Saturday, April 08, 2006
I'm sure you've seen this insane story about administration plans to nuke Iran based on Sy Hersh's investigative reporting. The thing that scares the hell out of me about this is that Bush will probably do it just because it is so utterly insane.
Herman! Herman, please! How many times do I have to tell you not to pound stakes while I'm around? You know it gives me heartburn!
A tip of the hat to Al Lewis who was Grandpa Munster from "The Munsters." I was surfing political blogs today and stumbled across this quote from just after the 9/11 attacks when his radio show was run off the air by the threats of someone who may or may not have been a federal agent. (It's confusing but the story is here: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2001/10/16/ebrief.htm )
To quote the article: Al Lewis decries censorship, but at 91, he says, he has seen it before. "I lived through the McCarthy period. It will get worse."
Lewis, who just passed away in February, said this before spying on peace groups, "free speech" zones and warrantless domestic spying. Must have been his uncanny vampire senses that let him see into the future...
Friday, April 07, 2006
As a kid my whole concept of government was one part "Schoolhouse Rock" and and one part Norman Rockwell. When I first started to "get" the concept of Congress, elected representatives from all parts of the country, I pictured a place where Eskimos, native Americans and businessmen all met to hammer out the people's business and pass our nation's laws. Since I saw America as made up of people of men and women of all races, finacial backgrounds, shapes and sizes I assumed Congress, as a micro-representation of our society, would be the same.
I know, I know. I was a naive little bastard.
When I was older and in college and really started reading up on the history of our government I was surprised to find out that in the past there had been fights on the floor of Congress and duels over disagreements between Representatives. I found this strangely appealing. Not the part where people actually got hurt, I wasn't pining for any more Alexander Hamiltons. I was attracted by the concept that once upon a time those that were elected to office actually cared passionately about the issues before them. Passionately enough to physically fight for them if necessary. To risk life and limb.
I know Cynthia McKinney can come off a little crazy in interviews. There's a certain "boy who cried wolf" aspect to her charges of racism and the timing wasn't the best as it gave the Republicans an issue to jump on. As if they really needed an issue to jump on. If they got nothin' they just make stuff up. War on Christmas, anyone?
But I can't help but wonder if Congress might actually be a little better off with twenty more Cynthia McKinneys. Because from where I sit she looks a lot more like the country I live in than Tom DeLay or Dennis Hastert. And nobody can say she's not passionate.
From the a post in the comment section of Kevin Drum's site:
A caller to a discussion show this morning asked this: "Why did the White House authorize a multi-million dollar investigation by a special prosecutor if they knew all along what had happened and that, because the information was declassified or declassifiable by the President, there('s) nothing to investigate?"
Thursday, April 06, 2006
If I was to try to imagine what went through Belushi's drug-addled brain in the moments before his death I see all sorts of psychedelic visions of flying ponies, talking hamburgers and, more than likely, Donald Rumsfeld talking about Iraq's "known unknowns." Listening to Rumsfeld is just about that surreal of an experience.
I can't for the life of me remember an administration appointee from ANY administration that came into office with as much hype as Rumsfeld only to fail so miserably. Rumsfeld was going to modernize the military and bring it into the 21st century. Left unspoken was that his concept of modernity was the stuff of Star Wars fantasy. Literally. A missile defense shield which fails even fixed tests that he convinced the President was ready to spend billions of dollars deploying in Alaska. No doubt he had to promise the President he'd get the first lightsaber.
Don't even get me started on his approach to the human element of the military. If there was a way to cut costs and go it on the cheap it, especially at the expense of our men and women in uniform, he'd find it. Cut down on support. Check. Cut armor for humvees. Check. Cut benefits and hazard pay. Check. The man is obviously more in love with technology, especially unproven, over the health and well being of the actual soldiers who serve under him.
In public he comes across as a sort of bespectacled Mr. Spock, more computer than man. This is supposed to demonstrate his value as Secretary of Defense. Coldly and impeccably logical. Cool in the face of danger. A slave to reason. All complete bullshit.
There has been nothing in our strategy towards the war in Iraq that has been logical. From the lack of appropriate numbers of soldiers at the start of the war, to the allowances for looting, to the disbanding of the Iraqi military because of worries about Sunni officers-- it's been one downright stupid move after another.
So I found Rumsfeld's public jabs at Condi Rice amusing on a couple of levels. The first is that Rumsfeld wants to play a semantical game. Rice referred to mistakes in Iraq as "tactical errors." Because she's talking about the bigger picture and not the actual prosecution of the fighting by our military I assume she ment to say "strategical errors." In military terms "strategy" is the planning made by generals and above before and during the war to achieve victory. "Tactics" are what the troops on the ground put together to implement the strategy. Rumsfeld is pretending he doesn't understand Rice and, in the process, is being too cute by half:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of "tactical errors" in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.
Speaking during a radio interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday, Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war "errors" reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.
"Why? Because the enemy's got a brain; the enemy watches what you do and then adjusts to that, so you have to constantly adjust and change your tactics, your techniques and your procedures," Rumsfeld told interviewer Scott Hennen, according to a Defense Department transcript. "If someone says, well, that's a tactical mistake, then I guess it's a lack of understanding, at least my understanding, of what warfare is about."
I'd just point out one final thing: Rumsfeld's entire "understanding of what warfare is about" could easily fit on one side of a post-it. But listening to him talk is quite the high.
Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!
This seems to be the best legal answer with regards to McKinney:
McKinney Trial Moved to The Hague
EWM- (April 5, 2006) Succumbing to the reality that the U.S. legal system is not up to the task of handling the “trial of the century,” officials announced today that the cop-beating trial of Rep. Cynthia McKinney will be reclassified as a war crime and moved to The Hague.
McKinney is accused of striking a Capitol Hill police officer who accosted her for bypassing a security checkpoint in the Longworth House Office Building. McKinney, a black woman, says it was a case of “racial profiling.” The burley cop, who was not injured, says his “feelings were hurt.” A tourist who witnessed the incident says, “Christ on a cross, can these morons just get over it?”
Judicial officials say the sheer enormity of the incident justifies the tribunal being moved to The Hague, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, because of its global implications.
The incident began when McKinney walked around a metal detector used for visitors that are not part of the “royal class,” otherwise known as Members of Congress. When the officer failed to recognize her as a Congresswoman and grabbed her arm, she allegedly stabbed at him with her cell phone.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
When first I heard of rep. Cynthia McKinney's run-in with the Capitol Police and subsequent arrest warrant I thought the story a little weird but in keeping with my egalatarian view of the function of congresscritters it seemed fairly clear that she deserved the legal trouble that ensued. You don't get to "hit" an officer. Unless you're George Bush and you run your bike into a Scottish policeman. Apparently bumbling stupidity is the only acceptable exception.
The event was doubly dissapointing because whatever the circumstances the event provided easy cannon fodder for the blathering nincompoops of Right Wing talk. "Look-- another Democratic Congresswoman run wild." And run wild they did.
The resulting brouhaha has forced me to spend time thinking about something that should have been a minor incident for lack of Republicans desperately looking for something, anything to point to and claim Democrats are just as corrupt as they are. My conclusion: how in the hell can anybody comment on this incident in the first place when it's not clear what the hell actually happened?
McKinney is accused of hitting a Capitol Police officer that tried to stop her when she avoided a security checkpoint. What does "hitting" mean in the context of this accusation and why does it justify prosecution? Is the policeman hospitalized? Bruised? Do congressmen regularly avoid the checkpoint as has been widely reported or not?
In light of these questions I'm not sure Nancy Pelosi's decision to pile on was the wisest choice either morally or politically. When the Right Wing sharks are on a feeding frenzy it doesn't make sense to throw out more chum and bloody up the water even more. Better to beat 'em off the boat with your oars.
What's the matter with you. Is this how you turned out? A Hollywood finocchio that cries like a woman.
John Kerry's call for strategic, timed withdrawal met with some excitement among progressives. My own reaction ranges somewhere between downing a whole bottle of Nyquil while listening to John Tesh or watching a Blazer game after going a couple of days without sleeping.
The substance of Kerry's proposal is just fine. His hearkening back to the days of Vietnam seems appropriate in context of Iraq:
Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can't bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq's leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires.
Kerry proposes withdrawal from Iraq if the Iraqi leaders fail to assume the responsibility of forming a unity government by May 15th of this year. If the Iraqis DO put together a government he proposes we leave by the end of the year. Either way we get the hell out.
It's a plan that's sensible, well thought-out and necessary for the strategic, long term interests of the United States. So what's my problem with it? Nothing. It's the messenger I'm having a problem with.
Since the election Kerry seems to have become very much the flip-flop milquetoast the Republicans caricatured while he was running. He's taken a couple of brave yet politically calculated moves in his belated call for the censure of Samuel Alito and this call for complete military withdrawal from Iraq which will surely meet with howls on the Right. But he's also shown all the political courage of a mouse in his failure to back other Democrats that have spoken against the egregious excesses of this administration. The most recent example is Kerry's conspicuous lack of inclusion on the short list of names supporting Feingold's call for censure.
It's unfortunate that it's just too damn easy to see the gears turning the political calculations by Kerry in his call for pressuring Iraqi leaders to assume control and withdrawal from Iraq. It's a message that needs to be heard. We just need a better messenger.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
When it comes to being happy that DeLay's hubris finally brought him down I'm right there with them. I'm ready to break out that old bottle of scotch I've been saving.
But there is a little part of me that's not so sure this is entirely a good thing. In the same way so many of us are rooting for Katherine Harris to continue her disasterous senatorial bid in Florida, I considered DeLay to be a drag on the entire Republican ticket and a rare chance to pick up a House seat in Florida. I realize it may be past time for the G.O.P to legally put up a candidate for DeLay's seat but when have they ever let the law stop them?
I worry this may mean they retain the seat not that they have DeLay out of the way and in this election EVERY seat will count.