTHA: I think—I think it’s the opposite. I—I think right now, we—we’re inciting, we’re recruiting, we’re recruiting terrorists in Iraq. We’re allowing them to train in Iraq. We’re allowing—when we do things like—we, we go into Fallujah, which, which they considered a military victory. We put 300,000 people outside their home.
Now, why? Why do we do it? Because we use overwhelming force in, in order to comply with the military structures that we have. I agree with that. We have to do that to protect Americans. But that makes enemies. And when you use military force to make enemies, you inadvertently pay people. And to give you an example, we—last year, we spent $5 million dollars; the year before last, $5 million dollars in consultation—or consolation payments. Last year it was $20 million dollars. That means we killed that many more people. Every time you kill an Iraqi, even though it’s inadvertent, you make an enemy, and the way the military has to operate.
Bush said, when he first ran for office, “We’re not going to do nation-building.” That’s what we’re in to, and we’re not successful at it. The military is not successful at nation-buildings, particularly in an insurgence. Now, let me make it clear: 1,000 insurgents, that’s all. There were only 200 there three years ago. Two hundred. And now, they think, in the insurgency itself, it could—foreign fighters, foreign fighters, 1,000, maybe 15,000 insurgents. We’re there, and there’s 15,000 insurgents. Went from 200 to 15,000. That’s the problem. We’re not, we’re not, we’re not making progress. That’s the problem.
MR. RUSSERT: John Kerry, the Democratic nominee in 2004, who voted for the war, gave a speech this week and he said this: “Let me say it plainly: It’s not enough to argue with the logistics or to argue about the details or the manner of the conflict’s execution or the failures of competence, as great as they are.
“It is essential to acknowledge that the war itself was a mistake ... to say the simple words that contain more truth than pride.
“We were misled. We were given evidence that was not true. It was wrong, and I was wrong to vote for that Iraqi war resolution.”
Do you believe any Democrat who seeks the nomination for president in 2008, who voted for the war in Iraq, should publicly say not just the war’s been mismanaged, “I was wrong to vote for the war.”
REP. MURTHA: Yeah, it’s obvious. It was a mistake. And I’ve said this from the very start. I mean, you had no weapons of mass destruction, you had no connection with al-Qaeda, there was no danger to our national security. We don’t put young people in harm’s way unless we have a threat to our national security.
I’m in a hospital, young woman’s standing there beside her wound—badly wounded husband, and she says he’s been in Iraq twice, and he enlisted to fight for America, not for Iraq. We want stability; it’s an international problem. But, but we, we, we can’t achieve it in the direction they’re going. These, these comments they make about cutting and running, so forth and so on, that doesn’t, that doesn’t solve the problem. What is their plan? They have no plan. And we’re, we’re recruiting terrorists against us, Tim. That’s the problem.
MR. RUSSERT: They say their plan is, when the Iraqis stand up, we stand down. That, if given time, the Iraqis will produce enough of a military and security force to secure their country, put down the insurrection, and allow the Americans to go home.
REP. MURTHA: I, I believe when we redeploy, that will happen. I believe there’s only 1,000 foreign fighters, 1,000 in al-Qaeda. Might be more foreign fighters, but 1,000 al-Qaeda in Iraq. I believe they will get rid of them. Just like Zarqawi. It didn’t come from us; it came from the Iraqis. The Iraqis know who these people are, and they’ll get rid of them. I think there’ll be less chaos than there is when, when we’re there. Because we’re the ones that are forcing—they’re recruiting people. They’re—when a person’s willing to kill themselves, why? Because we’re there. Eighty percent of the people want us out. The president, vice president of Iraq said, “Give us a timetable to get out.” They know how important it is.
Internationally, who have we held responsible for this thing and accountable? Have we held secretary of defense accountable? Have we held anybody in the White House accountable? They promote people who’re responsible for us going to war, rather than hold them accountable. That’s the first stage. And the second stage: Admit you made a mistake. President’s admitted he made a few mistakes. It’s more than that. We went to war on the wrong assumptions. We made a terrible mistake, and we need to talk to the international community, get their help, just like in the first Gulf War, where they paid $60 billion dollars, they had 160,000 troops involved in that, and we went to the border. Bush One said, “I’m not going to Iraq because I don’t want to occupy it, I don’t, I don’t want to rehabilitate it. It would cost too much money and too many lives.” And he was right. And a lot of right-wingers said, “Oh, no, we should’ve gone in.” Well, they found out what it’s like to go in now.
Whew! Hurrah to Murtha for having a plan and telling the truth! If we keep the Bush Rubber Stamp Republicans in charge, forget about it. No plan for Iraq. Just the same old tired non-plan of "stay the course." Pathetic. Add in the report from the U.S. embassy in Iraq that "painted a starkly different portrait of increasing danger and hardship" than Bush's "upbeat assessment," and anyone with half a brain can discern that the WH still disseminates faulty information about Iraq now as they did before the invasion. In short, Bush and his Rubber Stamp Republicans are covering up the disastrous mistake in national security--their claim to fame--and soon, miraculously just before the midterm elections, wanna bet that Bush will begin withdrawing troops? Wanna bet Bush co-opts Democratic Congressman Murtha's plan?

I could make lots of comment on Murtha's position but he articulated a plan for redeployment and why staying the course is a failed policy brilliantly all by himself. What more could I add other than he's right. And Murtha has an actionable plan for Iraq. Today.