Monday, April 30, 2007

Attention Jenna and Not Jenna: Time to Pony Up

Prince Harry is definately going to Iraq. Why is it that our royalty's offspring aren't doing the same if this mission was so critical? They are of age, no?
LONDON -- The head of the British army said Monday that he had personally decided that Prince Harry, the third in line to the throne, will serve with a combat unit in Iraq.

Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt said the decision would be kept under review, but he hoped his statement would end media speculation on Harry's deployment.

''I would urge that the somewhat frenzied media activity surrounding this particular story should cease in the interests of the overall security of all our people deployed in Iraq,'' Dannatt said.

Clarence House, Prince Charles' London office, would not comment on the statement.

Harry, a 22-year-old second lieutenant, is a tank commander trained to lead a 12-man team in four armored reconnaissance vehicles. If deployed, he would become the first royal to serve in a war zone since his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew as a helicopter pilot in Britain's conflict with Argentina over the Fakland Islands in 1982.

Commanders reportedly had reconsidered their decision to allow the prince to fight in Iraq for fear his presence could endanger other soldiers. Harry's regiment, the Blues and Royals, is due to begin a six-month tour of duty in Iraq within weeks.


"Are We Winning The War?" V. "The Only Way To Lose The War Is To Walk Away From It." - Subtitle: Substantial Bets Laid Out On The Iraqi Craps Table

The United States has a huge stake on the Iraqi Craps Table. Any one who plays the game knows that it's expensive to wager on the craps table. Before you know it, you have a massive outlay and sooner than later, some one will toss the 7 or 11 and Craps, you've lost by staying in. Being a good craps player means that you have to know when to take your bets off the table and walk away. Are the members of the W, Rove and Co so virtuous to not know this fact of gambling life?

Today, Tony the Snow job stepped back into the political fray as W's spokesmodel. And, he's back up to true obfuscation form. We can tell right from the outset that the W, Rove and Co have no clue about how to win in a situation which is an extreme gamble. And unfortunately, like the addicted gambler, they are likely to bet it all in a last ditch effort to win big. And we have all seen what happens to the addicted gambler, now haven't we? Destitute, strung out to dry, and some times killed by the mob for borrowing too much against the losses.

Let's start with the original premise laid bare for all to see. Yes, the fundamental question is honestly asked, "Are we winning the war?" Tony suggests, "the only way to lose the war is to walk away from it." Well, now, that seems to me like a rather myopic view on a very complex situation. Moreover, the successful gambler, if there ever was one, "knows when to hold 'em, knows when to fold 'em, knows when to walk away, knows when to run...."

Such common sense advice appears to be wasted on these people that have bet the farm on an impossible gambit. In the meanwhile, we know that 100 GIs KIA in April won't be able to cast a vote against this nonsense in the next election.

Let's unpack Tony's first gaggle back from the cancer treatments and see how he does:
Q Tony, are we winning the war?

MR. SNOW: Are we winning the war?

Q Welcome back. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: Yes, exactly, welcome back. (Laughter.) You know, April, we're fighting the war, and it's an important thing to understand that the only way to lose the war is to walk away from it, and that this country not only has made a commitment to the people of Iraq, but the people of Iraq have made a commitment in blood and treasure, as well. And we are working to create a situation where that government, in fact, is going to be able to provide for its citizens, not only economically, but most importantly, a democracy that will respect the rights of all, that will protect those rights, and that will be able to stand tall among the community of nations.
Of course, he can't answer the affirmative to the query as the next question if he does is becomes thus: "If we are winning the war, why can't we consider leaving Iraq?"

A better question might be why is it that we should up the ante versus folding and taking our bets off the table, but the pool reporter doesn't have the benefit of hindsight here:
Q How long should we fight the war before we just turn tail --

MR. SNOW: The notion that somehow the United States walks away and there are no consequences I think is the sort of thing that -- it doesn't make any sense. Think of it this way: The United States walks away, who stands to benefit? Answer, terrorists, al Qaeda, the people who are fighting democracy.
For an organization that continues to suggest it doesn't like to talk about hypotheticals, they sure don't mind doing so when it's political advantageous to do so. Another good follow up question might be, "how can you be so sure that the terrorists will win if we leave?" Really, this doesn't show much faith in the Iraqi people and the fledgling government we have propped up.
One of the reasons -- furthermore, if you are thinking about what goes on within the region, if you are a Middle Eastern power, if you're anybody in the region, and you see this happening, you're going to lose confidence in the United States of America. Let me put it this way: Our allies do not want us simply to leave on a timetable. The Iraqis do not want us to leave. People within the region do not want us to leave, because it does create the possibility of chaos and bloodshed on a horrific scale.
It appears to me that there is already "chaos and bloodshed on a horrific scale" here, so you would have a hard time convincing me that staying is an improvement.
And, furthermore, what it will do is make us less secure as a nation. The fact that it is difficult does not mean that we should walk away from it. As a matter of fact, it is difficult precisely because you have a determined enemy, but we will demonstrate the determination to prevail in Iraq and to help the Iraqis prevail. This is the Iraqis' fight; we are there to assist. And we are building capability on the military side, on the security side, on the economic side and on the diplomatic side. That's part of what will happen in the Baghdad conference.
"Make us less secure as a Nation?" I'd like to see Tony and W prove that point. Even in the extreme, if we pull out troops out of Iraq and deposit them directly in the USA, wouldn't that improve our homeland security? Incidentally, I don't see how the Iraqis will ever be able to fully stand up unless we fully stand down, no? BTW, is W going to Baghdad for this conference? If not, he really should.
So the idea -- again, if we turn tail, to use your formulation, what it means is that we weaken ourselves, and we weaken ourselves not only over there, but on our own soil, as well.
I just don't see the logic. Simply because some one believes it to be so, doesn't make it a fact. Moreover, this is purely a hypothetical.
Q So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't; you're weakening yourself now, going through equipment, going through troops. And then if you pull out, you damage --

MR. SNOW: No, the fact is, you understand that a military engagement -- if you describe yourself as weakening yourself every time you respond to an enemy, that doesn't strike me as the proper way to frame what happens in a military engagement of that sort. Americans don't like war. We understand that. But Americans also don't like the idea, I don't believe, of a policy that would strengthen al Qaeda, that would strengthen terrorists, that would weaken the United States, and would make us less secure.
Now that's a very big if. Sort of like basing a proof on a hypothesis that hasn't been proven. In the end, the whole argument falls apart. Oh, and here we see again the straw man being set up, only to be blown over.
It is a tough decision. The President understands that. And it is something that certainly does wear on the American people. But as Commander-in-Chief, the President has a solemn obligation to keep this country safe -- that is in tough times and in good times; that is also when polls are with him and polls are against him. But his obligation is to keep us safe, and he's determined to do that.
But an equally powerful argument could be made that what the president is doing is actually not making us safe but increasing our danger. If I use the same kind of reasoning as Tony, I could make that argument in about three sentences.
Q Why not set benchmarks with -- political benchmarks with consequences, given that there has been so little, if any, progress politically from the Iraqis?

MR. SNOW: Number one, it gets back to what you're saying. If you try to impose timetables, what you end up doing is you say to enemies, you know, all you have to do is create a little bit of chaos.
Now, Tony has attempted to speak for W, the American people, the Iraqi's and now the terrorists? How did he acquire such omniscience is beyond me.
Q Setting benchmarks, not timetables -- political benchmarks for the Iraqis.

MR. SNOW: Well, if you set a political benchmark with penalties, that would imply that you have a timetable, that you have certain deadlines. A couple of points -- and Secretary Rice made some of these yesterday.
But even Petraeus said that you need a military and political solution here, no? Setting some political deadlines wouldn't be imprudent here, would it?
First, the Iraqis, themselves, have set up benchmarks, and they share them. The fact that they do not make progress as rapidly as we might like is frustrating. The President has made it clear, and he said it many times, that the patience of the American people is not unlimited. Meanwhile, as you know, the Iraqis have said -- the Council of Ministers has passed an oil law, and there is still activity along those lines. Some of the other issues may take longer. But the Iraqis share the same goals, and we continue to make it clear to them that they need to do -- they need to take these seriously and they need to move forward as rapidly as possible.

Meanwhile, you also have the situation where terrorists are being pretty clever about it: When things seem to be moving in a certain direction, you go ahead and you set up a series of coordinated bombings that's designed once again to reignite old hatreds between groups, or at least suspicions, and therefore, stall political progress.

So you have a whole series of things that affect the political situation. The Baghdad security plan is designed in a comprehensive way to try to address situations so that you can have more rapid political progress. Do we want to see more rapid political progress? Yes. But do we want to be binding people on the basis of artificial deadlines? No.
But really, do the Iraqi's know enough about out situation as it pertains to America to set reasonable deadlines that work for us? I don't think so. What's the plan?
Q So you wouldn't rule that out in any sort of --

MR. SNOW: Again, I'm not going to negotiate. What's important right now, when we're talking about the supplemental is, let us give our troops the support they need now. We have already been forced to start reallocating money within the defense budget. By the 15th of this month, it's going to become more acute, and all of a sudden, people say they support the troops are going to have to explain why if they support the troops, number one, they drag their feet on sending a supplemental to the White House. Again, they passed it five days ago. It shouldn't -- it's a pretty simple procedure. In fact, I could walk down and pick it up today. But, apparently, it's still -- some difficulty in making its way from Capitol Hill.
If you can go pick it up, what's stopping you?
But the President understands that people wanted to make a political statement. Fine. Now step forward rather than having military families suffer and equipment -- not being able to replace equipment as rapidly as necessary or proper, let's go ahead and get on with this and get the bill passed. And the President has made it clear that he wants to sit down with bipartisan leadership, bicameral leadership on Wednesday. He's down at CENTCOM tomorrow, and we'll see how quickly we can get it done. He does feel confident and optimistic that we're going to get --
Here's where we find out that the President really just doesn't understand the people of the US of A. We don't give a damn about some politics. We care that our GIs, our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, are getting slaughtered on a daily basis for what? For some dream manufactured after the real reason for this war turned out to have no basis whatsoever? All promises made by this administration have been abandoned like a newborn on the street in a pool of blood by a mother who doesn't want the child.
Q Just a follow up. Isn't it possible, though, that the Bush administration could set up those political benchmarks for the Iraqis without necessarily setting up a military timetable or deadline --

MR. SNOW: Again --

Q -- but use, perhaps, resources, money to pull out some of that if the Iraqis --

MR. SNOW: Again, I think --

Q -- don't manage to meet those requirements.

MR. SNOW: I think what you -- in other words, what you're going to say is, we are going to weaken you if you don't move fast enough. I think the most important thing you've got to do is demonstrate -- number one, you're got to do whatever you can to assist the Iraqis to move quickly. You also have to demonstrate good faith.
I don't know about you, but I'm running a little shy on "good faith" in both the Iraqi's and this administration.
A lot of times, you have to ask yourself the question, who are you -- who's behavior are you really going to influence with certain actions? Will you encourage the Iraqis, or will you, in fact, give aid and encouragement to the people who are trying to make the government fail?

Having said that, I'm not going to get up here and start negotiating what may be discussed between the President and bicameral-bipartisan leadership. But he's made it clear what his position is, and he's made it clear for a very long time. People on the Hill have known for three months what the President's position is, and a clear veto message has been out for over a month. And so the fact is the symbolic vote has taken place, everybody come back now; once you finish this up, done your symbolic stuff, come back and do your real work.
There is a certain amount of responsibility that you can't shirk off on Congress here. The wheels of diplomacy work both ways and compromise is about meeting in the middle. Obviously, the W, Rove and Co. doesn't know how to make compromise happen. They had it too long where the Congress bent over and took it up the rear for them. And, we can see what kind of backlash that is getting them as the GOP ranks start to disavow the W, Rove and Co.
Q If the military can't be used as a leverage, then would the administration be willing to use financial aid as a possible leverage if the Iraqi's don't cooperate?

MR. SNOW: Well, I'm not going to -- again, I'm not getting into sort of gaming this other than to say, we work to assist the Iraqis. And the assumption of the question is that the Iraqis don't want progress. They do. It's tough. And, therefore, what you're assuming is they don't really want to do it, but if we punish them, then that will change behavior. And what I'm saying is be careful, because if you set up punishments, you may change behavior for the worse by, in fact, strengthening the hands of the people who want the democracy to fail.

So you have to take all those into account when you're considering policy.
More hypotheticals. What's the plan Tony? Does any one have a plan to turn Iraq into a success or are we simply doomed to be married to that whore for eternity, or worse yet, until death do us part?
Q A point of order, if I may. You've inserted twice, and alluded a third time, that the fact that they want the same things we do. I would suggest that that's not at all apparent, from their behavior. And if it's not, in fact, the case, then how does --

MR. SNOW: First, you've got 20 million Iraqis. It is pretty clear that al Qaeda -- their behavior does not --

Q I'm not talking about al Qaeda, I'm talking Iraqis.

Q The Iraqi government.

MR. SNOW: Well, the Iraqis -- well, no, again, you take a look -- the Council of Ministers has passed an oil law. Now you have to go through the business of getting something passed by the parliament. I would just point you to Capitol Hill, where things are not moving as rapidly as leaders there thought would happen when they convened this year. No, I'm just saying democracy is not always as prim and predictable as one might think.

The second thing is, if you take a look at the Baghdad security plan, there are 80,000 people providing security in Baghdad right now; the majority of them are Iraqis. Iraqis have been laying down their -- laying their lives on the line. They still continue, after numerous attacks on police and military sites --
Now we know that the W, Rove and Co is prone to lying with statistics and here they go again. 80K? Is that a lot? Is that enough? Who are these people? Blackwater? The W, Rove and Co.'s dirty little secret is that the amount of cash we are pouring into Blackwater and Halliburton is enormous....and have they been effective? The reporter has a point. The Iraqi's don't seem to want the same things for themselves as the Americans would wish upon them.
Q Yes, but where does the security work? The security works where there are American troops.

MR. SNOW: Well, but you also see that there has been -- well, go to Anbar. What you have seen there is a shift on the part of tribal leaders -- it's been documented in a number of places in recent days that there has, in fact, been tangible improvement because you have seen a change in the behavior on the part of Iraqis who in the past had not been so assertive against al Qaeda.
Just because you say it is so doesn't make it thus. I say prove it. Oh, and I'm not going to Iraq to find out. The burden of proof is on those who favor this war, not the other way around.
So I think it's very difficult to generalize.
Bull shit. You've generalized a great number of times. What you mean to say here Tony, is that you won't allow us to generalize, but for you, it's okay.
There are situations that -- there are differences in situations, neighborhood to neighborhood, within Baghdad. But if you take a look at what the Iraqi people have done -- risking their lives to vote, risking their lives to serve -- I think it is pretty clear that they do, in fact, want a stable democracy, and it is a tough thing to do.
Really? Who is doing the insurgency? Al Queda or actual Iraqis?
Q Let me follow up on that. I think it was either today or yesterday in the Post, a story about the removal of some Iraqi commanders who had gone after Shiite militias. I mean, so --

MR. SNOW: And there have also been stories of fractures within the Mahdi army. But let me put it this way: We're aware of the stories and we're concerned about them, and those are the kinds of things we do discuss with the Iraqis. It is vital for the success of an Iraqi democracy to have security forces that will enforce the law fairly, regardless of who you are or regardless of what group you belong to. We've said it many times, and that continues to be a point of emphasis.
I see. The fact that you repeat this as a point of emphasis proves the point that your policy isn't working otherwise it would actually improve rather than necessitate more rhetoric around your suggestions for improvement.
Q But then do you guys -- that example, do you see that as lower down the ranks, or is that the Maliki government not wanting to go too aggressively after Shiite militias?

MR. SNOW: Again, it's -- if you've taken a look at what's gone on, there has been aggressive action within Baghdad in Shia neighborhoods. At this point, I don't want to get too far into trying to prospect what may happen.
But you are perfectly willing to suggest that if we leave, they will follow us here? Surely. That's because it is not politically advantageous to hypothesize in this case so you don't.
Keep in mind, we are not yet halfway into full deployment within the Baghdad security plan, and we're continuing to work with the government of Iraq. But, again, we're aware of the reports, we're concerned about them, and that will be a focus of conversations.
Concern does not become manifest in results.

Q Tony, is the President at all taken aback by what George Tenet is writing and saying? Is he surprised that Tenet feels scapegoated?

MR. SNOW: I don't know -- I can't -- I haven't had a chance to talk with him about it, Mark, but I think -- Secretary Rice made it clear that she was a little surprised, because George Tenet is somebody who served the nation well. And it is a tough business to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

But the idea that you're scapegoated was a surprise.
Not to us it wasn't.
He felt strongly about the pre-war intelligence, as did people on both sides of the aisle -- Jay Rockefeller, as well as Jon Kyl. You know, you had three-quarters of the United States Senate standing up and talking -- voting on a war resolution, many people talking about imminent threats. And the intelligence was shared not only within the intelligence community in the United States, with the White House and our intelligence agencies, and the intelligence committees on Capitol Hill, but also foreign intelligence operations.

And, obviously, there were some real problems with that intel, which is one of the reasons why there has also been, on a bipartisan basis, an effort to overhaul in a very comprehensive way the way we go about the business of intelligence. So we do not believe he was scapegoated, but he certainly has his first amendment right to lay out his view.

Q Tony, what Tenet is saying publicly now is what we were being told privately at the time, which was that the CIA's intelligence was not nearly as strong as the advice the President was getting from the Defense Intelligence Agency and others, and that their admonitions were not being listened to, if you will, by the White House.

MR. SNOW: I'm not going to go back and flyspeck, but the fact is that everybody got listened to. And Secretary Rice -- no, Wendell, it's interesting. The notion that somehow going into a time of war that the President would not take seriously every piece of intelligence or opinion he would get from qualified people is preposterous.
Which is why it is so astonishing that there were no WMD in Iraq, right?
Q That's one way of putting it, Tony. But the other way of looking at it is the President would not take as seriously what he did not want to hear.

MR. SNOW: Well, that' not the way he operates. I'm sorry, but the President is not the kind of guy who says, tell me what I want to hear. As a matter of fact, you sit in a meeting and you try to do that, you're not going to get very far. What the President wants and demands of his people is -- are their best opinions and their best advice, and that's the way it operates. So --

Q He got a lot of lousy advice, didn't he?
Which one of the fundamental flaws in the W, Rove and Co administration. They only listen to people they respect, and you can not trust that they are going to get good intel.
MR. SNOW: Well, he got some advice that -- you know, it's interesting, Bill, you can say about any war that Commanders-in-Chief got lousy advice, because wars never work out quite the way you planned. But what does have to happen is that you have to follow through so that you do have success.
Now we see Tony trying to reshape history. In fact, the generals and civilian leaders in WWII did a fantastic job winning that war. There is a large difference here, but we have to insist that he not reshape history for political gain. In fact, we can actually argue here that, with the amount of experience gathered about the Whitehouse (in the shape of Cheney in particular) the war aught to be going much better than it is. It's saying something that given all the supposed "skills" gathered about the W, that they haven't been able to "win" this war, don't you think?
Q Tony, two for you. One is, could you share with us some thoughts about the White House's view of Prime Minister Olmert? The report on the war in Lebanon just came out fairly critical of his handling of it. How important is he to the Middle East peace process? And what does the President make of him as a leader?

MR. SNOW: Well, obviously, he works very closely with Prime Minister Olmert, and thinks that he's essential in working toward a two-state solution. The President remains committed to it. We're not going to comment on, obviously, internal investigations within the Israeli government.

Q The other is that on January 11th, Secretary Rice said that the Iraqi government had two to three months to convince the population that it would apply security fairly, treat everyone fairly, whether -- regardless of their religious or ethnic background. Do you think it's met that timetable --

MR. SNOW: I don't know, it's -- again, I would defer questions like that, at this juncture, to folks who are closer to the realities on the ground. It is clear that there has been some progress in some areas. But on the other hand, as General Petraeus has also said, it's going to take a while to continue not only deploying folks in support of the Baghdad security plan, these things do take time.

But, Olivier, the core of your question, is this a violent essential element in having a successful Iraqi democracy? The answer is, yes.
In my view, unless we exterminate the problematic segment, violence only begets more violence, which brings us full circle to the top of the post. Are we winning the war? Hell no. Is the only way to lose it by leaving? Certainly not. Where's the plan? Definately no where in this round of speechifying.

Tony's Back - Subtitle: "You've Got The Gift of Life, So Make The Most Of It."

Just when I was getting used to Dana Perino, Tony the Snow job got back on the Whitehouse spokesmodel podium today. In the odd event that you haven't been paying much attention to the Whitehouse spokesmodel corps, Tony has been undergoing cancer treatment. He had this to say about his cancer situation:
Q We're glad you're here.

MR. SNOW: Thanks. And thanks for the basket. (Laughter.) I want to thank you all. It really meant the world to me. Anybody who does not believe that thoughts and prayers make a difference, they're just wrong.

Q Take your time.

MR. SNOW: I will, thanks -- especially you. Just a couple things about my situation. I'm not trying to feel sorry for myself, I'm just going to stop being choked up, because you guys have been so wonderful.

I'm a very lucky guy. As I told you before, we were, out of an aggressive sense of caution, going to do an exploratory surgery that did indicate that I still have cancer. Now, I know the first reaction of people when they hear the word "cancer" is uh-oh. But we live in kind of a different medical situation than we used to. And I have been blessed to be treated by, supported by some of the finest doctors in the world. What we are going to do -- we had surgery, where we did disclose -- and there are some cancers in the peritoneum and we are going to attack them using chemotherapy -- I'll start chemotherapy this Friday.

The design is to throw it into remission and transform it into a chronic disease. If cancer is merely a nuisance for a long period of time, that's fine with me. There are many people running around -- and I must tell you, I have received a lot of notes from folks who have had far worse cases than I have, who have survived many years with the kind of regimen that we're talking about, which is chemo up front, and then maintenance chemo to continue combating cancer tells.

I won't tell you how it's going to work out, because I don't know. But we obviously feel optimistic, and faith, hope and love are a big part of all of it.

The other thing is that I hope folks out there who may either have cancer or have loved ones with cancer need to know a couple of things. First, don't go it alone. The support I've received from you and from my colleagues at the White House and people around the country has been an enormous source of strength. You can't -- there's no way to quantify it, but you feel it. You feel it in your heart. And in many ways, that may be the most important organ for recovery, to have the kind of spirit and to realize that, in my case, I'm unbelievably lucky and unbelievably blessed -- and really happy to be back.

The other thing is -- so don't go it alone, and the other thing is be of courage. Realize that in an age like ours, things are happening very rapidly in the medical realm. I'm taking a cancer cocktail this time around, a chemo cocktail that's going to contain two agents that were not in broad use two years ago. Things are moving very rapidly, and there's always hope.

Not everybody will survive cancer, but on the other hand, you've got to realize you've got the gift of life, so make the most of it. And that is my view, and I'm going to make the most of my time with you. I'll take questions.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Looking For A Few Good Blogs

Just wondering what every one else is reading these days. Post your link to the best blog that you actually comment at on a regular basis.

Thanks and blog on all.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Is Bush's Dream ("Reforming the Iraq Whore") Your Dream?

Sometimes, another blogger sums up the sentiment of most thinking Americans much better that I can. Joshua Marshall over at the Talking Points Memo does just that. Have a look:
It's often been noted that we've had a difficult time explaining or figuring out just who we're fighting in Iraq. Is it the Sunni irreconcilables? Or is it Iran and its Shi'a proxies? Or is it al Qaida? The confusion is not incidental but fundamental. We can't explain who we're fighting because this isn't a war, like most, where the existence of a particular enemy or specific danger dictates your need to fight. We're occupying Iraq because continuing to do so allows us to pretend that the initial plan wasn't completely misguided and a mistake. If we continue to run the place a bit longer, the reasoning goes, we'll root out this or that problem that is preventing our original predictions from coming to pass. And of course the longer the occupation continues we generate more and more embittered foes to frame this rationalization around, thus creating an perpetual feedback loop of calamity and self-justification.

It's a huge distortion to say that this means the war was 'lost'. It just means what the war supporters said would happen didn't happen. The premise was bogus. Like I said at the outset, the whole exercise is like getting trapped in a brown paper bag. You can keep going into the bag and into the bag and into the bag and never get out or change anything. Or you can just turn around and walk out of the bag.

Of course, the damage that's been done over the last four years of denial is immense -- damage to ourselves, to the Iraqis, damage to Middle Eastern security and our standing in the world. So walking out of the bag isn't easy and it won't fix things. But the stakes alleged by the White House are largely illusory. Most of the White House's argument amounts to the threat that if we walk out of the bag that we'll have to give up the denial that the White House has had a diminishing percentage of the country in for the last four years. The reality though is that the disaster has already happened. Admitting that isn't a mistake or something to be feared. It's the first step to repairing the damage. What the president has had the country in for four years is a very bloody and costly holding action. And the president has forced it on the country to avoid admitting the magnitude of his errors.
Meanwhile, what's the president up to, you ask? Entertaining the Japanese:
The Abes and Laura and I had a really good dinner; it was very relaxed.
Well, how nice for W's digestion. But the friend who pointed me to the above and a few other links had this to say:
Petraeus is is right, it could take a long time (and many lives, and we still might not 'win'). But why do we want to marry the whore that is Iraq? This is Bush's dream, reforming the whore, but it isn't our dream. 'We' were interested in WMDs, not a do-over of Iraqi society. Bush can take his vacation in Baghdad instead of Crawford if he's keen on his agenda.
Let's have a closer look at W's speechifying and unscripted "joint press availability" so to see what we can learn, direct from the horse's mouth:
Q Mr. President, the Democrats have voted for a withdrawal timetable from Iraq, which you have said that you will veto. What ideas do you have for breaking this logjam going forward? And would you be willing to veto a second bill?
Good question. What say you Mr. Bush?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first of all, I haven't vetoed the first bill yet. But I'm going to. And the reason why I'm going to is because members of Congress have made military decisions on behalf of the military. They're telling our generals what to do. They're withdrawing before we've even finished reinforcing our troops in Baghdad. They're sending, in my judgment, a bad message to the Iraqis and to the enemy and, most importantly, to our military folks. So I made it clear I'd veto.
They are not telling generals what to do, they are telling Mr. Bush what to do, and certainly well within their rights to have some oversight of the Executive Branch.
And, by the way, they're adding spending that shouldn't belong in the bill in the first place. Maybe they're important issues, but they ought to be -- these spending bills ought to be -- or spending issues ought to be debated in the normal course of business. So I've said this all along, my position has been consistent.
And this wasn't done by Republicans on other bills when Clinton was President?
I'm sorry it's come to this. In other words, I'm sorry that we've had this, you know, the issue evolve the way it has.
I don't know about you, but the lack of sincerity behind those last two sentence is obvious.
But, nevertheless, it is what it is and it will be vetoed and my veto will be sustained. And then the question is the way forward.
Well, that was the original question. What is W prepared to do?
And my suggestion is that -- and I invite the leaders of the House and the Senate, both parties to come down soon after my veto, so we can discuss a way forward.
If the Congress wants to test my will as to whether or not I'll accept a timetable for withdrawal, I won't accept one. I just don't think it's in the interest of our troops.
Why? Well, here's where you know that W is totally losing his marbles here.
I think it -- I'm just envisioning what it would be like to be a young soldier in the middle of Iraq and realizing that politicians have all of the sudden made military determinations.
This is the fundamental flaw with the W, Rove and Co. They think they have cornered the market on what other people think. AND, if you or I don't think like them, or they are not even remotely close to able to empathize with such populations, you are considered some kind of devil. Moreover, there is absolutely no way that any one from the W, Rove and Co could know what it is like to be a young troop in Iraq because they are not even remotely close to able to empathize with such populations as they live in palaces where they have relaxing meals with Japanese dignitaries.

By the way, who's decision was it to go into Iraq? I don't think it was the generals that made that decision, but politicians (and the whole of the W, Rove and Co), no?
And in my judgment, that would put a kid in harm's way, more so than he or she already is. I really think it's a mistake for Congress to try to tell generals, our military experts, how to conduct a war.
Really? A time table does all that? Oh, but there is more...
Furthermore, the idea of putting all kinds of extraneous spending on a bill, the purpose of which is to fund our troops, I just don't accept that. So if they want to try again, that which I have said was unacceptable, then of course I'll veto it, but I hope it doesn't come to that.
Does this sound like a man who is willing to compromise?
I believe we can work a way forward. I think we can come to our senses and make sure that we get the money to the troops in a timely fashion. It's important to have a political debate, but as I've consistently said, we don't want our troops in between the debate.
It takes two sides to debate and both are equally at fault here, no?
And Congress needs to get this money to the Pentagon so the Pentagon can get the money to the troops, so our readiness will be up to par, training missions will go forward.
Have our troops ever had their "readiness" "up to par?"
I know Congress, no matter what their position is on the war, doesn't want to affect readiness, and they don't want to affect the military families, I understand that, but they're going to if they keep trying to pass legislation that is -- that just doesn't -- that withdraws troops or micro-manages the war.
But correct me if I'm wrong, the bill contains all the money W needs to accomplish this. It's the timeline that he will base his decision to de-fund the troops by deploying the veto here, nothing else. You see, it's Bush who is ultimately going to, with a stroke of the veto pen, deny troops the funding, not the other way around.
So I'm optimistic we can get a bill, a good bill, and a bill that satisfies all our objectives, and that's to get the money to the troops as quickly as possible.
Really? And what are you going to compromise to make sure this happens, because frankly, it doesn't look like you are willing to come meet folks anywhere near the middle here.

What say you folks? Did W answer the question?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"We Are There At The INVITATION Of The Iraqi Government:" The Biggest Joke I've Heard From A Whitehouse Spokesmodel

Dana Perino was in rare form and getting hit continually over the head by Helen Thomas' cast iron skillet. In the process, she tells the biggest joke I have ever heard from a Whitehouse Spokesmodel

Have a look:

Q Who is the enemy you speak of? Are these Iraqis?

MS. PERINO: We have different folks that we're considering the enemy. Obviously, al Qaeda is in Iraq, and they say that this is the battle. And then there are insurgents --

Q Are there Iraqis that you speak of, when you speak of the enemy?

MS. PERINO: I think they are definitely -- obviously, there are Iraqis who are engaging in criminal activity and in sectarian violence.

Q Criminal? To defend their own country?

MS. PERINO: I think when anyone is killing innocent men, women and children that they --

Q Against an invader and occupier?

MS. PERINO: Helen, we are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government, and we are there under the U.N. Security Council resolution.
We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi Government? Holy Shit. I don't know what to say about that. What say you?

No Wonder They Hate Us

If this video doesn't make your stomach turn, I don't know what will.

If that's not enough to get your dander up, how about this exchange at a recent whitehouse press briefing:

Q Is the President still going to veto anything from the Hill that sets a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, despite the belief of the public that we should pull out?

MS. PERINO: I think that -- let me try to unpack that. The President has said that if the Democrats decide to insist on sending him a bill that includes a deadline for withdrawal, that he will veto the bill. And I understand that there are many people who are in this country that are frustrated with the war. I do think that you have to be a little bit careful in blanketing everybody that they want to pull out quickly from Iraq and with an arbitrary deadline or a rash decision, and leave that vacuum that we believe is going to be left there, if we leave that quickly.

Q Well, if the majority of people really wanted to pull out, would the President pull out? And what kind of a statistic do you have that they don't want to?

MS. PERINO: As the President has said many times before, he does not make decisions based on polls. He understands as Commander --

Q Did he make decisions based on what the American people want?

MS. PERINO: He makes decisions based as the elected President of the United States and the Commander-in-Chief and his main priority is the protection of the American people, and that's what he --

Q How do you protect the soldiers who are over there dying every day?

MS. PERINO: That is the President's gravest concern, and he talks to the commanders on the ground to make sure that they are protected and that they are doing their jobs. He understands that he has asked them to do a very, very difficult mission. It's very dangerous in Baghdad. We do have a new Baghdad security plan that's underway, being led by General David Petraeus, who is up on the Hill today providing an update to the Congress on the status of that Baghdad security plan.

Q But a hundred people are dying in Iraq every day.

MS. PERINO: It's a very tragic situation. I don't know if that number is accurate, but obviously it's not only our troops that are dying, but very many -- too great of numbers of innocent men, women, and children in Iraq, as well.

Q.E.D. The W, Rove And Co. Are Equally Guilty Of Playing Politcs With Our Troops In Iraq, Trotting Out The Surrender Monkey Claims

There is no such thing as being a little bit pregnant, now is there? But we are not talkin about and abortion when it comes to Iraq and introducing a time line to get out.

It's always black and white for the W, Rove and Co and if that doesn't worry you, I don't know what will. Things are much more complicated than simply stating there is only one way to extinquish the Iraq Conflagration.

Springsteen's tune sticks with me here - "Bobby said he'd pull out Bobby stayed in
Janey had a baby wasn't any sin

The W, Rove and Co has their backs up against the wall here with no other options on the table than to veto any kind of funding for the troops in Iraq. Shameful that they are playing politics with the troops, but here they go again.

This is just what I was talking about in the prior post. Have a look:
Q I'd like to ask you about the level of political discourse about Iraq. The Vice President and President are accusing the Democrats of being defeatist, they're talking about surrender dates. Senator Reid comes back and calls the Vice President an attack dog. What happened to the thought that there was going to be an elevated debate; they were going to be more high minded, not as mean spirited?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that what happens in Washington at times of high drama and passion on both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, that there are times when you're trying to make your substantive point, that the rhetoric can sometimes lead you to say things that you might not otherwise say in a one-on-one conversation.

I do think that when talking about a surrender date, it is very descriptive of what we believe is in the legislation. It says, you must leave on this day, and we think that that tells the enemy that they've won and that we've surrendered. And I think that's a good way to explain it to the American people.

Q Well, and you say that you're not questioning their patriotism, but by calling them defeatist and talking about surrender, you don't think that that gets close to that line of not --

MS. PERINO: I think that what we have done is argued on the merits and on the substance of our arguments. And I don't know if that's always been the case on the other side. I grant you that I think that tension is high, because the stakes are high. And we feel very strongly that leaving before the job is done is turning over the victory to the enemy. And this is an enemy that, as the President has said many times, people need to understand is not only vying for control of Iraq, is a sworn enemy of the United States being helped by other sworn enemies of the United States, and that we ought to take this very seriously.

Q But don't you think that words matter? I mean, doesn't that suggest --

MS. PERINO: I certainly think --

Q -- "helping the enemy" -- doesn't "helping the enemy" suggest some kind of lack of patriotism?

MS. PERINO: I think if you look at what the President has said, is that we are kidding ourselves if we think that the Qaeda is not trying to create a safe haven as they had in Afghanistan. And by us leaving too soon, before the Iraqis are able to take care of their country themselves, that that is what the President is trying to argue. And I would say that someone who calls the President a liar and a loser does not have very strong ground to stand on in talking about name-calling.


Q When the President vetoes the war supplemental, as we think he'll get it, what does he do then? Will he reach out to Congress and say, okay, here's where we can move from here?

MS. PERINO: I think we'll have to wait and see what happens. I think that both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue are going to have to come together to try to work it out. And I think that both sides recognize that.

Q And when do you think -- how quickly would he veto it after the Senate votes?

MS. PERINO: Let us try to -- we don't even know when we're going to get the actual vote. We have some general idea, but not specifically. I think it's safe to say soon after.

Q Well, "soon after" meaning -- I mean, if the President is at Camp David for the day, would he do it without any ceremony?

MS. PERINO: Let me just say soon after. I don't believe that we're going to be getting it on Friday.

Q Do you think that there would be --

MS. PERINO: I think our indications are that we don't anticipate getting the bill on Friday.

Q Do you envision, though, a formal -- I don't want to call it a ceremony, but for lack of a better word -- event, at this point?

MS. PERINO: We're talking about it, and what we would do, but we don't have any plans yet to announce. We're thinking about it.

Q Okay.

MS. PERINO: But, obviously, the President has said he's going to veto it, and I think that it's important that the American people see him doing it.

Q But this would be only his second veto, and I recall that during the stem cell veto, there was an elaborate event in which he brought families. I'm wondering if you're planning to bring military --

MS. PERINO: A little bit too early for us to preview, since we don't even have the bill yet and we don't know what day that it's coming. It's important.

Q Yes, but you can get it together.

MS. PERINO: We're pretty good. (Laughter.)

Q Just call it a "no surrender" party. (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: We'll take that under consideration.

Q A great Bruce Springsteen, "No Retreat, No Surrender."

MS. PERINO: I don't think he'd come. (Laughter.)
It's ironic to suggest that others are playing politics with our troops while perpetrating exactly that, isn't it? Oh, and damn straight Bruce would not come to that event, thank goodness.

One other quote from Einstein sticks with me here - "We cannot solve today's problems with the same thinking we used to create them." Indeed!

Blog on friends, blog on all.

Leaving Iraq: The W, Rove and Co Is Clearly Not Thinking Beyond The Politics of The Timeline

I had this epiphany early today on my morning run. Iraq has never really been about some kind off “noble,” “ideological” fight to the finish. Nor has it been truly about oil. The trouble for us (meaning America and all Citizens of the World) is that the US involvement in Iraq has never been about liberating an enslaved people either. Truly, it’s always been about politics and winning or losing elections.

The use of Military as a political arm of the US Government, we will learn in the long run, is nothing but pure folly, foolishness, and a downright inhuman administration of lethal might over large swaths of earth and her people. At the very least, the ignition of the war machine in the Iraq case is an indication of a true failure of diplomacy, and a hand full of other disastrous overt and cover ploys (read “The Confessions of An Economic Hit Man).

If you have read Sun Tzu, or even the milder Machiavelli, you would realize that there is nothing good about war. As a last resort, you should be in it to win. Losing is not an option, which makes the rightwing mantra so compelling. You know the one, “if you set some kind of deadline we will have lost the war.” But really, what’s wrong with that argument is that they almost always follow that up with a discussion of how if we pull out, they will follow us here.

Now, there is absolutely no way to prove that point or even disprove it. But it begs the question; could setting a timeline actually be used as a way to win the war? What we need is to remove the pussy cats leading this war and unleash the hounds of hell to finish this sooner than later, no? We need a more Sun Tzu oriented strategy here.

What if we were to set a time table for withdrawal from Iraq and then not follow it? Might it not suck all the terrorists to Baghdad and then we could seal it off and wipe them out? Why does setting a timeline necessarily have to lead to the tragic outcome the republicans suggest?

Sun Tzu said:
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
- Sun Tzu, the Art of War
Sun Tzu, who beheaded his Emperor’s favorite concubine in order to restore order in the house and prove that he had what it takes to lead the Emperor’s Army, might actually have some good advice. With the way this Iraq conflagration has been perpetrated, it’s clearly entirely political. If the generals on the ground wanted to try the deception strategy, they couldn’t because the politicos wouldn’t be able to get elected on the premise as it would mean deceiving the American People as well.

Why else would it be such a heated topic of debate on a comedy news show?

Any one who would suggest that there is a right way to finish this war and suggest that setting a time line is the wrong way to go has bought into the ploy fed by the W, Rove and Co. Really at this point in the game, the status quo doesn’t seem to be working. Perhaps what we really need is an “artificial timeline,” that looks real….that might just do it.

After they – whomever the “they” that the W, Rove and Co suggest are the evildoers in this case - swarm the place, we surround ‘em, and squash ‘em like the bugs they are….to paraphrase a Schwarzkopfian slogan from the first Bush desert gambit. Of course, if they don’t swarm the place, and much like Vietnam pull their country together, we would have saved a great deal (lives and taxpayer monies) in the process. So, in the end, perhaps the opposite of what the W, Rove and Co would have us suggest is really true – what we really do need is a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq.

What say you?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Rove Should Eat Crow - Sub Title - Come On People, Uncle Karl "Just Wanted To Have Some Fun."

Proving that Rove is nuts, he blew his lid at Sheryl Crow, for no good reason other than that he wanted to display his true plumage. Why Rove shows such disdain for the American People is beyond me, but symptomatic of all that is wrong with the current administration.
In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow? Unfazed, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people." To which Sheryl promptly reminded him, "We are the American people."
Let's have a look at Dana Perino's interpretation of the event:
Q Dana, can I ask you, there's been a lot of chatter over the last couple days about this confrontation that Karl Rove allegedly had with a couple of celebrities about global warming, climate change. What was Karl Rove's reaction to being confronted at the dinner in this way?

MS. PERINO: I think Karl Rove just wanted to have some fun on Saturday night. And I think he wasn't the only one.
Excuse me, the GIs are getting filleted on a daily basis in Iraq, and Uncle Karl Goes off on some citizens because he want's to have fun?Oh, and Karl as victim is really not going to play well in any other circle than the reichwing blogset.
I think that it's unfortunate that people who have an impassioned view about a topic don't take the time and afford the President the same respect that they are asking for. The President's record on climate change is very strong. I do not understand why they can't take "yes" for an answer. The President has acknowledged, since the beginning of his term, that climate change is real. He has a different approach of how to help solve the problems, but that doesn't mean he hasn't acted.
Excuse me Ms. Perino, but they were talking to Karl, not the President, and he had no right to go off on these concerned citizens.
We have provided billions of dollars, in terms of resources, to develop the new technologies that are not only going to help solve that problem, but will also help lift people out of poverty from around the world because they need the clean energy that everyone else needs in order to help their economies grow.
Really? Prove it.
Q But it was not until this last State of the Union that he mentioned climate change, right, so --

MS. PERINO: Absolutely not.

Q He did not mention it directly.

MS. PERINO: In the State of the Union?

Q In the State of the Union. I thought this was the last --

MS. PERINO: Well, in the State of the Union, but that doesn't mean that people weren't actively working on things. I could point you back to the 2003 State of the Union, in which he announced the FutureGen project, which is a zero-emissions coal-fired power plant, which is currently underway, in terms of its development, and it's a 10-year plan. And what we would hope is that once we get that technology, we will be able to transfer it to developing countries that are going to use coal, like Mexico and South Africa and China, which, by the way, is building one power plant a week that uses coal.
Okay, so raping the earth for more coal to be burned, but reduce the emissions is a solution to global warming and fixing what we perpetrate against the environment is your solution?
So we have big climate change challenges ahead of us, and I just wish that they would channel some of that Hollywood energy into something constructive, rather than baseless finger pointing.
Baseless? I don't think so.
Q Did Rove leave early because he was angry because of this?

MS. PERINO: Rove left to get in the motorcade to go home. (Laughter.) That's what we all have to do if we're in the motorcade. I got to stay behind.
So, Uncle Karl stomped off like a spoiled child would if he didn't get his way. So sorry to burn up your night of fun with a dose of reality Karl, but you really do work for more American People than the one's you suggest you represent.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Meanwhile, With The Presidential Propaganda Catapult Fully Loaded, Grand Rapids Gets A Full Dose Of Whitewash From The Whitehouse

I haven't been clicking on presidential speeches as of late as W has not been forthcoming with the Q & A. I don't necessarily enjoy reading the scripted portions of his PR junket speechifying as it's usually more of the same.

Unscripted, W continuously reveals himself for who he really is. Fortunately for us, on his weekend gallivant to Grand Rapids, MI sponsored by your taxpayer dollars, he exposes himself again, albeit to a very friendly audience. Really, have a look at these softballs (Q's only as the As only serve to further the W, Rove and Co Agenda):
Q How do you think the new Democratic Congress will (inaudible)?

Q Thank you, Mr. President. What's the next step for the United States, or even the United Nations, in dealing with the belligerent behavior of Iran with regards to nuclear development?

Q I think that's a great idea. I was wondering, we did have a group -- a commission, I believe, here, that was discussing how to solve our Iraq problems, but we really haven't implemented the advice from --

Q -- Baker-Hamilton commission. I was wondering how we were going to be able to convince the countries that participate in this conference in Egypt that we will actually consider implementing their advice --

Q Mr. President, thanks for coming to the west coast, first.

Q You mentioned in your comments, sir, about the American patience. What's the Prime Minister's take on that? What is his understanding of American patience?
There were a couple of inaudible questions mixed in there, but you get the idea. These folks look like plants from the GOP.

Lucky for us, they let one subversive in who got to ask the last question. Have a look at W's response and you can see how twisted his logic is.
Q Mr. President, I really appreciate your emphasis on the universality of freedom. I'm wondering if and how the United States can promote liberal democratic reform in countries like Saudi Arabia, and whether you could address specifically whether it is, perhaps, American support for these autocratic regimes that are creating such an Islamic backlash against the United States?
Now that seems like a complex and legitimate question, no? The President of the United States aught to have something cogent to stipulate as an answer. Let's have a look.
THE PRESIDENT: That is a -- boy, I don't want to be Mr. Gratuitous, say, fabulous question, but it's really one of the fundamental questions that has caused a lot of debate in Washington, D.C. about my freedom agenda.

There are some who say that promoting democracy and liberty in the Middle East is a waste of time.
Your "freedom agenda?" Hmmm... Well, for a minute there I thought he was going to delve into the complexities of the issue. But of course, W sets himself up to begin his first point of argument with the usual Rovian straw man. Really, whom is W referring to by suggesting some would say promoting democracy and liberty is the wrong thing to do? Name that person?

What a ridiculous argument. No one argues with this, it's the means by which you think you can accomplish this that are in contention...but let's let W continue to plow forward...
I happen to believe that, kind of, managing stability doesn't address the root cause of the problems that caused 19 kids to get on an airplane and kill 3,000 of our citizens.
What? I don't think the Nine Eleven hijackers were kids, were they?
And so part of our strategy to defend the country is the promotion of freedom around the world.
So, that is a logical and cohesive cogent connection?
I also, in my second inaugural address, believe in the interests of the United States to challenge tyranny wherever we find it.
Right, and that's exactly the point of this person's question, which you are not really answering...but I digress.
As an aside, and I'm not suggesting my friends here, the scribblers over here are saying this, but some have called him hopelessly idealistic to believe in the power of freedom to transform parts of the world that seem impervious to liberty.
What? Is W, moving to the Dole mode of referring to himself in the third person? What does he mean, "the scribblers over here?"
I believe it is the only realistic way to protect ourselves in the long-term, and that is to address the conditions that create hatred, envy, and violence.
Okay, but that's why the person asked the question the way s/he did, no? Might we not be engendering the hatred by our continued relationship with the repressive regimes in the Middle East?
The other thing that's important to note is that societies, depending upon their past, take a while to achieve freedom as we define it. In other words, some move at snail's pace, some move, obviously, quicker. And all the societies will reflect their own traditions and histories. So when you hear me talk about the freedom agenda, it's not like, I expect Jefferson democracy to be blooming in the desert.
Huh? Jeffersonian Democracy? Blooming in the Desert? What kind of democracy are we expecting from our allies in Saudi Arabia?
Secondly, friendship with leaders makes it easier to have a frank and candid discussion in a way that doesn't offend. And my friend -- I do have a good, very close relationship with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and I'm proud of that relationship. It gives me a chance to be able to share with him ideas about -- in a private way, obviously not so private now -- (laughter) -- why I believe giving people move voice in the affairs of their government is in the interests of their government. Same with my friend, President Mubarak, of Egypt. I have made it clear, for example, that -- and by the way, the Egyptians had a presidential election that was quite modern and different. And I don't believe that it's going to be possible to be able to have a less-free presidential election during the next round.
Friendship leads to frank conversations? Then why not go talk to folks in Iran, Syria, etc....why blame Nancy Pelosi for opening a dialog that was stagnant and stymied by the W, Rove and Co?
And so there is progress being made toward more liberty, in a part of the world that most people said had no chance to be a place for democracy to take hold.
Really, and who would "those people be?" Shall we take W at his word here?
I will give you the -- in Yemen there was an election that was supervised by international bodies. They came out and said, it's a fair election. There are women now serving in Kuwait parliament. Jordan, the King of Jordan is making moves toward liberalizing his society. I think, slowly but surely -- and by the way, this is a long process. Remember, I talked about the aftermath of the Korean War. This is like -- we're talking 55 years later. It takes a while.
Is it me, or does it seem to me like he is really just making up excuses for bad performance here? Would your boss accept this kind of explanation for not getting your job done on time, or would you get fired?
And the fundamental question facing the country is, will we be engaged in the Middle East helping moderates defeat and fight off radicals -- hopefully not militarily every single time, hopefully rarely militarily -- but by defeating an ideology with forms of government.
Huh? Is it really possible to defeat ideology with a form of government, let alone one that was bolstered and built only by military might?
And it's really going to be an interesting debate. I have staked my claim for the first part of the 21st century. I will tell you, I am worried about our country becoming isolationist and protectionist.
Really, so again I ask, why did you protest Nancy Pelosi's visit to the Middle East? Did that look like isolationist behavior?
We have been through isolationist and protectionist spells in our history. One of my concerns is that people say, it is not worth it to be engaged as heavily as we are in parts of the world, particularly the Middle East. I'm concerned about that. I'm concerned because I believe it will be missed opportunity to help people realize that -- if you've got a Muslim brotherhood doing a better job of providing health care and education, the way to deal with that is to do a better job than they are, as opposed to ignoring the realities on the ground.
Okay, W's losing me here. What is he trying to say? Can you figure this out?
And that's what open societies that have got an election process force people to do.
What? Excuse me, Mr. President, but we just had an election here. You may remember it, no? The will of the American people, it seems, is directly contrary to your vision for us. Why do you shun this election result so vehemently when you suggest elections are such righteous things.
I was criticized by some that upon insisting that the Palestinian elections go forward. I believe elections are the beginning of the reform process, not the end. I believe elections have the capacity to show the elite what's right and what's wrong.
And so, why do you refuse to listen to us, the people who voted in the last election here in America?
And I believe the Hamas elections in the Middle East made it clear that the Palestinians are sick and tired of corruption, and government that was not responding to their needs.
Sound familiar? I, for one, am sick of the corruption and unethical operation of the American Government.
I wasn't happy with the outcome of the election -- sometimes that happens, you're not happy with the outcome of elections. (Laughter.)
Really, you can't have your cake and eat it too, Mr. Bush. If you think that elections are meaningful in one country, they should likewise, be meaningful her in the good old U.S of A.
But I was inspired by the fact that the Palestinians went to the polls and said, in the fairest way possible, we're sick of it. Arafat has let us down; no peace. We want to live in peace. Where's the prosperity? Let's get us another bunch in there and see if they can do the job.
Here, here. Regime change begins at home.
The problem is, is that the new crowd they have in there refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, which runs contrary to our policy. And, therefore, we will continue to take the posture we're taken, because we're interested in peace.
The problem is, the W, Rove and Co refuse to listen to the American people.
I'm interested in helping the Palestinians develop a Palestinian state. It's all along the same agenda, by the way, which is the freedom agenda.
And by the "freedom agenda," we mean if you don't like our way, we will squash you and kill your civilians...
I believe the only way for Israel to have secure peace in the long run is for there to be a democracy living side by side with Israel in peace. I'm afraid that Israel will ultimately be overrun by demographics in order for her to remain a Jewish democratic state.
What exactly does it mean to be "overrun by demographics?"
And yet, Hamas wins. And you can't expect an Israeli democratic elected official to negotiate with a group of people who have avowed to destroy them.
But is there another pathway to peace here? If so, we are all ears.
And hopefully, at some point in time, the situation will get clarified, if the people have another right to express themselves, and that right ought to be, are you for a state or not for a state?
Oh, I see, hope is the strategy and what else?
Are you going to have people that prevent a better future for emerging from you? By the way, this all started with the elections. And they said, oh, you shouldn't have elections, you shouldn't have been fighting against them. Why would I fight against elections? I'm for elections. I think elections are important for society. I think -- and I think they're equally important here as they are in the Middle East.
Oh yes, hope and elections. That's the pathway to peace in the middle east? By the way, did I mention we had an election here in 2006 that appears to be meaningless to the W, Rove and Co. Why is that?
And the fundamental question, really, facing in the long-term on this is, will the United States believe that the value system that has enabled our country, by the way, to emerge -- and it took us 100 years to get rid of slavery, for example.
Slavery? I don't think this person asked about the emergence of democracy in America, but slavery? Why is W bringing that up?
Far be it from us to say we're perfect. We had a great Constitution,
I think it may be a slip of the tongue, but he may be right here - we "had a great Constitution," until his administration tore it to shreds
...but our history has been scarred by treating people like chattel, with slavery, which is an abhorrent part of our past. But nevertheless, it takes a while. And it takes patience. But it also takes great faith and certain value systems to help societies emerge.
So far, for the "Freedom Agenda," we have hope, elections, faith, and "a certain value system" to make it work. Isn't W forgetting something?
The other question is on trade. And by the way, I happen to believe isolationism and protectionism go hand in hand.
Oh, yes, that's right. The "Freedom Agenda is about trade, and above all, this person really was interested in getting some information about isolationism and protectionism.
As you know, I'm an open-market trader. I believe in free trade. I think competition and trade not only helps the United States, I think it's the best way to alleviate poverty around the world. And that doesn't mean you don't enforce trade agreements. Recently we've enforced trade agreements with China -- not trying to shutdown trade, but trying to enhance trade, trying to make trade more palatable to people in the United States, recognizing that there is such thing as fair trade, as well as free trade.
Wowie, zowie, he is really diverging from answering the question now isn't he?
But I'm concerned about people saying, well, it's just not worth it, shut her down,
The war in Iraq? I thought we were talking about terrorists and terrorism and fascist regimes in the Middle East...Nope...
let's make it harder to trade. There's going to be some interesting trade votes coming up in front of the Congress here -- free trade agreement with Peru and Colombia are coming up. And we'll find out whether or not the leadership and both Republicans and Democrats are truly committed to not only our neighborhood, but trading in a way that enhances prosperity for both sides of the equation.
Really. How did you make the transition from the "Freedom Agenda" to Free Trade, or is Free Trade part of the "Freedom Agenda?"

Oh, I see how you got to the discussion of tyranny in the Middle East and trade, there's a WTO conference coming up in Doha
We're in the middle of negotiations on the Doha round of WTO. I hope some of you are concerned about world poverty. I certainly am. And the best way to deal with world poverty is to encourage prosperity through trade and opening up markets. And we're in complex negotiations, and I'm dedicated to getting this round completed in a way that meets our interests, but also meets other interests.
This was not a question about poverty, now was it folks?
I want to share with you one other thing, then I've got to get out of here. You know, Laura says, you get up there and all you do is talk and you love to hear yourself talk. (Laughter.) I want to share one other aspect of our foreign policy. I believe to whom much is given, much is required. And I want to share something about this great, generous nation, for which you deserve a lot of credit.
I see, you are trying to make a smooth exit from a complex question that you didn't really answer. Smooth, very, very smooth, Mr. President. Let's see, how are you going to divert our attention from the fact that you didn't answer the question at all...
Whether it be on HIV/AIDS or malaria, the United States is in the lead. And when I got elected, I was deeply concerned about the fact that an entire generation of folks on the continent of Africa could be wiped out by a disease that we could not cure but halt.
Ah, AIDS and Africa, which have everything to do with terrorists, terrorism and our relationship with flawed regimes in the Middle East.
And I set up what's called the Global Fund for AIDS. And yet it kind of sat there empty. It was a deal where everybody could contribute, and then the United States would match to try to encourage commitments, but it didn't fill up. And so I went to Congress and asked that they spend your money on a unilateral initiative where we would take on I think the 17 most or 19 most affected countries in the world and deliver antiretroviral drugs.
W is, of course, setting himself up for a wonderful close. Drum roll please...
Foreign policy is more than military.
It is more than just spreading freedom.
It's also, in my judgment, in our interest to base it upon that admonition, if you're blessed, you ought to help others.
And as a result of the American people, we spread antiretrovirals or got antiretrovirals to 850,000. That's up from 50,000 in three years.
Gee willikers Mr. President, why do the terrorists hate us so if we are so magnanimous and benevolent?
We're all interconnected in this world. What happens overseas matters here at home, from a security perspective, but I also believe it matters here at home from the perspective of keeping our spirits strong.
Thanks for the pep talk Mr. President.
It's in the interest of this country that we be engaged in freeing people from tyranny, the tyranny of government and the tyranny of disease and hunger.
Oh, I'm so convinced now, Mr. President. You are right and your policies correct, and I am wrong. Holy shit, did you just see him go from Saudi Arabia to terrorism to the freedom agenda to aids and to the fact that we should now be fighting tyranny around the globe? Well, folks, I suggest we start that fight right here at home.
I appreciate you giving me a chance to come and visit with you. God bless. (Applause.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Will History Be Kind To The President?

When the President is engaged in the full tilt process of trying to assuage his own conscience, he bathes himself in the same manure he's been using for a great long while. Have a look:
“Let me put it to you this way,” Mr. Bush said. “When it’s all said and done, when Laura and I head back home — which at this moment will be Crawford, Tex. — I will get there and look in the mirror, and I will say, ‘I came with a set of principles and I didn’t try to change my principles to make me popular.’ ”

He was responding to a question from an audience member who had said he admired the president’s “stay-to-itiveness,” but wondered “when you go to bed at night, and you see these polls — everybody and their brother does a poll now — how does it make you feel?”
Polls are not asked about the President's principles, are they? I don't know about you, but the kinds of history I read, review, and understand is based primarily on fact and actions perpetrated by historical figures, not the principles that drove them to action. Although principles, if you can gather what they were, do add a layer of texture and context to the historical record. It's the actions that count most.

If you look at the W, Rove and Co, currently unraveling at an alarming rate, I think history will judge this administration as one of the worst. Moreover, they will have set the bar lower than ever before on how lame a lame duck can get. This leads me to...drum roll please...

Windspike's Weekend Presidential Query
  • Please answer the following question: Will History be kind to the president? Explain...

What Would The World Look Like If The "Terrorists" Won?

As the W, Rove and Co unravels in front of our eyes, we can observe a few things and ask, at least in the hypothetical, one very important question. Business as usual for the W, Rove and means continuing to lower the bar on ethics and performance to subterranean levels. First, lets examine the ethical standard bar:
Q Can I just follow up on one thing? I think I had you saying the President has full confidence in Attorney General Gonzales, and then the President has confidence in Paul Wolfowitz. Is there a distinction there?

The larger question remains, if the AG wasn't an integral player in the decision to fire the judges, who was? Oh, and it's okay for people to promote and give bonuses to their mistresses/girlfriends and still have the full confidence of a man who suggest he stands for family values?

Now let's look at performance, in particular the current status quo approach of the President's much loved "troop surge." There are some questions to raise here:
To the Editor:

Why not give the president what he wants — a blank check to finance the troops. Oh, by the way, let’s do it on a pay-as-you-go basis.

No big fuss, just adjust the tax rates up to pay for the troops and their activities.

Then let’s see who wants to support the troops! That will bring the cost of the war into everyone’s sight!

Dick Orenstein

Sarasota, Fla., April 15, 2007
Well, we know that won't happen as the President is not in favor of universal sacrifice for his war. He's in favor of you sacrificing your sons and daughters and increasing the tax burden on future generations to pay for Iraq. He certainly wouldn't want to inconvenience himself for his war.

But let's get to the thrust of this particular post. At times, it's readily apparent that some comments on my posts are substantially more brilliant than the original post. There have been occasions where I take an opportunity to elevate some person’s comments to the front page because, well, I couldn't have said it any better.

Toward that end, here's a question for you from an anon commentator. Lets' wrestle with this one for a bit: What if the Terrorists "win?" What then?
Man shall not live by bread alone - Matthew 4:4

Nor can terrorists live on terror alone. At some point they have to deliver.

Terrorists don't deliver security or municipal services like sewer, water, schools, and welfare.

Attacks on the West don't provide anything tangible for terror constituencies. Breaking other people's crockery is essentially pointless. But terror provokes Western counterattacks from which spring more terrorists.

If terrorists aren't smart enough to learn that terrorism doesn't get them anything, we should be smart enough to learn that counter-terrorism doesn't produce anything but more terrorists.

A terror-state, were such a thing to be encouraged into existence, would force terrorists to be responsible. A terror state would also make a nice target should terrorists prove irresponsible.

A fool who has something to lose is easier to deal with than one who has nothing to lose. We need to find a way to give terrorists something to lose. Terrorists have yet to face up to the problem of, 'What happens if we win?' We should encourage that kind of thinking.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Truth, Justice And The American Way

The last few days, I've been sidetracked by jury duty. It's been an education. I have served on one civil case a long while back, but this is a criminal case. Thus, I find myself ensconced in an environment riddled with criminal trial lawyers, police, thieves, and other nefarious characters. Oh, and not to mention your ordinary innocent American citizen doing his or her civic duty.

I do apologize for not being on top of it, but I have to squeeze in the work around the edges. As usual things at the office don't stop because I have been summoned.

One thing that strikes me as odd is the opportunity costs involved in our judicial process. If you add up the number of salaries collected in the room, all gathered to prove or disprove a person's innocence, it seems like a costly endeavor. On the other hand, it’s a small price to pay for truth, justice and the American way. Part of what separates our society from others is this judicial process. And if I can sit and do my part, I've added value.

The point of it, however, as you may have been guessing, is that there is a political twist to this post. Specifically, it appears that for some, the playing field is not level. And, in the end, if justice is unevenly meted out, does that prove our system is working? Of course, there are those who would suggest the system is not perfect, but it’s the best we have. In the end, if justice is served, then we all win, no? Of course, there are others who would suggest, if you really want justice, you should contact the mob; all others are fools.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

President Bush: Master Of The Obvious?

Looks like the president is trying to become the compassionate role model he has always suggested he was. Does America take comfort in his words?
Laura and I have come to Blacksburg today with hearts full of sorrow. This is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech community -- and it is a day of sadness for our entire nation. We've come to express our sympathy. In this time of anguish, I hope you know that people all over this country are thinking about you, and asking God to provide comfort for all who have been affected.
But alas, can a man who has caused so much loss of innocent life in Iraq be looked to as the harbinger of comfort in a time of extreme violence? I think not. I do not take comfort in his words, nor his presence. Condolences only go so far if one's actions preclude one from being thought to have any belief in peacefulness.

Monday, April 16, 2007

"A Tragedy of Monumental Proportions"

The tragedy that befell Virginia Tech today proves the point that it is impossible to stop terrorists from perpetrating such heinous acts. No doubt the grief on that campus is thick, but the echo should reverberate around the country.

Oddly, it makes me wonder what kind of charade the Global War on Terror really is because it (and Homeland Security) can't stop such tragedies, much less stop some one from walking into a cafeteria in a well protected space from blowing themselves up in front of the masses. Like the DC snipers and the as of yet unsolved anthrax cases, we know how lethal and terrorizing humans can be. To assume that the Army can protect you from people like this is really to live your life in denial.

Here's a short pod cast of the Va. Tech President’s official statement. My heart goes out to the families of the fallen and the entire campus community.

P.S. - 3:33 PM update:

A quick romp around the blogisphere reveals that this partiular incident has sparked a nerve. Parents of children attending Va Tech, students at Va. Tech, and every brand of blog is sayin' something about this event. As the facts unfold, an even better question might be can we avoid the knee jerk reaction that results in some kind of retrenchment of our liberties and freedoms for the sake of the charade of security? On the other extreme we have even the gun lobby blaming the anti-gun laws for this. Now if that isn't irony, I don't know what is. For example:
It's time to bury the pernicious myth that disarming good people can save them from evil.
Like Arming them will?

Friday, April 13, 2007

One Million Six Hundred Fourteen Thousand Eight Hundred Sixty Two: Subtitle - Did you Know Lynne Cheney Works for the American Enterprise Institute?

Do you think the Cheney's are worth slightly over 1.6 million this year for the way they are operating?
Vice President and Mrs. Cheney filed their federal income tax return for 2006 today. The income tax return shows that the Cheneys owe federal taxes for 2006 of $413,326 on taxable income of $1,614,862. During the course of 2006 the Cheneys paid $464,789 in taxes through withholding and estimated tax payments. The Cheneys elected to apply the resulting $51,463 tax overpayment to their 2007 estimated tax payments. The wage and salary income reported on the tax return includes the Vice President's $208,575 government salary. In addition, the tax return reports a pension benefit of $27,500, which the Vice President received as a former director of Union Pacific Corporation. The Vice President became eligible for this benefit in 2006 when he turned 65. The tax return also reports Mrs. Cheney's book royalty income, which includes a partial royalty advance on a book she is writing about growing up in Wyoming. It also reports wage and salary income from her continuing work at the American Enterprise Institute and a pension benefit of $32,000, which she received as a former director of Reader's Digest. The amounts of the pension benefits received by the Vice President and by Mrs. Cheney are fixed and will not increase or decrease based on changes in the earnings or revenues of either company.
By the way, what the bleep is Mrs. Big Dick Cheney doing working for the AEI? In case you are wondering, the AEI purposes
are to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism--limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability, and open debate.
Open debate? My goodness. It sure doesn't seem like the Cheney's into "open debate," now does it?

Ten Minutes With The Great White American Shills - Sub Title: Where Do They Dredge Up The Whitehouse Friendly Interviewers?

This "interview" of The Big Dick Cheney fit's squarely in the holy shit category. As in, holy shit, where do they find such friendly interviewers to respond to.

If you thought last week's "interview" by Rush was appauling, hold on to your hats, sit down, grab the vomit bag you saved from your last airline trek, and be ready to hurl.

As usual, I'm only including the Q in the Q & A becuase the A only serves to help the presidential propaganda catupult to reach a broader audiance. The link is there if you want to follow up and here the same spiel that the Big Dick usual and faithfully delivers on command.
Interview of the Vice President by Don and Roma Wade, WLS 890-AM, Chicago
Via Telephone

8:10 A.M. EDT


Q Good morning.

Q Good morning, and welcome.

Q I know you're coming to Chicago for a really good event, and I wanted to ask you about the funding, because this seems to be paramount on a lot of people's minds. The funding for the U.S. troops in Iraq is up in the air. The President threatens to veto the Democratic spending bill because of the troop withdrawal deadlines. How is that standoff going to end, Mr. Vice President?

Q Our son is on the U.S.S. Nimitz, headed for his third Iraq tour. And, Mr. Vice President, if the Democrats succeed in cutting off funding for the war, will his squadron's jets sit idle on the carrier because they have no fuel?

Q Our troops are extraordinary.

Q I'm wondering, Mr. Vice President, whether some politicians are -- they prefer to make political points rather than winning the war.

Q Were you heartened by Senator John McCain's speech at VMI?

Q I'm certain it would have been. Nancy Pelosi thought nothing of going to Syria's Assad with an alternative Democratic foreign policy, and, yet, balked, as we know, at meeting with our President -- as did Reid -- about funding the troops. How dangerous is this to the success of our important mission?

Q Well, Mr. Vice President, Tom Lantos has said that he would jump on a plane and go and meet with Ahmadinejad. I don't quite understand. What is this running off to meet with these tyrannical thugs? And yet they don't want to go and sit down with the President and work out a way forward to win the war?

Q Who is, in the Congress, would be the biggest stumbling block, in your mind, when it comes to success in Iraq?

Q Are you encouraged by General Petraeus' success so far, that there are glimmers of hope over there?

Q What can you tell us about the war czar position? We understand the White House is thinking about establishing a war czar. Is there anyone whose name we should recognize being considered?

Q We deeply appreciate your steadfastness in emphasizing the importance of this war on terrorism to our public.

Q Is al Qaeda strengthening again?

Q Mr. Vice President, I'm so glad we had a chance to talk to you. You act out of principle, not polls, and I know that a lot of Americans appreciate that. Thanks for coming to Chicago.

Q I hope you have a good experience here.

Q It's a great city. We welcome you.

Q We definitely shall.

Q Thank you.

END 8:20 A.M. EDT

Meanwhile, we see what the Big Dick Cheney was doing in Chicago at great Taxpayer expense - slinging Osama's message one more time for him. You can't pay for that kind of advertising, now can you Osama?
Yet the evidence is flatly to the contrary. And the critics conveniently disregard the words of bin Laden himself. "The most serious issue today for the whole world," he said, "is this third world war [that is] raging in [Iraq]." He calls it "a war of destiny between infidelity and Islam." He said, "The whole world is watching this war," and that it will end in "victory and glory or misery and humiliation." And in words directed at the American people, bin Laden declares, "The war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever."
So, we see the "reporters" above shilling for the The Big Dick Cheney, and Cheney shilling for Osama, and it's win-win all around for the Amreican people, righ? Right!

Meanwhile, Uncle Karl's Busy Deleting More Email

Really, there is no such thing as a permanent delete for email these days. The traces bounce to so many servers, they can be found fairly quickly by a savvy tech person. You have to wonder why they are not forthcoming with the email, rather than spend time on the pointless question as to intent. Surely, Uncle Karl knows full well what he is politically doing. That's his job. Do believe otherwise is to be in complete denial about Uncle Karl's position in the W, Rove and Co.
Karl Rove's lawyer on Friday dismissed the notion that President Bush's chief political adviser intentionally deleted his own e-mails from a Republican-sponsored server, saying Rove believed the communications were being preserved in accordance with the law.
Who cares what Rove believed here. A better question for these nuts is why are you not delivering them? We know they are out there some where. What are they hiding?

Of course, the Whitehouse press pool decided to pusue the same line of query today. Dana had her mitts full trying to deflect questions about Uncle Karl today. Mainly, she doesn't know a lot, admitedly. Here's a slice, of which I wonder what the double-delete function is and why was Uncle Karl's account change this Jan? Any one out there know?
Q Okay, unknown. In 2006, alone among White House staffers with GWB accounts, Karl Rove's account is changed from -- so that he is not able to use the double-delete function. That double-delete function remained in for the other White House staffers with GWB accounts.

MS. PERINO: That I'm not sure of, but I will check into, to make sure I have that right. I know for sure for Karl, but I don't know about the others.

Q Do you know at what point in 2006 this subsequently changed?

MS. PERINO: January.

Q January 2006. And do we know what the impetus was for that change?

MS. PERINO: That's what I don't know.

Q You're going to work on getting the answers to those?

MS. PERINO: We're working on getting them. I'll do what I can. And, again, there is a review that's ongoing by our Counsel's Office. And there may be some things that I'm not going to be able to provide answers to while that process is ongoing. I will do my best.

Q Did he know that the double-delete didn't work for him in 2006?

MS. PERINO: I don't know and will try to find out.

Oh, and on a funnier note, here's a fun Mark Fiore video revolving round Uncle Karl's MC debut.

F Iraq, It's "Cheeper To Kill 'Em All" Than To Continue the War

A friend of mine pointed me to an article that indicates the US Taxpayer is paying Iraqi families $2K, on average, per civilian unjustly killed by US Forces in Iraq.

Interesting way to soothe the pro-life soul, don'tchya think? Or, is this whole Iraqi extravaganza worth the investment. My friend said,
At $2000 per dead Iraqi it would be cheaper to kill them all (25m Iraqis * $2k = $50b) than to continue the war. But to whom would we pay the money? Check my math for yourself.
Really, I'm not advocating genocide here. This is yet one more piece of proof that the W, Rove and Co has no justification at this time for all the mayhem they have caused the Iraqi people. Have a look at a slice of this report.
They represent only a small fraction of the claims filed. In all, the military has paid more than $32 million to Iraqi and Afghan civilians for noncombat-related killings, injuries and property damage, an Army spokeswoman said. That figure does not include condolence payments made at a unit commander’s discretion.

The paperwork, examined by The New York Times, provides unusually detailed accounts of how bystanders to the conflicts have become targets of American forces grappling to identify who is friend, who is foe.

In the case of the fisherman in Tikrit, he and his companion desperately tried to appear unthreatening to an American helicopter overhead.

“They held up the fish in the air and shouted ‘Fish! Fish!’ to show they meant no harm,” said the Army report attached to the claim filed by the fisherman’s family. The Army refused to compensate for the killing, ruling that it was “combat activity,” but approved $3,500 for his boat, net and cell phone, which drifted away and were stolen.

In the killings at the gas station in Balad, documents show that the Army determined that the neither of the dead Iraqis had done anything hostile or criminal, and approved $5,000 to the civilian’s brother but nothing for the Iraqi officer.