Partisanship, Who Needs It?

Partisanship, Who Needs It?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

McCain making good sense again.

Fox News interviews John McCain and its beginning to look like the Straight-talk express may be back on track. Good answers about government, McCain-Feingold, the War on Terror, and all while keeping it free of mud-slinging. I've been a McCain supporter for quite some time and its nice to see him getting back to Straight-talk and away from trying to make a statement about standing behind a failed President, even if the policies he is standing behind are appropriate we need to see the Straight-talker be more than a yes man from time to time and not allow Bush's failures to cast their shadow on him by not doing so.


WALLACE: Senator, you talked about torture. Former CIA Director Tenet now says that the intelligence that they got from harsh interrogation techniques against some of these big Al Qaida types, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — the intelligence they got from them using, reportedly, things like water-boarding, extreme temperatures, was more valuable than all the other CIA and FBI programs.

Were you wrong? I mean, this is the CIA, former CIA director, saying this. Were you wrong to limit what CIA interrogators could do?

J. MCCAIN: A man I admire more than anyone else, General Jack Vessey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, battlefield commission, told me once — he said, "John, any intelligence information we might gain through the use of torture could never, ever counterbalance the image that it does — the damage that it does to our image in the world."

I agree with him. Look at the war in Algeria. Look, the fact is if you torture someone, they're going to tell you anything they think you want to know. It is an affront to everything we stand for and believe in.

It's interesting to me that every retired military officer, whether it be Colin Powell or whether it be former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — everybody who's been in war doesn't want to torture people and think that it's the wrong thing to do. And history shows that.

We cannot torture people and maintain our moral superiority in the world.

WALLACE: But when...

J. MCCAIN: And that's a fact.

WALLACE: But when George Tenet says...

J. MCCAIN: I don't care what George Tenet says. I know what's right. I know what's morally right as far as America's behavior.

WALLACE: But if I may, sir...

J. MCCAIN: Yes, sir.

WALLACE: ... when George Tenet says we saved live through some of these techniques...

J. MCCAIN: I don't accept it. I don't accept that fundamental thesis, because it's never worked throughout history.

Spot on!


WALLACE: Governor Romney, Mitt Romney, outside the Beltway, but obviously an opponent of yours, says that you flipped — said it today, you've flipped on taxes, you've flipped on ethanol, you've flipped on Roe vs. Wade.

First of all, how do you feel about being called a flip-flopper by Mitt Romney?

J. MCCAIN: Well, look, I'm not going to respond to that. I'm simply not going to respond to it. I'm not into that now and I won't respond to it.

Class, it has been so missing from politics lately.


J. MCCAIN: Before we get into any of those specifics, you have to know that anyone who gets out front on this issue without sitting down and negotiating with everything on the table will get nowhere.

And so I will do what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did. I will sit down with the Democrats. We will look at the options on the table. We'll call in the smartest people that we can find, and we'll reach an agreement.

If I take a position on any of those issues right now, one, it doesn't work. And second of all, it's got to be the product of bipartisan negotiations where people sit down across a table from one another.

Bipartisanship, such a lovely word, and McCain has the history ala Gang of 14 to back it up as more than rhetoric.

The complete interview is here

Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

Lee Iacocca on Leadership:


Had Enough?

Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."

Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?

I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.

My friends tell me to calm down. They say, "Lee, you're eighty-two years old. Leave the rage to the young people." I'd love to—as soon as I can pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention. I'm going to speak up because it's my patriotic duty. I think people will listen to me. They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I see it, and it's not pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a nerve in those young folks who say they don't vote because they don't trust politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These guys work for us.

Who Are These Guys, Anyway?

Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them—or at least some of us did. But I'll tell you what we didn't do. We didn't agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy.

And don't tell me it's all the fault of right-wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument, and it's part of the reason we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of factions. We're a people. We share common principles and ideals. And we rise and fall together.

Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the leaders gone?

Follow the Link above to read much more scathing criticism from the former Chrysler CEO.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Falilure in Generalship

Photo: Failed French General Maurice Gamelin

A friend on a political discussion board posted this article by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling and I just had to post it here.

A Falilure in Generalship


Having spent a decade preparing to fight the wrong war, America's generals then miscalculated both the means and ways necessary to succeed in Iraq. The most fundamental military miscalculation in Iraq has been the failure to commit sufficient forces to provide security to Iraq's population. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) estimated in its 1998 war plan that 380,000 troops would be necessary for an invasion of Iraq. Using operations in Bosnia and Kosovo as a model for predicting troop requirements, one Army study estimated a need for 470,000 troops. Alone among America's generals, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki publicly stated that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq. Prior to the war, President Bush promised to give field commanders everything necessary for victory. Privately, many senior general officers both active and retired expressed serious misgivings about the insufficiency of forces for Iraq. These leaders would later express their concerns in tell-all books such as "Fiasco" and "Cobra II." However, when the U.S. went to war in Iraq with less than half the strength required to win, these leaders did not make their objections public.

I'll do more commentary later as I'm still digesting much of what Yingling writes, but this piece just has that quality that screams TRUTH and is a must read.


Added the Maurice Gamelin photo as I am reminded of him.

Gustave-Maurice Gamelin

Gamelin's failures to respond to German aggression directly led to his own country being invaded. Relying overly much on the Maginot Line, he was caught by surprise when the German invaders bypassed the line and attacked through the "impenetrable" Ardennes forest. To make matters worse, he was at best unfamiliar with modern mobile warfare. His mindset was (as with many other prominent world military leaders, of course) that of WW1. "Combat tanks are machine to accompany the infantry", he said to his officers. "In battle, tank units constitute an integral part of the infrantry.... Tanks are only supplementary means.... The progress of the infantry and its seizing of objectives are alone decisive." He was similarly unprepared to deal with the German aerial attacks. "There is no such thing as the aerial battle", he told the French air forces only even after seeing the success of the Luftwaffe in Poland, "there is only the battle on the ground."

I doubt that the US generals were so inept as Gamelin, but rather simialr to those of Gamelin's subordinates who saw past his limited vision but kept their silence with disasterous consequences. Only Rumsfeld deserves to be compared to Gamelin himself.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Buying the War

Something everyone should watch

Bill Moyers "Buying the War"

Now I think the Democratic plan for a definitive timetable is unwise, I I did and still do support the toppling of the Saddam regime in Iraq through use of US Military force. My reasoning was never based on WMDs or Al Queda ties but upon the attrocities perpetrated on the Iraqi people by Saddam and his failure to comply with UN resolutions. I do think, however, that the American people were intentionally lied to in order to crete the momentum for the war. I have no problem with the War itself, other than the gross mismanagement of it. Had General Shinseki's plan been used instead and competent leadership overseeing it I feel it would have been greatly sucessful. But I have nothing but distain for the administrations "snakeoil" approach to selling the war, and an equal distain for most of the press who bought into it.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Limited Blogging for next 2 weeks

Will be otherwise occupied during most of my spare time till end of the month.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

MSNBC reports:

Spy chief wants expanded powers

McConnell signals more aggressive posture on surveillance authority


According to officials familiar with the draft changes to FISA, McConnell wants to:

Give the NSA the power to monitor foreigners without seeking FISA court approval, even if the surveillance is conducted by tapping phones and e-mail accounts in the United States. “Determinations about whether a court order is required should be based on considerations about the target of the surveillance, rather than the particular means of communication or the location from which the surveillance is being conducted,” NSA Director Keith Alexander told the Senate last year.

Clarify the standards the FBI and NSA must use to get court orders for basic information about calls and e-mails — such as the number dialed, e-mail address, or time and date of the communications. Civil liberties advocates contend the change will make it too easy for the government to access this information.
Triple the life span of a FISA warrant for a non-U.S. citizen from 120 days to one year, allowing the government to monitor much longer without checking back in with a judge.

Give telecommunications companies immunity from civil liability for their cooperation with Bush’s terrorist surveillance program. Pending lawsuits against companies including Verizon and AT&T allege they violated privacy laws by giving phone records to the NSA for the program.

Extend from 72 hours to one week the amount of time the government can conduct surveillance without a court order in emergencies.

McConnell, Alexander and a senior Justice Department official will appear at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on April 17 to discuss whether to amend the FISA law. Chad Kolton, McConnell’s spokesman, declined to comment on the director’s proposals.


I say give him what he wants with one caveat. The laws need to be clarified and written in stone. Maybe some of these proposed changes would aid them in their work and help protect citizens.

The one caveat? Have a congressional oversight committee have the very same rights in regard to their offices and homes. If there is the least suspicion they were overstepping their rights, this group could bug their offices, break into their homes and offices and retrieve computer files etc. And use any such evidence for criminal proceedings if they were in violation of the clarified new law. Seems fair.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The 5th and The Truth

The NYT reports on Monica Goodling's resignation


Democrats had hoped that Ms. Goodling would provide details about the role of Karl Rove, the chief political adviser to President Bush, in the firings of the prosecutors. After refusing to testify, she also declined a Democratic invitation to answer questions in a private interview.

“Attorney General Gonzales’s hold on the department gets more tenuous each day,” Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and a member of the judiciary panel, said this afternoon. He has been among the most persistent critics of Mr. Gonzales.


Maybe it was the pressure she didn't want to deal with, maybe she was hiding something, or maybe it was the asking of whether she would also take the Fifth regarding the internal Justice Department investigation.

Remember the comment of Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington Law School:

"It's a very clever question, because if she does not invoke the Fifth [for the internal Justice Department investigation], then she obviously has a fundamental contradiction in her legal position. She would basically be saying that despite having a high-ranking position in the Justice Department, she will not cooperate with a coequal branch... Congress has oversight responsibiilty over the Justice Department, over Monica Goodling. It would be an obvious contradiction with her job description."

Maybe that's why this has never happened before. "I believe she might be the first sitting Justice Department official in history to invoke the Fifth." Normally, he said, "the price of invoking the Fifth in this context would have been to end her career in government service."

That seems the most likely to me, but it could well be either of the other two individually or in conjunction with this third reason. One thing is certain, and that is finding out her version of events will likely prove more difficult if not impossible. As long as she is on firm legal ground I can't fault her for taking the 5th, it is her undeniable right, it just doesn't help the image of the department, or the American people's trust in our justice system.

Unfortunately, if she is innocent of wrongdoing there could well be a temptation of anyone who did act improperly to blame it on her, a price I guess she is prepared to pay. They say the Truth will set you free", but in the case of politics that seems not to apply according to Goodling's lawyer, I'm not convinced.

I still think that if her testimony becomes needed, the Congress should offer her immunity and ask her to testify, she could still refuse but her motives would become even more suspect if she did.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Bush Outfoxes Congress....or Not

More partisan maneuvering *sigh*

From Mary Ann Akers at the Washington post on the President's recess appointment of Sam Fox as ambassador to Belgium.


To fight the Fox appointment, Democrats are questioning the Bush administration's plan to have Fox serve in a voluntary capacity -- receiving no pay for his duties as ambassador. This is an important legal technicality, as federal law prohibits "payment of services" for certain recess appointments. However, if the recess appointee in question agrees that he or she will take an unpaid position and not sue the government at a later date for compensation, then the appointment can go forward, at least as the White House sees it.

So as long as Fox -- a multi-millionaire -- agreed not to sue the Bush administration later for not paying him, the White House would be comfortable with giving him an unpaid, "voluntary service" recess appointment as ambassador to Belgium.

But here's the rub that makes Democrats view Bush's recess appointment of Fox as a major-league no-no: Federal law prohibits "voluntary service" in cases where the position in question has a fixed rate of pay, as an ambassadorship does. That's how the Government Accountability Office, an arm of the Democratic-controlled Congress, interprets the law.

In other words, according to senior Democratic Senate aides, the salary is a "statutory entitlement" and cannot be waived. While Fox would not be receiving a salary, he would still be entitled to live in government-owned housing and receive other benefits due any ambassador.

"How to reconcile this clear conflict between the pay restriction, which says that Fox cannot be paid, with the voluntary services provision, which says that the State Department cannot accept voluntary services from Fox?" queried one senior Democratic aide who asked for anonymity to speak frankly about the matter.

"That is the $64,000 question," he added.


At a time when America could use some good willed bipartisanship, the administration continues to antagnonize the Democrats, and while I respect their desire to fight back over this, I just have to wonder is it really worth the fight this time? It isn't like the Ambassador to Belgium is likely to make a huge impact in the next year an a half.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Accountabilty is Due

George W. Bush VFW Speech - August 21, 2000

“The facts are stark and the facts are real. . . Our men and women in uniform love their country more than their comfort. They have never failed us, and we must not fail them. But the best intentions and the highest morale are undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, and rapidly declining readiness.”

". . .these are signs of a military in decline and we must do something about it. The reasons are clear. Lack of equipment and material. Undermaning of units. Overdeployment. Not enough time for family. Soldiers who are on food stamps, and soldiers who are poorly housed. Dick Cheney and I have a simple message today for our men and women in uniform, their parents, their loved ones, their supporters: Help is on the way!"

"A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam. When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming."

"To build morale in today’s United States military we must keep faith with those who have worn the uniform in the past. We must keep faith with America’s veterans. . . And keeping faith also means giving our veterans first-rate health care and treating the veterans with dignity. . . So chaotic is the process there is now a backlog of nearly one half-million claims. This is no way to treat any citizen, much less a veteran of our armed forces. The veterans health-care system and the claims process will be modernized, so that claims are handled in a fair and friendly way."

"In my Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs will act as an advocate for veterans seeking benefit claims, not act as an adversary. Veterans who once stood in the line of fire to protect our freedom should not have to stand in the line of a bureaucracy that is unwilling to help them in their claims."

—George W. Bush VFW Speech - August 21, 2000

His own words, he must be held accountable

hattip Bushfailed

Monday, April 2, 2007

3 cheers for Coburn, 3 Boos for Coleman, Lott and McConnell

Robert Novak reports

GOP Switchers

GOP switchers The Senate's top two Republicans, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip Trent Lott, voted against their GOP colleagues Wednesday on a motion to cut extraneous spending from the Iraq emergency appropriations bill. They did so to help Sen. Norm Coleman, who faces a tough run for re-election from Minnesota next year.

The motion by reform Sen. Tom Coburn would have eliminated $100 million to provide security for the 2008 national party conventions. With Republicans meeting in Minneapolis, Coleman (a former mayor of St. Paul) made a strong pitch to retain the money.

The Coburn amendment was supported by 37 of the 49 Republican senators. But McConnell and Lott opposed it for Coleman's sake. It lost, 51-45.

Nothing Creates Bi-Partisanship Like Corruption

The Washington Post reposts on some unusual support for Congressman Willian Jefferson.


Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), former House minority leader Robert
Michel (R-Ill.) and Scott Palmer, former chief of staff for Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), are among those who have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, backing Jefferson's argument that the controversial FBI raid on his office last May was unconstitutional.

Gingrich was forced to resign over ethics issues, and Palmer got ousted over the Mark Foley cover-up, is it any wonder these guys can identify with "Dollar Bill" Jefferson? At least Michel seems to have a less suspect motivation.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes

From the Museuem of Hoaxes:

Here is an example:

.#20: 15th Annual New York City April Fool’s Day ParadeIn 2000 a news release was sent to the media stating that the 15th annual New York City April Fool's Day Parade was scheduled to begin at noon on 59th Street and would proceed down to Fifth Avenue. According to the release, floats in the parade would include a "Beat 'em, Bust 'em, Book 'em" float created by the New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle police departments. This float would portray "themes of brutality, corruption and incompetence." A "Where's Mars?" float, reportedly built at a cost of $10 billion, would portray missed Mars missions. Finally, the "Atlanta Braves Baseball Tribute to Racism" float would feature John Rocker who would be "spewing racial epithets at the crowd." CNN and the Fox affiliate WNYW sent television news crews to cover the parade. They arrived at 59th Street at noon only to discover that there was no sign of a parade, at which point the reporters realized they had been hoaxed. The prank was the handiwork of Joey Skaggs, an experienced hoaxer. Skaggs had been issuing press releases advertising the nonexistent parade every April Fool's Day since 1986.

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