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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New Game in Town: West Wing Shuffle!

In one of the few occasions you will ever hear me say this, unless there is a miraculous change in flawed policy, I will give President Bush a pat on the back today (just one though). In the past few weeks there has been pressure on the White House to shuffle the staff and bring in new blood. The first casualty was chief of staff Andy Card, and everyone agreed that it was not nearly enough. New chief of staff Josh Bolton, much the same as Andy Card, hinted this week that more changes were coming, and BOOM, the sh*& hit the fan this morning. Two major anouncements. Press secretary Scott McClellan anounced his resignation, although many, including me saw it coming. unfortunate, I kinda liked Scotty, more than anythig because he reminds me of a childhood friend. But Scotty M. had lost more credibility than he ever had (if that is possible) thanks to his bosses charging him with peddling their lies and spin to the press and on to the public. I should feel bad for Scotty since he genuinely seems like a harmless fellow, but I step back when I think about the fact that wether he was kept in the loop about things such as the CIA leak or not, Scotty chose to fulfill his duty as spin peddler in chief, in other words he supported the administrations actions. Had he felt used or in disagreement, he could have resigned long ago, but he didn't. Hence, he was with Bush. As I sais earlier, Scotty's resignation is not a surprise.

What is the real surprise of the day is that Karl Rove's duties and role have been reduced. Rove will no longer be involved in domestic policy. The real test here is to read between the lines of this peculiar move. Rove is one Bush's top capos. He has stood by Rove through all the mud he has been stuck in. Why move him now? Here are some of the questions:

1) Is it a genuine move to try an bring in new blood to a faltering White House?

2) Is it to appease those Republicans in Congress that feel the President is too insulated?

or, and this is the million dollar question,

3) Is it a sign that Rove's involvement in CIA leak case is heading toward indictment, and the
White House feels he is a liability?

I do not think people expected Rove to be touched, after all, he masterminded both Bush wins in presidential elections. In essence, Bush owes everything to Rove. It will be interesting to see how the White House frames Rove's demotion, and hopefully the press will ask the right questions.

But the guy most under fire (and who has probably made more deadly mistakes in war policy), Donald Rumsfeld, stays. At least Rove's and Scotty's deeds did not result in thousands of dead Americans. Interesting that Bush chose to very defiantly and arrogantly defend Rumsfeld yesterday. Bush said something to the effect of: I make the decisions, and I know what's best for the country, and what is best for the country is for Donald Rumsfeld to remain as Secretary of Defense. If Bush knows what is best for the country then I'm Batman! But in essence, firing Rumsfeld is an implict admission of defeat and mistakes. You all know how Bush never makes any mistakes right?

Bush press secretary quits, Rove ends policy role

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rumsfeld vs. The Generals!

To me, honestly, it would not be question of how good or bad it is, it would be a question of perception. That is, if I were a political adviser, and I am not. In the past month or so, culminating this week, a total of six retired generals have called for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. As anyone who keeps up to speed with the military and Iraq, you should know that Rumsfeld is basically the director of the Iraq war. Yes, President Bush is aware of what is happening (at least we think he is), but the real decision maker when it comes to major military policy is Rumsfeld. We all know how well the war in Iraq is going, no point fighting that. The fact that six ex-generals are criticizing his conduct of the war is not only unprecedented in the annals of U.S. history, it is highly indicative of how this administration handles dissent! There is an unwritten rule in the military where officers and soldiers do not publicly disagree with policy. It hurts troop moral. Ok. I'll buy that. But now a days, moral is not the only thing that is threatened! An officer's future is at stake if you express a different opinion.

Why have these generals expressed dissent after they retired, not before? Because the Bush Administration can't fire them anymore. General Shinseki voiced his disagreement, and though not technically fired, he was publicly humiliated by Rumsfeld when it was anounced who Shinseki's succesor would be, a full year before he retired!! If you don't know military politics, this is slap in face. Never before has this type of criticism been leveled at any serving secretary of defense. The White House will say that these folks are retired, so their opinion doesn't matter, Blah Blah Blah. Three of these officers served in Iraq! How does their opinon not matter? When did non-war experienced opinons become more important than those who have been to war? Folks who have bled in battle? When did cowards like George W. Bush (who fled to Alabama) and Dick Cheney (who got five deferments) get the right to criticize men who have staked their lives in defense, right or wrong, of this country? I don't resort to name calling or anything of the sort but I will this time! How can you possibly justify the actions taken so far?

I think the current status of the Iraq war speaks for how well the war effort has been handled. I don't pretend to know how the troops moral is or anything of the sort. It is not failure on their part. They have done everything asked of them. It is the civilian leadership, an incompetently powerful civilian leadership that should bear the blame for the mistakes, and have the blood of those who died in their hands. But do you really think they care? They are not sacrificing anything except their popularity. Men who wage war and have never been in one should not have the power to wage one!

At this point in time, I think the American public has removed the blindfold and started seeing things as they really are. The economy, the war, the corruption, the profeteering, the pandering, and the hypocrisy. The President only harms himself when he aggresively supports a Secretary of Defense that is a public failure, and, in all honesty, viewed as one of the most arrogant men to have served in a presidential cabinet! Then again, this is a President that rewards mediocrity and failure. CIA's George Tenet receiving a medal of honor to name one, promoting Neo-con Paul Wolfowitz to World Bank director when he was miserably wrong on everything in Iraq, to keeping Donald Rumsfeld as DOD Secretary?! Not a single person has been held accountable for mistakes and failures in this administration. Not even people who messed up in 9/11. How can you place trust in a government that will not even admit mistakes or make an effort to correct them?

In all fairness to Rumsfeld, it doesn't matter who would replace him, hypothetically, Iraq's outcome will not change a bit. Mistakes are so far gone that it is too late to try and ammend them.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bush Authorized Leak of Classified Intelligence!

What is our nation coming when the highest office of the land, The Presidency, authorizes the leaking of classified information as a form of political retribution? Is the right to disagree and criticize without fear of retribution not part a democracy, and inherent in the first ammendment? How do you justify destroying someone's career because they disagree with you and publicly state it? If this were anywhere else, i.e. the business world it would be a legitimate form of attacking your opponents. But when it is the Presidency of the United States, who has self proclaimed their integrity and moral conviction unrelentingly, how do you justify your deception and lies regarding the matter, which undoubtedly has become a matter of national security?

In court paper filings it was revealed that "Scooter" Libby, VP Cheney's ex-chief of staff and the only indicted person in the Valerie Plame CIA leak case, said Cheney said the President authorized the leaking of sensitive classified intelligence about Iraq to the press. It is not stated that the direct leaking of the CIA operative was authorized, but ut does show that Libby was put in play to counter attacks by war opposers. The President of the United States authorized the leaking of classified intelligence! Leaking!

What happens from here on? The revelation thet the President himself authorized leaking information makes the legality of the issue null, since the President has the power to declassify information as he deems it. Bush deciding to authorize the leak can be considered a declassification order. But the political implications are enormous. At a time when the President is at an all time low in his approval, his White House assailed with all kinds of criminal investigations and staff arrests, another brick falls. Bush publicly said that anybody involved in the information disclosure would be fired. Well, he was the one who authorized it, if the court documents are correct (and there is no reason to believe that they are not). He blatanly lied. No crime, per say was commited, but his credibility is even more shattered. And more importantly, his moral conviction destroyed. I do not think anyone expected this to go all te way up to the Oval Office. I think most people were aware of Cheney's possible involvement, but drew the line there. More out of a resistance to the idea that your Presidency would invlove himself in such a dirty and criminal matter. Well, it is no longer criminal (although Libby will remain charged because he is accused of perjury and obstruction of justice, not leaking classified information), but it is dirty and morally defamatory. Tom Delay always talks about the politics of personal destruction, well our President was apparently more involved in these politics than anyone ever knew.

What have we come to when we elect a man who sent the nation to war on lies, who has created an ailing economic atmosphere, sunk the country into debt, struck secret deals with energy companies resulting in record gas prices (and record profits for energy companies), an abysmal environmental record, made us hated around the world, who has presided over the highest increase in health care ever seen, who has failed to secure our borders and ports, who has eroded our civil rights in the name of national security (allegedly), should I keep going?, no I'll stop. I have always believed that a country always deserves the government they elect, but in this case, maybe I'm wrong. Do the people of the United States of America deserve the leadership they elected? Does anyone for that matter? Does anyone deserve this kind of leadership, a leadership that has destroyed 50 years of progress and endangered the future of our children? Could anyone have foreseen the extent to which this administration has hurt the nation?

Papers: Cheney Aide Says Bush OK'd Leak

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tom Delay Resigns!!!!!!!

I have been waiting several years to write about the outcome of this particular matter. I never have been one to rejoice on someone's demise. I think it is a poor quality to have. But today, I'm sorry, I will rejoice and be a person of poor quality, and I'll be happy for it.

Tom Delay is DONE!!!!!!
Tom Delay is DONE!!!!!!
Tom Delay is DONE!!!!!!

Ha ha ha! Happy day! The "Hammer" is resigning!!

Ex-House majority leader Rep. Tom Delay anounced this morning that he would be resigning his seat in the House of Representatives effective mid-June, depending on the congressional calendar. If you do not already know, Delay has been smeared by a number of lobbying scandals resulting in his indictment last year on money laundering charges. The controversial congressman faced an uphill battle in the November miderm elections and was most likely pressured by party insiders into resigning and giving a better chance to another Republican to retain the coveted seat. This is good for Republicans. By removing Delay, the opposing election campaign cannot base its message on a referendum on Delay, which would have doomed him, and gives a much better chance for the replacement candidate to win the seat and hold it Republican. Republicans face strong opposition in this year's midterm elections for the first time since 1994, when they took power under similar circumstances. Much of the problems the party faces were brought on by Delay and his aggresive form of politicking.

I pride myself in being able to have differences of opinion and political views while still respecting those who do not agree with me. I do not think any less of anyone because they disagree. It is their right. As it is mine. I am not a Democrat or a Republican, and I am both. That is to say there are issues that Republicans support as I do, and there are some I disagree with. The same goes for Democrats. Unfortunately, each party has a radical wing that I believe does not represent the majority sentiment. Moderation always seems to be the best policy, and most people seem to agree. Extremism is exactly that: extreme. It is the breeding ground for intolerance, racism, religious fanaticism, ignorance, etc. On the right: Facism. On the left: Communism. Terrorism is the result of Muslim extremism. Do not mistake this for a comparison. I'm not comparing conservative/liberal extremism to terrorism. I am just providing an example. My point remains: extremism is not good. The Republican party's right wing, because they are in such an overwhelming position of power, have had much influence in today's political arena. They have hijacked and reshaped the Republican party, and the face of this wing was Tom Delay. Mr. Delay, through his political hypocrisy and religious rhetoric advanced aggresively many of the issues that were important to the right wing, at the expense of the regular people. I do not like Mr. Delay, not because he has different political and religious views, but because he has always presented himself with a self-righteous indignation and spoke inflaming rhetoric aimed at advancing his own interests not those of the majority of people he represents. From the aggresive and unwarranted pursuit of Bill Clinton for oral sex (President Bush has committed far worse offenses) which, although very wrong morally, should have been a private matter, to the gerrymandering of Texas district lines, to the creation of pay for play in the D.C. lobbying world, to the intrusion in the Terri Schiavo affair (in which he verbally spewed some very threatning rhetoric), to his involvement with Jack Abramoff. I do not like congressman Delay because of his unacceptable behavior in a position of public power. Wether he is found guilty or not of the crimes he is accussed of, just the fact that Delay has been implicated should be enough to demand and rejoice at his resignation. Mr. Delay has skirted the limits of congressional law and might have even cross them, with disdain for any authority (hardly existent anyway) who tried to curb his actions. He abused his position to advance an extreme agenda that excludes most Americans and panders to his religious followers. Just last week evangelical Christians held a rally in Washington D.C. where they presented themselves as a minority and asserted that they were being persecuted. Mr. Delay was introduced in such a manner as to insinuate that his legal problems were the result of persecution for his religious beliefs. This is the rhetoric that I despise, because it is exclusive, intolerant and accepts no other view except their own. The last time I checked, Christianity was a majority in the nation. As for being persecuted, Jews were persecuted, gypsies were persecuted. No, they were executed. There is no persecution of the religious right! What there is is a growing anger at the religious right's constant rhetoric and the fact that its intolerance of anything not their own is being pushed on the majority of moderate Americans by its increasing political power, and the politicians too cowardly to stand up to them (just look at John McCain pandering to Jerry Falwell and the right trying to get his '08 nomination, and I liked McCain a lot, now I do not know). But that is our own fault for not participating enough in our country's politics. The jeft wingers are no better, but they are not in power. Separation of church and state is no longer! Religion has become abundant in politics and government and when you have a president that not only relies on his faith to make life and death decisions, but also talks to a higher father, not his real father (an ex-president that invaded the same country) when deciding to go to war, it is terrifying to wonder if we will elect a future leader who runs on the platform of being the Messiah come back to deliver us!

I do not like Tom Delay because he has corrupted the system by letting his religious fanaticism dominate his political agenda while taking advantage of his position as a party leader to enforce his more radical ideas and suppress those that do not oppose him. A democracy flourishes with the freedoms accorded to all and with the ability to disagree and be safe from repercussion. Under Tom Delay's hold, Congress lost the right to disagree, and therefore represent those who are in the minority.


P.S. Tom Delay is not a bad man. He is just a man, subject to all the temptations we are. Somewhere along the line those temptations got to him and corrupted him. Hopefully, now that he leaves Congress, he will have time to find himself again, and practice his beliefs and faith without imposing them on others and without profiting from taxpayers.

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