Monday, June 29, 2009

Dick Cheney Is Back - Testifying in His Own Defense

But not under oath, of course….
Yesterday, Cheney told The Washington Times' America's Morning News radio show that America cannot withdraw from Iraq yet:
But what … concerns me: that there is still a continuing problem. One might speculate that insurgents are waiting as soon as they get an opportunity to launch more attacks.

I hope Iraqis can deal with it. At some point they have to stand on their own. But I would not want to see the U.S. waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point…
This is consistent with what Cheney said last year. On 10 April 2008, Cheney was on Sean Hannity’s radio show and fear-mongered about the consequences of withdrawing from Iraq. He told Hannity,
For us to walk away from Iraq I think would have at least that bad an effect, probably worse, because if al Qaeda were to take over big parts of Iraq, among other things, they would acquire control of a significant oil resource. Iraq has almost 100 billion barrel reserves, producing 2.5-3 million barrels of oil a day. If you take a terrorist organization like al Qaeda and give it that kind of revenue, there's no telling the amount of trouble they could get into.
Ten days earlier Cheney had told Virginia Republicans that withdrawing US troops from Iraq would be 'an act of betrayal.'
The only way to lose this fight is to quit. That would be an act of betrayal and dishonor, and it's not going to happen on our watch.
What's going on here is nothing short of thinly disguised attempts to save his sorry ass legacy.

When Americans were understandably scared out of our minds in the aftermath of the 911 attacks, our incompetent government lost their minds.

Talk about not being able to handle that 3 a.m. call (in the form of hijacked airliners)!

Dick Cheney and his puppet president, Bush, totally freaked out, striking about blindly and randomly. In his 'post 9/11 mind set', Cheney did a complete flip-flop and decided on invading Iraq.

Cheney had better judgment in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, (Gulf War I). In 1991, Cheney's mind was cool and collected when he wisely counseled against following up the Liberation of Kuwait with an invasion of Iraq:
Once you get to Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime, a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that going to have if it's set up by the American military there? How long does the United States military have to stay there to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens once we leave?
Three years later, Cheney interviewed at the A.E.I., level-headedly counseled that invading Iraq was not rationally in the national interests of the United States. He said we would find ourselves in a Quagmire:
Nevertheless, after 911, the once-cerebral Cheney became the impulsive Cheney. Invading Iraq became the way for America to prove its military potency, "because Afghanistan was not enough" of a target. Moreover, he assured us on the eve of the invasion that "we would be received as liberators". Nine months later he told us, "There's overwhelming evidence there was a connection between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government". Four years ago this month he told us that in Iraq "they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Well, this is the record of willful deceit and fraud which Cheney wants to obscure by kicking the Iraq can further down the dusty road toward continuous and indefinite occupation. He wants and expects President Obama to invest even further in his geo-political ponzi scheme. After all is said and done, he and his puppet president have squandered:
  • 4,321 American lives. (That's counting five soldiers shot down today in Baghdad, but not counting the life-altering injuries sustained by our WIA's.)

  • 3,000,000,000,000 of our treasury (Not counting the fact that as a nation, we are fucking broke).

  • Our two century-plus record of not starting international wars (not counting countless interventions in Banana republics)

  • Our reputation of adherence to international laws and covenants (including the use of torture of prisoners)
As long as our world-renown international war criminal can manipulate his followers to house, feed and tender to the beast which he has bequeathed our current and future generations, the more he can hope to delay any reckoning with his responsibility for I-Wreck.

I cannot understand how any public appearance by this liar is not greeted with thrown shoes and cat-calls of "Guilty".

I do not want to hear another minute of self-serving public testimony from this war-mongering perp which is not received under oath.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Obama Method

First he did it to Boehner, now Ahmadinejad.

Excerpted and boldfaced from Jonathan Chait, senior editor at The New Republic:

The thing that people haven't figured out about President Obama's conduct of foreign policy is that it's the same as his conduct of domestic policy. Obama believes in the power of negotiation and public dialogue to split his adversaries--Republicans at home, Islamists abroad--and strengthen his own position. Obama's speech in Cairo to the Muslim world was simply the foreign analogue of his dealings with the GOP.

Obama's method begins with attempts to find common ground, expressions of respect for the adversary's core beliefs, and profuse hope for cooperation. In his iconic 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention, Obama famously announced that Democrats, too, "worship an awesome God." In his Cairo speech, Obama pointed to the contributions and freedoms of American Muslims. In both speeches, Obama signaled cultural respect by adapting the other side's own rhetorical formulations--invoking "a belief in things not seen" (2004) or calling the Middle East the region where Islam "was first revealed" (Cairo).

This rhetoric removes the locus of debate from the realm of tribal conflict-- red state versus blue state, Islam versus America--and puts it onto specific questions--Is the American health care system fair? Is terrorism justified?-- where Obama believes he can win support from soft adherents of the opposing camp.

Naturally, Obama's pacific expressions tend to alarm the more hawkish elements of his own camp, who interpret his idealistic rhetoric as naivete or weakness .....

Democratic partisans think the enemy is vicious and must be met with uncompromising force. That's exactly how conservative foreign policy hawks feel about the world. Unsurprisingly, the right-wing foreign policy critique of Obama today sounds eerily like the partisan Democratic critique of Obama during the primary.

..... in his Cairo speech, Obama touted the historic role of Muslims in the United States. Conservative pundit David Frum complained:
One of the most disturbing things about the Cairo speech is the persistent misrepresentation of history. It is really absurd to say that Islam for example has 'always been a part of America's story.'
Obama probably realizes that Muslims have played a marginal role in American life throughout most of its history. He also probably believes that the U.S. economy in the 1970s suffered primarily from oil shocks and irresponsible monetary policy rather than from the absence of a Reaganesque cheerleader for entrepreneurship. But Obama's method entails small acts of intellectual dishonesty in the pursuit of common ground.

Critics such as Krugman and Frum are correct that surrendering intellectual ground comes at a cost. Our most successful presidents articulate clear, forceful public rationales for their beliefs --think of Roosevelt or Truman excoriating reactionary Republicans at home, or Truman, Kennedy, or Reagan standing up to the Soviets internationally. It is a mistake, however, to view Obama's strategy as an act of submission.

Consider how Obama explained his approach toward Iran during a recent interview with Newsweek:
Now, will it work? We don't know. And I assure you, I'm not naive about the difficulties of a process like this. If it doesn't work, the fact that we have tried will strengthen our position in mobilizing the international community, and Iran will have isolated itself, as opposed to a perception that it seeks to advance that somehow it's being victimized by a U.S. government that doesn't respect Iran's sovereignty.
This is a perfect summation of Obama's strategy. It does not presuppose that his adversaries are people of goodwill who can be reasoned with. Rather, it assumes that, by demonstrating his own goodwill and interest in accord, Obama can win over a portion of his adversaries' constituents as well as third parties. Obama thinks he can move moderate Muslim opinion, pressure bad actors like Iran to negotiate, and, if Iran fails to comply, encourage other countries to isolate it. The strategy works whether or not Iran makes a reasonable agreement.

The results remain to be seen. But it eerily resembles the way Obama has already isolated the GOP leadership. Obama began his presidency by elaborately courting the opposition party. Republicans in Congress believed that, by flamboyantly withholding cooperation, they could deny Obama his stated goal of bipartisan harmony and thus render him a failure. Instead, they wound up handing Obama the alternative victory of appearing to be the reasonable party. Polls showed that the public, by overwhelming margins, believed that Obama was trying to work with Republicans and that Republicans were not reciprocating.

Likewise, by defusing the complaint among Islamists that the United States disrespects their religion, Obama can more easily force the Iranian leadership to negotiate on the terms of its stated goals. American Prospect editor Mark Schmitt wrote in 2007 that this is actually,
a hard-nosed tactic of community organizers ..... One way to deal with that kind of bad-faith opposition is to draw the person in, treat them as if they were operating in good faith, and draw them into a conversation about how they actually would solve the problem."
This apparent paradox is one reason Obama's political identity has eluded easy definition. On the one hand, you have a disciple of the radical community organizer Saul Alinsky turned ruthless Chicago politician. On the other hand, there is the conciliatory post-partisan idealist. The mistake here is in thinking of these two notions as opposing poles. In reality it's all the same thing. Obama's defining political trait is the belief that conciliatory rhetoric is a ruthless strategy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Israel Admits to Its True Path

. . .is to deny Palestinians the possibility
of a nation-state with territorial integrity
on the West Bank.
Israel's foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, rejects the idea of a freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Lieberman admits that Israel does not have
any intention to change the demographic balance .... we think that as in any place, babies are born, people get married, some pass away and we cannot accept this vision about an absolutely complete freezing of settlements .... I think that we must keep the natural growth .... This approach is very clear and also we had some understandings with the previous administration [of George W. Bush] and we try to keep this direction.
From the horse's mouth....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Waters Run Through It

With Apologies to Robert Redford and Norman

Each of us here today will, at one time of our lives, look upon a loved one who is in need, and ask the same question,
We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed?
It is true: we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted.

And, so it is these we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them. We can love completely, without complete understanding.

Long ago, rain fell on mud and became rock. Half a billion years ago.

But even before that, beneath the rocks, are the Words of God. To Him, all good things, wind on the water, and sailing as well as salvation, come by Grace. And grace comes by art, and art does not come easy.

Now, nearly all those I loved and did not understand in my youth are dead. …. But I still reach out to them.

Of course, now I'm too old to be much of a sailor and now I never sail the big waters alone, because some friends think I shouldn't.

But when I am alone in the half light of the channel, all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and memories.

And the sounds of the big Pacific surf and a four-count rhythm and a hope that a steady 15-knot breeze will rise.

Eventually, all things merge into one. And water runs through it.

The oceans were delivered by the world's great floods and run over the rocks from the basement of time.

On some of the rocks are timeless rain drops; under the rocks are The Words and some of the words are Theirs.

I am haunted by water.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

First they came for the abortionists . . .


Fox News doesn't care.
But I do.

I didn't used to care much about abortion. Always was against abortion, sort of. Always said I was against it except & unless a prospective mother, armed with professional advice from her chosen physician, wanted it for whatever private reason.

That means, of course, that I was pro-choice.

Now I am pro-abortion.

I believe in abortion on demand. Early abortion. Mid-term abortion. Late-term abortion. Free abortion. Tax-paid abortion.

In some cases, retroactive abortion.

Friday, June 5, 2009

President Barack Obama Went to Cairo & Walked the Extra Mile.

No 44 has gone further than any other President in his attempt to untie the historical knot in the Middle East.

Of course, he did not go far enough. The task of reversing historical trends in this area of the world would overwhelm even the best political leadership America can find.

Yesterday the world heard from the mouth of our new President that America wants to take a new path. But, as Mr. Obama himself noted, a speech does not - itself - make history.
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.
It was a noble and eloquent effort that fell short. Still, I give Barry an A- in this attempt:
America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

. . . . the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. . . . Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. . . . .

. . . . . Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued existing Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop be vacated.

. . . . . America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. . . . privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true. Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed.
So, our gifted President deserves very high marks. But even he falls short of honors.

The existing Israeli settlements in the West Bank prevent the establishment of a self-sustaining Palestinian state. The status quo will not hold. The effects of the eight-year Busheney era of procrastination, prevarication and provocation have left us with what sailors call a hatchet bowline. That's a knot that can only be loosened with a hatchet.

The saddest two words in the English language are "too late".

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Virtual World

I have it on good authority and inside information that Vigil is about to allow his attention to be diverted away from international and national affairs. The object of his diversion is again the so-called Volvo Ocean Racing Game.

As my opening post on this blog, I'd thought I'd offer a foto of Vigilante when he's in his "virtual world" ...

Hope I'm getting off on the right footing here...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Bush-Cheney Truth Commission

Senator Leahy says the American People should not turn the page before they read it.

Senator Leahy has
proposed the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate abuses during the Bush-Cheney Administration -- so they never happen again. These abuses may include the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and executive override of laws:
The full text of the petition reads:
I hereby join Senator Patrick Leahy's call for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, to investigate the Bush-Cheney Administration's constitutional abuses so we make sure they never happen again. These abuses may include the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and executive override of laws.

A truth and reconciliation commission should be tasked with seeking answers so that we can develop a shared understanding of the failures of the recent past. Rather than vengeance, we need a fair-minded pursuit of what actually happened. The best way to move forward is getting to the truth and finding out what happened -- so we can make sure it does not happen again.
I have signed this petition and will urge all I know to sign it.

As far as I am concerned, it does not go far enough. The span of inquiry should be expanded to cover the abuse, misuse and manipulation of intelligence and the CIA in order to stampede our once-great country into an unnecessary war with Iraq.

That, it itself - starting wars - is the paramount war crime. And it needs to be addressed.

As recent as yesterday, Cheney has tried to correct his sorry record. If he feels the necessity to do it, he needs to do it under oath.