Monday, July 30, 2007

Attorney Alfredo Gonzales Is No General

Fredo is just a messenger.

I don't have the time to follow the ins and outs of this agonizingly slow-climaxing attorney-gate scandal. Scraps of hearings and transcripts have shown me enough of the deceptions and dissimulations to convince me that the rot in this l'affaire has got to the top of the Bushopranos.

This appears to be the nexus:

Who's your daddy, Gonzo?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Barack Obama and Genocide

Americans say they want the truth from their candidates, but it's precisely the truth that they can't handle.

Because what they really want is platitudes and mythology. My fellow Americans cling to the past image of our once-great country: the non-aggressing leader and savior of the free world. We had a creditable claim to that mantle until Bush and Cheney cast it aside on March 20, 2003. Bush said he was going to spend his political capital but, by invading Iraq, he squandered our previously vast American moral and diplomatic resources.

The truth is that we live - still - in a world which has walls and limits: psychological, physical, economic, and geopolitical limits. When we squander our resources in the short term, the shadows of our limits lengthen for us in the long run.

I missed the Senator's statement on Friday, until this morning when I noticed it plastered all over the pro-war echelons of the Internet. I haven't found the unadulterated version of his statement, and believe me, there are plenty of adulterated and altered versions smeared against the walls of the blogosphere. But my reaction to what has been said against the Senator was so strong and overwhelming, I'll just have to go with what I have. In the standardized headline, the Senator says:
Don't stay in Iraq over genocide.

Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done.

We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea.

There’s no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there.

It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions.

We have not lost a military battle in Iraq. So when people say if we leave, we will lose, they’re asking the wrong question. We cannot achieve a stable Iraq with a military. We could be fighting there for the next decade.
Now, as far as that goes, I'd have to say the Senator has nailed the truth upon an oak that will not fall. My only worry is that Obama's handlers will 'advise' him to back off, clarify or refine, this statement.

Speaking as a small-d democrat as well as an American capital-N Nationalist, I have always felt that nations rightfully go to war when they have to; when they are attacked, not when they feel, imagine, fantasize, or wish they might be attacked. Had not Bush and Cheney so wantonly, recklessly and thoroughly whacked off our wad in Iraq, then all of Obamas' critics' sensibilities about Darfur (and their other holocausts past and future), would not ring so hollow. But, thanks to those two fools, any possibilities of our contributing to the collective security of others is as about as plausible as drawing to an inside straight.

Iraq is broken. But we don't own it. Bush and Cheney, who lied and stampeded our wounded post-911 country into this invasion - they own it. The longer this occupation lasts, the more the damage Bush and Cheney have caused is compounded.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pat Tillman

The Who, When, What, How and Why?

The Who:
  • Started his football career as a linebacker for Arizona State University in 1994, and excelled as a linebacker at Arizona State, despite being relatively small for the position.
  • As a senior, he was voted the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Tillman majored in marketing and graduated in 3 1/2 years with a 3.84 GPA.
  • In the 1998 NFL Draft, Tillman was selected as the 227th pick by the Arizona Cardinals. Tillman moved over to play the safety position in the NFL and started ten of sixteen games in his rookie season.
  • Tillman turned down a five-year, $9 million contract offer from the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals.
  • In May 2002, eight months after the September 11, 2001 attacks and after completing the fifteen remaining games of the 2001 season which followed the attacks (at a salary of $512,000 per year),Tillman turned down a contract offer of $3.6 million over three years from the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army.
The When:
  • April 22, 2004: Pat Tillman is shot and killed by a hail of bullets on a road near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Members of Tillman's unit burned his body armor and uniform in an apparent attempt to hide the fact that he was killed by friendly fire.
  • April 30, 2004: U.S. Army Special Operations Command releases a stirring account of how Tillman was cut down by enemy fire while shouting out orders to his men. Tillman is posthumously awarded a Silver Star for combat valor.
  • May 3, 2004: The Pentagon propaganda machine orchestrates an exquisitely produced nationally televised memorial for Pat Tillman.
  • May 29, 2004: True details of Tillman’s death - from freindly fire - are finally revealed, to Tillman’s family and to the public.
  • June 9, 2005: After Tillman’s parents harshly criticize the delay in informing them of the true circumstances of their son’s death, the Army apologizes.
  • August 23, 2005: The Pentagon announces that the Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office is launching a review of the previous flawed investigation into the death of Pat Tillman.
  • March 4, 2006: The US army announces that as a result of the Inspector General’s review, it will now launch a criminal investigation into the death of Pat Tillman.
  • July 13, 2007: White House and the Pentagon cite executive privilege to hold up documents on Tillman's friendly fire Death.
  • July 27, 2007:The Associated Press publishes a report based upon 2,300 pages of testimony obtained from the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. This report contains conclusions of medical examiners that, based on the three bullet holes in Tillman's head, he was killed at a range of ten yards.
The What:
Executive privilege: the power claimed by the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch to resist certain search warrants and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government. Executive privilege is not mentioned in the United States Constitution. However, the Supreme Court has considered it to be an element of the separation of powers doctrine, and derived from the supremacy of the executive branch in its own area of Constitutional activity. In U.S. vs. Nixon, the SCOTUS affirmed "the valid need for protection of communications between high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in the performance of their manifold duties..."

Fragging: In a military context, the assault, wounding, or assassination of an unpopular member of one's own fighting unit, originally using small weapons or explosives.
The How: See Fragging.

The Why: See Executive Privilege.

If they have nothing to hide, why do they hide everything?

G.O.P. Friday! (#1)

The first in a series of efforts to bring us all together for a bi-partisan weekend!

I have always tried to clarify the view point of The Vigil as a non-partisan critic of foreign and domestic policy. I am a small-d democrat and a small-r republican. When it comes to restoring our once-great nation to its previously peerlessly healthy, honorable and esteemed status, I will listen to any one. I never agree with anyone 100% and I can take at least one day out of the week to listen to someone who agrees with (maybe) 50% of my agenda. So, in this spirit of a re-united Americana, I offer . . . .
Congressman Ron Paul (Republican - Texas):

...And Michael Scheuer!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

No Permanent Bases In Iraq!

H.R. 2929 Proposes to Give the Lie to Bush's Pretense of Not Intending to Stay in Iraq.

Co-Sponsors Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, David Price and Lynn Woolsey

H.R. 2929 would bar the use of any funds in the new spending bill to establish permanent bases. This bill takes Bush and his top administration officials at their word when they have said the U.S. military has no interest in permanent bases, the prospect of which is the chief cause of anti-American unrest in Iraq.

Leaders of the Republican majority also chose to avoid a debate and recorded vote on Lee's proposal in 2006 because they didn't want to go on record endorsing a permanent military presence in Iraq when polls show Americans oppose the occupation.

As Representative Lee said on the House floor,
In adopting this amendment, we can take the target off our troops' backs by sending a strong and immediate signal to the Iraqi people, the insurgents and the international community that the United States has no designs on Iraq.
Tom Matzzie, the Washington director for the anti-war group
Our goal is the total political collapse of support for Bush's war. And this gives us an even better opportunity to achieve that.
Deny the Bush Administration's shoot-first policy the spoils of its invasion and occupation of Iraq by supporting this bill.
1st Session
H. R. 2929
June 28, 2007

Ms. LEE (for herself, Mr. ALLEN, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. PRICE of North Carolina, and Ms. WATERS) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


To limit the use of funds to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq or to exercise United States economic control of the oil resources of Iraq.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


Congress finds the following:
  1. On May 30, 2007, Tony Snow, the President's press secretary, said that President Bush envisions a United States military presence in Iraq `as we have in South Korea', where American troops have been stationed for more than 50 years.

  2. On June 1, 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates elaborated on the President's idea of a `long and enduring presence' in Iraq, of which the `Korea model' is one example.

  3. These statements run counter to previous statements issued by the President and other administration officials.

  4. On April 13, 2004, the President said, `As a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation and neither does America.'.

  5. On February 6, 2007, Secretary Robert Gates stated in testimony before Congress, `we certainly have no desire for permanent bases in Iraq.'.

  6. On February 16, 2006, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated in testimony before Congress, `We have no desire to have our forces permanently in that country. We have no plans or discussions underway to have permanent bases in that country.'.

  7. On March 24, 2006, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Kahilzad stated that the United States has `no goal of establishing permanent bases in Iraq.'.

  8. On October 25, 2006, the President stated, `Any decisions on permanency in Iraq will be made by the Iraqi government.', in response to a question whether the United States wanted to maintain permanent military bases in Iraq.

  9. On February 6, 2007, Secretary Gates said, `We will make that decision, sir' in response to the question: `Is that still our policy, that we're going to be there [Iraq] as long as the [Iraqi] government asks us to be there? ... Is our presence left up to the Iraqis or do we make the decision?'.

  10. The perception that the United States intends to permanently occupy Iraq aids insurgent groups in recruiting supporters and fuels violent activity.

  11. A clear statement that the United States does not seek a long-term or permanent presence in Iraq would send a strong signal to the people of Iraq and the international community that the United States fully supports the efforts of the Iraqi people to exercise full national sovereignty, including control over security and public safety.

  12. The Iraq Study Group Report recommends: `The President should state that the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Iraq. If the Iraqi government were to request a temporary base or bases, then the United States government could consider that request as it would in the case of any other government.'; and `The President should restate that the United States does not seek to control Iraq's oil.'.

  13. The House of Representatives has passed 6 separate bills prohibiting or expressing opposition to the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq including three of which have been enacted into law by the President: Public Law 109-289, Public Law 109-364, Public Law 110-28.


It is the policy of the United States not to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq and not to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.


No funds made available by any Act of Congress shall be obligated or expended for a purpose as follows:
  1. (1) to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq; and

  2. (2) to exercise United States economic control of the oil resources of Iraq.
This bill is currently being debated on the Floor of the House of Representatives.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Republican Exit Plan

What should we have really expected?

Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld revived one of the worst scourges of the 20th Century, the doctrine of preventive war, when they invaded Iraq. Only they called their invasion 'shock and awe' instead of blitzkrieg. Now, that their self-deluding Neo-Conservative rubber has hit the Iraqi road in a porous and intractable post-war occupation, what would be their last recourse? Why, they're reviving one of the worst alibis of the 20th century, der Dolchstosslegende.

This alibi is actually as old as the hills. These posters are dated 1924.

History buffs could do well to follow the last link above to recall to mind the several antecedents to this anti-civilian stab-in-the-back meme that held sway during the Weimar Republic.

I guarantee some of its aspects will compare closely with unfortunate parallels to the Bush's current Iraquagmire:
  • Faulty geo-political planning
  • Initial pro-war triumphal euphoria
  • Faith in a quick and relatively bloodless victory
  • Underestimation of the horrors of war
  • Lies as to the origins and cause of the war
  • Mythology of going it alone
  • Eventual appreciation of hostilities having reached stalemate
  • Realization of the unbearable cost of war in terms of blood and treasure
  • Explaining unrequited war aims by blaming civilians for defeat
Bush revived the Dolchstoss legend and dressed it in its
Vietnam syndrome
adaptation when he had his (recess-appointed) Undersecretary for Defence, Eric Edelman scold Senator Clinton for her queries on Iraqi withdrawal dates. Edelman implied that the Senator was unpatriotic.
Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. Such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.
This attack on Clinton portends ominously for the future. With the end of the Bush administration approaching, Republicans are interested in preserving party fortunes and cooperating with Bush's efforts to scratch out a passable presidential legacy. No one can ignore the current desperation in the 'new' Republican circles to salvage what is salvageable from Bush's unprovoked invasion of Iraq. By murmuring under their breaths that 'mistakes were made' they expect to be able to exorcise the invasion in order to save the occupation.

If they can't save the occupation, they expect be able to campaign in 2012 on "Who lost Iraq"? What else would one expect of Weimar Republicans?

Friday, July 20, 2007

What about Our Own Bad Newz Kennel?

Who let slip these dogs of war?

William Shakespeare:
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.
Senator Robert Byrd (19-July-07):
It is a brutal, sadistic event motivated by barbarism of the worst sort and cruelty of the worst, worst, worst, sadistic kind.

The training of these poor creatures -- weigh those words -- the training of these poor creatures -- weigh them -- the training of these poor creatures to turn themselves into fighting machines is simply barbaric. Barbaric! Barbaric! Barbaric! Let that word resound from hill to hill and from mountain to mountain, from valley to valley across this broad land. Barbaric, barbaric!

The Book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible, the King James Bible, tells us a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

The immortal Dante tells us the divine justice reserves special places in Hell for certain categories of sinners. Madam president, I am confident -- madam president, I am confident that the hottest places in Hell are reserved for the souls of sick and brutal people who hold God's creatures in such brutal and cruel contempt!

One is left wondering: Who are the real animals? Who are the real animals, who are the real animals -- the creatures inside the ring or the creatures outside the ring?I yield the floor.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Congress' Constitutional Duty

I'm writing to ask readers of the The Vigil to educate themselves about Congress' Constitutional Duty to impeach Bush (and Cheney and Gonzales).

After listening to the conservative Constitutional Scholar, Bruce Fein (who drew up the first articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton) and to John Nichols, author of The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders Cure for Royalism, I am convinced that we must put impeachment front and center "on the table".

The two men appeared on Bill Moyer's Journal, a weekly television show carried by our local public television channel. Fein, who is anything but a "Lefty", said that it is essential that we impeach Bush (I think Cheney and Gonzales also need to be included in being impeached) because Bush is "seeking to cripple Congress and the Judiciary" and "to eliminate our constitutionally established system of checks and balances."

Fein went on to point out that if Congress fails to impeach Bush(-Cheney-Gonzales), they are allowing/endorsing Bush's claims of virtually unlimited presidential (read: monarchical) power that will stand as precedent for all subsequent presidents and irretrievably alter our cherished (and now our almost former) political system of self-governance.

Nichols pointed out that the Founders were well aware of possible power grabs that one or more of the three co-equal branches of government might attempt to accomplish. The constitutionally provided remedy (mentioned six, yes, six times) for such a power grab, regardless of which of the three co-equal branches of our government is: IMPEACHMENT.

Nichols stressed that to impeach Bush(-Cheney-Gonzales) is not to punish him/them, but rather to apply the medicine required by the patient. In this instance, the patient is our Beloved Country, which is currently suffering under a severe and escalating constitutional crisis.

The Constitution mandates that Congress take the action of impeachment to right the Ship of State, which in this case is about to sink because of the relentless storms of greed, lies, obstructions of justice, right-wing zealotry, and cronyism that have depleted our treasury, destroyed our military, shredded our cherished Constitution, rendered us the pariah of the international community and threatens to (for the first time since our founding) decimate our Democracy and turn it into a fascist theocracy.

What our country needs now is a statesman or stateswoman who has the integrity, courage, and constitutional understanding of Barry Goldwater who confronted Nixon when Nixon was attempting to put himself above the Constitution. Even Nixon, however vile and unprincipled he may have been, knew that, under our Constitution, NO ONE/NONE is above the law - not even the President of the United States. Goldwater was a man of Principle: he put the good of the Country ahead of the good of (his political) party.

Where is such a principled individual today? Sadly, there seems to be no one.

Lacking such an individual, we must step up to the plate. We have to bombard our congressional representatives, our local papers, our friends and family, and our talk shows with the fact of the CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE articulated in our Constitution to protect our country from political disintegration.

The Oath of Office, taken by all congress persons (and by the way, also taken by OUR PRESIDENT, VICE-PRESIDENT, and the ATTORNEY GENERAL) is a personal promise, made under oath, that the individual assuming that important office will, to the best of his/her ability "...preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.":

Sadly, the three (Bush-Cheney-Gonzales) lied when they were sworn into office. They have been, and they continue, doing everything in their respective powers to dismantle our Democracy, all the while proclaiming the opposite and attacking as "unpatriotic" any who dare say: "the Emperor is wearing no clothes".

Our Beloved Country is facing challenges hitherto unknown in ferocity and number. Will you help us speak truth to power?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stop Funding This Ill-Begotten Occupation of Iraq!

Quote of the Day...
From the Voice of America:
President Bush has signed an order that allows the U.S. government to block the assets of any person or group that threatens the stability of Iraq.

The order exempts the United States.
What does this clarification leave unsaid?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cheney-Bush's Occupation of Iraq Will Inevitably Fail

American Armed Forces have been assigned tasks which are at cross purposes.

The Cheney-Bush administration had substantial trouble arriving at a consensus as to how to justify the invasion of Iraq. The reason was that Operation Iraqi Liberation Freedom was a solution in search of a problem. Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair in May of 2003:
The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but . . . there have always been three fundamental concerns. One was weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people.
After more than four years of occupation following Bush's announcement on 1 May '03 that
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed
the clarity of his purpose has not improved. This enduring ambiguity, I have long thought, has been the center of our national inability to draw a road map or chart a course out of Iraq. For that reason, Bush's phrase, "stay the course", has always been a mal à propos. Now, as the American people and their legislative representatives strive to rescue the Bush-Cheney cabal from its Iraquagmire, the multiplicity of occupation goals defeats them. The yardsticks, waypoints, benchmarks, (and now) 'metrics' erected to measure the effectiveness of Cheney-Bush’s occupation are defeated by Neo-Conservatives' hydra-headed goal for Iraq.

It's entirely plausible that all large-scaled projects - even those of less scope than the occupation of an entire country - could be undertaken with more than one purpose in mind. But the question I want to raise is this:

Are these different objectives mutually compatible
in their Iraqi context?

Let's consider the following gamut of purposes this prospective endless and restless occupation is supposed to be addressing. I've boiled them down in number so as to be as few as possible:
  1. Completing Regime Change: Having changed-out Saddam's regime, the most obvious goal would seem to be to leave any kind of centralized regime behind - however thuggish - and to get the Baghdad government to rule over all of Iraq. This path is piled high with difficulties, will take an interminable effort and threatens Goal #3 (below). Members of the current government and parliament have only sectional allegiances and are paid with American cash with which they and their families have taken extended European vacations.
  2. Training Iraqi troops to stand up so our troops can stand down: The only reliable troops wearing Iraqi uniforms are volunteer(ed) Kurdish Peshmerga. Shiia Troops are reliable only when dispatched to their own local or tribal areas. Otherwise, they desert after payday. American trainers have learned not to turn their backs on them, so this objective is in conflict with force-protection.
  3. Force Protection and Legitimacy: The Coalition forces must protect themselves. This requires winning even temporary acceptance and legitimacy of the occupation forces. The key to this objective is convincing Iraqis of all stripes that their 'occupiers' will leave soon. This requires the absolute absence of any military installations that appear permanent. This requires even more boots on the ground than we have currently, so that use of air strikes do not make up the difference with 'collateral' casualties.
  4. Civil War Monitor: Refereeing, suppressing or ending sectarian, political and criminal violence. This mission has the prospect of lasting indefinitely. This mission is also a self-defeating: by virtue of our presence as occupier, we are blamed as being the proxy or sponsor of each episode of slaughter: Shiia victims blame us. Sunni victims blame us. One can even make the additional point that our presence encourages sectarian violence. For example, any Shiite wishing to strike a blow against 'The Occupier' but lacking sufficient armament, can kill a dozen or so Sunnis just to demonstrate the ineffectualness of the Occupier's puppet government. Or vice-versa.
  5. Buttressing & propping up Iraq against Iran: This is otherwise known as keeping Iran from getting its grubby hands on our Iraq. This requires permanent bases, thus undermining the legitimacy of our occupation (see #3 above). This requires siding with Sunnis against the Shiia, who, after all, won our election. This requires us to favor the Sunnis, who not only lost the election but who are the most friendly -for want of a better word - with al Qaeda.
  6. Killing as many of al Qaeda as possible: Using Iraq as flypaper with which to draw al Qaeda jihadists from other targets, so that Iraq can become/remain 'THE central front in a war on terror'. The trouble with this flypaper concept is that the swarming flies are drawn from a seemingly bottomless pool of madrassa-trained recruits. This gimmick of using Iraqi soil as a killing ground is oh-so transparent to Iraqis, so this violates mission #3 (above): Iraqis will tell you they never volunteered their country to serve as flypaper. This also means siding with Shiia, whom the Sunnis call 'Iranians'. Siding with Shiia means toleration - maybe even diplomatic recognition - of Iranians and/or, (according to Cheney), their proxies, the Hezbollah.
  7. Rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure: This mission points to the restoration of Iraq's economy so that the basic needs of nutrition, shelter, utilities, transportation and employment are attainable for all Iraqis. This takes too long which necessitates a long-term presence and suggests permanent occupation (#3 above).
  8. Reorganization and updating oil production: Otherwise known as having Iraqi oil profits pay for our occupation. Otherwise known as grabbing their (our) oil from underneath some one else's sand. This definitely de-legitimizes the occupation and undermines its force security (#3)
  9. Growing Democracy: Establishing a parliamentary government in Baghdad. Educating Iraqis in the rudimentary principles of federalism. Takes too long, suggests interminable occupation and thereby threatens the security of its forces (#3 above).
I could go on. The point I'm trying to address is that it is time to end Bush's and Cheney's foolishness in Iraq. We have sustained 3,616 American KIA's in this unnecessary, counter-productive and poorly advised adventure, and 12,014 (life altering) WIA's. Who knows how much treasure we have spent on this quagmire? But we do know it's costing us $200 billion annually. It's time for the American people to take charge, along with their supposed representatives in Congress, and exercise some triage here. Choose the single most plausible objective, get 're done and get out. By Christmas.

Updated: How Do We Measure Progress in Iraq?

More than two years ago, we were here:
That's what our de facto president said on Larry King's Live (20-Jun-05)

Here's where we were two weeks ago:
Joe Lieberman (29-Jul-07:
The enemy's on the run through the surge.Militarily it is working. The enemies that we face in Iraq are really being defeated and contained and being pushed...

Lindsey Graham (6-Jul-07)
The military part of the surge is working beyond my expectations. We literally have the enemy on the run. The Sunni part of Iraq has really rejected al-Qaida all over the country. We’re getting more information about al-Qaida operations than we’ve ever received.
Here's where we are today (11 July):

20 35 mortar rounds and Katyusha rockets struck the fortified Green Zone on Tuesday afternoon, killing an American service member and two other people in an attack on the heart of U.S. and Iraqi government facilities in the capital.

Those killed included an Iraqi and a person whose nationality was unknown, according to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy. About 18 people were injured, including two U.S. military personnel and three American contract employees.

The Green Zone, also known as the International Zone, is home to the U.S. and British embassies, Iraqi parliament and other foreign and Iraqi government offices. It covers about 4 square miles in central Baghdad on the west bank of the Tigris River.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said he could not confirm whether the embassy was a target, and that the frequent attacks on the Green Zone are not a barometer of the security situation in the capital.
There's fire into the Green Zone virtually every day, so I can't draw any conclusions about the security situation based on that.
UPDATE (16-July-07): McClatchy Newspapers have punched through the Cheney-Bush cloak of secrecy.

State Department orders flak jackets in Baghdad's Green Zone

At least four mortar rounds hit inside the Green Zone about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, killing two Iraqi civilians, according to a U.S. soldier who could not speak for attribution because he's not authorized to talk to reporters.

But the really big news is the that dress code at the Blue Star restaurant inside Baghdad's Green Zone now calls for vest and hat. But that's Flak vest and Kevlar helmet, actually.

A State Department official, speaking without attribution, initially denying that State had ordered its 1,000 Baghdad personnel to wear protective gear. But he admit that a copy of the Department's order obtained by McClatchy Newspapers was an undiscussable security breach:
You're asking me to comment on an internal document? How did you get it? We don't talk to what our security posture is.
The embassy released its memo later on Saturday:
As a result of the recent increase of indirect fire attacks on the International Zone, outdoor movement is restricted to a minimum. Remain within a hardened structure to the maximum extent possible and strictly avoid congregating outdoors. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is mandatory until further notice. . . Public places that are not in a hardened structure - such as the Blue Star Restaurant - should be frequented only in conjunction with the use of your PPE.
Saturday's attack included a mortar round landed here in the Blue Star's compound. The blast severed a water line and the Internet cable. Another round hit where the compound's security chief resides.

Interestingly, while some 100 British embassy workers and about 55 United Nations personnel living in the Green Zone sleep in hardened housing, U.S. State Department personnel sleep in unprotected housing. Our unnamed State Department official declined to "characterize" this situation "as being a mixed message."

Friday, July 13, 2007

I Listened to the President's News Conference Yesterday

Because I was curious.

He was explaining how and why getting 8 out of 18 benchmarks on his mid-term report card in this new SURGING 101 'course' he's teaching Iraqis and Americans (together!), amounts to a passing grade. This what I heard him say.
. . . . I understand why the American people are -- you know, they're tired of the war. There is -- people are -- there is a war fatigue in America. It's affecting our psychology. I've said this before. . . . . Those are all legitimate questions that I'm sure historians will analyze. . . . . history is going to look back to determine whether or not there might have been a different decision made. . . . . . .You know, I guess I'm like any other political figure -- everybody wants to be loved, just sometimes the decisions you make and the consequences don't enable you to be loved. And so when it's all said and done, Ed, if you ever come down and visit the old, tired, me down there in Crawford, I will be able to say I looked in the mirror and made decisions based upon principle, not based upon politics. And that's important to me.
Hearing this, deepened my understanding.

My country
president right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right out.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

An Insight into the Cheney-Bush Presidency

The Imperial Vice Presidency

In Salon, Sidney Blumenthal reviews the recent series on Dick Cheney in the Washington Post. Blumenthal recalls that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first running mate, John Nance Garner, once said his office of Vice President was “not worth a bucket of warm piss”. Under Cheney, that's basically the value to which George Bush has been consigned.

Blumenthal describes a typical scene in which Cheney would enter the Oval Office with a draft of an executive order in blue portfolio embossed with the presidential seal. Bush would pull out a felt-tip pen from his pocket and signed without sitting down. This cavalier trust of Dick Cheney would outrage Bush's senior cabinet officals such as Colin Powell and John Ashcroft. But they didn't understand that, informally, authority flowed from Cheney to Bush from the very beginning..
Cheney has crushed the normal interagency process that permitted communication, cross-fertilization and cooperation at the sub-Cabinet level through all previous modern administrations. At the same time, he has isolated Cabinet secretaries, causing them to be fired when they contradicted him. . . . Cheney thrives in darkness, operating by stealth within the government, and makes a cult of secrecy.
Blumental recalls to mind how Joseph Stalin ascended in the USSR by virtue of his role as Secretary-General of the Communist Party which allowed him to control personnel.
Cheney has acted as the Stalin of the Bush administration, the master of the bureaucracy, eliminating one rival after another, ruthlessly and unscrupulously concentrating power, the culmination of a more than 30-year career.

. . . . Rather than transcending the executive, Cheney has deranged it in his effort to remake it into a branch of government of unlimited, unaccountable power. The head of the search committee who chose himself to be the experienced vice president to a callow president saw in George W. Bush his opportunity radically to alter the place of the executive within the federal government, which he had been straining to do . . . Cheney has viewed recent American history as a struggle between the imperial presidency necessary in a brutish world and the naive, undependable and in some cases disloyal constraints of Congress, the press and the judiciary. Under Bush, Cheney has shaped the presidential prerogative, acting as "an entity within the executive branch."

. . . .Even as the spotlight shines on the opaque Cheney, the light reflects on others as well. By shielding Bush from alternatives, Cheney has locked in certain decisions that Bush stubbornly defends as his own. The president's plight is not that of a removed ruler tragically kept from knowing what his government is doing in his name. He has had time to observe the consequences. He is aware of what Cheney says to him. The Decider decides that Cheney will decide what the Decider decides. This is not a case of if-only-the-czar-knew. In the seventh year of his presidency, Bush's decision making consists of justifying his previous decisions.
And, going forward?
. . . . Despite the recent round of punditry that Cheney's influence has waned, he remains a formidable force. These are Cheney's final days; this is his endgame. He will never run again for public office. He is freed from the constraints of political consequences. He now has no horizon. He lives only in the present. He is nearly done. There are only months left to achieve his goals. Mortality impinges. Next month, he will have his heart pacemaker replaced. He disdains public opinion. He does not care who's next. As Cheney said on Fox News on May 10,
We didn't get elected to be popular. We didn't get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican Party.
There hasn't been a day in the last four and a half years, when I haven't wondered why my delusional fellow Americans elected this dysfunctional duo into our nation's highest office.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Does Anyone Out There Share My George Bush Nightmare?

Starting on 21 January 2009, George W. Bush will finally start telling the truth.

I've mentioned this dream several times in these pages. More than once, anyways. It comes to me frequently almost once a week now, always around 2:00 a.m. It's George Bush at his absolute boorish best, sneering and gesturing the way we're so used to. The only difference is now, in this dream, he's laughing. Laughing at us all, us Americans. He's laughing because this dream always takes place on January 21st, 2009, one day after he has successfully completed his eight-year tumultuous years in the White House.

Every version of the dream varies to some degree, but last night, it went like this:
All I needed was a 2nd Pearl Harbor, and on nine-eleven, I got mine. It enabled me to initiate my life-long dream of finishing something my daddy didn't. I finally fucked Saddam just like I said I would and just like Daddy couldn't. I launched an unprovoked invasion against a country who didn't threaten America. I called it a war of good against evil and set about seeing to it that it would not end on my watch. I fixed the intelligence to fit my project. Congress, by and large, swallowed it. But the U.N. didn't, but it doesn't matter because what they call its Charter is as quaint as is certain parts of our constitution - just a scrap of paper. Hell, didn't I re-write half Congress' legislation when I signed it?

I lied about everything. I spied on Americans and said that I was using warrants. I turned my good-old fella, Turd Blossum, loose and he saw to it that all branches of the federal government became arms of the Republican Party so that we could have a lasting GOP majority. Don't ask me the details as to how Karl went about it. I just know that once we got Fredo in at Justice, there was no problem Boy-Genius couldn't solve. That good ol' boy has a future, that's for sure. (I mean Rove, not Gonzales, of course.)

I got those brave men and women in our armed services to give and give and give. Same with the National Guard, right? What's that word? I-ronic? Yeah, I really stuck it to the National Guard, didn't I? My own experience with the Guard taught me one thing: What the hell, they signed up for the duty, didn't they? Service people should have nothing to complain about. Besides, I've seen to it they get paid more than they have ever been paid before, as long as they can put their feet in their boots. And the generals? Talk about playing with people like they were dominoes - I switched them in and out like door men in revolving doors. If they couldn't talk the talk, I wouldn't let them walk the walk.

I don't give a shit what historians will say. I know I've had a good run when I had it. I was born to be prez. I have done what no others have dared. And, I've enjoyed it. It's actually fun to be the center of the world's attention. I've managed to be a greater international pariah than even Osama bin Laden! It's been fun!
Bush was grabbing at my sleeve. I was waking from my dream. But Bush persisted.
Wait, wait! I have so much more to tell you! Let me tell you about cutting taxes for the rich, which Cheney told me was our due. And let me tell you about Shooter, himself!
It was Trophy Wife, telling me to stop swearing in my sleep, get outta bed and to see what RedOct was snarling at before he woke up the neighborhood.

All dreams have real world antecedents, my Trophy Wife reminds me. In this instance, it's probably the time-line agenda I drafted immediately after Kerry's predictable failure to save America in 2004. It's displayed in the upper right hand corner of my front page. We are falling behind my repudiate-the-outlaw-presidency schedule! Like the Sopranos, the Bushopranos will walk at the end of their run. Our future restoration of America as a great nation and the legitimate leader of the world is at stake.

I have always hoped that I was not the only one afflicted by this recurring nightmare, and this afternoon I was relieved to discover the good folks at Open Left share it:

It's good to have company, but if we do not impeach, the joke will be on us. All of us.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Deconstruction of Impeachment

Revise priorities. Select goals. Identify destinations. Construct a road map. Measure progress with waypoints.

Needed: a good political cartographer.
Toward the end of his reign as the "Iron Chancellor" of Germany, Otto von Bismarck quarrelled with his Kaiser over a number of issues, one of which was Germany's lagging behind other European powers' grabbing of overseas empires. At one point, the exasperated Chancellor grabbed a rolled map off his desk and asked the Kaiser, "Do you want to see my map of Africa? I'll show it to you." The Kaiser was surprised to see a map of Western Europe presented to him. Bismarck continued, "Here is France, Here is England, Here is Russia, and in the middle of this circle, here is Germany. This is my map of Africa."

As I drove home yesterday, Senator Mike Gravel was interviewed on the Randi Rhodes Show and unfolded for me, over my car radio, his map of impeachment:

Senator Gravel proposed:
Recognizing that under our Constitution the power of the Congress is superior to the power of the President. . . Congress should pass a law making the war in Iraq illegal. Failure to comply with the law would be punishable by 5 years in jail – without possibility of parole. That includes the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Treasury. All are required to follow the law, as is any other American citizen.

Of course, once the law is passed by the House and the Senate, President Bush will veto it.
Mike Gravel’s strategy further calls for
Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the veto override to a vote every day at noon (7 days a week, without congressional vacations), forcing the media spotlight to shine on those congressional representatives who are failing to override the President’s veto and are thus prolonging the war.
Gravel's explanation continued:
The strategy is designed to give the American people time to become aware of Congress’s activities and weigh in about the Constitutional confrontation between Congress and the President. Ultimately, pressure from their constituents will produce a two-thirds majority sufficient to override the President‘s veto. (When the law is filibustered in the Senate initially, the same procedure would apply.)
Gravel dissed current Congressional efforts as self-delusional, self-defeating and a source of great confusion for the American people:
Thus far Congress’s efforts to curtail the Iraq war have given us a non binding resolution and an embarrassing 'Symbolic Vote'. Now they’ve capitulated to President Bush on the proposed 2008 deadlines for troop withdrawal.
Finally, impeachment is a major distraction:
Many Americans want to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and they should be impeached. But that’s a lengthy process; and given the narrow majority held by Democrats, impeachment is unlikely. Meanwhile, our soldiers and Iraqis are dying every day America stays in Iraq. There will be ample time to pursue impeachment and possible criminal charges once our troops are safely home.
Senator Gravel is a legislative strategist. He served two terms in the U.S. Senate fighting for causes unpopular in Congress and winning against the odds. His accomplishments include ending the military draft through a Senate filibuster and hastening an end to the Vietnam war by reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record from the floor of the Senate. As I recall, a publisher could not be found. Only after Gravel's 'stunt', did a publisher take on the project. I say this to point out that Gravel is not asking Pelosi and her peers to do anything he wasn't willing to do in his own time.

I don't know if Gravel's strategy will ultimately deliver a timely end to Bush's occupation of either Baghdad or Washington. But, if his road map is adopted in the Senate and the House, Progressive forces will no longer dissipate their attention, energies and resources floundering around on peripheral issues which obscure the central obstacle impeding the future restoration of our once great American Republic.

Bush and Cheney must be forced to eat their misbegotten occupation of Iraq before they are excused from the table on
20 January 2009.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Between I-Rock, I-Ran, and I-Ruin

Brought to us from the fine Neo-Conservative folks at the Project for the New American Century (PNAC)!

This arrived in my email today from a sailing buddy. I realize I may be 'the last one to get this memo', but it is sufficiently perfectly on point so I'll re-publish it, without further apology.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Birthday, America!

But, beware. Be very aware...

In the interest of being non-partisan on this Independence Day, I decided not to repost my July 4th greeting from a year ago. But I was sorely tempted. Instead, in light of our heightened sense and awareness of the current assaults on reason, it occurred to me that Al Gore's words would place this day in its correct historical context and facilitate our reflecting upon our current circumstances.

Respect for our president is important. But even more important is respect for our Constitution. In that regard, it is crucial to emphasize that our ingrained American distrust of concentrated power has very little to do with the character or persona of the individual who wields that power; it is the power itself that must be constrained, checked, dispersed, and carefully balanced to ensure the survival of freedom. The limitations on the reach of executive power that are spelled out in the Constitution almost always take more specific form as laws enacted by Congress that Presidents bent on expanding their power are tempted to ignore or violate.

A President who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said:
The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men.
Our Founders were keenly aware that the history of the world proves that republics are fragile. In the very hour of America's birth in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked, "Well, Doctor, what have we got? A Republic or a Monarchy?" He replied cautiously,
A Republic, if you can keep it.
The survival of freedom depends on the rule of law. The rule of law depends in turn upon the respect each generation of Americans has for the integrity with which our laws are written, interpreted, and enforced. . . .

Once violated, the rule of law is in danger. Unless stopped, lawlessness grows. The greater the power of the the executive grows, the more difficult it becomes for the other branches to perform their constitutional roles. As the executive acts outside its constitutionally prescribed role and is able to control access to information that would expose its actions, it becomes increasingly difficult for the other branches to police it. Once that ability is lost, democracy itself is threatened and we become a government of men and not laws.

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution. In the words of James Madison,
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
. . . . I think it is safe to say that our Founders would be genuinely concerned about these recent developments in American democracy and that they would feel that we, here, are now facing a clear and present danger with the potential to threaten the future of the American experiment. Shouldn't we be equally concerned, and shouldn't we ask ourselves how it is that we have come to this point?

Beware of my use of ellipsis. In the interest of being non-partisan on this patriotic day which celebrates our American unity, I have excluded some of The Goricle's words. I invite readers to open their own desk copy of Assault on Reason to inform themselves further.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Bush Commutes Scooter

The Decider is loud and clear.

The President delivered a message to the American people today. Well, actually he only repeated the message that he has been sending for some time now. The message is simply that the first principles of the Cheney Administration - duplicity, secrecy, and loyalty - trump everything else, not the least of which was his Constitutionally-mandated oath of office.
Remember how Bush started off what quickly turned into the worst presidency in American History? As required by Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution, he solemnly swore to
  • faithfully execute the office of President of the United States (he didn't, he turned over everything to Dick Cheney),
  • and would to the best of his ability (he had, as it turned out, no abilities);
  • preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States (he has honored all of these only in the breach).
And now, on this day of unprecedented infamy, he has rendered his penultimate signing statement, arbitrarily and capriciously second-guessing the findings of three Federal judges:
I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald reacted (in part):
The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals.
Thus, the American people understand they are currently governed by men instead of by laws as promised by John Adams (1780):
In the government of this commonwealth, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers or either of them: the executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them: the judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men.
They further realize that theirs is a two-tiered justice system: one for the Bush crime family and one for the rest of us.

I, for one, do not understand Senator Joe Biden's reactive posturing:
It is time for the American people to be heard - I call for all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law.
Joe doesn't get it.

the White House is given a 'strongly approve' rating of 11% in the polls; it's hunkered down in stonewalling mode. Bush, himself, is only mooning the increasing outraged American people.

The blizzard of emails, phone calls and letters should be levied instead at Congressional representatives. And the message should as uncomplicated as possible:

Impeach this outlaw government.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Brits Followed Us into Iraq; Can/Will they Lead Us Out?

Advice to incoming British Prime Minister: The Shiites are the way out of this shit.

I have suggested previously in these pages that an indispensable prerequisite for ending Bush's occupation of Iraq would be establishing a working entente with Shiite firebrand, Moqtada Sadr. Since then I have been spinning my wheels trying to elaborate further on this theme, concise enough for this blog. It's coming, but Alexander Cockburn got there first.
Cockburn is a self-described radical Irish journalist who has lived and worked in the United States since 1973. He co-edits the political newsletter CounterPunch and is frequently published weekly in the Los Angeles Times. In An open letter to the new Prime Minister, pushes for a decisive American tilt in favor of the Shiia in general:

Dear Mr Brown

Peace can only be returned to Iraq by a negotiated end to the occupation and an acceptance by Washington and London that the Shia religious parties, in alliance with the Kurds and influenced by Iran, are going to run the country.

You should take on board simple facts about Iraq that Tony Blair never seemed to grasp. The occupation is disliked by most Shia and Sunni Iraqis and is supported only by the Kurds. When the US and Britain overthrew Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated regime in 2003 they made it inevitable that the majority Shia community would rule and Iranian influence would increase. The contortions of US policy over the past four years are largely a vain attempt to avoid this outcome.

US officials and their Iraqi allies stuck in the Green Zone often take comfort in the fact that many Iraqis want a US pull-out over a period of a year or after Iraqi security forces are ready to take their place. They imagine that this means the Iraqis do not want them to go. The reality is that they do and the continuing presence of foreign forces means the government never learns to stand on its own feet and lives in a dependency culture. Sending in more troops to support a government is like giving a drunk more whisky, as one former senior US intelligence officer said.

The presence of foreign troops and a government dependent on them may delay a final explosion but it makes that final explosion all the more certain. All the talk of creating mixed Sunni-Shia government means stopping any winner emerging in the civil war that has been raging across Iraq since 2004.

The British record in Basra, for instance, has proved more dismal than the US’s in Baghdad. The much-bruited British Operation Sinbad in Basra from September last year until March was talked up by British ministers at the time as an example of how to bring militias under control and strengthen local security forces. A year later it is the Shia militias who rule Basra and the battles between them are about taking over government institutions and resources - notably petrol - out of which they can make money. Racketeers rule the city. British troops are increasingly confined to their compounds and are relentlessly attacked when they leave.

Iraqi politics increasingly resembles Chicago during Prohibition in the 1920s in which criminal mafiosi and politicians are linked together and disputes are settled violently. Turf wars are endemic.

British soldiers now have no role in southern Iraq other than to provide targets. The only reason for them to stay is that the White House does not want to be wholly bereft of allies on the ground, and it would be embarrassing to admit the futility of the British presence over the past four years.

Okay, okay. Cockburn doesn't actually go so far as to even mention Moqtada Sadr by name. I'm jes' sayin' that's what he means. Sadr's the one. He is the thug we need.