Sunday, April 02, 2006

An Onion On Steroids

Exposing the truth about GOP rule is analogous to peeling off layers of an onion on steroids. This is quite apparent in two of the most important news items this past week: the January 2003 British memo reported by the New York Times and the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in which former Nixon aide John Dean, agreed with Senator Feingold about censuring President Bush.

First let’s address the latest revelations from our friends in the United Kingdom. When you combine this memo with the original “Downing Street” memo one can’t help but believe the worst. Bush and Blair shamelessly deliberated over how to “provoke” a confrontation with Saddam. This is reminiscent of Adolph Hitler conjuring up a pre-text to invade Poland in 1939. If that offends anyone – I don’t care. What they did is a criminal act and dishonored my country.

Intelligence “failures” which guided both leaders to war is an urban legend. Washington and London both knew there was no evidence of WMD’s in Iraq. The British memos make that clear and expose the public explanation about flawed intelligence as complete fiction.

When CIA director George Tenet told Bush they had a “slam dunk” case, that DID NOT mean there were WMD’s in Iraq. Indeed what Tenet really meant was, “we can scare the American public to support you.” Both memos from Blair’s government put Tenet’s boasts in that context.

Tenet fell on his sword to protect this secret and was rewarded with a medal. I believe Tenet truly wanted to protect America from Al Quaeda prior to 9/11 but was in over his head. That’s the impression I have from reading Richard Clark’s book Against All Enemies. Tenet’s pre 9/11 failures merited his immediate termination the next day. His conduct after 9/11 ought to be enough to have him frogmarched to a maximum-security prison.

Senator John McCain, the GOP’s lying maverick rolled out their standard propaganda regarding worldwide intelligence failures on Meet the Press today. Retired former U.S. Marine General Tony Zinni decisively refuted McCain’s claim’s on the same program (online transcripts not available as of this posting).

Once upon a time I respected McCain because of his military service and willingness to stand firm against his party’s “agents of intolerance” as he referred to Jerry Falwell in the 2000 campaign. McCain's performance today demonstrated that he’s just a garden variety lying Republican.

As for the Bush Administration’s justifications for their illegal domestic surveillance program, I am reminded of a lyric written by the Who’s Pete Townsend on their Odds and Sod’s album:

“You can cover up your guts but when you cover up your nuts you’re admitting that there must be something wrong.”

If as they claim domestic surveillance is required to monitor terrorists they have a legal framework in place with the FISA protocol. It is a very forgiving legal protocol which practically grants the executive branch unlimited discretion.

Some claim that FISA is outdated in this era of computers and emails. A single computer may contain a thousand email addresses and require warrants for everyone one of them. Well, if there is one thing we can all agree government does well it’s generate paper – so I don’t see that as a compelling excuse.

However, if we concur that FISA is an anachronism for today’s challenges, then the Constitution demands the executive branch drafts a new legal framework with elected representatives from Congress. Does anyone doubt that both parties in congress would’ve given this President anything he asked following 9/11? Both the Patriot Act and the 2002 resolution regarding Iraq aptly illustrate that point.

Hence, as a sentient being capable of deductive reasoning and a student of human nature, it seems obvious the administration is using their domestic surveillance program for reasons other than terrorism. Perhaps they’re monitoring political adversaries?

To this point the Democrats behave as if they’re victims of battered wife syndrome. Meanwhile the GOP resembles every divorced woman’s abusive first husband. I don’t expect Democrats to publicly accuse the administration of abusing domestic surveillance for reasons other than terrorism as I have, until there is tangible proof. Even Senator Feingold has refrained from going that far and politically that makes sense.

Their inability to support Feingold regarding censure however is cowardly at best and immoral at worst. The President broke the law and resists all attempts at oversight. Once again we’re expected to “trust” this administration’s intentions and not hold anyone accountable. The battered wife doesn’t want to turn to the law while the abusive husband behaves dishonorably with utter impunity.

In 1998, Senator Joe Lieberman couldn’t rush to the senate floor fast enough to condemn President Clinton for his illicit behavior. Clinton was abroad at the time and Lieberman refused to wait for Clinton’s return – violating the quaint tradition of not attacking the president while he was in a foreign country. Other Democrats applauded Lieberman for this at the time.

Yet most Democrats shy away from taking this President on about violating our civil liberties? Enough! A battered wife will continue to be battered until she decides her days of being tread upon are over.

Feingold smartly put forward a censure resolution to hold the administration accountable under the law and use as leverage for obtaining the truth. It’s an eminently easy and reasonable course. Conservatives habitually cherry pick which laws are worth enforcing: condemning illegal immigration but forgiving lawbreaking from President Bush.

Yes, the Democrats are the minority party but if they unified on this point the Republicans would be on the defensive and we might even learn whom this administration is really spying on.

The time has come to aggressively peel back the GOP onion. Consider this an opportunity for the Democrats to become a confident grown up instead of a battered wife.


pansophia said...

When I saw this heading, I thought you were talking about The Onion (a hilarious pseudo-newspaper)!

There's nothing more disturbing than the idea of our political leaders provoking other people to create a pretext for aggression. This sort of behavior is so frequently portrayed in literature and entertainment, reported by the media, and lamented in the streets. Yet it still goes on. Our leaders think it's smart to treat power as a game. They won't stop treating it that way unless they are sanctioned, punished, and perhaps even prosecuted for gaming the International system.

Richard said...

Outstanding post. I have only one monor quibble. You stated that the FISA framework "It is a very forgiving legal protocol which practically grants the executive branch unlimited discretion." And then go on to say that the Congress would have given the Administration "...anything he asked following 9/11[?]"

There is one thing that Congress would ~not~ have given this administration, and that is a legal framework that allowed NSA to spy on Bush's domestic political enemies with no national security justification. I strongly suspect (from the description of NSA transcripts given to John Bolton in the DoS) that the NSA has been used against Bush's domestic political enemies.

That is one legal framework that Congress would not give them. The Republican congressional leadership of both houses could not hold their party together for that kind of vote.

Deirdre Helfferich said...

And the question remains, WHY are the Democrats so unwilling to make hay out of Republican corruption? This statement

"Consider this an opportunity for the Democrats to become a confident grown up instead of a battered wife."

doesn't quite explain the behavior. The Democrats are following a failed policy in their campaigns (Republican Lite), in their legal maneuvering, in their politicking in Congress (run away! especially run away from someone with principle, like Feingold), in their campaign and ballot access reform (prevent democracy and accountability!). Why would they do this?

My guess is, people don't do anything unless they are getting something out of it. I've said this elsewhere, but the two major parties are playing two sides of the same political game. It is not to the Democrats' advantage to forcefully oppose Republican policies that they see as advantageous in some way to the game. The Democrats are afraid to support Feingold for fear of a backlash--or so they claim--except that the backlash against the Republicans certainly didn't oust them. In fact, their power as a party was consolidated (witness today's situation).

So the question is, why are these two parties so willing to give the Executive branch such sweeping power? What is the advantage?

To censure the president would be to get at the heart of the issue: Executive versus Legislative power. Or perhaps this is an illusion, and the game is no longer about balance among the branches of government, but balance between the political parties. And with only two parties, one has a teeter-totter, not three- or four-way balance. Just wild swings of extremism.

Or perhaps it's about something else. Obviously, the Democrats are enabling the Republicans, helping them do their dirty deeds. Corruption is not the sole province of the Republicans--they came into power in part due to a revulsion against corruption (and not just hanky panky in the Oval office).

R2K said...

Cool page :)

That onion would make lots of salads very happy.


josephus said...

Delay certainly peeled off one layer of the onion this week. But there's so many left ...

Democrats may be inept at corruption. But have they been so obviously inept at governing? Or is that the current administration simply wants to prove the Reaganite proposition that the federal government is incapable of doing anything right?

Bob Higgins said...

Hi Rob

The Democrats actually govern quite well, we just stink at getting elected. we've been out of the White House for thirty of the last fifty years.

The situation gets worse as Republicans get crazier though.
This current crop has an absolutly virulent hatred of government.

You might ask; how can a group of people who hate government ever govern effectively?

The answer is simple. They can't. Look at the record, look at the sorry state of our country.

They cannot govern. They will not govern. They will tell you to your face that they intend to turn over control of most of our public affairs to corporate crony capitalists in our best interests.

Anyway I like your work and I'm going to link to "An Onion On Steroids" as soon as I "get home"

Go to the Washington Post Website
and check a few stories in the national,political,or world news sections and look for a "Who's Blogging This" box, try it with a a few different stories and you will find Worldwide Sawdust listed.
I'm not sure how this happened but
it's generating a little traffic.

Back to the Onion

There is an article in this months Washington Monthly by Amy Sullivan that I though was a wonderful piece of analysis re the Democratic party.

Not as Lame as You Think by Amy Sullivan
The Democrats Learn The Art Of Opposition

If this lady is right it may offer some us hope.
I'm running it up front for a couple of days stop in and look around and grab the link to go,
like Chinese take out.

See you around campus
Bob Higgins
Worldwide Sawdust

Anonymous said...

I can find more phermones in an average onion than I can find in the average democrat. Except (lucky me) for my own reps Farr and Feingold. Where is the honesty and justified outrage? Our glorious county is being sold down the tubes and has to pay for it for the next 50 years, and so called intelligent demo-craps are worried about the current manure-fractured BushCo (tm) odious infractures. When the people wake up from their rapture with no gay marriage, fear everything (the mex next door, the arab, the college grad that wants my job, out-selling {my term} to india, china, thailand, whatever) and realize that while Jesus may save their souls, it will not pay tha rent... OUT BUSH !!!