Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Friday, March 31st, 2006.


Action

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Bush Administration

And don’t forget Ned Lamont. Also Francine Busby, Jon Tester, and Eric Massa. This is the last day of the quarter and there’s a big push for donations.

Also — somewhere this morning I read a complaint that bloggers weren’t discussing the Democrats’ “Real Security” plan. So I printed the thing out and gave it a read. (Here it is in PDF format; it’s short.) And here it is in outline form:

I. Ensure Military Strength

A. Rebuild the military; invest in equipment and manpower. This includes strengthening the National Guard.

B. GI Bill for the 21st Century — provide enhanced health and other benefits for active, reserve and retired military.

II. Defeat Terrorism

A. Eliminate Osama bin Laden, destroy terrorist networks, finish the job in Afghanistan.

B. Double size of special forces; enhance intelligence capabilities.

C. Combat (metaphorically speaking, I assume) economic social, and political conditions that encourage the growth of terrorism.

D. Contain nuclear materials; discourage nuclear weapons development in Iran and North Korea.

III. Homeland Security (Note: Can we ditch the “homeland” thing? Gives me the creeps.)

A. Implement recommendations of 9/11 Commission.

B. Screen 100 percent of containers and cargo bound for the U.S.

C. Safeguard chemical and nuclear plants, protect food and water supplies.

D. Prevent outsourcing of national security infrastructure.

E. Support first responders such as firefighters and emergency medical workers with training, staffing, equipment, technology.

F. Protect America from pandemics by investing in public health infrastructure.

IV. Iraq

A. Transition to full Iraqi sovereignty asap.

B. Insist that Iraqis get their governmental act together.

C. Engage in a “responsible redeployment” of U.S. troops.

C. “Hold the Bush Administration accountable for its manipulated pre-war intelligence, poor planning and contracting abuses that have placed our troops at greater risk and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.”

V. Energy Independence

A. Achieve energy independence by 2020. This means no more oil from the Middle East and “unstable regions.” We’d better hope Canada remains stable.

B. Develop alternate energy sources.

Comments: As Ron Brownstein said yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, this plan lacks specifics. However, consider what “specifics” the Bushies ever churn out, e.g., “as they stand up we’ll stand down.” I would argue that the Dems can’t do much more than provide an outline until they get some power in Congress. What’s the Bush excuse?

The plan does not call for a withdrawal from Iraq. But we’ve got some working room with that phrase “responsible redeployment.” That could be construed as an endorsement of Jack Murtha’s “over the horizon” redeployment plan.

Robert L. Borosage wrote,

Democrats do pledge — however incoherently since they have no power now — to make 2006 a year of transition in Iraq. They pledge to redeploy the troops and have Iraqis take over running their own country. This is stark contrast with the Bush promise that the troops will be there till at least 2009. …

… By highlighting the difference, activists can help cement Democrats to a withdrawal posture, and help frame the choice this fall. In 2004, Democrats like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were calling for more troops in Iraq. Now mugged by reality, Dems are calling for “redeployment.” Don’t focus on the timidity; highlight the contrast with the president. That poses the choice for the country — and locks Democrats into a clear position.

One might wish the Dems could lock themselves into a clear position, but maybe Borosage has a point.

Any more thoughts?

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Bush Is Dissed

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Bush Administration, Iraq War, Middle East

What Juan Cole says:

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has blown off the president of the United States. Bush sent Sistani a letter asking him to intervene to help end the gridlock in the formation of a new Iraqi government. Asked about his response, an aide said that Sistani had not opened the letter and had put it aside in his office.

Sistani does not approve of the American presence in Iraq, and certainly disapproves of the Bush administration’s attempt to unseat Ibrahim Jaafari as the candidate of the United Iraqi Alliance. Middle Easterners have had Western Powers dictate their politics to them for a couple of centuries and are pretty tired of it.

More jaw-dropping information in the Professor’s post; it’s worth reading all the way through.

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Crabs in a Barrel

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big picture stuff, blogging, Bush Administration, conservatism, Democratic Party, liberalism and progressivism, Republican Party

At the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson writes about “The Meltdown We Can’t Even Enjoy.”

It’s frustrating. The three overlapping forces that have sent this country in so many wrong directions — the conservative movement, the neoconservative movement and the Republican Party — are warring among themselves, doing their best impression of crabs in a barrel, and sensible people can’t even enjoy the spectacle. That’s because it’s hard to take pleasure in the havoc they’ve caused and the disarray they will someday leave behind.

“Crabs in a barrel” — what perfect imagery! Can’t you just imagine all the righties, all the Bush culties and fundies and neocons and Big Gubmint-hating quasi-libertarians confined together within their shared lies and resentments? And as the reality of their failed ideologies closes in, see how they pull in their eyestalks and scramble for whatever crumbs of self-validation they can find?

Today the Right Blogosphere is swarming over the critical news that Borders Books refuses to stock a magazine that published the Danish Mohammed cartoons. Other recent blogswarms involved displays of the Mexican flag. For the past couple of days righties have labored mightily to assure themselves that the opinions offered by some retired FISA judges was the opposite of what the judges actually said it was. They’re still picking through the intelligence garbage dumped by John Negroponte. John Podhoretz of the National Review criticizes the just-released Jill Carroll for not being anti-Muslim enough. And for the past several days a number of them, led by John Fund, have been obsessed over a former Taliban member enrolled at Harvard.

Crumbs, I say. The same people who spent the past several years congratulating each other for their grand “ideas” are running (sideways) from big issues as fast as their scaly little legs can scramble. Robinson continues,

It would all be entertaining if the stakes weren’t so high. Iraqis and Americans are dying; the treasury is bleeding; real people, not statistics, are at the center of the immigration debate. Iran is intent on joining the nuclear club. Hallowed American traditions of privacy, fairness and due process are being flouted, and thus diminished.

Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a gloomier look at the Big Pcture

It’s not merely that the Bush administration has run aground on its own illusions. The real problem runs deeper, much deeper, and at its core, I think, lies the fact that out of fear and laziness we insist on trying to address new problems with old ideologies, rhetoric and mind-sets.

To put it bluntly, we don’t know what to do, and so we do nothing.

Run through the list: We have no real idea how to address global warming, the draining of jobs overseas, the influx of illegal immigrants, our growing indebtedness to foreign lenders, our addiction to petroleum, the rise of Islamic terror . . .

Those are very big problems, and if you listen to the debate in Congress and on the airwaves, you can’t help but be struck by the smallness of the ideas proposed to address them. We have become timid and overly protective of a status quo that cannot be preserved and in fact must be altered significantly.

The Republicans, for example, continue to mouth a cure-all ideology of tax cuts, deregulation and a worship of all things corporate, an approach too archaic and romanticized to have any relevance in the modern world, as their five years in power have proved.

The GOP’s sole claim to bold action — the decision to invade Iraq in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 — instead epitomizes the problem. The issue of Islamic terrorism is complex and difficult, and by reverting immediately to the brute force of another era, we made the problem worse.

Yet in recent years the Dems in Washington have offered little else but tweaks to the Republican agenda.

It’s not as if the big, bold ideas needed to address our real problems don’t exist. Sure, they exist — among people with no power to implement them. And thanks to the VRWC echo chamber, those people are painted as dangerous, radical, impractical loonies by just about everyone in both parties and in major news media. Eugene Robinson calls on the Dems to “put together an alternative program that will begin to undo some of the damage the conservative-neocon-GOP nexus has wrought.” But the party as it exists now hardly seems capable of such a challenge. It’s too compromised, too tired, too inbred.

What’s a progressive to do?

As a practical matter, the way Americans conduct elections makes third parties irrelevant. If we had run-off elections or a parliamentary system, I’d say abandon the Dems and form something new. But our system marginalizes third parties; there’s no way around that. Our only hope is to reform the Dems.

Meanwhile, conservatives are being challenged to choose between loyalty and principle. On the Blogosphere, loyalty seems to be winning out. And the righties scurry to hide inside fantasies that George W. Bush is a great leader, and the majority of the American people are still behind him. Snap snap snap.

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Bad Web Day?

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blogging

I’m having a terrible time with the web today; it’s like half the internets are offline, including Google. But some sites are available, so I don’t think it’s a technical problem at my end. Are your links working where you are?

Update: Whatever the problem was has fixed itself. Carry on.

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