Saturday, April 15


He is risen. May we Christians rise up all over the world to recommit ourselves to the commandments given to us by our Lord: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, and all our soul; and to love our neighbor as ourself. If we would but do that, we would remake the world.

How is it that Jesus and his cross can be so effortlessly aligned with political and ecclesial imperialism, representing not love but hatred, not mercy but brutality, not life but death? There are regions of the world where many see the cross as an image of so-called “Christian” America, which is not a compliment. Launching wars in the name of God, proclaiming Christian values around the world with smug arrogance while squandering our own resources and neglecting our own citizens, we have become a mockery of all of the values Jesus espoused, tainting the authenticity and integrity of the Christian life. [...]

The cross is displaced when what it signifies is grossly at odds with its message. And considerable blame for this rests upon the Christian community. The church has twisted the symbol of Jesus’ love and compassion for humanity to such an extent that we find ourselves at cross purposes with its message, complicit in its distortion.

In the true cross we find a counter-cultural vision where all the prevailing values of the world are judged and overturned. Strength, power, and victory are now defined by this Jesus who in the eyes of the world was weak and powerless, a victim. Yet, this is the one raised by God, according to the Gospels, the one willing to suffer with humanity in all our pain, alienation, and sorrow.

It is Easter. He is risen. May we as Christians also rise and reclaim the cross, from a symbol of arrogance and oppression to one of healing and hope.

Tags: ,


Another retired general speaks out against Rumsfeld.

The grievances aired by half a dozen retired flag officers in recent days resonated with many military veterans. "I admire those who have stepped forward, and I agree with the arguments they are making," retired Marine Lt. Gen. Paul K. Van Riper said in an interview yesterday. "I count myself in the same camp."

Van Riper, a lifelong Republican who voted for Bush in 2000 but did not vote in the 2004 election, said Rumsfeld has failed in a number of ways, including "disastrous" war planning and execution and fostering a poor command climate.
But analysts said that Bush cannot afford to let the generals' views go unanswered. "It's a referendum on the centerpiece of the Bush presidency," said Michael E. O'Hanlon, a defense scholar at the Brookings Institution, who surmised that the notion of Rumsfeld being pushed from office is "unthinkable to Bush."

Hat tip to Upper Left. Welcome to the blogroll.

Tags: , ,


Greg Palast says the retired generals are pointing their fire at the wrong target. It's an interesting thought, but I'll just add a caveat that the generals have more credibility evaluating their boss Rumsfeld in military matters than they do in speculating about the actions and decisions of Bush and Cheney. They know, as do we all, that Rumsfeld is not an independent force and that any criticism they make of Rumsfeld rebounds upon his masters as well. They also know that Bush is the delegator-in-chief; he appoints people he trusts and then gives them pretty much carte blanche to run their departments at will. So Rummy is due for plenty of disdain all on his own.

In my opinion, the generals aren't the gang that can't shoot straight. It's the whole Bush administration and the Republican Congress that empowers and enables them. They're the ones who pointed the bulk of American might at a nation that posed no threat to us and crippled our military capability to handle the real dangers that face us now and in the future.

Yes, Rumfeld is a swaggering bag of mendacious arrogance, a duplicitous chicken-hawk, yellow-bellied bully-boy and Tinker-Toy Napoleon -- but he didn't appoint himself Secretary of Defense.

Let me tell you a story about the Secretary of Defense you didn't read in the New York Times, related to me by General Jay Garner, the man our president placed in Baghdad as the US' first post-invasion viceroy.

Garner arrived in Kuwait City in March 2003 working under the mistaken notion that when George Bush called for democracy in Iraq, the President meant the Iraqis could choose their own government. Misunderstanding the President's true mission, General Garner called for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. "It's their country," the General told me of the Iraqis. "And," he added, most ominously, "their oil."

Let's not forget: it's all about the oil. I showed Garner a 101-page plan for Iraq's economy drafted secretly by neo-cons at the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon, calling for "privatization" (i.e. the sale) of "all state assets ... especially in the oil and oil-supporting industries." See it here. The General knew of the plans and he intended to shove it where the Iraqi sun don't shine. Garner planned what he called a "Big Tent" meeting of Iraqi tribal leaders to plan elections. By helping Iraqis establish their own multi-ethnic government -- and this was back when Sunnis, Shias and Kurds were on talking terms -- knew he could get the nation on its feet peacefully before a welcomed "liberation" turned into a hated "occupation."

But, Garner knew, a freely chosen coalition government would mean the death-knell for the neo-con oil-and-assets privatization grab.

On April 21, 2003, three years ago this month, the very night General Garner arrived in Baghdad, he got a call from Washington. It was Rumsfeld on the line. He told Garner, in so many words, "Don't unpack, Jack, you're fired."

Rummy replaced Garner, a man with years of on-the-ground experience in Iraq, with green-boots Paul Bremer, the Managing Director of Kissinger Associates. Bremer cancelled the Big Tent meeting of Iraqis and postponed elections for a year; then he issued 100 orders, like some tin-pot pasha, selling off Iraq's economy to U.S. and foreign operators, just as Rumsfeld's neo-con clique had desired.

Reading this, it sounds like I should applaud the six generals' call for Rumfeld's ouster. Forget it.

For a bunch of military hotshots, they sure can't shoot straight. They're wasting all their bullets on the decoy. They've gunned down the puppet instead of the puppeteers.

There's no way that Rumsfeld could have yanked General Garner from Baghdad without the word from The Bunker. Nothing moves or breathes or spits in the Bush Administration without Darth Cheney's growl of approval. And ultimately, it's the Commander-in-Chief who's chiefly in command.

Even the generals' complaint -- that Rumsfeld didn't give them enough troops -- was ultimately a decision of the cowboy from Crawford.
Generals, let me give you a bit of advice about choosing a target: It's the President, stupid.

Tags: , ,


Michael Kinsley tells a true story.

It begs the question, what do we have to show for a half-century of meddling in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan?


Anyone who thinks Bush-Cheney have any intention of leaving Iraq -- ever -- should ask themselves why we're building an embassy the size of Vatican City and spending billions of dollars to construct a number of "enduring" bases.

Tags: , , ,

Friday, April 14


What planet does Bill O'Reilly live on?

Driving to a meeting early this afternoon I heard him on the radio discussing the calls for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. With his usual twisted logic and limited information, Bill declared that for two years after the invasion of Iraq there was no progress, but in this past year things have "TURNED AROUND." Bill said that he "respects" the generals who've come out against Rummy, but he trust the Fox News military analysts more -- after all, they're "the best." And the Fox analysts say we're making progress now. So why dump Rummy just when things are really moving positively? (Wes Clark is a Fox military analyst -- have you heard him uttering any comforting homilies about how well things are going in Iraq?)

The whole world is watching Iraq with bated breath, dreading but anticipating a full-scale civil war. Sectarian violence at the very least approaches such a state. Three years into the war we still are having very limited success at training Iraqis to "stand up" in the military and police. More Americans have died in the war during the first two weeks of March than during February or January. The Bush administration has announced that the U.S. will cease reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Months after national elections, there is still no government, and little forward movement towards forming one. Yet Bill O'Reilly thinks we're making "progress" because Fox analysts tell him that things have "turned around" in Iraq.

Now I'm listening to Fox News (a rare event). Fred Barnes says the generals have joined the anti-war movement, the political left, the cut and run crowd. It's just the Army generals who are complaining because Rummy has been trying to transform their branch. You don't see any Navy or Air Force guys griping! It's just the Army who don't like Rummy and Bush rejecting their ideas of how it should be organized. Juan Williams says, wait a minute -- there are Republicans among these generals. How can you say they're part of the anti-war crowd? Fred retorts, we're in the midst of a war! Of course their public statements are aiding the anti-war movement! Juan says what if they were all for the war but are protesting the way it was executed? Charles Krauthammer opines that the real question is the danger to the principle of elected government deciding how and when we go to war. He says it's only banana republics who elevate the sense of the generals above that of the civilian government.

Can you imagine characterizing the generals who have spoken out (only after their retirement, mind) as ANTI-WAR or aligned with the POLITICAL LEFT? Can you imagine calling them, in the manner of Congresswoman Mean Jean Schmidt towards Cong. John Murtha, "cut-and-runners?"

Good Lord, help us. These men have a huge audience, and people actually TRUST THEM.

UPDATE: Did I just hear Tommy Franks on Hardball, in defending Don Rumsfeld, speaking complimentarily of Douglas Feith, the man he once called "the f------ stupidest guy on the face of the earth"??? What a turkey Franks turned out to be. He's got two copies of his book prominently framed on either side of his face as he talks to Tweety.

UPDATE II: Here's one of those vaunted Fox military analysts: Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a military analyst for Fox News and the Weekly Standard, on war in Iran: “I can lay out a campaign today that will take Iran down very quickly.” McInerney on war in Iraq in 2002: “[I]t will be a war that is shorter than” the 1991 Gulf War, which lasted 42 days.

Tags: , ,

Thursday, April 13


Awash in red ink:

The U.S. government has been running up bills -- notably the promises of pensions and health-care benefits for military veterans and millions of other retirees -- without putting the obligations on the books.

That is what is really scary about the financial report. It contains page after page of graphs showing the probable future course of income and expenditures for Social Security and Medicare. In each chart, the dotted line for spending climbs far faster than the solid line for revenue. Beginning a decade from now, the shortfalls explode in what Cooper calls "a perfect storm" of fiscal ruin.

Cooper is not alone in this worry. David Walker, the head of the Government Accountability Office, official bookkeeper for Congress, said at a briefing last week that the $760 billion accrual deficit "amounts to $156,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in America. For a family, it's like having a $750,000 mortgage -- and no house."

Walker, who has been traveling the country trying to spread the alarm, said flatly that if the tax cuts now in effect are made permanent, as President Bush is requesting, and spending continues to rise at the current rate, "the system blows up. More than half our debt is now financed by foreign countries, and they will exact a price."

Digging out of this mess "will take 20 years," Walker said, but the first step is simply to reassert the budget controls -- spending caps and a "pay-go" rule that requires offsets for any new tax cuts or spending increases.

The Republicans who let those lapse in 2002 refused once again this year to put them back in the budget resolution.

Just TRY, you Rethuglicans, to run on the "fiscal responsibility" plank. I dare you.

Tags: , , ,


Now this just makes me want to weep.

As a teenager in northwest Florida I became friends and debating partners with a boy who had moved to our town from New York City. When I first met him, his lib'rul Noo Yawk family seemed astonished that a girl who had grown up in the Deep South had opposable thumbs, much less that I could think. They just loved it that I opposed the Vietnam War, supported civil rights and labor unions and thought Tricky Dick was evil incarnate. When Joe's sister Bridget went off to college at NYU, she gave me a precious gift -- she had the Village Voice sent to me.

I continued the subscription all through college and for some years afterwards. In recent years I've been a regular reader on the Internet. James Ridgeway has been one of the chief attractions for years and years. His honest and unflinching look at the doings in Washington and elsewhere has been one of the few sources of independent journalism I could depend on. No less an important voice is Sydney Schanberg, whose courage, tenacity and integrity have won him acclaim throughout the world.

Now both are gone from the VV. And it will be much, much poorer for it. When I was young the Voice was as close to a counter-culture paper as you could find in the MSM. And it continued throughout my adulthood to be one of the few media outlets that specialized in heavy news analysis, rather than just breaking news. It set THE standard for an alternative paper. What a sad state of affairs that it looks like the new management are determined to take it to a new level -- the lapdog-sitting-at-the-administration's-feet level.

It's a level too many of our newspapers are seeking. Aside from the WaPo editorial page's degeneration into an administration propaganda arm, it reminds me of the firing of Robert Scheer from the L.A. Times. And it's not confined to our major dailies. Here are a few more examples.

So conventional wisdom says a majority of journalists have liberal leanings. Here's a scoop: THOSE GUYS DON'T RUN THINGS. Their corporate masters, who DO, are in the main conservatives, or at least Rethuglicans. And they will put up with only SO MUCH independence before they pull the plug.

Democracy Now! has a great interview with some of the Voice's current and former writers.

TIM REDMOND: I mean, the Voice was always part of the activist tradition of the alternative press. And, you know, in the same way that a few big chains like Gannett have bought up and control most of the daily newspapers in the United States and a few big corporations like Clear Channel control an awful lot of the radio, a few big corporations control most of the TV, if we go that way in the alternative press, it's going to be very sad, particularly, as I say, when it is an operation that doesn't believe in activist politics. That's not what the alternative press has been about.
JAMES RIDGEWAY: Yeah, I mean, I think the web is the future of the alternative press, to tell you the truth ... But Lacey said he didn't care about the web. I said, “Look, I’m filing maybe three or four stories a week on the web, on a daily basis almost.” He said, well, you know, he didn't care about that. He said cut it back. You know, and I just don't know what to say about this, except that the future of this alternative -- there's no point in saying that alternative journalism is dead or anything like that, because it's going to survive and it's going to survive very, very well on the web. That's the future of this thing. And if guys like Lacey and Larkin and others, I’m sure, want to turn these things into like, you know, like shoppers, they want to turn these newspapers into shoppers that don't have anything in them and just use them to sell advertising, I mean, you know, they can do it, because the journalism will just plain move on. That's all.

I can't even imagine what Norman Mailer will say about all this.

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, April 12


Yglesias agrees with me about the downside of a guest worker program.

Tags: ,


Is that a word, felonizing? If it's not, it should be.

This is some spin cycle.

The top Republicans in both the House and Senate indicated Tuesday they don't support language in an immigration bill that would make entering the country illegally a felony.
Frist and Hastert also criticized House Democrats, who, they said, opposed efforts by Republicans to strip the provision from the bill before it passed.

"Instead, they voted to make felons out of all of those who remain in our country illegally," their statement said. (Watch the politics of immigration -- 2:28)

Oh, that's good. Blaming the Democrats for their own bill. This is a good example of why the nouns spin, cycle, whitewash, are all so appropriate to Rethuglican speech.

The provision making illegal immigration a felony was part of a bill pushed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican. It passed the House in December by a vote of 239-182, with only 36 Democrats supporting the final version of the measure.

Responding to Tuesday's criticism of Democrats by Hastert and Frist, Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, said "no amount of spin can change the fact that Republicans wrote and passed the Sensenbrenner bill, which criminalizes an entire population."

Crider also said Republicans "are feeling the heat" after demonstrations that brought out hundreds of thousands of protesters Monday at rallies in at least 140 cities in more than 39 states.

Sensenbrenner, who sponsored the provision making illegal immigration a felony, said last week that he tried to remove it from the bill in December and remains open to making the change as the House and Senate try to reach an agreement on a final bill.

Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, a leading advocate of cracking down on illegal immigration, has accused Democrats of trying to keep the felony provision in the bill as a "poison pill."

But Sen. Edward Kennedy on Tuesday dismissed such characterizations.

"Actions speak louder than words, and there's no running away from the fact that the Republican House passed a bill and Senator Frist offered one that criminalizes immigrants," the Massachusetts Democrat said.

Tags: , ,


Commenter Crusader quotes my "You'd think they were committing serial murder instead of violating a civil (not criminal) law in order to feed their families" statement and takes exception:

Actually, they are *indeed* violating criminal law, not civil law. Civil law is the branch of law that deals with disputes between individuals--its primarily invoked in business disputes. Those that enter this country illegally have violated the *criminal* code (regardless of how harmless their intention may have been).

This may be a matter of confusing language. Crusader is right in part -- a key difference between criminal and civil law is that in criminal law the government always brings the charges, while in civil law parties to a dispute do (although the government may be the plaintiff in some civil cases). But I am not alone in characterizing illegal immigration as a violation of "civil law" as opposed to the criminal code. See here at Newsday:

In general, anyone who enters the United States without a valid document or someone who entered legally but violated their visa by, for example, staying longer than allowed.

Currently, it is a civil violation and the immigrant can be deported.

And here:

"Immigration law is civil law; law enforcement never enforces civil law," Salas said.

Local police agencies do not enforce immigration law just as they don’t go after tax evaders because both are civil laws.

What Judiciary Committee Chair F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., proposes in his anti-immigration bill — passed in the House in December and up for a vote in the Senate this month — is making U.S. entry a crime.

My point is, and was, that violations of civil laws such as clean air, clean water, and hazardous waste regulations that are held to be in the public interest are more analogous to illegal immigration than criminal felonies such as theft, rape or murder. Until or unless it is changed, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 assesses a single penalty for crossing the border illegally: deportation. No criminal penalty such as jail time.

If illegal immigration was already what we all think of as a "crime" (something that merits "time"), the provisions in House Bill 4437 that seek to make it a felony wouldn't be necessary.


Tuesday, April 11


Ruy Teixeira has the goods on what the public wants re immigration reform.

To sum up, the public favors a tough, but not punitive, approach to the problem of containing illegal immigration and is willing to consider fairly generous approaches to the illegal immigrants already here, provided they feel expectations for these immigrants are high and that they will play by the rules. “Tough, but fair” is a reasonable summary of their position.

I haven't weighed in much on the immigration issue because I'm still thinking about it. Like everyone, I'm incensed that, four and a half years after 9/11 our borders haven't been made more secure. But I hate the idea of a wall -- it's so...Soviet. Similarly, I hate the sound of a "guest worker" program. It smacks of indentured servitude to me, or of the railroad barons of the nineteenth century importing "coolies" from China to lay the rail. In both cases, the "guest workers" couldn't quit their jobs or protest abuse, but were hostages to their employers. And I don't care what kind of rules you build in to a guest worker program, the very threat of deportation is enough to secure slavery-like compliance from most immigrants. And let's not pretend the intent of such a program is anything more than a way for big business to tap a pool of cheap labor.

Anyone of sense acknowledges the impossibility of sending 12-20 million illegals back to their country of origin. That definition obviously excludes the wingnuts who won't entertain any other solution because these people ARE BREAKING THE LAW by being here. You'd think they were committing serial murder instead of violating a civil (not criminal) law in order to feed their families. (However, if it's true that 20% of those in U.S. prisons are illegals, why not send THOSE guys back? Why should we pay $30-60,000 per year to incarcerate them?)

So I suppose I favor some sort of path to resident status for those illegals already in our country. At least then we'll know who's here, we can recruit them into unions, wages will rise, and tax revenues will increase.

Of course, the devil is in the details.

Greg Palast expresses some of my sentiments:

Looking out at today's temptest-tossed masses of protesting immigrants, the wretched refuse just looking for a break, I finally figured out what's wrong with George Walker Bush. He's so far away from his refugee loser roots that he just doesn't get what it is to be American. So he steals the one thing that every American is handed off the boat: a chance. It's not just the immigrants denied a green card. When Bush threatens to take away your Social Security; when Bush's oil wars hike the price of crude and threaten your union job at the airline; when Bush tells you sleeper cells are sleeping under your staircase, you don't take chances anymore -- you lose your chance -- and the land of opportunity becomes a landscape of fear, an armed madhouse.
Grandma Anna taught me what two million marchers this week are trying to teach that slow learner, George W.: In America, it's not where you come from that counts, it's where you're going.



Why I subscribe to Newsweek and not Time. Eric Alterman:

That is right up until the very last moment when, after someone brought up the question of the whether the Democrats will be able to present an effective alternative to Bush in the next election, Joe Klein shouted out, “Well they won’t if their message is that they hate America—which is what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for the past twenty years.”
What is important, however, is the fact that Time is America’s highest circulation newsweekly. And since it fired Margaret Carlson, Joe Klein, believe it or not, is its most liberal columnist. That’s right. The most liberal columnist at the America’s largest weekly newsmagazine pretends that the message of liberals for the past twenty years has been that they “hate America,” just as if he were reading from talking points issued by Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. (Don’t get me started.)

Once again I am forced to say, “What the hell is going on here?” How about a little noise in the blogosophere politely asking Time to hire a genuinely liberal columnist? (Newsweek has three Jon Alter, Eleanor Clift and Anna Quindlen.) My nomination would be Josh Marshall, but that’s not important. What matters is that the magazine has four million readers and sets the agenda for much of the media, globally. And it not only won’t allow any liberals in the door, it continuously slanders them, both in its cover stories and in its columns. Forty-seven percent of Americans strongly oppose George Bush. Twenty nine percent say he deserves to be impeached. And yet these many tens of millions of people are treated with complete contempt by the pundits who are invited to determine the course of the political discourse. Why do we have to take this lying down? The address for letters to the editor is

And remember, Time is the mag that put Ann Coulter on its cover and published a remarkably admiring story on America's most disgusting woman.

Tags: ,


Saw the film A Day Without a Mexican last night. It was great entertainment (it's a comedy) as well as being informative (key statistics pop up at appropriate times), and has a few sweet moments as well.

Heartily recommended.


Mikevotes has started the first "date the Iran bombing" pool.

Here's my bet:

I don't think Bush will attack Iran until after the congressional elections, so I'll take December 2.

But here's another date we can speculate on -- when Bush will authorize a major escalation in the Iraq war, an all-out assault on the insurgents in an attempt to put some "wins" up on the Iraq scoreboard. And THAT I'll take odds will take happen before the '06 elections, sometime around August 2.



But don't expect Bush to answer...

We now have sufficient information to frame the Final Jeopardy! question. This is it:

Is a President, on the eve of his reelection campaign, legally entitled to ward off political embarrassment and conceal past failures in the exercise of his office by unilaterally and informally declassifying selected -- as well as false and misleading -- portions of a classified National Intelligence Estimate that he has previously refused to declassify, in order to cause such information to be secretly disclosed under false pretenses in the name of a "former Hill staffer" to a single reporter, intending that reporter to publish such false and misleading information in a prominent national newspaper?

The answer is obvious: No. Such a misuse of authority is the very essence of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States. It is also precisely the abuse of executive power that led to the impeachment of Richard M. Nixon.

It's uncanny -- the ordeal of Clinton's absurd impeachment that was thrust upon us by the Republicans has given the nation such a distaste for the whole thing that Dubya just might wiggle out of this relatively unscathed. You'd almost think the whole thing was planned...hey, gimme, that's my tinfoil hat!

Tags: ,

Monday, April 10


Well, Dallas right-wing radio is seriously disappointed that there was no violence and no arrests associated with the 350,000-500,000-person march yesterday on City Hall. Greg Knapp of KLIF 570 this afternoon accused the media of buying in to the march and not reporting incidents of trouble. I heard a biker call in to say he and three others had shown up at 9 a.m. to protest illegal immigration because of economic reasons... oh, and also so they could explain to their kids that law-breaking is not to be tolerated. Well, the biker had lots of ugly stuff about the march to tell. Seems young demonstrators who were near him and his group turned their backs and patted their fannies, all to provoke the bikers!

Greg is incensed that march organizers (as he characterized it) smartened up after seeing and hearing the reactions to the first protests, when the waving of Mexican flags offended, even outraged, many Americans. The NERVE that this time organizers should have distributed 14,000 American flags and programmed marchers to demonstrate their love of the U.S.A.!!! He encourages his listeners to call in to tell him the true story of Sunday, March 9. Heaven forbid that it go down in history as the largest, AND MOST PEACEFUL, of Dallas demonstrations.

As a progressive who has lived in Dallas for 20 years, I find it really, REALLY hard to believe that the Dallas police would put a good face on a bad situation. Dallas cops are, by nature, experience and training, ready to do battle at the slightest provocation. Chief Kunkle may be the font of wisdom and restraint, but he's very new and hasn't had time to reindoctrinate the entire police force.

From my view, this was a triumph of the American experiment. Everyone involved, from the march organizers to the city fathers to the PARTICIPANTS were pledged to adhere to the principles of peaceful, unobstructed expression of speech. And listen, wingers -- these people brought their babies in strollers. They never had any intention except to exercise their right to free expression. Yes, young people are harder to restrain -- but if you're so offended by a pat on the butt, what are you doing being a biker?

Tags: ,


Robert Dreyfuss asks how far Bush will go to stave off a defeat in Iraq.

This is one of those questions that keeps me awake at night. Knowing as we do the stubbornness, pride and arrogant confidence of the man, can we really believe that Dubya will meekly acknowledge an impossible situation and cut our losses in Iraq? Or is it more likely that he'll call down the wrath of hell (that's Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and all their toys) upon the nation to preserve American claims to Iraqi oil and permanent U.S. bases? Can Bush's fragile character take such a stinging defeat without fighting back (so long as other bodies are doing the actual fighting)? And if, as he's said, he believes that God commanded him to take on this little project, would the Chimpster dare let God down by quitting without "winning"?

I fear and dread the prospect of a late-summer escalation -- just (coincidentally) in time for the '06 elections.

Rational observers can only conclude that the U.S. occupation army in Iraq has no place in the midst of a civil war. But in the midst of such an escalating mess, how could Bush withdraw? The Bush administration is like the proverbial kid with a hand stuck in the cookie jar, grabbing a fistful of goodies. In order to get out of Iraq, Bush would have to let go of Iraq's goodies. In this case, that means letting go of Iraq's oil, and letting go of the dream that Iraq can become the anchor for a long-term U.S. military and economic presence in the Persian Gulf. To do so would mean a humiliating public admission of defeat -- defeat for the idea of Americanizing Iraq, defeat for America's hope of establishing hegemony in the Gulf, and defeat for the neoconservatives' determination to use military "shock and awe" tactics to intimidate potential regional rivals and opponents around the world. All of that would be gone -- and in the most public way possible.

Which brings us to former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht, currently a fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute. In 2002-03, Gerecht was among the loudest proponents of giving the Arabs the old shock-and-awe treatment, arguing that Iraqis, Arabs and Middle Easterners in general only understand the language of force. Writing in the Wall Street Journal on April 3, Gerecht warned bluntly that for the United States to succeed in Iraq might require far more bloody-minded tactics than have been utilized thus far. First, Gerecht notes with satisfaction that many Sunnis have been frightened and intimidated by Shiite militias, adding: "Sunni and Kurdish fear of Shiite power ... is politically overdue and healthy for all concerned." And then he gets to the heart of the matter:

"The Bush administration would be wise not to postpone any longer what it should have already undertaken -- securing Baghdad ... Pacifying Baghdad will be politically convulsive and provide horrific film footage and skyrocketing body counts. But Iraq cannot heal itself so long as Baghdad remains a deadly place."

Does Gerecht's proposal foreshadow a new effort, a last push, by neoconservatives to urge the administration to "win" the war in Iraq by overwhelming force, by sending yet more U.S. forces to engage in yet more fruitless shock-and-awe fantasies? Do Khalilzad's recent get-tough-on-Iran remarks foreshadow a neoconservative effort to expand the losing war in Iraq into Iran itself, while casting blame on Iran for the U.S. failure to secure or pacify Iraq?


It may be "wild speculation," but is it true? Scottie and Dubya throw stones at Sy Hersh's reporting that the Bush administration is considering deploying tactical nukes to strike underground sites in Iran suspected of harboring nuclear production.

"And by the way, I read the articles in the newspapers this weekend. It was just wild speculation, by the way. What you're reading is wild speculation. Which is, kind of a -- you know, happens quite frequently here in the nation's capital."
McClellan called Hersh's article "hyped-up reporting based on anonymous" former officials outside the White House who are not familiar with the administration's thinking on Iran.

When pressed on whether the Bush administration has left nuclear strikes on the table as an option, McClellan declined to confirm or deny the essence of the New Yorker report.

"Those who are seeking to draw broad conclusions based on normal military contingency planning are misinformed or not knowledgeable about the administration's thinking," McClellan said.

Tehran denies any effort to build nuclear weapons and says it has the right to a nuclear energy program.

Tags: , , ,


Jesus, save us from the blasphemers.

Born at the Crest of the Empire's MikeVotes has the disheartening story.

You see, Christ commanded his followers to condemn homosexuality in public wherever they go, at school or in the workplace. So therefore it's discriminating against a Christian's "right to be Christian" to ban public hate speech and discrimination policies.

Tags: ,

Sunday, April 9


Another general goes on the record, calling for the resignation of Don Rumsfeld.

Two senior military officers are known to have challenged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the planning of the Iraq war. Army General Eric Shinseki publicly dissented and found himself marginalized. Marine Lieut. General Greg Newbold, the Pentagon's top operations officer, voiced his objections internally and then retired, in part out of opposition to the war. Here, for the first time, Newbold goes public with a full-throated critique:

In 1971, the rock group The Who released the antiwar anthem Won't Get Fooled Again. To most in my generation, the song conveyed a sense of betrayal by the nation's leaders, who had led our country into a costly and unnecessary war in Vietnam. To those of us who were truly counterculture--who became career members of the military during those rough times--the song conveyed a very different message. To us, its lyrics evoked a feeling that we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it. Never again, we thought, would our military's senior leaders remain silent as American troops were marched off to an ill-considered engagement. It's 35 years later, and the judgment is in: the Who had it wrong. We have been fooled again.
Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent statement that "we" made the "right strategic decisions" but made thousands of "tactical errors" is an outrage. It reflects an effort to obscure gross errors in strategy by shifting the blame for failure to those who have been resolute in fighting. The truth is, our forces are successful in spite of the strategic guidance they receive, not because of it.
My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--or bury the results.

Tags: , ,

Rabbi Shulman thinks it's time for Dubya to get some religion.


A "good day for the city." No arrests and no "noteworthy offenses."

“This is a family-oriented group that’s come here to demonstrate. No one we saw looked like they were planning to cause any problems.”

Chief Kunkle attributed the peaceful nature of the protest to the work of the volunteers and organizers, as well as police efforts to marginalize the small groups of counterprotesters.

“Even I’m surprised about the nature of the crowd. I think the people have been educated to ignore the other protesters,” he said.
The first members of the procession reached City Hall about 1:40 p.m. to the sounds of “They’re Coming to America” and “God bless America.” Kids at the front of the line were carrying a banner that read: “Today we march. Tomorrow we vote.”
Marchers made their way along the route accompanied by chants of “USA! USA!” and then later “¡Sí, Se Puede!” (Yes, we can!” and “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido” (“The people united will never be defeated”).

Some of the banners read: “I pay taxes.” “Justice and dignity for all immigrants.” “Together 4 a better America.” “United We Stand. We pray for legal status.” “We are not terrorists.”

Nicholas Vargas, a 41-year-old air conditioner repairman from Garland, and wife Rosa Vargas, 40, came with their two teenage children. Mr. Vargas said the couple came to the United States illegally 17 years ago and both are seeking citizenship.

“I come here to support my family. We come to tell the senators to help the people. We are here to work and not to cause problems,” he said.

Top photo by Rick Gershon, DMN.

UPDATE: Police Chief David Kunkle this morning (4/10) estimated the crowd at between 350,000 and 500,000.

Tags: ,


Dr. Bruce Prescott points us to this essay on the immigration reform issue by Albert Reyes, President of the Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio:

The current immigration reform debate should be informed by a question that goes to the heart of the issue: Does Jesus still have a mission to the poor, the prisoner, the blind, and the oppressed?

The last time I checked my Bible Jesus announced his agenda to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for those in prison, to give sight to the blind, and liberty to the oppressed (Lk 4:14).

In fact, my Bible also tells me that Jesus was an international refugee within the first year of his life. His father and mother took him from Bethlehem to Egypt to flee infanticide as well as political and religious oppression. The Bible does not specify whether or not Jesus' parents were required to present immigration documents when they reached the Egyptian border.

The core issue at the center of the immigration reform debate is justice. Where is our American sense of decency, the value of basic human rights, our love for children and families and fairness toward under-privileged newcomers?
We tend to enforce the law on those that may not break the law purposefully and we have a track record of rewarding those who ignore the law to generate wider profit margins. Our current laws put both the employer and the worker between the proverbial rock and a hard place producing an obvious ethical dilemma.
Protect our borders? Absolutely! Mistreat the poor? Absolutely not!

Tags: ,


Just caught a bit of House Majority Leader John Boehner on This Week. To illustrate the difference between the two political parties, and why Republicans will win the '06 elections, he set up the strawmen of all time. He said, "The Democrats want to raise taxes and spend more. And when it comes to national security, the Democrats say, 'Iraq...that's not a problem,' and 'Iran...that's not a problem.'"




Just how crazy IS Bush? He's determined to settle the Iran problem before he leaves office. Oh goody, after all his success elsewhere in the world (read: Iraq, Afghanistan), he wants to export his preemptive war doctrine once again, and this time with nukes.

The most bizarre scenarios keep popping into my head these days. Like a reverse Seven Days In May, where the Joint Chiefs have to threaten a military mutiny because the president wants to nuke Iran.

Bill Clinton, dang it, if you'd kept it zipped Al Gore would be president and none of this would be happening.

Saw V for Vendetta last night. It was terrific, and I don't know what all the shouting is about. Actually, it was good comic book stuff, and the political comparisons to events of the future springing from events of today could have been done any time in the last fifty years. They're almost derivative from Orwell, and he died in 1950.

John Kerry is telling Tim Russert that the absence of diplomacy in the Iraq situation is negligent, it's shocking. He dismisses the efforts of Condi Rice and raises the ghosts of Henry Kissinger and shuttle diplomacy, of Jim Baker assembling the coalition for the first Gulf War. The absence of the president, of leadership, the absence of real diplomacy, is the key to this whole thing, he says. We need something like the Dayton Accords, where all the parties are gathered and a solution is hammered out.

Bush's rhetoric about Iran, he says, is more of the shoot-from-the-hip cowboy diplomacy that's gotten us in trouble in so many situations. Again, our diplomacy sucks.

Tim shows a clip of Alberto Gonzales testifying that the president can declassify information at will and determine who may see classified info at his own discretion. It's part of his "inherent powers." Kerry says, "I think it's time for the Attorney General to stand up and start protecting the Constitution of the United States of America and not the politics of this administration."

Kerry says he would vote to censure Bush.

Pretty good performance. He appears statesmanlike, speaks simply for him. I have a short plan, he said, tell the truth, fire the incompents, get out of Iraq, healthcare for all Americans...


Three years after Saddam's statue came down.

"Iraqis are pleased and displeased," said Qassim Hassan, a soldier. "They are pleased because they got rid of tyranny and dictatorship, but they are displeased because they went from bad to worse. The Iraqi street is seething between sadness and terrorism."

Read the rest of the article to learn how Iraqis are marking "Freedom Day."

Tags: ,


I rather liked this Joe Biden quote:

Then, as now, Biden explained, most people’s minds are made up. Dwelling on defeat gives the other side propaganda points. “Ninety-five percent of the American people have formed their view [on Iraq]. Some are hoping against hope it can be pulled out [from disaster]. Others are convinced it is gone.” Given the skill with which this administration turned doubts about war against the Democrats in the last two elections, Biden says he doesn’t want to give Bush and Karl Rove an opening to say, “but for those Democrats, we could have done it.” He gets asked all the time why Democrats are afraid to just stand up and say we’ve lost in Iraq. “Because Bush lost,” says Biden. “This is Bush’s war, beginning, middle and end.”


How is it possible that an elected official is allowed to preside over an election in which he is the leading candidate? If THAT doesn't qualify for a conflict of interest, I don't know what does.

Aside from Ken Blackwell's shady dealings with Diebold, ownership of their shares and questionable past election results that indicate some seriously unfunny business in the Ohio SecState's office, even an election official with the purest of records and unquestioned integrity should not be in control of a process that so directly affects his own fortunes.

The good news is that Blackwell's chief opponent for the GOP gubernatorial nomination is the state's AG. Here's hoping he blows the lid off such doings. I don't see much room for hilarity as long as Blackwell has power over Ohio election results.

Tags: , ,


Everywhere I go I hear moderate Republicans utter John McCain's name in reverent tones as if he is their coming savior, the one who will fix all the messes Bush has created, the Claudius who will regain for the U.S. the prestige that Caligula has lost us in the world and reject the agenda of the religious right. They better think twice. As Helen Thomas explains:

Asked to explain his change of attitude toward the evangelist on "Meet the Press" Sunday, McCain said: "I believe that the Christian right has a major role to play in the Republican Party. One reason (that) is so is because they're so active and their followers are. And I believe they have a right to be part of our party."

McCain also has gone out of his way to cozy up to President Bush after their bitter rift in the 2000 presidential campaign. McCain has said he does not look back in anger at old political battles. That's wise -- he's going to need Bush's backing in a presidential bid.

McCain also has taken other stands that should put him in good with Southern conservatives. Hailing from a military family -- his father and grandfather were admirals in the Navy -- he is a strong supporter of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and believes the number of U.S. troops there should be beefed up.

He is against abortion rights and gun-control laws and believes students should be taught the religion-oriented "intelligent design" theory of creation as well as the theory of scientific evolution.
With his "hail fellow well met" persona and tendency to jaw with the media and pundits in the back of the campaign bus, he has created the impression in some quarters that he is a "moderate."

Forget it. His voting record speaks for itself.

McCain is working hard to prove his staunch conservative credentials as he woos the far right in his party.

If he wins the presidency, the country can expect a continuation of Bush's aggressive foreign policy and ultra-right domestic programs.

Tags: , ,