Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, November 16th, 2006.


The Other “I” Word

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Bush Administration, Congress, Democratic Party, Iraq War, Republican Party

Following up on this morning’s post, “Twenty Thousand Troops” … as a member of the Citizen’s Impeachment Commission I’ve been getting many earnest emails calling for a stepup in pro-impeachment activism. For example, AfterDowningStreet.org is promoting December 10 as “Human Rights and Impeachment Day.”

You probably heard that, before the midterms, Nancy Pelosi said that impeachment was “off the table.”

Pelosi called impeachment “a waste of time,” and suggested Republicans — who have controlled the House for 12 years — would make political hay out of it if Democrats tried to impeach Bush.

“Wouldn’t they just love it if we came in and our record as Democrats coming forth after 12 years is to talk about George Bush and Dick Cheney? This election is about them. This is a referendum on them. Making them lame ducks is good enough for me.”

I’m about to explain why I support impeachment, and why I think it’s a mistake to push for it right this minute.

I believe strongly that Bush and Cheney should not be allowed to serve to the ends of their terms if they continue to operate outside the Constitution and ignore the laws of Congress. Congress must not allow extra-constitutional precedents to be set, which is what they will be doing if they simply wait out Bush. For the sake of the Constitution, history, and future generations, proper separation of powers must be re-established in the next two years.

However, I’ve been around the block enough times to know that unless impeachment has widespread popular support, and support among a substantial number of prominent Republicans, there will be a nasty backlash that could put the wingnuts back in power. And as unpopular as Bush is, I don’t think the public or many Republicans are ready to get on board the impeachment bandwagon. Yet.

Here’s my plan:

Before we chant the “I” word, everyone interested in reining in Bush — whether you call yourself a liberal, progressive, leftie, Democrat, libertarian, neomugwump, whatever — should be chanting the other “I” word — Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.

Congress must confront Bush on Iraq. Congress must use all of its Constitutional authority under Article I, Section 8, paragraphs 11 -14, and insist that U.S. policy will be a withdrawal. No delays, no excuses, no signing statements. Bush should be given a deadline for the withdrawal to be completed, and that deadline should have a firm 2007 date.

Would Congress do this? I think that enough politicians in both parties want Iraq: The Issue to be defused before the 2008 campaign heats up. And the midterms proved that being perceived as an enabler of George W. Bush is political death. I think many Republicans who have supported the war up til now will be persuaded to grandstand against it if that will save their political butts in 2008.

So, Congress should make a bipartisan demand that Bush order a withdrawal from Iraq. And if he refuses — and I am certain he will — then impeach the bastard. Then American people will understand why it has to be done, and they will support it. And if the effort is seen as bipartisan — as was Nixon’s almost-impeachment back in the day — there won’t be much of a backlash. Instead of being viewed as just more tiresome partisan bickering, the effort will be remembered as one of America’s finest hours.

I guess you could say that we not only have to be on the high ground on this — I believe we are already — but before we can act, there has to be a broad, bipartisan recognition that we are on the high ground.

And if the ongoing investigations by Waxman, Conyers, et al. turn up half as many White House scandals as I think they will, Republicans will want to throw Bush under the bus. And a mighty chorus will break forth on Capitol Hill — impeach, impeach, impeach.

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GOP Shutout

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Congress, elections, Republican Party

It’s official — Republicans failed to pick up a single governorship or seat in the House or Senate.

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And the Winner Is …

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Congress, Democratic Party

They’re counting the votes for the Senate Majority Leader …

MSNBC says Hoyer wins.

Update: The vote is 149 to 86, they are saying. Not close.

Update update: Chris Bowers provides perspective.

Update update update: Senator Kennedy is on MSNBC now demanding updated intelligence on Iraq. Exactly right.

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Twenty Thousand Troops

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Bush Administration, Congress, Democratic Party, Iraq War

Alarmed that Daddy and the Democrats were going to take away his war, Junior threw a tantrum. Simon Tisdall reports for The Guardian,

President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make “a last big push” to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration’s internal deliberations.

Mr Bush’s refusal to give ground, coming in the teeth of growing calls in the US and Britain for a radical rethink or a swift exit, is having a decisive impact on the policy review being conducted by the Iraq Study Group chaired by Bush family loyalist James Baker, the sources said.

Although the panel’s work is not complete, its recommendations are expected to be built around a four-point “victory strategy” developed by Pentagon officials advising the group. The strategy, along with other related proposals, is being circulated in draft form and has been discussed in separate closed sessions with Mr Baker and the vice-president Dick Cheney, an Iraq war hawk.

Point One calls for increasing U.S. troops levels in Iraq by as many as 20,000 soldiers. Point Two is about regional cooperation and asking for help from U.S.-friendly Middle Eastern nations like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Point Three calls for reconciliation among Sunni, Shia, etc. And finally —

Lastly, the sources said the study group recommendations will include a call for increased resources to be allocated by Congress to support additional troop deployments and fund the training and equipment of expanded Iraqi army and police forces. It will also stress the need to counter corruption, improve local government and curtail the power of religious courts.

Haven’t we all been talking about all these “points” since 2003? Is there anything new here? Or isn’t this the same old non-plan, just kicked up a notch?

Are not points three and four goals instead of plans? I can just see Junior slapping his knee and saying, “I know! We’ll get the Sunni and Shia to reconcile!” No problemo. Put it on the to-do list, and it’s as good as done.

Tisdall continues,

“You’ve got to remember, whatever the Democrats say, it’s Bush still calling the shots. He believes it’s a matter of political will. That’s what [Henry] Kissinger told him. And he’s going to stick with it,” a former senior administration official said. “He [Bush] is in a state of denial about Iraq. Nobody else is any more. But he is. But he knows he’s got less than a year, maybe six months, to make it work. If it fails, I expect the withdrawal process to begin next fall.”

The “last push” strategy is also intended to give Mr Bush and the Republicans “political time and space” to recover from their election drubbing and prepare for the 2008 presidential campaign, the official said. “The Iraq Study Group buys time for the president to have one last go. If the Democrats are smart, they’ll play along, and I think they will. But forget about bipartisanship. It’s all about who’s going to be in best shape to win the White House.

The official added: “Bush has said ‘no’ to withdrawal, so what else do you have? The Baker report will be a set of ideas, more realistic than in the past, that can be used as political tools. What they’re going to say is: lower the goals, forget about the democracy crap, put more resources in, do it.”

A month ago, we were being told that James Baker’s Iraq Study Group would recommend narrowing U.S. goals to stabilizing Baghdad and reaching a political accommodation with the insurgents so that troops levels could be reduced. But a funny thing happened on the way to the accommodation.

Monday, President Bush met with the Iraq Study Group. On Tuesday, Bush launched an “internal policy review” separate from the ISG. And today we’re hearing that the ISG is considering a plan more to Bush’s liking.

I mostly agree with rightie blogger Rick Moran (yes, hell did freeze over) on what’s going on here.

In effect, Bush has co-opted the ISG and forced them to concentrate on “a strategy for victory” rather than “phased withdrawals” and timetables.” …

… Bush has altered the Commission’s deliberations and changed its dynamic by engaging the bureaucracy in a long delayed (too long?) review of Iraq policy from which these recommendations have sprung. Baker’s group had little choice but to incorporate them into their report or risk being shunted to the sidelines in the policy debate.

Of course, it’s also probable Baker (or somebody) was “leaking” shit prior to the midterm elections to make people think Bush was about to change his policy. We have no way to know what options the ISG really was considering.

The ISG’s apparent shift, assuming it is a shift, happened so quickly that Sidney Blumenthal’s most recent column is already outdated. He wrote that the neocons were moving to “confound” Baker and the ISG so that troops would not be withdrawn from Iraq. It appears they won already.

By some non-coincidence, yesterday Gen. John P. Abizaid told the Senate that the phased troop withdrawals being proposed by Democratic lawmakers would be bad. However, staying doesn’t seem to be an option, either —

General Abizaid did not rule out a larger troop increase, but he said the American military was stretched too thin to make such a step possible over the long term. And he said such an expansion might dissuade the Iraqis from making more of an effort to provide for their own security.

We can put in 20,000 more Americans tomorrow and achieve a temporary effect,” he said. “But when you look at the overall American force pool that’s available out there, the ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something that we have right now with the size of the Army and the Marine Corps.”

Hmm, had Gen. Abizaid given that 20,000 figure to Bush or to whoever is doing the “internal review”? Did Bush decided that if he could get a “temporary effect” by sending another 20,000 troops he’d take it just to buy time? Because he is not going to withdraw from Iraq, no matter what. Not now, not in six months, not in two years. His ego is on the line, people.

You might recall that Senator John McCain has been making noises about sending more troops to Iraq. Today the editorial board of the Seattle Post-Ingelligencer published an open letter to the Senator (emphasis added):

Dear senator:

Sending in another 20,000 U.S. troops is the solution in Iraq? This is 2006, not 1966. The U.S. has had its seminal experience with what was euphemistically dubbed “escalation” in the Vietnam War. The Vietnam Memorial is notable for its chronological growth, with the names of American dead etched in walls that grow in height with each passing year of that conflict.

Perhaps your choice of arguing for an approach in Iraq supported by a mere 16 percent of the voters is your way of trying to regain your maverick status. Well, there’s maverick and there’s just plain loco.

See also Think Progress, “General Abizaid Smacks Down McCain’s Plan To Send More U.S. Troops To Iraq.”

I want to go back to what the unnamed official told Simon Tisdall — “If the Democrats are smart, they’ll play along, and I think they will. But forget about bipartisanship. It’s all about who’s going to be in best shape to win the White House.” That the posturing of politicians in Washington requires flushing away lives, and that “smart” people should think this is OK, is beyond obscene. And if Democrats do “play along,” this will mean they didn’t get the memo the voters just sent them. The BooMan writes,

You know, there is a certain breed of American that simply can’t get over the fact the American people gave up on the great experiment in Vietnam and that Congress pulled the plug on the project. They happen to be in charge of our foreign policy at the moment, which is a bit of a disappointment for patriotic Americans that kind of care about the direction, financial well-being, and international reputation of our country.

The midterm elections were kind of unambiguous when it comes to what the American people think about and hope for our great experiment in Iraq. And, you know, you go to war with the electorate that you have, not the electorate that you might wish that you have. And anyone that refuses to acknowledge that the electorate doesn’t buy into the idea that we need to continue to roll wheelbarrows of cash and promising lives into the quicksand pits of Iraq in order to fight them over there instead of in the trailer parks off our interstate exits here…well…they are just fighting Vietnam all over again.

I don’t care how great the ratings are for Fox News, the American people will eventually smell a bill of goods when it is held under the nose until the putrefaction is unmistakable.

I think the enormous majority of Americans will perceive the “20,000 troops” gambit as foot dragging, and any politician fool enough to support it is in for another thumpin’ in 2008.

We didn’t lose Vietnam because the populace lost interest. The populace lost interest because they realized they were being lied to and that the reasons we were there were different from the reasons we had been told. They lost interest because the strategy was fatally flawed and that there was no prospect that escalation would ultimately change the losing dynamics. It was a tragedy of epic proportions. So is Iraq.

Yes, as Steve Gilliard explains.

So, boys and girls, what have we learned today? We learned that the ISG is not going to produce some elegant solution to Iraq that everyone in Washington can sign off on while they hold hands and sing “Kum-by-yah.” We learned that if Daddy and his friends were trying to take Junior into hand and make him mind — they failed. We learned that some politicians in Washington have no more regard for the lives of U.S. troops and Iraqis than chopped spinach.

Next, we’re going to find out if the new Democratic majority in Congress has any more spine than the old soft-shelled minority. And we’ll learn if Congress will exert its constitutional authority and put an end to Junior’s warmongering.

Update:Family Feud: Little Bush Hits Back at Daddy

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