Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Save Troy Davis

Posted by Gerald on July 24, 2007

I’ve made several posts asking for your help in support of Amnesty International’s efforts to save the life of Troy Davis.  This is a summary of the case from Amnesty International.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen McPhail in Georgia. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s nine non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

A 90-day stay of execution has been granted in this case, but Troy Davis remains in peril of his life.  Even those who believe in the death penalty must grant that a man must not be executed if there is doubt about his trial and the verdict against him.

Unfortunately, Mr. Davis would not be the first African-American to suffer such an unjust end in this country. 

Please follow this link to take action to keep the pressure on the State of Georgia to see that justice is done in this case.

Posted in America, Amnesty International, death penalty, Human Rights, taking action, Troy Davis, United States | 1 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 »

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 »

More on Cognitive Dissonance and George Bush

Posted by Gerald on July 9, 2007

In an earlier post I theorized that the entire Bush Presidency is best viewed as an experiment in cognitive dissonance.  According to the Washington Post a couple of people with things like qualifications and experience and who know what they are talking about agree with me and have written a book about it.  I’ll be expecting my royalty checks.

You can read about it here.  I’ll be busy straining my elbow and patting myself on the back.

Posted in America, Bush administration, George W. Bush, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | Leave a Comment »

Benchmarks and Memories

Posted by Gerald on July 8, 2007

In another Washington Post report, much of the administration has come to realize that the benchmarks set by Congress before the “surge” are not going to be reached by September, if at all.  There is a lot of discussion of the complicated situation, the intertwined problems of political progress and security problems, etc…

Two things jumped out at me in the story.

First is this quote:

“The heart of darkness is the president,” the person said. “Nobody knows what he thinks, even the people who work for him.” 

Hell, I’m not too sure HE knows what he thinks – beyond being absolutely certain he is always right. 

Second is this tidbit:

 “Late last year, amid strong doubts about Maliki’s leadership capabilities, senior White House officials considered trying to engineer the Iraqi president’s replacement. But most have now concluded that there are no viable alternatives and that any attempt to force a change would only worsen matters.”

Doesn’t this sound a bit familiar?  Try replacing “Maliki” with “Diem” and “Iraqi” with “South Vietnamese” and read it again.

What is really terrifying here is that the Diem government was basically brought down when the Johnson administration started sending mixed messages about their support due to the internal debate about whether to get rid of Diem.  Presto Chango!  A group of military officers pull a coup, Diem gets shot in the back of an APC, and the US begins escalating troop commitments.

Now I realize this ISN’T Vietnam and we don’t have anymore troops to send (yet).  Still, given how that whole thing worked out in 1963, you would almost think we might have learned our lesson about trying to stage-manage events in other countries.  We don’t do that well with our own.

I’ve said this before in this blog, but I’ll say it again:

WE CANNOT DO THIS.

We cannot bring stability to Iraq when our very presence there is polarizing.  We cannot determine for other people where their loyalties will lie or what their political beliefs will be.  We cannot unite Iraq or divide Iraq.  We cannot save Iraq.  We should leave Iraq.

Posted in America, Bush administration, George W. Bush, History, international relations, Iraq War, news, opinion, politics, thoughts, United States | 1 Comment »

Here we go…

Posted by Gerald on July 8, 2007

It is looking more and more like the Presidential election cycle is going to coincide with a major-league showdown over the Constitution.  The Washington Post is reporting that, as expected, the White House is going to deny the latest demand Congress has made for documents in Attorneygate.  Read the story here.

This and the appeals from Gitmo are going to be the real tests to see what the Roberts court is about.  We’ve got some disheartening views so far, but this is going to be the opportunity to see whether the Supreme Court is going to really do its job, or if it has been made into a rubber-stamp for conservative administrations.

Posted in America, Bush administration, Bush Legacy, Congress, Constitution, John J. Roberts, law, news, opinion, politics, Supreme Court, thoughts, United States | Leave a Comment »