Friday, September 21, 2007

Money Talks

Tristero at Hullabaloo explains how it works.

President Bush or President Betray Us?

The freedom to dissent got a double-barreled blast yesterday—from the President and the Senate. (Yes, the same Senate that earlier failed to restore the right to Habeas Corpus.) Both condemned the "General Betray Us?" ad that placed in the New York Times last week.

Are we now supposed to hold our General in the same reverence that the Muslims hold their Prophet?

Isn't General Petraeus is fighting for our liberty to make cheap puns on his name? Or don't we have that freedom anymore?

Bush, on the other hand, is fighting to equate dissent with treason, subvert our Constitutional liberties, and gather dictatorial powers to the Presidency.

Yesterday he came up to (maybe over) the line of warning the Democrats not to irritate the military. He does this while cherishing the privilege of his political allies to smear honorable opponents with lies and innuendo. He said, "I felt like the ad was an attack, not only on Gen. Petraeus, but on the US military." (Hats off to Prof. Lakoff who presciently declared yesterday "Metonymy Day.")

I'm embarrassed and infuriated that twenty-two Democrats made it possible for the Dornyn amendment to pass. (SEE BELOW for the names.) Thought experiment: how many Republicans would join with Democrats in condemning the Swift-boating of Kerry, the smears of Max Cleland and John Murtha?

Turning an ad (whether you liked it or not—and I didn't like much, BTW) into a issue worthy of Presidential threats and Senatorial condemnation is not simply an attempt to distract from weightier matters (cholera breaks out in Iraq; Blackwater security guards ordered to leave by Iraqi government, etc.). It's an attempt to chill dissent. (Please see the excellent post on Kos by hbjackson.)

To guard against having all of our liberties frog-boiled away by slow increments, I'm reviving and adapting the old Homeland Security alerts to track attacks against our freedoms. I'm raising the threat level to Orange.

I'm also signing up and sending some money to continue their fight. Please do likewise. Liberty: use it or lose it.

Mickeleh's Take: Bush claimed, after 9-11, "they hate us for our freedoms." Maybe he thinks that suppressing our freedoms will make them hate us less.

Here are the Democrats who voted to condemn the ad: Baucus (MT), Bayh (IN), Cardin (MD), Carper (DE), Casey (PA), Conrad (ND), Dorgan (ND), Feinstein (CA), Johnson (SD), Klobuchar (MN), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Leahy (VT), Lincoln (AR), McCaskill (MO), Mikulski (MD), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Salazar (CO), Tester (MT), Webb (VA)

Three Democrats avoided the issue: presidential candidates Biden (DL) and Obama (IL), and my own Iraq-tightrope-walking, needle-threading Sen. Cantwell (WA).

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Five Questions Following Senate's Failure to Restore Habeas Corpus

  1. Why is the headline: "Senate Rejects Habeas Legislation" and not "Republican Minority Blocks Vote on Habeas Legislation"?
  2. Why does Majority Leader Reed accept cloture votes and move on rather than forcing Republicans (plus Joe Lieberman) to go to the diapers and actually filibuster?
  3. Why don't Democratic Party leaders (including the presidential candidates who have the media spotlight) make Republican obstructionism the issue—leaving Republicans a clear field to make "Democrat" ineffectiveness their issue.
  4. If we support the Democratic campaigns to get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, will we actually see progressive legislation?
  5. Is the Ralph Nader claim that there's no significant difference between the parties starting to look any better to you?

Mickeleh's Take: Congressional approval polls are even lower than Presidential approval polls. Bonus question: How politically risky would it be for the Democratic leaders to more assertive?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Edwards Fundraising: Smart, Postitive, Uplifting

In a word, here's how politicians raise money: fear.

The typical fundraiser is an appeal for money to keep the boogeyman du jour at bay. You've seen 'em: If so-and-so wins the world will end and you'll lose your immortal soul and your Google stock.

Can we stand four more years of the Bush war? Can we stand to have Hillary in the White House? Can we stand by while gays destroy the sanctity of marriage? While abortionists murder the unborn? While the Republicans shred the Constitution? While Al Qaeda plots to murder us in our beds? While Republican senators and airport policemen spend all afternoon hogging the toilet stalls, preventing decent travelers from finding a place to poop? etc.

John Edwards decided to go a different way. Contribute to his campaign and you'll be entered into a drawing to go to New Orleans with him to work with him "alongside families who are rebuilding their homes and their lives."

Mickeleh's Take: A politician ppealing to goodness, generosity, and our better natures? Hmmm. Isn't this newsworthy in the traditional "man-bites-dog" sense? Which means it will go unnoticed in a media world where the top stories are a girls doing an awkward dance in her undies and a football player turned murderer makes a grab for sports memorabilia.

Here's my suggestion, John. You want coverage? While you're in New Orleans, get your hair cut in a local barber shop. And throw the guy a $400 tip.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Francine's Take on Alive Day Memories

Francine Hardaway has written a deeply moving reflection on watching the HBO documentary Alive Day Memories, in which James Gandolfini interviews troopers who had been seriously wounded, physically and emotionally in Iraq. She notes
The war goes into its fifth year. Bush goes on doing whatever he wants. Congress goes on doing nothing. And I wonder how the voters feel about staying in Iraq forever.
While I was reading it, iTunes randomly selected The Band's "Tears of Rage" as the soundtrack.

Mickeleh's Take: This quick note is no substitute for reading Francine's blog. And reading her blog is no substitute for watching Alive Day Memories. And watching Alive Day Memories is no substitute for ... what? What are we doing to stop this?

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Return on Success"? Nah, Impeach on Failure

Whatever happened to the fearsome Republican phrasemaking A-team? You know, the folks who brought us "the death tax," "clear skies initiative," "defense of marriage." Have they all left the building? Is there nobody left who can do better than "Return on Success"?

The phrase can't help but stir echoes of "Return on Investment." We have made an investment of 3776 dead (3637 since "Mission Accomplished"), 27,848 wounded, (at least 500 with amputations), and a cost surging well past $400 billion. The Bush proposed investment will see us to at least another thousand U.S. dead and a cost mounting toward a trillion dollars. (And that investment, of course, doesn't see us to the end. It leaves us with more troops in Iraq than we had before the surge began.)

What is our return? Well, we got Saddam and Bush got to prance around and parade his package in a flight suit. And I think some Iraqi schools got painted. And there's a market somewhere that U.S. politicians can visit if they are sufficiently well guarded.

Any other returns on our investment? Iraqi deaths number, by the most conservative estimates, about 70,000. By more likely estimates, they are multiple hundred thousands—and a story by Tina Susman in this morning's L.A. Times says the Iraqi toll may pass one million. Dead.

The U.N estimates more than 4 million Iraqis have been forced from their homes, some 2 million are now living in other (mostly Arab) countries. We've fueled worldwide recruiting for al-Qaeda.

And the other day, our poster-boy for "success" in Anbar province, Sheikh Sattar Abu Reesh was blown up near his heavily guarded compound.

Krugman, this morning, notes that Bush political crony and member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Ray Hunt has gone and cut a side deal with the Kurds in Iraq for oil. Talk about insider trading—here's a guy in a position to know and he's betting on the failure of Bush's proclaimed policy of seeking a united Iraq. Over the line, Smokey puts in more plainly: "Bush's pals begin the looting of Iraq."

That's just a partial accounting of our return on investment.

But "return on success" is not a bad choice simply for its echo of "return on investment." It's downright monstrous in its own right. It seems to place the burden of coming home squarely on the shoulders of the soldiers and marines in Iraq. Get the job done and you can come home.

As if the job is theirs to do. As if they had the power to deliver success.

Everyone (but Bush and Cheney) agrees that there is no military solution to Iraq. The only way out is diplomatic and political. But there, we got nothin'.

So, Bush is holding our military force hostage pending a "success" that they cannot influence, a success that he has so far refused to pursue with any vigor, commitment, or competence.

Mickeleh's Take
: When Bush lists all the awful things that might happen if we pull out, he comes up with a list that's very close to the things that have happened since we invaded. How about replacing "Return on Success" with "Impeach on Failure"?