Sunday, September 30, 2007

Senator Paul Wellstone Had a Spine

In the Primaries, We Fall in Love. After the Primaries, we fall in line.

This is an old line I heard first from Randi Rhodes. It will work for me in 2008. It works for me. Every damned time.But. . .

The photo is borrowed from an excellent column by an infrequent contributor to my pages, Coleen Rowley. She challenges the statement on the sign, asking Is Spineless Better Than Evil?

Her answer is YES-BUT!:
Spinelessness = Silence + Inactivity = Complicity
Like any good Minnesotan, Coleen's guru on not being complicit is the late Senate Paul Wellstone. I learned from reading Coleen, that Senator Wellstone was the only Democratic incumbent facing a re-election challenge who voted "no" to Bush's use of force in Iraq, along with 22 other Senators.

I say "Learned"?

I have to disclose that I was such a self-absorbed American hedonist in 2002 - silent, inactive and complicit - that I never knew who Paul Wellstone was until his tragic death, three weeks after he made this speech:

Never again, Coleen.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

America as an Occupied Country

How much longer must we tolerate this idiot-king?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Michael Bloomberg Is My Republican-of-the-Week!

This lifelong member of the Democratic Party decided in 2001 to run for mayor as a member of the Republican Party.

Michael Bloomberg had a long and excellent career as an entrepreneur in the field of financial software and data services. A lifelong member of the Democratic Party, he decided to run for New York City's mayor as a member of the Republican Party in 2001. With a huge spending advantage, Bloomberg won by a margin of 2%.

Tuesday night, during an interview with Tom Brokaw at Cooper Union, Mayor Bloomberg suggested the United States was in the same difficult position as the British in the Revolutionary War - facing a determined band of insurgents. This comparison occurred to him when he visited his mother recently and was driving through Lexington, Mass., where a scrubby group of farmers rose up against a well-trained militia more than 200 years ago.

Attacking the Bush administration, he said,
We're the British. I'm not suggesting the motives are the same. But I'm just pointing out that this was an insurgent kind of attack on trained, disciplined, uniformed soldiers who fought in a rigorously planned way. And we're trying to adjust to that. . . we're in big trouble . . . Somebody's got to pull it out. There is an arrogance and willingness to go it alone that quite understandably I think doesn't play well around the world.
For demanding more analytic reporting of the news from Occupied Iraq, Michael Bloomberg is Friday's Redeemable Republican of the week.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

George W. Bush's 7+ Years On-the-Job-Training

English as a second first language...
January 11, 2000

September 27, 2007

No president left behind...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad is a Bigger Liar, Charlatan and Demagogue than Bush!

Lee Bollinger, Smackdown Artist

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, gave one of the most lengthy and hostile introductions on record when he introduced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs World Leaders Forum today.

Here are my excerpts:
.....Before speaking directly to the current president of Iran, I have a few critically important points to emphasize.

First, since 2003, the World Leaders Forum has advanced Columbia's long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate, especially on global issues. It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices. To hold otherwise would make vigorous debate impossible.

Second, to those who believe that this event never should have happened, that it is inappropriate for the university to conduct such an event, I want to say that I understand your perspective and respect it as reasonable. The scope of free speech and academic freedom should itself always be open to further debate. As one of the more famous quotations about free speech goes, it is "an experiment, as all life is an experiment." I want to say, however, as forcefully as I can, that this is the right thing to do and, indeed, it is required by existing norms of free speech, the American university and Columbia itself.

Third, to those among us who experience hurt and pain as a result of this day, I say on behalf of all of us we are sorry and wish to do what we can to alleviate it.

Fourth, to be clear on another matter -- this event has nothing whatsoever to do with any "rights" of the speaker but only with our rights to listen and speak. We do it for ourselves.

We do it in the great tradition of openness that has defined this nation for many decades now. We need to understand the world we live in, neither neglecting its glories nor shrinking from its threats and dangers. It is consistent with the idea that one should know thine enemies, to have the intellectual and emotional courage to confront the mind of evil and to prepare ourselves to act with the right temperament. In the moment, the arguments for free speech will never seem to match the power of the arguments against, but what we must remember is that this is precisely because free speech asks us to exercise extraordinary self-restraint against the very natural but often counterproductive impulses that lead us to retreat from engagement with ideas we dislike and fear. In this lies the genius of the American idea of free speech.

Lastly, in universities, we have a deep and almost single-minded commitment to pursue the truth. We do not have access to the levers of power. We cannot make war or peace. We can only make minds. And to do this we must have the most full freedom of inquiry.

Let me now turn to Mr. Ahmadinejad.
Bollinger proceeded to cite at length Iran's record on human rights, including Amnesty International's statistics. And then the University president posed a battery of questions for the Persian to answer:
Let's, then, be clear at the beginning, Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.

And so I ask you:

Why have women, members of the Baha'i faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?

Why in a letter last week to the secretary general of the U.N. did Akbar Gangi, Iran's leading political dissident, and over 300 public intellectuals, writers and Nobel Laureates express such grave concern that your inflamed dispute with the West is distracting the world's attention from the intolerable conditions your regime has created within Iran? In particular, the use of the Press Law to ban writers for criticizing the ruling system.

Why are you so afraid of Iranian citizens expressing their opinions for change?

In our country, you are interviewed by our press and asked to speak here today. And while my colleague at the Law School Michael Dorf spoke to Radio Free Europe [sic, Voice of America] viewers in Iran a short while ago on the tenets of freedom of speech in this country, I propose going further than that. Let me lead a delegation of students and faculty from Columbia to address your university about free speech, with the same freedom we afford you today? Will you do that?
Additional questions from President Bollinger followed on:
  • The Denial Of The Holocaust
  • The Destruction Of Israel
  • Funding Terrorism
  • Proxy War Against U.S. Troops In Iraq
  • Finally, Iran's Nuclear Program And International Sanctions
And then, just before turning the podium over to Columbia University's guest speaker, President Bollinger concluded:
Let me close with this comment. Frankly, and in all candor, Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your avoiding them will in itself be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mind-set that characterizes so much of what you say and do. Fortunately, I am told by experts on your country, that this only further undermines your position in Iran with all the many goodhearted, intelligent citizens there. A year ago, I am reliably told, your preposterous and belligerent statements in this country (as in your meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations) so embarrassed sensible Iranian citizens that this led to your party's defeat in the December mayoral elections. May this do that and more.

I am only a professor, who is also a university president, and today I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for. I only wish I could do better.
Just a few comments are in order.

IMO, his dissing of Columbia U's distinguished guest was appropriate. I think it was absolutely correct for Bollinger to open up on human rights issues. But I, personally, would differ on the specific terms he used in addressing his questions on funding terrorism, the proxy war against U.S. Troops in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear power.

In his answering a question to the issue on Iran's suppression based on gender and sexual orientation, Ahmadinejad denied the existence of "homosexuals":
And was greeted with howls of derision. I was disappointed not to hear what I was listening for: some one to yell out that, "That's because you've hung them all!" According to some estimates, around 4,000 gays and lesbians have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979.

I was disappointed but not surprised with Condoleezza Rice's statement about rejecting Ahmadinejad's request to pay his respects at the World Trade Center:
As to the World Trade Center, though, I think it would have been a travesty. I think this is somebody who is the president of a country that is probably the greatest sponsor of -- state sponsor of terrorism, someone who is a Holocaust denier, someone who has talked about wiping other countries off the map. I think it would have been a travesty.
This rejection was part and parcel of our current policy of conflating al Qaeda with the Hezbollah and denying the fact that Iran initially expressed sympathy with us Americans in the wake of 9-11 attacks and assisted in our invasion of Afghanistan.

To pull this together, I'll use the same standard I have used with Bush: once a liar, always a liar. Both Bush and Ahmadinejad are state-based liars. If the guy can lie about the holocaust and suppression of human rights of academics, women, and gays, this Persian liar can lie about anything. Bank on it.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

In the Global War on Terror, Know Thy Enemy

Sun Tzu & Gen Sir Richard Dannatt

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will win a hundred times in a hundred battles. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you win one and lose the next. If you do not know yourself or your enemy, you will always lose.
In light of the recent report of General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker's report to Congress, it is appropriate to make note of a comparable report issued this week by the British Army Chief.

I have featured the views of Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, in my pages almost a year ago. (See Brits Want Out of Iraq.) So, his views on Operation Iraqi Liberation are well known. Yesterday, Sir Richard presented a lengthy address to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Much of the impact of his remarks stung the British press because he was extremely critical of the divisions between society and the uniformed services. That is not of concern to me now.

What piqued my interest is how determined he was to use precision in identifying our adversaries. I wanted to post two or three excerpts from his statement as they appeared to confirm my own doubts as pertains to Bush's conflation of 'our enemies'.

I'll try not to editorialize, but I couldn't resist a compulsion to add my own emphasis. Here's what Sir Richard said about who confronts us in our occupation of Iraq:
So, because as an Army we are enemy focussed, some words on our adversaries in southern Iraq. The militants (and I use the word deliberately because not all are insurgents, or terrorists, or criminals; they are a mixture of them all) are well armed - certainly with outside help, and probably from Iran. By motivation, essentially, and with the exception of the Al Qaeda in Iraq element who have endeavoured to exploit the situation for their own ends, our opponents are Iraqi Nationalists, and are most concerned with their own needs - jobs, money, security - and the majority are not bad people. In amongst them, however, are a hard core of well trained, well motivated, ruthless individuals who have the capacity to organise and control a highly effective campaign, or perhaps better described as a matrix of campaigns, of violence and intimidation. They live amongst the people, are difficult to track and human intelligence, HUMINT, is difficult to obtain. They have the capacity to generate forces quickly, they will offer extreme violence against us in large urban areas through the use of complex ambushes and IEDs. They also offer violence against each other in the South, not just an account of any Sunni / Shia divide, but within the Shia community. We, meanwhile, are channelled in these urban areas, which makes the operational environment 3-dimensional, truly complex and challenging.
And here's what he said about the NATO-Taliban theater:
In Afghanistan, we fight a rather different campaign. Again our adversaries are also quite complex and I would prefer to once more use the term militant and to be careful not to demonise the people we fight in Afghanistan. There is a lazy tendency for them all to be lumped under the term "Taliban", but it is not as simple as that. Yes, there is a hard core of Islamist extremists of varied ethnic and national origin, but the great majority of the people we are engaged against are those who are fighting with the Taliban for financial, social and tribal reasons. So we must beware of tarring them all with the same brush, as I am sure that one day we will need to deal with and eventually reconcile the elected Government with the majority of these people. And the character of the people who oppose here is different to that of the people in Iraq. Afghans are a hardy people, who respect force and the warrior ethos. They are generally more impressed by a company of infantry, fighting bravely with bayonets fixed than by high tech ISTAR and offensive support. Their current choice is to fight in the cultivated areas where the visibility and fields of view can be measured in tens of metres, where basic skills, not technical prowess are most important. Indeed, it is a form of operation that our fathers would recognise from the Normandy bocage - indeed on their part it is clever, because we are denied the hi-tech advantages of stand off and range, but our training gives us the edge.
And Sir Richard clearly weighed the campaign in Afghanistan as more critical than the occupation of Iraq:
I strongly believe that the Army we are developing now has to be physically and mentally prepared to be engaged in this struggle against extremism for quite some time. If the Second World War defined its generation, then this will be the conflict that defines this generation. And it is being played out not only in Afghanistan, but also at home - as we know only too well. I think that success in Afghanistan is crucial to the national interest of the UK - it is central to the triangular security relationship between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UK. Afghanistan is a key front in the Away dimension of our domestic security, but we also need to support our allies in Pakistan in dealing with their dimension of it, too. The home and the away coincide here. I was fortunate enough to visit the Pakistani Army in North Waziristan recently, where I saw for myself the huge efforts they are making and the considerable sacrifices they are making.
Sir Richard clearly defines our current adversaries and accurately delineates the central front on the GWOT. His observations stand in stark contrast with Bush's elastic, plastic and bombastic enemies list which has proven to be beyond counterproductive. It has proven to be self-destructive.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Saddam Lives! A Case of Body-Snatching!!

Well, at the very least, he's trying to stage a comeback...

Patrick Graham is a Canadian freelance journalist who worked in Iraq from November 2002 until August 2004 for the Observer, Harper's and the New York Times. He's reputed to be working on a book which chronicles his experiences. In the meantime, he's turned in to Maclean's a very well-written piece on Iraq. I can only find one base not covered.

Graham never mentions the word OIL. At least I don't recall mention of it in my first read. But there are a number of well-turned and accurate passages which are worth re-reading.

It's a case of body-snatching! Saddam is inhabiting the corporeal bodies of Bush and his Panglossian General, David Potemkin Petraeus:
Gen. Petraeus: I was struck by how familiar his words sounded. The general talked like every Sunni I’ve ever met in Iraq—hell, he sounded a bit like Saddam. The old tyrant would have had one of his characteristic chest-heaving guffaws watching Petraeus as he intoned the old Baathist mantra about the dangers to Iraq: Iran, Iran, Iran. Bush took up Gen. Petraeus’s views a few days later in a nationally televised speech about Iraq, in which he talked about the threat Tehran posed. It seems that Petraeus and Bush have come to the same conclusion as Saddam: the main enemy is Iran, and you can’t govern Iraq without the Sunni Arab tribes, even as you encourage anti-Iranian nationalism among the Shia. This is what Saddam did during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and what Washington is trying to do now. One of the main problems with this strategy is that both the Sunni tribes and Shia nationalists are profoundly anti-American and don’t trust each other—a potential recipe for further disaster.
Karl Rove is co-habiting the corporeal entity of Maliki:
Maliki has been accused of running an “ethno-sectarian” government, but accusing him of running a pro-Shia government is like accusing Bush of running a pro-Republican administration. Like Karl Rove, who hoped to make the Republican party supreme, Maliki seems to want to set up Shia-dominated rule that will control Iraq for generations. And like Rove, he focuses on his base, with little regard for any other point of view unless the U.S. pressures him (even then he pouts and makes vague threats about looking for other allies—by which he obviously means Iran).
But Maliki is also Saddam's current host:
The great irony of Maliki is that under other circumstances a government like his—one that is: a) accused by the U.S. of close relations with an American enemy (Iran); b) running a strategically important country (like Iraq); c) involved in the oppression and murder of one of its minorities (the Sunnis), which is closely linked to an important U.S. ally (the Saudis)—is an administration that many Americans would want to eliminate. There is a good chance that if the U.S. Army wasn’t there already, Washington would have invaded to get rid of Maliki.
One final insight: Iran has learned from Bush.
Iraq, Iran’s neighbour to the west, is Tehran’s self-declared security zone. Iran has already been attacked once from Iraq—by a then-American ally, Saddam—and won’t let it happen again. Nor do the Iranians want, as the West does, a secular Iraqi government that could destabilize their own theocracy. For them, Iraq is a survival issue. U.S.-led invasions have conquered not only Iraq but Afghanistan on Iran’s eastern flank. The U.S. Navy is floating off Iranian shores. Every few weeks, Washington debates whether to bomb Iran. How could Iran afford not to be involved in Iraq? Following the American example, the Iranians have learned that it’s bet­­­ter to fight the U.S. on the streets of Baghdad than the streets of Tehran.
In a real sense, ever since George Bush occupied Baghdad Washington after his judiciary coup in 2000, invading and occupying Iraq has been a solution looking for a problem. I won't bore any remaining readers by reciting this trail of tears. Actually, it's a circular path: the latest permutation of Mesopotamia's 'problem-definition' has returned to its original formulation: Iran is the anvil of evil.

Republican of the Week: Jack Goldsmith

Vigilante is inconsolably enraged at Republican behavior and voting in Congress this week, and has convinced both of us that he better not mention the words Republican or G.O.P. inside this site because whatever he said would bring down Google's "Objectional Content!" rating. So, I'm offering to pick up the slack.

I'm nominating Jack Goldsmith for the redeemable Republican-of-the-week.

Goldsmith is a Harvard Law School professor, the author of numerous learned texts on international law and the Internet. He served the Bush administration as an Assistant United States Attorney General from Oct-03 to Jul-04, under Attorney General John Ashcroft and Assistant Attorney General James Comey. He was the head of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, the division of the United States Department of Justice that advises the president on the limits of executive power. It is critical to note that in this capacity he lasted a mere eight months.

I am taking liberally from Tim Rutten's recent review in the L.A. Times, Inside the Administration's Legal Deliberations:

On the long shelf of books written from inside President George W. Bush's administration, none is more fundamentally significant, nor as challenging to the preconceptions of left and right, as Jack Goldsmith's The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration.

Goldsmith . . . is one of those rare legal scholars who write with unforced clarity. He is also a committed philosophical conservative in the American tradition, deferential to precedent and custom, reverential toward democratic institutions as expressed in the Constitution and deeply learned in the history of presidential power exercised in the face of wartime exigencies.

That such a man could survive only eight months inside the Bush administration is the most severe indictment of this government's conduct yet leveled.

. . . . Goldsmith was a surprise choice for the post, and his name surfaced only after conservative legal scholar John Yoo's nomination was vetoed by then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, who distrusted Yoo as too close to the White House and, particularly, to Vice President Dick Cheney's staff.

At the time of his own nomination, the administration's inner circle knew little of Goldsmith beyond that he was a conservative. . . .

There were, however, significant differences in their legal analysis of presidential wartime powers, an issue that preoccupies this administration. Yoo believes the chief executive's wartime powers derive from a so-called "unitary theory" of executive powers and are inherent in the office. There are no serious scholars of the Founders and their era who share Yoo's views on this issue.

Goldsmith, by contrast, has long been concerned -- from a conservative perspective -- with the potential infringements of international agreements on American popular sovereignty. He also has read and reflected deeply on the wartime presidencies of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. While readers may differ from the conclusions he draws concerning those presidents and their wartime conduct, his arguments are clear, formidable and authoritative.

All of this quickly made Goldsmith anathema inside the Bush White House. By the time he resigned as head of the Office of Legal Counsel, he had withdrawn more legal opinions rendered by his predecessors than all previous counsels combined. Among those were Yoo's now-infamous memos justifying the use of torture to interrogate suspected terrorists. As Goldsmith writes, he came to believe those opinions rested on legal foundations
sloppily reasoned, overboard, and incautious in asserting extraordinary constitutional authorities on behalf of the president.
In his new book, Goldsmith describes,
the role the Bush administration and, particularly, Cheney have found for a relatively small cadre of zealots, who have acted as enablers for an unprecedented expansion of presidential powers that has been characterized as conservative but is in fact authoritarian. Yoo, of course, is one of these, and so too is Cheney's former legal counsel, now chief of staff, David Addington.

When Goldsmith went to the White House to deliver his first opinion as head of the Office of Legal Counsel, he argued that the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs the conduct of occupying powers, did in fact cover the U.S. treatment of Iraqi insurgents. Addington exploded,
The president has already decided that terrorists do not receive Geneva Convention protections. You cannot question his decision.
On another occasion, in spring 2004, Goldsmith was asked to evaluate an "important counterterrorism initiative." When he told the White House that "the Justice Department could not support the initiative's legality," Addington reacted '"in disgust," snapping,
If you rule that way, the blood of the hundred thousand people who die in the next attack will be on your hands."
Still, in his entirely measured way, Goldsmith muses that
Addington was. . . not on entirely thin ice in thinking that President Bush, like Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, had the power under the Constitution to do what was necessary to save the country in an emergency. But Addington took this idea further than Roosevelt and Lincoln
in his categorical assertion that Congress never need be consulted by the executive:
Lincoln claimed and exercised similar emergency powers, but he too was sensitive to Congress' prerogatives and constitutional propriety. He invoked the emergency power to exercise powers reserved for Congress. But he did so only until Congress could meet in session and, at Lincoln's invitation, either ratify or reject his actions.

Addington had no such instincts. To the contrary, long before 9/11 he and his boss had set out to reverse what they saw as Congress' illegitimate decades-long intrusions on 'unitary' executive power. . . . This underlying commitment to expanding presidential power distinguishes the Bush Administration from the Lincoln and Roosevelt administrations. . . . Vice President Cheney and David Addington -- and through their influence, President Bush and Alberto Gonzales --. . . shared a commitment to expanding presidential power that they had long been anxious to implement.
Goldsmith quotes Arthur Schlesinger's observation that Lincoln and Roosevelt regarded
executive aggrandizement as but a means to a great end, the survival of liberty and law, of government by, for, and of the people,' and that 'they used emergency power, on the whole, with discrimination and restraint. . . .'
Goldsmith concludes:
We are unlikely to come to think of President Bush in this way, for he has not embraced Lincoln's and Roosevelt's tenets of democratic leadership in crisis.
Jack Goldsmith personally witnessed the infamous occasion when Andrew Card and Alfred Gonzales called on critically ill Attorney-General Ashcroft in his hospital room:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Conversation Interrupted

Stuff happens when you try preaching to the non-choir.

On a good day, 40% of my blogging occurs on neutral or pro-Bush sites. I call it my outreach program.

This week, on a neutral site, we had a warm and heated dialogue underway when the blogmeister elected not to approve my contributions.
No rules or standards for comments were posted, so I am without a clue as to how I offended anyone. My emailed query to the administrator has gone unanswered.

My annoyance is especially piqued by an anxiety that my companion in this discussion might be left with an impression that I had nothing further to say. He has the ability to follow me in here, to my pages. So, risking accusations of narcissistic self-indulgence, I thought I would reproduce the dialogue below in hopes he could be enticed to continue the discussion.

The thread was about a local Congressman's comment in Bush's surge splurge. Vigilante jumped in on September 14th, 2007 at 8:11 am:
Registering agreement with all opinions expressed above, I think it is important to acknowledge that our Dear Leader announced ‘victory’ in our unnecessary war of Iraq, that we are now in ‘occupation mode’ which, if allowed to linger indefinitely, will eventually morph into another war (with Iran). Furthermore, occupations are not won or lost. They are merely ended.
On September 15th, 2007 at 9:57 am, Mick responded:
It must be a heavy burden to bear: a visceral hatred of the political opposition, distrust of one’s own government, and such venom toward your own countrymen that you would prefer a civil war at home to the liberation of the Iraqi people.

If you weren’t so blinded by these emotions, you might have been able to hear during General Petraeus’ testimony that we are actually beginning to achieve some considerable success in Iraq. But then, perhaps that’s what you fear the most.

There were many, many mistakes made in the execution of the war, as in most wars; since, as Joe Louis once said, all battle plans become obsolete the minute the first punch is thrown. But the Iraqi people, like all people, want freedom.

If we leave before that goal is reached, there will be immediate mass slaughter perhaps exceeding the aftermath of our pulling out of Vietnam; Al-Qaeda will become emboldened and entrenched in their new international headquarters for Islamic terrorism, and finally, Iraq will be subsumed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, for, as Mahmoud has already stated: Iran will fill the void. I don’t have to explain in detail what will become of Israel.

I, personally, would not want to be responsible for leaving that mess in the hands of our children and grandchildren - if they’re still alive. Remember, Iran will soon have nukes, and, as founders of the Islamic Revolution, they feel the same way about Big Satan and Little Satan as Osama does. Have a great day.
Anon (September 15th, 2007 at 3:06 pm):
Losing will hurt the Republicans and that’s all that matters!

The sooner we quit the better.
Vigilante (September 17th, 2007 at 8:43 am):
Hey Mick, this misgovernment has already fully earned the distrust of our people. I have venom only for Bush who betrayed our people and who - themselves - will bear a heavy burden for a generation as a consequence of his unprovoked and unnecessary invasion of Iraq.

Mistakes? The invasion was the mother of all mistakes.

General Potemkin, in his own Congressional testimony, did not want to express his opinion on how or whether our continued occupation of Iraq would improve our national security.

When my grandchildren reach adulthood, they will fully grasp that George Bush has put a greater hurt on our once-great country than Osama bin Laden.

Have a GR8 day, yourself.
Mick (September 17th, 2007 at 10:21 am):
History will be the judge of these events, it is true. In the meanwhile, we can share our opinions on the subject, limited though our views may be.

Allow me to correct one of your statements, though, if I may. President Bush has not “earned the distrust of our people;” he has merely stirred up the hornets’ nest of the left. Wars always have been and always will be divisive, as well they should be. Bush-hatred goes much deeper than that, though, and I won’t bother to enumerate those ugly details here.

As far as the notion that Bush betrayed the nation by invading Iraq, you shouldn’t allow your hatred to blind you to the original facts of the situation: Saddam, it is well known, certainly once had WMDs. America and most of the rest of the world knew this, since America, England and France, you may recall, had sold him the bulk of them when they supported Iraq against the Soviet-backed Iranians in the Iran-Iraq war. Rightly so, I might add.

After that conflict and after his alienation from the U.S. in the wake of “the rape of Kuwait,” Saddam projected and encouraged the belief that Iraq still had stockpiles of the stuff to deter enemies both internal and external. As with most Stalinist regimes, it requires a certain amount of paranoia to remain in power.

That’s why, prior to the invasion in 2003, the CIA, Britain’s M-9, the UN, as well as French, German, Czech and most of the world’s intelligence agencies, had plausible reason to believe he possessed weapons of mass destruction. It was his successful, but ultimately fatal, strategy of “deterrence by doubt.”

In the wake of 9-11, it was clear that we could not afford to take the chance that Saddam might provide al-Qaeda with those weapons, since they were already operating there - the Ansar al-Islam camps (run by al Qaeda) operated in Northern Iraq and cooperated with Saddam against the Kurds in that region.

Betrayal? I think not. It was a justified toppling of a dangerous dictator who had also been murdering and torturing his own people for 25 years. Have you forgotten that America had recently invaded a sovereign nation for what some might consider dubious reasons (it was called “ethnic cleansing” then), in an invasion that was UN-opposed and unprovoked by the invaded nation, in the Balkans in 1998? Without a single peep from the anti-American Left, I might add.

Also, have you noticed that the anti-American presidents of Germany and France have since been replaced - by wide margins - with pro-American, conservative leaders? Schroeder and Chirac, as it turns out, opposed the invasion of Iraq to protect illicit deals they had with Saddam in clear violation of the “Oil-for-Food program,” which was established international law at the time.

Finally, I might point out that you spelled ‘Petraeus’ wrong. Does not a man who has devoted most of his life to protecting his nation at the very least deserve to have his name spelled correctly? Have another great day.
Vigilante (September 17th, 2007 at 9:57 pm):
Excuse me. Petraeus. I was being ironic. Potemkin refers to the General’s description of Iraq.
And then, Vigilante immediately followed up with a second consecutive comment which never appeared:
I do not consider myself corrected on any other of my points. As far as your errors, it's not my day or night job to educate you. My time constraints require that I be brief.

My quarrel with Bush began with his post-9/11 stampeding this country into a pointless, illegal, and ill-advised invasion of Iraq. He and his team did this by fear-mongering, lying, faking and the cherry-picking of intelligence. The intelligence and facts were fixed around the policy as dramatized by the Downing Street Memorandum.

Bush's policy was regime change by force of arms. Clinton's policy in the Balkans was qualitatively more limited: instead of replacing a regime by invasion and occupation, the Balkan policy was aimed at getting the Serbs to modify their behavior through punitive aerial bombardments. Clinton's intervention in the Balkans interrupted genocide and ethnic cleansing as it occurred. To put as generous a spin as possible on it, your pretense that Saddam's mass murdering was interrupted by Bush's 20-Mar-03 invasion is disingenuous: the killings Saddam was hung for occurred a decade or more before. By the time Bush invaded, Saddam had long been checkmated by overlapping no-fly zones.

As far as public opinion in Europe goes, my impression is that the polls show it to be as adverse to Bush as ever, irrespective of government. I am not surprised. The Bush doctrine of preventive war is not only alien to our American tradition of statecraft, it is also a retro-rationale for aggression that most Europeans (left and right) thought and hoped had been buried in the middle of the 20th Century.

In the minds of world opinion - as well as in the minds of a growing number of Americans, 11-Sep-01 did not change everything. 20-Mar-03 did.

Chuck Hagel, Republican Senator from Nebraska agrees with me. He calls Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq "The biggest foreign policy blunder in our history". If you have anymore questions, Mick, take them up with the Senator.

Great as your day was today, I hope your tomorrow will be even better!
So, Mick: if you're out there, please come in and let's continue?

Of course, while we're waiting for Mick, others are invited to pick up this dangling thread.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Tale of Two Super Powers: The United States and China

On Occupations and Pre-Occupations

From Dalian, in the Peoples' Republic of China, Thomas Friedman wrote this Wednesday NYT column (with my emphasis and snips):

It's nice to be in a country where Iraq is never mentioned. It's just a little unnerving when that country is America's biggest geopolitical and economic rival these days: China.

I heard China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao, address an international conference here in Dalian, and what impressed me most was how boring it was - a straightforward recitation of the staggering economic progress China has made in the last two decades and the towering economic, political and environmental challenges it still faces.

How nice it must be, I thought, to be a great power and be almost entirely focused on addressing your own domestic problems?

No, I have not gone isolationist. America has real enemies that China does not, and therefore we have to balance a global security role in places like the Middle East with domestic demands.

But something is out of balance with America today.. . . it is hard not to feel that China has spent the last six years training for the Olympics while we've spent ourselves into debt on iPods and Al Qaeda.

After 9/11, we tried to effect change in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world by trying to build a progressive government in Baghdad. . . . But the strategy failed, for a million different reasons, and now it is time to recognize that and focus on how we insulate ourselves from the instability of that world - by having a real energy policy, for starters - how we protect our security interests there in more sustainable ways and how we get back to developing our own house.

...By now it should be clear that Iraq is going to be what it is going to be. We've never had sufficient troops there to shape Iraq in our own image. We simply can't go on betting so many American soldiers and resources that Iraqis will one day learn to live together on their own - without either having to be bludgeoned by Saddam or baby-sat by us.

...So either we get help or get out. That is, if President Bush believes staying in Iraq can still make a difference, then he needs to muster some allies because the American people are not going to sustain alone - nor should they - a long-shot bet that something decent can still be built in Baghdad.

If the president can't get help, then he has to initiate a phased withdrawal: now. Because the opportunity cost this war is exacting on our country and its ability to focus on anything else is out of all proportion to what might still be achieved in Iraq by our staying, with too few troops and too few friends.

. . . .The minute we start withdrawing, all Iraqis will carefully calculate their interests. They may decide that they want more blood baths, but there is just as much likelihood that they will eventually find equilibrium

... I have not been to Dalian in three years. It is not just a nice city for China. It is a beautiful city of wide avenues, skyscrapers, green spaces, software parks and universities.

....The president of Dalian University of Technology, Jinping Ou, told me his new focus now is on energy research and that he has 100 doctoral students dealing with different energy problems - where five years ago he barely had any - and that the Chinese government has just decided to open its national energy innovation research center here.

Listening to him, my mind drifted back to Iraq, where I was two weeks ago and where I heard a U.S. officer in Baghdad tell this story:
His unit was on a patrol in a Sunni neighborhood when it got hit by an I.E.D. Fortunately, the bomb exploded too soon and no one was hurt. His men jumped out and followed the detonation wire, which led 1,500 feet into the neighborhood. A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter was in the area and alerted the U.S. soldiers that a man was fleeing the scene on a bicycle. The soldiers asked the Black Hawk for help, and it swooped down and used its rotor blades to blow the insurgent off his bicycle, with a giant "whoosh," and the U.S. soldiers captured him.
That image of a $6 million high-tech U.S. helicopter with a highly trained pilot blowing an insurgent off his bicycle captures the absurdity of our situation in Iraq. The great Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi said it best:
Great powers should never get involved in the politics of small tribes.
That is where we are in Iraq. We're wasting our brains. We're wasting our people. We're wasting our future. China is not.
Quelle Difference!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Muqtada al-Sadr Is Key to Iraq's Recovery

Solving Iraq - Part II

On no less then half a dozen occasions in these pages have I suggested, stressed or contended that Muqtada al-Sadr is a figure who is critical to resolving our occupation of Iraq, not to mention revolving sovereignty back in to Iraqi hands. Just to establish my bona fides, I have done that here, here, here, here, here, and here.

I am running out of words and ways to express this message. So today, I am relying on an excellent piece by Adil E. Shamoo, If You Want Peace in Iraq, Stop Trying to Kill Muqtada al-Sadr and Negotiate With Him. (How could it be put any clearer?)

Before I go any further, the big IF in Shamoo's title should be noted: judging from the deadlock in Congress enabled by the Bush Republicans and the Bushlite Democrats, independent observers would conclude that Americans are content to keep
indefinitely their ill-gotten spoils (oil and military bases) from Bush's preventive war. So there is a big IF.

But that's another story, isn't it?

In presenting Shamoo's argument, I have added my own bold-facing and bullet-points:

News reports indicate that the U. S. is negotiating with the Shiite nationalist Muqtada Al-Sadr, leader of the powerful Mahdi Army. Washington should accommodate Al-Sadr's demands to ensure the safe and orderly withdrawal or re-deployment of our forces as well as to enhance the possibility of a more peaceful outcome for Iraq.

Negotiating with Al-Sadr is distasteful to some Americans. American blood has been spilled by those who have followed him. But this is war, and the United States has already crossed this barrier by arming and collaborating with Sunnis in the Al-Anbar region who have fought and killed far more Americans than al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Moreover, the British just negotiated the withdrawal of their troops from Basra with Sadr's forces in the south, notwithstanding the recent hollow claim made by their defense and foreign secretaries in a recent opinion piece.

In the simplest possible terms, the United States should negotiate with Sadr because he is arguably the most powerful politician in the country today. At present, Muqtada al-Sadr has millions of Shiite followers, and among his fiercest supporters are the poor living under squalid conditions in al-Sadr city, named after his father. He controls six cabinet members and 30 lawmakers. More importantly, Al-Sadr has the Mahdi Army beside him -- even if he does not control all of it. If elections were held today, he could double his support in the parliament. Yet unless there is meaningful acceptance of some of Sadr's demands, this voting bloc in parliament will likely further paralyze the Iraqi government.

Al-Sadr has shown remarkable flexibility and acumen since our invasion, increasing his support dramatically during our occupation. Many of his followers are willing to die for him. His three-part approach of participating in democracy, fighting the government, and building a grass roots, service-oriented organization has endeared him to most Iraqis.

Al-Sadr became popular because he has espoused policies and services that are admired by most Iraqis.
  • He is fiercely nationalistic.
  • His support includes many Shiites who were among the poorest and most oppressed during Saddam's regime.
  • His Army and his followers provide safety to the areas they control.
  • He facilitates the daily services of healthcare, education, water and electricity, often where the Iraqi government and occupation forces have failed.
  • He advocates a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
  • He wants Iraqi oil to remain under the control of the central government.
  • He strongly condemns the killing of Iraqis whether Sunnis (no matter what happened in the past) or Christians.
  • Finally, like most Iraqis, he wants the country to stay unified. Sadr has even ordered his Mahdi Army to stand down for six months to help coalition forces have a clear fight against Al Qaeda.
In order to prevent the Iranians from setting up a puppet regime in Baghdad or at least in southern Iraq, we need to recognize that the stability in Iraq requires a nationalist, and not a U.S. puppet, government. As the most active Shiite spokesman, Sadr is the key to represent the unique interests of Iraq's Shiites, who do not want to be dominated by the Shiites of Iran. This Iraqi nationalist government, in the long run, would create a greater likelihood of cooperation with the United States for the reconstruction of Iraq. But that cooperation hinges on our respect for Iraqi sovereignty, maintaining the federal ownership of their oil and keeping Iraq intact. More importantly, the nationalist government could eliminate the insurgent group known as Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Nations react differently to the presence of foreign forces on their soil. The presence of U.S. forces is accepted by the citizens of Kuwait, Qatar and, to some degree, by the Kurds in Northern Iraq. However, in the rest of Iraq, in Saudi Arabia, and in much of the Middle East, the presence of U.S. forces is not tolerated.

We think we can win the hearts and mind of Iraqis if we do a good job on their security, health, education and economy. We assumed that by ensuring these services we would be loved -- or at least tolerated. We have not been able to accomplish this because we have ignored the most important element that angers the Iraqis -- the presence of nearly 300,000 U.S. troops and contractors on Iraqi soil, trying vainly to enforce the laws of a government that was not designed to represent the nationalistic longings of its people.

History is full of examples that occupation breeds resentment leading to the creation of extreme elements. Once there is peace and foreign troops are out, the popularity of the extremists wanes while the popularity of moderates increases. If our policy towards extremists includes negotiation, it may well result in strengthening the moderates within the same movement as well as enhancing other moderate movements.

We need to think of policies that in the long run will serve our national interests while also serving the interests of humanity. This will happen when our policies are moral and perceived as such by others. It is time to accommodate the demands of some with groups that have opposed us and begin to moderate their policies by dialog and engagement for the good of Iraqis as well as Americans.

The relevance of all of this is, of course, predicated on a well-intentioned American policy - not one bent on exploiting Iraq for oil reserves and permanent military bases.
Adil E. Shamoo,
born and raised in Baghdad,
is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
He is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.

Oh, No! It's Say-Something-Nice-about-a-Republican Friday!

Well, the best I can say is that some of them can sure talk the talk, even if, when they try to walk the walk. . . .

I guess it turns into something more like a waffle, shuffle or sidestep. Let's take the case of Rep. James Walsh (R-Onondaga, N.Y.).

Last Monday, Walsh said he now favors a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops and will support votes in Congress to force the issue. This was after he returned from Iraq, his first trip since 2003.

He reported his own change of heart:
Things have not changed substantially in Iraq . . . It's a very, very dangerous place, if not the most dangerous place on Earth. Governance is a serious issue. They are stumbling toward democracy.

What occurred to me while I was in Iraq is that it's time. We've done enough. No country has done more than we have for Iraq. The question I kept coming up with is how much do we have to give Iraq to make things work? I think we have given enough.

I think we need to let the president know that if he doesn't start taking troops out, then Congress will use the power of the purse to do it. . . . We need to start reducing our troops. . . . These guys have done everything we asked them to do, over and over again. They are absolutely brilliant. And it's unbelievably hostile conditions there.

I heard Petraeus. I agree with much of what he says. But his focus is the military. And as I've said many times before, this will require a political, not a military, solution.

The big question is whether the Sunni and Shia can get a deal. I think they can. But the Shia government needs to be pressured by us. And I think the way to do that is to start bringing our troops home.

That's the message we have to give to the Iraqis. You've got to find a way to power-share and begin to reconcile with the Sunnis.
That sounds so good and promising. I think I've found this Friday's Real Republican. I'm falling over myself looking for a blank copy of a Citizen's Medal of Intellectual Integrity certificate and a pen to fill in the Congressman's name.

And, just then, I see a comment by one of Walsh's constitutents, named Once-A-Repub, who clues me in:
I don't know why the hardline rightwingers are so upset at Walsh. He always says one thing and votes another. He won't vote for withdrawal. He will vote against it on procedural issues. He'll vote for a Republican bill that leaves the troops in Iraq to the number before the surge. So, he's really voting his rightwing conscience, supporting Bush's White House. You wait and see. He'll do the Walsh shuffle, say one thing and do another. just like with Stem Cell Research. How many times has he said he is for stem cell research, but every time one comes on the floor he votes against it. It's the Walsh shuffle. It's one step to the left and three steps to the right with a little dip in between. I can find some solace in the fact that it has taken him this long to come to a conclusion his opponent Maffei has had all along. Conservative means being cautious not slow. While Walsh has played semantics with his constituents, saying one thing and voting another, men are dying and our country is declining in power. So don't worry my good friends on the right, he doesn't mean it.
Darn! One more week in my weekly quest for an honest, intelligent and courageous Republican leadership turns up unfulfilled. Wait until next week, I guess...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Barack Obama stands up in the face of General Petraeus

The Senator was correct in October of 2002; He is correct today.

It's a Matter of Record. In Chicago, on October 26, 2002, then Illinois State Senator Barak Obama spoke out publically, in opposition to granting Bush authorization to launch an un-provoke invasion of Iraq. In light of Bush's current Iraquagmire, particularly prescient were these words:
I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the middle east, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.
Last night in Clinton [!] Iowa, Senator Obama, once again, said what needed to be said:
. . . .Conventional thinking in Washington lined up for war. The pundits judged the political winds to be blowing in the direction of the president. Despite – or perhaps because of how much experience they had in Washington, too many politicians feared looking weak and failed to ask hard questions. Too many took the President at his word instead of reading the intelligence for themselves. Congress gave the President the authority to go to war. Our only opportunity to stop the war was lost

. . . . There is something unreal about the debate that’s taking place in Washington… The bar for success is so low that it is almost buried in the sand. The American people have had enough of the shifting spin. We’ve had enough of extended deadlines for benchmarks that go unmet. We’ve had enough of mounting costs in Iraq and missed opportunities around the world. We’ve had enough of a war that should never have been authorized and should never have been waged.

. . . . I opposed this war from the beginning. I opposed the war in 2002. I opposed it in 2003. I opposed it in 2004. I opposed it in 2005. I opposed it in 2006. I introduced a plan in January to remove all of our combat brigades by next March. And I am here to say that we have to begin to end this war now.

. . . . Let me be clear: there is no military solution in Iraq, and there never was. The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq’s leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year – now. We should enter into talks with the Iraqi government to discuss the process of our drawdown. We must get out strategically and carefully, removing troops from secure areas first, and keeping troops in more volatile areas until later. But our drawdown should proceed at a steady pace of one or two brigades each month. If we start now, all of our combat brigades should be out of Iraq by the end of next year.

. . . . Some argue that we should just replace Prime Minister Maliki. But that wouldn’t solve the problem…The problems in Iraq are bigger than one man. . . .

. . . . The president would have us believe there are two choices: keep all of our troops in Iraq or abandon these Iraqis. I reject this choice . . .

. . . . I’m here today because it’s not too late to come together as Americans. Because we’re not going to be able to deal with the challenges that confront us until we end this war. What we can do is say that we will not be prisoners of uncertainty. That we reject the conventional thinking that led us into Iraq and that didn’t ask hard questions until it was too late. What we can say is that we are ready for something new and something bold and something principled.
The last seven years is proof that we Americans ignore consistent political foresight at our peril.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Irony of 911: George Bush Has Done More Harm to the U.S.A. Than Has Osama Bin Laden

I have been posting on this theme at least twice a year. But this time, doing the simple arithmetic paints a very ugly picture.

Now that he has a full half a dozen years to drive America to wreck and ruin, the truth is incontrovertible: George Bush's illegal, un-provoked, unnecessary, and largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq has cost our nation more in blood and treasure than Osama bin Laden.

First, contrast the bloodshed by al Qaeda in America six years ago today with the sacrifices of our troops in Iraq, beginning on 20 March 2003 through today.
OBL: Total Deaths - All 9/11 Attacks: 3,030
OBL: Total Injuries - All 9/11 Attacks: 2,337
GWB: Total US KIA in Iraq: 3,774
GWB: Total U.S. WIA in Iraq: 12,746

It's important to note that the figure that I use for WIA in Iraq is not the total wounded servicemen and service; the statistic I use indicates just those wounds which were so severe that the soldier was not returned to combat. Many of those, of course, are life-altering injuries (loss of sight, loss of limbs, brain, neurological and internal organ injuries).

What I failed to consider when I initially posted this graphic months ago, is that it can be argued - as I vehemently have argued - that massive American retaliation against Afghanistan was not only justified by the 9-11 attacks, but mandated. Therefore, our costs sustained in Operation Enduring Freedom are costs which are directly attributable to the 9-11 attacks against us. Therefore, they should be added to the lives lost in the crash of four airliners on 9-11-01.

In Afghanistan, we have lost 372 KIA in the six years beginning in the last couple of months of 2001. That comes to about 62 a year. So, adding Afghanistan's 372 to Osama's toll, we derive an al-Qaeda total of 3,402. One more thing: since the Republicans want to extend Bush's current splurge through 2008, it is only appropriate that we project past and present casualty trends into that future election year. So, counting our Afghanistan sacrifices, Bush is currently pushing through his break-even point with Osama bin Laden.
As you can see, adding 372 U.S. KIA Afghanistan to the al-Qaeda side of the ledger materially strengthens my contention that George Bush has cost America more in blood than has Osama bin Laden.

That's especially true when you remember economists predict that care for our wounded will amount to an unbelievable $2.5 trillion for generations to come.

On the financial ledger, the Department of Defense has not provided Congress with the individual costs of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) as opposed to Operation Iraqi Liberation. But the estimated disparity in costs is apparent to us, as a glimpse at the chart to the right reveals.

The financial losses due to the four airliners' attacks on 9-11, estimated up to $ 40 billion, do not begin to make up the difference. (Costs of economic recovery from 9-11, are generally accepted as being less than those of Katrina.)

Let's add to the ledger, that as a result of Bush's reckless adventure in Iraq, our military is stretched to the breaking point. Finally, of penultimate importance to our global war on terror, would be an international consensus on how to wage it. Al Qaeda's 2001 attacks on New York and Washington gave us an overwhelming groundswell of sympathy throughout the world. By the time Bush mobilized for his unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Iraq 4½ years ago, he had squandered that foundation of support. In fact, Bush's war was the first war in history to garner world-wide demonstrations against it on the day before his invasion of Iraq began.

It is George W. Bush, who has put the biggest hurt on Americans, in squandering our blood, our economic resources, our military assets, and our international esteem.

Monday, September 10, 2007

General Petraeus or General Betray Us?

Cooking the Books for the Bush White House - Again!
Move-On.Org ad in the New York Times

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I Went to Hear Barack Obama Speak in my Home Town Today

And, it was another beautiful day in Paradise!

I was able to see everything very clearly.

Hillary would make a good president.

Senator Edwards would make a better president.

But Obama is headed for greatness.He's the one to bring America Barack!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Now Here's Another Problem with the March on Washington

Just call me a control freak and deal with it, okay?

In the very first instance - first and foremost - demonstrations can do some good. And a whale of a good demonstration can do a whale of a lot of good, especially budging the Bush-lite congressmen off their dime. But this September 29th March on Washington demonstration looks like it was planned and organized by a bunch of Liberals.

We would be a lot better off if Progressives were running things.

To demonstrate what I mean, let me quote one of my most favorite bloggers and commenters, the Wizard, fkap. Where I find fault in the big tent of Liberalism, Wizard finds virtue:
The Democrat Party has been hijacked by so-called "Progressives." They don't like to be called liberals, not even with a small "l." They have a plan of progressing from point "A" to point "B."

. . . . The "Big Tent" is long gone.

Today's progressives . . . . In their mind [stuff] somehow stands in the way of the path from "A" to B." Today's progressive wing has a litmus test: "Oppose all things Bush."
The first response I have to make to Wizard is that Progressives do agree on at least one Point B: Bush & Cheney's legacy should be aborted and repudiated ASAP. Only those who see Shrub and Shooter as anything other than America's own home-grown international war criminals can disagree with the priority of that Point B.

I don't have much space to fill or time to take here, so I'll accept Wizard's framing of the issue.
Progressivism is a way of thinking about political agendas. It imposes a degree of discipline upon otherwise undisciplined Liberals:
  • Understand where you are (Point A), why you are there, why you need to move on, and where you want to go (Point B).
  • Understand that measures, policies, and conflicting goals which do not promote movement along this line from A to B can become distractions and diversions and fatal to progress.
Let's see what demands the big tent of Liberals has staked this demonstration to. Click to expand and look at this poster to the right. Parsimony is 'hard work', but definitely called for in this case of the March on Washington. Which of these items are congruent to ending Bush-Cheney occupation of Iraq and the U.S.A.? and which are not? Trying to be as generous and accepting (liberal) as possible, there are some that just have to be stricken from the demonstration marquee. I can easily defend the pertinence of remaining planks:
  • Impeachment!
  • No War against Iran!
  • End all occupations now - from Iraq to Palestine, the Philippines, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Afghanistan
  • Support The Right to Return - from Palestine to New Orleans
  • No to U.S. intervention - Hands off Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Zimbabwe, and the Sudan
  • Stop the raids against immigrant workers -- Full rights for undocumented workers
  • Justice for Katrina survivors - End racist police terror - Stop the war against Muslims
  • Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, the Cuban Five, and all political prisoners
  • Money for health care, jobs and education, not endless war occupation.
If there are going to be speakers, signs & songs about all these divergent and unrelated causes, the message of the demonstration will be lost in the disparite din. It's not that some causes to be excluded are not worthy; it's about them not being related to moving toward Point B. It's about them being needlessly offensive, alienating and off-putting to otherwise attracted participants. Demonstrations have to have a unifying theme.

Good demonstrations are focused and disciplined. Otherwise the vital message is lost; scarce resources of time, finances, energy, loyalties are squandered. A big tent is critically important for a circus, maybe important to the Democratic Party, but worse than useless in a political demonstration.

Stop the War?

What's wrong with this poster?
Well, it's quite obvious.
The frame needs to be switched, majorly. If I had the talent for airbrushing, I would fix it myself. All I can do is,
For the demonstration at the capitol, I also like:
Occupy the Occupiers!!!
Because, for the last half-dozen years, I have felt that I have been living under an occupation which is quite alien to my American experience. But that is another story....

The difference between Liberals and Progressives is that Liberals still use Bush and Cheney's frame. We won the war with Iraq. Bush declared victory on 1 May 03. We captured Saddam in his spider hole that December. He's long dead & gone.

We are in occupation mode (the lowest common-denominator mission that ever gets assigned to a military force). The current task for Progressives is to bring an end to our current OCCUPATION before it can be re-kindled into a WAR again (with Iran). WARS - theoretically - can be won or lost and their stakes contain within them a nucleus for patriotic memes as old as the hills. Those good-ol' chauvinist impulses such as jingoism, imperialism and the like.

Occupations, OTOH, are never won; they are only taxing - on occupiers and occupied alike - until ended. Bush wants to be a WAR-TIME president, not an OCCUPATION president. Why are Liberals so compliant in satisfying his wannabee status?

This is a far better poster:

Because it's focused on the occupation of Iraq
and the word 'war' appears only in the names
of supporting organizations.