Friday, February 29, 2008

R.I.P. William F. Buckley (1925-2008)


The nicest thing I can find to say about William Buckley, Father of American Conservatism, is that he broke with Bush on the endless occupation of Iraq.

Two years ago, Buckley said It Didn't Work:
One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed ... Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans.

The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors .... And the administration has, now, to cope with failure. It can defend itself historically .... The failure in Iraq does not force us to generalize that violence and antidemocratic movements always prevail .... It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work .... Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements.

..... He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies.

Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.
On 15-Jan-07, he published in the NRO a hypothetical questionnaire that a retiring Republican legislator might compose for himself before voting on supplementary appropriations for Iraquagmire. The final questions and answers went like this:

Is our Iraqi enterprise worth a corporate commitment by America?
That is the taxing question. If success in Iraq would bring an end to the movement of which Iraq is now the apex, the answer would clearly be yes. Has the president persuasively argued that it would do so? No. He has said that "failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States." He hasn't said why. Great countries do lose great engagements. We did in Vietnam and Korea, and the Soviets did in Afghanistan.
Then doesn't it follow that the American role in Iraq is indeed critical?
No, actually. America could help the Maliki government in Iraq fight the insurgents. But the evidence, in the last two years especially, is that the strength of the insurgents lies not in their military organization but in their techniques. Our losses are mostly from IEDs — improvised explosive devices. An elevation in American fighting forces in Iraq doesn't diminish, pro tanto, the number of IEDs that will be set off.

The threat in Iraq is from the apparently inexhaustible flow of insurgents who plant the IEDs and who engage in wanton killings of Iraqi defenders. What no strategist, American or Iraqi, has successfully addressed is the question of how to diminish that noxious flow. One American general petitioned the Iraqi government to be more forceful with captured insurgents, many of whom are simply released. But nothing like a galvanized rout of apprehended insurgents is in prospect, which problem touches on -
The sectarian character of the Iraqi population, which is the source of divisiveness extending beyond any dislike or resentment of America.
A geographical division of Iraq is inevitable. The major players are obvious. It isn't plain how America, as an outside party, could play an effective role, let alone one that was decisive, in that national redefinition. And America would do well to encourage non-American agents to act as brokers — people with names like Ban Ki-moon.
On the basis of this analysis I will vote against supplementary American involvement in Iraq.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Debating the Debates

"Meet me in Ohio and let's have a debate?"
Both candidates looked presidential. Is it chauvinistic for me to say that I thought Hillary particularly seemed to have better make-up and hair-do? What's the word? Coiffed? I'll go on to say I think Hill looked especially competent and professional. I'd call it a board-room demeanor. If I didn't have a better candidate in mind for president, I'd definitely flip over voting for her.

However, there is the little problem of Clinton's facial expression when she finds herself stuck listening to Obama. If Al Gore's impatient sneer(s) at Bush in the 2000 debates were self-destructive,
Clinton's smirk in these debates should not serve her well in 2008. I don't think she can do anything about it. It appears to be a naturally frozen smirky-smile. Whether she ascends to the White House or returns to the Senate in 2009, I would certainly hope for a thaw. Obama, OTOH, sports a totally intense, serious, attentive expression. I'd call it a courtroom poker face. Intensity is what it communicates.

On the whole, over the range of 20 or so debates, Clinton's personality seems to gyrate erratically between the good cop-bad cop, but the same unflappable Obama shows up every damned day.

Do candidates have to denounce, renounce, disavow, and/or reject the support of dissonant politically incorrect voices? (All those terms should have quotes around them because their meaning is clear only in the mind of the speaker.) I suppose so, to keep the level of discourse at a certain level of propriety. They're probably meaningless, anyway. Whether Obama 'denounces' or 'rejects' Farrakhan, for who are the latter's supporters more likely to vote? Will they be alienated enough to vote for Hillary? McCain? But I guess, it's right to denounce unwholesome supporters. McCain's rejection of Cunningham yesterday is a case in point. The best you can hope for McCain is for him to 'disavow' Cunningham.

The motives or the moderators are suspect. What does CNN call this season? The Election Bowl? I suppose any measure is justified to get Americans to pay more attention to their politics. If this means that political campaigns have to be presented as sports events, then it may be worth it. Indeed, it was said in the post-game discussion that no touchdowns had been scored: only field goals.

Spin-meisters are definitely into cheerleading and handicapping in order to get the losing side to stage a 'come-back'. Anything to keep the contest alive and ratings flowing. But debates make political campaigns less than the proverbial horse race and more like a prize fight. There's the jargon: punch, jab, guard up, etc. That's one thing but the moderators go a little further than merely refereeing the fight. They play into the role of fight managers, during the weigh in. Opening questions seem to be calculated to evoke, if not 'smack-talk', then definitely fighting words. Russert, especially, sees his role not as proposing candidates address the burning issues facing our nation. Rather, he'd rather see if he can produce headlines by exposing either candidate to some skin-breaking wounds. If his questions can draw blood, so much the better for future ratings. Even better, if there's still blood in the water following the debate.

What did the most attentive viewers learn from last night?
  • Clinton regrets (deeply), and is sorry (sort of) her Oct 2002 vote authorizing Bush's unprovoked invasion of Iraq.
  • Obama regrets not having made a stand in the Senate against the resolution that allowed that august body to insinuate itself in the Terri Schavo case.
  • Obama put his obligatory pro-Israel statement up on the score board, in case anyone was in doubt.
At this point in the year, I'm not sure further debates serve any purpose. We were supposed to have wasted the opening 17 minutes last night on hair-splitting clarifications on two hypothetical health care reform plans, sans Congressional varnishing. Likewise on NAFTA: who said what and when on that? These cannot be rendered meaningful through debate. Not to me anyway: everything seemed to come down to which state newspaper endorsed which candidate's version.

I don't know. I biggest concern is that these debates just produce a lot of sound-bites the Repugs can use against the Dems later. Trust Russert to see that that's the case. I think we should all take the pledge to boycott watching all further debates until the McCainster is dragged into them by his short hairs. Americans deserve to see what he's got.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

An Obligatory Ralph Nader Commentary?

Stop me before I devote a single column inch to this moron.

I feel the pressure building. Looking for a sock to stick in my mouth. But the compulsion is overwhelming. I'm glad I have to go to work, now, because I'm thinking the only thing that can keep the cork in this bottle is if someone drops a bomb in tonight's debate.

It’s too late. Have to get this toxic poison out.
  • any competitor, entrant, or candidate who has no chance of ultimate victory but does well enough to spoil the chances of another
Ralph Nader cost the American people (and Al Gore) the election of 2000. Not alone, of course. A lame media had a part in it. 5 million Republican voters had a part in it. But Nader unmistakably and willingly played the part of a useful idiot in bringing Busheney to power. People have done the research and run the numbers:
…. research estimates the likely voting behavior of Nader voters if he had not been a candidate in the presidential race. Bivariate analysis of ANES data suggests that Nader voters fit the profile of likely voters and have a distinct preference for Democratic candidates. We utilize multinomial logit analysis to include the possibility of abstention as well as the option of voting for Gore, Bush, or another third-party candidate. The results suggest that Nader voters closely resembled the typical voter in educational achievement, and therefore it is likely that a majority of these individuals would have participated in the 2000 election if Nader had not been a candidate. In addition, it is likely that these individuals would have voted for Al Gore over George Bush.
Nader was wrong in 2000 when he said there was no appreciable difference between Gore and Bush: it didn't matter who won; or, that it didn't matter much.
…. Gore's a D-plus, Bush's a D-minus.
Nadir wasn’t just a little wrong, wasn’t off by a matter of degrees. He was categorically and catastrophically wrong – off the charts. (Reference the speech Al Gore made against the invasion of Iraq as early as 2002.) Not that Nader cared, much. After the election, he flippantly told the National Press Club,
Al Gore cost me the election.
Nader is not motivated by a sense of statesmanship or strategic political thinking. In fact that is precisely where his blinders are. On 7-Mar-2001 he co-authored a groveling commentary for the Wall Street Journal. In the article, he actually wondered if Bush would show
… the political courage to offend the very corporate fat cats who funded his campaign …. If it took Richard Nixon to go to China, could George W. Bush be the president who ends corporate welfare as we know it? … in a budget outline that offers little reason to smile to those concerned about the concentration of corporate power, the Bush administration has offered a glimmer of hope on the corporate-welfare front …..
Fast forward to 2004. Nader didn’t have a 3rd party behind him this time, so he shamelessly relied on Republican money raising and petition canvassing. In the middle of the summer, Howard Dean caught up with Nader and confronted him in a debate later transcribed by Salon:
….you accepted the support of a right-wing, fanatic Republican group that is antigay in order to help you get on the ballot in Oregon. . . . . .This is not going to help the progressive cause in America. The thing that upsets me so much about this is, you have the right to ... get in bed with whoever you want to, but don't call the Democratic Party full of corporate interests. They have their problems, we all have ours, none of us are pure. And this campaign of yours is far from pure. . . . . It is true, that the Oregon Family Council, which is a virulently antigay right-wing group, called up all their folks and tried to get them to go to the Oregon convention to sign your petition. I don't think that's the way to change the party. . . . The way to change this country is not to get into bed with right-wing antigay groups to try to get yourself on the ballot. That can't work. . . . . I urge you not to turn your back on your own legacy . . . . I'm not running for president right now, not just because I lost in Iowa, but [because] I made the calculation that if I did, I would take away votes that would otherwise go to John Kerry and result in the reelection of George Bush. This is a national emergency, and we cannot have it. My argument simply is, When the house is on fire, it's not the time to fix the furniture.
With the Republican party still married to Bush’s Iraquagmire, our national (emergency) house is still on fire.

Not that Nader cares. Ralph Nader doesn’t give a hoot about what happens to this country anymore. At worst, he and his followers comprise caricatures as the useful idiots of ‘movement conservatism’. At best, he’s demagogue who really has no political loyalties outside of his own self-absorption. He obeys only his addiction to the television camera. Between national elections he wanders, bereft of notice, through his own personal wilderness of good intentions; every fourth year he can strap political dynamite onto himself and aspire to blow things up again.

For years, Bush and his loyalists have been roundly dismissed – wrongly, IMO – for being stupid and arrogant. But they are the ones who have been playing offense for a decade and have scored exactly all the points they said they wanted. Meanwhile, how long will we allow this dysfunctional creep named Ralph to continue distracting our defense from the side lines? We need to regain possession of the ball. The end of politics is policy. Our varsity is all fired up and ready to go! It’s game time.

Someone tell Nader to get off the field.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Barack's Rock Rocks!

Michelle Obama made the cover of Newsweek last week, and I've just had an opportunity to get through it and tick off some excerpts from a couple of its feature stories.

Both pieces reveal Ms. Obama in a way which helps us anticipate how she will fill the role of First Lady.

First, the cover story by Richar Wolffe, Barack’s Rock:

Michelle Obama's appeal-she routinely draws audiences of 1,000 ... As a political spouse,
she is somewhat unusual. She isn't the traditional Stepford booster, smiling vacantly at her husband and sticking to a script of carefully vetted blandishments. Nor is she a surrogate campaign manager, ordering the staff around and micromanaging the candidate's every move .... Michelle has made it her job to ensure that Barack, who now lives full time inside the surreal campaign bubble of adoring crowds and constant attention, doesn't himself lose sight of what's normal .... In her words, she is just making sure he is "keeping it real."

Deeply competitive by nature ... she wants the White House as much as he does ..... after the surprise loss in New Hampshire, where polls had Obama leading Hillary Clinton by wide margins. It was Michelle who delivered the pep talk to the candidate's dispirited aides waiting anxiously outside the couple's hotel suite.

Michelle then turned her ministrations to her husband. As he walked onstage that night to deliver his concession speech, she took his hand and led him around the front of the podium so he could recharge himself with the cheers of the crowd. She paused with him for a moment, then patted him on the cheek and left the stage.

. . . . What would she do as First Lady? It's a question she gets all the time now. Yet it's not one she ventures to answer in any detail. She is interested in issues women face balancing work and home, and in lowering barriers that keep poor students from college. She says,
There are a ton of things. It's endless what you can do in the White House. . But until I get there and know what kind of resources I'll have and how much time and what's the agenda of the country, I think, truthfully, I don't know which of these many things I can focus on.
If they win, Michelle says, there won't be any to-do list for the East Wing until she gets her daughters settled in Washington. (She never moved to the capital when Obama became a senator.) She asks,
What will the girls need? Are they going to transition easily to the White House and this public life and a new school and a new city? If they're losing their minds, that's one project off Mommy's table, because I'm going to be making sure that they have their feet on the ground.
. . . . . Though she has no official policy role in the campaign, she has been deployed to speak directly to the fears of black audiences in a way that Barack often does not. Earlier this year, Obama staffers worried that some African-American voters might still be reluctant to believe that a black man could really be elected president. Michelle went down to South Carolina to try to put them at ease. As she reviewed her speech on the plane ride to one event, a story came to mind. She thought of African-Americans she had known who had saved for new furniture, only to wrap it in plastic to protect it. But in the end, doing so was self-defeating. She told the audience,
That plastic gets yellow and scratches up your leg. I think folks just want to protect us from the possibility of being let down … by the world as it is. A world, they fear, is not ready for a decent man like Barack. Sometimes it seems better not to try at all than to try and fail.
She urged them to take the risk.

At least once, Michelle did voice her displeasure to the campaign staff. After one of the debates, Obama's team met to discuss strategy. Michelle dialed in and spoke over the phone. She did not say much, but she made it clear that she was not happy. She thought that Hillary Clinton had packed the crowd with supporters, and that Obama had been booed whenever he criticized Hillary. She told the strategists that she didn't want that to happen again. A senior Obama aide who attended the meeting and spoke candidly on condition of anonymity:
It was more than a strategist talking about what the best tactic would be. It was a spouse saying, 'Do not do this to my husband again'.
My second 'exhibit' is from Raina Kelley's A Real Wife, In a Real Marriage:

Part of Michelle's strength is that she has been immune to the mommy wars that tripped up Hillary during Bill's campaigns. The baking-versus-working tension is irrelevant for her; black women have never been burdened with the luxury of choice. Our heritage does not include the gilded cage, and we certainly never fought to labor outside the home—black women have always worked. This is why many of us never inherited the remorse about balancing work and family that plagues our white counterparts. For Michelle, voters have read this as self-assurance—appealing to young voters who are optimistic that they will find a balance between career and home. For older women, Michelle seems to speak with real candor about the realities of domestic life—including her complaints about Barack's aversion to picking up his socks and putting away the butter. In an interview with Glamour magazine she said,
People understood that this is how we all live in our marriages. And Barack is very much human. So let's not deify him, because what we do is we deify, and then we're ready to chop it down. People have notions of what a wife's role should be in this process, and it's been a traditional one of blind adoration. My model is a little different—I think most real marriages are.
Vigilante would not allow me to post these two articles in their entirety. I encourage Barack fans to follow my links and enjoy the originals!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Wars of Yugoslavian Dissolution Are Over

A not-so-random, weekend rant!

In the 1990’s, during the various stages of the progressing self-inflicted dissolution of Yugoslavia, I blogged on the Los Angeles Times Forums. It wasn’t actually called blogging back then. A bunch of us were on line, lurking, taking and giving offense, impugning the heredity of others, etc. Yeah, you could stretch and call it blogging, I guess. There were Americans, Russians, Montenegrins, Greeks and an Israeli. I remember particularly Yelena, a Russian woman in graduate school in Kansas; and a fellow Southern Californian named William Butler – an articulate and righteously vindictive polemicist – who abruptly died in the middle of a week-long, on-line spat with the Russian. (I missed him terribly - we had had each other’s back.) The LAT Forum supported HTML code for graphics, unlike Blogger’s comments, so we were outrageously creative and just plain outrageous. I remember the time … well, (I’d better save that for another time.) Let’s just say the Times struggled with formulating clear and enforceable rules of propriety that my fellow forum members were always inadvertently violating. Management would repeatedly close the forum for short intervals for sanitation reasons and ultimately recruited for a Forum Administrator. (I applied!) After one was hired, he or she promptly nuked the forum for good.

But I learned many things about Yugoslavia and ex-Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Sarajevo, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Russia. I can recall many photographs and personal stories of bravery and depravity. Some of these I would be better off forgetting. I learned that I could feel deeply outraged about stuff outside my own life again – something I had not felt since civil rights days, three decades previously. Having thrown away a first class library during those 30 years, I began to refurbish my shelves with political non-fiction. I bought and read books! Then, with the Forum vaporized and Miloševic deposed, I relaxed and forgot.

Until this week.

Yugoslavia was a political apparatus contrived to govern one of the most hyper-polarized conglomerations of peoples in Eastern Europe. Three mega historical/religious/cultural intersecting traditions collided in Yugoslavia: the Catholics in Croatia, the Greek Orthodox in Serbia, and Islam in Bosnia. This was one of the places where History was said to have tied herself in a knot. And we sailors would call this a ‘hatchet knot’, one that can only be released by use of a blade. Marshal Tito, a Communist from Croatia, grabbed power when the ashes of World War II were still smoldering, defended the knot from centrifugal forces from within, and from the surrounding bi-polar Cold War forces without. For three decades or so until his death, Yugoslavia survived and was a geopolitical player. After the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Cold War stood down, much was expected of Post-Tito Yugoslavia in terms of leading Eastern Europeans out of the gloom of the ‘old ways’ of the Soviet Bloc.

Frankly, I do not remember how or why it was that Serbs anointed themselves as the primary custodians of the Yugoslavian federation. Perhaps it was because of the relative cohesiveness of the Serbian Communist party? Were Serbs dominant in the Yugoslavian military’s officer corps? Whatever. In Miloševic, Serbs bet on the wrong strategist and strategy. Blood and iron, ethnic cleansing, pogroms,and intimidation were not going to work now that hostile blocs no longer surrounded Yugoslavia. Pushing people around would only produce a push-back; blood would beget only more blood. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the last thing Western Europe wanted was to passively witness World War II-vintage genocides forcing population movements across borders with all of the destabilization that that would engender.

But it was down that bloody road the Serbs went. It will be said, there was plenty of blame and bleeding to go around. Let that be said.
But it was also true that it turned out that the Serbs were the best and most unabashedly effective killers – even spectacularly so. Did they not understand television? Throughout each stage in this nauseous nightmare of Yugoslavian dissolution in the 1990's, I ranted constantly in favor of early NATO and American military intervention. I hated Clinton for his indecisiveness and Bob Dole & Co for their obfuscations. I can barely remember the names of places such as the Ormarska, Trnopolje, and Keraterm - the notorious detention centers operating in 1992. 7,000 plus were killed in Srebrenica as the U.N. watched and as the West split hairs over whether ethnic cleansing amounted to genocide. This was part of the infamy of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, a pair of Serb perps who are still afforded sanctuary in Serbia. As we watched on our TVs, the blood flowing ankle-deep in Croatia, Bosnia and especially beautiful and Olympic Sarajevo, we knew what to expect once it inevitably came to Kosovo’s turn. At that point Serbia amounted to little more than ‘rump-Yugoslavia.

It turned out that the Serbs behaved exactly as their track record led us to anticipate.
Let me say that it also turned out that modifying Serb behavior required someone to bomb the everlasting shit out of Rump-Yugoslavia. If it wasn’t going to be NATO, than it had to fall to the good ol’ U.S.of A.

I care that the Serbs’ 1389 A.D. version of our Alamo - Boj na Kosovu - is located near Pristina or wherever. But not nearly as much as Miloševic’s supporters should have cared when they were raping and pillaging the Kosovars in 1999. It is ludicrous for them now to claim ‘Kosovo is Serbia’; as ludicrous as it would be for any inveterate and recidivist wife-beater to reclaim possession of his ‘beloved’ wife. There’s too much blood past the dam, by now.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders declared independence from Serbia on Sunday. Later in the week our embassy in Belgrade was bombed by a huge mob of dead-ending Christo-fascists, bereft of leadership from their dead fuhrer, Miloševic. I call it even with those motherfuckers.

It’s time for them and their neo-Soviet patrons to get over ex-Yugoslavia and join the 21st century. Kosovo belongs to the Kosovars.

Become a "Friend" of John McCain!

I wanted to be included every time Bush III repeats his refrain.

It has almost an infinite number of variations and permutations.
As in:
. . . And thank you, my friends. . . . and I promise you, my friends . . . . . Hope, my friends, is a powerful thing. . . . . all the difference, my friends, all the difference in the world. . . . . And, my friends, I promise you, I am fired up and ready to go.
So, I've signed up with a number of other patriotic Americans here, at TheRealMcCain.
Hopefully, as our numbers grow, we will become numerous enough to merit a lobbyist or two, and be folded in with the rest of the friends of "More-of-the-Same" McCain! Or - even better - we can get John to become The Get-Clean-McCain!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jill Simpson Is Our Republican of the Week.

Here is another of our weekly efforts to prove our bi-partisan bono fides by featuring a praiseworthy Republican.

Jill Simpson is a Republican operative in Alabama who has come forward to say Karl Rove asked her to try to prove the state’s Democratic governor was unfaithful to his wife in an effort to thwart the highly successful politician’s re-election.

Rove’s attempt to smear Don Siegelman was part of a Republican campaign to ruin him that finally succeeded in imprisoning him, according to operative , according to the official press release.

Simpson will be speaking to Scott Pelley in her first television interview, to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Feb. 24 (7-8 p.m., ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Showdown in Austin!

Clinton vs. Obama, Part XXI

Looks to me, that Hillary came with both barrels loaded and ready to run the tables. Barack was playing defense and much too conservatively.

Why for example, did he not say that he would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba in his first year in the White House? WTF was he thinking? Nixon went to China, didn't he? We've had an embassy in Beijing for half a century. We're going to the fooking olympics there, for crying out loud. What's the diff? Between going to Beijing and going to Havana? What is Barack thinking? Or is he thinking? He looks to me like a deer caught in the headlights. Get a fooking grip Obama!

Guess I'll watch some more. . .

Barack Obama v Matt Santos

Oscar Wilde: Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.
Devotees of the West Wing have been talking about it for weeks: the uncanny similarity between the fictional presidential contest that dominated the final seasons of the acclaimed TV show and the real-life drama of this year's election.

Both the real and imagined campaigns have centred on a young, charismatic candidate from an ethnic minority, daring to take on an establishment workhorse with a promise to transcend race and heal America's partisan divide.

But there's a twist.

For what those West Wing fans stunned by the similarity between the fictitious Matthew Santos and the real-life Barack Obama have not known is that the resemblance is no coincidence. When the West Wing scriptwriters first devised their fictitious presidential candidate in the late summer of 2004, they modelled him in part on a young Illinois politician - not yet even a US senator - by the name of Barack Obama.

West Wing writer and producer Eli Attie told the Guardian:
I drew inspiration from him in drawing this character," When I had to write, Obama was just appearing on the national scene. He had done a great speech at the convention [which nominated John Kerry] and people were beginning to talk about him.
Attie, who served as chief speechwriter to Al Gore during the ill-fated 2000 campaign and who wrote many of the key Santos episodes of the West Wing, put in a call to Obama aide David Axelrod.
"I said, 'Tell me about this guy Barack Obama.'"
With the Latino actor Jimmy Smits already cast for the show, Attie was especially keen to know how rising star Obama approached the question of his race. Axelrod's answers helped inform Santos's approach to his own Hispanic identity. Attie says,
Some of Santos's insistence on not being defined by his race, his pride in it even as he rises above it, came from that.
The scriptwriter also borrowed from Obama's life the notion of a superstar candidate.
After that convention speech, Obama's life changed. He was mobbed wherever he went. He was more than a candidate seeking votes: people were seeking him. Some of Santos's celebrity aura came from that.
The result is a bizarre case of art imitating life - only for life to imitate art back again.

In the TV show, Santos begins as the rank outsider up against a national figure famous for standing at the side of a popular Democratic president. There are doubts about Santos's inexperience, having served just a few years in Congress, and about his ability to persuade voters to back an ethnic minority candidate - even as his own ethnic group harbour suspicions that he might not identify with them sufficiently.

But the soaring power of his rhetoric, his declaration that the old divisions belong in the past and his sheer magnetism, ensure that he comes from behind in a fiercely close primary campaign and draws level with his once all-commanding opponent. Every aspect of that storyline has come true for Barack Obama. Axelrod, now chief strategist for the Obama campaign, recently joked in an email to Attie: "We're living your scripts!"

What's more, the West Wing had the Republicans choose between a Christian preacher - a pre-echo of Mike Huckabee - and an older, maverick senator from the American west whose liberal positions on some issues had earned the distrust of the party's conservative base: a dead ringer for John McCain.

In the West Wing, the McCain figure emerges comfortably as the party's choice. Apparently the character was not based on the current Republican frontrunner, but was simply a function of the casting of Alan Alda. Recalls Attie,
It was always an inside joke on the West Wing that the show had a prophetic quality
Check this out:

Barack Obama:
  • Young, handsome and charismatic member of Congress, attempts to become America's first non-white president.
  • Began political career as a community organiser in a big city (Chicago) before winning first election at local level. Married, with two young children.
  • Faced stiff opposition in Democratic primary against occupant of the White House during previous Democratic administration (first lady Hillary Clinton)
  • Rivals attack him as inexperienced after just four years in Congress, but triumphs through grassroots support, inspiring speeches and message of change.
  • Republican opponent is veteran moderate senator from a western state, unpopular with conservative base (John McCain of Arizona).
Matt Santos:
  • Young, handsome and charismatic member of Congress, attempts to become America's first non-white president.
  • Began political career as a community organiser in a big city (Houston) before winning first election at local level. Married, with two young children.
  • Faced stiff opposition in Democratic primary against occupant of the White House during previous Democratic administration (vice president Bob Russell).
  • Rivals attack him as inexperienced after just six years in Congress, but triumphs through grassroots support, inspiring speeches and message of change.
  • Republican opponent was veteran moderate senator from a western state, unpopular with conservative base (Arnie Vinick of California).
In West Wing, Santos wins. . . .

Today is Iraq $102Billions Call-In Day!

Drop a dime on Pelosi and Hoyer!

Call Speaker Pelosi at 202-225-0100 and Majority Leader Hoyer at 202-225-4131. Tell them to stay strong against warrantless wiretapping and $102 billion more for Iraq.

In a surprising and long-overdue display of courage, the House Democratic leadership last week stood up to Bush and refused to bring to the floor a bill that would allow Bush to continue to spy on the people of this country without a warrant. Also every Democrat but one voted to hold Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton in contempt of Congress. Can this newfound Democratic courage last?

We need Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to continue to stand strong against domestic spying and telecom immunity. And we need them to learn that they do have power if they choose to use it, and apply this lesson to ending the occupation of Iraq. Pelosi and Hoyer can start by simply refusing to allow Bush's $102 billion Iraq war funding request to come up for a vote.

Thursday Feb. 21: Join United for Peace and Justice,,, Progressive Democrats of America, and other groups in a Massive National "You are NOT a Lap Dog*" Call-In Day!

Call Speaker Pelosi at 202-225-0100 and Majority Leader Hoyer at 202-225-4131. If you don't get through to a person, leave a voicemail.

Talking points:
  1. Thank you for standing up against Bush's warrantless wiretapping, and keep standing up.
  2. Stand up against Bush's new $102 billion Iraq war funding request by refusing to bring it to the floor for a vote.
In addition to your call, please sign our petition to your own Representative and Senators: No More Funds for Iraq!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

McBush 2008!!!

A gift from heaven!

I like the current trend in this year's primaries. The Republicans were afflicted with a field of candidates which were more like a collection of the willing rather than of the qualified. When you look over the lot of them, Tancredo, Thompson, Romney, Hucklebee, Giuliani, etc., you have to agree there wasn't much to pick from. A bucket full of annoying and cacophonous defectives. None of them amounted to a sword with a cutting edge. In fact, they all resembled dysfunctional bayonets. All blades and no handles, each one of them was a greater threat to undercutting one of the three legs of the traditional conservative tripod than knee-capping the Democrats. And now they have settled on the John McCain option. I am surprised and delighted.

As some one who has pushed for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, and the immediate renunciation and annulment of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, this is a consolation prize. At this point in time, the best I could hope for is a Democratic-Republican match-up which promised to produce one of the greatest landslide defeats of an incumbent party in American history.

That is what this Democratic primary is about for me. Of course I want to pick the progressive candidate who can best lead our nation as we try to re-start the 21st century in the wake of the most ruinous eight years in our history. That means change: creative governance, prudent security and more peace and tranquility. But that's only half of it.

The other half of it is administering the greatest possible, tsunami-sized rebuke to the Republican party for their complicity in enabling Bush's outlaw cabal as it squandered our resources, undermined our Constitution, destroyed our international reputation, and diverted our foreign policy into assuming the role of this century's greatest international aggressor.

The selection of the Democratic candidate who can best serve in both of these capacities of tranquility and tsunami has not yet been resolved. But it excites me to see that the erstwhile Republicans are settling on/for McCain.

At the end of the day, the Republicans have had to resort to running on George Bush's coat tails! I remember back in the doldrums of 2005 or so, when people were lamenting the fact that Bush would leave office, un-impeached, uncensored, and undefeated. There was even talk of amending the Constitution to enable a third term, so that the country would have one more whack at Busheney, electorally.

Now look at what has happened! McCain has thoroughly married into Bush's war occupation and Bush has endorsed McCain. They have exchanged vows! There's not a dime's worth of daylight between them. We can run against a third Busheney term, after all! McCain has morphed into McBush! McCain represents four more years of George Bush, except that he doesn't stutter or strut quite as much and apparently can pronounce nuclear.

And what does he offer the American people? More of the same:
More Lies!
More Torture!
More Wars!
Fewer Jobs!
McCain was against tax cuts before he was for them; against torture before he was in favor of it; against repatriation of the undocumented before he was for it. He's willing to spend 100 years in Iraq, if that's what his notion of victory requires. No health care reform, if that's what his victory requires.

McCain has bartered away all of his principles as a maverick, non-movement conservative. In the interest of getting the keys to the White House, he has become what George Bush has always been: a willing conduit and tool of the Neocons. Republicans want to settle for him, because they realize they have no other destination in reach. There may be no light in sight at the end of the Iraqi tunnel. But there's no other option for the GOP than to plunge ahead into the darkness. The American people will not follow.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Momentum + Inertia + Disorientation = Timeout

I have learned that I cannot write at a certain level of fatigue. Only inchoate ideas pass my consciousness. Nothing gets tapered, refined, critiqued. I thought I was learning something about recognizing this threshold at which I was actually saving time and saving my life when it was better to sleep than to struggle on.

But these days, even power naps don't seem to work. Maybe it's a mild depression occasioned by a sense of loss and of losing which clouds my clarity. What I think I need is diversion. Whether my affliction is mental paralysis and writer's cramp, mounting frontal assaults don't seem to work.

In the past, I've found that a good way to shake myself out of these 'slumps' is to comment, sometimes at length, on friends' sites. Trouble is, some of them seem to be likewise afflicted and are not posting suitable grist for me frequently enough. Others, somehow misconstrue my friendly and positive contributions as rampant negativity, delete me, and tell me not to return.

In my travels through the blogosphere I have encountered many stimulating and attractive sites which temp me to stay longer and return more often than my increasingly limited time and energy permit. On some of these, I find myself drawn into rewarding dialogues and roundtables which extend for days and are informative and challenging. Others on this point, frankly, disappoint for various reasons. I'll mention three explanations.

  • Comment Moderation: It is very frustrating to go to the trouble of responding in a thread by composing a paragraph only to see that it will not be displayed until reviewed by the blogmeister or blogmistress. This feature denies me that satisfaction of appraising my contribution with the possibility of replacing it with an alternative. This feature also denies me the right to know if some other comment was posted in the interlude between when I began my composition and when I finished it. (I am a slow deliberate thinker typist.) I like to blend in the with flow of the conversation and use appropriate segues whenever possible. Thirdly, this comment moderation feature squelches the spontaneity of discussion. All activity has to await the approval of moderator. Often when the moderator authorizes comments to be published, they appear out of sequence. Finally, it's all unnecessary. The blog's administrator can just as easily check his site and capriciously delete objectionable content as he can approve comment double-parked in his email.
  • Anonymous Comments: Another irksome feature of some otherwise fantastic blogs are anonymous comments. These are especially frustrating threads that extend over some significant column inches or days. I fooking hate it when a good topic is beaten to death with a random trail of comment after comment by someone known as 'Anonymous' or 'Anon'. There's no way you can respond to any particular participant, or take a measure of his or her logic or consistency. You can't discern WTF is saying what. It's like a bunch of drive-by tagging crews throwing up a bunch of graffiti. The randomness of it all destroys any sense of linear discussion or community. Plus, total anonymity or anonymous comments frequently encourages the hijacking of the topic down the low road, racing to the bottom, ultimately invoking the very stupid language of hate. When I happen upon one of these I think I have arrived too late to a cocktail party; every one is drunk and every one is wearing identical burqas. The point is, this is also very easy to avoid. I don't think it's too much to ask opinionated folks who want to make their opinions known, to at least establish a distinct pseudonym. One site I write on is bending over backwards to be as permissive as possible on this point. It is going to experiment with permitting the use of noms-de-blog which are not attached to email addresses. The plan would be that when comments are posted by 'Anonymous', they will be deleted. That's really not enough to satisfy me. I don't think it's really workable but at least it's a start in the right direction.
  • Time-Stamps: Whether by design or neglect, some sites are set up such that comments are stamped with only the date or the time of day designated. This formatting does not inform the reader as to how current the discussion is, and will probably discourage him from investing any time participating in the discussion.
All this having been said, I cop to being a blog-addict. I'm truly hooked on all of the sites I regularly visit. They inform, challenge, and entertain me. I also treasure my own readership, be they writers or lurkers. I may not always acknowledge my appreciation through my own comments in my pages. Often, I would rather follow the discussion here than lead it. If anyone thinks I'm ungrateful to, and unresponsive for, comments in my pages, they should review their own sites. That's where I'll be engaging in pay-back!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

MLB: The Rites of Spring

Who says Baseball brings us all together?

Having watched just snatches of Thursday's hearings of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I am confused about some things.

Hall-of-Famer slam-dunk hunk Roger Clemens was testifying one seat away from his ex-trainer, Brian McNamee. McNamee claims he injected Clemens with steroids.

In the first place, as a baseball purist, I could care less about the use of steroids. What I don't like about Major League Baseball are two things: designated hitters and asterisks. So, the use of steroids bothers me only because high school kids will emulate the 'Bigs' if they were made legal.

Two other things - not about MLB - bother me, though. They're not very sophisticated, complicated or subtle. Basically they are two fundamental legal concepts that we live under the rule of laws and not of men, and It's against our laws to lie under oath.

This testimony between Clemens and McNamee is a 'he-said & he-said' situation? Well, if it's true that McNamee has the syringes to prove he juiced Clemens, I certainly think that justifies some kind of indictment. Secondly, if Clemens maintains he did get the right stuff, and he did, that's more serious, legally, than being denied his Hall-of-Fame seat.

But what gets me is how politically partisan these hearings became. Totally polarized, in fact, is my impression. The Republicans on the HCOGR lined up totally in Clemens' corner and the Democrats on McNamee's side.

Why was this?
  • The Republicans are just naturally on the side of the defendants because they are respecting the presumption of innocent?
  • Clemens is a personal friend of George W. Bush, has a standing and open invitation to the White House and is an even closer horseshoe-playing friend of George W. H. Bush?
  • Republicans just have a knee-jerk reaction against Rep. Henry A. Waxman and feel than anything he schedules a hearing about is superfluous or wasteful witch-hunting?
  • Roger Clemens is rich (arrogant and throws right) and the G.O.P. (Greedy Old Party) is genetically pre-disposed in favor of right wings and wealth; Brian McNamee is the underdog, a working stiff, drawing a paycheck from The Rocket, struggling to stay in the middle class?
  • Republicans are Yankee fans and Democrats are for the rest of us?
Before the hearings, Clemens both lawyered-up and lobbied-up, according to ESPN, Clemens went door-to-door chatting up members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform over the past week, and the effort apparently scored points with many of the committee's Republican members. Richard Emery, a lawyer for trainer Brian McNamee, was amazed at the GOP's lock-stepped stonewall defense arrayed in Clemon's defense:
Clearly, someone OK'd letting the dogs out of the kennel. There was a palpable difference in tone along party lines. I thought it was a disgraceful display.
And, probably uneccessarily so:
It would be the easiest thing in the world for George W. Bush, given the corrupt proclivities of his administration, to say Roger Clemens is an American hero, Roger Clemens helped children.
Get it? The standard ol' Alredo Gonzalez Defense!
It's my belief they have some reason to believe they can get a pardon.
Quite so. It's called the Libby Maneuver.

One can argue, of course whether, with all of the burning and smoking issues lying around for governmental oversight, why pick on baseball? Well, let's not open that can of worms. At the very, very least we can say, in behalf of these pre-spring training hearings: Republican congressmen proved that that their vocabulary includes the L-word. You know, as in the usage,

You're a liar!
The question is, can the Democrats purse their lips and pronounce the same word?

Chicken Hawks vs.Chicken Doves

Hardball or Softball? Tackle or Touch?

Barack Obama says he wants not only to undo our invasion and occupation in Iraq, but to annul the thinking that lead to it. I believe him. Obama also says he wants to end the game(s) played in Washington. I want him to clearly delineate what game(s) he's talking about.

For example, is it political baseball or political football?

I don't frankly know which. If it's baseball, the Chickenhawks have been playing hardball; and if it's football, the Chickenhawks have been playing 'tackle'. Liberals are countering with their version of 'softball' or 'touch-football'.

Hardball is Bush's well-known pitch to Congress: support the troops through funding or be labeled as backstabbing, Der Dolchstoß traitors. Impose no time-lines or you're emboldening the enemy. The surge is working, don't'cha see?

Softball and touch are the games the Democraptic Senators have been playing. Coach Harry Reid doesn't even want to play. He just wants to run out the clock:
We have the presidential election. Our time is really squeezed.
In the House, Coach Nancy Pelosi’s locker room speech is less than inspiring. She doesn’t want to control ball-possession , just her field position:
We just didn't have any plays we liked down there … you just have to play the field-position game....
Wait 'til next year:
We'll have a new president. And I do think at that time we'll take a fresh look at it.
The problem maybe that Democrap coaches are not really leaders but gamblers, engaging in point-shaving:
Our focus is on the Republicans. How can we juice up attacks on them?
Progressives need a blunt team captain, maybe a Lynn Wollsey willing to hold the line on defense by refusing from the beginning to approve any funding that wasn't tied to a troop withdrawal:
If we'd been bold the minute we got control of the House — and that's why we got the majority, because the people of this country wanted us out of Iraq — if we'd been bold, even if we lost the votes, we would have gained our voice.
There are worse things than losing.
Make no mistake: 2007 has been a losing year for us. The Progressives have been shutout by the retrogressives. So, going forward into the next political season, I have to ask myself which of the two general managers we are choosing between - Hillary or Barack - have more 'Game'?

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Republicans of the Week Are . . .

... four Congressmen who put loyality to country and respect for our Constitution above party!

They were
John Porter Porter of Nevada,
Ron Paul of Texas,
Wayne T. Gilchrest of Maryland, and
Walter B. Jones of North Carolina.

The House voted Thursday to hold two of Bush's confidants in contempt for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into whether a purge of federal prosecutors was politically motivated.

The vote was 223-32 to hold White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers in contempt. The citations charge Miers with failing to testify and accuse her and Bolten of refusing Congress' demands for documents related to the 2006-2007 firings.

Before the vote, Minority Leader John A. Boehner, R-Ohio lead most of his constitutionally illiterate colleagues in a walk out:
We have space on the calendar today for a politically charged fishing expedition, but no space for a bill that would protect the American people from terrorists who want to kill us. Let's just get up and leave.
But these four stayed. Mssrs Paul, Gilchrest, and Jones voted for the contempt resolution; Congressman Porter voted 'Present'.

A late start toward a return to constitutional government, but it's start.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Senatorial Longevity and Presidential Entitlement

I cannot draw myself away from the notion, long held, that the American Presidency is not some kind of Life-Time Achievement award that is always dished out at each year's Academy Awards.

I don't know who wrote this rule about long-term Senators not making good 1st-time presidential candidates, but it's been broken - and blatantly so - only once during my political lifetime. John F. Kennedy was elected into the White House directly after having served eight years in the Senate. Lyndon Baines Johnson was a long-term senator, but he was running in 1964 for re-election, having ascended into the White House via his vice-presidency.

Look at the colossal failures: John F. Kerry (2004) 19 years in the Senate, Bob Dole (1996) after 28 years in the Senate. Very successful senatorial careers for both of them, but they were total losers as presidential aspirants. These two were the epitome of 'entitlement' candidates.

The fact of the matter is that long-term careers in the Senate bring to the presidential hustlings heavy luggage. Nice guys and careerists, like Senators Dodd (27 years) and Biden (35 years), inevitably make mistakes and enemies. Republican Maverick McCain has logged 21 years in the Senate. Senatorial trespasses are forgiven as normal and ordinary risks and hazards of political and legislative practice; but when a senator aspires to the presidency which is extra ordinary. Unless you are AWOL during those years of role call votes, day in and day out, your track record is there. And your grudge-holding enemies are bound to have better memories and recall than you.

This doesn't auger well for either John McCain or Hillary Clinton. In her case, you can add in some - not all - of her '35 years of experience'. Yes, I'm speaking of those eight years as First Lady. If John Kerry was swift-boated to death, she can anticipate being white-watered even more than she was while she was spouse in the White House. The ham-handedness of ex-President Bill after the South Carolina primary shook Hillary's campaign to its foundations. Many began to think of her candidacy as the Clintonian 'restoration' or Bill's 'third term'. As Maureen Dowd says in the NYT (13-Feb):
As a possible first Madame President, Hillary is a flawed science experiment because you can’t take Bill out of the equation. Her story is wrapped up in her marriage, and her marriage is wrapped up in a series of unappetizing compromises, arrangements and dependencies.
You could say that about McCain, too, as he embraces Bush's tax cuts and 100-year war, that he represents Bush's third term, too.

So, the bottom line question for Progressives is, as E. J. Dionne Jr. asks,
It's come down to this: Who can best beat John McCain?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Has America Betrayed the NATO Alliance?

Konfusion in Kabul, Part II

Here is an unusually frank and disturbing opinion from Eric Margolis of the Edmonton Sun, Europeans See What America Cannot.

I am presenting it because it contains some points of view which I have projected as being held by many Europeans. I have felt that I have not encountered this opinion, because - like too many Americans - I am monolingual and do not travel.

In any event, here is what Margolis says, in part:

. . . . . Most Europeans regard the Afghan conflict as
  • wrong and immoral;
  • America's war;
  • all about oil;
  • probably lost.
To many Europeans, the NATO alliance was created to deter the real threat of Soviet aggression, not to supply foot soldiers for George Bush's wars in the Muslim world.

While Gates and the Harper government were pleading for more troops, the commander of the 40,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, landed a bombshell. If proper U.S. military counter-insurgency doctrine were followed, McNeill admitted, the U.S. and NATO would need 400,000 troops to defeat Pashtun tribal resistance in Afghanistan.

When the Soviets occupied Afghanistan, they deployed 160,000 troops and about 200,000 Afghan Communist troops -- yet failed to crush the mostly Pashtun resistance. Now, the U.S. and NATO are trying the same mission with only 66,000 troops, backed by local mercenaries grandly styled the Afghan National Army.

Canada's calls for 1,000 more NATO troops, and the U.S. decision to send 3,200 marines, will not alter the course of this war, which is turning increasingly against the western occupiers. In fact, the war is spreading into neighbouring Pakistan, a nation of 165 million, stretching U.S. and NATO forces ever thinner.

A primary reason for Gates's recent call for U.S. troops to begin attacking pro-Taliban Pashtun tribesmen inside Pakistan is due to their growing attacks on allied supply lines to Afghanistan.

As this column has reported, over 70% of U.S./NATO supplies come in by truck through Pakistan's tribal belt known as FATA, including all of their oil and gas. Attacks by pro-Taliban tribesmen against these vulnerable supply lines are jeopardizing western military operations inside Afghanistan.


The hunters are becoming the hunted. Cutting off invaders' supply lines is a time-honoured Pashtun military tactic. They used it against Alexander the Great, the British and Soviets, and are at it again.

What angry Gates fails to see is that by pushing NATO into a distant Asian war without political purpose or seeming end, he is endangering the very alliance that is the bedrock of U.S. power in Europe.

Europeans increasingly ask why they need the U.S.-dominated military alliance, a Cold War relic, in which they continue to play foot soldiers to America's atomic knights, to paraphrase the late German statesman, Franz Josef Strauss.

Why does the rich, powerful European Union even need NATO any more? The Soviet threat is gone -- at least for now. Nuclear-armed France and Britain are quite capable of defending Europe against outside threats. Why can't the new European Defence Force take over NATO's role of defending Europe and protecting EU interests?

In short, most Europeans see no benefit in playing junior members in an alliance whose historic time has passed and that serves primarily as an instrument of U.S. power. Washington's sharpest geopolitical thinker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, calls NATO a "stepping stone" the U.S. uses to project power into Europe.

By pushing NATO towards a bridge too far, the Bush administration may end up fatally undermining the alliance and encouraging anti-American forces in Europe.

In fact, it's becoming evident that the cash-strapped U.S. needs the EU more than the EU needs the U.S.


Final point. If impassioned claims by U.S. and Canadian politicians that the little Afghanistan war must by won at all costs, then why don't they stop orating, impose conscription, and send 400,000 soldiers, including their own sons, to fight in Afghanistan?

Of course they won't. They prefer to waste their own soldiers, and grind up Afghanistan, rather than admit this war against 40 million Pashtun tribesmen was a terrible mistake that will only get worse.

I have always personally argued that our post 9-11 invasion and reconstruction of Afghanistan was warranted, if not mandated, by the NATO charter. However, Bush's detour into Iraq, away from the effort to capture Osama bin Laden ('dead or alive'), has fatally weakened and corrupted this Afghanistan mission.

I'm sure that NATO's "1st Tier" original members never envisaged that the alliance would
  • Come to the armed defense of one member who was attacked by a non-member
  • Tolerate the besieged NATO member capriciously launching an unprovoked aggression against another country
  • Continue its effort in behalf of its original member while that member continued expending the preponderant amount of its own resources on its unnecessary invasion and occupation of the third country.
The situation, as I see it, is that NATO has been assigned to pulling our chestnuts (Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, etc.), out of the fire in Afghanistan while we Americans are blowing our assets and resources, extinguishing fires we have needlessly set in Iraq.

Bush and Cheney are driving this once-great alliance into the ground.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Lincoln Chafee Is Our Republican of the Week!

A Weekly Friday Feature...

Not unlike other Republicans
I have featured in this once-a-week tribute to members of the Once-Grand Old Party (O-GOP), Lincoln Chafee is, alas, only an ex-Republican. Since his involuntary dismissal from the Senate in 2006, he has been registered as 'unaffiliated', which is a Rhode Island political argot for independent. Not unlike other recent émigrés from the new, Autocratic & Greedy Old Party (A-GOP), Chafee provides an object lesson in modern Republicanism.

His father, the late John H. Chafee, was the archetype of the New England Republican moderate and served as a Rhode Island state legislator, governor, U.S. Navy secretary and as a U.S. senator. As the party drifted right, New England moderates such as Chafee and his father became relics.

As a Republican Senator from Rhode Island, Chafee Jr. was the one Republican who voted against the Oct 2002 resolution authorizing Bush's use of force against Iraq. In 2004, he did not support Bush's re-election. In interviews, Chafee acknowledges now that he made some mistakes the most blatant of which was not bolting the GOP sooner and becoming an independent, as did his friend then-Senator James M. Jeffords of Vermont.

But he saw how the A-GOP treated deserters: Jeffords' legislation, which helped Vermont dairy farmers, was demolished. Chafee hung in with the Republican back benchers out of concern for the interests of his state's defense industries, installations, roads and highways, etc., all of which were vulnerable to retaliatory cutbacks.

Even so, A-GOP retaliation came in the form of a primary challenger named Stephen P. Laffey. As his name implies, Laffey was a laughable contender for a Senate seat in New England. He was a right wing nut-job selected by the infamous Club for Growth to siphon off Republican contributions from Chafee. Laffey campaigned using bumper-sticker and talk-show attributions of Chafee such as a "backstabber," a "confessed cocaine abuser," "fickle," "a dull fellow," a "limousine liberal," a "Ted Kennedy Republican" and a "possible member of a Neville Chamberlain fan club," etc.

Thus weakened and, with his state party split, Chafee lost his Senate seat to Democrat Sheldon Whitehorse. Chafee looks back on the general election with resentment at the parade of Democratic Bush's war-enablers who trekked to Rhode Island to campaign for Whitehouse such as Senators Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and others.

But revenge is sweet, even if late in coming. This April, Chafee is coming out with his political memoir, Against the Tide: How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President. This volume is supposed to disclose where the bodies are buried and name the names of the suspected perps and pimps of Busheney's invasion of Iraq, Democrats as well as Republicans.

Some excerpts have been released early:

Few members of Congress were willing to stand up to the schoolyard tough [Mr. Bush] and in the early morning hours of Oct. 11, 2002, weeks before the crucial midterm elections, he bullied them into declaring Saddam an imminent threat.

I find it surprising now, in 2008, how many Democrats are running for president after shirking their constitutional duty to check and balance this president … Being wrong about sending Americans to kill and be killed, maim and be maimed, is not like making a punctuation mistake in a highway bill.

… They argue that the president duped them into war, but getting duped does not exactly recommend their leadership. Helping a rogue president start an unnecessary war should be a career-ending lapse of judgment.

… The top Democrats were at their weakest when trying to show how tough they were. They were afraid that Republicans would label them soft in the post-September 11 world, and when they acted in political self-interest, they helped the president send thousands of Americans and uncounted innocent Iraqis to their doom.

… Instead of talking tough or meekly raising one's hand to support the tough talk, it is far more muscular, I think, to find out what is really happening in the world and have a debate about what we really need to accomplish. That is the hard work of governing, but it was swept aside once the fear, the war rhetoric and the political conniving took over.

… how quickly key Democrats crumbled … They went down to the meetings at the White House and the Pentagon and came back to the chamber ready to salute. With wrinkled brows they gravely intoned that Saddam Hussein must be stopped. Stopped from what? They had no conviction or evidence of their own. They were just parroting the administration's nonsense. They knew it could go terribly wrong; they also knew it could go terribly right. Which did they fear more?

[...]Few members of Congress were willing to stand up to the schoolyard tough [Mr. Bush] and in the early morning hours of Oct. 11, 2002, weeks before the crucial midterm elections, he bullied them into declaring Saddam an imminent threat.
Chafee's memoirs should make for an interesting read. I hope it's out in the book stores before the Democratic Presidential primary is resolved.