Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Archive for the ‘Bush administration’ Category

Partisan Political Diplomats

Posted by Gerald on July 24, 2007

The Washington Post is reporting on political briefings by Rove’s people held for senior diplomats at the State Department.  As with so many other actions by the Bush White House – such as the US Attorney firings – we have here something that isn’t actually illegal, but is very much out of the traditional understanding of previous administrations about what is appropriate.  While launching constant attacks on the “partisanship” of their opponents, this White House has made every aspect of government partisan.

The constant in all of this is Karl Rove.  He seems to have looked at almost every procedure in the life of the administration and asked “How can we wring some political advantage out of this without technically violating the law?”  Repeatedly we have actions that, at least one could argue, are not illegal – just prejudicial to the functioning of government and the remaining shreds of prestige and dignity of the executive.

Of course, a similar game was played by Bill Clinton in his word-parsing defense of his sexual indiscretions and the perjury he committed to cover them up.  The problem is that comparing the effects of these is like comparing a cut on the finger of the executive with having a broadsword slammed into its guts.

Clinton dishonored the White House – no two ways about it.  Bush has compromised the trust between the branches of government and between the executive and the American people.  No one is ever going to view the actions of a US Attorney in a political corruption case without wondering what other motives might be at work.  No one is going to quite trust the intelligence assessments used by the White House and the State Department to explain our foreign policy ever again.  No American administration is ever going to be able to say, “At least we don’t hold people without trial, we don’t hide them in secret prisons, we don’t torture people – that is what our enemies do” and be believed.

The worst part is, that these guys don’t even seem to realize that what they have done has hurt our country – and that most of our country doesn’t seem to care, either.

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Posted in Bush administration, Bush Legacy, Karl Rove, news, opinion, politics | Leave a Comment »

He’s the Decider

Posted by Gerald on July 21, 2007

According to the Washington Post, CIA interrogation of terrorism suspects – unhampered by the restraint imposed on those softies in the US military – will resume under new guidelines.  Read it here.

The “guidelines,” as one could expect from this administration, are remarkably vague and basically tell the American people and the world to simply “trust that what is being done to these folks is legal and necessary – so just go back to watching So You Think You Can Change Houses, or whatever, and leave it all to us.”  Certainly they do not seem in a hurry to provide even Congress with details.

It is all of a piece with the invoking of executive privilege.  George and his advisers believe he was elected as a sort of constitutional dictator for his terms in office and Congress and the Judiciary have no business poking into the details of what he is doing.

Constitutional checks-and-balances?  How quaint!

Posted in Bush administration, Constitution, news, opinion, politics, terrorism | Leave a Comment »

Washington Post Columnist Rips Me Off

Posted by Gerald on July 20, 2007

Eugene Robinson has written an interesting article questioning the sanity of our dear President entitled Bush’s Cognitive Dissonance.

It is an insightful and interesting read.  However I would like to point out that I diagnosed Bush’s cognitive dissonance in this very blog on July 4.

Still, I’m willing to be magnanimous about this whole thing and chalk it up to a simple mistake.  😉

Posted in Bush administration, George W. Bush, my blog, news, opinion, politics, United States | 1 Comment »

George Bush Augustus

Posted by Gerald on July 20, 2007

This has got to be the most astonishing thing I’ve heard from this White House, and damn that is saying something.  The administration will not allow the US Attorney to pursue contempt charges in any case where the President has invoked executive privilege – because that is the end of the argument as far as the executive is concerned.  In essence, the President gets to define his own powers.

Read about it here.

I particularly like the rationale of a “unitary executive” in which the US Attorneys are “emanations of the President’s Will.”  Why is it that these so called “strict-constructionist” Neo-Cons are so enamored with autocracy.  Even if the American Presidency is supposed to have been modeled on the British Monarchy (or so they claim), the 18th C. British kings were LIMITED monarchs.

I always knew these guys think George Bush is LIKE a Roman Emperor – I didn’t realize they think he IS a Roman Emperor.

Posted in America, Bush administration, Congress, Constitution, Federal Courts, law, news, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | Leave a Comment »

Yes Virginia, There is a Legislative Branch

Posted by Gerald on July 16, 2007

The L.A. Times has published a nice little primer on executive privilege.

Posted in America, Bush administration, Congress, law, politics | Leave a Comment »

Take a Deep Breath

Posted by Gerald on July 14, 2007

In another big smoochie from the administration to the people it has sent off to fight in Iraq, evidently the Pentagon is starting to deal with battle stress by discharging the soldiers for “pre-existing” personality disorders.

Read about it on My Beautiful Wickedness.

Posted in Bush administration, Iraq War | 1 Comment »

Found It!!! (Meaning My Sense of Moral Outrage)

Posted by Gerald on July 12, 2007

I was saying earlier that I wasn’t able to find my sense of moral outrage.

Then I read this in the Washington Post.

This is one interesting story that simply highlights all of the problems with the administration and its Iraq “policy.”  Last November we have Bush giving a “Churchillian” vision of victory in Iraq to the Iraq Study Group.  “‘A constitutional order is emerging,’ he (Bush) said.”  (“T’ings is looking pretty bad dere right now, but dere seems to be hope for a constitutional settlement.”)  Bush’s own CIA director was telling him it ain’t happening.  All of this before the “surge.”  Here is the quotes that really struck me:

“Our leaving Iraq would make the situation worse,” (CIA Director) Hayden said. “Our staying in Iraq may not make it better. Our current approach without modification will not make it better.”

“The levers of power are not connected to anything,” he (Hayden) said, adding: “We have placed all of our energies in creating the center, and the center cannot accomplish anything.”

“It’s a legitimate question whether strengthening the Iraqi security forces helps or hurts when they are viewed as a predatory element,” he said. “Strengthening Iraqi security forces is not unalloyed good. Without qualification, this judgment applies to the police.”

To me, though, the most important quote from CIA Director Hayden was:

“The Iraqi identity is muted. The Sunni or Shia identity is foremost.”

I think this is the most important realization we need to have about the situation in Iraq – identity.  There is not going to be any sort of national reconciliation or unity unless more Iraqis see themselves as Iraqi first and Shia or Sunni second.  I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t see themselves that way, I’m just saying that an Iraqi nation can only be built if its people want it.  Unless the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds WANT to be in the same country with one another, there is no way that political stability is going to emerge.

I’ve said this before in this blog.  WE (America) cannot make this happen.  It isn’t a matter of our will or of our ideals or of anything else about us – this is something that only the people in Iraq can decide.  What is important to them?  Where do their primary loyalties lie?  Who do they believe they are?  Who do they want to be?  We cannot force an answer on them – and I do not think we can even help them find an answer.  I do believe that our presence there – even with the best of intentions (which may or may not be the case) – is making the internal struggle over national identity more difficult by involving a foreign occupation and strengthening the hand of the militant Islamists.  No matter how good their intentions, if you are watching soldiers from another country and another culture walking armed down your streets and kicking in the doors of your neighbors (even the ones you do not like), you cannot help but feel belittled, provoked, and irritated.  Add in the inevitable mistakes and misconduct that will happen when you have armed human beings, with all of our flaws and vices, trying to police someone else’s home and you have a recipe for a spiral of hatred and violence.

Will there be violence if we leave?  Absolutely.  There is violence right now.  Things are gone too far for that not to happen.  But it is ultimately going to be up to the people in Iraq to decide when they no longer want to fight each other.  All we can do is decide whether we are going to continue to provoke the violence we are involved in by our very presence there.

Will Al-Qaeda be able to recruit in Iraq and operate there?  Yes.  We’ve already guaranteed it, and every time some Iraqi kid watches our soldiers leading his Dad off in handcuffs, we are helping swell the ranks.  Our only real hope at this point is to stop doing anymore damage ourselves and then to be ready to provide non-military help on an almost unconditional basis to those who ask.  Maybe, just maybe, that will eventually lead to whatever government or governments emerge from the aftermath being willing to forgive us one day and to not actively support our enemies.

Is all of this a thin strand of hope?  You betcha, but all of the really good options disappeared during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Now we are just left with the possible – with bad and worse.  We need to choose while we still have even this little amount of choice left.

Posted in al-Qaeda, America, Bush administration, Diplomacy, international relations, Iraq War, Middle East, news, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | Leave a Comment »

Blogging and Grading Do Not Seem to Mix

Posted by Gerald on July 12, 2007

What with the intelligence report on the resurgence of Al-Qaeda, the White House interim report on “progress” in Iraq and the President’s active spinning in the new press room I should have lots to say.

I don’t.  At least nothing new.  Maybe it is because I’ve been grading essays all day, and I’m kind of tired (but not dispirited – the kids are doing well.)

I’ll see if I can’t find my usual sense of moral outrage later tonight.

Posted in al-Qaeda, America, Bush administration, Iraq War, news, terrorism, United States | 6 Comments »

All of a Piece

Posted by Gerald on July 11, 2007

Former US Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified that the White House “buried” any information that didn’t match their ideological preconceptions on things like stem cells and teen pregnancy.

Can anyone be surprised by this?  This administration led us into war by ignoring intelligence it didn’t want to hear, it has violated international law and the Constitution by ignoring any voices that said they were doing so, it has consistently simply believed what was convenient for it and damn the consequences.

Consequences we are going to be dealing with for years after Dubya retires to Crawford and Cheney becomes the chief commentator on Fox News.

Posted in America, Bush administration, Bush Legacy, news, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | 1 Comment »

Not King, But Pope!

Posted by Gerald on July 9, 2007

Can you call something news if you knew it was going to happen?

Guess what!?!

The President isn’t going to allow his aides to testify before Congress.

and

The President is not going to change his Iraq strategy, even in the face of Republican defections.

After all, the executive answers to no one and is never wrong.

All hail His Holiness George I

Posted in America, Bush administration, Congress, Iraq War, news, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | 3 Comments »