March to End the War

September 21, 2007

A shot from the Answer Coalition's web site.

One of the great things about living in DC is that occasionally a progressively-minded acquaintance from college will give you a call and ask if you want to attend an anti-war march that weekend in your city. I was one of the 10,000 (or tens of thousands, or hundred thousand, depending on who you believe) who marched from the White House to the Capitol chanting anti-war slogans on Saturday, dodging anti-peace protesters’ verbal assaults and steely glances.

I can’t say I agreed with all the protesters — their views varied too much for that. Immediate withdrawal is unrealistic; support for the Iraqi resistance is…let’s just say off-message. But it seemed like the group of protesters, contrasted with the counter-demonstrators along the marching route, were a little too representative of the way our democracy is currently (dys)functioning.

For the first few blocks, the streets were lined mostly with supporters, but when we hit Pennsylvania Avenue the scene changed dramatically. Police barricades separated the marchers from the counter-demonstrators, but could block the offensive and inflammatory gestures and words thrown in both directions. Signs on both sides of barricade and issue were occasionally thoughtful, and many were oversimplified, but some were downright mean-spirited (“Traitors,” “Cindy Sheehan is Osama Bin Laden’s Best Friend,” “Hippies Smell” — and those were just from the other side). When the signs on the sidelines got nasty, many marchers started holding up a peace sign – oversimplifying our/themselves. Some people participating in the peace march became, ironically, violently angry. I asked a man in front of me to calm down at one point when he started screaming expletives and epithets at the Vietnam vets we encountered as we approached the Capitol. (He didn’t respond well.)

We all were there trying to make a point about the course our country should take in the future, but there was little unity within opposing factions and little dialogue between them. This is understandable – the crowd consisted of thousands of people with no real plan to rally behind. When our leaders can not communicate and work together to come up with a plan with potential that can be expressed concisely (and thus not by Sen. John Kerry), they give the people nothing to rally behind. That’s not to say that any or all factions of the stop the war movement would be contented with a proposal in Congress; our nation is too diverse and, I would like to think, too skeptical to blindly support whatever plan comes along. But if our leaders don’t take a shot at real dialogue, we will just be stuck, in the middle of the street, shouting at each other in hoarse voices and not hearing a word.

All the Nelson Mandelas were killed in Iraq before we even got there, President Bush lamented in his press conference earlier this week. Now that we’re there, though, all those who could potentially unite our country in its future action are silent in our own, established, self-congratulatory democracy. That’s why I’m also ambivalent toward all the presidential candidates – they are so focused on campaigning with their various messages of change and hope that they fail to foster either in their current roles. If one of them were to stand up with 66 or 67 senators behind him or her, and propose a workable solution that could withstand a Presidential veto – that might get the Democrats a little excited.


Where is our generation’s Harry Truman?

February 8, 2007


For those who don’t know what I’m referring to, this history lesson is worth reading. At a time of war, probably at a time of the greatest threat to our nation since the revolution, Harry Truman did his patriotic duty and demanded accountability from the military. He led probably the greatest example of congressional oversight in the last 75 years. Remember, at this time the Senate was heavily democratic– 66 Dems to 28 Republicans (1 Progressive, 1 Independent) and the House too– 267 Democrats, 162 Republicans, 3 Progressives, 1 American Labor, 1 Farmer-Labor, 1 Independent Democrat.

Imagine if WW2 was going on right now. Do you think any Senator would be bold enough to lead a committee whose sole responsibility is to investigate how the military is spending it’s money? I doubt it. John McCain could have been just as much of a hawk 3 years ago and would have kept his ‘maverick’ independent, straight-talker trait had he decided this type of oversight is patriotic. Instead, he, along with the rest of the GOP machine put party before country and put their heads in the sand, and as a result, his presidential prospects in the toilet.

And what we end up with, are stories like this, from CNN:

The indictment alleges that from 2003 through December 2005, Whiteford, Harrison, Wheeler and Morris conspired with Stein, Bloom and Hopfengardner to rig bids so Bloom won $8.6 million in contracts. In exchange, Bloom allegedly provided them with more than $1 million in cash, automobiles, jewelry, computers, travel, liquor and promises of jobs. Driver allegedly received a Cadillac Escalade as a bribe and used illegally obtained cash to make improvements to his and Harrison’s home, according to the indictment. Bloom also allegedly used foreign bank accounts to launder more than $2 million in cash that was stolen from the authority. Efforts to reach the defendants for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday afternoon.

and other stories, like this, from Bloomberg News:

“We have no way of knowing if the cash that was shipped into the green zone ended up in enemy hands,” Waxman, a California Democrat, said at today’s hearing. “We owe it to the American people to do everything we can to find out where the $12 billion went.”

Do you guys realize how much that amount of cash weighs? One estimate I heard was 250 tons. 250 tons. That’s the same as about 30 elephants. Where the hell did that money go? This was cold hard, American cash. Literally, suitcases and suitcases filled with cash. What the hell happened to it?

Is anyone ever going to be held accountable for all of this?

The Democrats better stand-up and start to hold this administration to account. The American people threw them the reigns in ’06; they better start acting like they deserve to hold them. Quick, can anyone name the 6 items in the 100 hour agenda? Yeah, that had a lot of staying power…..

I See Bad News A-Risin’

January 31, 2007

Bush Press Conference

I’m reading a book, News: The Politics of Illusion, which broaches the subject of Bush’s at first tenuous, later discredited claims about terrorist connections and WMD in Iraq — a subject the media were glad to continue discussing as possibilities long after they were proven to be fairy tales.

I’m experiencing an eerie sense of familiarity with a few articles in the “liberal” media in the past weeks — starting on Jan. 26, “Bush Defends Moving Against Iranians Who Help Shiites Attack U.S.-Led Forces in Iraq,” with this lede (preempting criticism, yes, it’s spelled that way):

President Bush and his senior aides on Friday justified American actions against Iranian operatives inside Iraq as necessary to protect American troops and Iraqis, and said they would continue as long as Tehran kept up what they called its support for Shiites involved in sectarian attacks.

A full ten graphs down the page comes some detail I would have appreciated a little sooner, and which most readers never hit:

President Bush kicked off a campaign of escalated rhetoric against Iran during a televised address to the nation on Jan. 10. For months, officials from across the Bush administration have accused Iran of supplying Shiite militias with high-tech explosives and training them to carry out attacks with roadside bombs.

Administration officials have thus far provided little detailed public evidence to support these claims. Officials said that Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador in Baghdad, is planning a news conference for Wednesday during which he will present a dossier of Iran’s efforts to fuel sectarian violence in Iraq.

Incidentally, Khalilzad spoke of trying to help increase security and open a bank, but that’s neither here nor there — the US is giving Iran the silent treatment, anyway. In today’s “Iran May Have Trained Attackers That Killed 5 American Soldiers, U.S. and Iraqis Say”, it gets better.

BAGHDAD, Jan. 30 — Investigators say they believe that attackers who used American-style uniforms and weapons to infiltrate a secure compound and kill five American soldiers in Karbala on Jan. 20 may have been trained and financed by Iranian agents, according to American and Iraqi officials knowledgeable about the inquiry.

The officials said the sophistication of the attack astonished investigators, who doubt that Iraqis could have carried it out on their own — one reason a connection to Iran is being closely examined. Officials cautioned that no firm conclusions had been drawn and did not reveal any direct evidence of a connection.

The worst part of the Bush’s lies in the run up to Iraq is that he cried wolf. And the worst part about the media is they keep loading their shotguns, reporting suspicions as facts, then only later revealing they lack substance. Bush should learn a different way to deal with hostile nations, and the press should think about the implications of reporting such claims as news– otherwise the U.S. is in for another round of hype, topple, truth, and quagmire.

Bush Addresses Nation…Nation Watches “Armed and Famous”

January 11, 2007


President Bush addressed the Nation at 9pm tonight. The Full Text can be found here

First of all, I believe that most of America didn’t watch this because American’s are far too depressed with the situation in Iraq and have no faith in the president. But for those who did give up their valuable Friday Night Lights viewing time to watch this speech, what did they get?

They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.

This is the closest he came to apology or admitting failure. He believes with all his heart that he is fighting people who hate “freedom” not U.S. foreign policy, and that while things aren’t peachy, we will win because we are “right.” His delusions get worse…

Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity – and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

The war in Iraq is just the beginning. While the 20,000 troop escalation (in fact just making 20,000 troops already there more miserable) we can now await President Bush making provocating steps toward Iran and Syria. This war will cross borders into Syria and Iran and (not that we have many Islamic friends in the region anymore) we can count on completely alienating about a billion Muslims worldwide. But forget that. How about a military that our generals say is already stretched too thin that we are now (at least speaking the language) of adding theatres to this war.

Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my Administration, and it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress. We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need for the 21st century. We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas – where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny.

Oh Joe. Joe Boy. The only individual named in the speech is the esteemed Independent from Connecticut who just loves the War. I don’t even want to start with the fact that it can’t be bipartisan talks since Lieberman isn’t a Democrat. Essentially Mr. Bush is saying that he too knows that his ONLY support in Congress comes from Joe, John Mcmaniac, and Lindsey “Whatever John Says” Graham. This administration has no experience and no intention of listening to alternative ideas, and the mention of Joe is simply a naming of Bush’s remaining contingency.

What are your thoughts on the speech, its effectiveness, and the response?

I’m the escalator, mistakes were made….. Iraq can’t keep calling 9-11

January 11, 2007

bush speech
I’m guessing all the regular readers and contributors listened to the President’s speech tonight, and I would suppose that we all share similar views. I think it’s important to discuss some of the highlights.

Here’s my take……

1– Watching the speech, my first impression was that it was about 2 years too late. If, in early 2004, Bush came out and said, “Mistakes have been made in Iraq, and I take full responsibility for them. Yes, I listen to the military commanders, but ultimately I’m the commander in chief, and I am responsible for the execution of war in this country. That being said, the fight in Iraq is vital to our national security, and in order to win that fight, I propose the following……”, if he had said that, someone might have listened to him, some may have actually believed him. The problem now is, he has lost nearly all of his credibility. Prior to the speech, recent polling showed only 12% support for increasing troops in Iraq. The country no longer believes him, and that is unfortunate because there are kernels of truth in what he is saying.

2– I thought Dick Durbin’s response was excellent. The nationalistic, America First, message was a classic conservative talking point used in prior wars, but never as appropriately as it was used tonight. His message encapsulated the average American’s opinion of Iraqis and the Iraq war– we have done a lot: we have captured and killed Saddam, we helped you draft a constitution, we helped you have several elections, and we have helped you form an unity government. We have sacrificed hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives. The time has come for you to take responsibility for your own actions and for your own political futures– if you are not willing to reach political reconciliation, we cannot help you forever.

3– Back to a kernel or two of truth. Anyone who has read The Looming Tower knows that Al Qaeda is deadly serious about it’s mission. They are heartless, ruthless, delusional killers who want nothing more than to see us fail worldwide, and who want nothing more than to see our interest hurt around the world. If they could, they would kill as many americans and moderates as possible, and they wouldn’t think twice about it. If it is in fact true that Al Qaeda is looking to turn Anbar province into its new enclave, we should do everything in our power to destroy them. Again, the problem is, who knows what’s true and what’s bullsh*t from the President. If there are Al Qaeda elements building in Anbar, we should destroy them. If there really were Al Qaeda elements in Somalia, we should have attacked them. Who knows if there really are terrorists in either location. We simply can’t trust anything this President says anymore on these issues, and that’s a shame.

4– The most important part of this speech may have been the announcement of a carrier group moving into the region, specifically to serve notice to Iran and Syria that we will do everything in our power to disrupt the networks being used by “terrorists” to support their insurgent efforts in Iraq. Again, if true, it’s certainly in our national interest to do so, but did he just signify a possible escalation of the conflict in Iraq to a regional conflict? We may be headed for disaster in the region as we further expect our brave men and women to take on other challenges they are not equipped for.

5– The political benchmarks in the speech outlined by Bush for Maliki were exactly the type of thing being discussed in 2004 and 2005, and were ridiculed by Bush et al. Again, 2 years at least too late…..

6– 20,000 troops is not enough. 200,000 probably wouldn’t be enough…… We’re sending these kids into an urban war where they will not be able to tell who the bad guys are, where snipers will pick them off like target practice, and where we will have to serve as the referees for a sectarian conflict that is over 1000 years old. For the sake of comparison, there are 45,000 police officers on patrol daily in NYC……

I’m anxious to hear others’ thoughts….

Several wrongs do NOT deserve a wrong

December 30, 2006

Rebuilding a nation based on United States’ democracy means the death penalty and what better way to join the ranks of the most progressive nations as a young democracy than participate in the most high profile execution. Saddam Hussein today joined Hideki Tojo and Benito Mussolini as the only deposed leaders in modern history to be executed.

Although it seems perfectly clear that Saddam Hussein was a war criminal and committed various crimes against humanity, by executing him, the nascent Iraqi government shows that it is still the pawn of the Conservative Right United States government. There were many ways for Iraq and the US to proceed in this matter that would have served justice. First, the US and Iraq could have submitted Hussein to the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague or the International Court of Justice. This would have showed the world that Iraq really is a progressive democracy. However, because of the US stance against both supranational tribunals, the Iraqi government was forced to revert to the Saddam-style executions with red cards and the like. Second, the US and Iraqi officials could have put him on trial for his countless other war crimes. This would have lasted several years and the former dictator would have lived his last days in a cell still defending himself of wrongdoings. Third, the Iraqi court and Prime Minister could have stayed his execution and relegated Saddam to live out his life from a jail cell and become no more than a chapter in Iraqi history after he became irrelevant.

Despite these options, the US and Iraq committed another crime against humanity by claiming to be acting in the name of humanity. If the US policy is progressivism in the Middle East and the creation of democracy, it must be a democracy that values human life above all other things. For what else is there without being safe in one’s own person? We are so quick to condemn others for byzantine practices but fail to see our own failings in the mirror.

Shame on the US for spreading state-sponsored death. Shame on the Iraqis for letting us do it.

Not All is Well in Whoville

December 19, 2006

With a very interesting debate going on a few posts down here I thought some outside perspective on other Democrats feelings about the 110th congress were in order.

This article from Harpers is very interesting about one writer’s take on our new leaders. Thanks to Crooks and Liars for the link.

While the author makes some very interesting points, i can’t help but think that he is exactly the kind of Cindy-Sheehan Democrats we don’t want running party strategy or party policy. While i share his opposition to the McCain/Lieberman War, he seems to be a single-issue voter with blinders on. We criticize Republican voters who only vote based on abortion, why do we not hold the same standard. To think that the majority of the candidates Rahm Emmanuel put forward are “stay-the-course” Democrats is ridiculous. With the gerrymandering Republicans did after the 2000 Census, it is unbelievable that the Democrats seized some 33 seats. Emmanuel does not need to be vilified for winning seats. Tammy Duckworth is an inspirational story (with more war experience than the writer or myself) so to criticize that selection is ludacris. Of course Peter Welch was the only extreme-anti-war candidate to win decisively…He’s from Vermont replacing Bernie Sanders a Socialist. Even the Republican in that race ran to the left.

While the author is correct in saying (as we’ve been saying) that the ball is in the Democrats court…his belief that nothing willl get done in Iraq is off-base, and he needs to be realistic about the representatives we now have.