All posts by harrywelty

The Captain wasn’t listening to his Commander and Chief

Andrew Sullivan has all the relevant quotes. Among them:

“There’s a lot of leaking in Washington, D.C. It’s a town famous for it. This investigation in finding the truth, it will not only hold someone to account who should not have leaked — and this is a serious charge, by the way. We’re talking about a criminal action, but also hopefully will help set a clear signal we expect other leaks to stop, as well. And so I look forward to finding the truth,” – President George W. Bush, October 7, 2003.

 

Bush League perogatives – my reply to the Captain

 These Bush supporters are pretty cavalier about what the President can do. Apparently they think he can do anything in the national interest. And what is the national interest? Well, Bush is the only person who gets to make that decision. If disseminating misinformation will help accomplish national security that’s just fine. (Don’t forget how Eisenhower was damaged when he told the nation that we weren’t sending any spy planes over the Soviet Union when the Ruskies trotted out Gary Powers) If revealing a CIA agent’s identity and compromising an important investigation into the nuclear activities of Iran (which is what Valerie Plame seems to have been doing) is what it takes to discredit the husband who is calling the President’s shaky “facts” into question …well that’s just peachy keen. If giving the Veep the right to disseminate secret documents and hand that same authority down to his subordinates….hey, no problem. And if we all discover this new presidentialy approved authority just in time for the subordinate to evade a charge of leaking state secrets…..Big deal! Sure, its convenient but the President gets to call all the shots….kind of like when he gets to tell the Congress what the laws they pass really mean. And if he appoints enough justices to the Supreme Court I’m sure it will agree with him.   

What the Captain says about the newspapers attitude towards tattle tales and whistle blowers may be true enough but we have a president who began designating public material relating to his father’s administration secret long before 9-11. Powerline and company can huff and puff all they want and dismiss the President’s actions as simple presidential prerogatives but they can’t stop the public’s perception that Bush is as disingenuous as he is inarticulate. Some people think disingenuinuity is the kissing cousin of spinning a lie. Others don’t make a distinction between the two. I still do but I’m really not sure which of the two better describes this administration.

Oh, and did you know that John McCain is the father of a black child? Well, he is and that’s what seems to pass for truth in the Bush Leagues where the ends always justify the means.

 

A friend sends me the “Captains” pooh poohing of the Libby Affair

This is an excerpt of blog entry that fairly yawns with disinterest at Scooter Libby’s shenanigans. You can read the whole entry and the “Yes Sir, Captain Sir” replies of other pro-Bush bloggers at: http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/

Still Crying Over The Lost Fitzmas

The New York Sun reported today that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby has testified that he released information from a National Intelligence Estimate in 2003 to a reporter prior to its publication. Predictably, the media and the blogosphere has overreacted, proving once again that most people do not understand classified materials, unclassified materials, and the process used to classify documents. The Josh Gerstein article is pretty straightforward:

(I’ve deleted the synopsis)

Not too long ago, newspapers made a big deal out of nothing when it came out that Bush had given Cheney the authority to declassify material at his discretion. At the time, they clucked their tongues at the delegation of authority to the VP, claiming that it showed Bush’s disinterest in his responsibilities. Now suddenly everyone is shocked to find out that Bush has the authority to declassify material. In fact, he has the ultimate authority to do so, and he is only responsible to the voters in the execution of these duties. And the estimate on Iraq and WMD involved in this story was released to the press on July 18, 2003, at a White House briefing.

Why did George Bush release the NIE at all? Because Joe Wilson had busied himself by spreading misinformation via leaks to Nick Kristof and Walter Pincus, and then finally under his own by-line at the New York Times twelve days prior to the release of the NIE information. The media had demanded answers to the charges leveled by Wilson and his supporters, and those answers were found in the NIE. The decision to declassify it and publish it came as a result of that demand. Once the decision is made to declassify information, it can be released in any number of ways. This was both leaked and openly presented in the same fortnight.

Beyond the issue of the Libby leak and its tie to George Bush, the hypocrisy of the media is truly astonishing. I just at at a dinner two nights ago where Senator Chris Dodd demanded that Congress pass a federal shield law to protect reporters from revealing sources. Why? So that they can report leaks of exactly this kind. I suppose when they like the leaker, then they call him a whistleblower. When they don’t like the leak, and especially when it turns out not to be all that significant, then apparently the source is a weasel who doesn’t deserve protection.

Bush OK’s leaks of national security info – so what?

The Moderate Voice lists five consequences of Scooter Libby’s fingering President Bush.

  1. This administration does not just have a credibility problem, it has a credibility catastrophe.
  2. Bush is now in the “loop” on these allegations. The stories point out that he didn’t violate any law — but he can’t talk about how leakers hurt the government if he is actively involved himself in leaking when it suits his political purposes.
  3. This underscores again the abysmal failure of one-party government where there is effectively no vigorous Congressional oversight for political reasons. Under one party government Congressional CYLYKW (Cover Your Leader’s You-Know-What) has replaced Congressional oversight.
  4. Expect that if there are more revelations to come out, they will. Under the old modus operendi of journalism, this kind of story would trigger a competition in the media to get more on this angle (the President participated in leaks…so what other ones did he participate in?). The new attention deficit media of the early 21st Century may not pursue it the same way, but it’s unlikely that this will be the last story looking closely at Bush’s role.
  5. If the Democrats gain control of the House in 2006 it’ll be a whole new ball game. It will not necessarily mean impeachment proceedings (which is the threat some GOPers are using to try and rally their base for the mid-term elections). But there will be the threat of real — if even excessive — Congressional oversight coupled with political consequences.

Since Iraq has been such a success why not one more?

Reports from various sources here, here, and here strongly suggest that the Bush Administration is intent on attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“Several experts and former officials interviewed by the Forward pointed to Vice President Dick Cheney as one of the key figures who has concluded that the ongoing diplomatic efforts to bring Iran before the United Nations Security Council and eventually slap the Islamic regime with sanctions will come to naught …” 

Its easy for Dick to push for another war. He’s the fellow with all the great hiding places. 

Did the Founding Fathers lie to Tripoli?

A reader took strenuous issue with my post suggesting that the Founding Fathers did not regard the United States as a “Christian Nation.” Pointing to the many Christian references on our public buildings and tributes to God offered up by our Presidents over the years he challenges this idea as though it were a heresy. His eloquence gives Patrick Henry a run for his money:

“Shall we tear down our public buildings? Shall we melt down the Liberty Bell? Shall we deny our heritage, forsake our history, and profane our honored dead who believed in America’s ideals and followed our founding patriots into the cry “Give me liberty or give me death”, who have delivered to us this nation cemented together in the common belief of the unalienable rights of men granted by the Creator and bought those rights with their blood? I say no. We shall not forget, nor shall we abandon those lofty ideals and that firm reliance on God that has raised us to the wonderful nation that we are.”

This is part of my reply:

“This treaty language written and approved by those very founders is excellent and almost irrefutable evidence that they did not see the United States as a specificially Christian nation. Isn’t that what we would want the people of Iraq to know so that they wouldn’t confuse our intervention with the motivations of the Crusaders?

There is no reason to punish America for reflecting its undeniable Christian heritage by tearing down its public buildings for having God’s name engraved on their walls or smelting the Liberty Bell because it sports a quotation from Leviticus.”

Here were hanged

I got an email yesterday from a student at my old alma mater, Mankato State, which was rechristened Minnesota Univeristy, Mankato. I get such emails once a month or so because someone has stumbled onto my website. Jay stumbled onto my site while researching the now hidden monument to the mass hanging of 36 Sioux Indians in Mankato during the Civil War. It was the greatest mass execution in US History and was quite an attraction for the vengeful and the curious after the “Sioux Uprising.”

The monument, (which looks more like a tombstone) was spashed with red paint representing blood in the early 1970’s at the beginning of the American Indian Movement.

Erected at at time when docile indians were tucked away quietly on their reservations the monument became an embarassment for Mankato in our more enlightened generation. At some point after I left town it was buried by the City of Mankato and has remained hidden like Hitler’s ashes. 

I had written a column called “Here were hanged” a few years ago in response to a letter-to-the-editor complaining that Duluth shouldn’t build a monument to the shameful lynching that took place here in 1921.

The Religious Left

I started a post earlier today about how the Roves, Abramofs, Reeds, DeLays etc. have betrayed the earnest Christians who have followed them into the GOP. It was too a big topic to cover in a bite sized post so I set it aside. 

I am an agnostic but I’ve attended church regularly for nearly a quarter century. I just got back from choir practice.  Socrates, no Christian he, said: “the unexamined life is not worth living.” I agree and attending church has been an important way for me to examine my spiritual life.

It would be a mistake for Democrats to generalize too much about “Christians” simply because they’ve been so ill used by the aformentioned sleaze mongers. Slate has a useful article explaining who the potential allies of the Democrats are on the religious left and how they should be treated. 

Don’t forget what Socrates said.

George says “the United States…is not founded on the Christian Religion”

In its April 10th 2006 story “God and the Founders” Newsweek had this stunningly secularist quote from America’s founding fathers:

In a treaty with the Muslim nation of Tripoli initiated by Washington, completed by John Adams, and ratified by the Senate in 1797, we declared “the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. … “

 

On a scale from one to five

I missed a call yesterday from some Republican Fund Raising call center. Since I was gone the solicitor asked my wife “On a scale from one to five how important is it to you that we retain a Republican Congress in 2006?

“Zero!” was my wife’s reply.

There was a moment of stunned silence on the other end of line followed by an explanation that the caller was just a hired gun and not personally affiliated with the GOP.

Tom DeLay saves the Republic Party from Barbara Streisand

I was just listening to Tom DeLay on the News Hour on PBS. He explained that he had to take a bullet for the Republic Party to protect them from rascally liberals like Barbara Streisand and Michael Moore. 

Barbara Streisand?

Well, she is Jewish…….

You should have seen the round of applause DeLay got from his Republic friends. The Republics are deeply grateful that by giving up his Congressional seat the Republics may be able to avoid being further tainted by DeLay’s K Street Project or all of DeLay’s staffers who are copping pleas.

* “Republic” Party: I’m trying to honor the Republic Party through imitation. For years Republics have referred to their opposition as the “Democrat Party” so as to be gramatically correct. You see, Republics didn’t want to confuse voters by calling their opposition the “Democratic” Party.  They didn’t want to confuse voters by leaving the impression that Democrats were in any way “democratic!”  

The Republics on the other hand are the greatest defenders of the “Pledge of Allegience” against the depredations of that dangerously liberal 9th District Court. That’s because when Americans make the pledge its made to the Republic Party for which the flag stands.

Howdya like them big apples, Babs!

More on Zinni –

A powerful excerpt from Zinni’s new book that makes it plain that the Bush Administration was a ship of fools when it launched the war in Iraq.

Zinni quotes Eisenhower: “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was useless but President Bush treated him and continues to treat him as indispensable.

Climate change debated

 My SUV reply didn’t sit well with my Global Cooling coorespondent:

Harry:

Apparently you referred to me as a skeptic of global warming.  Change happens.  The climate has changed.  Apparently it is changing.  We humans have evidence of climate change that has occurred.  However, I suggest that no one knows how the climate is going to change.  I also suggest that no one knows whether or to what extent human activity is causing climate change.  Lastly, I suggest that we humans aren’t going to “change our evil ways” (relative to how our activity might affect the climate) unless and until we are on the verge of inconvenience, discomfort, or pain.

I was recently involved in an e-mail exchange with a friend who expressed criticism of especially large and fuel inefficient recreational four-wheel-drive trucks.  Obviously, such trucks and their consumption of fuel can reasonably be regarded as unnecessary, and I didn’t suggest otherwise.  However, this friend travels several thousand miles each fall, to hunt pheasants in South Dakota, which, I suggested to him, also involves unnecessary consumption of fuel.  I got the impression that he was irritated by my argument.  Regarding the unnecessary consumption of apparently non-renewable energy, probably almost all of us humans have an ox that we don’t want gored. 

No longer a skeptic?  Indeed, change does happen. Now you are merely skeptical that anyone can predict how the change will proceed or to what extent we humans have contributed to it. Fair enough.
As for me, I’m not so fatalistic. You believe that we humans will only change our climate altering ways when we are on “the verge of inconvenience, discomfort or pain.” Well, that’s one economic expectation although the fellow who did the most to contribute to this model, Adam Smith, also apparently believed that there were some things people should do even if his invisible hand worked against them. In this he was motivated by a religious sense of duty. I’ll bet Smith would have approved of energy conservation.
As for your duck hunting friend there is a word for such people – “hypocrite.”  Even though I drive a gas stingy little Prius I too like to travel which makes me a hypocrite as well. Here’s my ethical problem. On the one hand I know that travel is good for the economy while at the same time it uses up non renewable energy. To my credit I’m not interested in ignoring this conundrum like a fatalist. Instead I would prefer to find ways to travel while limiting energy consumption.

Tom DeLay “…had guys across the aisle…”

At the moment I’m listening to NPR’s talk show and, of course, Tom DeLay’s resignation is the topic.

According to Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who had lots of very nice things to say about DeLay’s work ethic, one of the reasons that Delay got so much done was because “…he had guys across the aisles (Democrats) that he could count on to get things done.”

I wonder who Luntz had in mind?

Moral Dilemma

I find myself wearing the same damn shoes I wore in 1973. I’d protested our involvment in Vietnam in peace marches. My opinion was that we had no idea what we were doing there and that our presence was making things worse. I thought that the “domino theory” (which warned us that one nation’s fall to communism would knock others into the communist orbit) was simple minded. I also thought it was a great insult to the power of democracy and free enterprise.

On the other hand we had made Vietnam our business and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese had taken us at our word and cast their lot with us. Our leaving would be their doom.

Few peaceniks paid heed to this embarassing fact during Vietnam and too few pay it heed today in Iraq.

It’s true that peace activists have learned a thing or two since Vietman. In the Seventies a few dimwits thought it was cool to spit on returning troops. Today’s peace activists slogans all seem geared at doing what’s best for our troops by bringing them home.

I don’t know what we can do at this sorry point in Condaleeza and George’s war to save the Iraqies from our elephantine meddling but the peace movement’s silence on this subject leaves me as cold as the exploitation of the war by Turd blossom for partisan advantage. 

From Andrew Sullivan - We should think long and hard before we leave these Iraqies behind to deal with the mess we’ve left them. Much credit is owed to the US troops who would rather risk life and limb than let these people down.