Friday, April 4, 2008

Back to Disaster: Channeling Hoover at Home, Tet Abroad

Back to Disaster: Channeling Hoover at Home, Tet Abroad is the latest posting of David Michael Green who runs The Regressive Antidote. Green begins with a fact that has often run through my head as well: "One of the most astonishing facts about the Bush presidency is simply that it continues to exist." Ditto. Me too. Go figure. And just who are these 27% who keep giving him high marks during each poll we see on the man?

"Only a combination of certain critical conditions have kept the man and his government from suffering the same fate as Mussolini or Ceaucesceu. A politically naive public, a neutered opposition, a compliant press, a Constitutionally-fixed term of office, a truckload of fear, a moderately sufficient economy and a remotely plausible victory in an unpopular war have all conspired to encourage a surly public to simply wait out the clock for the demise of the Creature from Crawford."

Well, well, that about covers it. Seems to me that I have covered about each of those factors on this blog, but, what the hell, it's a good remedial lesson for those who haven't been paying attention during the past 7 1/2 years. Of course, this begs the question: why HAVEN'T they been paying attention? ADD?

Green goes on: "Now, however, both of those last two factors are imploding. The Bush administration is consistently on the wrong side of (repeated) history, and more pressure is riding on the other remaining factors – especially the knowledge that these fools are required to leave, regardless, in nine months time – to keep the dam from bursting.

"Side-by-side headlines in Thursday’s New York Times more or less say it all. The front-page-above-the-fold article entitled, “In Economic Drama, Bush Is Largely Offstage”, proceeds to tell the story about how the president hadn’t heard that gas prices are approaching four bucks a gallon, and how he was lecturing the public on the dangers of government action while his own Treasury Secretary (a member of the government, last I checked) was in fact acting, cutting a bullshit deal with Congress.

"Next to that article we find this: “U.S. Cites Planning Gaps In Iraqi Assault on Basra: Maliki Underestimated Militias, Officials Say, and Overestimated Iraq Army”. Remember, for those of you whose scorecards are somewhat out of date, said Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is the ‘good guy’ over there, the one we’re pinning our hopes on. And his army is the one that’s supposed to stand up so that ours can stand down. By all accounts, Maliki just woke up one morning and launched. Apparently having little else on his schedule, he decided it would be a good day to invade Basra. No planning, no consultations, no reinforcements. I mean, they had this stuff figured out as far back as the sixth century BCE, didn’t they? Back when Mesopotamians were Mesopotamians!"

I like the no-nonsense style of David Green: hit 'em with the facts and watch what they do.

Here's the ending of the article if you care to jump to the conclusion:

"And so, here we go, back to the future, back to disaster. We just couldn’t hang with all that prosperity and so we trashed the lessons of the Roaring Twenties and brought back Roaring Reaganism. We just couldn’t learn enough from the Vietnam experience to prevent some little embarrassment of a legacy admission to the presidency from taking us into a carbon copy war, even while he and his homies skipped out on the first one.

"It’s bad enough that those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat the past.
Hell, we are the past."

We are the past. Well, they are the past, but it's the future that is important. Has the ordinary American Joe learned anything in these past 7 1/2 years that he can use to guide him through the next? Or, will this history lesson through which we all have lived not have moved the electorate to a new, higher plateau?

Senate Republicans Kill Plan To Aid Homeowners In Foreclosure

Compassionate conservatism at it's very best:

WASHINGTON - Republicans and business-friendly Democrats on Thursday scuttled a plan to give people threatened with losing their homes more leverage in winning favorable loan terms from their lenders in bankruptcy courts.

The Senate killed the bankruptcy plan by a 58-36 vote on a bill designed to boost the slumping housing market.

The Democratic-backed bankruptcy law changes, opposed by banks, their GOP allies and a few Democrats, would have given judges power to cut interest rates and principal on troubled mortgages to help desperate borrowers trapped in subprime mortgages keep their homes.


Billions for Bear Stearns but not a dime for an American homeowner. Billions for oil companies, but not one dollar for troubled citizens. That's the story here in America. Anybody smell fascism in the air?

Not one Republican voted for this legislation: not one. Joe 'I'm not a Republican' Lieberman voted with his GOP buddies. Has Connecticut begin the recall petition for this fraud yet?

Today's Republican Party: making sure that those who have, get even more.

And Then What, Mr. McCain?

Senator John McCain has been touring all of the places that were important to him for his resume for president. Lots of flags, guns and bombs. Third generation Navy man. The POW footage tugs at one's heart as does his courage in not being released until all of his men had been.

If you were waiting for the 2nd round, the part after Vietnam, sorry- end of show. Apparently what Americans need to know about John McCain is all in the Vietnam story. It brings to mind 2004 and the John Kerry story- 'Reporting for duty.' Been there, saw that.

What did he do from 1973 to today? Is that important to help determine whether he led a life worthy of applause or commendation? That's 45 years of his adulthood. What's the rest of the story, Mr. McCain? It's a good opening act, but the audience wants to see the entire show not just Act 1.

For example, why are you not supporting the new GI Bill before Congress [(S.22 in the Senate, H.R.2702 in the House- the one that offers greater benefits to service men and women after they have served? The bill, sponsored by veteran Jim Webb and by several other Senate and House veterans, affords more money to returning service men and women as compensation for that service. Is it the money, Mr. McCain? Should those retruning members of our Armed Forces just be glad they are home? Is that enough reward? Are you worrried about the money? The government gravy train?

Surely, after Act 1, you ought to have a little empathy for the veterans serving in today's combat missions. You say that you haven't had time to read through it. Oh really? Too busy on that Straight Talk Express? Or is it all about 'excessive government spending?'

A man's character is not determined by what he once was or did, it is in how he lives his life. The American people aren't that dumb.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Impotent Bush Leaves NATO Tail Tucked Between Legs

Collateral damage from his war. Sorry, Ukraine and Georgia, even though you were wonderful members of the Coalition of the Willing assembled by George Bush, the other NATO members don't care too very much for your pal, George.

BBC: NATO denies Georgia and Ukraine
NATO says it will not yet put former Soviet republics Georgia and Ukraine on the path to membership. NATO has confirmed it will not yet offer membership to Georgia or Ukraine after the 26-member alliance was split amid strong objections from Russia.

Russia? Oh, THAT Russia- Mr. Putin, whose very soul the naive governor of Texas examined down on the ranch early on. Odd stuff; odd president.

Apparently the world has had enough of George W. Bush. They, as we, are just waiting breathlessly for his departure in January 2009. We all have our fingers crossed that the man doesn't pull another major blunder in his waning days.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A thumpin' for the Iraqi army

In the Chigago Tribune story, Basra battle raises questions about U.S. strategy in Iraq, Brian Katulis, a national security expert and senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress,
assessed it in words; he said the president might use: "This was a thumpin' for the Iraqi army and this was a thumpin' from a political perspective for the Iraqis."

A thumpin' indeed. Funny stuff; funny president.

The article begins:

Last week's inconclusive battle for Basra is raising new questions about the viability of U.S. military strategy in Iraq as Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker head to Capitol Hill next week to give their assessment of the U.S. troop surge.

President Bush billed the struggle between Shiite militiamen and the Iraqi army as a "defining moment" for Iraq. But the fighting left hundreds dead from Basra to Baghdad without causing any serious damage to the Mahdi Army militia, demonstrating how ineffectual the Iraqi army is five years into the war and underscoring that Iraqi politics is more complicated than ever, military experts said.


I guess that 100-year war that John McCain predicted might be a reality. Apparently McCain knows his wars and the failing ones best. Great judgement, McCain, in authorizing it in the first place.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Born-Again Americans: The American Civil Religion

Odd title, eh? It's a combination of the original title [Born-Again Americans and That Old-Time (Civil) Religion] and the author's main point: that America needs a new civil religion. Of course, the term, civil religion, ought to raise a few eyebrows as it did my own.

Author Sara Robinson says, "We find this [the interest in religion and politics] so mesmerizing right now because we're entering one of our occasional seasons of re-negotiating the American Civil Religion -- something that the country does, fairly regularly, every 80 years or so. or so. These moments are always contentious and messy. But it's important that we understand this one clearly, because it may offer progressives a historic opportunity to seize the country's foundational narratives about itself, and re-cast them in a way that will help open the doors to the future."

As I was reading this my thoughts drifted back to the 1770's when the foundations for our nation were being laid and I could not recall that the Church of England or any other church had any influence on the creation of the United States, no matter how hard the right-wing hopes its fantasy is true.

Robinson then details the meaning of 'civil religion.' "All cultures run off of stories -- foundational narratives that tell members who they are, what sets them apart from other people, where they came from, what future they hope for, and where their culture finds its deepest sense of meaning."

She goes on: "From the start, we [Americans] were a motley collection of wanderers and outcasts from widely divergent cultures -- English, French, Spanish, African, and Native American at first, plus others who came later -- who were faced with the unprecedented task of trying to assemble something resembling one common culture out of a huge collection of mismatched bits and pieces. (This ongoing effort has been marked by by astonishingly beautiful successes and stupendously ugly failures; but it's useful to take the long perspective on just how recklessly unprecedented the whole project was to begin with. We've had to make it up as we went along -- and the pragmatism, ingenuity, and open-mindedness bred by the task eventually became some of our defining character traits.)

Some of the characters and characteristics of this search for defining us, she says, " this narrative grew rich and deep with myths and images. Winthrop's shining city on the hill. Longfellow's poetic account of Paul Revere's ride. George Washington's farewell address; Lewis and Clark's daring crossing of the continent; Lincoln's invocation of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. As children, we were taught to salute the flag and recite the Pledge -- two core 20th century rituals of the civil religion."

Robinson admits that conservatives have reflected many of these values, but so have those on the left side of the political spectrum. In that, she says, "You can find plenty of examples in which the deep aspirations and values embedded in that canon have been used effectively by both sides. At various times, they've been used to justify everything from slavery, war, corporate greed, and McCarthyism to civil rights, peace, economic equality, and the extremes of free expression. After 300 years, we've accrued a set of stories so rich and deep that there's something there for absolutely everyone. And it's time for our side of that long narrative to be heard once again."

By 'our side' she means the progressive/liberal side. She notes that sociologist Robert Bellah concluded that we have gone through revisions of this civil religion. The first at our very inception as we denounced the crown. The next was defined in the Constitution. After that, the Civil War, the New Deal and WWII were revisions. The author says: "These periodic shifts in our essential beliefs appear to be part of a necessary cycle of creative destruction and renewal. In each of these three cases, American re-negotiated its governing worldview in response to wider economic, technological, and political challenges that were calling us to abandon an old regime, and make way for a new one."

She continues: "We're now at the point where Americans now find it hard to discuss spiritual or moral matters on anything but conservative terms. Many of us on the left get queasy when we see the Statue of Liberty, the bald eagle, or a flag lapel pin, because the conservatives have so thoroughly re-invented these old symbols of the American common faith that they no longer seem to belong to us at all.

"Yet, for the next 30 years [1960 -1990], nobody noticed. Nobody really cared. And anybody on the left who dared to express the least bit of hope or idealism -- who tried to describe the American enterprise in any kind of spiritual or moral terms at all -- was regarded as either dangerously naive, in cahoots with the right wing, or selling something. Stick with facts and reason, programs and policies. Leave the morality and poetry and soaring rhetoric for those who can't govern on the strength of their ideas. Anybody with any brains who hears that kind of language should know they're being had.

"But now, that long era of cynical detachment is finally coming to an end. The rousing conversations we've had the past few years about the appropriate role of religion in civic and political life are a cardinal sign of the coming change. Should a politician's religion matter? How firm should that church/state wall be? Don't religionists have a right to make their case in the public square? And especially: How can we be a moral society if we don't give a privileged role to religion?

"The fact that we entertain these questions at all now reveals a deep and damaging ignorance at work. We're so far detached from the historical language of that creed that we can no longer talk about morals or values in anything but specifically religious terms -- terms that often do far more to separate us than they do to bring us together. Worse: I've had heated discussions with well-meaning religious progressives who've thoroughly bought into the conservative assertion that you can only discuss morality in religious terms, because there is no morality apart from God. (They simply don't believe any other kind of moral discourse is even possible, because they've never seen it done.) If we continue to affirm that dangerous idea, we can kiss our future as a secular society good-bye.

Here is her main thesis: "We've entirely forgotten (because two entire generations have grown up having never heard it) that we once had a shared set of American narratives and cultural values that gave us the space to have deeply moral, value-laden conversations that weren't rooted in our ideas about God or our individual identities as Protestants or Catholics or Jews or Muslims, but in our shared dreams as Americans. When we lost the language and narratives of that creed, we lost the glue that bound us together across religious and cultural lines, and allowed us to work together as one national community."

Yet, the author says that we cannot go backwards: "Our renewed fascination with our candidates' religious affiliations -and our emerging passion for leaders that are fluent in the evocative language of the common good - shows how ready we are to resurrect the idea of an American civil religion, rebuild new institutions to sustain it, and refocus it to give essential moral direction and spiritual meaning to the monumental change efforts that loom ahead."

She warns: "The entire country is desperately hungry for a new, compelling story about what it means to be American, and what America means to the world. It does not have to be exclusive, nationalistic, or imperialist."

The conclusion: "We have the same historic opportunity FDR did to redefine the American civil religion in a way that it will set the entire political and social agenda of the country for the next 40 to 80 years. All we need to do is reclaim the vast and ancient holy ground for our own, and not be the least bit shy about furnishing it with new and reclaimed stories, values, poetry, and symbols that give Americans something better to aspire to and stand for. We don't need to resort to the moral language of any one religion to do this. "

That "Pastor" Thing

Lots of people are asking, 'Why doesn't he condemn the pastor openly and get on with the campaign?' Good question and I agree. Seems to me he's holding on to him to get as much political mileage as he can. Yet, should a Christian pastor and his remarks really damage a presidential candidate if he does not distance himself from such volitile and offensive language?

Take this statement, for example: does it really impact the race for the White House all that much?

"I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfil its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore."

How could this statement by the pastor diminish the character of the presidential candidate? After all, it was the Reverend who said the words, not the candidate.

However, the candidate himself said something similar:

"We face the transcendent challenge of the 21st century. That is the threat of radical Islamic extremism. My friends, I know you know that this is an evil of transcendent and unbelievable magnitude. You can see other times when our nation and our way of life was threatened, but this ranks among the greatest."

Yes, my friends, that was John McCain. Did you think I was talking about some other candidate? Oh, sorry if I misled you.

Sharing a Cincinnati, Ohio, stage with Reverend Parsley, McCain said: "I am very honoured today to have one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide, Pastor Rod Parsley. Thank you for your leadership and your guidance. I am very grateful you are here."

Odd stuff. Odd people.

Cheney's Buddies- Oil Executives To Lie to Congress Today

They really ought to demand testimony from Dick Cheney when they testify before Congress today. After all, Dick Cheney promised them carte blanch back in 2001 during that highly-secretive Energy Summit Cheney convened.

Now the oil execs have to swear under oath that they are not gouging the American public. They surely will skillfully defend the $18 billion tax rebate they receive, just the way their high-paid lawyers have coached them. "But, senator, we are constantly looking for new sources of oil and that tax exemption helps us secure the energy that we need to keep our nation safe!" Or some such bullshit.

Odd that other companies do their own R&D with their own money, but the oil companies want tax breaks for it. Probably because Cheney promised them.

Wouldn't it be grand if one of them, if pressed hard by one of the senators, would name Cheney as a co-defendant? "He said we could!"

Dream on and get your wallets out because they want even more of your dwindling financial resources.

Bush Flees Country During Crisis

The sad warmonger-in-chief is now in Ukraine to pay them back for joining that two-bit Coalition of the Willing. He wants to help them join NATO to payback Putin for 'misunderstanding' the great relationship they once had down on the ranch.

Floods, tornadoes and drought cause havoc for his citizens so he flies away. The mortgage crisis consumes middle American families and he and Laura fly to Europe. The dollar is in free-fall, oil prices zoom, Americans watch energy and food prices rise while their take-home pay remains flat. Medical costs spiral out of sight and medical insurance eats deeply into wallets. The Bush War saps $12 billion tax dollars each month while local governments make more and more cuts in their services. George Bush leaves on a jet plane.

He never could face problems that require more than dropping a bomb or shooting frogs on the family pond. And the American people elected him twice? They ought to have their voting rights stripped until they can pass a citizenship test.

The Surge is Work....... Iraqi casualties at highest level since mid-2007

YahooNews reports:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Violent civilian deaths in Iraq climbed to their highest level since mid-2007, Iraqi government figures showed on Tuesday, due to a spike in violence between Iraq security forces and Mehdi Army militia fighters.

A total of 923 civilians died violently in March, up 31 percent from February and the deadliest month since August 2007, according to figures released by Iraq's interior, defense and health ministries.


"The surge is working," touts John McCain, stuck holding the bag for George Bush. 'Working' is a vaccuous word that remains ill-defined, although it slips easily off both warmongers' lips. Working as in U.S. casualties are down? Working as in stabilizes the government? Working as in protects the occupied citizens as the Geneva Convention requires of the occupiers?

That phony claim of McCain ought to soon bite him in the ass as more Americans come to understand that nothing we have done in 5 years has 'worked.'

Monday, March 31, 2008

"Axis of Evil" Designate IRAN Comes to Bush's Aid

This has been one of the most interesting 8-year melodramas that an author would hope to be able to write. A psychotic tale filled with intrigue, danger, and stupidity. The stupidity angle, however, would doom the book to the half-off table shortly after publication.

Take this headline running on CNN today: Sources: Iran helped prod al-Sadr cease-fire Odd stuff; odd president. Well, 'odd' is kind. Probably pathological would be a more appropriate descriptive word.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iran was integral in persuading Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to halt attacks by his militia on Iraqi security forces, an Iraqi lawmaker said Monday.

Haidar al-Abadi, who is with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa Party, said Iraqi Shiite lawmakers traveled Friday to Iran to meet with al-Sadr. They returned Sunday, the day al-Sadr told his Mehdi Army fighters to stand down.

News of Iran's involvement in the cease-fire talks came as an al-Maliki spokesman said operations targeting "outlaws" in the Shiite stronghold of Basra would end when the mission's goals were achieved. Earlier, al-Maliki spokesman Sami al-Askari said the operation would be over by week's end, but he later recanted on the timetable.

The lawmakers who traveled to Iran to broker the cease-fire were from five Shiite parties, including the Sadrist movement. Al-Abadi would not say where in Iran the meeting was held.

------------end of CNN article--------------

Axis of evil: words of speech writer David Frum tripped off the tongue of the vengeful George Bush in his black/white view of the world. Three nations accused and targeted by the 2-dimensional thinking of a man who acts on hunches.

Eight years of hell for this nation. Decades more consequences for our nation.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Does the 2nd Amendment Apply to Iraqis?

Is it odd that the Iraqi PM wants to take away the guns of the Iraqi citizens? I thought that we were there [spin reason #3] to help promote democracy in that nation. Further, one of the untouchable platforms of the GOP has been 'the right to bear arms.'

So, is anybody else a little confused about this shining, fledgling democracy in the Middle East?

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