Archive for July 2007

The September Assessment

July 18, 2007

Congress and the White House are sqaubbling about whether we should wait until September before deciding on any course correction.  The White House argument is that we will need the “input” of the Generals.  Congress is saying the “voters” have spoken and it is time to revamp our policy.  Bush and Cheney are saying through deeds not words, our term is up in January 2009 and we do not care after that.

The fact that there would be any consideration of what the Generals would have to say is mind boggling.  It might be relevant if the Generals reported that their weapons performed well or that their motor vehicles did not perform as well as was needed.  But for the Gererals to enter a Government Policy debate is a yellow card and pretty close to a red one.

Bush and Cheney need to understand that the public is fed up and wants out.  There is a small window of time where our ultimate withdrawal could be used in negotiations for some concessions with Iraq’s neighbors and with insurgent groups within Iraq.  But this stone walling that Cheney is so good at, is pissing away real opportunity. 

It is time to stop this charade and begin to reform our entire Middle East strategy and supporting policies.  If Cheney won’t agree, Bush should take him fishing off the coast of Maine and hope there is a big wave.

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Super Surge

July 17, 2007

General Peter Pace, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted today saying that he and his Generals in Iraq were assessing what it would take to increase the US presence.  This is either a serious case of heat fatigue or pretty clear poker playing.

Most experts and former ground commanders have said for some time that the US needed in excess of 300,000 troops to have successfully secured Iraq following the toppling of Sadaam Hussein.  The number was probably closer to 500,000 and at those levels, the US would have needed to draft.  The “hide and deceive” Administration of Bush and Cheney never really cared about winning the war and they sure wanted no parts of a draft.  Bush and Cheney were content with a status quo that enabled American troops to remain in Iraq indefinitely.

So your guess is as good as mine.  General Pace either needs to come out of the sun if he thinks there is any chance that troop strength increases will be approved by the Congress or will be acceptable to the American voters.  On the other hand, what a way to make holding close to the current levels or reducing them only slightly looks really good  compared a troop increase.  Sadly, we need a new Middle East policy and a redeployment of the 160,000 US troops is part of that new policy.  Here are some developments on that front:

1. Yesterday with much fanfare, President Bush announced a new initiative on the Palestinian-Israli issue.  Bush wants to convene a global conference of interested parties and wants to throw money at this problem

2. Bush has picked Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah party as his instrument for peace.  While there is some pragmatic value in this, it flies in the face of democratic prinicples and will only put off an inevitable class again between Hamas and Fatah.  You need all the players at the table.

3. Bush is clueless about diplomacy and lacks any of the mental stamina to sort through the competing interests.  Bush policy have and continue to alienate many of the players (namely Syria and Iran, not to mention Russia) who will be needed for a lasting solution.

4. Never the less there can be no solution to Iraq without a larger solution, so it is welcomed to see Bush doing what he should have been doing years ago (if only Cheney had let him).  Time will tell quickly if the Bush Administration is up to this task.  

God is Watching

July 16, 2007

The Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese agreed to settle charges of child molestation for $ 660 million yesterday.  It is difficult to put into words what a tragedy this represents.  Buggering children is pretty low but doing it under the pretense that you are doing this with God’s ok is really low life.  If that were not enough, the church officials covered up each incident and developed a pattern of transferring offending priests from one diocese to another.  What does this say to you?

1. What was Cardinal Roger Mahoney thinking?  Did he think that he could buy time indefinitely?  Did he think that because the victims were children they would forget about it?  Where was the man’s sense of goodness and justice?  Did he get advice from Rome?

2. If the fine Cardinal would act this way towards real human “life”, do you think you can trust him when he advises against contraception, birth control, and abortion?

3. What do you think of the company called the Roman Catholic Church and its brand image and value?  Do you associate it with compasion, respect for human dignity, and doing the right thing?  Would you invest in such an institution? 

4. Where will the money come from?  Insurance will pay only about 1/2 so does the church think that parishioners will gladly pick up the rest? 

There is a sickness in the Catholic Church.  It is a sickness that comes with old age and immediately precedes death.  The church is calcifying and has dementia.  The Pope has time to issue cautions on Darwinism, revive the Latin Mass, and point out gratuitously to all protestant faiths that they are not genuine.  While Rome is literally burning, the priest go on buggering and the local churches go on paying hush money.

Celibacy and male only priest are two rules that must change if the institution of the Roman Catholic Church is to remain a viable force.  I would offer the idea that it is not necessary for the Catholic Church to survive but when there is a need (demand), supply of a product seems to always follow.  Mankind seems unable to handle alone the big questions of life and feels more comfortable following the dictates of some authority.  The Catholic Church has got the aura of authority.  The priest and higher ups all have fancy robes and purport themselves like authority (you know, they speak for God).

At the end of the day, these Catholic Priest who were the perpetrators, were not the only bad people in our lives.  Child molesters are all around.  It is simply that you hold a priest to a higher standard.  Well most people do but apparently not Cardinal Mahoney.

Finally, a word to the 2008 Presidential candidates.  You would be well advised to put that heavy leather covered Bible back in the closet.  If you wish to attend church services no matter what the specific faith, do so but don’t pander to the press like George Bush about how religious you are.  The way you lead your life says much more.

Time to Move On

July 15, 2007

Iraq is a mess.  The surge will be what ever the spin doctors say it is, but it won’t do anything to clean up the Iraq mess.  Now the Chicken Hawks are stirring the pot with the Russians over a missile system that is not needed, will not work, and is being deployed where it can do no good.  All of this is brought to you by the Bush/Cheney Administration.

The week Republican Senators John Warner and Richard Lugar proposed a new approach to getting Bush/Cheney to change their Iraq policy.  It is too early to see if Bush and Cheney bite on the offer but since their objectives differ from Warner and Lugar, it is more probable they will use the new proposal is confuse the issue and buy a little more time.  For Bush and Cheney, everyday is a day closer to their term end.  For Warner and Lugar it is a gasp at ending a foolish and distructive time for the Republican Party and a chance to salvage their 2008 election hopes.  But no one is interested in saying how things really are.

The developing rift with the Russians is like watching an accident happen in slow motion.  This Administration has treated everyone as unimportant and nations as irrelivent.  Cheney’s view is we can do it because we can.  It has nothing to do with whether we should do something or what might the consequences be in the future.  The Russians have acted far more statesmanlike than our two top Chicken Hawks. 

The Russians have informed NATO that they will not be honoring their agreements on redeploying weapons aimed at Europe within 150 days if NATO continues to proceed with deployment of radar and new anti-missile missiles.  The Chicken Hawks see aiming missiles at Europe as no big deal.  I just hope the Europeans wake up and realize there is no value in doing anything that Bush/Cheney wants.  They are poison.

It would be worthwhile to put the government into some sort of suspended animation for the next 15 months.  But lacking that it is time for Congress to simply be disruptive.  Congress should rely upon the opinion polls that reflect the country’s dissatisfaction with the war.  There is no room for non-partisanship with Bush/Cheney.

Republican Senatorial Awakening

July 14, 2007

Senators John Warner and Richard Lugar announced a proposal to require the President Bush to produce a troop reduction plan by October.  While this is a promising sign, it could also lead to a dead end.

1. The issue should not be just a troop reduction plan although that will be a primary part of any positive change.

2. The issue facing the US is an Administration that does not consider reality and continues to make decisions based upon ideology and not fact based reason.  This is not a Republican problem since there are plenty of rational and clear thinking Republicans.  This is a “neoconservative-fundamentalist/evangenical” alliance thinking that has lead to the Iraqi debarcle.

3. Now that Iraq is broken, the US has a responsibility to fix it.  To fix Iraq will require a Middle East fix involving a total repositioning of the past uneven approach.

4. Beware of the Trojen horse.  In October, the President will likely announce an May or June 2008 date for a slight reduction.  This will correspond to the date that the Pentagon has said would be the date where they could no longer maintain the current 160,000 troop strength and so there would need to be a reduction anyways. 

5. Warner and Luger are honest men and I would guess are mostly genuine in the proposal.  Mostly I say because the two big issue for Republicans are:

  • Do not get tagged with losing the War
  • Get as many Republicans elected in 2008 as possible

6. For Bush and Cheney, their objectives remain the same:

  • Do as much as is possible to necessitate an indefinite presence of US troops in Iraq
  • Ensure there is no decision to end the war (or long term presence) before the end of Bush’s term.  In this manner they can criticize the next administration for ending the war.

It looks like a long shot to see justice served.  In the international arena, there should be a trial on initiating an illegal war and various crimes against humanity.  In the US there should be articles of impeachment and lying to Congress charges for both Cheney and Bush.  As the days go on debating withdrawal proposals, the end of Bush’s term draws nearer.  Soon no one will have the energy of a trial and most everyone will be happy to just see them go.

Interim Spin

July 13, 2007

President Bush yesterday issued an interim report on the Surge’s progress.  Politically he tried to play for a tie and seems to have achieved the goal of waiting until September for the full report.  This is of course totally beside the point but our elected officials are more comfortable looking the other way than confronting the real issues at hand.  Here are my thoughts:

1. The US is engaged in an illegal war and the sooner we end it, the better.  This does not mean necessarily that this means a mass withdrawal at all costs.  It means we must announce that we renounce any and all grounds for occupying Iraq and will bring our troops home in concert with Iraqi Government and Iraqi’s neighbors consultations.

2. The US broke Iraq and unfortunately that makes us responsible for its reconstrution.  This is best achieved with the leadership of Iraq’s government and its neighbors.  It is in no one’s best interest for Iraq to remain so unstable.

3. Al Qaeda is now and will remain a threat to the US (and to much of the rest of the world) regardless of when or how we withdraw from Iraq.  There are already dozen of places where al Qaeda can train, motivate, and finance insurgents.

4. The issue confronting the US today is agreeing on the correct policy.  Waiting to see if the surge works is irrelivent.  Our national interests lie someplace else.  The arguments currently underway do shine a light on an “unbalance of powers” where 

  • Congress is so compromised with the need for campaign financing that they fold like a cheap suitcase when the specter of fear, military strength, and “god, apple pie, and flag” are raised.  The Iraq war resolution was passed by Congress and the stain of the war is on their hands too.
  • The maniacal drive of Presidents Cheney and Bush to amass, defend and protect “presidential powers” has additionally shifted our Government’s balance of power dangerously to the executive.

5. The US needs to rid itself of Iraq and focus on critical issues at home such as

  • Reigning in Executive Branch power.
  • Attacking infrastructure issues such as healthcare, social security, narrowing the gulf between the rich and the poor, and reawakening a passion for science and mathematics
  • Focus on year 2020 and what will be the key issues then, and who will be the US’s key competitors.  In short, what do we need to do now in order to remain free, prosperous, and hopeful in 2020 as we are today. Restoring due process, respect for the Geneva convention, and respect for the privacy of citizens is a place to begin.    Also, a foreign policy and strategy to peacefully engage China and India must be a key part.

 It is amazing and disappointing to see a hard headed President pissing away time and opportunity, and it is revolting and disgusting to see our elected Congress acting like gutless ostriches.  You must also ask the question, “where is the great leadership of those seeking the 2008 Presidential nominations ?

John McWho ?

July 12, 2007

John Mccain announced on Wednesday he was cleaning house and shaking up the management of his 2008 Presdiential Campaign.  It seems John is clueless as to why he is lagging in the polls and is having a hard time getting money.  Here are some pointers for John.

1. You should never trust George Bush.  When he launched (through his gutter rat Karl Rove) a whispering campaign against you in South Carolina in 2000, this was a sign of what this guy is made of… like the tiger, they don’t lose their strips.  Terry Nelson, Mccain’s campaign manager and who had served George Bush in his 2004 re-election bid was let go.  You can almost see the hand reaching from the White House to ensure that Mccain’s campaign went no where.

2. John’s insistance on supporting Bush and the war in Iraq has placed him at odds with the American voters as well as most thinking people.  In addition to pursuing a failed policy and supporting an incompetent foreign policy (if there is any), Mccain can give no reason for this support other than al Qaeda will follow us home.  US presence in Iraq is one of the most visable and valable recruiting measures that al Qaeda can have.

3. The “suck up” factor really hurt John.  Most Americans saw Jerry Falwell for what he was and today see Pat Robinson for what he is.  So when John Mccain spoke to the hypocritical nature of these individuals, Americans sensed he was right.  Now when he bends and accommodates them, Americans can see that too.

4. The candle is burning less bright.  John Mccain in 2000 represented something new and honest.  During the past 7 years, he has come to look like all the others.  Now when compared to Rudy and Mitt, he seems not so special and very compromised.

John, it is time to stop wasting money and step aside.  Your buddy Fred Thompson needs a turn.