Saturday, July 30, 2005

Questions I don't hear anyone asking.

It's the same old song

Speaking to reporters after talks with (Australian Prime Minister)Howard, Bush said that the American troops will be in Iraq "as long as necessary to complete the mission."

I have a question. How will we know when the mission is complete?

I don’t want a timetable, I don’t want dates. I just want to know how we’re going to decide that our objectives have been met. What are the criteria? What’s the yardstick we’re using to measure success?

If we’re there to establish democracy, how do we define when democracy is “established”? Is it elections? Adoption of a constitution? The first time the representative from Kirkuk manages to sneak a line item for a pet project into the national budget? How will we tell that we have achieved democracy?

If we can’t leave until the Iraqi security forces are trained, how will we define what “trained” is? How many forces constitute the critical mass? How proficient do these forces need to be? How are we going to test their proficiency and deem them “capable”?

If we can’t leave until the insurgents are defeated, how will we know they’re no longer a threat? Is it days without an attack? Is there a magic number of “Number Three” leaders we have to capture?

How will we know we’ve won the war on terror struggle against violent extremism in Iraq?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dulce et decorum est

President Bush, June 6, 2005:
We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our nation's uniform. When the history of this period is written, the liberation of Afghanistan and the liberation of Iraq will be remembered as great turning points in the story of freedom.

From June 24, 2005:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A suicide bomb attack on a U.S. convoy in Falluja marked the bloodiest day for U.S. female troops serving in Iraq.

Insurgents bombed a truck carrying 19 U.S. military personnel Thursday night and then ambushed it, U.S. military sources said.

At least four Marines -- including three women -- were killed. Of the 13 Marines wounded, 11 were female, the sources said Friday.

From July 20, 2005

The new Iraqi constitution should be based on Islamic tenets with restrictions on women's rights on issues such as marriage, divorce and inheritance laws, members of a committee drafting the document declared yesterday.

Shia members of the drafting committee have started a drive to make the new constitution less secular, insisting that is the wish of the majority of the electorate who voted Shia-dominated and religion-based parties into power in the elections.

Mariam al-Rayyes, a Shia member of the committee, said Islam will be a "main source" for legislation in the new constitution and the state religion.

"It gives women all rights and freedoms as long as they don't contradict with our values," she said.

"Concerning marriage, inheritance and divorce, this is civil status laws; that should not contradict with religious values."

Somehow I doubt that when these women enlisted to serve “a cause greater than themselves’ they envisioned dying for a “liberation” that wouldn’t include them.

Monday, July 18, 2005

That was then, this is now.

September 29, 2003:

McClellan: The President has set high standards, the highest of standards for people in his administration. He's made it very clear to people in his administration that he expects them to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.

June 10, 2004

Asked at a June 10, 2004, news conference if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame's name, Bush answered, "Yes.”

July 18, 2005

Asked about his close adviser Karl Rove, who is at the center of an investigation into the disclosure of the officer's identity, Mr. Bush said: "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration. I don't know all the facts; I want to know all the facts."
The remarks appeared to shift the standard for dismissal that has been expressed repeatedly over many months by Mr. Bush's spokesmen - from promises to fire anyone who played a role in the disclosure, to Mr. Bush's statement today that criminal conduct would have to be involved.

Sounds like it’s time to trot these out again

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Double Super Secret Background

From today’s NY Times
The vice president's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, was a source along with the president's chief political adviser for a Time story that identified a CIA officer, the magazine reporter said Sunday, further countering White House claims that neither aide was involved in the leak.
In an effort to quell a chorus of calls to fire deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove, Republicans said that Rove originally learned about Valerie Plame's identity from the news media. That exonerates Rove, the Republican Party chairman said, and Democrats should apologize.
But it is not clear that it was a journalist who first revealed the information to Rove.

Got that? Yeah, well neither does 95% of the American public.

As long as this remains a who-told-what-to-whom story, it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of going anywhere. What we need is some good old fashioned perjury and obstruction of justice charges to come down from Patrick Fitzgerald.. Because, as the Republicans proved with Bill Clinton, even if the original crime isn’t really a crime, lying to a grand jury is. Most Americans can still grasp the concept of lying.

But not most Republicans:

The only concession by any Republican in the controversy came from Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the third-ranking House Republican.
Asked about the White House's previous statements that Rove was not involved, Blunt told CBS' ''Face the Nation'' that spokesmen for the White House ''need to be very thoughtful about what they say and be sure that their credibility is sustained.''

Monday, July 11, 2005

It's not the crime, it's the cover-up.

Oh heavens.
Q Well, you're in a bad spot here, Scott, because after the investigation began, after the criminal investigation was underway, you said -- October 10th, 2003, "I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby, as I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this." From that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began. Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's not a correct characterization Terry, and I think you are well aware of that. We know each other very well, and it was after that period that the investigators had requested that we not get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation. And we want to be helpful so that they can get to the bottom of this, because no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. I am well aware of what was said previously. I remember well what was said previously. And at some point, I look forward to talking about it. But until the investigation is complete, I'm just not going to do that.
Q Do you recall when you were asked --
Q Wait, wait -- so you're now saying that after you cleared Rove and the others from that podium, then the prosecutors asked you not to speak anymore, and since then, you haven't?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're continuing to ask questions relating to an ongoing criminal investigation, and I'm just not going to respond any further.
Q When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you peg down a date?
MR. McCLELLAN: Back at that time period.
Q Well, then the President commented on it nine months later. So was he not following the White House plan?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, I appreciate your questions. You can keep asking them, but you have my response

It degenerates from there, if that’s possible. Crooks and Liarshas the video highlights. For some reason it’s taking longer than usual to get the video posted to the official White House site. It’s worth viewing, just to watch Scotty squirm.

I’d like to believe even Karl Rove can’t weasel out of this one, but never rule out a Jimmy Swaggart televised meltdown.

I have sinned against you, my Lord, and I would ask that your precious blood would wash and cleanse every stain until it is in the seas of God's forgetfulness, never to be remembered against me

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Jesus wept.


Franklin Graham said Muslims must "strap a bomb on" in order to "please God"

On the June 22 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, evangelist Franklin Graham told host Anderson Cooper that Islam requires its followers to become suicide bombers in order to attain salvation:

GRAHAM: In Islam, there is a lot that I have serious questions about, but the god that I worship doesn't require me to strap a bomb on myself and go blow up innocent people to prove to God that I love him and that is the way I can have salvation. Jesus Christ died for me. I don't have to die for him. God gave his son for me. I don't have to go give my life or take other people's lives to please God.
COOPER: But there's plenty of people who say, suicide bombing is a horrible, evil thing. It's not in the Quran, and those who say it is are distorting the true message of Islam.
GRAHAM: Well, no, in Islam, the only way that you can have salvation -- be assured of your salvation -- is to die in what they would call, what the clerics would call a holy war, a holy jihad, and clerics all around the world have declared this war in Iraq against the United States as a holy jihad.

Faith leaders in the East End have prepared for the aftermath of a terror attack in London. The Bishop of Stepney, Stephen Oliver, and Dr Mohammed Abdul Bari, the chairman of the East London Mosque, spoke together outside the Royal London Hospital saying the East End and London must remain united in the face of terror.

Dr Bari said "We're just shocked and horrified by what has happened. I spoke to the congregation at the mosque and tried to calm their fears and told them they must remain vigilant.

"We have worked together with the communities in the East End for many years and we must continue doing so."
Bishop Oliver said: "When something like this happens people are at first afraid, and then people get angry.
"There's a great deal of speculation in this atmosphere. We are determined that whatever the reaction it is one that unites the different faith communities."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.
Dylan Thomas

Monday, July 04, 2005

Thanks, I'll be here till 2008!

Senator Lindsay Graham does stand-up:
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said on "Fox News Sunday" that the Senate had as much riding on the confirmation as Mr. Bush and the nominee. "Can we have a confirmation process that will hold the Senate up to the world and the nation as a deliberative body made up of men and women who are serious about their job, or will it break down into some food fight?" Mr. Graham asked. "I really think the Senate's reputation is at stake as much as anything else."

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Hotter than July

When I was a kid and summer vacations lasted forever, July was always the best part. By July, the lakes had warmed up to the point where you didn’t risk losing appendages when you swam in them. Besides, you couldn’t go into the water before June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist. He had to bless the water. Fourth of July was when you went to the parade (And see the governor! Who flew in on a helicopter!) Then we’d all traipse to my grandmother’s house for the rest of the day. The black cherries were finally ripe and we’d crawl over the tree in her backyard picking them. And of course, there were fireworks over the river at night. My mother always took her vacation from the factory the last week of July, so we could look forward to going “up North” or, more likely, yet another trip to Niagara Falls. July was busy, fun and memorable.

This July promises to be memorable, too. Time, Inc. has decided to divest itself of the vestiges of journalistic ethics it was clinging to and will provide all of Matt Cooper’s notes about his sources for the Plame leak. Lawrence O’Donnell claims the notes will name Karl Rove as the leak. Although I doubt Karl would leave such a clear fingerprint on the evidence, one can easily imagine that having someone that high up as the source would be good enough for Certain Conservative Columnists. By God, you could light the tundra by the glint in Bob Novak’s eye when he had Karl on the phone. So if it does turn out to be Karl, I can’t wait for the White House statement (written by Karl, of course). It will be a masterpiece of obfuscation and by the time this is all over, they’ll have us believing Valerie Plame leaked her own name.

And Sandra Day O’Connor spoiled a lot of vacation plans. (BTW – you could probably get a rental cheap since the cancellations by Congressional staffers began right after her announcement) Does anyone really believe Bush will nominate a “moderate”? Not since he owes his political life to the radical right. No, children. This will be bloody and protracted. The prospect of a filibuster during the dog days of summer looms. Somebody check the fuse box in the Capitol -- I wouldn’t put it past Bill Frist to fiddle with the wires so the AC fails.

Ah, there are times I wish I were ten again. This July will be one of them