Friday, March 30, 2007

This Is Not Your Father’s White House

This from a Russian news agency courtesy of Raw Story:

"The Pentagon has drafted a highly effective plan that will allow the Americans to bring Iran to its knees at minimal cost," RIA Novosti's official said.

Yeah, that was the plan in Iraq too and we all know how well that’s working out. I don’t know what they’re smoking in the White House but whatever it is, it’s powerful shit and clearly induces delusions of grandeur. It’s stunning that the Bush administration could be so stupid as to think that attacking Iran is a good idea. Even a competent White House would face a losing battle sending ground troops into Iran, but the Bush White House isn’t at all competent and will surely lead us toward more failure but this time, on a much grander scale. It is simply frightening how adept this administration and their Republican enablers are at ignoring facts and reality.

I can see it now, as our troops are being slaughtered by the thousands in Iran, we’ll be hearing how great the operation is going (“the plan is working, we just need 6 more months to close the deal”) and Senator McCain will be telling us that we can stroll the streets of Tehran with no worries at all. Sure, and next you’ll suggest that General Patraeus drives around Baghdad in an unarmed humvee. Oh yeah, you already did! Apparently McCain has traded sipping for gulping when it comes to the White House Kool-Aid.

When the Bush administration gets into trouble, they simply up the ante. When your justification for war is exposed as a lie, start a secret and illegal domestic spying program. When that is discovered, just do away with habeas corpus. When it is discovered that you are torturing Iraqis and there are pictures to prove it, just start kidnapping people off of foreign streets and ship them to secret torture centers around the world. And when you get caught firing US Prosecutors for purely political reasons in an effort to secure electoral wins in key states in ’08, ATTACK IRAN. Why not? It’s not as if Congress will impeach him right?

Just like Al Capone felt untouchable, so too does George W. Bush. I just wish I thought he was wrong.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Fewer And Fewer Americans Claim To Be Republican!

I can’t tell you how much I love this story. Results of a new Pew Research Poll shows that the Republican Party is in decline and that Democratic values are gaining wider support. I’m not at all surprised, it’s what I’ve thought for years, but it is nice to finally have some numbers to back up this general feeling of a shift in public attitudes.

What I find most interesting about the poll is that highlights the exclusive and extreme nature of the Bush administration and their policies. Under previous Republican rule, there has generally been a certain level of discontent from the fringe religious right of the Party that have always wanted their moral views, not only codified by leadership, but legislated as well. Not so under George W. Bush. It seems that since 2002, the only ones happy with the direction the Republicans have taken the country in IS the extreme religious right. Georgie Boy promised not to turn his back on them and they are steadfastly returning the favor.

So much for being a uniter, not a divider. Bush has maintained 30% support (an indictment or our educational system if there ever was one), but even that number is deceiving since that 30% most likely only includes Republicans with maybe a spattering of religious extremists that, for whatever reason, still register as Democrats. It’s more than a little ironic that the most immoral administration in the history of this country continues to enjoy the unflinching loyalty of the Holy Rollers. I just wish that these “patriots” would take the time to read their Bible AND our constitution. If they did, Bush surely wouldn’t have any support left.

So what are the Democratic values that are gaining favor with the public? Fiscal responsibility, taking care of the less fortunate among us, recognizing that healthcare is a universal right, defending our nation rather than using our military might to fight wars of aggression and protecting the planet we call home. It’s sad that the Republican Party has abandoned these values, they should be American values, but the greed and cronyism has metastasized and the public instead now understands them to be Democratic values. Republican values now consist solely of waging war against Muslims and hating gays. There’s certainly a constituency there, but not a large one. By playing ONLY to his base, Bush has damaged the country and decimated his Party. If it takes 50 years or more for them to recover, at least something good will have resulted from this disastrous presidency.

Two of the biggest crisis facing this country have been ignored and made worse during the Bush years, the reality of global warming and a for profit healthcare system that, while lucrative for those administering it, isn’t working for anyone else. The American people care about solving these problems, but not so much the Bush administration and by extension, the Republican Party. However painful their defeat at the polls this past November, they better get used to the feeling because it looks like it’s only going to get worse. Choosing an idiot to lead your Party has consequences and I’m going to enjoy watching you suffer them, for decades I hope.

The Democrats don’t get a free pass though. While the country is trending toward Democratic values, the Democratic Party has moved away from them. Call it fear of the Republican noise machine, political pandering in search of the donut hole referred to as the “political middle” or lack of true conviction, but whatever the cause, the Democrats we’ve elected to represent us have, for the most part, failed to do so adequately. 64% of Americans think the government should provide universal healthcare. 63% of the American people (and a staggering 73% of our troops serving in Iraq) want our troops out of Iraq by the end of 2008. 88% of Americans think that global warming threatens future generations. With overwhelming public support for the most critical issues we face as a nation, if the Democrats want to fare better than their Republican counterparts, they better get back to their roots and champion the causes most of us care deeply about. We’re tired of OUR government being unresponsive to our needs. We’re done having OUR government serve only the interests of the top 1%. We want OUR government back! The Democratic Party can either be the vehicle through which we do that, or they can suffer the same fate as the Republicans. I hope they choose wisely.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Maybe This Snowball Will Roll Down The Hill

There are many “When Will Gonzo Be Gone” betting pools floating around, and I haven’t been able to pick a date as of yet. I was going to go with this Friday, but that was before Bush blustered his way through a press conference yesterday, clearly annoyed at having his unitary executive power questioned and looking every bit the obstinate child ready to hold his breath until he gets his way. I’m glad now that I didn’t take Friday, because I’m starting to think Bush will keep Gonzales indefinitely, just out of spite.

Of course there will be the pressure from members of his own Party, especially those facing re-election next year, that could play a role, but remember, this is a man that just sent a surge of troops into the middle of the Iraqi civil war against the advice of just about everyone, including the commanders tasked with executing Bush’s disastrous war. When Bush digs in his heels, any reason he may have had to start with (which we all know wasn’t much) goes right out his flaring nostrils.

Now that Congress has decided to spit on Bush’s offer for a glorified coffee klatch with Karl Rove and Harriet Miers and instead go ahead and issue subpoenas, the real fireworks can begin. While keeping Gonzales on as Attorney General is a clear political loser for the President, he seems to think he’s got nothing to lose by playing a game of chicken with the Congress on the subpoenas, and I’m afraid he might be right, at least in the short term. The damage it will do his Party though, well, that’s another story altogether, one I’ll happily read each night at bedtime since it has such a happy ending.

One thing we know for sure, the Bushies are hiding something. There are missing emails, lies peddled to Congress, misleading and contradictory public statements, improper communications (arm twisting and probably illegal pressure) between Republican politicians and Prosecutors, some pretty pissed off former employees and a President that has exhibited over and over again his inability to (not to mention lack of interest in) dealing with public policy while simultaneously relishing in political battle, collateral damage be damned. This story has everything any good newsperson could possibly ask for! But then again, so have all the other scandals that have died on the vine.

I’ve heard some describe this confrontation as “a constitutional crisis”, and while I think that’s a little extreme at this point, I certainly hope it turns into that. What this country needs more than just about anything at this point, is a constitutional crisis with two opposing sides. For the last six years it has been a steady shredding of the constitution with very few paying attention to it, let alone doing anything substantive to stop it. A showdown between Congress and the White House could actually pique the interest of traditional media that loves a good scandal, especially one that has serial drama potential. I’d love to see reporters and television “news” shows delve into every detail of this fight the way they did with the death of Anna Nicole and her multiplying baby-daddies (only the most recent of the serial drama cases they’ve glommed onto for no apparent reason). In fact, it would be so good for our democracy that it’s virtually guaranteed not to happen. Cynical? Sure, but you’ve lived through the Bush presidency too, can you really say you blame me?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Scapegoat Musical Chairs

It must be tough being a Bush administration official now that we have a Congress again. After six years of rubber stamping the Bush agenda, facilitating an Executive Branch power grab and turning a blind eye to illegal action, I think we’re all a little stunned to see Congress act as a separate branch of government, but while the American people are comforted by the restoration of Congressional oversight, the Bush administration is like a deer caught in the headlights, stunned and unable to deal with the spotlight now shining on their smash and grab operation.

Alberto Gonzales looks like he might be quick on his feet, with his low center of gravity and relative youth, but apparently looks can be deceiving as Gonzo has suddenly found himself without a seat in the current White House game of scapegoat musical chairs. Even Bush’s attempt to pull the chair out from underneath poor Harriet Miers unexpectedly failed to secure Gonzales a seat in the game. Harriet’s survival though is likely less a function of her brilliant “strategery” than an indication that she’s simply got a little luck on her side. Bumble around long enough and you’re bound to bounce off of trouble eventually, kind of like a pinball that falls down the hole at just the right angle and is unexpectedly hurled back into the field of play. Don’t you love it when that happens?

It appears that Gonzales has hit the Justice Department “trifecta”, with the FBI’s abuse of the Patriot Act, the advice he gave to Bush while he was White House Council to shut down the probe into the illegal NSA wiretapping that, we now know, was focusing on HIM, and now his role in the firing of US Attorneys that refused to abuse their positions to do the Bush administration’s political bidding. With reports that the White House is floating names of possible replacements for Gonzo, it appears that his prize will be a quick kick to the curb. Bush better hope that Gonzales’s loyalty extends past the gates of the White House, but all indications are that they do. Lifelong yes-men of Gonzales’s caliber are rare, but they do exist, just look at Pat Buchanan. Ten years from now we can expect to see Pat and Al on Hardball still hocking their shticks, the former continuing to exalt Nixon and the latter lavishing praise on Bush Jr., while Chris Matthews sits in his chair nodding like a dashboard bobblehead doll on an off-road trip. I can hardly wait.

With all of my frustration at the lack of political will on the part of the Democrats to push for impeachment of President Bush, I can still see the value in having them in control of Congress. I have little faith that the Bush presidency will be ended early, but at least we will have investigations leading to, at the very least, public exposure of just how corrupt and dangerous this administration is. It is now being reported that John Conyers and Linda Sanchez appear set to issue subpoenas tomorrow for Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and others regarding the firing of the US Prosecutors. Let the investigations begin! It’s a start anyway.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Don’t Mind The Flames, They’ll Keep The Bed Warm

I’ve been having a hard time blogging lately because, well, quite honestly, I’m suffering from outrage fatigue. The big story on the Bush administration right now is the highly politicized firing of 8 US Attorneys across the country. It’s clear that Karl Rove (and likely President Bush) was intimately involved in choosing the Prosecutors to be fired and also in choosing who would replace them. It’s also clear, at least to me, why this was done.

Karl Rove took a lot of shit for Republican losses in the ’06 election and he’s doing everything he can to ensure a win in ‘08. While I’m glad that this story seems to have legs and I’m happy to be hearing calls for the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, I just can’t get worked up over this scandal, especially when the Bush administration has done so many things over the past six years that have been far, far worse.

I mean, come on. When you’ve watched your country go down the drain, lost your constitutional right to privacy, right to vote, right of habeas corpus and seen your government condone torture, extraordinary rendition and preemptive war, all in violation of international law, and watched the President of the United States repeatedly break the law, lie to Congress and the American people, it’s hard to get worked up over a few lawyers getting the boot.

The only thing different with this scandal is that the Democrats now control Congress and that gives them the opportunity to exercise their oversight authority and conduct investigations and hearings into the whole sordid mess. Well, that and the pack mentality of a corporate news culture that has decided the blush has finally worn off of the Bush rose.

Back to the why. With the newly released emails between the Justice Department and the White House, the “no governance, all politics” culture of the Bush administration is finally being inspected by the media, but I still have little faith that they will actually delve into the purpose of these firings. In this administration, political appointees are just that, hand picked loyalists installed in important public offices for the sole purpose of furthering their political agenda. These US attorneys were not meant to dispense justice in their districts, they were meant to investigate Democrats, warranted or not, and cover up for Republican crimes, and the ones who refused to play ball, were canned and replaced with ones who would. Does anyone really think otherwise? Can anyone ignore the electoral significance of the Prosecutors who found themselves on the Bush administration enemies list?

The outrage I can seem to muster up at this point has to do with the way the Bush administration has changed our country for the worst. Loyalty, a good thing when invested properly, has been turned on its ear. No longer are public officials to be loyal to this country, to its laws or its people. Instead, they are only to be loyal to the Bush administration. When the highest ranking enforcers of federal law are no longer loyal to the people they serve or the laws and the constitution they swore to uphold, and instead act merely as conduits for political retribution, we can no longer consider this a free and democratic country.

But that reality was exposed with the 2000 selection of this President by the Supreme Court, AND with the thwarting of international law in invading Iraq, AND with the fraudulent case for war peddled to the American people, AND with corporate control of our media, AND with a fraudulent election in 2004 that was dutifully ignored by said corporate controlled media, AND with the “detention” of Jose Padilla (an American citizen held for three and a half years as an enemy combatant and denied access to our judicial system), AND the elimination of habeas corpus, AND….AND…AND…

I’ve reached the point where I fear enough will never be enough. We’ve put up with so much and yet show no signs that we’re not going to take it anymore. Impeachment, though warranted, seems to be a non-starter for the Democrats that are still afraid of their own shadow, and the American people seem content to just wait it out and hope that things don’t get much worse. We’ve made our bed and we’re apparently content to lie in it, even though it’s on fire.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Impeachment Rally, Seattle Style

Washington For Impeachment is sponsoring a rally tomorrow (Saturday March 10th) at noon in Westlake Park, Downtown Seattle. Come out and show your support for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for high crimes against the citizens of the United States. The rally is to help build support for SJM8016, a bill introduced in the Washington State Senate calling for the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney. I'll see you there!

Late To The Party

Congressman Obey rants about “idiot liberals” that want Congress to de-fund the Iraq War. Well Congressman Obey, if you stop voting like an idiot moderate when it comes to the war and instead spend your time explaining to the public what cutting off funding really means (and stop repeating idiotic Republican talking points), you might actually be able to accomplish what the American people sent the Democrats to Washington to do. Stop whining and start running, you’ve got a lot of ground to cover if you hope to catch up to the public on this one.

Stick That In Your Fox Hole

The Democrats have decided to pull out of a Fox sponsored debate. I hope this is the beginning of the Democrats refusing to legitimize Fox “News” by appearing on their network. Sure, you can reach a lot of people if you go on Fox “News” shows, but if Fox viewers want real news, they need to change the channel.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Joe Conason (Kind Of) Does Seattle

For those of you in the Seattle area, Joe Conason will be in town tomorrow for a book signing. I haven’t read his new book yet, "It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush", but it is most definitely on my list. Joe will be signing books at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park tomorrow at 6:30pm (17171 Bothell Way NE). Go show him some love.

Pardon Me, Mr. President (Before You’re Impeached)

One thing I’ve learned about the Bush White House over the course of the last six years is that they love to do the unprecedented and they love to do it in the most over-the-top way possible. Given that history, when it comes to the question of a Scooter Libby pardon, I’m of the opinion that it will come sooner rather than later.

So what if the move is politically dangerous? So what if Libby doesn’t qualify for a pardon under the Justice Department’s own guidelines? So what if the only reason to do it is to silence Libby and make sure he doesn’t take Prosecutor Fitzgerald up on his offer to chat further about the case? After being “re-elected” in an election plagued by fraud, mysterious vote counts and voting machines that “erred” in Bush’s favor 100% of time, Bush swaggered around talking about mandates and political capital. Mired in an unpopular war and presented with recommendations from the Iraq Study Group that called for a pullback of troops and increased diplomacy, the President instead decided to escalate the conflict. When caught breaking the FISA law, Bush just smirked as if challenging Congress to do something about it. Once Bush makes up his mind to pardon Libby, if he hasn’t already, he’ll simply do it without explanation. Remember, he’s the decider, he can do as he damn well pleases. Bush follows the rules until he doesn’t. That is his trademark.

The chances of Scooter Libby cooperating with Patrick Fitzgerald are slim to none, so Fitzgerald’s investigation is effectively over. Now it is up to Congress to continue the investigation. Congress can decide to take up the issue of pre-war intelligence and conduct a real investigation that can lead to the answers that Fitzgerald was unable to unearth because of Scooter Libby’s intentional and blatant lies. Congress must ask the important questions that this case has raised. Why was Cheney so intent on discrediting Joe Wilson? How far did the White House go in manufacturing evidence to support an invasion of Iraq? Did Silvio Berlusconi put the forged Niger documents into the hot little hands of President Bush? Did the White House endanger CIA assets and out an undercover agent in an effort to cover up the high crimes of manufacturing evidence and lying to Congress and the American people about their case for war? With the Democrats in control of Congress and the American people firmly against the continued occupation of Iraq, it is finally possible to at least attempt to get to the truth of this case. The Democrats just need to find the political will to do it.

With President Bush’s approval rating at another all time low of 30% and the Vice President’s Chief of Staff (and advisor to President Bush) now a convicted felon, it shouldn’t be too hard to find the political will to uncover Bush administration crimes. Any real investigation into pre-war intelligence will most certainly lead to impeachment proceedings, so the sooner they start the better. The Democrats should strike while the iron is hot, they have the wind at their back, the American people on their side, hell, there’s even a Republican using the word impeachment, and there are many more looking to put a little (or a lot) of distance between themselves and the Bush administration before they face the voters again in 2008. It’s hard to imagine a better set of circumstances for investigations into impeachable offenses.

It really is simple. Scooter Libby lied to the FBI and to a Grand Jury in order to protect himself and his boss Dick Cheney. If Scooter is willing to face a few years in jail for lying, the alternative must be worse and that is the nut that Congress must crack. It’s likely that there were serious crimes committed in the White House while they were building their case for war. It’s hard to imagine a case more worthy of investigation. If a blowjob in the Oval Office sullied the office of the Presidency, how could anyone argue that this behavior does not? If impeachment is to remain a constitutional remedy for criminal behavior by public officials, it is our duty to use it in the most egregious cases, not just the superficial political ones.

Update: Apparently Rep. Henry Waxman has at least decided to start the ball rolling in this general direction. Thank you Congressman.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Justice Is A Quaint Notion

Listening to the right wing apologists on television, whining that Scooter Libby should be pardoned since all he did was lie about his part in a crime that never took place and that no one was ever charged with, has been making me crazy all afternoon. I've been racking my brain trying to recall the underlying crime that Bill Clinton was charged with when he was impeached. But then I remembered, THERE WASN'T ONE!! Unless you consider a blowjob a crime, and hell, even done wrong, most men wouldn’t put the provider in jail. I then also remembered that hypocrisy is the Republican’s stock in trade. All is right with the world for another day.

And what was with the motorcade that reportedly drove by the courthouse just after the verdict was announced? Was it Shooter reminding Scooter why he should continue to keep his mouth shut? I’m not implying anything, I’m just asking.

And one of my first, loyal, and most treasured readers sent me this quote by Rep. Henry Hyde:

It's important. It's critical. It defines our country for most of the countries throughout history, and anything that erodes, that taints, that corrodes, that diminishes the rule of law is something we ought to be mindful of and be very careful about. I don't want that torn down or diminished or turned into a piece of plastic that could be molded. I really believe that notion that no man is above the law. That's naïve of me, I suppose. There are some people who are above the law. But they shouldn't be. They shouldn't be. We should have a government of laws, not of men. And we're going in the other direction. All of the sophistries that I hear, rationales, justifications, everybody does it, it was just about sex, it's perjury - I swear to tell the truth - the whole system of justice depends on that, doesn't it?

Yes it does Mr. Hyde, and I expect that you’ll be making the rounds of the DC party circuit to remind your Republican friends that they should be heralding this jury for a job well done instead of writing checks to the Scooter Libby Defense Fund (which is now, I guess, The Lobbying For A Pardon Of Scooter Libby Fund). I also expect that Republican blog readers will be clamoring to post comments about how justice has now been served. Sadly, they’ll be the only ones since the rest of us are left to question the entire notion of justice given that we still have Bush/Cheney in the White House and Karl Rove is still walking around a free man.

Justice would be Dick Cheney being treated (or neglected and not treated) for his blood clot in the decaying wing of Walter Reed, the 24/7 news coverage of the Bush impeachment and Karl Rove forced to watch it all from his jail cell, snug in his tight-fitting orange jumpsuit, but believe me, I'm not holding my breath for that. Justice, at this point, is whatever Alberto Gonzales decrees, and that certainly won't be justice for anyone I know.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

They Act As If No One Is Responsible!

It’s hilarious to hear Ken Mehlman lament “the Bush-era culture of ferocity” when he has spent the last six years ushering it in and giving it a comfortable home. Republicans in DC, led by Mehlman, were happy to abuse their power, ignore their responsibilities, shut out the Democrats and turn our government into nothing more than a Republican haven for gluttony when they controlled all of the levers of power, so it’s a little convenient that they’d like to change the tone now! But it’s also typical, as is the Democrats’ tendency toward accommodating the request.

I understand that governing efficiently and fairly requires thought, consideration, debate and compromise, but God damn it, I’m still pissed at the GOP for what they have done to (and what they haven’t done for) this country, and like the Dixie Chicks, I’m not ready to make nice. Especially when the Republicans on the Hill whine about divisiveness at the same time they continue to block any meaningful legislation that will accomplish what the majority of this country wants (and what they know is right), an end to this war.

The Republicans were willing to steamroll the Democrats in their quest to erode our freedoms, strip us of habeas corpus, legalize torture, condone illegal domestic surveillance and other atrocious legislation, so I think it’s high time the Democrats did a little steamrolling in the other direction. The people disagreed with what the Republicans were doing yet they still got the job done. The Democrats, by contrast, have the support of the American people, I can’t think of a better time to run roughshod over the minority Party. Payback shouldn’t be the motivating factor, but it sure would be a nice bonus considering that the Republicans are only playing obstructionists to save their own political butts and to keep their lying, cheating, freedom hating, moronic President from destroying their Party for generations. There’s nothing noble in that.

So go ahead Democrats, kick a little dirt in those GOP faces, they certainly deserve it, but more importantly, it will help accomplish the most important item on the agenda, getting our troops out of the crossfire of the Iraqi civil war and bringing them home.