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.

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Where is our generation’s Harry Truman?

February 8, 2007

truman

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?
elephant

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…..


Remember this guy?

January 30, 2007

scooter the muppet

The media has been back-paging a lot of this story, but I get the feeling it’s about to explode. Yesterday, Ari Fleischer revealed that he was involved (although he says accidentally) in outing Valerie Plame to multiple press people:

Fleischer also testified that while on a White House trip to Uganda on July 11, 2003, on the side of the road, he told NBC’s David Gregory and Time magazine’s John Dickerson, “If you want to know who sent ambassador Wilson to Niger, it was his wife, she works there” at the CIA.

He added “[Never] in my wildest dreams would I have thought that information was classified.”

Today, we’ll hear from the un-esteemed Judith Miller of Ahmed Chalabi fame.

From MSNBC:

On June 23, 2003 at a meeting with Libby in his office at the Old Executive Office Building, Libby, according to prosecutors, talked to Miller about press coverage dealing with pre-war intelligence about Iraq. Libby, according to the government, complained to Miller that he thought the CIA was leaking to the press unfairly, putting the White House on the defensive.

This story is about to explode. I only wish the muppet was on trial for outing Plame, not just for lying about it.

Thoughts?


HRC Playbook: Agree with the ‘surge’ but not too much

January 17, 2007

HRC

Today, in trying to re-assert her perceived front-runner status in the Democratic primary race, HRC announced a plan to not vote against the troop surge proposed by the President but call for a cap and require troops be sent to Afghanistan.

She appeared on all the morning shows to make this very important policy announcement (read: sarcasm).

Is this really the type of candidate we want to run in a general? Is this the best she can come up with to re-assert herself? This goes to anoodle’s comment in the post about Obama’s announcement of the formation of his exploratory committee.


Decision of committee by one

January 12, 2007

The New York Times has a good article in today’s paper, the entirety of which can be found here, in regard to the decision made by Bush on whether he should send more troops and how many.

Although the article makes it seem like much thought and process was gone into the decision, it still seems that regardless of what people advised, Bush went his own way. Where the Generals maintained that they didn’t need anymore troops without political and economic change and the Vice President and Senator McCain clamoring for more troops, Bush picked a number seemingly out of thin air.

This “my way or the highway” leadership has continued from a guy who financially ruined the Texas Rangers through a similar management style. Little did we know that it was a harbinger of things to come.


Olbermann is simply the best….

January 12, 2007

olbermann thumb
For those who haven’t been watching, I strongly recommend tuning into MSNBC at 8 pm on weekdays. Keith Olbermann has been the most outspoken journalist against the war, and he recently has started a series of “Special comments” addressing many different political issues, a la Edward R. Murrow . I thought his special comment on 9/11 was outstanding, but tonight’s is simply the best I’ve heard. He delivers it better than it reads, Crooks and Liars has the video, and here’s the link to read it in it’s entirety:

Bush’s legacy: The president who cried wolf
Olbermann: Bush’s strategy fails because it depends on his credibility
SPECIAL COMMENT
By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, ‘Countdown’

Updated: 8:53 p.m. ET Jan 11, 2007

Only this president, only in this time, only with this dangerous, even messianic certitude, could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq, by offering an entrance strategy for Iran.

Only this president could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say, “Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me” — only to follow that by proposing to repeat the identical mistake … in Iran.

Only this president could extol the “thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group,” and then take its most far-sighted recommendation — “engage Syria and Iran” — and transform it into “threaten Syria and Iran” — when al-Qaida would like nothing better than for us to threaten Syria, and when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to be threatened by us.

This is diplomacy by skimming; it is internationalism by drawing pictures of Superman in the margins of the text books; it is a presidency of Cliff Notes.

And to Iran and Syria — and, yes, also to the insurgents in Iraq — we must look like a country run by the equivalent of the drunken pest who gets battered to the floor of the saloon by one punch, then staggers to his feet, and shouts at the other guy’s friends, “Ok, which one of you is next?”

Mr. Bush, the question is no longer “what are you thinking?,” but rather “are you thinking at all?”

© 2007 MSNBC Interactive
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16583889/
© 2007 MSNBC.com


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….