* Obama and the Iraq war ~ an adult enters the discussion – On Tuesday Barak Obama gave a major speech about Iraq. He said, “George Bush and John McCain don't have a strategy for success in Iraq—they have a strategy for staying in Iraq. They said we couldn't leave when violence was up, they say we can't leave when violence is down. They refuse to press the Iraqis to make tough choices, and they label any timetable to redeploy our troops "surrender," even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government—not to a terrorist enemy. Theirs is an endless focus on tactics inside Iraq, with no consideration of our strategy to face threats beyond Iraq's borders.” A video and text of his speech are at this link.
Who thinks that the withdrawal of American troops should begin?
~ The American people. “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 59% of Americans want the troops brought home from Iraq within a year.” Would this number be over 90% if there was a military draft in this country?
~ A Pentagon-sponsored report soon to be released will recommend reducing troop levels from the current 150,000 to 50,000 by the spring of 2009.
~ The Iraqi Prime Minister, who advocates a withdrawal timetable of U.S. troops.
~ Maybe President Bush? He has always been against a “timetable” for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. However, this week we began hearing the word “horizon” in place of timetable from the Bush administration. I say shame on those who have accused the president of lacking a sophisticated command of the English language. And speaking of “horizon”, we can almost see January 20, 2009.
As much as the Bush administration has pushed for a long-term agreement with Iraq to keep large numbers of U.S. troops in the country, negotiations with Iraq have broken down. “U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have abandoned efforts to conclude a comprehensive agreement governing the long-term status of U.S troops in Iraq before the end of the Bush presidency… The failure of months of negotiations over the more detailed accord -- blamed on both the Iraqi refusal to accept U.S. terms and the complexity of the task -- deals a blow to the Bush administration's plans to leave in place a formal military architecture in Iraq that could last for years.” Could it be that the only ones that do want our troops to remain in Iraq on a large scale are the U.S. defense supply industry, Big Oil interests and the neocon nimcompoops that initiated this tragic war?
* News Flash ~ the Iraq war must be over – In a May 2008 interview President Bush revealed a personal way in which he has tried to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers and their families: He has given up golf. “I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,” he said. “I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.” For not the first time Bush has fallen off the wagon or golf cart or changed his story or backtracked or altered the truth when alteration he finds. On July 21st the president will be at the Cape Arundel Golf Course in Kennebunkport, Maine to meet and greet $5000 donors to the McCain campaign. It appears that extending his presidency through McCain trumped the mothers grieving for their fallen sons. Since it is not likely that many of these high-roller golfers have children that served in Iraq the president will not be facing grieving parents. When George W. yells “fore” will he really mean “for” or “four” or “fjord”? Sometimes it is just so difficult to know what the president means. I imagine that he has the same problem.
* A note to anyone considering voting for an incumbent Republican or the continuation of the Bush presidency through John McCain ~ another excerpt from Obama’s speech this week – “Imagine, for a moment, what we could have done in those days, and months, and years after 9/11. ... We could have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in alternative sources of energy to grow our economy, save our planet, and end the tyranny of oil. ... Instead, we have lost thousands of American lives, spent nearly a trillion dollars, alienated allies and neglected emerging threats – all in the cause of fighting a war for well over five years in a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.” Recall that during the early years of the Iraq war a Republican controlled congress enabled Bush to proceed unimpeded and blocked any attempts to question or investigate war policy or torture policy or domestic policy. They quickly spent the surplus left by Clinton and created a deficit that will burden subsequent generations. Recall the policies that ignored global warming, destroyed the value of the dollar, did nothing to prevent the mortgage crisis, enhanced the growth of terrorism, and did nothing about healthcare costs. As much as McCain wants to separate himself from Bush a look at McCain’s voting record is telling. In 2007 he voted with Bush 95% of the time and in 2008 100% of the time. The only ones closer to Bush than McCain are Laura and Barney.
* LOOK OUT, they are everywhere ~ seeing the trees through the forest – The U.S. Terrorist Watch List has now reached 1,000,000 names. Unwieldy, undocumented and impossible to implement would describe the Bush administration’s approach to ensuring that terrorists do not enter the country while listing untold numbers of innocent individuals as threats. Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program said, "Putting a million names on a watch list is a guarantee that the list will do more harm than good by interfering with the travel of innocent people and wasting huge amounts of our limited security resources on bureaucratic wheel-spinning." The ACLU provides a Watch List counter and stories of innocents who have been burdened by being on the list such as Noble Peace prize winner Nelson Mandela, President of Bolivia Evo Morales, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, U.S. Representative John Lewis, the wife of Senator Ted Stevens and six-year old John William Anderson. Extensive research allowed me to identify the management principle being used by Homeland Security: throw enough crap against the wall and some of it will stick.
* Quote of the Week ~ the nadir of tongue-tied erudition – South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is considered a strong candidate to be John McCain’s vice president. Appearing on CNN, Wolf Blitzer asked Sanford, "Are there any significant economic differences between what the Bush administration has put forward, over these many years, as opposed to, now, what John McCain supports?" Sanford’s response: "Yes. I mean, for instance, take, you know -- take, for instance, the issue of -- I'm drawing a blank, and I hate it when I do that, particularly on television." I guess that Gov. Sanford realizes that McCain’s economic plan matches and is as flawed as Bush’s. The Center for American Progress looks at McCain’s economic plan and finds little to admire. More tax cuts for the wealthy and the private sector unimpeded. Does this remind you of the policies that resulted in our current economic crisis?
* IIW ~ Ignoble Ignoramus of the Week – I am on record as being quite critical of President Bush’s Attorney Generals. The more we learn about them the less there is to like. This week John Ashcroft appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Interrogation to testify about interrogation methods used at Guantanamo. In his opening statement, Ashcroft admitted that he had "limited recollection" of the events pertinent to the committee's inquiry. Specifically, "it's been difficult . . . to distinguish between what I in fact recall as a matter of my own experience, and what I remember from the accounts of others." Perhaps it behooves future presidents to appoint an Attorney General that has more intelligence than a bowl of guacamole and more integrity than a hacked chicken and bean burrito.
* “Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn't blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won't cheat, then you know he never will.”
John D. MacDonald (1916 – 1986) an American writer of crime and suspense novels