Liberal Grace

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Arabs offer peace to Israel. Will Bush even notice?

The Bush administration needs to seize this moment and make the most of it. I suppose that's a futile wish.

I heard an American radio report on this summit and they didn't even mention the peace offer. I suppose with all the horrible news and the parade of scandals in the news, it would be easy to this encouraging news item.

It should also be noted that this is the kind of opportunity that a competent, engaged presidency would run with.

Arab leaders to relaunch peace offer to Israel

By Wafa Amr Wed Mar 28, 6:32 PM ET

RIYADH (Reuters) - Arab leaders will formally relaunch a five-year-old initiative on Thursday to trade peace for land and end the Arab-Israeli conflict which is at the heart of the region's problems.

A summit, which began on Wednesday, has drawn several world and Muslim leaders who backed the Arab peace plan offering Israel normal ties with all Arab countries in return for its withdrawal from land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

"The Arab peace initiative is one of the pillars for the peace process ... This initiative sends a signal that the Arabs are serious about achieving peace," U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon told Arab leaders on Wednesday, according to an Arabic translation.
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I've believed for decades that peace with Israel must come out of an initiative from the Arabs. Basically, the Arabs have to accept that the Jews have a country in "their" region. And they have to accept this on their own; bribing them, coercing them, threatening them is not a lasting solution.

Of course Israelis -- especially the conservatives -- also have to accept that they share a country with Muslims and Christians.

You can be sure, many people -- especially conservatives -- will find problems with the Arab peace offer. And some will be valid points. But but lets appreciate that there is an offer on the table and it's coming from the Arabs. This is an essential first step to lasting peace and should be affirmed.

Is there any hope that Rice and the Bush administration will do anything with this? Probably not.

When will the mean-spirited loudmouth right wingers be rejected by the good America I know and love?

The ugly meanness of the right is highlighted by the way they are treating Elizabeth Edwards.



One of the benefits of living halfway around the world is that I miss out on some of the cultural nonsense in America.

But some of it does get over here and the soulless comments by some of the right about John and Elizabeth Edwards has made it over here.


The biggest jerk seems to be Rush Limbaugh (again!) but I also heard incredibly insensitive comments by Lars Larson (who I don't know but you probably do).

Limbaugh:

"[M]ost people, when told a family member's been diagnosed with the kind of cancer Elizabeth Edwards has, they turn to God. The Edwards turned to the campaign. Their religion is politics and the quest for the White House."
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and Larson:

The political stunt pulled Thursday by trial lawyer and presidential wannabe John Edwards seems unlikely to change the final outcome of 2008 election or even the Democrat Party’s selection of a nominee. But it should cause honest members of both parties to call Edward’s honest and integrity into question anew.

[...]

We know that because John Edwards chose to make the fact public in one of the most craven political maneuvers I've seen in some time.
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As I've blogged before, I have a natural tendency to support John Edwards because he strikes me as the most Christian candidate. He cares for the poor. He's optimistic. He seems like a decent, stand-up guy.

These blow-hard mean-spirited soulless conservatives are so not that.

And, ultimately, I hope that will be the downfall of the extreme wing of the GOP. I believe that Americans are more like John Edwards than like Rush Limbaugh and Lars Larson.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Getting bogged down in a Muslim country has completely validated al Qaeda's strategy.

It's almost too horrible to concede -- but is a guy in a cave smarter than Dick Cheney?



OK, all of us have out doubts about the intelligence of Bush. But we've always thought Cheney was the smart one. Lacking all morals: yes. But not stupid.

Then he says really stupid stuff like:
"I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."external link
This isn't just a big fat lie -- it's an incredibly dumb thing to say.

Is it possible the Cheney does not have the intellectual capacity to make credible analysis?

Consider what he said this week:
There is a third myth about the war on terror, and this is one that is perhaps the most dangerous. Some apparently believe that getting out of Iraq before the job is done will strengthen America's hand in the fight against the terrorists. This myth is dangerous because it represents a complete validation of the al Qaeda strategy. The terrorists do not expect to be able to beat us in a stand-up fight. They never have, and they're not likely to try. external link
What is al Qaeda's strategy? It's to bog us down on their turf.

(This is no great secret. external link)

Of course, al Qaeda knows they can't win us in a nuclear exchange or in a battle of air craft carriers!

Instead, they think they can beat America the same way they beat the Soviets -- in a decade(s) long war of attrition.

So, getting bogged down in a Muslim country completely validates al Qaeda's strategy.

And that's exactly was Dick Cheney has done.

I'm convinced that bin Laden intentionally baited us into Afghanistan and Bush stupidly took the bait. But even bin Laden was probably stunned when the neo-cons stupidly blundered us into an even deeper swamp. al Qaeda had to scramble to get it's fighters into a country they had not previously been allowed in to.

The reason I'm convinced of this is because I listened to the Taliban and their sympathizers talk, even before 911. I have heard them take credit for the fall of Soviet Union because they had them bogged down in Afghanistan. I've heard them say that the ten year war there was just the beginning for them. They were prepared to fight for decades -- even generations -- if that's what it took.

Here's another al Qaeda strategy Cheney probably doesn't understand: al Qaeda is prepared to lose in Iraq.

It wasn't their battleground of choice, anyway. They are only engaging us there because that's where Bush gave them opportunity to kill Americans.

If/when the Shi’a's ever take control of the country, al Qaeda will most likely get the boot. Then, they'll try to bait us into some other quagmire. Waziristan comes to mind. But it could be Syria, Kashmir, Somalia or any number of places.

America needs to be smart enough not to take the bait.

But is Cheney that smart? Are any of neo-Cons? I think not.

Monday, March 26, 2007

One year later: how's that border fence coming?

A year ago, starting with pro-immigration marches, the issue of illegal immigration hit a fevered pitch. Let's check in and see how that's going.

Not being an election year, the hysteria and pandering has toned-down but, certainly, the illegal immigration problem has not gone away.

Last year, congress was in an uproar. Bill O'Reill and Sean Hannity were screaming about "AN INVASION!" And there were citizen activists patrolling the border at night, ready to build their own fence, if need be.

First stop: Grass Roots Movements

Border Fence Project" (with the slogan "American Citizens Securing the Border Themselves...")

This is my favorite bragging point on the site:



Wow! Two miles in one year! By the year 3,056 we'll have all 2,100 miles of the border secured. Then we can focus on the northern border and the coast lines.

To be fair, I found another group that claims to have built another seven miles of fence. external link And there is fourteen miles built in San Diego external link so, only 2,077 need to be fenced. Flooding from global warning might shave a few miles off of that, too.

Face it, you and I are going to pick up the tab for these "grass roots" groups -- to the tune of billions, most likely.

Second stop: The Fence Bill



Remember the urgent drive to pass a fence bill? It had to be rushed through because of the millions of (POSSIBLE TERRORIST!) Mexicans pouring over the border!!!!

House Resolution 6061, the "Secure Fence Act of 2006", was passed in September with a vote of 283 to 138. external link

By the end of September, in an overwhelming vote (80 to 19 the U.S.) Senate confirmed H.R. 6061 and authorized partial funding for the "possible" construction of 700 miles of the fence! external link

The bill was passed and killed at the same time. Ultimately, I think what holds-up the fence is that it is INSANELY EXPENSIVE. I tried, in vain, last year to get the high-profile fence advocates to tell me how much such a fence would cost. Not a single one returned my emails.

One article suggest 8 billion to initially build the fence and a force of about 150,000 border agents to patrol it (there are currently 11,000) at a yearly cost of at least another five billion. external link

I suspect that nobody really knows how much this will cost but this you can count on: it will cost far more than initial estimates. Everything with the government does. We all know that.

Stop three: The "Virtual Fence"



Americans love high-tech solutions. So Bush, among others, called for not a physical fence but a virtual one with high-tech surveillance devices, motion detectors, drones, cameras, etc. external link

I can only conclude two things about people who make this proposal:
1) Our leaders aren't using their noodles; or
2) They know its a boondoggle but one that makes government contractors even richer.

But we here at Liberal Grace use our noodles: so let's think about this:

At mile 931 of the fence, a group of 35 immigrants rush the "virtual" fence and it's picked up by a camera. The border patrol goes rushing out there to intercept them. Minutes later, a group of 17 rush the border at mile 79. Then groups, in threes and fives, rush the border between miles 1500 and 2000 -- so we send agents rushing over there. And on and on. (An estimated 1,000 to 2,700 people cross every night external link.)

No matter how much I use my noodle, I just can't picture this working.

I've lived in the inner-city -- the reason people put bars on their windows is because it is a lot cheaper than putting up hi-tech sensing devices and hiring a security firm to monitor. There's a reason you only see the high tech solutions in the rich suburbs.

The next time somebody proposes a "virtual fence" as some sort of easier or cheaper solution, you should laugh them off the stage.

As for me, I believe that drying up the jobs is the best way to slow down illegal immigration. Despite the dire warnings, these Mexicans aren't coming here to be terrorists, they're coming for jobs. This raises the only lasting solution: Mexico needs to reform it's economy so that millions of their citizens aren't desperate to leave.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Funny church video

This reminds me of singing in church when I would make up lyrics because I was too young to read the hymnal.

Except for the sexual lyrics -- that reminds me of goofing around in bible school chapel!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What kind of people would spit on a vet?

It's isn't just the hippies who allegedly spit on veterans.

"The anti-war gang spit on the veterans." -- You've heard that claim a zillion times, right?

Apparently there were almost no reported cases of this, at the time. None or next to none.

But it has become accepted as "fact" in the conservative mythology. And they've beat us "peaceniks" over the head with it for a couple of decades now.

Jerry Lembcke has written a whole book on the subject with apparently very exhaustive research. The right pretty much made this claim up. (anyone surprised?)
Stories of spat-upon Vietnam veterans are bogus. Born out of accusations made by the Nixon administration, they were enlivened in popular culture (recall Rambo saying he was spat on by those maggots at the airport) and enhanced in the imaginations of Vietnam-generation men — some veterans, some not. The stories besmirch the reputation of the anti-war movement and help construct an alibi for why we lost the war: had it not been for the betrayal by liberals in Washington and radicals in the street, we could have defeated the Vietnamese.external link
That's makes the report I just heard, from Cindy Sheehan, stunningly ironic as well as totally despicable.
[The pro-war counter protesters] spit on Iraq veterans at the rally I was in, in DC. They pushed little old ladies around. They tore signs up of, children. It was just amazing to me that human beings can act this way. But, of course, they wouldn't go do it to a strapping man. They do it to Iraq veterans who are already damaged.. and children and ladies. They're just cowards. They're amazingly despicable. external link
Could any conservative really mistreat a veteran so horribly?

Yes. Certainly. Or even worse.

Consider how the Bush campaign treated Vietnam veteran John McCain in the 2000 campaign.
McCain won the New Hampshire Primary but lost a lot of support after the George W. Bush campaign resorted to vile campaign tactics in the Southern state primaries. Southern White Republicans were easy to manipulate using push-polling that exploited their racism. Accusations that McCain had fathered a mixed race child while a POW and was mentally unstable were made during the South Carolina Republican Primary.external link
This is a well known event and what usually gets highlighted is the shameless pandering to racism. Just as bad, but less noted, is that the Bush camp was shameless enough to use McCain's POW experience against him. Think about that -- these guys who weaseled out of the Vietnam war were vile enough to use McCain's Vietnam veteran status against him.

Anyone who would do that -- or who would find that tactic convincing -- is certainly not above literally spitting on a vet.



Reading Room: The granddaddy of Partitions

In the coming months you'll be hearing more and more about partitioning Iraq.

Peter Galbraith has been the leading proponent of this and the conservatives swiftboated him as a "cut and runner" for it.

Rumors are that Bush is going to adopt the partition proposal in the next year.

Partitions have always sounded better in theory than in messy reality. I can think of cases where countries were divided up and there has been has been horrific blood letting: Israel out of Palestine; Bosnia out of Yugoslavia; Eritrea out of Etheopia.

But the granddaddy of them all was Pakistan out of India. I strongly recommend that anyone who is enthusiastic about Iraq's partition, read about India's partition.

I suggest Freedom at Midnight for the average person because it reads like a novel. The sections on the violence of partition are vivid and chilling. I've read this book a couple of times.


Probably even better is Liberty or Death - India's Journey to Independence and Division by Patrick French. If you like history written like history, rather than a novel, this is the better book. I've had both Indian and Pakistan friends recommend this book which is a good testimony to its balance.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Slow bleed" talking-point reveals GOPs shameless cynicism

To use a bleeding metaphor to swiftboat the Dems highlights how insensitive the GOPs are about the death of our troops.

I've been silent about the "slow bleed" RNC talking point because its been blogged all over.

But I heard it used again against the Democrats. (I think it was John Boehner but I may be forgetting.)

As you probably know, the Republicans cynically and falsely attributed the "slow bleed" phrase to the Democrats and then spread the lie all over -- and, of course, Fox News dutifully echoed the lie.
The Democratic plan was characterized in The Politico as the “slow-bleed strategy,” which was not a term used by any Democrats or the anti-war groups supporting their efforts.

The RNC, however, attributed the phrase to Democrats, and it was used in their e-mail alert.

“‘Slow bleed' is exactly the right name for this incredibly irresponsible and dangerous strategy,” RNC Chairman Mike Duncan wrote in his e-mail, which included a Web link to donate to the GOP.

“Cutting and running is bad enough,’’ he said. “But the Murtha-Pelosi 'slow-bleed' plan is far worse. It is a cynical and dangerous erosion of our ability to fight the terrorists while we still have men and women on the ground in Iraq.”
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What bothers me most is that the conservatives would play politics with anything to do with bleeding while are brave soldiers are bleeding and dying in Iraq as we speak.

I used to work in advertising and I can guarantee you that this "bleeding" metaphor was carefully considered before it was circulated as a talking point. Didn't anyone in the GOP leadership feel it was distasteful to play politics with a term when the reality is so personally tragic for some families?

A license to lie

If Karl Rove intends to tell the truth before Congress, he should be sworn-in and speak publicly. Government service is not some secret society.



Who does Karl Rove work for? Some secret society like Skull and Bones? No! He works for the government and must be publicly held accountable for his actions.

Bush Warns Dems to Take Offer in Firings

WASHINGTON (AP) - A defiant President Bush warned Democrats Tuesday to accept his offer to have top aides speak about the firings of federal prosecutors only privately and not under oath, or risk a constitutional showdown from which he would not back down.

Democrats' response was swift and firm: They said they would start authorizing subpoenas as soon as Wednesday for the White House aides.

``Testimony should be on the record and under oath. That's the formula for true accountability,'' said Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
external link
If Bush continues to treat the Presidency like some secret society, then I hope Congress does trigger a constitutional showdown. Does Congress have an oversight role or not? Bush thinks not. I think it's essential to the functioning of a democracy.

As for Bush's charge about Democrats going on a "fishing expedition." Fair enough. Congress should only ask questions about the firings of prosecutors. (The should not ask any questions about Rove's personal sex live, for example.)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Shame on Muslims?

This news item highlights a very different world view on what brings "shame" to Muslims.

Reward offer for beheading
An Indian Muslim group has offered a 500,000 rupee ($11,319) bounty for the beheading of controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen. The president of the All India Ibtehad Council, Taqi Raza Khan, said he had declared the reward for anyone who carried out the “quatal” or “extermination” of the “notorious woman.”
[...]
Nasreen has incensed conservative Muslims for writing a novel “Lajja” or “Shame” depicting the life of a Hindu family facing the ire of Muslims in her homeland of Bangladesh. The book has been banned from being sold in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. The author was forced to flee her homeland in 1994 after radical Muslims decried her writings as blasphemous and demanded her execution.
[...]
“Taslima has put Muslims to shame in her writing. She should be killed and beheaded and anyone who does this will get a reward from the council,” he said in a statement received in Lucknow, capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state.
external link
Which, in your mind, brings bigger "shame" on Muslims: the book or beheadings?

It's a profoundly different worldview (that I'm not suggesting breaks neatly along religious lines.)

The same worldview difference came up with the cartoon scandal last year. I am sympathetic to Muslims who feel their faith was insulted. (I often get the same feeling fairly about my faith.)

From my world view, the reaction -- especially the violent reaction --- to the comics damaged Islam far far more than the comics did.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Gen Pace's opinion about gays doesn't matter.

Are gays Americans or not? Of so, your opinion about them matters not one diddly.



Gays are Americans. It's really that simple.

As such, they have the rights and responsibilities of all Americans.

General Pace's personal opinion about the morality of homosexuals external linkdoesn't change that one bit.

Nor does it matter if you personally hate gays.

Nor does it matter of your religion or your pastor disapproves of gays.

And thank God that in America we don't (or shouldn't, at least) restrict constitutional rights based on people's personal opinions or religious dogma.

This isn't just good for gays... it's good for you.

Why? Because I guarantee you -- somewhere, someone disapproved of your morality or your religion. If those people can get enough votes, should they be able to restrict your freedoms?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Does Bush have a clue about al Qaeda's changed strategy?

Al Qaeda's strategy has changed since 911 from "chop off the head" to "chop off the hand."



I almost didn't read this article because I'm tired of the speculation whether bin Laden is dead or alive -- and I'm not sure it's particularly relevant anymore. Al Qaeda has morphed into a much more dangerous decentralized organization since Rumsfeld let the leadership walk away from Tora Bora.

I'm glad I didn't: this article by Amir Teheri includes a very informative summary of al Qaeda's current strategy. Obviously this is one man's opinion but it has the ring of truth.

(Of course the Bush apologists like Fox claim we haven't been attacked because this administration has done such a spectacularly good job at homeland security. This clearly has the ring of spin.)

Teheri says that Ayman Al Zawahiri has sifted al Qaeda's strategy from "chop off the head" to "chop off the hand." In other words: to stop attacking the leading infidel countries and start taking control of Muslim countries.

Here is the whole article of Is Bin Laden dead or alive? but here is the most interesting part:

Strategy

Bin Laden believed that the strategy helped defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and would lead to the destruction of the United Sates and its European satellites. The 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York was a major test of that theory.

Bin Laden's strategy had critics from the start.

One was the "Godfather of Jihad", Palestinian-Saudi Abdullah Al Azzam who insisted that "holy warriors" should focus on Muslim lands rather than attacking "infidel" territory. In 1989, Al Azzam was murdered in Pakistan - a crime his relatives blamed on Bin Laden.

Between 1989 and 2001, Bin Laden was the sole architect of jihadist strategy, tested in dozens of attacks including 9/11 in the United States. Bin Laden dubbed his strategy Qat'e al-Raas, (chopping off the head), meaning that the global system must be defeated by attacking its head, ie the US.

Al Zawahiri, however, has revived Al Azzam's strategy of focusing on Muslim lands. He calls his strategy Khal'ee Al-Yadd (chopping off the hand), designed to destroy the tentacles of the "infidel" in Muslim countries.

He divides Muslim countries into five circles of "possibilities". The first consists of Afghanistan and Iraq which Al Zawahiri believes Al Qaida can capture, once the Americans run away.

In the second circle, are Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, along with Algeria.

The third circle includes Israel-Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

In the fourth circle are Chechnya, Uzbekistan, East Turkistan (Xingjian) and Thailand.

The fifth circle includes all other Muslim states, or states with large Muslim minorities such as India and the Philippines, which Al Zawahiri hopes to conquer.

Al Zawahiri has taken other measures that indicate that Bin Laden is either dead or no longer in control.

He has replaced key commanders of Al Qaida linked groups, including in Iraq and Algeria, by Egyptians close to himself and with no history of ties to Bin Laden.

"You could say the Egyptian mafia has taken over," says one expert. Al Zawahiri has acknowledged Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader, as Emir Al Momeneen (commander of the faithful) and caliph of a putative Islamic empire. This ends Bin Laden's position as the "shaikh" and ultimate authority for jihadists.

Bin Laden's name has almost disappeared from jihadist propaganda.

Al Zawahiri has also abandoned Bin Laden's rule of never making deals with Shiites, whom he regarded as heretics and Sunni Salafists such as the Muslim Brotherhood whom he branded as "compromisers".

Adopting a more pragmatic approach, Al Zawahiri has evoked tactical alliances with the Islamic Republic in Iran and its clients such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He has also sent feelers to Hamas, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, to coordinate strategies.
external link


The good news is that the threat of domestic attack is less. The bad news is that the "War on Terror" is a lot more complex.

If Teheri is right, the US needs to adjust it's strategy to help Muslim countries avoid takeovers by the radicals. But this may be impossible since Bush has so fully alienated nearly all the world's one billion Muslims.

However, the US could encourage our allies to work at this issue through diplomacy and development -- which is obviously more their strength than ours right now.

Monday, March 12, 2007

There goes the neighborhood! Halliburton is coming to Dubai.

Dubai should block the move of Halliburton just like the US blocked Dubai Ports World.



If Dubai were a democracy, I suspect that Halliburton's move here wouldn't be possible.

The Dubai Ports World deal was blocked in the name of the War on Terror, despite no direct connection.

Blocking the Halliburton move in opposition to the "War on Iraq" is far more rational.

Virtually nobody over here approves of the Iraq war, so why should we welcome a company that profited highly from it? Many think even instigated it?

We residents of Dubai could also object in the name of homeland security. It seems to me that having Halliburton HQ among us is just inviting an attack.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

John Doe: "Forever Hasn't Happened Yet"

John Doe has successfully moved from punk to a sound that feels new but appeals to my middle age sensibilities.

I went to a lot of concerts back in the 70s and 80s -- including some of the biggest name acts -- but a real stand-out was "X".

I saw X most because their poster was cool but I was instantly won over by their energy and charisma -- somehow embodied by a mysterious band member named "John Doe." I remember saying to my friends, "Most punkers pose like psychos but that John Doe might be for real!"

If he was a real psycho back then, I think he's worked it out because his solo works show no signs of it

Instead, Doe gives us a satisfying mix of a good voice, vivid lyrics and melody.

I'm approaching fifty fast and I feel ridiculous listening to either old punk or modern hip hop. I also don't want to spend my senior years listening to worn-out Billy Joel or Elton John songs on the oldies station.

John Doe's music meets that perfect need of mine for a older sensibility for song-writing but without sounding old.

The album I've been listening to for the last three weeks is "Forever Hasn't Happened Yet".

The haunting song "Twin Brother" has all the good qualities of country-music story telling songs but without a second of country music cloying. I find "Twin Brother" a tremendously powerful little vignette about the hard knocks of being a child and how that echoes into adulthood. I've heard it a dozen times and will gladly hear it again!



Buy from Amazon:



Buy with an eMusic subscription: John Doe



(First 25 songs are free. Plain MP3s. No restrictions. Cheaper than iTunes!)

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Bombing bin Laden could spectacularly backfire on the US

The only good solutions for al Qaeda are non-military -- which means they are well-beyond the imagination of the GOP.



I was in Pakistan last week and it reinforced my sense that Pervaiz Musharraf is in a helluva bind.

I was there in the heels of Cheney's arm-twisting tour external link and calls in the Senate to strike inside Pakistan external link if Musharraf doesn't expel the Taliban from their hideouts in Waziristan.

This puts Musharraf in a classic squeeze between a rock and a hard place.

The Rock: If Musharraf allows American troops into Pakistan, he'll likely be overthrown.

The Hard Place: If Musharraf orders Pakistani troops into Waziristan, he'll likely be overthrown.

Either option includes his own likely death.

(I wonder if Dick Cheney would be so eagerly militant if it meant his own likely death? But that's an aside.)

In all likelihood, whoever replaces Musharraf will be less moderate and less pro-US. A distinct possibility is that he'd be replaced by one of the many emended Taliban sympathizers in the Pakistan military who have been there ever since the US thought the mujahaddin were freedom fighters.

Afghanistan with a population of 31 million was a huge danger when it was controlled by radicals. Pakistan has a population of 165 million, a large army and nukes. How dangerous would that country be in the hands of radicals? More dangerous than having bin Laden held-up in Waziristan? Surely.

The only good solutions, of course, are non-military like: diplomacy, education and development.

But these take a long time, are complex and require follow-through and compromise -- things the US handles poorly -- even in the best of times -- and are utterly beyond the competency of the Bush administration.

So, they are tempted to bomb or invade which will most likely spectacularly backfire and make things even worse than they are now for the US.

(In the spirit of fairness, I should point out that the Bush administration seems less eager to bomb than Democrat Carl Levin external link)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Do you want Newt Gingrich making your moral decisions for you?

The Newt Gingrich hypocrisy highlights the Achilles Heel of "cultural conservatism" -- most Americans resent these blowhards.



As I blogged earlier, the Achilles heel of the religious right (AKA "cultural conservatism") is that only about 25% of Americans like being told what to do. The rest of us resent these hypocritical moralizing blowhards.

Enter Newt Gingrich.

This week he finally fessed-up to the cynical, shameless hypocrisy of sitting in moral judgment of Bill Clinton while, at the very same time, boffing a congressional aid

Gingrich acknowledges affair during Clinton impeachment

WASHINGTON - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, he acknowledged in an interview with a conservative Christian group.
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The hypocrisy of this -- from Gingrich, to the Religious Right, to the GOP in general -- is so glaring and shameful that I needn't discuss it here.

I just want to cite this is an example of the Achilles Heel of the "family values" base of the GOP.

Most Americans deeply resent moralizing blowhards like Newt Gingrich passing judgment on our religious and ethical decisions.

This is a core values difference that we liberals needs to hammer on: if you want blowhards like Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Laura Schlessinger, Ted Haggard and Newt Gingrich making your moral decisions for you -- vote Republican.

If you're a grown-up, vote Democrat.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

How's the Surge Going? (March 07)

Let's check in monthly to see how Bush's surge is going.

US Military deaths stayed the same but Iraqi military deaths are up. The overall number is down from the month before within the average.

The surge started in the middle of the month.











external link Source: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bush loves the uniform; trashes the military

What Bush has done to the military is an act of stunning hypocrisy.

Let's take a moment, once again, to reflect on the astounding ability of Bush and the GOP to accomplish EXACTLY OPPOSITE what they've preached about for decades.

Ever since the Carter era I've received finger-wagging tongue lashings from my conservative pro-military relatives about how Democrats weaken the military and this weakens America. I have had to put up with this abuse decade after decade.

It never helped when I would mention that America lavishly funds its military almost as much as whole rest of the world combined. Shouldn't that be enough? Logic and facts would only make them dig in their heals: "If you want a strong military, vote GOP. If you want a weak military vote Democrat. You're a Democrat so you must want a weak military."

Candidate Bush was no different than my most ignorant militant cranky uncles:
So let's get something straight right now. To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected, that's no criticism of the military. That is criticism of a president and vice president and their record of neglect.external link
So, Bush and the conservatives finally gains control of every branch of the government and what do they do? They degrade the military.
Pace: U.S. Military Capability Eroding
WASHINGTON (AP) - Strained by the demands of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a significant risk that the U.S. military won't be able to quickly and fully respond to yet another crisis, according to a new report to Congress.

The assessment, done by the nation's top military officer, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represents a worsening from a year ago, when that risk was rated as moderate.

The report is classified, but on Monday senior defense officials, speaking on condition on anonymity, confirmed the decline in overall military readiness.
external link
Since I'm not a military expert, I don't have much to add to the specifics of the debate -- especially not more than what John Murtha in this excellent article: General Pace Can't Have It Both Ways
Let's revisit history. On November 17, 2005, I said that the failed war policies of this Administration were destroying the future of our military. I said that our military is stretched thin, that the war in Iraq is resulting in significant shortfalls at our bases in the U.S., and that we must rebuild our Army. I knew then that the war policies of this Administration were unsustainable, and that our military preparedness and our strategic reserve would suffer.
[...]
At the beginning of the Iraq war, 80% of all Army units and almost 100% of active combat units were rated at the highest levels of readiness. Just the opposite exists today. Virtually all of our active-duty combat units at home and all of our guard units are at the lowest level of readiness.
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But I am highly familiar with conservative rhetoric and what Bush has done to the military -- cheered along the whole way by the GOP rank-and-file -- is an act of stunning hypocrisy.