Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stepford Republicans

Just finished watching Joe Scarborough on MSNBC with his usual trio of suspects- Joan Walsh of Salon.com, Michael Crowley of The New Republic, and Pat Buchanan of.... well, we all know Pat Buchanan. Discussing the recent vote on the Iraq war funding bill (with non-binding benchmarks), Scarborough made the justifiable point that the Democrats had no Plan B. He was implying that it was the party's duty to know they might fail- as they did- and have an alternate plan in mind, and it certainly seems the Dems do not. Buchanan argued that the Democrats showed a lack of courage in failing to act in unison and defeat the bill but also that they did not want to get stuck with the blame if the soldiers were withdrawn (by timetable) and sectarian fighting worsened, as he has been arguing it would. Scarborough asserted that it is the responsibility of politicians to stand up for what they believe, vote as they think they should, and be willing to take the political heat, in this case to be charged with "failing to support the troops" (not necessarily his phrase).

Not to give the Democrats a free pass for failing to defeat this bill (what was John Murtha doing voting for it?) but, as Joan Walsh argued, the party should not be roundly condemned for their insufficient nerve in mustering enough votes as the Congressional majority and defeat it. It's pretty tough to handle the inevitable, partisan, vicious attacks they would have faced when there were.... two (2) Republicans (one of whom was Ron Paul, incidentally) in the entire House of Representatives voting "no." Even the eleven Republicans who recently traveled to the White House and reportedly, allegedly, told the President he can't go on like this rose up as one and voted for the bill. If Democrats showed insufficient courage, what is there to say about House Republicans, who, we are frequently told, fear being portrayed as Bush toadies when they run for re-election in 2008?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Iraq: Administration Was Warned

The largest headline in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, arguably one of the best newspapers in the nation: "Harrah's unveils its new Pool." Accompanied by a large photograph including gawking spectators ("In the pool, casino managers and bikini-clad servers cut a ribbon"), the article appeared on the front page.

Not worthy of page 1 coverage? That would be "'03 files warned of risks in Iraq war," describing newly declassified documents which were circulated within the U.S. government shortly before the invasion of Iraq. In this article, Katherine Schrader of the Associated Press asserted the analysts found (among other things) "establishing a stable democracy in Iraq would be a long, steep and probably turbulent challenge (and) Al-Qaeda would see the invasion as a chance to accelerate its attacks and the lines between al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups 'could become blurred.'" Not surprisingly, Keith Olberman covered this story at the top in yesterday's Countdown, but I haven't had a chance yet to see how the mainstream media generally is addressing this. I would appreciate hearing what others have seen, read, or heard of this story. And by the way, this is one of the benefits (oversight) of having a Democratic Congress, with the Senate Intelligence Committee voting- eight Democratics and two Republicans, Nebraska's Hagel and Maine's Snowe- by 10-5 to release the documents.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Regent University Law School?

Lou Dobbs commented tonight that Regent University Law School, alma mater of Monica Goodling, has supplied 150 people to the Bush Administration since the latter took office in January, 2001. And he suggested that is a concern because Regent "ranks" 136 out of 170 law schools in the U.S.A. So... what's up with the other 34?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chevron, C. Rice, and Oil For Food Program

Today's apparent capitulation by Congressional Democrats on Iraq got me to thinking about Condoleezza Rice. Not quite Teflon, she nevertheless has escaped criticism far better than the usual suspects- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Tenet, Richard Perle, and others. And here comes an article entitled "Chevron Seen Settling Case on Iraq Oil" from the New York Times of May 8, 2007. Chevron was to acknowledge to federal prosecutors that it knew kickbacks were being paid to Saddam Hussein as part of the now-defunct "Oil for Food Program," which some Republicans used to love to cite while cheerleading for the war. The Chevron board member who was head of its public policy committee at the time- why, none other than that Condoleeza Rice!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Illegal Immigrants- Twenty Million And Counting

Check out this study by two Bear Stearns people, published in January, 2005. Though nothing was proven, it does suggest that- at that time- there were approximately 20 million illegal immigrants in the United States... which makes you wonder why so many folks blithely refer to the "eleven million" (or is it twelve million?) illegal immigrants in the U.S.A. Where do they get that figure? This does not necessarily argue for a particular policy- or for or against the current "comprehensive immigration reform" bill- but it would be helpful if current estimates were based on something solid, as this one appears to be.
Gore Speculation

There is an interesting post (by M.J. Rosenberg) on TPM Cafe speculating about a possible run for the Presidency by Al Gore. So- should it happen? Will it happen?

I think Gore probably will decide against it, though I don't think that he has made up his mind yet. I believe, ironically, that if Gore had made the leap in 2004 he would have been nominated and elected but would find it tougher this time around to be a) nominated and b) if nominated, elected. In 2008, the former Vice-President would be vying against two superstars (and, in the Democratic primary process, it doesn't hurt that one candidate is female and the other black) and a third candidate (Edwards) who has run previously- which is a big advantage- and has a fairly coherent message with enough financing to get it out (and, it appears, a small lead in Iowa). Then, of course, there are the second and third tier candidates, credible, though with little chance to be nominated. (Message to Joe Biden: You're still in the running to be the next Secretary of State.)

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