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.

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.  

The Pope and The Bush

July 11, 2007

In the past few weeks, Pope Benedict XVI, has acted like Tony Blair in imitating a failed President.  The question is why?

1. Pope Benedict began the series of “why did he say that” campaign with a speech in Germany where he raised great caution about “Darwinism” because some could reach a conclusion that might question God’s existance.  This somewhat like saying because electricity can kill people and god is good and is against bad things, therefore electricity must not exist.  Science is a realm competely separate from faith and fortunately welcomes questioning of what ever knowledge is said to be true.

2. Next, the Pope reintroduced the Latin mass which is totally not understandable to the Catholic population as a whole.  Even more astounding is the part of the Latin service where the parishoners are asked to pray for the conversion of the Jews.   Now who should really care.  Will conversion of Jews make inner city Roman Catholic Churches more concerned about their new neighbors or will they continue to board up their doors and relocate to more affluent areas.  Will the conversion of Jews make the Catholic Church more understanding of gays and lesbians or more respectful of woman with a view to equal roles in the church and the human right to decide on their own reproductive health?  And what in the world will Moslems think.  If the Jews are still being targeted by Catholics, will the Crusades be far behind?

3.  And now the Church has announced all faiths that claim to be Christian are not authentic.  That makes you wonder what this church thinks of the 6 Billion other people who claim some faith in the world.  Why would a leader of a large Church like the Catholic Church say something like this.

I would look to George Bush for the answer.  George continues to deny reality and at every opportunity make decision that appeal to the ever diminishing group of people who are not ashamed to claim to be his supporters.  To this group, there is money to be had and a never ending amount of applause.  They are the club of last resort.  These losers can find no other place to feel at home so they join Bush Wing of the Republican Party, or the Pope Benedict version of the Catholic Church and feel special.  They are concervative and usually well off.  Bush and Pope Benedict are both presiding over their own Titanics and it just feels good to have your supporters pleased.

The Pope’s recent proclamations have nothing to do with ministering to the poor or the spirituals needy.  They are mean spiritedly aimed at the conceited and ultra conservatives who bring big bucks secretly in hopes of an easier entry into the next world that does not exist.

Honest Broker

July 10, 2007

In the debate raging on around whether the surge is working or whether we should redeploy the US troops in Iraq, the frequent words from the “no plan” team of George and Dick is, “we must wait for the assessment of the Generals on the ground”.  What has that got to do with the price of tea?

The debate should be about the useless loss of life being inflicted upon American service men and women as well as the innocent Iraqi civilians.  In a war with no purpose and that never should have been started, there is nothing the Generals can say, or more importantly should say, that can affect this debate.  This debate is squarely political with the President and his few remaining supporters trying to avoid the label of “losers” and those opposed to the war, trying to get the troops out while making sure everyone knows who got us in there in the first place.

This problem of finding an honest broker stems from the fact that there is no government foreign policy (other than what they make up on the spot) and therefore there is nothing that the Generals can say about their use of military force to achieve an unstated goal.  The tragedy of this huge mess is that Bush and Cheney are trying to dragg the last major element of our country’s leadership, the military, into a discussion where they can only come out with a decreased image.  Already the country thinks poorly of the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court largely due to partisan behavior in the face of tough and very important issues that need immediate fixing.  To drag the last institution with still high respect into the mud is criminal.  

But little Georgie will enable this to happen most likely not recognizing what he is doing.  The man pulling Georgie’s puppet strings, Dick Cheney, will see this simply as another gutter fight where he is very skilled.  The question of the day is “will the moderates rally around Robert Gates and save the day?”

A Dog Biting Its Tail

July 9, 2007

As you read the news reports of the Bush Administration mastication over their Iraq Policies, you can not help but wonder what they are really thinking, how did they get to this spot, and why haven’t they figured a way out.  There is important insight for the 2008 Presidential candidates in what they assess the answer to these questions to be.

1. Lets be clear that the decision to go to war in Iraq might have officially been made by Bush but he was only rubber stamping the real President Dick Cheney’s decision.  But why would Cheney want to pick a fight with Hussein? 

  • Cheney is gullible and swallowed the bait thrown by Pearl, Wolfowitz, and Feith.  Possible but not likely.  Cheney assembled this crowd of misfits in order to prepare some credible looking position papers.  They were in effect doing the screen play that Cheney had already outlined.
  • Cheney held a grudge from the first Gulf War and wanted to get even.  More possible and likely true but probably not sufficient grounds to sell the war.
  • Cheney saw an Iraq War as a wonderful opportunity for Halliburton and many other oil and energy companies to make tremendous amounts of money.  Even more possible and certainly true but again not sufficient to sell the war.
  • Cheney recognized that George W Bush was even weaker and less qualified than he had orginally thought and a War would give the Administration traction and something to keep the country’s eyes diverted from the weak President.  Certainly true but the case could be stronger.
  • Cheney got solid encouragement from Karl Rove who knows squat about war but knows everything about winning elections.  With Rove, the chest beating “chicken hawk” neoconservatives, and the Israeli Lobby, Cheney had the missing link.  He was the President (in fact if not in name) and they all agreed the Constitution authorized him go to war if he wanted to.  At this point, Cheney began believing his own press and the rest is history.

2. President Bush fancies himself as a chief executive and a capable leader of the US government apparatus.  The last 7 years have unfortunately demonstrated that little George has not a clue as to how to run anything and especially the US Govenment.  George lacks:

  • Vision and an idea of what over arching goals are in the best interest of the entire US.
  • Command and control of the far flung Government apparatus.
  • Rigger and guts to hold appointed officials accountable and responsible for their positions.
  • Competence to appoint capable and well meaning officials to important Government jobs.
  • The insight to recognize that Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld might have been important to getting him (George) elected but they were surely going to lead his administration to a dismal set of outcomes if he allowed them to have their way.

3. At the end of the day, George Bush lacks the backbone to admit failure and to begin relying on more seasoned pros like Robert Gates. 

  • George is caught between any advice of moderation and Rove’s political reality interpretation and Cheney’s imperial view of the Presidency.
  • Little George has rejected his father’s advice when ever and where ever he could.  Now is no different.
  • The options in front of Bush are: (1) be known as the worst Presidency in history and wind down the war now, or (2) be known as the worst Presidency in history and wind down the war later (unless he can make it until January 2009, then it is someone else’s problem).

Nothing the Bush Administration will likely do will make much sense.  They have smoked pipe dreams, believed them, and refused to act differently no matter what the facts may have said at the time.  The log jam will only be broken when Dick Cheney resigns and Karl Rove moves out of the White House.